Linguet, Simon Nicholas Henry

, a French advocate and political writer, was born at Rheims, July 14, 1736. His father was one of the professors of the college of Beauvais, at Paris, and had his son educated under him, v who made such proficiency in his studies as to gain the three chief prizes of the college in 1751. This early celebrity was noticed by the duke de Deux-Pont, then at Paris, who took him with him to the country; but Linguet soon left this nobleman for the service of the prince de Beavau, who employed him as his aide-de-camp in the war | in Portugal, on account of his skill in mathematics. During his residence in that country, Linguet learned the language so far as to be able to translate some Portuguese dramas into French. Returning to France in 1762, he was admitted to the bar, where his character was very various; but amongst the reports both of enemies and friends, it appears that of an hundred and thirty causes, he lost only nine, and was allowed to shine both in oiatory and compo*­sidon. He had the art, however, of making enemies by the occasional liberties he took with characters; and at one time twenty-four of his brethren at the bar, whether from jealousy or a better reason, determined that they would take no brief in any cause in which he was concerned, and the parliament of Paris approved this so far as to interdict him from pleading. We are not sufficiently acquainted with the circumstances of the case to be able to form an opinion on the justice of this harsh measure. It appears, however, to have thrown Linguet out of his profession, and he then began to employ his pen on his numerous political writings but these, while they added to his reputation as a lively writer, added likewise to the number of his enemies. The most pointed satire levelled at him was the “Theory of Paradox,” generally attributed to the abbe Morellet, who collected all the absurd paradoxes to be found in Linguet’s productions, which it must be allowed are sufficiently numerous, and deserve the castigation he received. Linguet endeavoured to reply, but the laugh was against him, and all the wits of Paris enjoyed his mortification. His “Journal,” likewise, in which most of his effusions appeared, was suppressed by the minister of state, Maurepas; and Linguet, thinking his personal liberty was now in danger, came to London; but the English not receiving him as he expected, he went to Brussels, and in consequence of an application to the count de Vergeunes, was allowed to return to France. He had not been here long, before, fresh complaints having been made of his conduct, he was, Sept. 27, 1780, sent to the Bastille, where he remained twenty months. Of his imprisonment and the causes he published a very interesting account, which was translated into English, and printed here in 1783. He was, after being released, exiled to Rethel, but in a short time returned to England. He had been exiled on two other occasions, once to Chartres, and the other to Nogent-le-Kotrou. At this last place, he seduced | a madame But, the wife of a manufacturer, who accompanied him to England. From England he went again to Brussels, and resumed his journal, or “Annales politiques,” in which he endeavoured to pay his court to the emperor Joseph, who was so much pleased with a paper he had written on his favourite project of opening the Scheldt, that he invited him to Vienna, and made him a present of 1000 ducats. Linguet, however, soon forfeited the emperor’s favour, by taking part with Varider Noot and the other insurgents of Brabant. Obliged, therefore, to quit the Netherlands, he came to Paris in 1791, and appeared at the bar of the constituent assembly as advocate for the colonial assembly of St. Domingo and the cause of the blacks. In February 1792, he appeared in the legislative assembly to denounce Bertrand de Moleville, the minister of the marine; but his manner was so absurd, that notwithstanding the unpopularity of that statesman, the assembly treated it with contempt, and Linguet indignantly tore in pieces his memorial, which he had been desired to leave on the table. During the reign of terror, he withdrew into the country, but was discovered and brought before the revolutionary tribunal, and condemned to death June 27, 1794, for having in his works paid court to the despots of Vienna and London. At the age of fifty-seven he went with serenity and courage to meet his fate. It is not very easy to form an opinion of Linguet’s real character. His being interrupted in his profession seems to have thrown him upon the public, whose prejudices he alternately opposed and flattered. His works abound in contradictions, but upon the whole it may be inferred that he was a lover of liberty, and no inconsiderable promoter of those opinions which precipitated the revolution. That he was not one of the ferocious sect, appears from his escape, and his death. His works are very numerous. The principal are, 1. “Voyage au labyrinthe du jardin du roi,Hague, (Paris,) 1755, 12mo. 2. “Histoire du siecle d’Alexandre,Paris, 1762, 12mo. 3. “Projet d‘un canal et d’un pont sur les cotes de Picardie,1764, 8vo. 4. “Le Fanatisme de Philosophes,1764, 8vo. 5. “Necessit6 d‘une reforme dans l’administration de la justice et des lois civiles de France,” Amst. 1764, 8vo. 6. “La Dime royale,1764, reprinted in 1787. 7. “Histoire des Revolutions de l’empire Remain,1766, 2 vols. 12mo. This is one of his paradoxical works, in which tyranny and | slavery are represented in the most favourable light. 8. “Theorie des Lois,1767, 2 vols. 8vo, reprinted in 1774. 9. “Histoire impartiale des Jesuites,1768, 8vo. 10. “Hardion’s Universal History,” vols. 19th and 20th. 11. “Theatre Espagnole,1770, 4 vols. 12mo. 12. “Theorie du Libelle,” Amst. (Paris), 1775, 12mo, an a,nswer to the abbe Morellet. 13. “Du plusheureux gouvernment,” &c. 1774, 2 vols. 12mo. 14. “Essai philosophique sur le Monachisme,1777, 8vo. Besides these he wrote several pieces on the revolution in Brabant, and a collection of law cases. 1

1 Dict. Hist. Biographic Moderne.