A Student for Life

J.E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship Vol. II:

“[Pierre] Huet, who in early life had seen Salmasius at Leyden, and had visited the court of queen Christina at Stockholm, was in frequent correspondence with many of the scholars of Europe. He was the founder of the Academy of Caen, and, in his edition of Origen, showed a singular sagacity as a conjectural critic. After devoting ten years to the tuition of the Dauphin, he spent ten summers at a beautifully situated abbey south of Caen, and was afterwards for fourteen years bishop of Soissons and Avranches. On his elevation to the bishopric, he did not cease to be a student, and the disappointed rustic, who was not allowed to see him at Avranches, ‘because the bishop was studying’, expressed a hope that the king would send them a bishop ‘qui a fait ses etudes’*. After resigning the mitre, he persisted in continuing his studies for the remaining twenty-two years of his life. He resided mainly at the abbey of Fontenai, near Caen, devoting most of his time to philosophical pursuits. His keen interest in classical studies led to his opposing the Cartesians, who despised the ancients. His Latin has been described as the characteristic Latin of the Jesuits, faultless, fluent, perfectly clear, and — insipid. A student of philosophy to the very end of a long life of more than 90 years, he is the modern counterpart of Carneades, as described by Valerius Maximus: — ‘laboriosus et diuturnus sapientiae miles; siquidem, nonaginta expletis annis, idem illi vivendi ac philosophandi finis fuit’.**”

*”Who had completed his studies.”

**”The hard-working and untiring warrior of wisdom; indeed, after ninety years, the end of his study was the end of his life.”

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