Prompsault, Jean Henri Romain

Prompsault, Jean Henri Romain a French ecclesiastical writer, was born April 7, 1798, at Montalembert. He was the eldest of twelve children. After he had finished his classical studies in the little seminary, he was received into the large seminary of Valence, and was admitted to the priesthood two years before the required age, Nov. 5, 1821. At first employed to do curate's duty in the office of his parish, he taught dogmatic theology in the great seminary of Valence, and ended in doing parochial duty. Having been appointed in 1827 to the chair of philosophy in the College of Tournon, he refused, without being authorized by his bishop, to take the oath required by the professors by the ordinance of 1828. and was deposed. At the end of 1829 he went to Paris, and was attached to M. de Croi, then head chaplain to the hospital of Quinze Vingt, in the capacity of chaplain. He saved that establishment from downfall in 1831. In this humble position the abbe Prompsault, although scrupulously fulfilling the obligations of priest and chaplain, had yet considerable time to give to study. He put aside the largest share of the receipts of his publications and of his literary pension to buy books, and he formed an ecclesiastical library of 25,000 volumes. He began his literary career by publishing a critical edition of the works of Villon in 1832, and in 1835 he published a criticism of an edition of French literature published by Crapelet. This last work engaged him in a lively controversy with Crapelet, in which he defended himself with a calm and witty sarcasm which was afterwards the characteristic of his polemical writings. He occupied himself for many years with the Latin and Romance languages. In 1837 he published many translations of ascetic works. His principal study was canon law and the civil and ecclesiastical jurisprudence of France. Himself a thorough Gallican, he discarded the ultramontane tendencies of the French episcopacy, and advocated the liberties of the Gallican Church. In this spirit he attacked the encyclical of pope Pius IX, and brought such odium upon himself that he was led to retract much that he had uttered against ultra-Romanism, though at heart he always felt his first course to have been the true and proper one. His last years were imbittered by remorse, and he died Jan. 7, 1858, neglected by those for whom he had sacrificed his honor. Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, s.v. See Christian Renmembrancer, 44, 340; Vapereau, Dict. des Contemporains, s.v.

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