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assisted the genius of the son, every man will be convinced, that considers the early proficiency at which it enabled him to arrive; such a proficiency as no one has yet reached at the same age, and to which it is therefore probable that every advantageous circumstance concurred.
of a man long accustomed to these studies, en lightened by reflection, and dexterous by long practice in the use of books. Yet, that it is the performance of a boy thus young, is not only proved by the testimony of his father, but by the concurrent evidence of Mr. Le Maitre, his associate in the church of Schwabach, who not only asserts his claim to this work, but affirms that he heard him at six years of age explain the Hebrew text as if it had been his native language; so that the fact is not to be doubted without a degree of incredulity, which it will not be very easy to defend.
At the age of nine years, he not only was master of five languages, an attainment in itself almost incredible, but understood, says his father, the holy writers, better in their original tongues than in his own. If he means by this assertion, that he knew the sense of many passages in the original which were obscure in the translation, the account, however wonderful, may be admitted; but This copy was, however, far from being written if he intends to tell his correspondent, that his with the neatness which his father desired; nor son was better acquainted with the two languages did the bookseller, to whom it was offered, make of the Bible than with his own, he must be al-proposals very agreeable to the expectations of lowed to speak hyperbolically, or to admit that his son had somewhat neglected the study of his native language; or we must own, that the fondness of a parent has transported him into some natural exaggerations.
the young translator; but after having examined the performance in their manner, and determined to print it upon conditions not very advantageous, returned it to be transcribed, that the printers might not be embarrassed with a copy so difficult to read.
barely transcribing it, that he altered the greatest part of the notes, new-modelled the dissertations, and augmented the book to twice its former bulk.
Part of this letter I am tempted to suppress, being unwilling to demand the belief of others to Barretier was now advanced to the latter end that which appears incredible to myself; but as of his twelfth year, and had made great advances my incredulity may, perhaps, be the product in his studies, notwithstanding an obstinate tu rather of prejudice than reason, as envy may mour in his left hand, which gave him great pain, beget a disinclination to admit so immense a su- and obliged him to a tedious and troublesome periority, and as an account is not to be immedi- method of cure; and reading over his performately censured as false, merely because it is won-ance, was so far from contenting himself with derful, I shall proceed to give the rest of his father's relation, from his letter of the 3d of March, 1729-30. He speaks, continues he, German, Latin, and French, equally well. He can, by laying before him a translation, read any of the books of the Old or New Testament in its original language, without hesitation or perplexity. He is no stranger to biblical criticism or philosophy, nor unacquainted with ancient and modern geography, and is qualified to support a conversation with learned men, who frequently visit and correspond with him.
In his eleventh year, he not only published a learned letter in Latin, but translated the travels of Rabbi Benjamin from the Hebrew into French, which he illustrated with notes, and accompanied with dissertations; a work in which his father, as he himself declares, could give him little assistance, as he did not understand the rabbinical dialect.
The reason for which his father engaged him in this work, was only to prevail upon him to write a fairer hand than he had hitherto accustomed himself to do, by giving him hopes, that, if he should translate some little author, and offer a fair copy of his version to some bookseller, he might in return for it, have other books which he wanted and could not afford to purchase.
Incited by this expectation, he fixed upon the "Travels of Rabbi Benjamin," as most proper for his purpose, being a book neither bulky nor common, and in one month completed his translation, applying only one or two hours a-day to that particular task. In another month he drew up the principal notes; and, in the third, wrote some dissertations upon particular passages, which seemed to require a larger examination.
These notes contain so many curious remarks and inquiries, out of the common road of learning, and afford so many instances of penetration, judgment, and accuracy, that the reader finds in every page some reason to persuade him that they cannot possibly be the work of a child, but
The few touches which his father bestowed upon the revisal of the book, though they are minutely set down by him in the preface, are so inconsiderable that it is not necessary to mention them; and it may be much more agreeable, as well as useful, to exhibit the short account which he there gives of the method by which he enabled his son to show so early how easy an attainment is the knowledge of the languages, a knowledge which some men spend their lives in cultivating, to the neglect of more valuable studies, and which they seem to regard as the highest perfec tion of human nature.
