John Barclay (poet) bigraphy, stories - Literary

John Barclay (poet) : biography

28 January 1582 - 15 August 1621

John Barclay (Pont-à-Mousson, 28 January 1582 — Rome, 15 August 1621) was a Scottish writer, satirist and neo-Latin poet.


He was born in Pont-à-Mousson, Lorraine, France, where his father, William Barclay, held the chair of civil law. His mother was a Frenchwoman. His early education was obtained at the Jesuit College at Pont-a-Mousson. While there, at the age of nineteen, he wrote a commentary on the Thebais of Statius.

The Jesuits endeavored to induce him to join their order; but his father refused to give his consent and took him to England in 1603. Barclay had persistently maintained his Scottish nationality in his French surroundings, and probably found in James VI and I's accession an opportunity which he would not let slip. In early 1604 John Barclay presented James with a Latin poem, "Kalendm Januaria", and afterward dedicated to him the first part of his Euphormionis Satyricon (Eiiphormwnis Lunnii Satyricon) against the Jesuits. He returned to France by 1605, when a second edition of that book appeared in Paris, having spent some time in Angers. He was the husband of a Frenchwoman, Louise Debonaire. Barclay and his wife returned to London in 1606, and there published his Sylvae, a collection of Latin poems. In 1607 the second part of the Satyricon appeared in Paris. In 1616 he went to Rome, for unexplained reasons, and resided there until his death on 15 August 1621, aged 39.


In 1609 Barclay edited the De Potestate Papae, an anti-papal treatise by his father, who had died in the preceding year, and in 1611 he issued an Apologia or "third part" of the Satyricon, in answer to the attacks of the Jesuits. A so-called "fourth part," with the title of Icon Animorum, describing the character and manners of the European nations, appeared in 1614.

He appears to have been on better terms with the Church and notably with Bellarmine; for in 1617 he issued, from a press at Rome, a Paraeneis ad Sectarios, an attack on the position of Protestantism. Later editions were published in Cologne. The literary effort of his closing years was his best-known work the Argenis, a political romance, resembling in certain respects the Arcadia of Sidney, and the Utopia of More, completed about a fortnight before his death, which has been said to have been hastened by poison.

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