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KNOWLEDGE IN EXTREME POVERTY.
ANECDOTES illustrating the devotion with which knowledge has been pursued under the pressure of severe penury, or other forms of worldly misfortune, are evidences, not of any calamities to which literature has a peculiar tendency to expose its votaries, but rather of the power with which it arms them to conquer and rise superior to calamities. Students, and authors, and men of genius, have had their share of adversity with others; but few others enjoy their peculiar advantages, if not for warding off, at least for bearing up against it! The man who is most to be pitied under misfortune, is he whose whole happiness or misery hangs on outward circumstances. The scholar has sources of enjoyment within himself of which no severity of fortune can altogether deprive him. Hence, a man who is truly in love with philosophy, will often think but lightly of sufferings and privations which would to another be almost intolerable. If his body be in want, his mind has store of riches.
The learned theologian, HENRY BULLINGER, one of the distinguished names of the Reformation, supported himself at school for several years by his talent as a street musician. His contemporary and fellow laborer in the same cause, Wolfgang Musculus, had commenced his career as a scholar in a similar manner, having for some time sung ballads through the country, and begged his way from door to door, in order to obtain a pittance wherewith to put himself to school; he was at length charitably received into a convent of Benedictine monks, who, greatly to his delight, offered to educate him and admit him to their order. Musculus was afterward, on embracing the tenets of the Lutherans, reduced to such distress, that he was obliged to send his wife to service, and to bind himself apprentice to a weaver of Strasburg, who no sooner discovered his religious opinions than he turned him out of doors. He had then no other resource but to offer himself as a common laborer, to assist in repairing the fortifications of the city. Yet even in this situation he employed every moment he could spare in study; and applied himself, in particular, with so much ardor to the Hebrew language, that he placed himself eventually at the head of the scholars by whom that branch of learning was cultivated in his time.
Another great orientalist of that age, and in many respects one of the most extraordinary characters of any age, WILLIAM POSTELLUS, was, when merely a boy, so fond of reading, that he would often, it is related, while engaged with his book, forget to take his meals. Having set out from his nativ evillage
life, as the following inscription, which he desired to be placed over his tomb, may testify: "Here lies Adrian VI., who esteemed no misfortune which happened to him in life so great as his being called to govern.'
There are some fine examples of the enthusiasm with which the cultivators of the fine arts have devoted themselves to the acquisition of that knowledge and skill to which they afterward owed their eminence and fame. The dream of every young artist's ambition is Rome. The French painter, FRANCIS PERRIER, when a young man, living in poverty and obscurity at Lyons, was haunted by so eager a desire to visit "the eternal city," that he gladly consented to act as a guide to a blind person who was travelling thither, on condition that the latter should pay the expenses of both; and in this way, after a journey of above four hundred miles on foot, he arrived among those monuments of ancient and modern genius, which, ere he had yet seen them, he had so long and fondly worshipped in fancy. The first engagement he obtained was an humble and laborious one, to make copies for a dealer in paintings from originals of merit; but he profited by the advantage it afforded him of studying the works of several distinguished masters. Perrier afterward appeared in Paris, and obtained a high reputation among the artists of his day. He died in that city in 1660.
CLAUDE LORRAINE is said to have been originally apprenticed to a pastry-cook, and to have been, on his first appearance in Rome, so destitute of resources, that he was obliged to accept of the meanest employment connected with the art he was desirous of studying, and in which he afterward obtained so rare an eminence. SALVATOR ROSA, who was born in 1615, a few years later than Claude, had made himself already an able painter, principally by the study of nature, while still residing in his native village, in the neighborhood of Naples, and before he had ever been able to gratify his earnest desire of visiting Rome. Salvator's genius, indeed, was nursed in hardships and sorrows, which yet had only the effect of strengthening and exalting it. When very young, he had been left, by the death of his father, the sole support of his mother and sisters; and so heavily did this burden press upon him, that, although he wrought hard, he was sometimes it has been said, after finishing a picture, scarcely able to save enough from the scanty price he received for it to purchase the canvass for another. He was in his twentieth year, when a friend and brother artist, somewhat richer than himself, proposed to take him to Rome with him, and to pay the expenses of both; an offer which Salvator gladly accepted. When he found himself
at last in that celebrated capital, his ardor would scarcely suffer him to take sustenance or repose, while he examined with the enthusiasm of a painter and a poet, the precious remains of ancient art by which he was surrounded; and the incessant fatigue to which he exposed himself at last brought on an attack of fever, which rendered it necessary for him to be carried back to Naples. It was some years before it was again in his power to visit Rome; but it continued to fill all his visions of the future, and to make his residence at Naples seem an exile. At length, however, his eye rested once more on the objects among which his heart had so long been. Rome was at this time crowded with painters, whose names have now become the household words of fame, and several of whom were already regarded with an admiration as great as is ever bestowed on living genius. But, undismayed, by their glory, Salvator aspired from the first to be, not the imitator of any of them, but their competitor and rival; to form a style and found a school of his own. We need not say how greatly he succeeded in this object, since his name, too, is now familiar to every ear, as one of the most distinguished in the second generation of the great painters of Italy.
The celebrated MARMONTEL was born of parents who belonged to the humblest rank of people, and was indebted for the elements of education to the charity of a priest. The late French general HоCHE, who distinguished himself in the wars of the Revolution, was originally a stable-boy. While in that situation, and after having enlisted in the army, which he did at the age of sixteen, he used to work at any employment he could find during the day, to get money to buy books, which he would often spend the greater part of the night in reading. LAGRANGE, the French translator of Lucretius, was so poor while attending the University, that his only food for the day was a little bread, which he carried with him from home in the morning, and used to eat in an alley or the vestibule of a church during the intervals between the different classes. Dr. JOHNSON was indebted for his maintenance at college to the scanty aid of a wealthy individual, who professed to keep him there as a companion to his son. The late learned Dr. PARR, after having, at the early age of fourteen, distinguished himself above all his school fellows at Harrow, was taken from school by his father, who wished to initiate him in his own business of surgeon and apothecary. Young Parr, however, continued still to pursue his studies with as much benefit as before, by getting one or other of his old companions to report to him the master's