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Having not been able to procure materials for a complete life of Mr. Barretier, and being, nevertheless, willing to gratify the curiosity justly raised in the publick by his uncommon attainments, we think the following extracts of letters written by his father, proper to be inserted in our collection, as they contain many remarkable passages, and exhibit a general view of his genius and learning.

John Philip Barretier was born at Schwabach, January 19, 1720-21. His father was a calvinist minister of that place, who took upon himself the care of his education. What arts of instruction he used, or by what method he regulated the studies of his son, we are not able to inform the publick; but take this opportunity of intreating those, who have received more complete intelligence, not to deny mankind so great a benefit as the improvement of education. If Mr. le Fevre thought the method in which he taught his children, worthy to be communicated to the learned world, how justly may Mr. Barretier claim the universal attention of mankind to a scheme of education that has produced such a stupendous progress! The authors, who have endeavoured to teach certain and unfailing 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 Mr. 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; if to do all that can be done in a long time, is to live long; he is equally a benefactor to mankind, who teaches them to protract the duration, or shorten the business of life.

That there are few things more worthy our curiosity than this method, by which the father 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.

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 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 allowed 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 3rd 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.