Sacy, Antoine Isaac Silvestre De, Baron

Sacy, Antoine Isaac Silvestre De, Baron, a celebrated French Orientalist, was born at Paris Sept. 21, 1758. At an early age he showed great aptitude for the study of languages; but it was mainly from self instruction, with the help of irregular private lessons, that his immense learning was acquired. In Hebrew he was helped by a Jew; in Arabic, by a Benedictine monk, Berthereau. Having entered upon the practice of the law at the age of twenty-three, he retired in 1789, at the age of thirty, and devoted several years to private study. During the Reign of Terror, he lived very humbly among peasants, and could make but furtive visits to the libraries of Paris. Early in his learned career he, had opened correspondence with the chief Orientalists of Europe — with J.D. Michaelis, Sir Wm. Jones, Eichhorn, and others. To Eichhorn's Repertorium he contributed frequent essays. In France he published in 1785 an essay on the origin of Arabic literature, and in 1787 an abridgment of the Natural History of Demiri. Still more valuable and erudite was his work Memoires sur Diverses Antiquites de la Perse (1793). In 1792 he was made a member of the Academie des Inscriptions; and when, in 1795, the Convention founded a school for the study of modern Oriental languages, De Sacy was made professor of Arabic, a post which he held till his death. In 1806 he became also professor of Persian at the College de France. From this time he was very productive in all the branches of Oriental learning. Many of his works have had a very fruitful influence upon Biblical criticism. We mention particularly a translation of Makrisi's treatise On Mohammedan M.edals (1797): — The Outlines of Universal Grammar (1799): his Chrestomathie Arabe (1806, 3 vols.): — his large Arabic Grammar (1810): — Calila-ve-Dimna, the Arabic text of the Fables of Pilpay (1816): — the Pend-Nameh (Book of Counsels), a Persian didactic poem (1819): — The Sessions of Hariri, a romance in Arabic (1821): — and his work On the Religion of the Druids (1838, 2

vols.). The amount of learning which these works contain and imply can only be appreciated by Oriental specialists. Besides the works mentioned, he contributed scores of essays to learned journals in Germany and elsewhere. His style is simple and direct. The chief defect is a lack of poetic delicacy and of rhetorical polish. De Sacy, though beginning his career in obscurity, was finally abundantly honored. In 1808 he was given the honorary position of membership in the Corps Legislatif: In 1813 he was made a baron. In 1814 he became rector of the University of Paris. After the Revolution of 1830 he was made a peer of France and a grand officer of the Legion of Honor. Honors from abroad also came upon him in abundance. He founded chairs for the Sanscrit and the Chinese language at the College de France; and he continued his public lectures, six per week (an unusual number for a Parisian savant) down to the day of his sickness. In politics he was conservative, in character upright, in religion Catholic. On Feb. 19, 1838, he was stricken with apoplexy on the street, and died three days after. See two biographical sketches in the Journal Asiatique, 1838; Encycl. Brit. vol. 19; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 13, 287-289. (J.P.L.)

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