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assisted the genius of the son, every man will for his purpose, being a book neither balky nor be convinced, that considers the early proficiency common, and in one month completed his transat which it enabled him to arrive; such a pro- lation, applying only one or two hours a-day to ficiency as no one has yet reached at the same that particular task. In another month he age, and to which it is therefore probable that drew up the principal notes; and, in the third, every advantageous circumstance concurred. wrote some dissertations upon particular pas
At the age of nine years, he not only was master sages, which seemed to require a larger examof five languages, an attainment in itself almost ination. incredible, but understood, says his father, the These notes contain so many curious remarks holy writers, better in their original tongues and inquiries, out of the common road of learnthan in his own. If he means by this asser- ing, and afford so many instances of penetration, that he knew the sense of many passages tion, judgment, and accuracy, that the reader in the original, which were obseure in the finds in every page some reason to persuade him translation, the account, however wonderful, that they cannot possibly be the work of a may be admitted; but if he intends to tell his child, but of a man long accustomed to these correspondent, that his son was better ac studies, enlightened by reflection, and dexterous quainted with the two languages of the Bible by long practice in the use of books. Yet, that than with his own, he must be allowed to speak it is the performance of a boy thus young, is not hyperbolically, or to admit that his son had only proved by the testimony of his father, but somewhat neglected the study of his native lan- by the concurrent evidence of Mr. Le Maitre, guage ; or we must own, that the fondness of a his associate in the church of Schwabach, who parent has transported him into some natural not only asserts his claim to this work, but exaggerations.
affirms that he heard him at six years of age Part of this letter I am tempted to suppress, explain the Hebrew text as if it had been his being unwilling to demand the belief of others native language; so that the fact is not to be to that which appears incı edible to myself; but doubted without a degree of incredulity, which as my incredulity may, perhaps, be the pro- it will not be very easy to defend. duct rather of prejudice than reason, as envy This copy was, however, far from being may beget a disinclination to admit so immense written with the neatness which his father dea superiority, and as an account is not to be im- sired; nor did the booksellers, to whom it was mediately censured as false, merely because it is offered, make proposals very agreeable to the wonderful, I shall proceed to give the rest of expectations of the young translator; but after his father's relation, from his letter of the 3d having examined the performance in their manof March, 1729-30. He speaks, continues he, ner, and determined to print it upon conditions German, Latin, and French, equally well. He not very advantageous, returned it to Le trancan, by laying before him a translation, read scribed, that the printers might not be embarany of the books of the Old or New Testament rassed with a copy so difficult to read. in its original language, without hesitation or Barretier was now advanced to the latter end perplexity. He is no stranger to biblical criticism of his twelfth year, and had made great advances or philosophy, nor unacquainted with ancient in his studies, not withstanding an obstinate tuand modern geography, and is qualified to sup- mour in his left hand, which gave him great port a conversation with learned men, who fre- pain, and obliged him to a tedious and troublequently visit and correspond with him.
some method of cure; and reading over his perIn his eleventh year, he not only published a formance, was so far from contenting himself learned letter in Latin, but translated the travels with barely transcribing it, that he altered the of Rabbi Benjamin from the Hebrew into greatest part of the notes, new-modelled the French, which he illustrated with notes, and dissertations, and augmented the book to twice accompanied with dissertations; a work in its former bulk. which his father as he himself declares, could The few touches which his father bestowed give him little assistance, as he did not under- upon the revisal of the book, though they are stand the rabbinical dialect.
minutely set down by him in the preface, are so The reason for which his father engaged him inconsiderable that it is not necessary to men-in this work, was only to prevail upon him to tion them; and it may be much more agreeable, write a fairer hand than he had bitherto accus- as well as useful, to exhibit the short account tomed himself to do, by giving him hopes, that, which he there gives of the method by which if he should translate some little author, and he enabled his son to show so early how easy an offer a fair copy of his version to some book- attainment is the knowledge of the languages, seller, he might in return for it, have other a knowledge which some men spend their lives books which he wanted and could not afford to in cultivating, to the neglect of more valuable purchase.
studies, and which they seem to regard as the Incited by this expectation, he fixed upon the highest perfection of human nature. « Travels of Rabbi Benjamin,” as most proper What applauses are due to an old age, wasted
in a scrupulous attention to particular accents particularly to the study of the fathers, and counand etyinologies, may appear, says his father, cils of the six first centuries, and began to make by seeing how little time is required to arrive at a regular collection of their canons. He read such an eminence in these studies as many even every author in the original, having discovered of these venerable doctors have not attained, so much negligence or ignorance in most transfor want of rational methods and regular appli- lations, that he paid no regard to their authority. cation.
