Basnage, James

de Franquener, son of the preceding, and the most celebrated of his family, was born at Roan in Normandy, Aug. 8, 1653, and received an education suitable to the talents which his father discovered in him. He first studied under the celebrated Tanaquil Faber, who made him his favourite scholar, but endeavoured to dissuade him from engaging in the ministry. At seventeen years of age, after he had made the Greek and Latin authors familiar to him, and learned the English., Italian, and Spanish languages, he went to Geneva, where he passed through a course of philosophy under Mr. Chouet. He began his divinity studies there under Mestrezat, Turretin, and Tronchin, and finished them at Sedan under the professors Juricu and Le Blanc de Beaulieu. But disliking Mr. Jurieu’s less tolerant sentiments, he applied himself more particularfy to the latter, who was a divine of a moderate and pacific temper. He returned afterwards to Roan; and the learned Mr. Le Moine having been called to the professorship of divinity at Leyden, Mr. Basnage succeeded him, as pastor of the church of Roan in 1676, though he was then but twenty three years of age, and here studied ecclesiastical history and the fathers, and went on with the collections which he had begun at Geneva and Sedan. In 1684 he married Susanna du Moulin, daughter of Cyrus du Moulin, first cousin of Charles du Moulin, the Papinian of France, and grand-daughter of the famous Peter du | Moulin. The exercise of the protestant religion being suppressed at Roan in 1685, and Mr. Basnage being no longer allowed to perform the functions of his ministry, hedesired leave of the king to retire into Holland, and obtained it for himself, his wife, and a nurse; but upon condition, that the nurse should return into France at the end of two years. He settled at‘Rotterdam, where he was a minister pensionary till 1691, when he was made pastor of the Walloon church of that city. The works which he wrote raised him a great reputation over all Europe and he kept a correspondence with a great many learned men both in the United Provinces, and in foreign countries. His studies employed the greater part of his time, and his only relaxation was a select society of men of learning-, who met once a week at each other’s houses. The principal members of this little society were Messrs. Paatz, Basnage, De Beauval, his brother, Bayle, Lufneu, and Leers. Their contests were sometimes sharp, but friendly, and there was that candid interchange of sentiment from which Basnage confessed that he had derived great advantage. He had frequent disputes with Mr. Jurieu, his brother-in-law, particularly on the subject of the revolt of the Cevennois, which Jurieu approved and Basnage condemned. The author of his life mentions a conference which they had upon that subject, in 1703, in which Jurieu was obliged by the reasons of his antagonist to condemn the cruelties of the Camisars, and he only urged in their justification, that they had been used with rigour, and had lost patience. In 1709 pensionary Heinsius, who had a great regard for him, procured him to be chosen one of the pastors of the Walloon church at the Hague. He was then employed to manage a secret negotiation with mareschal D’Uxelles, plenipotentiary of France at the congress of Utrecht; and he executed it with so much success, that he was afterwards entrusted with several important commissions. Cardinal de Bouillon, dean of the Sacred College, who was then in Holland, imparted to him all his concerns with the States. The abbe Du Bois, who was afterwards cardinal and first minister of France, having arrived at the Hague in 1716, with the character of ambassador plenipotentiary, to negotiate a defensive alliance between France, England, and the States General, was ordered by the duke of Orleans, regent of France, to apply to Mr. Basnage for his advice, the consequence of which was, that they acted | in concert, and the alliance was concluded Jan. 14, As a reward for this service, he obtained the restitution of his estate in France. He corresponded with several princes, nohlemen, and statesmen, both catholic and protestant, and with a great many learned men in France, Italy, Germany, and England, upon subjects of a political or literary nature. The catholics appear to have confided as much in his opinion as the protestants, of which we have a remarkable instance in a French archbishop. This prelate, perplexed to know what step to take respecting the bull Unigenitus, the rigours of which put an end to the last hopes of reconciliation between the catholic and protestant churches, consulted Basnage, and requested to know how he would himself act, if in his place. Basnage replied, that it did not perhaps become him to give advice in a case of so much difficulty: but suggested that the archbishop ought to examine himself whether he acknowledged the pope’s authority, or not: that in the first case he was obliged to admit the constitution; that in the second case he might reject it; but he should consider, that if he argued consequentially, this would carry him farther than he would go. Basnage was a man of great sincerity and candour, and had a politeness seldom to be met with among learned men. He was affable and -easy in his behaviour, and always ready to use his interest in favour of the unfortunate. He answered every person who consulted him with the utmost affability and kindness. He was a good friend, a man of great probity, and though he confuted errors with zeal and spirit, yet he treated the persons themselves with peculiar moderation. His constitution, which before had been very firm, began to decline in 1722; and after a lingering illness he died with exemplary piety, Dec. 22, 1723, in the seventy-first year of his age. He left only one daughter, who was married to Mr. de la Sarraz, privy counsellor to the king of Poland.

