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Droz, Francois-Xavier Joseph

DROZ, FRANCOIS-XAVIER JOSEPH (1773-1850), French writer on ethics and political science, was born on the 31st of October 1773 at Besançon, where his family had furnished men of considerable mark to the legal profession. His own legal studies led him to Paris in 1792; he arrived on the very day after the dethronement of the king, and was present during the massacres of September; on the declaration of war he joined the volunteer bataillon of the Doubs, and for the next three years served in the Army of the Rhine. Receiving his discharge on the score of ill-health, he obtained a much more congenial post in the newly-founded école centrale of Besançon; and in 1799 he made his first appearance as an author by an Essai sur l'art oratoire (Paris, Fructidor, An VII.), in which he acknowledges his indebtedness more especially to Hugh Blair. Removing to Paris in 1803, he became intimate not only with the like-minded Ducis, but also with the sceptical Cabanis; and it was on this philosopher's advice that, in order to catch the public ear, he produced the romance of Lina, which Sainte-Beuve has characterized as a mingled echo of Florian and Werther. Like several other literary men of the time, he obtained a post in the revenue office known as the Droits réunis; but from 1814 he devoted himself exclusively to literature and became a contributor to various journals. Already favourably known by his Essai sur l'art d'être heureux (Paris, 1806), his Eloge de Montaigne (1812), and his Essai sur le beau dans les arts (1815), he not only gained the Monthyon prize in 1823 by his work De la philosophie morale ou des différents systèmes sur la science de la vie, but also in 1824 obtained admission to the Académie Française. The main doctrine inculcated in this last treatise is that society will never be in a proper state till men have been educated to think of their duties and not of their rights. It was followed in 1825 by Application de la morale à la philosophie et à la politique, and in 1829 by Economie politique, ou principes de la science des richesses, a methodical and clearly written treatise, which was edited by Michel Chevalier in 1854. His next and greatest work was a Histoire du règne de Louis XVI (3 vols., Paris, 1839-1842). As he advanced in life Droz became more and more decidedly religious, and the last work of his prolific pen was Pensées du Christianisme (1842). Few have left so blameless a reputation: in the words of Sainte-Beuve, he was born and he remained all his life of the race of the good and the just.

See Guizot, Discours académiques; Montalembert, "Discours de réception," in Mémoires de l'Académie française; Sainte-Beuve, Causeries du lundi, t. iii.; Michel Chevalier, Notice prefixed to the Economie politique.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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