An account of the life of John Philip Barretier: who was master of five languages at the age of nine years. Compiled from his father's letters, &c.


AN ACCOUNT OF THE LIFE OF John Philip Barretier, Who was Maſter of Five LANGUAGES at the Age of Nine YEARS.

Compiled from his Father's LETTERS, &c.

LONDON: Printed for J. Roberts in Warwick-lane. 1744. [Price Sixpence.]

(Juſt Publiſhed,)



From the CHAMPION, February 21.

This Pamphlet is, without Flattery to its Author, as juſt and well written a Piece, as, of its King, I ever ſaw; ſo that at the ſame Time that it highly deſerves, it certainly ſtands very little in need of this Recommendation.—As to the Hiſtory of the unfortunate Perſon who [...]e Memoirs compoſe this Work, it is certainly penned with equal Accuracy and Spirit, of which I am ſo much the better Judge, as I know many of the Facts mentioned in it to be ſtrictly true, and very fairly related. Beſides, it is not only the Story of Mr Savage, but innumerable Incidents relating to other Perſons and other Affairs, which render this a very amuſing, and withal, a very inſtructive and valuable Performance.—The Author's Obſervations are ſhort, ſignificant, and juſt, as his Narrative is remarkably ſmooth, and well diſpoſed. His Reflections open to us all the Receſſes of the human Heart, and in a Word, a more juſt or pleaſant, a more engaging or a more improving Treatiſe on the Excellencies and Defects of human Nature, is ſcarce to be found in our own, or perhaps in any other Language.

LONDON: Printed for J. Roberts in Warwick-lane. 1744.



JOHN PHILIP BARRETIER was born at Schwabach, Jan. 19, 1720-21.

His Father was Francis Barretier, Paſtor of the Calviniſt Church of that Place, who took upon himſelf the Care of his Education, for which he formed a Scheme, that ſeems to be ſufficiently vindicated by its Succeſs from the Cenſures to which new Attempts are generally expoſed, and therefore requires a very particular Account; for if M. Le Fevre thought [Page 2] the Method in which he taught his Children, worthy to be communicated to the learned World, how juſtly may M. Barretier claim the univerſal Attention of Mankind to this new Scheme that has produced ſuch a ſtupendous Progreſs! The Authors, who have endeavoured to teach Rules for obtaining a long Life, however they have failed in their Attempts, are univerſally confeſſed to have, at leaſt, the Merit of a great and noble Deſign, and to have deſerved Gratitude and Honour. How much more then is due to M. Barretier, who has ſucceeded in what they have only attempted? For to prolong Life, and improve it, are nearly the ſame. If to have all that Riches can purchaſe is to be rich, to do all that can be done in a long Time, is to live long, and he is equally a Benefactor to Mankind, who teaches them to protract the Duration, or ſhorten the Buſineſs of Life.

That there are therefore few Things more worthy our Curioſity than this Method, by which the Father aſſiſted the Genius of the Son, every Man will be convinced, who ſhall hear the early Proficiency at which it enabled him to arrive, ſuch as no one has yet reached at the ſame Age, and to which it is therefore probable that every advantageous Circumſtance concurred.

[Page 3] 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 obſerving, that he had any Intention of inſtructing him, or that any new Attainment was propoſed.

By this Method of Converſation, in which new Words were every Day introduced, when 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 any other Language.

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.

While he was thus learning Languages without Study, and almoſt without perceiving that he was learning, his Father took care to teach him to read and write, of which he perform'd [Page 4] one without Books, and the other without Paper; but by what Methods we are not informed. It is indeed eaſy to conceive many that might be uſed, nor does it ſeem, with reſpect to the Art of Writing, of any Importance, whether he made his firſt Eſſays with Paper, or any other Materials, as the Operation muſt be nearly the ſame. Theſe Methods, whatever they were, ſucceeded ſo well, that he was able to read currently at the Age of three Years, and ſoon after was taught to write.

When he had thus learned to read, his Father put ſome Books into his Hands, chiefly ſuch as were filled with Pictures accompanied with Explanations. With theſe the young Student was wonderfully delighted, when he perceived, ſays the Author of his Life, that they talked and reaſoned like himſelf, and from that Time might be dated his wonderful Fondneſs for Books which became greater every Day.

