Breitinguer, John James

, whom Meister calls the greatest reformer of the Swiss schools which the last century produced, was born at Zurich March 1, 1701, and after going through a course of academical instruction, was admitted into orders in 1720. The space which usually intervenes between the ordination of young ministers and their establishment in a church, he employed principally in the study of the ancient authors, familiarizing himself with their language and sentiments, an employment which, like Zuinglius, he did not think unworthy of the attention of an ecclesiastic. Persius was his favourite poet, whom, he studied so critically as to furnish the president Bouhier with some happy elucidations, which the latter adopted, Breitinguer, however, was not merely a verbal critic, and considered such criticism as useful only in administering to higher pursuits in philosophy and the belles-lettres. The “Bibliotheque Helvetique” which he and Bodmer wrote, shews how criticism and philosophy may mutually assist each other. He formed an intimacy with Bodmer in early life, (see Bodmer), and both began their career as reformers of the language and taste of their country. Breitinguer found a liberal patron in the burgomaster Escher, who himself proved that the study of the Greek language is a powerful counterpoise to a bad taste, and was the person who encouraged Breitinguer principally to produce a new edition of the Septuagint translation. In 1731 he was chosen professor of Hebrew, and in ordeir to | facilitate the study of that language to his pupils, he wrote his treatise on the Hebrew idioms. Some time after he was appointed vice-professor of logic and rhetoric, and from that time began the reformation which he thought much wanted in the schools, with a treatise “De eo quod nimium est in studio grammatico,” and a system of logic in Latin and German, which soon took the place of that ofWendelin. He contributed also various papers to the “Tempe Helvetica,” and the “Musaeum Helveticum,” and at the request of the cardinal Quirini drew up an account of a ms. of the Greek psalms which was found in the canons’ library. He published also the “Critical art of Poetry.” His biographer bestows great praise on all those works, and different as the subjects are, assures us that he treated each as if it had been the exclusive object of his attention. His literary acquaintance was also very extensive, and he numbered among his correspondents the cardinals Passionei and Quirini, the president Bouhier, the abbe“Gerbert de St. Blaise, with Iselin, Burmann, Crusius, le Maitre, Vernet, Semler, Ernesti, &c. But he chiefly excelled as a teacher of youth, and especially of those intended for the church, having introduced two regulations, the benefit of which his country amply acknowledges. The one was that young divines should preach, in turn, twice a week, on which occasion the sermon was criticised by the whole body of students, aided also by Breitinguer’s remarks. The other respects an institution or society of Ascetics, as they were called. This was composed of the clergy, who assembled at stated hours, to discuss subjects relative to their profession, and compose sermons, prayers, hymns, &c. Some of them also were employed in visiting the hospitals, others qualified for schoolmasters, and all were to assist the poor with advice or pecuniary aid. Breitinguer also prepared a catechism for the young, on an improved plan, and a little before his death, published” Orationes Carolina? d’Hottinguer,“dedicated to Semlin. He continued his active exertions almost to the last hour of his life, being present at an ecclesiastical council, on Dec. 13, 1776, but on his return was seized with an apoplexy, of which he died the following day. Breitinguer had as much learning as Bodmer, though not as much natural fire; and was an excellent critic. To the works already noticed, we may add his” Diatribe historico-Jiteraria in versus obscurissimos a | Persio Satir. I citatos," 1740, 8vo. His edition of the Septuagint, in 4 vols. 4to, wa.t published at Zurich, (TigUnim,) 1730. The text is accurately compiled from the Oxford edition of Grabe: to which are added at the bottom of each page the various readings of the Codex Vaticanus. Nothing is altered except a few typographical errors, and some emendations of Grabe, which did not coincide with the editor’s opinion. The clearness of the type and beauty of the paper recommend it to the reader’s attention; and the care, accuracy, and erudition displayed throughout the work, may entitle it to bear, away the palm even from Grabe’s edition. Such at least is the opinion of Masch. 1


Meister’s Portraits of the Illustrious Men of Sweden, French trans. Zurich; 1192, 8vo. Dibdin’s Classics, —Saxii Onomast.