What applauses are due to an old age, wasted in a scrupulous attention to particular accents and etymologies, may appear, says his father, by see ing how little time is required to arrive at such an eminence in these studies as many even of these venerable doctors have not attained, for want of rational methods and regular application.
This censure is doubtless just upon those who spend too much of their lives upon useless nice ties, or who appear to labour without making any progress; but as the knowledge of language is necessary, and a minute accuracy sometimes re quisite, they are by no means to be blamed, who, in compliance with the particular bent of their own minds, make the difficulties of dead languages their chief study, and arrive at excellence proportionate to their application, since it was to the labour of such men that his son was indebted for his own learning.
The first languages which Barretier learned were the French, German, and Latin, which he was taught not in the common way by a multitude of definitions, rules, and exceptions, which fatigue the attention and burden the memory, without any use proportionate to the time which they require, and the disgust which they create. The method by which he was instructed was easy
and expeditious, and therefore pleasing. He learned them all in the same manner, and almost at the same time, by conversing in them indifferently with his father.
ceived further proofs of his abilities at his own court.
Mr. Barretier, being promoted to the cure of the church of Stetin, was obliged to travel with The other languages, of which he was master, his son thither from Schwabach, through Leiphe learned by a method yet more uncommon. sic and Berlin, a journey very agreeable to his The only book which he made use of was the son, as it would furnish him with new opportuBible, which his father laid before him in the lan- nities of improving his knowledge, and extending guage that he then proposed to learn, accompanied his acquaintance among men of letters. For with a translation, being taught by degrees the this purpose they stayed some time at Leipsic, inflections of nouns and verbs. This method, and then travelled to Hall, where young Barretier says his father, made the Latin more familiar to so distinguished himself in his conversation with him in his fourth year than any other language. the professors of the university, that they offered When he was near the end of his sixth year, him his degree of doctor in philosophy, a dignity he entered upon the study of the Old Testament correspondent to that of master of arts among in its original language, beginning with the book us. Barretier drew up that night some positions of Genesis, to which his father confined him for in philosophy, and the mathematics, which he six months; after which he read cursorily over sent immediately to the press, and defended the the rest of the historical books, in which he found next day in a crowded auditory, with so much very little difficulty, and then applied himself to wit, spirit, presence of thought and strength of the study of the poetical writers, and the pro- reason, that the whole university was delighted phets, which he read over so often, with so close and amazed; he was then admitted to his degree, an attention and so happy a memory, that he and attended by the whole concourse to his could not only translate them without a moment's lodgings, with compliments and acclamations. hesitation into Latin or French, but turn with the His Thesis or philosophical positions, which he same facility the translations into the original lan-printed in compliance with the practice of that guage in his tenth year. university, ran through several editions in a few weeks, and no testimony of regard was wanting that could contribute to animate him in his progress.
Growing at length weary of being confined to a book which he could almost entirely repeat, he deviated by stealth into other studies, and as his translation of Benjamin is a sufficient evidence, he read a multitude of writers of various kinds. In his twelfth year he applied more particularly to the study of the fathers, and councils of the six first centuries, and began to make a regular collection of their canons. He read every author in the original, having discovered so much negligence or ignorance in most translations, that he paid no regard to their authority.
Thus he continued his studies, neither drawn aside by pleasures nor discouraged by difficulties. The greatest obstacle to his improvement was want of books, with which his narrow fortune could not liberally supply him; so that he was obliged to borrow the greatest part of those which his studies required, and to return them when he had read them, without being able to consult them occasionally, or to recur to them when his memory should fail him.
It is observable that neither his diligence, unintermitted as it was, nor his want of books, a want of which he was in the highest degree sensible, ever produced in him that asperity, which a long and recluse life, without any circumstance of disquiet frequently creates. He was always gay, lively and facetious, a temper which contributed much to recommend his learning, and which some students much superior in age would consult their ease, their reputation, and their interest, by copying from him.
