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natural justice. All the time during which he was employed in composing the work, he was lying under that sentence of death which, a few years after his book was finished, was carried into execution by a singularly barbarous perversion of law. He had. in the interim, as is well known, been not only liberated from confinement, but restored to public employment, and thus, by implication at least, pardoned, when advantage was taken of his condemnation fifteen years before to destroy him for his commission of certain other alleged offences, for which he was never brought to trial. Yet, although at last the victim of an iniquitous conspiracy, it was his own immoderate ambition that led this great man to his ruin. But for this “ infirmity of noble minds,” he was one of the very chief glories of an age crowded with towering spirits. His History is very precious as one of the classical works of our language : exhibiting in its style one of the most perfect models we possess of that easy but vigorous and graphic eloquence, which testifies both the learning of the scholar and a mind fertilized by converse with the living world. It was the largest, but not the only literary performance, with which he occupied the hours of his long imprisonment of twelve years, a period of his life during which he may be said, through these labours, to have earned his best and most enduring renown.
The unfortunate LADY JANE GREY, and her equally unfortunate, but most guilty cousin, Queen Mary of Scotland, both solaced hours of captivity, destined to terminate only on the scaffold, by learned labours. The ancestor of the latter, James I. of Scotland, one of the most amiable and accomplished of princes, having been in his twelfth year taken captive on his way to France by one of the ships of the King of England, was detained by him in close confinement
for nearly twenty years, having been lodged in the first instance in the Tower, afterwards in the Castle of Nottingham, and eventually in that of Windsor. It was while in this last-mentioned prison that he wrote his beautiful allegory, 'The King's Quhair,' certainly the finest poem that had been yet produced in the English language, with the exception of the immortal works of Chaucer. It was occasioned by his passion for the Lady Joanna Beaufort, a young person of distinguished beauty, and nearly allied to the royal family, whom he afterwards married, and of whom he became enamoured by beholding her from the window of his apartments walking in the gardens of the Castle. But as another of our poets, the elegant Lovelace, has beautifully said, writing also, as it would seem,
from a place of confinement, “ Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage ;
That for an hermitage.”
Natural defects overcome: Denoethenes ; De Beaumont; Navarete;
Saunderson ; Rugendas ; Diodotus ; Didymus ; Eusebius ; Nicaise ; De Pagan ; Gallileo; Euler; Moynes.
Still more depressing than any of those deprivations which we have yet considered, are such natural inflictions as close up altogether some one or more of the ordinary avenues by which knowledge finds its way into the mind ; and thus seem to oppose an almost insurmountable obstacle to the pursuit, perhaps, of the very studies in which the intellectual powers, thus cramped or darkened, might otherwise have been best fitted to excel. Several instances might be mentioned, in which individuals, strongly attached to a particular path of ambition, have, by mere perseverance, entirely overcome the slighter impediments presented by physical malconformation. Thus, for example, DEMOSTHENES strengthened a weak voice, and cured his natural indistinctness of articulation, by exercising himself in declamation while ascending the brow of a hill, or walking amid the noise of the waves along the sea-shore. Others have contrived to prosecute certain professional em ployments with distinguished success, under disadvantages of this sort, which no discipline could cure. The French advocate, ELIE DE BEAUMONT, after having been educated for the bar, found his voice so weak, as completely to prevent his making any figure as a speaker ; but by devoting himself to the writing of memorials for his clients, he soon established for himself the most brilliant reputation as a master both of law and eloquence. The celebrated Spanish painter, FERNANDEZ NAVARETE, was seized with an illness, when only two years old, which left him deaf and dumb for life. Yet in this state he displayed from his infancy the strongest passion for drawing, covering the walls of the apartments with pictures of all sorts of objects, done with charcoal; and having afterwards studied under Titian, he become eventually one of the greatest artists of his age. Navarete, who flourished in the sixteenth century, could both read and write, and even possessed considerable learning.
Blindness, however, is the calamity that seems most effectually to shut the mind up from the acquisition of knowledge. Yet we have many examples of the attainment of distinguished eminence in intellectual pursuits, under this severe deprivation. Of these we shall now proceed to lay a few of the more remarkable before our readers.
Nicholas SAUNDERSON was born at the village of Thurston, in Yorkshire, in 1682. He was only a year old, when he was deprived, by small-pox, not only of his sight, but even of his eyes themselves, which were destroyed by abscess. Yet it was probably to this apparent misfortune that Saunderson chiefly owed both a good education, and the leisure he enjoyed, from his earliest years, for the cultivation of his mind and the acquisition of knowledge. was sent when very young to the free school at Penniston, in the neighbourhood of his native place; and here, notwithstanding the mighty disadvantage under which it would seem that he must have contended with his schoolfellows, he soon distinguished himself by his proficiency in Greek and Latin. It is to be regretted that we have no account of the mode of teaching that was adopted by his master in so singular a case, or the manner in which the poor boy contrived to pursue his studies in the absence of that
sovereign organ to which the mind is wont to be chiefly indebted for knowledge. Some one must have read the lesson to him, till his memory, strengthened by the habit and the necessity of exertion, had obtained complete possession of it, and the mind, as it were, had made a book for itself, which it would read without the assistance of the eye. At all events, it is certain that the progress he made in this part of his education was such as is not often equalled, even by those to whom nature has given all the ordinary means of study ; for he acquired so great a familiarity with the Greek language, as to be in the habit of having the works written in it read to him, and following the meaning of the author as if the composition had been in English, while he showed his perfect mastery over the Latin, on many occasions in the course of his life, by both dictating and speaking it with the utmost fluency and command of expression.
These acquirements were due of course, in a great measure, to an excellent memory, which again owed, no doubt, much of its power and aptitude to the very difficulties under which it was obliged to exert itself. Every one of our faculties, corporeal and mental, is to a certian extent weakened, or at least prevented from reaching its utmost possible vigour and developement, by the assistance it usually receives in its labours from other faculties, Individuals deprived of the use of their hands have learned to write and paint with their toes ; no reason in the world, certainly, why those in possession of the fitter and more natural instrument should relinquish it for the other, but yet an evidence of how much more some of our members are capable, and may
be made by a certain discipline to perform, than we generally suppose. The German painter, RUGENDAS, celebrated for the spirit of his battle pieces, was ori