Brotier, Gabriel

, an eminent classical scholar and editor, was born at Tanay, a small village of the Nivernois, in 1722, and died at Paris, Feb. 12, 1789, at the age of 67. In his youth he made it his practice to write notes in every book that he read; and the margins of severaHn his library were entirely filled with them. Until his last moment he pursued the same ‘method of study. All these he arranged wonderfully in his memory; and if it had been possible after his death to have put his papers in that order which he alone knew, they would have furnished materials for several curious volumes. With this method, and continued labour for twelve hours a day, the abbé Brotier acquired an immense stock of various knowledge. Except the mathematics, to which it appears he gave little application, he was acquainted with every thing; natural history, chemistry, and even medicine. It was his rule to read Hippocrates and Solomon once every year in their original languages. These he said were the best books for curing the diseases of the body and the mind. But the belles lettres were his grand pursuit. He had a good knowledge of all the dead languages, but particularly the Latin, of which he was perfectly master: he was besides acquainted with most, of the languages of Europe. This knowledge, however extensive, was not the only part in which he excelled. He was well versed in ancient and modern history, in chronology, coins, medals, inscriptions, and the customs of antiquity, which had always been objects of his study. He had collected, a considerable quantity of materials for writing a new history of France, and it is much to be regretted that he was prevented from undertaking that work. The akl>6 Brotier recalls to our remembrance those laborious writers, distinguished for their learning, Petau, Sirmond, Labbu, Cossart, Hardouin, Souciet, &c. who have done so much honour to the college of Louis XIV. in which he himself was educated, and where fre lived several years as librarian; and his countrymen say he is the last link of that chain of illustrious men, who have succeeded one another without interruption, for near two centuries. On the dissolution of the order of Jesuits, the abbe Brotier found an asylum equally peaceful and | agreeable in the house of Mr. de la Tour, a printer, eminent in his business, who has gained from all connoisseurs a just tribute of praise for those works which have come from his press. It was in this friendly retirement that the abbe Brotier spent the last twenty-six years of his life, and that he experienced a happiness, the value of which he knew how to appreciate, which arose from the care, attention, and testimonies of respect, bestowed upon him both by Mr. and Mrs. de la Tour. It was there also that he published those works which will render his name immortal; an edition of Tacitus, enriched not only with notes and learned dissertations, but also with supplements, which sometimes leave the reader in a doubt, whether the modern writer is not a successful rival of the ancient: this was first published in 1771, 4 vols. 4to, and reprinted in 1776, in 7 vols. fcvo. He published also in 1779, 6 vols. 12mo, an edition of Pliny the naturalist, which is only a’ short abridgment of what he had prepared to correct and enlarge the edition of Hardouin, and to give an historical series of all the new discoveries made since the beginning of this century; an immense labour, which bespeaks the most extensive erudition. To these two editions, which procured the abbe Brotier the applauses of all the literati in Europe, he added in 1778, 8vo, an edition of Rapin on gardens, at the end of which he has subjoined a history of gardens, written in Latin with admirable elegance, and abounding in the most delightful imagery: for the abbe was not one of those pedants, according to the expression of the poet, “herisses de Grec & de Latin;” he possessed a lively imagination, and a fine taste, with clearness and perspicuity; and above all, a sound judgment, which never suffered him to adopt in writing any thing that was not solid, beautiful, and true. His other works are, 1. “Examen de PApologie de M. I 7 Abbe de Prades,1753, 8vo. 2. “Conclusiones ex universa Theologia,1754, 4to. 3. “Traite des Monnoies Romanies, Grecques, et Hebr. compares avec les Monnoies de France, pour l’intelligencederEcriture Sainte, et de tous les auteurs Grecs, et Remains,1760, 4to. 4. “Prospectus d’une edit. Lat. de Tacite,1761,5 vols. 4to. 5, “Supplementa, lib. 7. loAnnal. Taciti,” 17 v 55, 8vo. 6.“Cl. viri de la Caille vita”7 1763, 4to. 7. “Phaedri Fabularum, lib. v. cum notis et suppl. access. Parallela J. de la Fontaine Fabulse,1785, 12mo. 8. “Memoire du Levant1780, and an | edition of“Brumoy’s Theatre,1785, 13 vols. 8vo. In 1790 his nephew published his “Parolles Memorables,” a work of which Mr. Seward has made great use in his “Anecdotes.

We shall conclude this account of the amiable abbe with his character as drawn by his friend the abbe de Fontenay. “That intimate and sincere friendship,” says he, “which united me to the abbe Brotier, gratitude, for the services which he did me, his talents and his virtues, will always endear his memory tome; and I may justly say, that his death, though lamented by many good men, was lamented by none more deeply than by me. However great may have been the merit of this learned man, not less conspicuously eminent for the qualities of his heart than for those of his head, one must have been intimate with him to form a just and true idea of his character. As often as my avocations would permit, I indulged myself in the pleasure of his company, and many delightful hours I have spent with him. Humble and unassuming, modest, and even to a degree of timidity that caused him to blush when the least encomium was passed upon him; good-tempered, plain in his manner, and giving himself up to society with the smiles and simplicity of a child, his conversation was engaging, and always instructive when it turned upon subjects of literature or science. Widely differing in this respect from those men of letters who are misers, if we may say so, of their knowledge, and who seem to hoard it only for themselves, or to make an ostentatious display of it in some publication, the abbe* Brotier readily replied to the questions of those who sought information from him, and instructed those around him with the utmost affability and condescension. I confess,” continues the abbe Fontenay, “that need of consulting him induced me often to visit him; and I can declare that whatever questions I put to him, I never found him in one instance wrong. He either satisfied me immediately respecting my queries, or pointed out those books in which I found what I wanted to know. He left a nephew of the same name, who is in the church. He is pursuing his uncle’s steps in the same departments of erudition, and has already published works which sufficiently evince the progress he has made.1

1 Dict. Hist.Saxii Onomast. vol. VIII.