Domat, John

, a French lawyer, was born of a good family, at Clermont, in Auvergne, in 1625. Father Sirmood, who was his great uncle, had the care of his education, and sent him to the college at Paris, where he learned the Latin, Greek, Italian, and Spanish tongues, applied himself to the study of philosophy and the belles-lettres, and made himself a competent master in the mathematics. Afterwards he went to study the law, and to take his degrees at Bourges, where professor Emerville made him an offer of a doctor’s hood, though he was but twenty years of age. Upon his return from Bourges, he attended the bar of | the high court of judicature at Clermont, and began to plead with extraordinary success. In 1648 he married, and by that marriage had thirteen children. Three years before he had been made advocate to the king, in the high court of Clermont; which place he filled for thirty years with such uncommon reputation for integrity as well as ability, that he became arbiter, in a great measure, of all the affairs of the province. The confusion which he had observed in the laws, put him upon forming a design of reducing them to their natural order. He drew up a plan for this purpose, and communicated it to his friends, who approved of it so much, and thought it so useful, that they persuaded him to shew it to some of the chief magistrates. With this view he went to Paris in 1685, where the specimen of his work, which he carried along with him, was judged to be so excellent, that Lewis XIV. upon the report which Pelletier, then comptroller general, made to him of it, ordered Domat to continue at Paris, and settled upon him a pension of 2000 livres. Henceforward he employed himself at Paris, in finishing and perfecting his work; the first volume of which, in 4to, was published there, under the title of “Les Lois civiles, dans leur ordre naturel,1689. Three other volumes were published afterwards, which did their author the highest honour; who, upon the publication of the first, was introduced by Pelletier, to present it to the king. It was usual to recommend this work to young lawyers and divines, who wished to apply themselves to the study of morality and the civil law; and an improved edition was published so recently as 1777. It was also translated and published in English by Dr. William Strahan, 1720, 2 vols, fol. and reprinted and enlarged in 1741. His “Legum Delectus,” which is a part of this great work, was printed separately, and very elegantly by Wetstein; and in 1806, M. d’Agard published the first volume of a translation of this “Delectus,” with notes, &c.

Domat died at Paris Mar. 14, 1696. He was intimately acquainted with the celebrated Pascal, who was his countryman, and with whom he had many conferences upon religious subjects. He used also to make experiments with him upon the weight of the air, and in other branches of natural philosophy. He was at Paris when Pascal died there Aug. 19, 1662, and was entrusted by him with his. most secret papers. 1