Chamfort, Or Champfort, Sebastien Roth Nicolas, a French author, born near Clermont, in Au-vergne, in 1741, died in Paris, April 13, 1794. He received a superior education, became successively a lawyer's clerk, a tutor, and secretary of a gentleman of Liege, and a writer for the Revue encyclopedique. He had to contend with many difficulties till 1764, when the successful performance of his comedy La jeune Indienne improved his prospects. His play Le marchand de Smyrne (1770) is regarded as his masterpiece, though his tragedy Mustaplia et Zeangir (1776) was more successful, chiefly owing to the partiality for it of Louis XVI., and particularly of Marie Antoinette; and a pension of 1,200 livres was granted him, besides a salary of 2,000 livres as secretary of the prince of Conde. He soon resigned the latter employment to join Mme. Helvetius at Au-teuil, who had befriended him during his early struggles. After having won several academical prizes, and one for the best eloge on La Fontaine, instituted by Necker in the hope that La Harpe, who was among the competitors, would win it, Chamfort was admitted to the academy in 1781. He afterward became reader to Madame Elisabeth, for whom he prepared a commentary on La Fontaine's tables.

Smarting to some extent under the patronizing manners of French princes and nobles toward men of letters in their employ, he sympathized with the revolution, and the title of the pamphlet of Sieves on the tiers etat, as well as the saying Guerre aux chateaux, paix aux chau-miires, and other pithy utterances, have been ascribed to him. He prepared for Mirabeau his Discours sur les academies, and also assisted Talleyrand in some of his reports. But subsequently he was frightened by the excesses of the terrorists, and defined the doctrine of equality as signifying Sois mon frere ou je te tue. Placed under arrest, he was released after a few days and resumed the directorship of the national library, to which he had been appointed. His arrest being again determined upon, he inflicted serious wounds upon himself while attempting to blow out his brains and to cut his throat with his razor, declaring that he would rather die by his own hand in the full enjoyment of his liberty than submit to the slavery of a dungeon. He was restored to health, but a relapse ended his life. Mirabcau called him une tete electrique, and Grimm, Chateaubriand, and Sainte-Beuve all refer to his influence.

M. Auguis published the most complete edition of his works, with a notice of his life and writings (5 vols., Paris, 1824-,5). See also Œuvres de Chamfort, by Arsene Hous-saye (1852), and Pensees, maximes, anecdotes, dialogues, with a biography of Chamfort, by P. J. Stahl (new enlarged ed., with letters from Mirabeau to Chamfort, 1860).

Chameleon (Charaelio vulgaris).

Chameleon (Charaelio vulgaris).