The other Languages of which he was Maſter, he learned by a Method yet more uncommon. The only Book that he made uſe of was the Bible, which his Father laid before him in the Language he then propoſed to learn, accompanied with a Tranſlation, being taught by Degrees the Inflections of Nouns and Verbs. This Method, ſays his [Page 5] Father, made the Latin more familiar to him in his fourth Year than any other Language.

When he was near the End of his ſixth Year, he entered upon the Study of the Old Teſtament in its original Language, beginning with the Book of Geneſis, to which his Father confined him for ſix Months, after which he read curſorily over the reſt of the Hiſtorical Books in which he found very little Difficulty, and then applied himſelf to the Study of the poetical Writers, and the Prophets, which he read over ſo often, with ſo cloſe an Attention, and ſo happy a Memory, that he could not only tranſlate them without a Moment's Heſitation into Latin or French, but turn, with the ſame Facility, the Tranſlations into the original Language in his tenth Year.

When he was only eight Years old, he could repeat not only all the Pſalms in Hebrew, but all that Collection of Texts which Henricus Opitius has publiſhed under the Title of Biblia Parva; this Collection he tranſcribed, and added to it a new Tranſlation. He drew up likewiſe in 400 Pages in Quarto, a Dictionary of the moſt rare and difficult Words of the Hebrew Language, in which be interſperſed a great Number of curious Remarks and critical Obſervations.

[Page 6] 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 deſirous of reading the Rabbins; and having borrowed of the neighbouring Clergy, and the Jews of Schwabach, all the Books with which they could ſupply him, he prevailed on his Father to buy him the great Rabinical Bible, publiſhed at Amſterdam in 4 Tomes, Folio, 1728, and read it with that Accuracy and Attention which appears by the Account of it written by him to his Favourite M. Le Maitre, inſerted in the Beginning of the 26th Volume of the Bibliotheque Germanique.

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.

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 [Page 7] obſcure in the Tranſlation, the Account, however wonderful, may be admitted; but if he intends to tell his Correſpondent, that his Son was better acquainted with the two Languages of the Bible, than with his own, he muſt be ſuppoſed 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.

Part of this Letter I am tempted to ſuppreſs, being unwilling to demand the Belief of others to that which appears incredible to myſelf; but as my Incredulity may, perhaps, be the Product rather of Prejudice than Reaſon, as Envy may beget a Diſinclination to admit ſo immenſe a Superiority, and as an Account is not to be immediately cenſured as falſe, merely becauſe it is wonderful, 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 antient or modern Geography, and is [Page 8] 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 compleated 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 [Page 9] upon particular Paſſages which ſeemed to require a larger Examination.

Theſe Notes contain ſo many curious Remarks, and Enquiries 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 of a Man long accuſtomed to theſe Studies, enlightened by Reflection, and dextrous, 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 M. Le Maitre, his Aſſociate in the Church of Schwobach, 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.

This Copy was however far from being written with the Neatneſs which his Father deſired, nor did the Bookſellers, to whom it was offered, make Propoſals agreeable to the Expectation of the young Tranſlator; but after having examined the Performance in their [Page 10] ner, 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.

Barretier was now advanced to the latter End of his twelfth Year, and had made great Advances in his Studies, notwithſtanding an obſtinate Tumour in his left Hand, which gave him great Pain, and obliged him to a tedious and troubleſome Method of Cure; and reading over his Performance, was ſo far from contenting himſelf with barely tranſcribing it, that he altered the greateſt Part of the Notes, new-modelled the Differtations, and augmented the Book to twice its former Bulk.

What Applauſes are due to an old Age, waſted in a ſcrupulous Attention to Particles, Accents and Etymologies, may appear, ſays his Father, by ſeeing 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 Niceties, or who appear to labour without making any Progreſs. But as the Knowledge of Languages is neceſſary, and a minute Accuracy ſometimes requiſite, they are by no Means to be blamed, who, in Compliance [Page 11] with the particular Benefit 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.

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 create. He was always gay, lively, and facetious, a Temper which contributed much to recommend his Learning, and of which ſome Students much ſuperior in Age would conſult their Eaſe, their Reputation and their Intereſt by copying from him.

