Petit, Peter

, another very learned Frenchman, was born at Paris in 1617, and brought up to the profession of physic, in which faculty he took a doctor’s degree at Montpeliier: but, afterwards returning to Paris, neglected the practice of it, and gave himself up entirely to the study of polite literature. He lived some time with the first president Lamoignon, as preceptor to his sons; and afterwards with mons. Nicolai, first president of the chamber of accounts, as a man of letters and companion. He spent the greatest part of his life in composing; and had a wonderful facility with his pen, which enabled him to write much. He was deeply read in the ancient Greek and Latin authors, and joined to his skill in these, an uncommon knowledge in philosophical matters. He died in 1687, aged seventy.

He wrote much, both in verse and prose, but in Latin only. His first production seems to have been, 1. “An Elegy upon the Death of Gabriel Naude, in 1653.” In 1660, he published in 8vo, 2. “De motu animalium spontaneo liber unus.” Petit was a great partisan for the Peripatetic philosophy; and, in this as well as some other works of the same kind, he has strenuously supported the principles of Aristotle, and combated those of Des Cartes. 3. “Epistolse Apologeticse A. Menjoti de variis sectis amplectendis examen: ad medicos Parisienses, autore Adriano Scauro, D. M. 1666,” 4to. Menjot had maintained that a man should attach himself to no particular sect, but take from each whatever he found good. This sentiment did not please Petit, and he opposed it in this work under the fictitious name of Scaurus. He published the same year, in | 8vo, under the feigned name of Marinus Statileus, 4. tf Apologia pro genuitate fragment! Satyrici Petroniani“which Hadrian Valesius then, and the best critics since, have agreed to reject as spurious. Euthyphron was another assumed name, under which he published, 5.” De nova curandorum morborum ratione per transfusionem sanguinis,“in 1667, 4to. He there rejects this method of cure, which was approved by many physicians of his time, and supports his own opinion with much elegance and learning. In 1683, were published at Utrecht, in 8vo, 6.” Miscellanearum Observationum, libri iv.“These are verbal criticisms upon various authors, and shew great accuracy as well as profound erudition. The same year at Paris came out in 8vo, 7.” Selectorum Poematum, libri ii. Accessit Dissertatio de Furore Poetico.“The dissertation is curious, and the poems have merit enough to rank him with Rapin, Menage, and the best writers of modern Latin poetry. 8.” De Amazonibus Dissertatio,“Paris, 1685, 12mo. The edition of Amsterdam, 1687, 12mo, is preferable, there being additions by the author, and critical observations by M. de la Monnoye. 9.” De natura et moribus Anthropophagorum Dissertatio,“at Utrecht, 1688, 8vo. A curious and learned work. 10.” In tres priores Aretaei libros Commentarii: Una cum dissertatiuncula de Petiti vita, et copioso in eosdem Commentarios indice, 1726," 4to. It was Maittaire, who published this posthumous work, and placed the life of Petit at the head of it. There are several works of this author, but we have mentioned the most important. Care must be taken, in the mean time, not to confound him with the preceding Peter Petit, who was his contemporary. 1