1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Turpin, François Henri

TURPIN, FRANÇOIS HENRI (1709–1799), French man of letters, was born at Caen. He was first a professor at the university of his native town, then went to seek his fortunes in Paris, where he made some stir in philosophical circles, and especially in that of the magnificent Helvetius; but he was only enabled with difficulty to earn a livelihood by putting his pen at the service of the booksellers. He translated, or rather adapted from the English, Edward W. Montague's Histoire du gouvernement des anciennes républiques (1769), and wrote a continuation of Father Pierre Joseph d’Orleans, Histoire des révolutions d’Angleterre (1786). His Histoire naturelle et civile du royaume de Siam (1771) is an interesting but faulty adaptation of the observations of a vicar-apostolic who had lived for a long time in that country, and who accused Turpin of having misrepresented his ideas. His chief work, La France illustre, ou Le Plutarque français, contains the biographies of generals, ministers, and eminent officers of the law (5 vols., 1777–1790), in which, however, as La Harpe said, he showed himself to be “ni Plutarque ni Français.” He also wrote an Histoire des hommes publics tirés du tiers état (1789).