Jacques Henri Bernardin De Saint-Pierre, a French author, born in Havre, Jan. 19, 1737, died at Éragny-sur-Oise, Jan. 21, 1814. He was educated by a priest at Caen, and went with his uncle to Martinique as a sailor, but resumed his studies at Caen, and subsequently at the college and school of engineers at Rouen. He next served in the army as an engineer, and after various vicissitudes entered the Russian army. He submitted to the empress Catharine II. his scheme for establishing on the shores of the Caspian a republic after the model of that of Plato, which fell to the ground like most of his visionary conceptions. He next joined Radziwill in Poland, and in 1765 was repeatedly under arrest. A love affair with a Polish princess diverted his attention from the political affairs of Poland, and on her deserting him he went to Saxony, determined to have his revenge by fighting against the Poles; but another romantic adventure drove him from Dresden, and failing to receive employment from Frederick the Great, he returned in November, 1766, to France, whence he sailed as an engineer to Madagascar. On discovering that the real object of the expedition was the slave trade, he left it and remained at the isle of France as an engineer till 1771, when he returned to Paris. Here he associated with Rousseau and other celebrities, and was noted for his eccentricities and love of solitude.
In 1792-'3 he was director of the botanical garden; in 1794 he became professor of morals at the normal school, and in 1795 a member of the academy. Under the empire he had a pension of 2,000 francs. By his first wife, Mlle. Didot, he had two children, Paul and Virginia. He married a second time in his 63d year. His principal works are: Voyage à l'île de France, etc. (2 vols., Paris, 1773; new ed., 1835); L'Arcadie (Angers, 1781; new ed., 2 vols., Paris, 1796); Études de la nature (5 vols., Paris, 1784; new ed., 6 vols., 1835-'6; English translation by H. Hunter, 5 vols., 1796); Paul et Virginie (1788), his most celebrated work, which has been translated into many languages; La chaumière indienne (1790; new ed., including Le café de Surate, 1828); and Harmonies de la nature (3 vols., 1815; new ed., 4 vols., 1818). Aimé Martin, who married his widow, published his complete works with a biographical notice (12 vols., 1818-'20; new ed., 9 vols., 1835), his posthumous works (2 vols., 1833-6), and his Romans, contes et opuscules (2 vols., 1834).