Argens, John Baptiste De Boyer, Marquis D'

, one of those writers who contributed to the general desolation of government, religion, and morals, which was afterwards completed by the French encyclopedists, was born June 24, 1704, at Aix in Provence, where his father was procurator-general to the parliament of that city. His father intended him for the magistracy, but he embraced the profession of arms in his fifteenth year, and appears to have led a wandering and profligate life, until, on his return from Constantinople, he was induced by his father to study law, He entered, however, again into the army in 1733, and was at the siege of Kell, where he was slightly wounded, in 1734. After the siege of Philipsbourg, he met with an accident by a fall from his horse, which disabled him for the military service. Being disinherited by his father, he went to Holland, and maintained himself by his pen, and when Frederick, king of Prussia, came to the throne, he made d’Argens his chamberlain. After passing twenty-five years in Berlin, where he married, he returned to his native country, Aix, where, in the late French cant, he lived | a philosophic life, and died at the castle of the baroness de Garde, his sister, near Toulon, Jan. 11, 1771. It is said that in his last illness, he requested the sacrament might be administered to him; read often in the Gospel, and procured admission into a fraternity of penitents. His conversation has been praised for the candour and goodnature of his manner, as well as for its wit and pleasantry. He had a tendency towards melancholy, but was a good husband, friend and master. With respect to his writings, he confesses that he travelled into other countries where he might take liberties which would not be permitted at home. He professed that Bayle was his model, but he is far behind that author in genius and learning. He had, however, a thirst for knowledge, and besides his acquaintance with several languages, he studied chemistry and anatomy, and had some talent for painting.

His principal works were the “Lettres Juives;” “Lettres Chinoises;” and “Lettres Cabalistiques,” which were joined to “La Philosophic du bons sens,” and published in 1768, in 24 vols. 12mo, under the title of the “Works of marquis d’Argens.” In all these, religion is treated with contempt, under the pretence of attacking its ministers, a progress which has been uniformly observed in the writings of infidels. Besides these, he published a great many novels, or romances, of very inferior merit, and which never have been favourites with the public; he also published his own memoirs, which at least show that he had got the better of shame. In 1762, he published “Ocellus Lucanus, en Grec et en François, avec des dissertations sur les principales questions de la Metaphysique, de la Physique, et de la Morale des anciens: qui peuvent servir de suite a la Philosophic du Bons Sens,Utrecht, 8vo. And afterwards he translated “Timæus Locrus,” the other eminent follower of Pythagoras, both writers who had been neglected by universal consent, but whom d’Argens hoped to have revived. He has, however, rather displayed his reading than his taste or judgment in this performance. He published also, “Memoires secrets de la Republique des Lettres,” 4 vols. 12mo, and “Discour de Julien sur la Christianisme,” Gen. 8vo, an infamous attack on religion. Both these are deservedly forgotten. 1


Biog. Universelle.—Dict. Hist.—The Beau Philosopher, or History of the Chevalier Mainvilliers, 1751.—Memoirs of the Academy of the Sciences at Berlin for 1771.