ANVILLE, JOHN BAPTISTE BOURGUIGNON D', one of the most celebrated geographers of the last century, was born at Paris on the 1 lth of July, 1697. In the earlier part of his life, he exhibited a peculiar talent for geographical research ; and even, in the course of his education, he amused himself with the study of an cient authors, in order to delineate, in accurate projec tion, the various countries and cities which they des cribed ; and to trace, through their victorious career, the generals and heroes of ancient times. At the age of 22,he obtained a commission as geographer, and published, with universal approbation, several of those maps which have immortalised his name.
The deficiency of astronomical observations for ascer taining the leading points of a map, the want of geome trical measurements for connecting these points toge ther, and the difficulty of judging between contradictory authorities, where observations and measurements had been made, rendered it extremely perplexing to de lineate with accuracy the surface of the earth. The sound judgment of D'Anville discriminated with won derful precision between the opposing statements of dif ferent. travellers and historians. Rivers, which in other charts had been running over chains of mountains, dis appeared from his, along with innumerable tribes, king doms, and islands, with which the imaginations or the ignorance of former geographers had filled the unknown regions of the world. To the most important of his maps, D'Anville always added the authorities upon which they were founded ; exhibiting, without ostentatious em piricism, the immense extent of his knowledge, the un wearied assiduity with which he collected his materials, and the unrivalled sagacity with which he converted them to his use. The reputation of D'Anville increas ing with the success of his labours, he was elected a member of the academy of belle lettres ; and in 1773, the academy of sciences appointed him to the situation of adjunct geographer, the only place which had been created for this science. The gratitude which he felt for these honourable appointments, was evinced by the number of dissertations with which he enriched the me moirs of these learned academies.
From his acquaintance with the most celebrated navi gators, and the esteem in which he was held by the most learned and opulent individuals of every nation, he had formed a valuable and extensive collection of maps and charts ; which were deemed so precious and rare, that the king purchased them at a great expence. The last exertions of D'Anville were employed in arranging this vast collection ; and scarcely had he finished his labours when the energy and activity of his mind began to decline ; and after a lingering interval of two years, marked by the gradual waste of his faculties, he sunk under the weight of his infirmities, on the 28th of Janu ary, 1782, in the 85th year of his age.
M. D'Anville was married, in 1730, to Mademoiselle Testard, by whom he had two daughters. His wife
died in 1781, at a time when, fortunately for himself, he was insensible to the calamity of surviving the faithful companion of a long life.
Though the constitution of D'Anville was very de licate, it enabled him, during sixty years of his life, to devote no fewer than fifteen hours a-day to his favourite pursuits. The temperance and sobriety in which he lived, and the mildness of his temper, had perhaps a greater effect in prolonging his life, than if he had been possessed of a stronger constitution and more violent passions. The nature of his labours, too, powerfully contributed to the preservation of his health. The con tinued exertions of indefatigable industry may fatigue, but they never wear out the mind. Success, always within the reach of calculation, is the reward destined for that species of industry which does not aim at the higher pleasures of invention and discovery. It is the mighty and irregular efforts of genius, and the burning climate in which it dwells, that agitate and waste the faculties.
Those who are best able to judge of the merits of D'Anville, will not be disposed to blame us for with holding from him the praise of great and brilliant ta lents. His zeal, his industry, and his success, obtained for him the esteem and praise of his contemporaries ; and to the same qualities, posterity will affix the share of reputation which they bestow. Had D'Anville been acquainted with geometry and astronomy, and carried the lights of these sciences into his geographical re searches, he might have reared a more splendid monu ment to his fame ; but fortunately, perhaps, for the science which he cultivated, his knowledge was limited to the single object of his pursuits.
In his private character, D'Anville was gentle, gay, and extremely modest, excepting when the conversa tion turned upon the subject of his own studies. On these occasions he was opinionative and obstinate, never yielding to his adversary, and always maintaining his opinions with a bluntness of decision which sometimes bordered upon harshness. This, however, was not an error of the heart ; it was the failing of a sedentary man, who was conscious of the depth of his knowledge, and could not suffer opinions to be questioned which were founded on the most extensive researches, and formed after many years of mature study and delibera tion.
The principal works published by D'Anville, are Dissertation sur l'etendue de l'ancienne Jerusalem, 1747. Memoire sur l'Egy/ite rincienne et Moderne, avec une description du Gulp/re ./Irabique,4to. 1766. Geographic ancienne abbregee, 3 vols. 12mo, 1768, accompanied by his maps of ancient geography. Traite des Mesures Itineraire 4nciennes et Modernes, 8vo. 1769. Etats formes en Europe apres la chute de l'Empire Romain en Occident, 4to, 1771. Notice de 1?Incienne Gaule, tirees des Monumens Romains, 4to, 1761. and Illesure Con jecturale de la Terre sous l'Equateu•, a work which did not add to the reputation of its author. (13)