Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

engraving, and painting. She said, If you were to trace on my hand the figure of a horse, a mouth, a man, a woman, a tree, I certainly should not be mistaken, and if you were to trace the profile of a person I knew, I should not despair of naming the individual, if the likeness were exact; my hand would become to me a sensible mirror, but great indeed is the difference between this canvas and the organ of sight. I suppose, then, that the eye is a living canvas of infinite delicacy; the air strikes the object; from this object it is reflected towards the eye, which receives an infinite number of different impressions, according to the nature, the form, and the colour of the object, and perhaps the qualities of the air; these are unknown to me, and you do not know much more of them than myself; it is by the variety of these sensations that they are painted to you. If the skin of my hand equalled the delicacy of your eyes, I should see with my hand, as you see with your eyes; and I sometimes figure to myself, that there are animals which are blind, and are not the less clear sighted.' But explain,' said I, the mirror.' *If all bodies,' she replied, are not so many mirrors, it is by some defect in their texture, which extinguishes the reflection of the air. I adhere so much the more to this idea, since gold, silver, and polished copper, become proper for reflecting the air; and troubled water and streaked ice lose this property.

It is the variety of the sensation, and consequently the various property of reflecting the air in the matter you employ, which distinguishes writing and drawing, a drawing from an engraving, and engraving from a painting.

Writing, drawing, engraving, painting, with only one colour, are so many cameos.' But when there is only one colour', I inquired, how can any other colour be discerned ?' It is apparently', she answered, 'the nature of the canvas, the thickness of the colour, and the manner of employing it, that iutroduces in the reflection of the air, a variety corresponding with that of the forms ; for the rest, do not ask me any thing more, I have gone to the utmost extent of my knowledge. And I should be giving myself a great deal of very useless trouble,' I replied, 'in endeavouring to teach you more.'

.” Thus ends M. Diderot's account of Mademoiselle De Salignac. She died at the early age of twentytwo. With an astonishing memory, and a penetration equal to it, what a progress might she have made in the paths of science, if Providence had granted her a longer life.

AUTHORITIES.
M. Diderot's Letters.Memoirs of Baron De Grimm.

MISS ANNA WILLIAMS,

THE BLIND POETESS.

This lady came to London in 1730, when twentyfour years of age, with her father, a Welsh surgeon, who had given up his practice, under the impression that he had discovered a method of finding the longitude at sea, which would make his fortune. After many efforts, however, to obtain the patronage of Government for his scheme, having exhausted his resources, he was obliged to take refuge in the Charterhouse. His daughter, who had been liberally educated, and had at first mingled in all the gaieties of the metropolis, was now obliged to support both her father and herself, by working at her needle. After struggling in this way for a maintenance several years, she lost her sight by a cataract; her situation, it might be imagined, was now both helpless and hopeless in the extreme, but a strong mind enabled her to rise above her calamity. We are told, she not only continued the exercise of her needle, with as much activity and skill as ever, but, never suffering her spirits lo droop, distinguished herself, as she had been used to do, by the neatness of her dress. She likewise preserved all her old attachment to literature, and, in the year 1746, after she had been six years blind, published a translation from the French, of Le Bleterie's “Life of the Emperor Julian." Her father having, some time after this, met with Dr. Johnson, told him his story, and, in mentioning his daughter, gave so interesting an account of her, that the Doctor expressed himself desirous of making her acquaintance, and eventually invited her to reside in his house, as a companion to his wife. Mrs Johnson died soon after, but Miss Williams continued to reside with the Doctor till her death. In 1752, an attempt was made to restore her sight by the operation of couching, but without suc

About three years after, Garrick gave her a benefit at Drury Lane, which produced two hundred pounds. Miss Williams appeared again as an au

cess.

[ocr errors]

thoress in 1766; when she published a volume entitled, Miscellanies in Prose and Verse," written parıly by herself, and partly by several of her friends. She died in 1783, at the age of 77.

AUTHORITY.

The Library of Entertaining Knowledge, vol. 1st.

JOAN WAST,

THE BLIND MARTYR.

“Superstition, still to reason blind,
With iron sceptre rules the darken'd mind."

I am now about to introduce to my readers a female, who though she was not distinguished for rank, talents, or education, yet deserves particular notice, as being one of that noble army of the reformation, who counted not their lives dear unto themselves. Thousands and tens of thousands of these worthies finished their course with joy, at the stake, or on the scaffold; “these are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white, in the blood of the Lamb.”

Among many who glorified God by suffering martyrdom, in the reign of Queen Mary of bloody memory, Joan Wast, a poor woman, deserves never to be forgotten. Though blind from her birth, she learned, at an early age, to knit stockings and sleeves, and to assist her father in the business of rope makind; always discovering the utmost aversion to idleness or sloth. After the death of her parents, she lived with her brother; and, by daily attendance at church, and hearing divine service read in the vulgar tongue, during the reign of King Edward, she became deeply imbued with religious principles. This rendered her desirous of possessing the word of God, so that having, by her own labour, at length earned and saved as inuch money as would purchase a New Testament,* she procured one, and as she could not read it herself, got others to read it to her; among these was an old man, seventy years of age a prisoner for debt in the

* In the reign of Edward I., the price of a Bible was £30, a most enormous sum; for, in 1272, the pay of a labouring man was only three half-pence a day, so that such a work would have cost him more than fifteen years' labour. In the reign of Edward III., the New Testament of Wickliffe's version sold for four marks and forty pence, or £2. 16s. 8d. From 1461 to 1483, just at the time when the art of printing was discovered, Faust (or Faustus) sold his printed copies at Paris for sixty crowns, while the scribes demanded five hundred; but in the latter end of Richard III.'s reign the price was reduced to thirty crowns. “ In the reign of Henry VIII.,” says the good old Martyrologist, “the desire that the people had for knowledge, may appear by their sitting up all night in reading or hearing; also, by their expenses and charges in buying of books in English, of whom some gave five marks, some more, some less, for a book, and some gave a load of hay for a few chapters of St. James, or of St. Paul, in English.” An act of Parliament was subsequently obtained by the enemies of truth, in which it was enacted, “that no artifycers, prentices, jour. neymen, servingmen, husbandmen, or labourers,” were to read the Bible or New Testament in English, to themselves or to any others, privately or openly, on pain of death.

« PreviousContinue »