When they arrived at Berlin, the king ordered him to be brought into his presence, and was so much pleased with his conversation, that he sent for him almost every day during his stay at Berlin; and diverted himself with engaging him in conversations upon a multitude of subjects, and in disputes with learned men; on all which occasions he acquitted himself so happily, that the king formed the highest ideas of his capacity, and future eminence. And thinking perhaps with reason, that active life was the noblest sphere of a great genius, he recommended to him the study of modern history, the customs of nations, and those parts of learning that are of use in public transactions and civil employments, declaring that such abilities properly cultivated might exalt him, in ten years, to be the greatest minister of state in Europe. Barretier, whether we at tribute it to his moderation or inexperience, was not dazzled by the prospect of such high promotion, but answered, that he was too much pleased with science and quiet, to leave them for such inextrica ble studies, or such harassing fatigues. A reso lution so unpleasing to the king, that his father attributes to it the delay of those favours which they had hopes of receiving, the king having, as he observed, determined to employ him in the ministry.
It is not impossible that paternal affection might suggest to Mr. Barretier some false conceptions of the king's design; for he infers from the introduction of his son to the young princes, and the caresses which he received from them, that the king intended him for their preceptor, a scheme, says he, which some other resolution happily destroyed.
In the year 1735, he published Anti-Artemonius, sive Initium Evangelii S. Joannis, adversus Artemonium vindicatum, and attained such a degree of reputation, that not only the public, but princes, who are commonly the last by whom merit is distinguished, began to interest themselves in his success, for the same year the king of Prus- Whatever was originally intended, and by sia, who had heard of his early advances in whatever means these intentions were frustrated, literature, on account of a scheme for discover-Barretier, after having been treated with the highing the longitude, which had been sent to the est regard by the whole royal family, was disRoyal Society of Berlin, and which was trans-missed with a present of two hundred crowns; mitted afterwards by him to Paris and London, and his father instead of being fixed at Stetin, engaged to take care of his fortune, having re- was made pastor of the French church at Hall;
a place more commodious for study, to which they retired; Barretier being first admitted into the Royal Society at Berlin, and recommended by the king to the university at Hall.
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 those of the king, and direct his inquiries to those subjects that had been recommended by
P. 340. He is no stranger to biblical criticism. Having now gained such a degree of skill in the Hebrew language as to be able to compose in it both in prose and verse, he was extremely de sirous of reading the Rabbins; and having borrowed of the neighbouring clergy, and the Jews of Schwabach, all the books which they could supply him, he prevailed on his father to buy him the great Rabbinical Bible, published at Amsterdam in four tomes, folio, 1728, and read it with that accuracy and attention which appears by the He continued to add new acquisitions to his account of it written by him to his favourite, M. learning, and to increase his reputation by new Le Maitre, inserted in the beginning of the 26th performances, till, in the beginning of his nine-volume of the Bibliotheque Germanique. teenth year, his health began to decline, and his indisposition, which, being not alarming or violent, was perhaps not at first sufficiently regarded, increased by slow degrees for eighteen months, during which he spent days among his books, and neither neglected his studies, nor left his gayety, till his distemper, ten days before his death, deprived him of the use of his limbs: he then prepared himself for his end, without fear or emotion, and on the fifth of October, 1740, resigned his soul into the hands of his Saviour, with confidence and tranquillity.
In the Magazine for 1742, appeared the following
"As the nature of our Collections requires that our accounts of remarkable persons and transactions should be early, our readers must necessarily pardon us, if they are often not complete, and allow us to be sufficiently studious of their satisfaction, if we correct our errors, and supply our defects from subsequent intelligence, where the importance of the subject merits an extraordinary attention, or when we have any peculiar opportunities of procuring information. The particulars here inserted we thought proper to annex by way of note to the following passages, quoted from the Magazine for December 1740, and for February 1741."
P. 340. At the age of nine years he not only was master of five languages.
French, which was the native language of his mother, was that which he learned first, mixed by living in Germany, with some words of the language of the country. After some time his father took care to introduce in his conversation with him some words of Latin, in such a manner that he might discover the meaning of them by the connexion of the sentence, or the occasion on which they were used, without discovering that he had any intention of instructing him, or that any new attainment was proposed.
