Alphonse Daudet

The Immortal – One Of The Forty

In the 1880 edition of Men of the Day, under the heading Astier-Réhu, may be read the following notice:—
Astier, commonly called Astier-Réhu (Pierre Alexandre Léonard), Member of the Académie Française, was born in 1816 at Sauvagnat (Puy-de-Dôme). His parents belonged to the class of small farmers. He displayed from his earliest years a remarkable aptitude for the study of history. His education, begun at Riom and continued at Louis-le-Grand, where he was afterwards to re-appear as professor, was more sound than is now fashionable, and secured his admission to the Ecole Normale Supérieure, from which he went to the Chair of History at the Lycée of Mende. It was here that he wrote the Essay on Marcus Aurelius, crowned by the Académie Française. Called to Paris the following year by M. de Salvandy, the young and brilliant professor showed his sense of the discerning favour extended to him by publishing, in rapid succession, The Great Ministers of Louis XIV. (crowned by the Académie Française), Bonaparte and the Concordat (crowned by the Académie Française), and the admirable Introduction to the History of the House of Orleans, a magnificent prologue to the work which was to occupy twenty years of his life. This time the Académie, having no more crowns to offer him, gave him a seat among its members. He could scarcely be called a stranger there, having married Mlle. Rèhu, daughter of the lamented Paulin Réhu, the celebrated architect, member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, and granddaughter of the highly respected Jean Réhu, the father of the Académie Française, the elegant translator of Ovid and author of the Letters to Urania, whose hale old age is the miracle of the Institute. By his friend and colleague M. Thiers Léonard Astier-Réhu was called to the post of Keeper of the Archives of Foreign Affairs.
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