Formey, John Henry Samuel

, a Prussian writer of various talents, originally of a French refugee family, was born at Berlin in 17 1L He was educated at the royal French college for the church, and being ordained in his twentieth year, he was chosen one of the officiating ministers of the French congregation in Berlin. In 1737 he was appointed professor of eloquence in the French college, and in 1739 succeeded to the philosophical chair of the same college. On the restoration of the royal academy of sciences and belles lettres at Berlin in 1744, M. Formey was made secretary to the philosophical class, and four years afterwards sole and perpetual secretary of -the academy. His talents and fame procured him admission into many foreign learned bodies, as those of London, Petersburg, Haarlem, Mantua, Bologna, and many others in Germany, and he was personally acquainted with | several of the most eminent and illustrious characters throughout Europe. Besides his academical employments, he rttas agent or secretary to the dowager princess of Wirtemberg: he filled several offices in the French colony at Berlin, and at length became a privy counsellor in its superior directory. He was twice married, and by his second wife had many children, seven of whom survived him. He died in the month of March 1797, at the great age of eighty-five years and eight months. In Thiebault’s “Anecdotes of Frederic II.” there are some of Formey, by which it would appear that he was apt to be very unguarded, and almost licentious in conversation, but often procured his pardon by the ingenuity of his excuses. His publications were extremely numerous, but we have nowhere seen a complete list. The following, however, probably includes the principal: 1. “Articles des Pacte Conventa, dresses et conclus entre les etats de Pologne et le roi Frederic-Auguste,1733, 4to, translated from the Latin. About this time he was concerned in the publication of several political pieces on the affairs of Poland. 2. “Le fidele fortifie par la grace,” a sermon, Berlin, 1736. 3. “Ducatianaj ou remarques de feu M. leDuchat, &c.” Amst. 2 vols. 8vo. 4. “Bibliotheque Germanique;” in this journal he wrote from vol. XXVII. The lives of Duchat, Beausobre, Baratier, &c. are from his pen. 5. “Mercure et Minerve% ou choix de nouvelles, &c.” another periodical work, begun in Dec. 1737, and concluded in March 1738. C. “Amusemens litteraires, moraux, et politiques,” a continuation of the preceding, as far as July of the last mentioned year. 7. “Correspondence entre deux amis sur la succession de Juliers et de Bergues,Hague, 1738. 8. “Sermons sur le mystere de la naissance de Jesus Christ,” from the German of lleinbeck, Berlin, 1738. 9. “Sermons sur divers textes de Tecriture sainte,” ibid. 1739, 8vo. 10. “Remarques historiques sur les medaille* et monnoies,” ibid. 1740, 4to, from the German of Koehler. II.“Journal de Berlin,1740, of which he edited the last six months of that year. 12. “La Belle Wolfienne,1741, 8vo. Formey had adopted the philosophy of Leibnitz, as explained by Wolf, and in this publication endeavoured, but without success, to render their principles familiar to the ladies. 13. “Memoires pour servir a Tbistoire de Pologae,Hague, 1741, 8vo, from the Latin of Lengnich. 14. “La yie de Jean-Philippe Baratier,Berlin, ifo. 15. ‘ Le iriomphe de i’evidence, ou | refnta.­tion du Pyrrhonisme ancien et moderne,“2 vols. 8vo, an abridgment from Crousaz. 16.” Traite sur la reformation de la justice en Rrusse,“to which is added a treatise on dreams. 17.” Eloges des academicians de Berlin et de divers autres savans,“Berlin, 1757, 2 vols. 12mo. 18.” Principes du droit naturel et des gens,“Amst. 3 vols. 12mo, from Wolff’s Latin work. 19.” Conseils pour former une bibliotheque,“Francfort, 1746, of which the sixth edition appeared in 1775, 8vo. 20.” Le systeme du vrai bonheur,“1761. 21.” Melanges philosophiques,“Leyden, 1754, 2 vols. 12mo, translated afterwards into English. 22.” La comtesse Suedoise,“Berlin, 1754, 8vo, from the German of Gellert. 23.” Examen philosophique de la liaison reelle entre les sciences et les mceurs,“1755, 8vo. 24.” L’Abeille du Parnasse,“1750 1754, 10 vois. 8vo. 25.” Le Philosophe Paien, ou pensees de Pline, avec un commentaire literal et moral,“Leyden, 3 vols. 12mo. 26.” Principes elementaires des Belles Lettres,“Berlin, 1759. 27.” Diversite’s historiques,“1764, 8vo f from ^lian, with notes. 28.” Abrege de toutes les sciences a Tusage des adolescens,“Berlin, 1764—1778, 8 vols. 12mo. 9-9.” Introduction generate aux sciences, avec des conseils pour former un bibliotheque choisie,“Amst. 1764. 30.” Discours de Gellert sur la morale,“Berlin, 1766. 31.” Traduction Franchise de l’Histoire des Protestans,“by Hansen, Halle, 1767. Some of these have been published in English, particularly his small work on the belles lettres, and another not noticed above,” Histoire abrege*e de la Philosophic," which we can remember a very popular book in this country. Formey, indeed, if not one of the most profound, was one of the most pleasing of writers, and all his works were calculated by clearness and precision of style for popular reading. He deserves credit also as one of the defenders of revelation against Diderot and Rousseau; and for this reason Voltaire endeavoured to prejudice the king of Prussia against him. Besides the extensive labours we have enumerated, and the list is by no means complete, Formey wrote many articles in the French Encyclopaedia, and in that of Yverdun. His correspondence with literary men was most extensive, and almost all the booksellers on the continent occasionally engaged his services as an editor. 1

1 Moreri.-—Dict. Hist. Eloge by Mevian, in the Memoirs of the Academy of Berlin for 1197.