[Page 12] His Father being ſomewhat uneaſy to obſerve ſo much Time ſpent by him on Rabinical 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.

In his twelfth Year he applied more particularly to the Study of the Fathers and Councils of the firſt ſix 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.

Soon after he undertook, at his Father's Deſire, to confute a Treatiſe of Samuel Crellius, in which, under the Name of Artemonius, he has endeavoured 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 ſuitable Application, for he not only drew up a formal Confutation of Artemonius, but made large Collections from the earlieſt [Page 13] 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 print it apart.

While he was engroſſed by theſe Enquiries, Accident threw a Pair of Globes into his Hands, in Oct. 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 Mathematicks, 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 [Page 14] the Rapidity of his Progreſs, and the Extent of his Views, that in three Months after his firſt Sight of a Pair of Globes, he formed Schemes for finding the Longitude, which he ſent, in Jan. 1735, to the Royal Society 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, in 1735, the Royal Society of Berlin admitted him as one of their Members.

[Page 15] Notwithſtanding theſe Avocations and Amuſements, he publiſhed, in 1735, Anti-Artemonius, ſeu Initium Evangelii S. Johannis Apoſtoli, adverſus iniquiſſimam L. M. Artemonij Neo-Photiniani Criticam vindicatum atq, illuſtratum, quâ Occaſione etiam multa alia S. Scripturae Veterumque Loca vindicantur, et multis Antiquitatis Monumentis Lux affunditur, cui in Fine accedit Diſſertatio de Dialogis tribus Theodoreto vulgo tributis. Auctore J. P. Barreterio, SS. Theologiae aliarumque bonarum Artium Cultore. Norimbergae. 8vo.

This Work is divided into five Parts. In the firſt of which Barretier proves, that the Text was always read as it now ſtands. In the Second he ſhews, that Artemonius's Notion of the Method by which it was changed, is groundleſs. In the Third, he examines the internal Evidence brought by Artemonius to prove that St John could not write the Words as they are now read. In the Fourth, he refutes the Opinion of Socinus, that St John ſaying, that by the Word all Things were made, ſpeaks of a new Creation. In the Fifth, he proves the Divinity of our Saviour from other Parts of the holy Writings, and concludes with a Paraphraſe of the firſt Verſes of St John's Goſpel. To the whole is added an [Page 16] Eſſay to prove, that the Dialogues aſcribed to Theodoret, are the Work of another Writer.

He had now 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 Pruſſia, who had heard of his early Advances in Literature, on Account of a Scheme for diſcovering the Longitude, which had been ſent to the Royal Society of Berlin, and which was tranſmitted afterwards by him to Paris and London, engaged to take care of his Fortune, having received further Proofs of his Abilities at his own Court, to which he was introduced in the following Manner.

M. Barretier, being promoted to the Cure of the Church of Stetin, was obliged to travel with his Son thither from Schwobach, thro' Leipſic and Berlin, a Journey very agreaable to his Son, as it would furniſh him with new Opportunities of improving his Knowledge, and extending his Acquaintance among Men of Letters. For this Purpoſe they ſtaid ſome time at Leipſic, and then travelled to Hall, where young Barretier ſo diſtinguiſhed himſelf in his Converſation with the Profeſſors of the Univerſity, that they offered him his Degree of Doctor in Philoſophy, a Dignity correſpondent [Page 17] to that of Maſter of Arts among us. Barretier drew up that Night fourteen Poſitions in Philoſophy and the Mathematicks, which he ſent immediately to the Preſs, and defended the next Day in a crowded Auditory, with ſo much Wit, Spirit, Preſence of Thought, and Strength of Reaſon, that the whole Univerſity was delighted and amaz'd; he was then admitted to his Degree, and attended by the whole Concourſe to his Lodgings, with Compliments and Acclamations.

His Theſes, or philoſophical Poſitions, which he printed in Compliance with the Practice of that 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.

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 on 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 [Page 18] 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 publick 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 attribute 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 inextricable Studies, or ſuch harraſſing Fatigues. A Reſolution 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 obſerves, determined to employ him in the Miniſtry.

