Hardouin, John

, a French Jesuit, eminent for his great parts, learning, and singularities of opinion, was born of obscure parents, at Kimper in Bretagne, in 1647. He entered young in the society of Jesuits, and devoted himself to the study of the belles lettres, the learned languages, history, philosophy, and divinity. In 1684, he published in 4to, a work entitled “Nummi antiqui populorum & urbium illustrati” in which he often gave explications very singular, and as contrary to truth as to good sense. The same year he published, in conjunction with Petavius, Themistii Orationes xxxiii. cum notis,“folio,; | and the year following, in 5 vols. 4to, for the use of the dauphin,” Plinii Historic Naturalis libri xxxvii, interpretatione & notis illustrati,“of which a much improved edition appeared at Paris in 1723, 3 vols. folio. Hitherto he confined himself to profane learning, where his whimsies were not supposed capable of doing much harm; but now he began to tamper with religious subjects; and in 1687, he published his book entitled” De Baptismo qu<fistio triplex.“Two years after appeared his 4< Antirrheticus de nummis antiquis colouiarum & municipiorum,” in 4to; aud also “S. Joannis Chrysostorni Epistola ad Cacsarium Monachum, notis ac clissertatione de sacramento altaris,” in 4to. Le Clerc having made some reflections upon “St. Chrysostom’s Letter to Cassarius,” Hardouin replied, in a piece printed in 1690, and entitled “Defence de la l.ettre de S. Jean Chrysostome, addressee a l’Auteur cle la Bibliotheque Universelle:” to which Le Clerc returned an answer in the nineteenth volume of that work.

In 1693, he printed at Paris, in 2 vols, 4to, “Chronologize ex nummis antiquis restitute prolusio, de nummis Herodiadum:” in which he opened more fully that strange paradoxical system, of which he had yet done little more than give hints. He undertakes to prove from medals, that the greater part of those writings which are considered as ancient, were forged by monks of the thirteenth century, who gave to them the several names of Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, &c. Tertullian, Origen, Basil, Augustin, &c. He excepts only out of this monkish manufacture the works of Cicero, Pliny’s “Natural History,Virgil’s “Georgics,” and Horace’s “Satires and Epistles/‘ These he supposes the only genuine monuments of antiquity remaining, except some few inscriptions and fasti: and with the assistance of these, he is of opinion that these monks drew np and published all the other ancient writings, as Terence’s” Plays,“Livy’s and Tacitus’s” Histories,“Virgil’sEneid,“Horace’s” Odes,“&c. Nay, he carried this whim so far, that he fancied he could see plainly enough that Æneas in Virgil was designed for Jesus Christ, and Horace’s mistress Lalage for the Christian religion. Absurd as all this may seem, he appears to have seriously believed k himself, and was persuaded that his reasons for it were clear and evident; though he would not publish them to the world, nor explain his system, which he was frequently called upon to do. This work was suppressed | by public authority at Paris. He afterwards publishedA Letter upon three Samaritan Medals;“” An Essay towards the restoring Chronology by Medals of Constantino’s age,’ 7 and “A Chronology of the Old Testament, conformable to the vulgar translation, illustrated by ancient Medals;” all which were likewise suppressed, on account of the paradoxes contained in them.

