Born at Lyon, he entered the diplomatic service in 1876 and became in 1878 consul in London. After an interval spent in Tunis he returned to London in 1887 as a member of the French Embassy. In 1890 he became French minister at Copenhagen, and in 1902 was transferred to Washington, where he remained until 1925.
A close student of English literature, he produced some very lucid and vivacious monographs on comparatively little-known subjects:
Le Théâtre en Angleterre depuis la conquête jusqu'aux prédécesseurs immédiats de Shakespeare (1878)
Le Roman au temps de Shakespeare (1887; Eng. trans. by Miss E. Lee, 1890)
Les Anglais au Moyen Âge: la vie nomade et les routes d'Angleterre au XIVe siècle (1884; Eng. trans., English Wayfaring Life in the Middle Ages, by LT Smith, 1889)
L'Épopée de Langland (1893; Eng. trans., Piers Plowman, 1894).
His Histoire littéraire du peuple anglais, the first volume of which was published in 1895, was completed in three volumes in 1909. In English he wrote A French Ambassador at the Court of Charles II (1892), from the unpublished papers of the count de Cominges.
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