Marechal, Pierre Sylvain

Marechal, Pierre Sylvain a noted French atheist, was born at Paris, Aug. 15, 1750, and was destined by his father to the mercantile profession. Preferring a literary life, his father educated him for the profession of law. Pierre, however, was determined to get a livelihood from his friends, and eschewed all personal care. When inclined to work, he would write something for the daily press, and, endowed with great facility of the pen and a vivid imagination, he soon gained great notoriety for his excellences as a writer. Had he remained within his legitimate channels, his name would have had no interest for us; but Pierre, believing that popularity must be gained at the expense even of manhood and morality, courted the tendency of his age, and became a scoffer of religion and decency. In imitation of Lucretius, he published the fragments of a moral (!) poem, which denies the existence of a God. Not sufficing to provoke public attention to him, he next attacked the Bible, parodied the prophetical writers, and applied himself to all manner of work to further the interests of atheism. Sad, indeed, was the life of such a being as Pierre Sylvain Marechal, and as his life so was his death. When the hour of his departure had arrived, Jan. 18, 1803 (at Montrouge, near Paris), he was heard to exclaim, "Mes amis, la nuit est venue pour moi." His works are noticed in detail in Hoefer's Nouv. Biog. Generale, 32:522 sq. See also Lalande, Notice sur S. Marechal (1803). (J. H.W.)

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