Croze, Mathuiun Veyssiere La

, a learned French writer, was born at Nantes, Dec. 4, 1661. His father, | who was a merchant, was also a man of letters, and bestowed much pains on the education of his son, who answered his expectations by the proficiency he made in classical studies. He had, however, provided him with a private tutor, who happened to disgust him by the severity of his manners, and upon this account partly, at the age of fourteen, he desired to take a voyage to some of the West India islands, to which his father traded; but his principal inducement was what he had read in books of voyages, and the conversation of persons who had been in America, all which raised his curiosity to visit the new world. He embarked on board a French ship, with no other books than Erasmus’s Colloquies, and the Gradus ad Parnassum. His passage was not unpleasant, and during his residence at Guadeloupe he borrowed all the Latin books he could discover, and read them with avidity; but the chief advantage he seems to have derived here was an opportunity to learn the English, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese San^uasres. To these he afterwards added an acquaintance with the German, Sclavonic, and AngloSaxon; and studied with much attention the ancient and modern Greek, the Hebrew, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Hebrew, Arabic, and even the Chinese. On his return to Nantes in 1677, he found his father’s affairs somewhat deranged, and was obliged to take a part in the business. Medicine appears to have been first suggested to him as a profession, but he found little inclination for that study; and some conferences he happened to have with the Benedictines of the congregation of St. Maur determined him to enter their society. He accordingly made his noviciate in 1673, and applied himself to the study of theology. In 1682 he formally became a member of the congregation. His residence at Paris, in the abbey of St. Germain des Pres, the vast number of books within his reach, and particularly of manuscripts, increased his knowledge and his thirst for knowledge, and some of his earliest labours were bestowed in preparing materials, collecting Mss. &c. for new editions of the works of St. Clement of Alexandria, and St. Gregory Nazianzen. But these were interrupted by certain differences which occurred in the abbey to which he belonged, and of which we have various accounts. The prior of St. Germain, father Loo, had a great aversion to the study of classical and polite literature, and was for confining the members to the strict religious | duties of the house. This could not fail to be disgusting to a man of La Croze’s taste: but, according to other accounts, which seem more prohable, he began to entertain religious scruples about this time (lr.96), which induced him to withdraw himself. It is said that his superiors found among his papers a treatise against transubstantiation in his hand-writing, and which they believed to be his composition; but they discovered afterwards that it uas a translation from the English of Stillingfleet. Some other manuscripts, however, sufficiently proved that he had changed his opinion on religious matters; and the dread of persecution obliged him to make his escape to Basil, which he successfully accomplished in May 1696. Here he renounced the Roman catholic religion, and as his intention was to take up his residence, he was matriculated as a student of the college of Basil. He remained in this place, however, only till September, when he departed, provided with the most honourable testimonies of his learning and character from Buxtorf, the Hebrew professor, and Werenfels, dean of the faculty of theology. He then went to Berlin, where his object was to secure a iixed residence, devote himself to study, and endeavour to forget France. In order to introduce himself, he began with offering to educate young men, the sons of protestant parents, which appears to have answered his purpose, as in 1697 we find him appointed librarian to the king of Prussia; but his biographers are not agreed upon the terms. To this place a pension was attached, but not sufficient to enable him to live without continuing his school; and some assert that he was very poor at this time. The probability is, that his circumstances were improved as he became better known, and his reputation among the learned was already extensive. In June of 1697 he went to Francfort to visit the literati of that place, and their fine library, and visited also Brandenburgh for the same purpose. In November 1697 (or, as Chaufepie says, in 1702), he married Elizabeth Rose, a lady originally of Dauphiny, and thus, adds one of his Roman catholic biographers, completed the abjuration of the true religion. In 1698 he first commenced author, and from time to time published those works on which his fame rests. Soon after he became acquainted with the celebrated Leibnitz, with whom he carried on an intimate correspondence. In 17 13 he went to Hamburgh, where he paid many visits to the learned | Fabricius, and in his letters speaks with great warmth of the pleasure this journey afforded; but this year, 17 J 3, was not in other respects a vei’y fortunate one to La Croze, and he formed the design of quitting Germany. He had been appointed tutor to the margrave of Schwel, and this employment terminating in 1714, he lost the pension annexed to it, and was reduced to considerable difficulties, of which he wrote to Leibnitz, as to a friend in whom he could confide. Leibnitz, by way of answer, sent him a copy of a letter which he had written to M. BernsdorfT, prime minister to the elector of Hanover, in his behalf. The object likely to be attained by this interest was a professorship at Helmstadt; but as it required subscription to the articles of the Lutheran church, M. la Croze, notwithstanding the persuasions Leibnitz employed, declined accepting it. His affairs, however, soon after wore a more promising aspect, partly in consequence of a prize he gained in the Dutch lottery. In 1717 he had the honour to be engaged as private tutor to the princess royal of Prussia, afterwards margravine of Bareoth. In 1724, for several months his studies were interrupted by a violent fit of the gravel; and on his recovery, the queen of Prussia, who always patronized La Croze, obtained for him the professorship of philosophy in the French college at Berlin, vacant by the death of M. Chauvin. This imposed on him the necessity of drawing up a course of philosophy, but as he never intended to print it, it is said not to have been executed with the care he bestowed on his other works. In 1713 father Bernard Pez, the Benedictine, made him liberal offers if he would return to the church he had forsaken, but this he declined with politeness, offering the arguments which influenced his mind to remain in the protestant church. In 1739 an inflammation appeared on his leg, which inApril put on appearances of mortification, hut did not prove fatal until May 21. About a quarter of an bour before his death he desired his servant to read the 51st and 77th psalms, during which he expired, in the seventy -first year of his age. He was reckoned one of the most learned men of his time, and was frequently called a living library. So extensive was his reading, and so vast iiis memory, that no one ever consulted him without obtaining prompt information. In dates, facts, and references he was correct and ready. We have already noticed how many languages he had learned, but it appears | that he made the least progress in the Chinese, to which Leihnitz, in his letters, is perpetuiiy iirging him. The greater part of his life was employed in study, and he had no other pleasures. There was scarcely a book in his library whicli he had not perused, and he wrote ms notes on most of them. His conversation could not fail to be acceptable to men of literary research, as his memory was stored with anecdotes, which he told in a very agreeable manner. He was conscientiously attached to the principles of the reformed religion. He had always on his table the Hebrew Psalter, the Greek Testament, and Thomas a Kempis in Latin: the latter he almost had by heart, as well as Buchanan’s Psalms. His consistent piety and charity are noticed by all his biographers.