The favourite studies of his life, and much of his character, may be ascertained from his works, which were very numerous: 1. “Examen des Methodes,” &c. Cologne, 1684, 12mo; or an examination of the methods proposed by the assembly of the clergy of France in 1682. Simon answered some remarks in this work on his “Critical History.” 2. “Consideration sur Tetat de ceux qui sont tombez.” This consists of letters sent to the church of Koan respecting some faliing-off among its members. | Rotterdam, 1686, 12mo. 3. “Reponse a M. l’Eveque de Meaux sur sa lottre pastorale,Cologne, 1686, 12mo; all the preceding without his name. 4. “Divi Chrysostomi Epistola ad Ciesariiun Monachum, &c.” To this epistle are added three dissertations on the heresy of Apollinaris, on the works attributed to Athanasius, and an answer to father Simon. It was printed at Rotterdam, 1687, 8vo, and reprinted there 1694, under the title of “Dissertationes Historico-Theologicae.” 5. “La Communion Sainte,” a treatise on worthily communicating-, Rotterdam, 1688, 8vo, reprinted at least ten times, and even adopted as a pious and useful work, by some of the popish clergy. 6. “Histoire de la Religion des Eglises Reformees, &c.” containing an account of the succession of the reformed churches, the perpetuity of their faith, especially since the eighth century, the establishment of the reformation, the continuation of the same doctrines from the reformation to the present time, with an history of the origin and progress of the chief errors of the Roman church, in answer to the bishop of Meaux.‘ s “History of the variations of the Protestant churches.” This was first published at Rotterdam, 2 vols. 12mo, reprinted by the author in his church history in 1699, but enlarged and published separately in 1721, 5 vols. 8vo, and after the author’s death, in 1725, 2 vols. 4to; the best and most complete edition. 7. “Traite de la conscience,” Amst. 1696, 2 vols. 8vo; Lyons, 3 vols. 12mo. This is partly an answer to Bayle’s philosophical commentary, 8. “Lett-res Pastorales,” intended to animate the protestants on the renewal of persecution, 1698, 4to. 9. “Histoire de l‘Eglise depuis Jesus Christ jusqu’a present,Rotterdam, 2 vols. fol. 10. “Traite des prejugez,” in answer to the pastoral charges of the French prelates de Noailles, Colbert, Bossuet, and Nesmond, 1701, 3 vols. 8vo. 11.“Defense clu Tniite’ des prejugez, &c.Delft, 1703, 8vo. 12. “Dissertation historique sur l’usage de la Benediction nuptiale,” inserted in the History -of the Works of the Learned, for 1703, an attack upon some of the popish marriage ceremonies. 13. “Dissertation sur la maniere dont le Canon de PEcriture Sainte s’est forme, &c.” intended as an apology for what he had said in his Church History against Mr. Richardson’s “Defence of the Canon of the New Testament.” 14. “Histoire de l’ancien et du nouveau Testament,” Aoist. fol. 1705, with cuts by de Hoo-e, | often reprinted, and in various forms. 15. “Histoire des Juifs,Rotterdam, 1706, 5 vols. 12mo, Hague, 1716, 15 vols. 12mo, translated into English by Taylor, 1706, fol. and an abridgment of the English by Crull, 1708, 2 vols. 8vo. It appears that Dupin had reprinted this work at Paris, without consulting the author, and with alterations adapted to the sentiments of the church of Rome. This occasioned Basnage to publish a sixth, or supplementary volume, under the title of, 16. “L’Histoire des Juifs reclamee et retabiie par son veritable auteur, &c.” Rott. 1711, 12mo. 17. “Entretiens sur la Religion,Rotterdam, 1709, 12mo, and frequently reprinted, and in 17 13 enlarged to two vols. 12mo, but without his name. 38. “Sermons sur divers sujets, &c.” Rott. 2 vols. 8vo, on which Niceron makes a curious remark, that there is more morality in them than is generally in those of the Protestants. 19. “Prospectus novae editionis Canisii, Dacherii, &c.” He had undertaken an improved edition of Canisius’s “Lectiones antiquoe,” but his booksellers not being able to support the expence, transferred it to the Wetsteins, who published this great collection under the title of “Thesaurus Monumentorum Eccl. et Hist. &c.Antwerp, 1725, 7 vols. fol. 20. “Preface sur la tluree de la persecution,” prefixed to Claude’s “Complaints of the Protestants.” 21. “Antiquitez Judaiques, ou Remarques critiques sur la Republique des Hebreux,” Amst. 1713, 2 vols. 8vo, intended as critical remarks on Cunauis “De Republica Hebracorum.” 22. “Reflexions desinterress^es sur la Constitution du pape Clement XI. qui condamne le nouveau Testament du P. Quesnel,” Amst. 1714, 8vo. 23. “L‘unite’, la visibilite”, &c. de l’Eglise,“Amst. 1715, 8vo. 24.” Avis sur la tenue d’un Concile National en France, &c.“1715, 8vo, without his name. 25.” L’etat present de TEglise Gallicane,“chiefly on the conduct of pope Clement XI. Amst. 17L9, 12mo. 26.” Instructions pastorales aux Reformez de France,“concerning obedience due to the king, 1720, 12mo. This was written at the desire of the regent duke of Orleans, yet it was attempted to be answered by Catelan, a French bishop. The controversy, however, was carried on between him and Basnage with great liberality. 27.” Annales des Provinces Unies,“vol.1. Hague, fol. 1719. This volume contains the history of the united provinces from 1646 to 1667. The second, published in 1726, proceeds as far | as the peace of Nimeguen in 1678. This valuable work was undertaken at the request of the counsellor deputies of Holland and West Friesland, who furnished the author with materials from their archives. 28.” Nouveaux Sermons,“1720, 8vo. 29.” Dissertation historique sur les Duels et les ordres de Chevalerie." This dissertation on duels is said to be a very curious work. Besides these, M. Basnage was an occasional contributor to the literaryjournals, and left many manuscripts. His style, in the greater part of his writings, is inferior to his matter, a remark which belongs generally to voluminous writers. 1


Gen. Dict. Memoirs of Literature, vol. IX. XII. and Xui. —Niceron. Fabric. Bibl. Grace.