Thevenot, Melchisedec

, librarian to the king of France, and a celebrated writer of travels, was born at Paris in 1621, and had scarcely gone through his academical studies, when he discovered a strong passion for visiting foreign countries. At first he saw only part of Europe; but accumulated very particular informations and memoirs from those who had travelled over other parts of the globe, and out of those composed his “Voyages and Travels.” He laid down, among other things, some rules, together with the invention of an instrument, for the better finding out of the longitude, and the declination of the needle; which, some have thought, constitute the most valuable part of his works. Thevenot was likewise a great collector of scarce books in all sciences, especially in philosophy, mathematics, and history; and in this he may be said to have spent his whole life. When he iiad the care of the king’s library, though it is one of the best furnished in Europe, he found two thousand volumes wanting in it, which he had in his own. Besides printed books, he brought a great many manuscripts in French, English, Spanish, Italian, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Turkish, and Persic. The marbles presented to him by Mr. Nointel, at his return from his embassy to Constantinople, upon which there are bas-reliefs and inscriptions of almost two thousand years old, may be reckoned among the curiosities of his library. He spent most of his time among his books, without aiming at any post of figure or profit; he had, however, two honourable employments; for he assisted at a conclave held after the death of pope Innocent X. and was the French king’s envoy at Genoa. He was attacked with a slow fever in 1692, and died October the same year at the age of seventy-one. According to the account given, he managed himself very improperly in this illness: for he diminished his v strength by abstinence, while he should have increased it with hearty food and strong wines, which was yet the more necessary Oh account of his great age. “7'hevenot’s Travels into the Levant, &c.” were published in English, in 1687, folio; they had been published in French, at Paris, 1663, folio. He wrote also “L’Art de nager,” the Art of Swimming, 12 mo, 1696. 2


Journal des Savans, vol. XX.