HELVE TIUS, CLAUDE-ADRIEN, sprung from a family of Swiss origin, as the name Helvetius implies, was b. at Paris in 1715, and received a careful education. Intended for a financial career, he was sent, after the conclusion of his studies, to his uncle, D'Armancourt, Directeur des Fermes, at Caen, to obtain a practical knowledge of the subject, and at the age of 23 was appointed to the lucrative office of filrmier-Ognerat; but the oppressive nature of the duties which it involved was not at all to the liking of Helvetius, who was of a very humane and easy disposition, and he quickly resigned it for the situation of chamberlain to the queen's household. He now led, like every other courtier of his time, a life of mere gallantry, which looks odious enough at this dis tance of time; but happily he soon grew tired of it, and after marrying in 1751 the beautiful and accomplished daughter of cointe de Ligneville, he withdrew to a small estate at Vol.& where he spent the most of his life in the education of his family, the improvement of his peasantry, and literary labors. In 1758 appeared his celebrated work, De l' Esprit, in which be endeavers to prove feeling (sensibili0 to be the source-.
?of all intellectual activity, and that the grand lever of all human conduct is self-satisfac lion. But he admits, at the same time, that self-satisfaction assumes different forms;
the self-satisfaction of a good man consists in the subordination of private to more .general interests—first to the circle among which he lives; then to the community; and, finally, to the world at large. The philosophy of the book is, of course, materialistic. It was denounced by the doctors of the Sorbonne, and condemned by the parliament of Paris to be publicly burned. Helvetius was much disgusted, and in 1764 left France to visit England and Germany, where Frederick II. received him with distinction. He died at Paris, Dec. 20, 1771, leaving behind him a work, De Homme, de ses Facultes, et de son Education, which was published by prince Galyzin (2 vols. London, 1772). Among the editions of his collected works, two deserve special notice, both published at Paris in 1705, the one in 5 and the other in 13 volumes. His wife, who survived him many years, resided at Auteuil, near Paris, where she was visited by the most distin guished personages, and is often mentioned in the memoirs of that brilliant period.