Guignes, Joseph De
GUIGNES, JOSEPH DE (1721-1800), a French Orientalist, born at Pontoise October 19, 1721, became in his fifteenth year a student of Oriental languages, and especially of Chinese, at the College Royal under the celebrated Fourmont, whom in 1745 he succeeded at the Royal Library as secretary interpreter of the Eastern languages. A Memoire Historique sur l'Origine des H-uns et des Tures, published by De Guignes in 1748, having brought his name with some prominence before the learned world, he was admitted a member of the Royal Society of London in 1752 and an associate of the French Academy of Inscriptions in 1731. Two years later he gave to the world the first two volumes of his learned and laborious Ilistoire Generale des Huns, des nongoles, des Tures, et des autres nrtares oceidentanx ; and in 1757 lie was appointed to succeed Jault in the chair of Syriac at.the College Royal. The completion of the Ilistoire by the publication of the three remaining volumes in 1758 was followed in 1759 by the publication of a Mimoire in which he propounded and endeavoured to-prove the untenable and absurd theory that the Chinese nation hail originated in Egyptian colonization, an opinion to which, in spite of every argument, he to the last obstinately clung. To its support, as also to the further. elucidation of the chronology and arrangement of his Ilistoire, which hail been, not without some justice, unfavourably criticized, he devoted several learned papers which are to be found in the Memoires of tho Academy of Inscriptions ; and among his other literary labours, an improved edition of an old translation of the Shoo-king is worthy of special mention. The Revolution, while permitting De Guignes to retain some insignificant pensions which had been conferred upon him, deprived him of various posts, such as those of keeper of the antiquities in the Louvre and editor of the Journals des Savans, on which lie was chiefly dependent for his income ; and his later years are said to have brought to him considerable personal hardship, from which his sole refuge was in redoublecLapplication to study. He died at Paris, March 19, 1800. The Ilistoire had been translated into German by Dahnert (1768-71). De Guignes left a son, Christian Louis Joseph (1759-1845), who, after learning Chinese from his father, went as consul to Canton, where he spent seventeen years. On his return to France lie was charged by the Government with the work of preparing a Chinese-French-Latin dictionary. Though bearing his name alone on the title-page (1813), it was in reality only a new edition of the work of Glemona. He was also the author of a large world of travels (Voyages a Pekin nonlife, et rile de France, 1808).