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“ On rising ground, the prospect to command,
« Oft while the Sun
A keener splendour.” In producing such passages as the above, the genius of the author must be acknowledged. Whatever idea or impression those objects of sight produced in his mind, how imperfect soever that idea, or how different soever from the true, still the impression would be felt by a mind susceptible and warm like Blacklock's, that could not have been so felt by one of a coarser and more sluggish mould. Even the memory that could treasure up the poetical attributes and expressions of such objects, must have been assisted and prompted by poetical feeling; and the very catalogue of words which was thus ready at command, was an indication of that ardour of soul, which, from his infancy, led him,
“Where the Muses hauntSmit with the love of sacred song."
As the unmeaning syllables which compose a name give to the lover or the friend emotions, which in others it were impossible they should excite, it was not on the whole surprising, that a learned foreigner, on considering Blacklock's Poems relatively to his situation, should have broken out into the following panegyric, with which I shall not be much accused of partiality if I close this account.
“Blacklock will appear to posterity a fable, as to us he is a prodigy. It will be thought a fiction, a paradox, that a man blind from his infancy, besides having made himself so much a master of various foreign languages, should be a great Poet in his own; and without having hardly ever seen the light, should be so remarkably happy in description."
ANDERSON'S Lives of the Poets-MACKENZIE'S Life of BLACKLOCK-SPENCE's Life of BLACKLOCK.
And Professor of Mathematics in the University of Cambridge.
“ Here Nature opens all her secret springs,
There is no department of human knowledge, in which the blind have not distinguished themselves; many of them have attained the highest academical honours that their own, or foreign Universities, could confer upon them. It is certainly a spectacle highly gratifying to the benevolent mind, to contemplate such men, eliciting light from darkness ; and to learn by what progressive steps they have been enabled to make their way through life, in despite of the most discouraging obstacles, with no other guide but industry and genius, even to the very summit of science. Saunderson, the subject of the present essay, was a striking proof of the justness of the above remarks.
This great man was born at Thurlston, in Yorkshire, in 1682. When he was but 12 months old he lost not only his eye sight, but even his very eyeballs, by the small pox, so that he could retain no
more ideas of vision, than if he had been born blind. At an early age, however, being of very promising abilities, he was sent to the free school at Pennistone ; and there laid the foundation of that knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages, which he afterwards improved so far by his own application to the Classic Authors, as to hear the works of Euclid, Archimedes, and Diophantes, read in the original Greek.
Having acquired a grammatical education, his father, who was in the excise, instructed him in the common rules of arithmetic; and here it was that his excellent mathematical genius first appeared. He very soon became able to work the common questions; to make very long calculations by the strength of memory; and to form new rules for himself, for the better resolving of such questions as are often proposed to learners as trials of skill. At the
age our author was introduced to Richard West, Esq. of Underbank, who, being a great lover of mathematics, and observing Saunderson's uncommon capacity, took the trouble of instructing him in the principles of algebra and geometry, and gave him every encouragement in his power to the prosecution of these studies. Soon after this, he became acquainted also with Dr. Nettleton, who took the same pains with him; and it was to these two gentlemen that Saunderson owed his first instruction in mathematical science. They furnished him with books, and often read and explained them to him ; but he soon surpassed his masters, and became fitter to teach, than to learn from them. He was now sent to a private academy at Attercliffe, near Sheffield, where logic and meta
physics were chiefly taught; but these sciences not suiting his turn of mind, he soon left the academy. He lived for some time in the country without any instructor, but such was the vigour of his own mind that few instructions were necessary; he only required books and a reader. His father, besides the place he had in the excise, possessed also a small property; but being burdened with a numerous family, and finding a difficulty in supporting him, his friends began to think of providing both for his education and maintenance; and having remarked his clear and perspicuous manner of communicating his ideas, suggested the propriety of his attending the University of Cambridge, as a teacher of mathematics, to which his own inclination strongly led him. Accordingly he went to Cambridge in 1707, being then 25 years of age, accompanied by Joshua Dunn, Fellow Commoner of Christ's College. His fame in a short time filled the University, and though he was not acknowledged a member of the College, yet he was treated with great attention and respect; he was allowed a chamber, and had free access to the library. Mr. Whiston was at that time professor of mathematics; and as he read lectures in the way that Saunderson intended, it was to be expected that he would view his project as an invasion of his office. But being a good natured man, and a lover of learning, instead of meditating any opposition, the plan was no sooner mentioned to him, than he freely gave his consent in behalf of so uncommon a genius. While thus employed in explaining the principles of the Newtonian Philosophy, he became acquainted with its