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Blessed are they whose love can make
breakers, waves. treacherous, deceptive. murky, dark. dismayed, frightened. shrouding, concealing. awesome, full of awe. peril, danger.
break-ers ter-ri-ble bea-con fore-heads swift-ly dream-ed beau-ti-ful
shroud-ing sail-or climb-ing bless-ed
FERGUSON—THE SHEPHERD BOY
ASTRONOMER. 1. James Ferguson was the son of a day labourer. He was born at Keith, a small village in Scotland, in the year 1710. He learned to read by merely listening to the instructions which his father communicated to an elder brother. He was afterwards sent for about three months to the grammar-school at Keith, and this was all the education he ever received at school.
2. His taste for mechanics appeared when he was only about seven or eight years of age. By means of a turning-lathe and a knife he constructed machines that served to illustrate the properties of the lever, and the wheel and axle. Of these machines, and the mode of their application, he made rough drawings with a pen, and wrote a brief description of them.
3. Unable to subsist without some employment, he was placed with a neighbouring farmer, and occupied for some years in the care of his sheep. In this situation he commenced the study of astronomy, devoting the greater part of the night to the contem
plation of the heavens, while he amused himself in the day time with making models of spinning-wheels and other machines which he had an opportunity of observing
4. He was much encouraged by another farmer, in whose service he was afterwards engaged, in his astronomical studies, and enabled by the assistance that was afforded him in his necessary labour to reserve part of the day for making fair copies of the observations which he roughly sketched out at night. In making these observations he lay down on his back, with a blanket about him, and by means of a thread strung with small beads, and stretched at arm's length between his eye and the stars, he marked their positions and distances.
5. The master who thus kindly favoured his search after knowledge recommended him to some neighbouring gentlemen, one of whom took him into his house, where he was instructed by the butler in decimal arithmetic, algebra, and the elements of geometry. After this we find him an invalid in his father's house, suffering from an illness which had been brought on chiefly by excessive labour; but true to his mental instincts, amusing himself during the period of his recovery by making a clock which struck the hours on the neck of a broken bottle, and a watch with a spring made of whalebone, the wheels of both machines being of wood. The clock kept time pretty well, but the watch proved a failure from the inability of the teeth of the wheels to bear the force of the main-spring.
6. He constructed a globe of wood, covered it with paper, and drew upon it a map of the world. He also added the meridian-ring, and horizon, which he graduated, and by means of this instrument, which was the first he had ever seen, he was enabled to solve difficult problems in mathematical geography. His ingenuity obtained for him employment suited to his taste, which was that of cleaning clocks, and drawing patterns for ladies' needlework: he was thus enabled not only to supply his own wants, but also to assist his father.
7. Having improved in the art of drawing, he was induced to draw portraits from the life with Indian ink on vellum. This art, which he practised with facility, afforded him a comfortable subsistence for several years, and allowed him leisure for pursuing those favourite studies which ultimately raised him to eminence. In 1748, he began to give lectures on astronomy, mechanics, and other branches of natural philosophy. The clearness of his statements, and the familiar illustrations which he employed, the sparing use which he made of technical terms and mathematical reasoning, together with his admirable diagrams and mechanical apparatus, made Ferguson popular as a lecturer.
8. George III. showed his appreciation of the “peasant-boy philosopher's” genius and efforts by sometimes attending the lectures, and by giving the lecturer an annual pension of fifty pounds. He died in 1776, leaving about £6000 to his family, which he had acquired by his lectures, books, and the sale of models.
constructed, made. mental, belonging to the illustrate, show.
mind. brief, short.
leisure, time to spare. subsist, live.
ultimately, in the end. contemplation, study. eminence, high position. invalid, sick person,
familiar, easy. excessive, very great. appreciation, regard. subsistence, livelihood. acquired, obtained.
10. “I do not want this money," said the landlord to the judge, “as your honour may well suppose. Will you have the goodness to take the ten shillings and give the peasant five shillings out of it-for that, as he confessed to me, is all that his wood was worth and return the remainder to the poor Frenchman? For the breakfast I want nothing.”
11. The judge was much moved at these words of the good innkeeper. He counted out the five shillings to the peasant, and dismissed him with a severe rebuke.
12. The rest was returned to the emigrant, who, on hearing the story, went to thank the kind innkeeper, and with great difficulty persuaded him to accept a small sum for the peasant's breakfast. peasant, country labourer. | abate, lessen. emigrant, one who goes composure, calmness.
out from his own country. extortion, asking more indignant, very angry. for a thing than it is cbliged, compelled.
worth. economy, carefulness.
reception, receiving. perceiving, noticing. confessed, owned. entreated, begged. dismissed, sent away. emp-ty bar-gain ex-cel-lent sur-pris-ed scorn-ful break-fast char-ac-ter es-pe-cial-ly ques-tion com-plaint per-suad-ed con-ver-sa-tion re-buke ac-count
for-eign-er cir-cum-stanc-es charg-ing cheat-ed ig-no-rance
dif-fi-cul-ty land-lord ad-van-tage in-dig-nant en-ter-tain-ed
Where was the poor emigrant passing the winter of 1794 ? Why was he obliged to live with the greatest