The Science that withheld him from complying with ſuch flattering Propoſals, was Aſtronomy, which was always his 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 with-hold him from [Page 19] Court, or to call him away abruptly from the moſt illuſtrious Aſſemblies; none could hope to enjoy his Company long 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.

It is not unlikely, that paternal Affection might ſuggeſt to M. Barretier ſome falſe Conceptions of the King's Deſigns; 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.

Whatever was originally intended, and by whatever Means theſe Intentions were fruſtrated; Barretier, after having been treated with the higheſt Regard by the whole Royal Family, was diſmiſſed with a Preſent of two hundred Crowns, and his Father, inſtead of being fixed at Stetin, was made Paſtor of the French Church at Hall; a Place more commodious for Study, to which they retired; Barretier being recommended by the King to the Univerſity.

[Page 20] As the Scene of M. Barretier's Life was now changed, it ſeems not improper to recur to ſome of the former Parts of it, and 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.

In June 1731, He was initiated in the Univerſity of Altdorft, and at the End of the Year 1732, the Synod of the Reformed Churches, held at Chriſtian Erlang, admitted him to be preſent at their Conſultations, and, to preſerve the Memory of ſo extraordinary 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.

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 1743, 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.

[Page 21] M. 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.

At his Settlement in the Univerſity, he determined to exert his Privileges as Maſter of Arts, and to read publick Lectures to the Students, a Deſign from which his Father could not diſſuade him, tho' he did not approve it; ſo certainly do Honours or Preferments, too ſoon conferred, infatuate 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 in that Faculty, but ſpent all his other Time upon different Studies.

[Page 22] The firſt Year of his Reſidence at Hall was ſpent upon Natural Philoſophy and Mathematicks; 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 Schwobach; 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 Succeſſion of the Biſhops of Rome, from St Peter to Victor; 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 Arabick Languages, and, in the laſt Year of his Life, he was engroſſed by the Study of Inſcriptions, Medals, and Antiquities of all Nations.

[Page 23] In 1737, he reſumed his Deſign of finding a certain Method of diſcovering the Longitude, which he imagined himſelf to have attained by exact Obſervations of the Declination and Inclination of the 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 appear'd the ſame with one that 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.

M. Barretier finding his Invention already in the Poſſeſſion of two Men eminent for mathematical Knowledge, deſiſted from all Enquiries after the Longitude, and engaged in an Examination of the Egyptian Antiquities, which he propoſed to free from their preſent Obſcurity, by deciphering their Hierogliphicks, and explaining their Aſtronomy, but this Deſign was interrupted by his Death.

This Deſign he had propoſed to himſelf, to execute in ſuch a Manner, as ſhould eſtabliſh his Reputation; and, indeed, it appears from the Scheme which he ſent to M. Le [Page 24] Maitre, * that the Work was not unworthy of ſuch Abilities, and it is to be lamented that, ſince he could not finiſh it, he has not left ſuch Materials as might enable others to [Page 25] perſue his Ideas. It is indeed not to be related without ſome Degree of Wonder, that there were found in his Collections but a few Sheets relating to this great Work; for which he informs his Friend that he has collected all the Materials, and declares that the greateſt Part of the Labour being performed, he ſhall be able to write it without any Impediment.

He continued to add new Acquiſitions to his Learning, and to encreaſe his Reputation by new Performances, till in the Beginning of his nineteenth 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 [Page 26] Degrees for eighteen Months, during which he ſpent Days among his Books, and neither neglected his Studies, nor loſt his Gaiety, 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 5th of October, 1740, reſigned his Soul into the Hands of his Saviour, with 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 diſtinguiſhing himſelf in every Profeſſion, except that of Phyſick, 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 or over-burthen'd his natural Faculties, for his Genius appeared always predominant; and when he enquired into the various Opinions of the Writers of all Ages, he reaſoned and determined for himſelf, having a Mind at once comprehenſive and delicate, active and attentive. He was able to reaſon with the Metaphyſicians on the moſt abſtruſe [Page 27] Queſtions, or to enliven the moſt unpleaſing Subjects by the Gaiety of his Fancy. He wrote with great Elegance and Dignity of Stile, and had 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 had 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 Folio's; and the catalogue of Books which he had borrow'd, compriſed 41 Pages in Quarto, the Writing cloſe, and the Titles abridged. He was a conſtant Reader of Literary Journals.

