Bernier, Francis

was distinguished in the brilliant age of Louis XIV. as a philosopher and traveller, and his merit, in both respects, was enhanced by his personal accomplishments, which procured him a degree of celebrity when living, that has not yet perished. His treatises on philosophy, it is true, are no longer read, for which the progress of science since the seventeenth century may account, but his voyages and travels are still in high estimation. They made the world acquainted with countries which no European had before visited, and none have since described so well, and threw light on the revolutions of India at a very interesting period, the time of AurengZeb. George Forster places Bernier in the first class of Indian historians, praises his simple and engaging style, | his judgment and his accuracy; and the letter in which Forster bestows this encomium was written from Cachemire, which Bernier has so well described. Bernier lived in intimacy with the most illustrious characters of his time, and was particularly intimate with the celebrated Ninon de Lenclos, madame de la Sabliere, Chapelle, whose eloge he wrote, and St. Evremont, who represents him as deserving, by his fine figure, manners and conversation, the title of the Genteel Philosopher. He assisted Boiieau in fabricating a burlesque decree in favour of Aristotle, which the president Lamoignon had almost signed, when he saw through the joke, and candidly confessed that it had prevented him from signing a decree that would have been fully as ridiculous.

Bernier was born at Angers, but in what year is not known. He first studied medicine, and took a doctor’s degree at Montpellier, and then began to indulge his taste for travelling. In 1654, he went to Syria, and thence to Egypt. After remaining more than a year at Grand Cairo, he was attacked by the plague, but embarked some time after at Suez, for India, where he resided twelve years, eight of them as physician to the emperor Aureng Zeb. The favourite minister of that prince, the emir Danichmend, a friend of science and literature, patronized him, and took him to Cachemire. On his return Bernier published his voyages and philosophical works. In 1685 he visited England, and died at Paris, Sept. 22, 1688. His works are, 1. “Histoire de la derniere revolution des etats du Grand-Mogul, c.” 4 vols. 1670, 1671, 12mo. This work procured him the name of the Mogul. It has been often reprinted under the title of “Voyages de Francois Bernier, &c.” and translated into English, 1671, 1675, 8vo. 2. “Abrege de la philosophic de Gassendi,Lyons, 1678, 8 vols. 12mo, and 1684, 7 vols. His own philosophy inclines to the Epicurean. 3. “Memoire sur le quietisrne des Indes” “Extraits de diverses pieces envoyees pour etrcnnes par M. Bernier a Madame de la Sabliere,” and “Eloge de M. Chapelle,” inserted in the Journal de Savans, 1688. 4. “Traite du libre etdu volontaire,” Amst. 1685, 12mo, and some other papers in the literary Journals. 1

1 Biog. Unirerselle. Geit. Dict. —Moreri