Bel, John James

, counsellor of the parliament of Bourdeaux, was born there March 21, 1693, and at the age of nine was sent for education to the college of the Oratory at Juilly, in the diocese of Meaux. Although of a weakly habit, he made great progress in his early studies, and was liberally encouraged by one of the regent masters, father de Vize“. In 1711 he returned to his family, where he continued his studies, deriving some assistance from his father, a man of talents, but austere and somewhat unsocial. Here, likewise, he found many young men of his own age who like himself were intended for the bar or for offices of the magistracy. After five or six years application, M. Bel employed his pen on various subjects of metaphysics and morals, and amused himself occasionally with perusing the best poets. In 1720, he was received as a counsellor of parliament, and conducted himself in the causes entrusted to him, with strict probity and impartiality. In 1731, on the death of his father, he succeeded him in the office of treasurer of France. During his residence at Paris, he formed an intimacy with the literati of the metropolis, and projected two considerable works, for which he had collected materials: the one on taste, its history, progress and decline; the other on French poetry. On his return to Bourdeaux in 1736, he was elected a member of the Bourdeaux academy, and the following year chosen director, on which occasion he made a speech | which included some part of the work on taste above-mentioned. Some time afterwards he resigned his office of counsellor, and obtained letters of superannuation (lettres de veteran). In 1737, the academy having proposed” muscular motion“as the subject of the prize of that year, which was won by Mr. Alexander Stuart, a Scotchman, and physician to the queen of England, M. Bel, after examining the various dissertations sent in on this occasion, read one of his own on the same subject before the academy; and in order to study this and similar subjects more fully, with a view to his situation in the academy, he determined to make another visit to Paris. But from the moment of his arrival there, he gave himself up so unremittingly to study, as to bring on a dangerous illness, of which he died August 15, 1738. He left to the academy of Bourdeaux, his house and a fine and well-chosen library, with a fund for the maintenance of two librarians. His principal publications were, 1.” Apologie de M. Houdart de la Motte, de l’academie Franchise, Paris, 1724,“8vo, a satirical attack on M. de la Motte’s works, especially his dramas. 2.” Dictionnaire Neologique," since considerably augmented by the abbe* Fontaines, a work intended to ridicule the use of new and affected words. He wrote also a criticism on the Mariamne of Voltaire, and some similar criticisms inserted in the Literary Memoirs published by father Moletz of the oratory. 1