Mettrie, Julien Offray De La

, a very eccentric French author and physician, was born at St. Maloes in 1709. He studied physic under Boerhaave, after which he removed to Paris, and became an army-surgeon in the French guards. The duke of Grammont, who was his protector, being taken very ill at the siege of Fribourg, he began, in his attendance upon him, to speculate upon the nature of the soul, and to perceive, as he fancied, that it is mortal. He wrote “The Natural History of the Soul,” which being highly impious in its doctrines, raised a storm against him from which his patron with difficulty could defend him. He then turned his pen against his brethren, and wrote “Penelope, or the Machiavel in medicine,” in 3 vols. 12mo. The rage of the faculty, in consequence of this satire, drove him out of France; and he retired to Leyden, where he published “L’Homme Machine,” a treatise of materialism, in which the philosophy is as incorrect and ill argued as it is pernicious. But he declaims with an ardour too likely to captivate weak minds, and draw them over to his opinions. This book could not obtain toleration even in Holland; it was publicly burnt, and the author obliged, in 1748, to fly for refuge to Berlin, and at this court he was protected, made a member of the academy, and honoured with places under the king. Here he lived in tranquillity, till his violent system of bleeding, very like that of Dr. Sangrado, put an early period to his life, as it had to those of several patients; and he died in 1.751, being then only 48. His works were published collectively at Berlin the same year, in one vol. 4to, and two | 12mo. The same kind of false philosophy pervades them all. The king of Prussia, however, conferred on him a very singular honour, even after his death; for he wrote his funeral oration, which he caused to be pronounced in the academy by one of his secretaries. Voltaire said of him, that he was a madman who wrote in a state of intoxication. 1