Chardin, John (DNB00)

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CHARDIN, Sir JOHN (1643–1713), traveller, born in Paris 16 Nov. 1643, was son of a wealthy merchant, jeweller of the Place Dauphine, and followed his father's business. In 1664 he started for the East Indies with M. Raisin, a Lyons merchant. They journeyed by Constantinople and the Black Sea, reaching Persia early in 1666. The same year the shah, Solyman III, made Chardin his agent for the purchase of jewels. In the middle of 1867 he visited India and returned to Persia in 1869, The next year he arrived in Paris. He issued an account of some events of which he was an eye-witness in Persia, entitled ‘Le Couronnement de Soleiman Troisième,’ Paris, 1671, 12mo. A learned nobleman, Minza Sefi, a prisoner in his own palace at Ispahan, had entertained him, instructed him in the Persian language,and assisted him in this work. Peter de la Croix and Tavernier severely criticised, while Ange de la Brosse as strongly defended it.

Chardin again started for the East, August 1671. He was at Constantinople from March to July 1672. A quarrel between the grand vizier and the French ambassador made the position of French subjects dangerous, and Chardin escaped in a small vessel across the Black Sea, and made a most adventurous journey by Caffa, and through Colchis, Iberia, and Armenia to Ispahan, which he reached in 1673. At Sapias he was robbed by the Mingrelians of all he possessed except two small bundles, worth 6,000l. He stayed at Ispahan four years, following the court in all its removals, and making particular journeys throughout the land, from the Caspian to the Persian Gulf and the river Indus, and visiting several Indian cities. By these two journeys he realised a considerable fortune, and, deciding to return home, reached Europe in 1677 by a voyage round the Cape of Good Hope. Of four volumes originally projected the first volume was published in 1686, ‘Journal du Voyage … de Chardin en Parse et aux Indes Orientales,’ London, fol. An English translation was issued concurrently. This volume contains the author’s journey from Paris to Ispahan, and has the author's half-length portrait by Loggan, with eighteen copper plates, mostly folding. His former work is reprinted there with a fulsome ‘Epistle Dedicatory to James II.’

Chardin in his preface announced three other volumes to follow. The last, which was to contain a short history of Persia and his diaries for 1675–7, never appeared. The other three volumes (with many additions to the first) were published at Amsterdam, 1711, 4to, ‘Voyages de Mons. le Chevalier Chardin,’ as the complete work. In 1711 another edition, with his translation of ‘La Relation des Mingreliens,’ by J. M, Zampi, appeared in ten vols., Amsterdam, 12mo; and in 1735 another edition was published in four vols. 4to, containing a great number of passages added from his manuscripts, but with many omissions of violent Calvinistic passages. The most complete reprint is that of M. L. Langles, in ten vols. 8vo, Paris, 1811. Chardin's style of writing is simple and graphic, and he gives a faithful account of what he saw and heard. Montesquieu, Rousseau, Gibbon, and Helvetius acknowledge the value of his writings; and Sir William Jones says he gave the best account of Mahometan nations ever published. Extracts from his works appear in all the chief collections of travels, but there is no complete English translation.

In 1681 Chardin determined to settle in England because of the persecution of protestants in France. He was well received at court, and was soon after appointed court jeweller. He was knighted by Charles II at Whitehall, 17 Nov. 1681. The same day he married a protestant lady, Esther, daughter of M. de Lardinière Peigné, councillor in the Parliament of Rouen, then a refugee in London. He carried on a considerable trade in jewels, and in the correspondence of his time IS called 'the flower of merchants.' In 1682, when he lived in Holland House, Kensington, he was chosen fellow of the Royal Society. In 1684 the king sent him as envoy to Holland, where he stayed some years, is styled agent to the East India Company. 'On his return to London he devoted most of his time to oriental studies. In the prefaces to his works, 1686 and 1711, besides travels he speaks of what he calls 'my favourite desipi,' or 'Notes upon Passages of to the Holy Scriptures, illustrated by Eastern ally Customs and Manners,' as having occupied his time for many years. He did not live after to publish it, and after his death the manu- script was supposed to be lost. In 1770 on 18 April 1667, some of his descendants advertised a reward of twenty guineas for it. When Thomas Harmer published a second edition of his, 'Observations on divers passages of Scripture,' 2 vols., London, 1776, 8vo, it was found that by the help of Sir Philip Musgrave, a descendant of Chardin, he had recovered the lost manuscript in six small volumes, and had incorporated almost the of them in his work, under the author's name, or signed 'MS. C.,' i.e. manuscript of Chardin.

In his latter years Chardin lived at Turnin the south aisle of Westminster Abbey there is a plain tablet with this inscription, 'Sir John Chardin—nomen sibi fecit eundo.' He had two sons and two daughters. The eldest son, John, was created a baronet 1720, died unmarried, and left his Kempton vicarage of Park estate to his nephew Sir Philip, son, by he his sister Julia, of Sir Christopher Musgrave, bart. The remains of Chardin's library were sold by James Levy at Tom's coffee-house, St. Martin's Lane, 1712-13.

[Chardin's Works; Lysons's Environs of London. ii. 210, iii. 213; Leigh Hunt's Old Court Suburb, p. 143; Chester's Reg. Westm. Abbey, p. 388; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iii. 616; Harmer's Observntions, 1776, in preface; Burke's extinct Baronetage; Musgrave's Manuscript Notes Grainger's History, ii. 646; Carpentaria Paris, 1724, p. 370.]

J. W.-G.