1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Saint-Pierre, Charles Irénée Castel

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SAINT-PIERRE, CHARLES IRÉNÉE CASTEL, (Abbé de (1658–1743), French writer, was born at the château de Saint-Pierre-l'Église near Cherbourg on the 18th of February 1658. His father was bailli of the Cotentin, and Saint-Pierre was educated by the Jesuits. In Paris he frequented the salons of Madame de la Fayette and of the marquise de Lambert. He was presented to the abbacy of Tiron, and was elected to the Academy in 1695. In the same year he gained a footing at court as almoner to Madame. But in 1718, in consequence of the political offence given by his Discours sur la polysynodie, he was expelled from the Academy. He afterwards founded the club of the Entre sol, an independent society suppressed in 1731. He died in Paris on the 29th of April 1743.

Saint-Pierre's works are almost entirely occupied with an acute though generally visionary criticism of politics, law and social institutions. They had a great influence on Rousseau, who left elaborate examinations of some of them, and reproduced not a few of their ideas in his own work. His Projet de paix perpétuelle, which was destined to exercise considerable influence on the development of the various schemes for securing universal peace which culminated in the Holy Alliance, was published in 1713 at Utrecht, where he was acting as secretary to the French plenipotentiary, the Abbé de Polignac, and his Polysynodie contained severe strictures on the government of Louis XIV., with projects for the administration of France by a system of councils for each department of government. His works include a number of memorials and projects for stopping duelling, equalizing taxation, treating mendicancy, reforming education and spelling, &c. It was not, however, for his suggestions for the reform of the constitution that he was disgraced, but because in the Polysynodie he had refused to Louis XIV. the title of le Grand. Unlike the later reforming abbés of the philosophe period, Saint-Pierre was a man of very unworldly character and quite destitute of the Frondeur spirit.

His works were published at Amsterdam in 1738–1740 and his Annales politiques in London in 1757. A discussion of his principles, with a view to securing a just estimation of the high value of his political and economic ideas, is given by S. Siégler Pascal in Un Contemporain égaré au XVIIIᵉ siècle. Les Projets de l’abbé de Saint-Pierre, 1658–1743 (Paris, 1900).