Anquetil-Duperron, Abraham Hyacinth

, brother to the preceding, was born at Paris, Dec. 7, 1731. After having studied at the university of Paris, where he acquired an extensive knowledge of the Hebrew, he was invited to Auxerre by M. de Caylus, then the bishop, who induced him to study divinity, first at the academy in, his diocese, and afterwards at Amersfort, near Utrecht; but Anquetil had no inclination for the church, and returned with avidity to the study of the Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian. Neither the solicitations of M. de Caylus, nor the hopes of preferment, could detain him at Amersfort longer than he thought he had learned all that was to be learned there. He returned therefore to Paris, where his constant attendance at the royal library, and diligence in study, recommended him to the abbé Sallier, | keeper of the manuscripts, who made him known to his friends, and furnished him with a moderate maintenance, under the character of student of the Oriental languages. The accidentally meeting with some manuscripts in the Zend, the language in which the works attributed to Zoroaster are written, created in him an irresistible inclination to visit the East in search of them. At this time an expedition for India was fitting out at port l’Orient, and when he found that the applications of his friends were not sufficient to procure him a passage, he entered as a common soldier; and on Nov. 7, 1754, left Paris, with his knapsack on his back. His friends no sooner heard of this wild step, than they had recourse to the minister, who surprized at so uncommon an instance of literary zeal, ordered him to be provided with a free passage, a seat at the captain’s table, and other accommodations. Accordingly, after a nine months voyage, he arrived Aug. 10, 1755, at Pondicherry. Remaining there such time as was necessary to acquire a knowledge of the modern Persian, he went to Chandernagor, where he hoped to learn the Sanscrit; but sickness, which confined him for some months, and the war which broke out between France and England, and in which Chandernagor was taken, disappointed his plans. He now set out for Pondicherry by land, and after incredible fatigue and hardships, performed the journey of about four hundred leagues in about an hundred days. At Pondicherry he found one of his brothers arrived from France, and sailed with him for Surat, but, landing at Mahe, completed his journey on foot. At Surat, by perseverance and address, he succeeded in procuring and translating some manuscripts, particularly the “Vendidade-Sade,” a dictionary; and he was about to have gone to Benares, to study the language, antiquities, and sacred laws of the Hindoos, when the capture of Pondicherry obliged him to return to Europe. Accordingly, he came in an English vessel to London, where he spent some time, visited Oxford, and at length arrived at Paris May 4, 1762, without fortune, or the wish to acquire it; but rich in an hundred and eighty manuscripts and other curiosities. The abbé Barthelemi, however, and his other friends, procured him a pension, with the title and place of Oriental interpreter in the royal library. In 1763, the academy of belles-lettres elected him an associate, and from that time he devoted himself to the arrangement | and publication of the valuable materials he had collected. In 1771, he published his “Zend-Avesta,” 3 vols. 4to a work of Zoroaster, from the original Zend, with a curious account of his travels, and a life of Zoroaster. In 1778 he published his “Legislation Orientale,” 4to, ii which, by a display of the fundamental principles of government in the Turkish, Persian, and Indian dominions, he proves, first, that the manner in which most writers have hitherto represented despotism, as if it were absolute in these three empires, is entirely groundless; secondly, that in Turkey, Persia, and Indostan, there are codes of written law, which affect the prince as well as the subject; and thirdly, that in these three empires, the inhabitants are possessed of property, both in movable and immovable goods, which they enjoy with entire liberty. In 1786 appeared his “Recherches historiques et geographiques sur ITnde,” followed in 1789, by his treatise on the dignity of Commerce and the commercial state. During the revolutionary period, he concealed himself among his books, but in 1798 appeared again as the author of “L‘Inde au rapport avec l’Europe,” 2 vols. 8vo. In 1804, he published a Latin translation from the Persian of the “Oupnek' hat, or Upanischada,” i. e. “secrets which must not be revealed,” 2 vols. 4to. Not long before his death he was elected a member of the institute, but soon after gave in his resignation, and died at Paris, Jan. 17, 1805. Besides the works already noticed, he contributed many papers to the academy on the subject of Oriental languages and antiquities, and left behind him the character of one of the ablest Oriental scholars in France, and a man of great personal worth and amiable manners. His biographer adds, that he refused the sum of 30,000 livres, which was offered by the English, for his manuscript of the Zend-­Avesta. 1


Biog. Universelle. Month, Rer. vol. LXI. -—Dict. Hist.orique. Saxii. Onomasticon, vol. VIII.