World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Philippe Néricault Destouches


Philippe Néricault Destouches

Portrait of Philippe Néricault Destouches by Nicolas de Largillière (1741).

Philippe Néricault Destouches (9 April 1680 – 4 July 1754) was a French playwright who wrote 22 plays.


  • Biography 1
  • Memorable phrase 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Destouches was born at Tours, in today's department of Indre-et-Loire.

When he was nineteen years of age, he became secretary to M. de Puysieux, the French ambassador to Switzerland. In 1716 he was attached to the French embassy in London, where he remained for six years under abbé Dubois.

He later contracted a marriage with Dorothea Johnston, Lancashire lady; however, the marriage was not avowed for some years. In 1727 he portrayed his domestic circumstances in Le Philosophe Marié (The Married Philosopher).

Upon returning to France in 1723, he was elected to the Académie française. In 1727 he acquired considerable estates, the possession of which conferred the privileges of nobility.

He spent his later years at Fortoiseau, his chateau near Melun, and died July 4, 1754.

Destouches wished to revive the comedy of character as understood by Molière, but he thought it desirable that the moral should be directly expressed.

His early comedies were:

  • Le Curieux Impertinent (1710)
  • L'Ingrat (1712)
  • L'Irrésolu (1713)
  • Le Médisant (1715)
  • La Fausse Veuve (1715)
  • Le Triple Mariage (1716)
  • L'Obstacle Imprévu (1717)

The most highly regarded of these is L'Irrésolu (The Irresolute Man), in which Dorante, after vacillating throughout the play between Julie and Climène, marries Julie, but concludes the play with the reflection, "J'aurais mieux fait, je crois, d'épouser Climène" ("I would have done better, I think, to marry Climène").

After eleven years of diplomatic service, Destouches returned to the stage in 1727 with Le Philosophe Marié, followed in 1730 by Les Philosophes Amoureux and in 1732 by Le Glorieux, a picture of the struggle then beginning between the old nobility and the wealthy parvenus who found opportunity in the poverty of France.

He then wrote:

  • La Pupille (1734)
  • L'Ambitieux et l'Indiscrète (1737)
  • Les Dehor Trompeurs (1740)
  • La Belle Orgueilleuse (1741)
  • L'Amour Use (1741)
  • Les Amours de Ragonde (1742)

His later comedies were:

  • La Force du Naturel (1750)
  • Le Jeune Homme á l'Épreuve (1751)
  • Le Dissipateur (1753)

His last three plays were produced posthumously. They were:

  • La Fausse Agnès (1759)
  • Le Tambour Nocturne (1762)
  • L'Homme Singulier (1764, his last play)

Memorable phrase

Destouches's 1717 dramatic comedy L'Obstacle Imprévu (Act I, sc. vi) was the origin of the oft-quoted maxim, “The absent are always in the wrong.”[1] Bergen Evans, in his Dictionary of Quotations, said:

“Though Néricault ... is credited with the first statement of this thought in this form, the idea is old and, in other forms, universal.”[2]


  1. ^ Magill, Frank N. (1969). Magill's Quotations in Context. vol II. New York: Harper & Row. p. 1. 
  2. ^ Evans, Bergen (1968). Dictionary of Quotations. New York: Delacorte Press. p. 2. 

External links

Preceded by
Jean Galbert de Campistron
Seat 6
Académie française

Succeeded by
Louis de Boissy
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.