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ARGENS, JEAN BAPTISTE DE BOYER, Marquis d’ (1704-1771), was born at Aix
in Provence on the 24th of June 1704. He entered the army at the age of
fifteen, and after a dissipated and adventurous youth settled for a time
at Amsterdam, where he wrote some historical compilations and began his
more famous Lettres juives (The Hague, 6 vols., 1738-1742), Lettres
chinoises (The Hague, 6 vols., 1730-1472), and Lettres cabalistiques
(2nd ed., 7 vols., 1769); also the Mémoires secrets de la république
des lettres (7 vols., 1743-1478), afterwards revised and augmented as
Histoire de l’esprit humain (Berlin, 14 vols., 1765-1768). He was
invited by Prince Frederick (afterwards Frederick the Great) to Potsdam,
and received high honours at court; but Frederick was bitterly offended
by his marrying a Berlin actress, Mlle Cochois. Argens returned to
France in 1769, and died near Toulon on the 11th of January 1771.
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