Simon, Richard

, a French critic and divine of great learning, was born at Dieppe, May 13, 1638, and commenced his studies among the priests of the oratory, whom he quitted for some time, and went to Paris, where he applied himself to divinity, and made a great progress in Oriental learning, for which he had always a particular turn. About the end of 1662, he returned to the oratory and became a priest of it. On the death of father Bourgouin, general of this congregation, some cause of displeasure inclined him to leave them, and join the society of the Jesuits; but from this he was diverted by the persuasions of father Bertad, the superior of the oratory. He was then sent to the college of Juilly, in the diocese of Meaux, to teach philosophy; but other business occurring, he was ordered to go to Paris. In the library of the oratory there was a valuable collection of Oriental books, of which Simon was employed to make a catalogue, which he executed with great skill, and perused at the same time | those treasures with great avidity. M. de Lamoignon, first president of the parliament of Paris, meeting with him one day in the library, was so pleased with his conversation, that he requested of Senault, the new general of the oratory, that he might be permitted to remain in Paris; but this being unaccompanied by any advantages, Simon, who had much of an independent spirit, petitioned to go back to Juilly, to teach philosophy, as before. He accordingly arrived there in 1668, and, in 1670, his first publication appeared, a defence of the Jews against the accusation of having murdered a Christian child, “Factum pour les Juifs de Metz,” &c. In the following year, with a view to shew that the opinion of the Greek church is not materially different from that of the church of Rome, with respect to the sacrament, he published “Fides Ecclesiae Orientalis, seu Gabrielis Metropolitae Philadelphiensis opuscula, cum interpretatione Latina et notis,Paris, 1671, quarto, reprinted 16S6. When the first volume of the “Perpetuity of the faith respecting the Eucharist” appeared, our author, who from his youth was an original, if not always a just thinker, expressed some opinions on that work, and on the subject, which involved him in a controversy with the gentlemen of Port-Royal; and this seems to have laid the foundation of the opposition he afterwards met with from the learned of his own communion. His next publication came out under the name of Recared Simeon (for he often used fictitious names), and was a translation from Leo of Modena, entitled “Ceremonies et Coutumes qui s’observent aujourdui parmi les Juifs,” &c. 1674, 12mo. This was republished in 1681, under the name of the Sieur de Semonville; with the addition of a “Comparison between the ceremonies of the Jews and the discipline of the church.” In this edition, and perhaps in the subsequent ones of 1682 and 1684, the reader will find a great number of parentheses and crotchets, which Bayle thus accounts for: The work having been submitted in ms. to M. Perot, a doctor of the Sorbonne, for examination, he added some passages, which the author being obliged to retain, and yet unwilling that they should pass for his own, inclosed in crotchets; but had afterwards to complain, that the printers, who were not in the secret, had omitted some of these. In 1675, Simon published a “Voyage duMontLiban,” from the Italian of Dandini, with notes; and, about the same time, a “Factum du Prince de Neubourg, | abbe de Feschamps, centre les religieux de cette abbay” and, as was usual with him, took an opportunity to attack the Benedictines.

But the first work of importance which he published, and that which rendered him most famous, was his “Critical History of the Old Testament,” which appeared in 1678, but was immediately suppressed by the Messieurs du Port Royal; who alleged, that it. contained things false and dangerous to religion and the church. It was reprinted the year after, and was so much admired for excellent learning and admirable criticism, that it became an object of attention to foreigners; and was published, in Latin, at Amsterdam 1681, and in English at London 1682, by R. H. i. e. R. Hampden (son of the celebrated John Harnpden), who, we are told, declared on his death-bed, that father Simon’s works had made him a sceptic.

After the publication of his “Critical History,” he left the congregation of the Oratory, and went to Bolleville, a village in the pais de Caux, of which he had been curate from 1676, but resigning this office in 1682, removed for a short time to Dieppe, and thence again to Paris, to renew his studies, and make arrangements for the publication of some other works. In the mean time, as the Paris edition of his “Critical History” had been suppressed, it was reprinted at Amsterdam, by the Elzevirs, but from a very incorrect transcript. One more correct, and indeed the best, was printed at Rotterdam in 1685, with a “General Apology,” &c. It then produced a controversy with many eminent protestant divines, Le Clerc, Jurieu, Isaac Vcssius, and others.

In 1684 he published, at Francfort, “Histoire de l’Origine et du Progres des Revenus Ecclesiastiques,” or, “The History of the Rise and Progress of Ecclesiastical Revenues,” under the name of Jerome a Costa. A second edition of it, with great additions, was printed at Francfort, 1709, in 2 vols. 12mo. In 1684 he published, at London, “Disquisitiones Criticae de variis per diversa loca et tempora Bibliorum Editionibus,” &c. and in the same year, at the same place, appeared an English translation of it, with this title, “Critical Enquiries into the various editions of the Bible, printed in divers places and at several times, together with animadversions upon a small treatise of Dr. Isaac Vossius concerning the oracles of the Sibyls.” There is his usual display of learning in this | piece, which may be considered as an abridgment of his “Critical History of the Old Testament.” In 1686, he published an answer to Le Clerc, who had criticised his work the year before; and, upon Le Clerc’s replying in 1686, another in 1687, both under the name of the Prior of Bolleville, at which place he then resided,

In 1688 he published at Francfort, under the name of John Reuchlin, “Dissertation Critique sur la Nouvelle Bibliotheque des Auteurs Ecc’eYiastiques par Du Pin, &c.” in which he supports with great spirit some principles in his “Critical History of the Old Testament,” which had been controverted by Du Pin. In 1689 came out his “Histoire Critique du Texte du Nouveau Testament,” an English version of which was published the same year at London; in 1690, “Histoire Critique des versions du Nouveau Testament;” in 1693, “Histoire Critique des principaux Commentateurs du Nouveau Testament;” in all which, as indeed in every thing else he wrote, there appears great acuteness, and great learning, with, however, an unfortunate propensity to singularities and novelties of opinion, and too much contempt for those who differed from him, and in this last work he has perhaps unsettled more than he has settled. In 1702 he published a French translation of the New Testament, with critical remarks, in 2 vols. 8vo: which was censured by cardinal de Noailles, and Bossuet, bishop of Meaux. In 1714, was published at Amsterdam, in 2 vols. 12mo, “Nouvelle Bibliotheque Choisie,” or, “A new select library, which points out the good books in various kinds of literature, and tht? use to be made of them;” but this must be reckoned a posthumous work; for Simon died at Dieppe in April 1712, in his seventy-fourth year, and was buried in St. James’s church.

He was the author and editor of other things, but they were less considerable: it is sufficient to have mentioned his principal works. He bequeathed to the library of the cathedral of Rouen a great number of his manuscript works, many printed books enriched by his manuscript notes, and a valuable collection of books in all the learned languages. He was unquestionably a man of great learning and acuteness; but a love of controversy, in all its bitterness, rendered him almost equally obnoxious to protestants and papists, yet there is evidence enough in his works to prove that he contributed in no small degree to weaken the | authorityand pretensions of his own church, and to strengthen the opinions of its adversaries. 1