Beaumarchais, Pierre Augustin Caron de, the son of a watchmaker named Caron, was born at Paris in 1732. Though devoted to music he stuck to his father's trade, and an ingenious invention which he had to protect by an appeal to law, brought him to the notice of Louis XV., who first appointed him court watchmaker, and then comptroller of the household. He next gave lessons in music to the three princesses. Allying himself with Paris Duverney, the notorious speculator, he grew rich and was ennobled by the king. In 1764 he went to Madrid, where he picked up materials for his Figaro, and by his adventures with Clavigo provided Goethe with the theme for a drama. A protracted lawsuit led to the publication of his factums, or statements of case, full of argument, wit, and satire, that conduced not a little to the spread of revolutionary ideas. About the same time he produced several of his plays, the Barbier de Seville appearing in 1775. He acted in London as the secret agent of France to foment the outbreak of the American colonies, and as a speculation sent out cargoes of arms and ammunition, for which he did not get paid. In 1784 his masterpiece, Le Mariage de Figaro, was brought out under some difficulties and won him enormous credit. He threw himself with some ardour into the revolution, but during the Reign of Terror was imprisoned and narrowly escaped the guillotine. After some years of poverty he died suddenly in 1799.