Thus he continued his studies, neither drawn This censure is doubtless just upon those who aside by pleasures nor discouraged by difficulties. spend too much of their lives upon useless nice- The greatest obstacle to his improvement was ties, or who appear to labour without making want of books, with which his narrow fortune any progress; but as the knowledge of language could not liberally supply him; so that he was is necessary, and 'a minute accuracy sometimes obliged to borrow the greatest part of those requisite, they are by no means to be blamed, which bis studies required, and to return them who, in compliance with the particular bent of when he had read them, without being able to their own minds, make the difficulties of dead consult them occasionally, or to recur to them languages their chief study, and arrive at excel- when his memory should fail him. lence proportionate to their application, since it It is observable, that neither his diligence, was to the labour of such men that his son was unintermitted as it was, nor his want of books, indebted for his own learning.
a want of which he was in the highest degree The first languages which Barretier learned sensible, ever produced in him that asperity, were the French, German, and Latin, which which a long and recluse life, without any cirhe was taught not in the common way by a cumstance of disquiet frequently creates. He multitude of definitions, rules, and exceptions, was always gay, lively, and facetious, a temper which fatigue "the attention and burden the which contributed much to recommend his memory, without any use proportionate to the learning, and which some students much supe. time which they require, and the disgust which rior in age would consult their ease, their reputhey create. The method by which he was in- tation, and their interest, by copying from him. structed was easy and expeditious, and therefore In the year 1735, he published Anti-Ariemopleasing. He learned them all in the same nius, sive Initium Evangelii S. Joannis, adversus manner, and almost at the same time, by con- | Artemonium vindicatum, and attained such a deversing in them indifferently with his father. gree of reputation, that not only the public, but
The other languages, of which he was master, princes, who are commonly the last by whom merit he learned by a method yet more uncommon. is distinguished, began to interest themselves in The only book which he made use of was the his success, for the same year the king of PrusBible, which his father laid before him in the sia, who had heard of his early advances in language that he then proposed to learn, accom- literature, on account of a scheme for discoverpanied with a translation, being taught by de ing the longitude, which had been sent to the grees the inflections of nouns and verbs. This Royal Society of Berlin, and which was transmethod, says his father, made the Latin more mitted afterwards by him to Paris and London, familiar to him in his fourth year than any engaged to take care of his fortune, having reother language.
ceived further proofs of his abilities at his own When he was near the end of his sixth year, court. he entered upon the study of the Old Testament Mr. Barretier, being promoted to the cure of in its original language, beginning with the the church of Stetin, was obliged to travel with book of Genesis, to which his father confined his son thither from Schwabach, through Leiphim for six months; after which he read cur- sic and Berlin, a journey very agreeable to his sorily over the rest of the historical books, in son, as it would furnish him with new opporwhịch he found very little difficulty, and then tunities of improving his knowledge, and exapplied himself to the study of the poetical writ-tending his acquaintance among men of letters, ers, and the prophets, which he read over so For this purpose they stayed some time at Leipoften, with so close an attention and so happy a sic, ant then travelled to Hall, where young memory, that he could not only translate them Barretier so distinguished himself in his converwithout a moment's hesitation into Latin or sation with the professors of the university, that French, but turn with the same facility the they offered him his degree of doctor in philosotranslations into the original language in his phy, a dignity correspondent to that of master
of arts among us. Barretier drew up that night Growing at length weary of being confined to some positions in philosophy, and the mathea bouk which he could almost entirely repeat, matics, which he sent immediately to the press, he deviated by stealth into other studies, and, and defended the next day in a crowded audias his translation of Benjamin is a sufficient tory, with so much wit, spirit, presence of evidence, he read a multitude of writers of vari- thought, and strength of reason, that the whole ous kinds. In his lwelfth year he applied more university was delighted and amazed; he was
then admitted to his degree, and attended by the those subjects that had been reconimended by whole concourse to bís, lodgings, with compli. him. ments and acclamations.
