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where he has remained for hours before he has got his clothes on.
Mr. Abraham Sharp, the astronomer, through his love of study, was very irregular as to his meals, which he frequently took in the following manner: a little square hole, something like a window, made a communication between the room where he usually studied and another chamber in the house where a servant could enter; and before this hole he had contrived a sliding-board: the servant always placed his victuals in this hole, without speaking a word, or making the least noise; and when he had a little leisure he visited his cupboard, to see what it contained, to satisfy his hunger or thirst. But it often happened that the breakfast, the dinner, and the supper remained untouched by him, when the servant went to remove what was left; so deeply was he sometimes engaged in his calculations and solemn musings. It is related, that, at one time, after his provisions had been neglected for a long season, his family, being uneasy, resolved to break in upon his retirement; he complained, but with great mildness, that they had disconcerted his thoughts, in a chain of calculations which had cost him intense application for three days successively. On an old oak table, where for a long course of years he used to write, cavities might easily be perceived, worn by the perpetual rubbing of his arms and elbows.
Such has been the pleasure arising from reading and study, that even the full prospect of death itself has not eradicated the love for it.
Of the famous Hooker it is related, that notwithstanding his severe and lingering illness, he continued his studies to the last. He strove par
ticularly to finish his Ecclesiastical Polity, and said often to a friend who visited him daily, that "he did not beg a long life of God for any other reason, but to live to finish the three remaining books of Polity; and then, Lord let thy servant depart in peace," which was his usual expression. A few days before his death his house was robbed; of which having notice, he asked, " Are my books and written papers safe?" And being answered that they were, "Then," said he," it matters not, for no other loss can trouble me."
A singular circumstance is related of the illustrious Boerhaave, who kept feeling his pulse, the morning of his death, to see whether it would beat till a book he was eager to see was published. He read the book, and said, "Now the business of life is over."
When Gesner found his last hour approaching, he gave orders to be carried into his study, that he might meet death in a place which had been most agreeable to him in his life.
The Progress of Old Age in New Studies.
Cato, at eighty years of age, thought proper to learn Greek; and Plutarch, almost as late in life, Latin.
Henry Spelman, having neglected the sciences in his youth, cultivated them at fifty years, and produced good fruit.
Fairfax, after having been general of the parliamentary forces, retired to Oxford to take his degrees in law.
Colbert, the famous French minister, almost at sixty returned to his Latin and law studies.
Tellier, the chancellor of France, learnt logic merely for an amusement, to dispute with his grand-children.
Though the above instances be somewhat singular, yet young persons should beware of procrastination, and not lose the present moment in expectation of improving the future. Very few are capable of making any proficiency under the decrepitude of old age, and when they have been long accustomed to negligent habits. Great defects and indigested erudition have often characterised the abs, or "late learned."
Singular Methods of Study.
It is recorded of Anthony Magliabechi, that his attention was continually absorbed day and night among his books. An old cloak served him for a gown in the day, and for bed clothes at night. He had one straw chair for his table, and another for his bed, in which he generally remained fixed, in the midst of a heap of volumes and papers, until he was overpowered with sleep : with all this intense application to reading, his knowledge was well estimated in the observation applied to him, that he was a learned man among booksellers, and a bookseller among the learned.
John Williams, an English prelate, used to study in a particular way. He used to allot one month to a certain province, esteeming variety almost as refreshing as cessation from labour; at the end of which he would take up some other matter, and so on till he came round to his former courses. This method he observed, especiVOL. III.
ally, in his theological studies, and he found his account in it.
David Blondel, a protestant minister, in the 17th century, had been esteemed one of those who had the greatest knowledge of ecclesiastical and civil history. He had a very singular way of studying he lay on the ground, and had round about him the books which he wanted for the work he was about.
Descartes used to lay in bed sixteen hours every day, with the curtains drawn, and the windows shut. He imagined, that in that easy and undisturbed situation he had more command over his mind, than when it was interrupted by external objects. And Malebranche used to meditate with his windows shut, as the light was a disturbance to him.
Mezerai, the famous historian, used to study and write by candle light, even at noon day in summer; and, as if there had been no sun in the world, always waited upon his company to the door with a candle in his hand.
The famous Mr. Brindley, when any extraor dinary difficulty occurred to him in the execution of his works, generally retired to bed, and has been known to lie there one, two, or three days, till he has surmounted it. He would then get up, and execute his design without any drawing or model, for he had a prodigious memory, and carried every thing in his head.
Anecdotes, including Advice to Students.
He who would wish to make proficiency in any science must give himself to study. Knowledge is not to be gained by wishing, or acquired by
dignity and wealth. Application is necessary both for prince and peasant. Many in elevated situations are very desirous of the honour, but averse to the labour, of intellectual attainments.
Euclid was asked, one day, by King Ptolemæus Lagus, "Whether there was not a shorter and easier way to the knowledge of geometry than that which he had laid down in his elements?" He answered, that "there was indeed no roval road to geometry." In the same manner, when Alexander wanted to learn geometry by some easier and shorter method, he was told by his preceptor, that "he must here be content to travel the same road with others; for that all things of this nature were equally difficult to prince and people.". We may apply this observation to learning in general. If we wish to enjoy the sweets, we must encounter the difficulties of acquisition. The student must not be always in the world, or living at his ease, if he wish to enlarge his mind, inform his judgment, or improve his powers. He must read, think, remember, compare, consult, and digest, in order to be wise and useful.
In respect to study, there are some necessary precautions to be attended to, both as to the body and the mind. Hence a minister of the gospel used to give this advice to young students. 1. That they should not buy too many books, as that would hurt their pockets. 2. That they should not engage in any amorous pursuits, as that would hurt the mind; and, 3. That they should not sit up late at night, as that would injure their health.
Dr. Whitaker gave the following three rules to Mr. Boyce, when a student:-1. To study al