These writers were read by him, as other young persons peruse romances or novels, only from a puerile desire of amusement; for he had so little veneration for them, even while he studied them with most eagerness, that he often diverted his parents with recounting their fables and chimeras. P. 341. In his twelfth year he applied more particularly to the study of the Fathers.
His father being somewhat uneasy to observe so much time spent by him on Rabbinical trifles, thought it necessary now to recall him to the study of the Greek language, which he had of late neglected, but to which he returned with so much ardour, that in a short time he was able to read Greek with the same facility as French or Latin.
He then engaged in the perusal of the Greek fathers, and councils of the first three or four centuries: and undertook, at his father's desire, to confute a treatise of Samuel Crellius, in which, under the name of Artemonius, he has endea voured to substitute, in the beginning of St. John's gospel, a reading different from that which is at present received, and less favourable to the orthodox doctrine of the divinity of our Saviour.
This task was undertaken by Barretier with great ardour, and prosecuted by him with suita ble application, for he not only drew up a formal confutation of Artemonius, but made large collections from the earliest writers, relating to the history of heresies which he proposed at first to have published as preliminaries to his book, but, finding the introduction grew at last to a greater bulk than the book itself, he determined to publish it apart.
While he was engrossed by these inquiries, accident threw a pair of globes into his hands in October, 1734, by which his curiosity was so much exalted, that he laid aside his Artemonius, and applied himself to geography and astronomy, In ten days he was able to solve all the problems in the doctrine of the globes, and had attained ideas so clear and strong of all the systems, as well ancient as modern, that he began to think of making new discoveries; and for that purpose, laying aside for a time all searches into antiquity, he employed his utmost interest to procure books of astronomy and of mathematics, and made such a progress in three or four months, that he seemed to have spent his whole life upon that study; for he not only made an astrolabe, and drew up astronomical tables, but invented new methods of calculation, or such at least as appeared new to him, because they were, not mentioned in the books which he had then an opportunity of reading, and it is a sufficient proof both of the rapidity. of his progress, and the extent of his views, that The passages referred to in the preceding pages are in three months after his first sight of a pair of printed in Italics
By this method of conversation, in which new words were every day introduced, his ear had been somewhat accustomed to the inflections and variations of the Latin tongue, he began to attempt to speak like his father, and was in a short time drawn on by imperceptible degrees to speak Latin, intermixed with other languages.
Thus, when he was but four years old, he spoke every day French to his mother, Latin to his father, and High Dutch to the maid, without any perplexity to himself, or any confusion of one language with another.
globes, he formed schemes for finding the longi
tude, which he sent, in Jan. 1735, to the Royal | nours or preferments, too soon conferred, infatuSociety at London.
His scheme being recommended to the Society by the Queen, was considered by them with a degree of attention which, perhaps, would not have been bestowed upon the attempt of a mathematician so young, had he not been dignified with so illustrious a patronage. But it was soon found, that for want of books he had imagined himself the inventor of methods already in common use, and that he proposed no means of discovering the longitude, but such as had been already tried and found insufficient. Such will be very frequently the fate of those whose fortune either condemns them to study without the necessary assistance from libraries, or who in too much haste publish their discoveries.
This attempt exhibited, however, such a specimen of his capacity for mathematical learning, and such a proof of an early proficiency, that the Royal Society of Berlin admitted him as one of their members, in 1735.
P. 341. Princes, who are commonly the last. Barretier had been distinguished much more early by the Margravine of Anspach, who, in 1726, sent for his father and mother to the court, where their son, whom they carried with them, presented her with a letter in French, and addressed another in Latin to the young prince; who afterwards, in 1734, granted him the privilege of borrowing books from the libraries of Anspach, together with an annual pension of fifty florins, which he enjoyed for four years.
In this place it may not be improper to recount some honours conferred upon him, which, if distinctions are to be rated by the knowledge of those who bestow them, may be considered as more valuable than those which he received from princes.
ate the greatest capacities. He published an invitation to three lectures, one critical on the book of Job, another on astronomy, and a third upon ancient ecclesiastical history. But of this employment he was soon made weary by the petulance of his auditors, the fatigue which it occasioned, and the interruption of his studies which it produced, and therefore, in a fortnight, he desisted wholly from his lectures, and never afterwards resumed them.