He continued to add new acquisitions to his His Theses or philosophical positions, which he learning, and to increase his reputation by new printed in compliance with the practice of that performances, till, in the beginning of his nineuniversity, ran through several editions in a few teenth year, his health began to decline, and his weeks, and no testimony of regard was wanting indisposition, which, being not alarming or viothat could contribute to animate him in his pro- lent, was perhaps not at first sufficiently regardgress.
ed, increased by slow degrecs for eighteen When they arrived at Berlin, the king order- months, during which he spent days among his ed him to be brought into his presence, and was books, and neither neglected his studies, nor left so much pleased with his conversation, that he his gayety, till his distemper, ten days before his sent for him almost every day during his stay at death, deprived him of the use of his limbs : he Berlin; and diverted himself with engaging him then prepared himself for his end, without fear in conversations upon a multitude of subjects, or emotion, and on the 5th of October, 1740, reaud in disputes with learned men; on all which signed his soul into the hands of his Saviour, occasions he acquitted himself so happily, that with confidence and tranquillity. the king formed the highest ideas of his capacity, and future eminence. And thinking, per- | In the Magazine for 1742, appeared the following haps with reason, that active life was the no- ADDITIONAL Account of the LIFE OF JOHN blest sphere of a great genius, he recommended Philip BARRETIER. * to him the study of modern history, the customs of nations, and those parts of learning, that are “ As the nature of our Collections requires of use in public transactions and civil employ- that our accounts of remarkable persons and ments, declaring that such abilities properly cul- transactions should be early, our readers must tivated might exalt him, in ten years, to be the necessarily pardon us, if they are often not comgreatest minister of state in Europe. Barretier, plete, and allow us to be sufficiently studious of whether we attribute it to his moderation or in their satisfaction, if we correct our errors, and experience, was not dazzled by the prospect of supply our defects from subsequent intelligence, such high promotion, but answered, that he was where the importance of the subject merits an too much pleased with science and quiet, to leave extraordinary attention, or when we have any them for such inextricable studies, or such ha- peculiar opportunities of procuring information. rassing fatigues. A resolution so unpleasing to The particulars here inserted we thought proper the king, that his father attributes to it the to annex by way of note to the following passadelay of those favours which they had hopes of ges, quoted from the Magazine for Dec. 1740, receiving, the king having, as he observes, de- and for Feb. 1741." termined to employ him in the ministry.
P. 152. At the age of nine years he not only was It is not impossible that paternal affection master of five languages. might suggest to Mr. Barretier soine false con- French, which was the native language of his ceptions of the king's design; for he infers from mother, was that which be learned first, mixed, the introduction of his son to the young princes, by living in Germany, with some words of the and the caresses which he received from them, language of the country. After some time his that the king intended him for their preceptor ; father took care to introduce in bis conversation a scheme, says he, which some other resolution with him, some words of Latin, in such a manhappily destroyed.
ner that he might discover the meaning of them Whatever was originally intended, and by by the connection of the sentence, or the occasion whatever means these intentions were frustrat- on which they were used, without discovering ed; Barretier, after having been treated with that he had any intention of instructing him, or the highest regard, by the whole royal family, that any new attainment was proposed. was dismissed with a present of two hundred By this method of conversation, in which crowns; and his father, instead of being fixed new words were every day introduced, his at Stetin, was made pastor of the French church ear had been somewhat accustomed to the inat Hall; a place more commodious for study, to flections and variations of the Latin tongue, he which they retired; Barretier being first ad-began to attempt to speak like his father, and mitted into the Royal Society at Berlin, and was in a short time drawn on by imperceptible recommended by the king to the university at degrees to speak Latin, intermixed with other Hall.
languages. At Hall he continued his studies with his usual application and success, and, either by his own reflections or the persuasions of his father, was prevailed upon to give up his own inclinations to • The passages referred to ia the preceding pages those of the king and direct his inquiries to are printed in Italics.
