Chardin, Sir John

, a celebrated traveller, the son of an opulent protestant jeweller, was born at Paris Nov. 16, 1643. For some time it is probable that he followed his father’s profession; but he was only twenty-two years old when, in 1664 (not 1665, as Niceron says), he went to the East Indies. There he remained for six years, | passing his time chiefly in Persia. He published no regular account of this voyage, which he modestly says he conceived might be uninteresting, but confined himself to a detail of certain events of which he had been an eye-witness. This was contained in a twelves volume printed at Paris in 1671, the year after he returned, under the title of “Le Couronnement de Soliman II. roi de Perse, et ce qui s’est passe de plus memorable darts les deux premieres anne*es de son regne.” In this work he was assisted by a Persian nobleman, Mirza Sefi, one of the most learned men of the kingdom, who was at that time in disgrace, and confined to his palace at Ispahan, where Mr. Chardin was entertained and instructed by him in the Persian language and history. It is introduced by a dedication to the king which, according to the “Carpenteriana,” was written by M. Charpentier. M. Petis de la Croix criticised the work with soijae severity, as to the orthography and etymology of some Persian words, and Tavernier objected to the title, insisting that Soliman never wore the crown; but Chardin found an able defender in P. Ange de la Brosse.

After Chardin’s return to Paris, he remained there only fifteen months, the king of Persia having made him his agent in 1666, and commissioned him to purchase several trinkets of value. Chardin accordingly left Paris Aug.|l7, 1671, and set sail in November from Leghorn in a vessel bound for Smyrna, again visited Persia, and did not return to Europe until 1677. He now determined to settle in England, and came to London in April 1681, and on the 24th of that month was knighted by Charles II. The same day he married a young lady of Rouen, the daughter of a protestant refugee in London. Next year he was chosen a fellow of the royal society. After this, Charles II. sent him to Holland; and in 1683, we find him there as agent for the English East India Company. In 1686 he published the first part of his Voyages, (the other not appearing until 1711), under the title of “Journal duVoyage de Chardin en Perse, et aux Inde? Orientates, par la Mer Noire et par la Colchide,” folio. This was immediately translated into English under his inspection, and published the same year. The dedication to James II. is singular for a high complimentary strain, arising from his gratitude to Charles and James for their patronage of him, and, what he was more unfortunate in attempting, a prophecy of the | duration of James’s reign. After this he carried on a considerable trade in jewels, but continued his studies of the oriental languages and antiquities. The continuation of his Travels was published along with the first part much enlarged at Amsterdam in 3 vols. 4to, and 10 vols. 8vo, with plates on which he employed the skill of M. Grelot, being himself no draftsman. There was also a new edition at Amsterdam in 1735, 4 vols. 4to*. He died, according to Musgrave’s “Adversaria,” on Dec. 26, and not Jan. 5, 1713, as the French biographers report, and the register of C his wick proves that he was buried there December 29. There is no memorial of him at Chiswick, but there is a monument to his memory in Westminster Abbey, with only this inscription, “Sir John Chardin. Nomen sibi fecit enndo.” He lived in his latter days at a house in Turnham-green, which at his death was sold to Thomas Lutwyche, esq. His Travels have been translated into English, or at least large extracts in Harris’s and other collections of voyages, and into German, and Flemish; and as they contain authentic and valuable information with regard to the religion, manners, products, and commerce, &c. of the countries he visited, they obtained an extensive circulation. Among other curious particulars, he records several medical facts; and particularly an account of his own case, when he was attacked with a dangerous fever at Gombron, and cured by the country physicians, who employed the repeated affusion of cold water. This fact has suggested an useful hint to modern practitioners.

In the preface to his Voyages, he promised other works, as “A Geography of Persia;” “A Compendious History of that Empire, taken from Persian Authors;” and “Observations on Passages of the Holy Scripture, explained by the manners and customs of the East,” but the two former never appeared, and the latter was discovered by a public advertisement In 1770, sir John’s descendants advertised a reward of twenty guineas for this manuscript, which they call “A Commentary or Explanation of the Old Testament, from the manners and customs of the East, written in French by sir J. Chardin,” and which, they add, about twenty years before, i. e. 1750, was seen by a gentleman

*

Two years ago M. L. Langles, keeper of the French Imperial library, published a new edition of Chardin’s Travels, 10 vols. 8vo, with a folio At las, Paris, 1811; but we find no particulars of Chardin’s life which we had not before collected.

| in the possession of Dr. Oldfield. It was describecTto have been a thin quarto volume, in a very small hand. But when Mr. Harmer compiled his “Observations on divers passages of Scripture, &c.” illustrated by books of travels, he recovered this treasure by means of sir William Jlusgrave, bart. in whose possession it was, not a single quarto volume, but six small ms volumes, the principal part of which Mr. Harmer incorporated in his valuable work. 1
1

Chaufrpie.—Moreri.—Sir Win. Musgrave’s Adversaria in Brit. Mus.— Lysons’s Environs, vol. II.—Harmer’s Preface.—Haller Bibl. Botan.—Saxii. Onomasticon.