BARTHÉLEMY-SAINT-HILAIRE, Jules. Paris 19.8.1805 — 24.11.1895. French Philosopher, Classical Scholar and Politician, also interested in Indology and Indian Thought. Born as illegitimate, according to much later rumours the son of Napoleon I. In 1825-28 he served in Ministry of Finances, then as a journalist in the Globe and in 1830-34 in the National. He undersigned the journalist protest of 1830, and was sent to jail. From 1837 Joffroy’s successor as Professeur de philosophie grecque et latine at Collège de France. In 1838-72 member of Académie des sciences morales et politiques. He attempted study and research on many fields, like philosophy, classical and modern languages, oriental languages, history, sociology, economics. A life-long interest was the complete French translation of Aristotle, which he carried on from 1832 until his death.
In 1839 he was a short time in charge of the Ministry of Education, while his friend V. Cousin was the minister in Thiers’ cabinet. He engaged himself earnestly in politics from 1848, when he was made the head of the secretariat of provisional government. Soon he was elected from Seine-et-Oise to Assemblée Nationale et à la Législative, where he was an active member. From 1849 administrateur of Collège de France, resigned in 1851. With the meagre salary from the academy as his only means of subsistance he retired to the neighbourhood of Meaux, where he grew himself his food, chopped wood for money, and came once a week to Paris to the meetings of the Academy. Worried friends arranged him a contributor’s post in the JS.
In 1855 Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire was in Suez with his friend Lesseps, and served then the Canal Company 1855-58, but resigned his post as a protest to the actions of Turkish government. The will of V. Cousin at last gave him economic security in 1867. In 1869 he was again elected from Seine-et-Oise as a candidate of Gauche ouverte. He voted against the war declaration to Prussia, survived the siege of Paris, and was reelected in 1871. After having participated in the peace negotiations and in the subversion of empire, he became the secretary to President Thiers. From 1875 irremovable senator, 1880 president of the Senate, and in September Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ferry’s cabinet (1880-81). He dealt succesfully with the Greek and Tunisian troubles. Last years retired in literary work.
As an Indologist Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire was a pure dilettante, but in his time rather influential. He was among the first to deal with Indian philosophy (although not always very competently) and with Buddhist history. His books were often collected from articles, which had appeared in the JS.
Publications: Complete French translation of Aristoteles 1832–95.
– “Mémoire sur la philosophie sanscrite. Le Nyâya” (French transl. of the Nyāyasūtra), Mém. de l’Acad. royale des Sc. Morales et Politiques 3, 1841, 88 p.; “Premièr mémoire sur le Sânkhya”, Ibid. 8, 1852, 107-540 (with transl. of the Sāṅkhyakārikā).
– Des Védas. 204 p. P. 1854 (JS 1853-54).
– La Bouddhisme. 248 p. P. 1855 (from JS); Le Bouddha et sa Religion. 441 p. P. 1862, 3rd ed. 1866.
– L’Inde anglaise, son état actuel, son avenir. 484 p. P. 1887; Eugène Burnouf, ses travaux et sa correspondance. 9+158 p. 1891. Articles and long reviews in the JS.
– Fragments pour l’histoire de la diplomatie française du 23. sept. 1880 au 14. nov. 1881. 448 p. P. 1882; La philosophie dans ses rapports avec la science et la religion. 280 p. P. 1889; Étude sur François Bacon. 7+201 p. P. 1890; M. Victor Cousin, sa vie, sa correspondance. 1-3. P. 1895; several other works.
Sources: J. Feller, Dict. de Biogr. Fr. 5, 1951, 682f.; Wikipedia with picture.