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eminence in these studies as many even of those 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 language is necessary, and a minute accuracy sometimes requisite, 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 burthen 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.
The other languages of which he was master he learned by a method yet more uncommon. The only book which he made use of was the Bible, which his father laid before him in the language that he then proposed to learn, accompanied with a translation, being taught by degrees the inflections of nouns and verbs.
thod, says his father, made the Latin more familiar to him in his fourth
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.
. 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.
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 publick, 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.
Mr. Barretier, being promoted to the cure of the church of Stetin, was obliged to travel with his son thither frem Schwabach, through Leipsic and Berlin, a journey very agreeable to his son, as it would furnish him with new opportunities of improving his knowledge, and extending his ac
quaintance 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 to that of master of arts among us.
Bar. retier drew up that night some 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 amazed; 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
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 fu. ture 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 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 harassing 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.
It is not impossible that paternal affection might suggest to Mr. 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 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 re