Thus, when he was but four years old, he nius, and applied himself to geography and asspoke every day French to his mother, Latin tronomy. In ten days he was able to solve all to his father, and High Dutch to the maid, the problems in the doctrine of the globes, and without any perplexity to himself, or any con- had attained ideas so clear and strong of all the lusion of one language with another.
systems, as well ancient as modern, that he ben P. 152. He is no stranger to biblical criti- gan to think of making new discoveries; aud
for that purpose, laying aside for a time all Having now gained such a degree of skill in searcbes into antiquity, he employed his utmost the Hebrew language as to be able to compose interest to procure books of astronomy and of in it both in prose and verse, he was extremely mathematics, and made such a progress in three desirous of reading the Rabbins; and having 'or four months, that he seemed to have spent borrowed of the neighbouring clergy, and the his whole life upon that study; for he not only Jews of Schwabach, all the books which they made an astrolabe, and drew up astronomical could supply him, he prevailed on his father to tables but invented new methods of calculabuy him the great Rabbinical Bible, published at tion, or such at least as appeared new to him Amsterdam in four tomes, folio, 1728, and read because they were not mentioned in the books it with that accuracy and attention which ap- which he had then an opportunity of reading, pears by the account of it written by him to his and it is a sufficient proof both of the rapidity favourite, M. Le Maitre, inserted in the begin- of bis progress, and the extent of his views, ning of the 26th volume of the Bibliotheque that in three months after his first sight of a Germanique.
pair of globes, he formed schemes for finding These writers were read by him, as other the longitude, which he sent, in Jan. 1735, to young persons peruse romances or novels, only the Royal Society at London. from a puerile desire of amusement; for he had His echeme being recommended to the Soso little veneration for them, even while he ciety by the Queen, was considered by them studied them with most eagerness, that he often with a degree of attention which, perhaps diverted his parents with recounting their fables would not have been bestowed upon the attempt and chimeras.
of a mathematician so young, had he not been P. 153. In his twelfth year he applied more par- dignified with so illustrious a patronage. But ticularly to the study of the Fathers.
it was soon found, that for want of books he His father being somewhat uneasy to observe kad imagined himself the inventor of methods 50 much time spent by him on Rabbinical already in common use, and that he proposed trifles, thought it necessary now to recal him to no means of discovering the longitude, but such the study of the Greek language, which he had as had been already tried and found insufficient. of late neglected, but to which he returned wöh , Such will be very frequently the fate of those so much ardour, that in a short time he was whose fortune either condemns them to study able to read Greek with the same facility as without the necessary assistance from libraries, French or Latin.
or who in too much haste publish their disHe then engaged in the perusal of the Greek coveries, fathers, and councils of the first three or four This attempt exhibited, however, such a specunturies : and undertook, at his father's desire, cimen of his capacity for mathematical learuto confute a treatise of Samuel Crellius, in ing, and such a proof of an early proficiency, which, under the name of Artemonius, he has that the Royal Society of Berlin admitted hiin endeavoured to substitute, in the beginning of as one of their members, in 1735. St. John's gospel, a reading different from that P. 153. Princes, who are commonly the last. which is at present received, and less favourable Barretier had been distinguished much more to the orthodox doctrine of the divinity of our early by the Margravine of Anspach, who, in Saviour.
1726, sent for his father and mother to the This task was undertaken by Barretier with court, where their son, whom they carried with great ardour, and prosecuted by him with suit- them, presented her with a letter in French, able application, for he not only drew up a for- and addressed another in Latin to the young mal confutation of Artemonius, but marle large prince; who afterwards, in 1734, granted bin collections from the earliest writers, relating to the privilege of borrowing books from the lithe history of heresies which he proposed at braries of Anspach, together with an annual first to have published as preliminaries to his pension of tiits Horins, which he enjoyed for book, but, finding the introduction grew at last four years to a greater bulk than the book itself, he deter- In this place it may not be improper to remined to publish it apart.
count some honours conferred upon him, which, While he was engrossed by these inquiries, if distinctions are to be rated by the knowledge accident threw a pair of globes into his hands of those who bestow them, may be considered as in October, 1734, by which his curiosity was so more valuable than those which he received much exalted, that he laid aside his Artemo- from princes.
