Fourmont, Stephen

, professor of the Arabic and Chinese languages at Paris, was the son of a surgeon, and born at Herbelai, near Paris, in 1683. He learned the elements of Latin from the curate of the place; but losing his father when very young, he came under the care of an uncle, who removed him to his house at Paris, and superintended his studies. He went through the courses of logic, rhetoric, and philosophy, in different colleges; and happening to meet with the abbé Sevin, who loved study as well as himself, they formed a scheme of reading all | the Greek and Latin poets together. But as the exercises of the society employed most of their hours by day, they found means to continue this task secretly by night; and this being considered as a breach of discipline, the superior thought tit to exclude them from the community. Fourmont retired to the college of Montaigu, and had the very chambers which formerly belonged to Erasmus; and here the abbé Sevin continued to visit him, when they went on with their work without interruption. Fourmont joined to this pursuit the study of the oriental languages, in which he made a very uncommon progress.

He afterwards was employed in reading lectures: he explained the Greek fathers to some, and the Hebrew and Syriac languages to others. After. that, he undertook the education of the sons of the duke d’Antin, who were committed to his care, and studied in the college of Harcourt. He was at the same time received an advocate; but the law not being suited to his taste, he returned to his former studies. He then contracted an acquaintance with the abbé Bignon, at whose instigation he applied himself to the Chinese tongue, and succeeded beyond his expectations, for he had a prodigious memory, and a particular turn for languages. He now became very famous. He held conferences at his own house, once or twice a week, upon subjects of literature; at which foreigners, as well as French, were admitted and assisted. Hence he became known to the count de Toledo, who was infinitely pleased with his conversation, and made him great offers, if he would go into Spain; but Fourmont refused. In 1715 he succeeded M. Galland to the Arabic chair in the royal college. The same year he was admitted a member of the academy of inscriptions; of the royal society at London in 1738; and of that of Berlin in 1741. He was often consulted by the duke of Orleans, who had a particular esteem for him, and made him one of his secretaries. He died at Paris in 1743.

His most considerable works are, 1. “The Roots of the Latin tongue in metre.” 2. “Critical Reflections upon Ancient History, to the time of Cyrus,” 2 vois. 4to. 3. “Meditationes Sinicae,” fol. 4. “A Chinese Grammar, in Latin,” fol. 5. “Several Dissertations, printed in the Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions,” &c. He left several works in manuscript. In 1731 he published in 12mo, a catalogue of all his works, printed and | manuscript, with notes, some particulars of his life, and some letters pretended to be addressed to him requesting him to publish such a work, and others which were so in reality. Fouriront appears to have been a scholar of vast industry and merit, but perfectly conscious of the rank he held. He had a younger brother, Michael Fourmont, who was an ecclesiastic, a professor of the Syriac tongue in the royal college, and a member also of the academy of inscriptions, who died in 1746. 1


Moreri, from h’Life published in 1747.