Forbonnois, Francis V'Eron De

, an eminent political and financial writer of France, was born at Mans, Oct. 2, 1722. His father, Francis, Louis Veron Duverger, was a merchant of that city. Having finished his education at the college of Beauvais, i,Ek | Paris, he left it in the sixteenth year of his age, to followthe tarn my trade, which had long been carried on by his family; his great grandfather having established at Mans a, manufactory of tammies, which, from that circumstance, in Spain were called Verones. In 1741 he was sent by his father to Spain and Italy, whence he returned to Mans in 1743. His grandfather by the mother’s side, having soon after retired from business, he was thereby enabled to trade on his own account; but declining, from motives of delicacy, to carry on at Mans the same trade as his father, he Avent to Nantes, where his uncle was established as a shipowner, to obtain a knowledge of the mercantile concerns and transactions of that city. Having spent several years at Nantes, and collected much valuable information on maritime and colonial trade, he entered in 1752 upon a speculation, which induced him to go to Paris. Confined to a small circle of friends and acquaintance, he lived there in great privacy, yet presented to government several memoirs, which experiencing a very cool reception, he resolved to write in future, not for administration, but the public. He published accordingly in 1753, his “ThtJorie et pratique du Commerce et de la Marine,” a free translation from the Spanish of Dr. Geron. de Votariz, which was soon followed by the “Considerations sur les Finances d’Espagne relativement a eel les de France,” a work in which he displayed such intimate acquaintance with the Spanish system of finance, that the Spanish ambassador at the court of Versailles proposed him to marshal cle Noailles, as consul-general of Spain; but the former being soon after recalled by his court, the appointment did not take place. About the same time he published, in 1754, his “Essai sur la partie politique du commerce de terre et de mer, de Pagriculture et des finances,” which within three weeks passed through two editions; the third edition was published in 1766, and the fourth in 1796, considerably improved and enlarged. From his profound knowledge in matters relative to money and coinage, he was appointed in 1755, to examine into the enormous abuses which had crept into the administration <yf the French mint. He immediately proposed a new coinage, but his plan was not carried into execution until 1771; he was, however, in the meanwhile, appointed inspectorgeneral of the mint, a new office expressly established for him. | Having obtained free admittance to the library of the family of Noailles, rich in manuscripts relative to the administration of the finances of France, he conceived the idea of composing his “Recherches et considerations sur les finances de France depuis 1595 jusqu’a 1721,” printed at Basle, 1758, in 2 vols. 4to, and reprinted the same, year at Liege, in 6 vols. 8vo. This valuable work expeperienced the most distinguished reception both in France and other countries, and supplied Thomas with matter for his observations on the true principles of financial administration in his eulogy of Suny. The duke de Choiseuil being appointed prime minister, he endeavoured to place Forbonnois in the department for foreign affairs; but the latter declining the appointment, Choiseuil requested he would apply himself to lay down a general system of trade, and to comment on all commercial treaties concluded by France, in order that certain and uniform principles might be introduced into that important department of political economy. While he was making the necessary preparations for executing that commission, the abandoned state of the French finances in 1759, occasioned the appointment of the noted Sithonette to the office of comptroller-general or minister of finances. Without being in the least connected with that minister, Forbonnois received an offer of the place of principal clerk of the department of finance, which being declined, the minister requested he would at least privately lend him his assistance in projecting the first financial operations necessary for opening the war both by sea and land, at a time when 1,500,000 livres only were left in the treasury. Eight days after, Forbonnois brought him all the plans and draughts of edicts for the first operations. They were approved by the minister, and laid before Louis XV. who in consequence thereof appointed Forbonnois inspector of the depot of the general financial comptrol, a title which he himself suggested, in order to avoid the eclat of a more brilliant appointment. However, Forbonnois’ acknowledged superiority as a financier, which proved exceedingly offensive to the minister’s lady, soon brought on a coolness between her husband and him, which induced Forbonnois to retire into the country until Sithonette’s disgrace and dismission. He might have succeeded him as comptroller-general, had he been willing to consent to sacrifices which he could not reconcile with his honesty and candour. | While he held the place of inspector of the depot of the general financial comptrol, he published his “Lettre d’un Banquier a son correspondent cle province;” chiefly intended to give a favourable account of the minister’s operation. In 1760 he pointed out to the Duke de Choiseuil the perilous situation of France, and suggested the plan of a treaty of peace, calculated to tempt the ambition of Great Britain, and at the same time to save resources for France. This plan met with so much applause, that Don de Fuentes, at that lime Spanish ambassador at Paris, who was admitted to the conferences, offered an armed neutrality on the part of his court to tacilitate its execution. Forbonnois was charged to draw up the necessary acts and plans, and to elucidate a great variety of points respecting the fisheries, the means of enlarging them, the sacrifices to be made to England, &c. nay, he was offered the appointment of plenipotentiary to conclude the treaty; but having executed his charge, and demanded a conference, he received no answer. Being entrusted with the secrets of the state, he began to entertain strong apprehensions for his personal safety, and took refuge in a glass-manufactory in the mountains of Burgundy, in which he was concerned. He returned, however, afterwards to Paris, and in order to render both the minister and the financiers perfectly easy on his account, he purchased the place of a counsellor or member of the parliament of Metz.

Jn 1767 and 1768, he published his “Principes et observations economiques,” and “Supplement au journal d’AoCil 1768, ou examen du livre intitule*, Principes sur la liberte* du commerce des grains.” At the abolition of the parliament of Metz, in 1770, he resolved to retire to his estate, which he did; but Terray’s appointment to the place of comptroller-general brought him once more to Paris. He privately assisted that minister in the execution of the memorable financial operations which distinguish his administration, but declined to accept any place under government, resigned the office of inspector-general of the mint, obtained a pension suitable to the station he had filled, and retired again to his estate, where he continued until 1790. In this year we find him at Mans, among the electors assembled in that city.

In 1757 he married miss Leray de Charmont, an accomplished and higlily amiable lady, who by the mildness of her character brightened the evening of his meritorious | life, and in some measure indemnified him for the disappointments he had experienced in what is called “le grand monde.” The leisure he enjoyed in his peaceful retreat was employed in agricultural and literary pursuits. To the journal edited by Dupontof Nemours, he contributed several interesting memoirs signed The Old Man of the Sarthe. He also published, in 1789, “Prospectus sur les Finances, dedie” aux bons Francois,“and some time after his” Observations succintes sur remission de deux milliards d’assignats." At the beginning of the revolution he performed the functions of president of the district of Mamers, and also obtained the distinction of his name being inserted in the list of candidates for the office of tutor to the prince royal, son of Louis XVI.

In April 1799, the disturbances which prevailed in the department of the Sarthe, and several anonymous threatening letters he received, induced him at his advanced age to leave his country seat, and take refuge in Paris. Finding in the metropolis but few of his former acquaintance, he formed new connections, and became a frequent visitor of the national institute, of which he was a member. One of his last works is his “Analyse des principes sur la circulation des Denrees, et Pinfluence du numeraire sur cette circulation.” At the time he composed this valuable publication, he was already afflicted with a chronical disease, which put a period to his existence on the 25th of September, 1800. In 1801 M. de L’Isle de Salle published a very curious literary life of Forbonnois, who left a great many unpublished treatises, among which are eight on legislation, ten on diplomacy, seven on the marine and the colonies, eleven on finances, &c. Some of these were probably the collections he made previous to the publicacation of some of his works. 1


Baldwin’s Literary Journal, —Dict. Hist.