Obrecht, Ulrich, a learned German philosopher and jurist, was descended from a noble family, and was born July 23, 1646, at Strasburg, where he had his first educational training, and then proceeded to learn the elements of the sciences at Montbdliard and Altorf. He inherited both the inclination and taste of his ancestors, who were all distinguished by the posts they held either in the university or in the senate of Strasburg. The study of the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew tongues was almost the first amusement of his infancy; and he learned French, Spanish, and Italian by way. of play or diversion. At fifteen he was so good a rhetorician that he was ordered to compose and pronounce a Latin speech in public, which he performed with universal applause. The method prescribed by his preceptors was to suffer him to read only the ancient authors, that so he might draw the principles of eloquence from Demosthenes, Cicero, Quintilian, Longinus, etc. He also pursued the same plan in his course of philosophy. Plato, Aristotle, with all that we have of Pythagoras, were the authors which they put into his hands. But the principal bent of his studies lay to jurisprudence and history, in both of which he excelled, and filled the chairs of both in the university with great distinction. Yet such a multiplicity of sciences did not render his ideas confused; everything was ranged in exact order in his mind; and he surprised the world not more with the prodigious extent of his knowledge than with his admirable neatness in delivering it. As soon as he had taken his licentiate's degree, he resolved to travel abroad for further improvement. With this view he went first to Vienna, in Austria, thence he passed to Venice, where his chief pleasure consisted in visiting the libraries and learned men. At his return from Italy his friends induced him to settle at Strasburg, and he gave himself up to authorship and to teaching in the university in law and history. Hitherto Obrecht had professed the Protestant religion; but the king of France having made himself master of Strasburg, and going there in person with the whole court, Mr. Pelisson, who came among them, and who was acquainted with him, made it a business to find Obrecht out, and to discourse with him upon that subject; and his conversion was completed by the Jesuits, who were established at Strasburg by Lewis XIV. Obrecht abjured his religion in 1684 at Paris, and put the instrument into the hands of the bishop of Meaux. Upon his return to Strasburg he resumed his profession in the law; and it was about this time that he wrote the notes which we see in some editions of Grotius, De jure belli ac papis. In 1685 the king of France nominated him to preside, ill his majesty's name, in the senate of Strasburg, with the title of praetor- royal, in imitation of the old Romans; and from that time Obrecht applied himself entirely to public affairs. The judges of Strasburg, according to the principles of the Reformed religion, were empowered to dissolve marriages in case of adultery, and to enable the injured party to marry again. In opposition to. this custom, Obrecht translated into the German tongue St. Austin's book of adulterous marriages, and obtained from the king a' prohibition, upon pain of death, either to tolerate or solemnize the marriage, for the future, of any persons that were separated or divorced for adultery. This edict was made in 1687; and in 1688 Obrecht translated into High-Dutch the treatise of father. Dez Primier, rector of the Jesuits at Strasburg, entitled The Reunion of the Protestants of the Church of
Strasburg to the Catholic Church. For the rest, although by the rights of his praetorship everything done in the senate must necessarily pass through his hands, yet he was so expeditious and so good a manager of time that there was some little left for his studies, which served him as a refreshment from the fatigue of business; and several valuable publications of his was from this period. But as all these things could not be done without even trespassing upon the time for his necessary meals, his health became unavoidably impaired, and his life was suddenly brought to a close in 1701. We have other publications of his, besides those already mentioned, which are of interest to us: De verae philosophiae origine: — De philosophia Celtica. See Niceron, Memoires, vol. 34; Haag, La France Protestante, s.v.