Ousel, Philip

, a learned professor of divinity of the university of Francfort on the Oder, was born at Dantzic, Oct.7, 1671. He was descended from the ancient and noble family of Oisel or Loisel, which made a great figure in Norman history; and one of his ancestors having come to England with William the Conqueror, his descendants were not extinct in the time of queen Elizabeth. Of this descent, however, our learned professor seldom was heard to boast. He had more pleasure in relating that his immediate ancestors were pious protestants, who, having escaped the massacre of St. Bartholomew’s day in France, took refuge in Flanders; and that his great grandfather, who had lost his all on that occasion, began trade and acquired great property, of which he was again stript during the persecution under the duke of Alva, and obliged to fly to Leyden with three hundred families, who established the cloth manufactory there under his direction. One of his uncles was James Ousel or Loisel, already mentioned (see Oisel*), the editor of an excellent edition of the “Octavius” of Minutius Felix, with notes, printed at Leyden in 1652, 4to and 8vo, and reprinted in 1672. His father Michael Ousel was a merchant, who died when this his sou was very young, leaving him to the care of a step-mother, who paid every possible attention to his education.

After having gone through his grammatical learning with great credit, he pursued his studies at Bremen, Groningen, Franeker, and Leyden, under the most eminent professors of his time, and was distinguished for his acquaintance with the classics, and the great progress he made in divinity and sacred criticism, which he studied in their original sources, without satisfying himself with that second-hand information to be derived from abridgments, pamphlets, and periodical journals, which last, his biographer calls “eruditio journalistica,” and which is very well understood in our own days and country. Among other requisites for a scholar of real powers and erudition, he applied with great


Biog. Brit. —Hutton’s Dictionary. Lloyd'.* Memoirs. Letters by eminent persons, with Aubrey’s Lives, 3 vols. 3vo, 1813.

| diligence to the oriental languages, and was esteemed so well acquainted with Jewish learning, that his contemporaries did not hesitate to compare him with Buxtorf and Cocceius, whose hypothesis on the Hebrew points he adopted in preference to that of Louis Cappel, although this, as might have been expected, involved him in a controversy.

After this course of study, he sought to enlarge his knowledge by a visit to England, and passed some time in the libraries of London and the universities, and in forming an acquaintance with the learned men of the time, and thence travelled through Germany to Dantzic. Not finding an agreeable prospect of a settlement in his native place, he determined to go to Holland, and, although his studies had hitherto been chiefly connected with theology, to study medicine, for which there were many precedents among his learned countrymen. He accordingly qualified himself for a degree in medicine, which he obtained at Franeker, and on this occasion maintained a very able thesis on the leprosy of the Hebrews. He re-assumed, however, his theological character, in consequence of the death of John Moller, minister of the German church at Leyden, in 1711, and executed the duties of that office with such reputation, that in 1717 the university of Francfort invited him to the professorship of divinity. This university, and particularly the body of the clergy, had been so much reduced by the disturbances arising out of the thirty years’ war, and the ravages of the plague, that it was at this time without any eminent teacher in that faculty. It was not supposed that the university of Leyden would have easily parted with him, but this they at last consented to, and as a mark of esteem conferred on him the degree of doctor in divinity. About two years after, he married a lady with whom he expected a long life of domestic happiness, but these hopes were disappointed by a complication of disorders, and particularly an asthma, which proved fatal to him, April 12, 1724, in the fifty-third year of his age. His constant preaching, from which he could not be persuaded to desist by any considerations of health, is supposed to have hastened his end. Even on his death-bed, while his colleague M. Claussen was repeating some passages, suitable to such an occasion, from the Latin or German Bible, Ousel could not help playing the critic, and making his remarks on the versions his friend used, and pointing out their agreement or disagreement with the | original Hebrew or Greek, as calmty as if he had been seated in the professor’s chair.

Among his works, which had the greatest reputation, are, 1. “Introductio in accentuationem Hebraeoruni metricam & prosaicam,1714 and 1715, 4to, which procured him three highly complimentary letters from Burman, Reland, and Vitringa. It was in his preface that he maintained the antiquity of the Hebrew points. 2. Several tracts on the “Decalogue” and 3. A tract, of which there is a copy in the British Museum, and which was probably a thesis, “Encomium taciturnitatis, rituperium loquacitatis,” Amst. 1679, we should be inclined to attribute to him, if the date permitted. 1


Bibliptheque Germanique, vol. XII.