Gaffarell, James

, a learned Rabbinical writer, was the son of Dr. Gaffarell, by Lucrece de Bermond, his wife; and was born at Mannes, in Provence, about 1601. He was educated at the university of Apt, in that county, where he prosecuted his studies with indefatigable industry; and applying himself particularly to the Hebrew language and Rabbinical learning, was wonderfully pleased with the mysterious doctrines of the Cabala, and commenced author in their defence at the age of twenty-two. He printed a 4to volume at Paris in 1623, under_the title of “The secret mysteries of the divine Cabala, defended against the trifling objections of the Sophists,” or “Abdita divinae Cabalae mysteria,” &c. The following year he published a paraphrase upon that beautiful ode the 137th Psalm, “By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, when we remembered thee, O Sion>” -&c. He began early to be inflamed with an ardent desire of travelling for his improvement in literature, in which his curiosity was boundless.

This disposition, added to his uncommon talents, did not escape the notice of cardinal Richelieu, who appointed him his library-keeper, and sent him into Italy to collect the best books printed or ms. that could be found. This employment extremely well suited Gaffarell’s taste, both as it gave him an opportunity of furnishing his own library with some curious pieces in oriental and other languages, | and of making inquiries into that branch of literature which was his chief delight. With this view, while he was at Home, he went with some others to visit Campanella, the famous pretender to magic; his design in this visit was to procure satisfaction about a passage in that author’s took, “De sensu rerum et magiu.” Campanella was then in the inquisition, where he had been cruelly used, in order to force him to confess the crimes laid to his charge. At their entrance into his chamber he begged they would have a little patience, till he had finished a small note which he was writing to cardinal Magaloti. As soon as they were seated, they observed him to make certain wry faces, which being supposed to proceed from pain, he was asked if he felt no pain; to which, smiling, he answered, No! and guessing the cause of the question, he said he was fancying himself to be cardinal Magaloti, as he had heard him described. This was the very thing Gaffarell wanted; and convinced him, that in order to discover another person’s thoughts, it was not sufficient, as he had before understood Campanella, barely to fancy yourself to be like the person, but you must actually assume his very physiognomy. This anecdote will afford the reader a sufficient idea of the value of the discoveries of Campanella and GafTarell.

In 1629, he published “Rabbi Flea, de fine mundi, Latine versus, cum notis,Paris, 8vo, i. e. “A Latin version of Rabbi Elea’s treatise concerning the end of the world, with notes;” and the same year came out his “Curiositez Inouez, c. Unheard-of Cariosities concerning the talismanic sculpture of the Persians -, the horoscope of the Patriarchs, and the reading of the stars.” This curious piece went through three editions in the space of six months. In it the author undertakes to shew that talismans, or constellated figures, had the virtue to make a man rich and fortunate, to free a house and even a whole country from certain insects and venomous creatures; and from all the injuries of the air. He started many other bold assertions concerning the force of magic; and having also made some reflections upon his own country, and mentioned the decalogue according to the order of the Old Testament, and the protestant doctrine, he was censured by the Sorbonne, and therefore retracted these and Some other things advanced as errors submitting his faith; in all points to the doctrine of the catholic and apostolic church. | In 1633 he was at Venice, where, among other things, he took an exact measure of the vessels brought from Cyprus and Constantinople, that were deposited in the treasury of St. Mark, at the request of the learned Peiresc, with whom he had been long acquainted, and who had a great esteem for him. During his abode in this city, he was invited to live with M. de la Thuillerie, the French ambassador, as a companion. He accepted the invitation, but was not content with the fruitless office of merely diverting the ambassador’s leisure hours by his learned conrersation. He aimed to make himself of more importance, and to do this friend some real service. He resolved therefore to acquaint himself with politics, and in that view wrote to his friend Gabriel Naude“, to send him a list of the authors upon political subjects; and this request it was, that gave birth to Naude’s t( Bibliographia Politica.” Gaffarell at this time was doctor of divinity and canon law, prothonotary of the apostolic see, and commendatory prior of St. Giles’s. After his return home, he was employed by his patron cardinal Richelieu, in his project for bringing back all the protestants to the Roman church, which he calls are-union of religions; and to that end was authorized to preach in Dauphin6 against the doctrine of purgatory. To the same purpose he also published a piece upon the pacification of Christians.

He survived the cardinal many years, and wrote several books besides those already mentioned; among which are, 1. “Index codicum MStorum quibus usus est Joh. Picus Comes Mirandulanus,Paris, 1650. vid. Selden. de Synedriis Heb. 1653, p. 6-81. 2. “Un traite” de la poudre de sympathie et des Talismans.“3. (l Epistola prsefat. in Jlob. Leonis Mntinensis libellum de ritibus Hebraicis.” 4. “Cribrum Cabalisticum,” vid. Curiosites Inoiiez, p. 44, and 869. 5. “Avis aux Doctes touchant la necessite des langues orientales,” ibid. p. 54 and 84. 6. “The widow of Sarepta.” 7. “A treatise of good and evil Genii,” vid. Mercure galant, p. 161, for Jan. 1682. 8. “Ars nova & perquam facilis legendi Rabbinos sine punctis.” 9. “De musica Hebrseorum stupenda libellus.” 10. ‘-* In voces derelictas V. T. Centuriie duoe, nova cum, Scaligero de LXX Interpret, dissertatiuncula.“11.” De stellis cadentibus opinio nova.“12.” Quaestio Hebraicophilosophica, utrum a principio mare salsum extiterit.“13.” Lachrymae in obitum Jani Csecilii Frey. Medici,’ 1 | 1631, 4to, and some others, mentioned by Leo Allatius, in Apibus.

In the latter part of his life he was employed in writing a history of the subterranean world; containing an account of the caves, grottos, mines, vaults, and catacombs, which he had met with in thirty years’ travel; and the work was, so nearly finished, that the plates were engraven, and it was just ready to go to the press, when he died at Sigonce, of which place he was then abbot, in his eightieth year, 1681; being also dean of canon law in the university of Paris, prior of le Revest de Brousse, in the diocese of Sisteron, and commandant of St. Omeil. His works shew him to have been a man of prodigious reading, and uncommon subtilty of genius; but he unfortunately had also a superstitious credulity, as appears from the following passage in his “Unheard-of Curiosities.” Treating of omens, he cites Camerarius, affirming that some people have an apprehension and knowledge of the death of their friends and kindred, either before or after they are dead x by a certain strange and unusual restlessness within themselves, though they are a thousand leagues off. To support this idle notion, he tells us that his mother Lucrcce de Bermond, when she was living, had some such sign always given her; for none of her children ver died, but a little before she dreamt either of hair, eggs, or teeth mingled with earth; this sign, says he, was infallible. “I myself, when I had heard her say she had any such dream, observed the event always to follow.” His '< Curiosities" was translated by Chi I mead into English, Lond. 1650, 8vo. 1


Moreri.—Gen. Dict.—Leo Allatina’s Apes Urbanes.—Colomesii Gallia Orientalis.—Morhoff Polyhist.—Dict. Hist.