It is as a classicist that Johann Adolph Scheibe has entered the annals of music history, either as a propagator of the principles of French literary classicism, or as a champion of a ‘galant’ style that later critics would view as a foundation for a German musical classicism. But if Scheibe insisted on a quality of striking simplicity, using words clearly indebted to those of Nicolas Boileau, the doyen of seventeenth-century French critics, he was no classicist according to the French model. While all classicists depend to a certain degree on the regulation of their material – for such regulation aids them in their quest for the perfect fit between parts and whole – they will differ in how they choose to balance the codification of technique and the regulation of style, on the one hand, with the evocation of emphatic or ‘sublime’ experiences, on the other. If Boileau sought the ‘marvellous’ quality that strikes like lightening, Scheibe wished for clarity. Drawing on scholarship in the history of literature, this article first examines the origins and point of French classicist literary aesthetics, then traces the fate of these aesthetics as they were transferred from France to Germany and from literature to music.