He then applied himself to the study of the law, almost against his own inclination, which, however, he conquered so far as to become a regular attendant on the lectures on that science, but spent all his other time upon different studies.
The first year of his residence at Hall was spent upon natural philosophy and mathematics; and scarcely any author, ancient or modern, that has treated on those parts of learning was neglected by him, nor was he satisfied with the knowledge of what had been discovered by others, but made new observations, and drew up immense calculations for his own use.
He then returned to ecclesiastical history, and began to retouch his "Account of Heresies," which he had begun at Schwabach: on this occasion he read the primitive writers with great accuracy, and formed a project of regulating the chronology of those ages; which produced a "Chronological Dissertation on the success on of the Bishops of Rome, from St. Peter to Vicer," printed in Latin at Utrecht, 1740.
He afterwards was wholly absorbed in application to polite literature, and read not only a multitude of writers in the Greek and Latin, but in the German, Dutch, French, Italian, English, and Arabic languages, and in the last year of his life he was engrossed by the study of inscriptions, medals, and antiquities of all nations.
In June 1731, he was initiated in the university of Altdorft, and at the end of the year 1732, the In 1737, he resumed his design of finding a cersynod of the reformed churches, held at Christian tain method of discovering the longitude, which Erlang, admitted him to be present at their con- he imagined himself to have attained by exact obsultations, and to preserve the memory of so ex-servations of the declination and inclination of the traordinary a transaction, as the reception of a boy of eleven years into an ecclesiastical council, recorded it in a particular article of the acts of the synod.
P. 341. He was too much pleased with science and quiet.
Astronomy was always Barretier's favourite study, and so much engrossed his thoughts, that he did not willingly converse on any other subject; nor was he so well pleased with the civilities of the greatest persons, as with the conversation of the mathematicians. An astronomical observation was sufficient to withhold him from court, or to call him away abruptly from the most illustrious assemblies; nor was there any hope of enjoying his company without inviting some professor to keep him in temper, and engage him in discourse; nor was it possible, without this expedient, to prevail upon him to sit for his picture.
P. 342. At Hall he continued his studies. Mr. Barretier returned, on the 28th of April, 1735, to Hall, where he continued the remaining part of his life, of which it may not be improper to give a more particular account.
needle, and sent to the Academy of Sciences, and to the Royal Society of London, at the same time, an account of his schemes; to which it was first answered by the Royal Society, that it appeared the same with one which Mr. Whiston had laid before them; and afterwards by the Academy of Sciences, that his method was but very little different from one that had been proposed by M. de la Croix, and which was ingenious but ineffectual.
Mr. Barretier, finding his invention already in the possession of two men eminent for mathemati cal knowledge, desisted from all inquiries after the longitude, and engaged in an examination of the Egyptian antiquities, which he proposed to free from their present obscurity, by deciphering the hieroglyphics, and explaining their astronomy; but this design was interrupted by his death.
P. 342. Confidence and tranquillity
Thus died Barretier, in the 20th year of his age, having given a proof how much may be performed in so short a time by indefatigable diligence. He was not only master of many languages, but skilled almost in every science, and capable of distinAt his settlement in the university he deter-guishing himself in every profession except that mined to exert his privileges as master of arts, and to read public lectures to the students; a design from which his father could not dissuade him, though he did not approve it; so certainly do ho
of physic, from which he had been discouraged by remarking the diversity of opinions among those who had been consulted concerning his own disorders.