It may be necessary to notice that he has been sometimes confounded, and especially in Germany, with Conrand de la Croze, who lived for some time in Holland, and wrote part of the first nine volumes of the “Bibliotheque Universelle,” and the whole of vol. XI. From these a 4to volume was published in London in 1693, under the title of “Memoirs for the ingenious,” but the two authors were nowise related.

The principal works of the subject of this memoir are: 1. “Dissertations historiques sur divers sujets,” Rotterclam, 1707, 8vo, called vol. I. but no more were published. It contains three dissertations, the first on Socinianism and Mahometanism, stating the connexion between them: the second, an examination of father Hardouin’s opinions on ancient authors; and die third, on the ancient and modem state of religion in India. 2. “Vindiciae Veterum Scriptorum, contra Hardouinum,” ibid. 1708, 8vo. 3. “Entretiens sur divers sujets d’histoire,Cologne (Amsterdam), 8vo, containing conversations with a Jew, a dissertation on atheism, and an attack on Basnage, which La Croze’s biographer, Jordan, thinks too severe. The dissertation on atheism was translated into English, and published 1712. 4. “Histoire du Christianisme des Indes,Hague, 172J-, 8vo, a work which contributed greatly and deservedly to his reputation. 5. “Histoire du Christianisme d‘Ethiope & d’Armenie,” ibid. 1739, 8vo, inferior to the former, but containing much curious information. Besides many smaller dissertations and letters in the literary journals, M. Croze was the author of various works left in ms. one of which, “Lexicon Ægyptiaco-Latinum,” was published by Woide, at | Oxford, in 1775, 4to, and professor Uhl published his correspondence in 3 vols. 4to, Leipsic; “Thesauri Epistoiici Lacroziani, tom. III. ex bibliotheca Jordaniana,” 1748—1746. 1


Chanfepir. —Moreri. Jordan’s Life of La Croze, Am?t. I 'Hi. Monthly Review, vol. LX. p. 1.