Buffier, Claude

, a learned metaphysician, and voluminous writer, was born in Poland, of French parents, May 25, 1661. His parents having removed to Rouen, he was educated there, and afterwards entered among the Jesuits at Paris in 1679, and took the four vows “in 1695. In 1698 he went to Rome, not at the invitation of the general of his order, as has been asserted, but merely to see that celebrated city, in which he remained about four months, and then returned to Paris, where he passed the greater part of his life in the Jesuits college. Here he was first employed on the” Memoires de Trevoux,“and afterwards wrote his numerous separate publications. He died May 17, 1737. His eloge appeared in the” Memoires“in the same year, but principally regards his writings, as his life appears to have passed without any striking or characteristic circumstances, being entirely devoted to the composition of works of learning or piety, of which the following is supposed to be a correct list: 1. Some French verses on the taking of Mons and Montmelian, inserted in the” Recueil de vers choisis,“Paris, 1701, 12mo. 2.” La vie de PHermite de Compiegne,“Paris, 1692, 1737, 12mo. 3.” Vie de Dominique George,“abbot of Valricher, Paris, 1696, 12mo. 4.Pratique de la memoire artificielle | pour apprendre et pour retenir la chronologic, Phistoire universeile, c.“Paris, 1701, 3 vols. and often reprinted and extended to 4 vols. 5.” Verites consolantes du Christianisme,“ibid. 1718, 2d edit. 16mo. 6.” Histoire de Porigine du royaume de Sicile et de Naples,“ibid. 1701, 12mo. 7.” La pratique des devoirs des cures,“from the Italian, Lyons, 1702, 12mo. 8.” Abrege de l‘histoire d’Espagne,“Paris, 1704, 12mo. 9.” Examen de prejuges vulgaires pour disposer F esprit a juger sainement detout,“ibid. 1704, 12mo. 10.” Les Abeilles,“a fable. 11.” Le degat du Parnasse, ou La Fausse litterature,“a poem, ibid. 1705. 12.” La vie du comte Louis de Sales,“ibid. 1708, 12mo, afterwards translated into Italian, and often reprinted. 13.” Grammaire Franchise sur un plan nouveau,“ibid. 1709, 12mo, often reprinted. 14. e6 Le veritable esprit et le saint emploi des fetes de l’eglise,” ibid. 1712, 12mo. 15. “Les prlncipes du raisonnement exposes en deu:: logiques nouvelles, avec des remarques sur les logiques,” &c. ibid. 1714, 12mo. 16. “Geographic universelle avec le secours des vers artificiels et avec des cartes,” ibid. 1715, 2 vols. 12mo. 17. “Homere en arbitrage,” ibid. 1715; two letters addressed to the marchioness Lambert, on the dispute between madame Dacier and de la Motte, on Homer. 18. “Hist, chronologique da dernier siecle, e.” from the year 1600, ibid. 1715, 12mo. 19. “Introduction a l‘histoire de maisons souveraines de l’Europe,Paris, 1717, 3 vols. 12mo. 20. “Exercice dela piete,” &c. ib. 1718, often reprinted. 21. “Tableau chronologique de l’histoire universelle en forme de jeu,Paris, 1718. 22. “Nouveau x elomens d’histoire et de geographic,Paris, 1718. 22. “Sentimens Chretien sur les principales verites de la religion,” in prose and verse, and with engravings, 1718, 12mo. 24. “Traite* des premieres verites,Paris, 1724, 12mo. A translation of this, one of father Buffer’s most celebrated works, was published in 1781, under the title of “First Truths, and the origin of our opinions explained; with an inquiry into the sentiments of moral philosophers, relative to our primary notions of things,” 8vo. The author has proved himself to be a metaphysician of considerable abilities, and with many it will be no diminution of his merit, that he starts some principles here, which were afterwards adopted and expanded by Drs. Reid, Oswald, and Beattie, under the denomination of common sense. To prove how much | these gentlemen have been indebted to him, appears to be the sole object of this translation, and especially of the preface, which, says one of the literary Journals, “though it is not destitute of shrewdness, yet is so grossly illiberal, that we remember not to have read any thing so offensive to decency and good manners, even in the rancorous productions of some of the late controvertists in metaphysics. The writer hath exceeded Dr. Priestley in the abuse of the Scotch doctors; but with a larger quantity of that author’s virulence, hath unluckily too small a portion of his ingenuity and good sense, to recompense for that shameful affront to candour and civility which is too flagrant in every page, to escape the notice or indignation of any unprejudiced reader.

Father Buffier’s next work, which may be considered as a supplement to the former was, 25. “Elemens de Metaphysique a la portée de tout le monde,” ibid. 1725, 12 mo. 26. “Traite” de lasociete civile,“ibid. 1726. 27.” Traites philosophiques et pratiques d’eloquence et de poesie,“ibid. 1728, 2. vols. 12mo. 28.” Exposition des preuves les plus sensibles de la veritable religion,“ibid. 1732, 12mo. Besides these he contributed some papers on philological subjects to the” Memoires de Trevoux.“The greater and best part of the preceding works were collected and published in a folio volume in 1732, under the title,” Cours des Sciences sur des principes nouveaux et simples, &c." with additions and corrections, the whole forming an useful and perspicuous introduction to the sciences. Buffier was not only one of the ablest and most industrious writers of his time, but one of the safest; and his having made no progress in infidelity, while he professed to be a metaphysician, seems to be the principal objection which succeeding French philosophers brought against him. 1


Moreri, —Dict. Hist. Monthly Review, vol. LXIII.