“Done out of French.” An Essay upon the Action of an Orator; as to his Pronunciation & Gesture, Michel le Faucheur.
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 19 May 2017
In his epic collecting frenzy, our great benefactor, Selwyn Oxley, collected an eclectic mixture of books old and (then) new. They could be on any aspect of deafness or hearing loss, but included what we might consider related topics such as voice and gesture. That is why we have a copy of An Essay upon the Action of an Orator; as to his Pronunciation and Gesture. Useful both for Divines and Lawyers, and necessary for all young Gentlemen, that study how to speak well in Publick. Done out of French. There is neither a date, nor is the author named, but it seems he was a Swiss Frenchman, Michel Le Faucheur, and that the English edition was produced in approximately 1680-1702, depending on who you believe. It seems to have been very influential in Britain according to Gaillet (1994), and in addition to the Essay which was written towards the end of his life, he produced what Farnum (1964) called a ‘mighty tome on the Eucharist’ and what were then, famous sermons.
Born in Geneva around 1585, Le Faucheur was of French extraction, his Huguenot family having it seems fled from La Rochelle. One of his teachers was Theodore Beza. Aged eighteen he became a pastor in Dijon, later in Montpellier. From 1626 until his death, he was pastor at Charenton. In 1632* Cardinal Richelieu wanted to get him on his side and tried a bribe, but when Le Faucheur refused he was denied permission to preach. In her Phd thesis, Emily Farnum says Richelieu “is Le Faucheur’s fatal antagonist” (p. 262).
Le Faucheur died in 1657, having never married. He seems to be a very interesting person, worthy of reconsideration, especially for those interested in the French Wars of Religion.
Gaillet, Lynée Lewis, Michel Le Faucheur (1585- 1657), p.70-74 in, Eighteenth-century British and American Rhetorics and Rhetoricians: Critical Studies and Sources. ed. Michael G. Moran, 1994.
MICHEL LE FAUCHEUR AND HIS INFLUENCE (IN THREE VOLUMES) FARNUM, EMILY. The University of Wisconsin – Madison, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1964. 6413872
Second Edition of ‘An Essay…’
Onsberg, Merete, [Review of] Paul Goring’s The Rhetoric of Sensibility in Eighteenth-Century Culture, Rhetorical Review 4:2 (June 2006)
*See a discussion in Farnum of this episode.