Nicolas-Germain Léonard was brought very young person in France where it made his studies. He was only eighteen years old when he was, like poet, crowned by the Académie of Rouen for a part on the religious ideas. He composed then of the Idylles morals of which he published a collection in 1766.
In 1772, it made appear a novel entitled the New Clementine or the Letters of Henriette de Berville , inspired by a sentimental mishap which had arrived to him: he had loved an young girl and had been liked by it but had not been approved by the family because of too small birth and not enough fortune; the young girl had not wanted of another husband, had been put at the convent where she had died of sorrow. This painful history was to sadden for always the inspiration of Léonard and to inspire to him by the accents melancholic persons which were to resound then at Alphonse of Lamartine. Léonard is indeed the author of the worms who, slightly modified, was to become famous under the name of this last:
Only one being I miss
and all is depopulated.
Thanks to the protection of the marquis de Chauvelin, Léonard was accredited, of 1773 with 1783, near the prince-bishop of Liege as secretary of legation, near the person in charge, Mr. Sabatier de Cabre, that it replaced when this last went away from this station, which arrived three times in ten years.
In 1775, it made appear an edition of its Idylles and poetries pastoral and, in 1782, a new edition published with $the Hague. It left Liege in 1783 and, in the hope to restore a staggering health, decided to embark for its native island where it arrived in 1784. It made of this voyage an interesting relation. It decided to be fixed at the Guadeloupe and, in order to request an employment there, went back to Paris in 1787. It obtained a nomination as lieutenant of the Sénéchaussée of Point-with-Clown.
It returned several times to France but, reached of a kind of languor, he regretted the place at once that he had just left. “ It seemed in truth , written Holy-Beuve, that the fatherland was for him the Guadeloupe when he was in France, and France when he was in the Guadeloupe. ” the disorders which agitated the Guadeloupe in 1791 made it leave this island definitively, where it had missed being assassinated.
It arrived to France in October 1792 and settled with Romainville, close to Paris. It prepared to go back to the Guadeloupe when it fell sick to Nantes, at the time to embark. He died in the hospital of this city on January 26th 1793, day even where the ship which he should have taken installed.
Léonard was a French imitator of Solomon Gessner, and the best idyllic poet of the 18th century. It is only more regrettable than its poetry does not let anything appear colors of its native island. It is true that it hardly knew it when he composed the Idylles , which constitute its most known parts. Its poetry with the approval of the sensitivity and the naturalness, in one time which missed singularly like other. The melancholy which it expresses in several of its poems in fact a good representing of the pre-romantic sensitivity .
Idylles morals , poems, 1766
- the Temple of Gnide , 1772: imitation in worms of the poem of Montesquieu.
- the New Clementine , novel, 1774: text on the numeric library Gallica
- Letters of two lovers, inhabitants of Lyon, containing the history of Therese and Faldoni , novel, 1783
- the Seasons , poem
- Alexis , pastoral novel
- Voyage to the Antilles
Its complete Œuvres was published by its nephew François-Nicolas-Vincent Campenon (Paris, 1798, 3 vol. in-8°).
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