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before he was seventeen, at the siege of Montauban; he still, however, pursued his profession with unabated ardour, and distinguished himself by many acts of brilliant courage. At last, when about to be sent into Portugal, with the rank of Field Marshal, he was seized with an illness which deprived him of sight in his remaining eye. He was yet only in his thirtyeighth year, and be determined that the misfortunes he had already sustained in the service of his country, should not prevent him from re-commencing his public career in a new character. He had always been attached to mathematics; and he now devoted himself assiduously to the prosecution of his favourite study, with a view, principally, to the improvement of the science of fortification, for which his great experience in the field particularly fitted him. During twenty years after this, which he passed in a state of total blindness, he gave a variety of publications to the world; among which may be mentioned, besides his well-known and important work on fortification, his “Geometrical Theorems” and his “ Astronomical Tables.” He was also the author of a rare book, called, “ An Historical and Geographical Account of the River of the Amazons;" which is remarkable as containing a chart, asserted to have been made by himself, after he became blind. It is said not to be
very correct, although a wonderful production for such an artist.
JOHN GOWER, One of our most ancient English Poets, contemporary with
and his intimate friend.
“But age has rusted what the Poet writ,
Of what family, or in what county this poet was born, is uncertain. He studied the law, and was sometime a member of the Society of Lincoln's Inn, where his acquaintance with Chaucer began. Some have asserted that he was a Judge, but this is by no means certain. In the first year of Henry the 4th, he became blind, a misfortune which he laments in one of his Latin Poems. He died in the year 1402, and was buried in the church of Saint Mary Overie ; which he had rebuilt, chiefly at his own expense, so that he must have lived in affluent circumstances. His tomb was magnificently and curiously ornamented and it still remains, but has been repaired in latter times. From the collar of S. S., round the neck o his effigies upon the tomb, it is conjectured that he had been knighted. As to his character as a man, it is impossible, at this distance of time, to say any thing with certainty. With regard to his poetical talents, he was certainly admired at the time when he wrote, though a modern reader may find it difficult to discover much harmony or genius in any of his compositions. He wrote first, Speculum Meditantis, in French, in ten books; there are two copies of this in the Bodleian Library. A work entitled Vox Cla
mantis, in Latin verse, in seven books, is also preserved in the Bodleian Library, and in that of All Souls; it is a chronicle of the insurrection of the Commons, in the reign of Richard the 2nd. The first edition of Confessio Amantis, was printed at Westminster, by Caxton, in 1493; and the second and third editions were printed in London, in the years 1532, and 1554. This book is a sort of practical system of morality, interspersed with a variety of moral tales. There are several historical tracts in M S., written by our author, which are to be found in different libraries; also some short poems printed in Chaucer's Works.
Didymus is known to us only as a theological writer, but we are informed by St. Jerome, who was his pupil, that, although he lost his sight at five years of age, he distinguished himself in the school of Alexandria by his proficiency, not merely in grammar, rhetoric, logic, music, and arithmetic, but also in the remaining two of the seven departments then
then conceived to constitute the whole field of human learning, geometry and astronomy; sciences of which, remarks
the narrator, it is scarcely conceivable how any knowledge could be obtained without the assistance of the eyes. Didymus, like Saunderson, pursued his studies by employing persons to read to him. One of his disciples, Palladius, remarks, that blindness, which is to others so terrible a misfortune, was the greatest of blessings to Didymus; inasmuch as, by removing from him all objects that would have distracted his attention, it left bis faculties at much greater liberty for the study of the sciences, than he would otherwise have enjoyed. He, himself, however, does not seem to have been altogether of this opinion, since we find it recorded, that when St. Anthony, (who, attracted by the report of his wonderful learning and sanctity, had come from the desert to pay him a visit,) put to him the question, “Are you grieved that you are blind?”—although it was repeated several times, Didymus could not be prevailed upon to return any
other answer than that he certainly was; greatly to the mortification of the Saint, who was astonished that a wise man should lament the loss of a faculty, which we only possess, as he chose to express it, in common with the gnats and ants. The learned and pious Joseph Milner, in speaking of Didymus as a Christian philosopher, makes the following remarks: “ as far as appears, he continued always sound, and I hope, humble and holy, in Christian doctrine ; his treatise on the Holy Spirit, of which, only the Latin translation by Jerome has come down to us, is perhaps the best the Christian world ever saw on the subject, ånd, whatever has been said since that time in defence of the divinity and personality of the Holy Ghost, seems, in substance, to be found in that book. He was particularly attached to the stndy of the Scriptures, and was chosen as a proper person to fill the chair, in the famous divinity school at Alexandria. His high reputation drew a great number of scholars to him, among the principal of whom were Jerome, Rufinus, Palladius, and Isidore. He read lectures with wonderful facility, answered, upon the spot, all questions and difficulties relating to the Holy Scriptures, and refuted the objections which cavillers raised against the orthodox faith. Didymus was the author of a great number of works, the titles of which Jerome has preserved, in his catalogue of Ecclesiastical Writers; his commentaries upon the Scriptures, which were very large, are lost. He died in 398, aged eightyfive years."
Milner's Church History, vol. 2nd.—The Library of Enter
taining Knowledge, vol.. 1.
THE BLIND CLERGYMAN.
“ The service past, around the pious man,
“In my rambles last summer,” says the writer from whom this account is taken, on the borders of Wales, I found myself one morning alone on the