In June 1731, he was initiated in the univer- | began to retouch his “ Account of Heresles,' sity of Altdorft, and at the end of the year 1732, which he had begun at Schwabach : on this occathe synod of the reformed churches, held at sion he read the primitive writers with great Christian Erlang, admitted bim to be present at accuracy, and formed a project of regulating the their consultations, and to preserve the memory chronology of those ages; which produced a of so extraordinary a transaction, as the recep- “ Chronological Dissertation on the succession tion of a boy of eleven years into an ecclesiastical of the Bishops of Rome, from St. Peter to Viccouncil, recorded it in a particular article of the tor,” printed in Latin at Utrecht, 1740. acts of the synod.
He afterwards was wholly absorbed in appliP. 154. He was too much pleased with science cation to polite literature, and read not only a and quiet.
multitude of writers in the Greek and Latin, Astronomy was always Barretier's favourite but in the German, Dutch, French, Italian, study, and so much engrossed his thoughts, that English, and Arabic languages, and in the last he did not willingly converse on any other sub- year of his life he was engrossed by the study of ject; nor was he so well pleased with the civili- inscriptions, medals, and antiquities of all nations. ties of the greatest persons, as with the conver- In 1737, he resumed bis desigo of finding a sation of the mathematicians. An astronomical certain method of discovering the longitude, observation was sufficient to withhold him from which he imagined himself to have attained by court, or to call him away abruptly from the exact observations of the declination and inclinamost illustrious assemblies; nor was there any tion of the needle, and sent to the Academy of hope of enjoying bis company without inviting Sciences, and to the Royal Society of London, some professor to keep him in temper, and en- at the same time, an account of his schemes; to gage him in discourse; nor was it possible, with which it was first answered by the Royal Soout this expedient, to prevail upon him to sit for ciety, that it appeared the same with one which his picture.
Mr. Whiston had laid before them; and afterP. 154. At Hall he continued his studies. wards by the Academy of Sciences, that his me
Mr. Barretier returned, on the 28th of April, thod was but very little different from one that 1735, to Hall, where he continued the remaining had been proposed by M. de la Croix, and which part of his life, of which it may not be impro- was ingenious but ineffectual. per to give a more particular account.
Mr. Barretier, finding his invention already At his settlement in the university, he deter- in the possession of two men eminent for mathemined to exert his privileges as master of arts, matical knowledge, desisted from all inquiries and to read public lectures to the students; a after the longitude, and engaged in an examinadesign from which his father could not dissuade tion of the Egyptian antiquities, which he probim, though he did not approve it; so certainly posed to free from their present obscurity, by do honours or preferments, too soon conferred, in- decyphering the hieroglyphics, and explainfatuate the greatest capacities. He published an ing their astronomy; but this design was interinvitation to three lectures, one critical on the rupted by his death. book of Job, another on astronomy, and a third P. 154. Confidence and tranquillity. upon ancient ecclesiastical history. But of this Thus died Barretier, in the 20th year of his employment he was soon made weary by the pe- age, having given a proof how much may be pertulance of his auditors, the fatigue which it oc- formed in so short a time by indefatigable dilicasioned, and the interruption of his studies gence. He was not only master of many lanwhich it produced, and therefore, in a fortnight, guages, but skilled almost in every science, and he desisted wholly from his lectures, and never capable of distinguishing himself in every proafterwards resumed them.
fession except that of physic, from which he had He then applied himself to the study of the been discouraged by remarking the diversity of law, almost against his own inclination, which, opinions among those who had been consulted however, he conquered so far as to become a concerning his own disorders. regular attendant on the lectures on that sci- His learning, however vast, had not depressed ence, but spent all his other time upon different or overburdened his natural faculties, for his gestudies.
nius always appeared predominant; and when The first year of his residence at Hall was he inquired into the various opinions of the wrispent upon natural philosophy and mathema-ters of all ages, he reasoned and determined for tics; and scarcely any author, ancient or modern, himself, having a mind at once comprehensive that has treated on those parts of learning was and delicate, active and attentive. He was able neglected by him, nor was he satisfied with the to reason with the metaphysicians on the most knowledge of what had been discovered by abstruse questions, or to enliven the most unothers, but made new observations, and drew up pleasing subjects by the gayety of his fancy. He immense calculations for his own use.
wrote with great elegance and dignity of style, He then returned to ecclesiastical history, and and had the peculiar felicity of readiness and