Tavernier, John Baptist

, a Frenchman, famous for his travels, was born at Paris in 1605. His father, who was a native of Antwerp, settled at Paris, and traded very largely in geographical maps, so that the natural inclination which Tavernier had for travelling was greatly increased, by the conversations which daily passed in his father’s house, concerning foreign countries. He began to gratify his passion so early, that, at the age of two and twenty years, he had seen the finest countries of Europe, France, England, the Low Countries, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, and Italy. During the space of forty years he travelled six times into Turkey, Persia, and the East Indies, and by all the different routes he could take. In the course of these peregrinations, he gained a great estate by trading in jewels; and, being ennobled by Louis XIV. purchased the barony of Aubonne, near the lake of Geneva, in 1668. He had collected a great number of observations, but he had not learned either to speak or write well in French; for which reason he was forced to employ others in drawing up his relations. M. Chappuseau, with whom he lodged at Geneva, lent him his pen for the two first volumes of his travels; and M. Chapelle for the third. They have frequently been printed, and contain several curious particulars; yet not without some fables, which were told him purely to impose upon his simplicity. He is charged also with stealing from others to fill up his own accounts: thus Dr. Hyde, having cited a very long passage from Tavernier, tells us that “he had taken it like a downright plagiary from a book printed at Lyons, 1671, in 8vo, and written by father Gabriel de Chinon, who had lived in Persia thirty years.

Tavernier' s affairs became embarrassed at the latter end of his life, by reason of the mismanagement and ill conduct of a nephew, who had in the Levant the direction of a car^o purchased in France for 222,000 livres, and which should have produced above a million. Tavernier therefore undertook a seventh journey into the East, to rectify | this disorder; for which purpose he sold his barony of Aubonne in 1687 to the marquis Du Quesne, but he died, on his way, at Moscow, in July 16*9, aged eighty-four years. He was of the Protestant religion. Several parties, among which were the Dutch and the Jesuits, were offended at certain things inserted in his travels, and he has been abused in print on that account. He has one chapter where he considers the conduct of the Hollanders in Asia; and is very severe upon the directors of their East India company, by. whom he represents himself to have suffered: but he declares at the beginning that he does not blame the conduct of the Dutch in general. The first edition of his “Travels” was printed at Paris, 1676 79, 3 vols. 4to. That most common is in 6 vols. 12mo. 1