Trembley, Abraham

, an eminent naturalist, was born at Gen-eva in 1710, and was intended by his father for the church, for which reason he sent him to pursue his studies in Holland. There he became tutor to the children of M. Bentinck, and coming afterwards to London, had the young duke of Richmond for his pupil. On his return to Geneva in 1757, he settled there, and became most esteemed for learning and private character. He had early devoted his leisure to some branches of natural history, and when appointed one of the commissioners for providing Geneva with a granary of corn, he was enabled by his knowledge of the insects which infest grain, to prevent their ravages in a great measure. But his reputation as a naturalist was first promoted throughout Europe by his discoveries on the nature of the polypes. These animals were first discovered by Leeuwenhoek, who gave some account of them in the Philosophical Transactions for 1703; but their wonderful properties were not thoroughly known until 1740, when Mr. Trembley began to investigate them; and when he published the result of his experiments in his “Memoires sur les Polypes,Leyden, 1744, 4to, all naturalists became interested in the surprising facts which were disclosed. Previous to this, indeed, Leibnitz and Boerhaave, by reasonings a priori, had concluded that animals might be found which would propagate by slips like plants; and their conjecture was soon verified by the observations of Mr. Trembley. At first, however, he was uncertain whether he should reckon these creatures animals or plants: and while thus uncertain, he wrote a letter | on the subject to Mr. Bonnet in January 1741; but in March the same year, he had satisfied himself that they were real animals. He also made several communications to the Royal Society, of which he was elected a member in 1743, on the same subject. There are other papers on subjects of natural history by him in the Philosophical Transactions. Mr. Trembley also acquired no small fame by the publication of some valuable books for young persons, particularly his “Instructions d’un pare a ses enfans sur la nature et la religion,1775 and 1779, 2 vols. 8vo “Instructions sur la religion naturelle,1779, 3 vols. 8vo and “Recherches sur le principe de la vertu et du bonheur,” 8vo, works in which philosophy and piety are united. Mr. Trembley died in 1734. 1


Dict. Hist. Encyclopedic in art. Polypus.