Still persisting in his opinion, in some letters, written to Mons. Ballanfaux, and printed at Luxemburg in 1700, he speaks of “an impious faction begun a long while ago, which still subsists, and which by forging an infinite number of writings, that seem to breathe nothing but piety, appears to have no other design than to remove God out of the hearts of mankind, and to overturn all religion.” Mr. La Croze refuted his notion concerning the forgery of the ancient writings, in a Dissertations historiques sur divers sujets, Rot. 1707;“and in” Vindiciae veterum Scriptorum contra J. Harduinum.“La Croze imagined, that Hardouin advanced his notions in concert with the society of Jesuits, or at least with his superiors, in order to set aside the ancient Greek and Latin sacred and profane writers, and so leave all clear to infallibility and tradition only; but Le Clerc was of opinion, that there was no ground for this supposition. In 1700 there was published at 4sterdam a volume in folio, entitled” Joannis Harduini opera selecta,“consisting of his” Nummi antiqui populorum et urbium illustrati;“” De Baptismo quaestio triplex;“edition of” St. Chrysostom’s Letter to Caesarius,“with the dissertation” De Sacramento Altaris;“” De nummis Herodiadum;“his” Discourse on the Last Supper,“which had been printed in 1693 a treatise in which he explains the medals of the age of Constantine” Chronology of the Old Testament, adjusted by the Vulgate translation, and illustrated by Medals“” Letters to M. de Ballanfaux“and other pieces. This volume made a great deal of noise before it was published. The author had corrected what he thought proper in the works he had already published; and then put them into the hands of a bookseller, who undertook to print them faithfully from the copy he had received. He began the impression with the author’s consent, and was considerably advanced in it, when the clamour raised against the paradoxes in those works obliged Hardouin to send an order to the bookseller to retrench the obnoxious passages. But the bookseller | refused to do it, and wrote an answer to him, alleging the reasons of his refusal. This immediately producedA Declaration of the father provincial of the Jesuits, and of the superiors of their houses at Paris, concerning a new edition of some works of father John Hardouin of the same society, which has been actually made contrary to their will hy the Sieur de Lorme, bookseller at Amsterdam,‘’‘ &c. At the bottom of this was Hardouin’s recantation, which runs in these curious terms " I subscribe sincerely to every thing contained in the preceding declaration I heartily condemn in my writings what it condemns in them, and particularly what I have said concerning an impious faction, which had forged some ages ago the greatest part of the ecclesiastical or profane writings, which have hitherto been considered as ancient. I am extremely sorry that I did not open my eyes before in this point. I think myself greatly obliged to my superiors in this society, who have assisted me in divesting myself of my prejudices. I promise never to advance in word or writing any thing directly or indirectly contrary to my present recantation. And if hereafter I shall call in question the antiquity of any writing, either ecclesiastical or profane, which no person before shall have charged as supposititious, I will only do it by proposing my reasons in a writing published under my name, with the permission of my superiors, and the approbation of the public censors. In testimony of which I have signed, this 27th of December, 1708, J. Hardouin, of the society of Jesus.’ 5

But notwithstanding this solemn protestation, nothing can be more certain than that Hardouin industriously cherished and propagated his opinions to the last moment of his life. Thus, in 1723, when he reprinted his edition of Pliny in three volumes folio, he greatly augmented it with notes, in which were dispersed many paradoxical conceits, tending to support his general system, which Mr. Crevier and father Desmolets of the oratory thought themselves obliged to point out and refute. Yet, notwithstanding all these circumstances, and the clamour raised against him and his writings, he maintained his credit so well with the clergy of France, that they engaged him to undertake a new edition of“The Councils,” and gave him a pension for that purpose. It was printed, 1715, in 12 vols. folio, at the royal printing-house; but the sale of it was prohibited by the parliament, who commissioned some | doctors, among whom was the celebrated Dupin, to examin^ it. These doctors gave in their report, that the edition! should either be suppressed, or at least corrected in a great number of places; because it contained many maxims injurious to the doctrines and discipline of the church in general, and to those of the Gallican church in particular; and because some very essential things were omitted, while others that were spurious were inserted.

Father Hardouin died at Paris, Sept. 3, 1729, in his eighty-third year and after his death a volume of his “Opuscula,” in folio, was published by an anonymous friend. The largest and most singular of these is entitled “Athei detecti;” among whom are to be found Jansenius, Malbranche, Thomasin, Descartes, Regis, Arnaud, Nicole, Paschal, and Quesnel; whose irreligion, no doubt, consisted chiefly in their being enemies to the Jesuits. The society, however, thought proper, in their “Memoires de Trevonx,‘ 7 to disown any concern in the publication of these” Opuscula;“and affected to censure freely the errors contained in them. A posthumous work was published in 1766, under the title of” Joannis Harduini, Jesuitte, ad Censuram Scriptorum Veterum Prolegomena," with a valuable preface by Mr. Bowyer, to whom a curious Latin pamphlet was addressed on that occasion by his friend the rev. Caesar De Missy.

We will conclude our account of this famous Jesuit with a characteristic epitaph by M. de Boze.

In expectatione judicii, hicjacet hominum paradoxotatos, natione Gallus, religione Romanus orbis litterati portentum venerandae antiquitatis cultor et destructor. Docte febricitans, somnia et inaudita commenta vigilans edidit. Scepticum pie egit, eredulitate puer, audacia juvenis, delhiis senex.1

1 Gen. Dict.—Moreri. Memoirs of Literature, vols. IX. XI. and XII. Republic of Letters, vol. IV. Nichols’s Bowyer. —Saxii Onomast,