With regard to common Life, he had ſome Peculiarities. He could not bear Muſick, and if he was ever engaged at Play, could not attend to it. He neither loved Wine nor Entertainments, [Page 28] nor Dancing, nor the Sports of the Field, nor relieved his Studies with any other Diverſion than that of Walking and Converſation. He eat little Fleſh, and lived almoſt wholly upon Milk, Tea, Bread, Fruits, and Sweetmeats.

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.

In a Letter which was communicated to the Author of this Account.

De Doctrina Temporum ſecundum Rationes priſcorum Aegyptiorum Libri V.

Primus, De Anni forma apud Aegyptios agit. Ibi de variis eorum annis, de anno Aegyptiaco vago, proprie ſic dicto, cujos natura fuſe expenditur; De magna Periodo caniculari, quâ revolutio iſtius anni peragitur; De Caniculae principio ſcil, hujus anni & de ejus motibus; De Oris, & quid ſint; De menſibus Aegyptiorum; De quatuor anni cardinibus, & Feſtis tunc celebratis; De tribus anni tempeſtatibus & Feſtis tunc quoque actis; De Feſtorum revolutionibus; De characteribus Anni Aegyptiaci, &c. Multa alia digrediendo paſſim illuſtrantur.

Secundus, Coelum Aegyptiacum ſiſtit. De Planetarum nominibus & ordine; De Hebdomadibus; De Sphaera Aegyptiaca ejuſque figuris; De Hypotheſibus Aegyptiorum circa motus tam errantium quam fixarum; De Aſtrologiae ortu ex Aſtronomia Aegyptiaca; De Decanis, Periodis Planetarum, Climacteribus, aliiſque Aſtrologiae inventis, quorum verus ſenſus eruitur. Ex hiſce omnibus demonſtrantur Epochae primarum obſervationum apud Aegyptios, aliarumque quas deinde paulatim addiderunt, quod primum & certiſſimum fundamentum eſt Chronologiae Aegyptiacae. Agitur hic quoque de Cyclis Aegyptiorum, eorum Calendariis, &c.

Tertius, Periodos Aegyptiorum exponit. Non unica Periodus Canicularis. Aliae nataee Feſtorum annuorum revolutione. Earum recenſio. Sphingis allegoria pleniſſime enucleata. Epochae illae celebres Nabonaſſari aliaeque Aegyptiis debitae. Aſtronomi Alexandrini & Cyciographi Chriſtiani ab Aegyptiis hauſerunt. Canon Aſtronomicus Regum i [...]dem debitus. Eorum annales, Annalium forma, Characteres Chronologici, [...] lidem Annales continuati diu poſt mortem Chriſti, res quoque exoticas referebant. Methodus in numerandis Principum annis; unde lux affunditur Num is Aegyptiacis Ptolomaeorum & Imperatorum. Hiſtoria anni Aegyptiaci & Periodi Caniculatis ex praecedentibus colligitur.

Quartus, Fundamenta generalia Hiſtoriae Aegyptiaeae firmiter collocat, tum ex characteribus Aſtronomicis, tum ex Epochis hiſtoricis indubiis.

Quintus, eandem Hiſtoriam explet, & appendicis loco Canon Chronologicus ſubjungitur. In hiſce duobus ultimis, mole ſuperioribus multa hiſtorica monumenta illuſtrantur, Synchroniſmi vicinarum gentium, praecipue rerum Graecarum antiquiſſimarum ante Bellum Trojanum recenſentur, Mythologiae Aegyptiorum fax accenditur; De immanibus annorum Summis, quas Aegyptii jactabant, diſſeritur, ut & de Diis, Semideis, Heroibus, &c. Regum ſeries exhibetur, quam vis non plena, quoniam nihil niſi certum & indubitatum in hoc opere admittitur. Ubi igitur monumenta deſiciunt, lacunae apparent; at maxima pars vacuo caret, & ea quidem quae noſtra maxime intereſt ut integra habeatur.