Following the revocation of the Edict of
Nantes, he was brought as a child to Geneva, haven of religious freedom for his
family. Endowed with a broad-reaching culture,
as gifted in the arts as in scientific subjects, mathematics or geography, he is
the stereotype of the men of wisdom who contributed so much to the intellectual
explosion of Geneva in the 18th century.
Senebier called him “the Genevan Socrates” (le Socrate
genevois). The State Council awarded him membership
of the bourgeoisie in 1727 in recognition of the work he had accomplished as
curator of the Public Library.
His work was in keeping with the general
pattern of editorial tradition in Geneva, since he helped with a French
translation of the New Testament in 1726. His modesty is proverbial and was, in
the eyes of Rousseau, the image of Geneva. He even refused the philosophy chair that the Academy offered him in