His learning, however vast, had not depressed | the writing close, and the titles abridged. He or overburdened his natural faculties, for his ge- was a constant reader of literary journals. nius always appeared predominant; and when he With regard to common life he had some pe inquired into the various opinions of the writers culiarities. He could not bear music, and if he of all ages, he reasoned and determined for him- was ever engaged at play could not attend to it. self, having a mind at once comprehensive and He neither loved wine nor entertainments, nor delicate, active and attentive. He was able to dancing, nor the sports of the field, nor relieved reason with the metaphysicians on the most ab- his studies with any other diversion than that of struse questions, or to enliven the most unpleas- walking and conversation. He eat little flesh, ing subjects by the gayety of his fancy. He wrote and lived almost wholly upon milk, tea, bread, with great elegance and dignity of style, and had fruits, and sweetmeats. the peculiar felicity of readiness and facility in every thing that he undertook, being able without premeditation to translate one language into another. He was no imitator, but struck out new tracts, and formed original systems. He had a quickness of apprehension, and firmness of memory, which enabled him to read with incredible rapidity, and at the same time to retain what he read, so as to be able to recollect and apply it. He turned over volumes in an instant, and selected what was useful for his purpose. He seldom made extracts, except of books which he could not procure when he might want them a second time, being always able to find in any author, with great expedition, what he had once read. He read over, in one winter, twenty vast folios; and the catalogue of books which he had borrowed, comprised forty-one pages in quarto,
He had great vivacity in his imagination, and ardour in his desires, which the easy method of his education had never repressed; he therefore conversed among those who had gained his confidence with great freedom, but his favourites were not numerous, and to others he was always reserved and silent, without the least inclination to discover his sentiments or display his learning. He never fixed his choice upon any employment, nor confined his views to any profession, being desirous of nothing but knowledge, and entirely untainted with avarice or ambition. He preserved himself always independent, and was never known to be guilty of a lie. His constant application to learning suppressed those passions which betray others of his age to irregularities, and excluded all those temptations to which men are exposed by idleness or common amusements,
LEWIS MORIN was born at Mans, on the 11th of July, 1635, of parents eminent for their piety. He was the eldest of sixteen children, a family to which their estate bore no proportion, and which, in persons less resigned to Providence, would have caused great uneasiness and anxiety.
in a course of life, which was never exceeded either by the ostentation of a philosopher, or the severity of an anchoret; for he confined himself to bread and water, and at most allowed himself no indulgence beyond fruits. By this method, be preserved a constant freedom and serenity of spirits, always equally proper for study; for his soul had no pretences to complain of being over
His parents omitted nothing in his education, which religion requires, and which their fortune could supply. Botany was the study that ap-whelmed with matter. peared to have taken possession of his inclination, as soon as the bent of his genius could be discovered. A countryman, who supplied the apothecaries of the place, was his first master, and was paid by him for his instructions with the little money that he could procure, or that which was given him to buy something to eat after din
This abstinence and generosity discovered themselves with his passion for botany, and the gratification of a desire indifferent in itself was procured by the exercise of two virtues.
He was soon master of all his instructor's knowledge, and was obliged to enlarge his acquaintance with plants, by observing them himself in the neighbourhood of Mans. Having finished his grammatical studies, he was sent to learn philosophy at Paris, whither he travelled on foot like a student in botany, and was careful not to lose such an opportunity of improvement.
When his course of philosophy was completed, he was determined, by his love of botany, to the profession of physic, and from that time engaged
Translated from an cloge by Fontenelle, and first printed in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1741.
This regimen, extraordinary as it was, had many advantages; for it preserved his health, an advantage which very few sufficiently regard; it gave him an authority to preach diet and abstinence to his patients; and it made him rich without the assistance of fortune; rich, not for himself, but for the poor, who were the only persons benefited by that artificial affluence, which, of all others, is most difficult to acquire. It is easy to imagine, that, while he practised in the midst of Paris the severe temperance of a hermit, Paris differed no otherwise, with regard to him, from a hermitage, than as it supplied him with books and the conversation of learned men.
In 1662, he was admitted doctor of physic About that time Dr. Fagon, Dr. Longuet, and Dr. Galois, all eminent for their skill in botany, were employed in drawing up a catalogue of the plants in the Royal Garden, which was published in 1665, under the name of Dr. Vallot, then first physician: during the prosecution of this work, Dr. Morin was often consulted, and from these conversations it was that Dr. Fagon conceived a particular esteem of him, which he always continued to retain.