Born in Chartres, France, on August 9, 1722, the chevalier de Berny studied law before entering the military. During the Seven Years War he served in the Low Countries and Germany, retiring to Strasbourg after fifteen campaigns and a number of wounds with the Bavarian Order of St. Michel. He claimed familiarity with a number of European princes and ministers and the protection of the Comte de Vergennes. Berny is known as well as the master of a writing academy in Brussels and as a draftsman. He died on January 22, 1779.
Professing admiration for Franklin's support for the arts and sciences, and ever interested in ingratiating himself to the celebrated and powerful, the chevalier de Berny dedicated his "L'Oeil du Maître, ou essai sur le ministére," to Franklin in February 1778. In this essay on governance and the qualifications, activities, virtues, and vices of ministers to the king, Berny excuses himself, a draftsman, for commenting upon the affairs of state by insisting that the thoughts in his essay arose from long personal experience: "le fruit de la fréquentation de nombre de Cours oú j'ai résidé depuis la paix dernière." Franklin appears never to have acknowledged its receipt.