- Firmin Abauzit
Firmin Abauzit (1679-1767) was a French scholar who worked on
physics, theologyand philosophy, and served as librarian in Geneva ( Switzerland) during his final 40 years. Firmin Abauzit is also notable for proofreading or correcting the writings of Isaac Newtonand other scholars.
Firmin Abauzit was born of
Protestantparents at Uzès, in Languedoc. His father died when he was but two years of age; and when, on the revocation of the Edict of Nantesin 1685, the authorities took steps to have him educated in the Roman Catholicfaith, his mother contrived his escape.
For two years his brother and he lived as fugitives in the mountains of the
Cévennes, but they at last reached Geneva, where their mother afterwards joined them on escaping from the imprisonment in which she was held from the time of their flight. Abauzit at an early age acquired great proficiency in languages, physics, and theology.
In 1698, he went to the
Netherlands, and there became acquainted with Pierre Bayle, Pierre Jurieuand Jacques Basnage. Proceeding to England, he was introduced to Sir Isaac Newton, who found in him one of the earliest defenders of his discoveries. Newton corrected in the second edition of his " Principia" an error pointed out by Abauzit, and, when sending him the "Commercium Epistolicum," said, "You are well worthy to judge between Gottfried Leibnizand me."
The reputation of Abauzit induced William III to request him to settle in
England, but he did not accept the king's offer, preferring to return to Geneva. There, from 1715 he rendered valuable assistance to a society that had been formed for translating the New Testamentinto French. He declined the offer of the chair of philosophy in the university in 1723, but accepted, in 1727, the sinecure office of librarian to the city of his adoption. There in Geneva, he died past the age of 87, in 1767.
Abauzit was a man of great learning and of wonderful versatility. Whatever chanced to be discussed, it used to be said of Abauzit, as of Professor
William Whewellof more modern times, that he seemed to have made it a subject of particular study. Rousseau, who was jealously sparing of his praises, addressed to him, in his " Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse", a fine panegyric; and when a stranger flatteringly told Voltairehe had come to see a great man, the philosopher asked him if he had seen Abauzit.
Little remains of the labours of this intellectual giant, his heirs having, it is said, destroyed the papers that came into their possession, because their own religious opinions were different. A few theological, archaeological and astronomical articles from his pen appeared in the "Journal Helvetique" and elsewhere, and he contributed several papers to Rousseau's "Dictionnaire de musique" (1767). He wrote a work throwing doubt on the
canonicalauthority of the Apocalypse, which called forth a reply from Dr Leonard Twells. He also edited and made valuable additions to J. Spon's "Histoire de la republique de Geneve". A collection of his writings was published at Geneva in 1770 ("Oeuvres de feu M. Abauzit"), and another at Londonin 1773 ("Oeuvres diverses de M. Abauzit").
* [http://www.cblibrary.org/schaff_h/aa/abauzit.htm "Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge"] , Abauzit, Firmin.
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