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science was in some measure founded on that which he had learned, he applied to his new book with great assiduity for some time, but at length, not being able perfectly to comprehend the theory as he went on, nor yet to discover the utility of the practice, he laid it aside, to which he was also induced by the necessity of his immediate attendance to his field and his vipes.
The severe winter, which happened in the year 1740, obliged him to keep long within his cottage, and having there no employment, either for his body or his mind, he had once more recourse to his book of geometry: and having at length comprehended some of the leading principles, he procured a little box ruler and an old pair of compasses, on one point of which he mounted the end of a quill cut into a pen. With these instruments he employed himself incessantly in making various geometrical figures on paper, to illustrate the theory by a solution of the problems. He was thus busied in his cot till March, and the joy arising from the knowledge he had acquired was exceeded only by his desire of knowing more.
He was now necessarily recalled to that labour by which alone he could procure himself food, and was besides without money to procure such books and instruments as were absolutely necessary to pursue his geometrical studies. However, with the assistance of a neighbouring artificer, he procured the figures which he found represented by the diagrams in his book, to be made in wood, and with these he went to work at every interval of leisure, which now happened only once a week, after divine service on a Sunday. He was still in want of a new book, and having laid by a little sum for that purpose against the time of the fair, w re alone he had access to a bookseller's shop, he made a purchase of three small volumes, from which he acquired a complete knowledge of trigonometry. After this acquisition, he could not rest till he had begun to study astronomy ; his next purchase, therefore, was an introduction to that science, which he read with indefatigable diligence, and invented innumerable expedients to supply the want of proper instruments, in which he was not less successful than Robinson Crusoe, who in an island, of which he was the only rational inhabitant, found means to supply himself not only with the necessaries but the conveniences of life.
During his study of geometry and astronomy, he had frequently met with the word philosophy, and this became more and more the object of his attention. He conceived that it was the name of some science of great importance and extent, with which he was as yet wholly unacquainted; he became, therefore, impatient in the highest degree to get acquainted with
philosophy, and being continually upon the watch for such assistance as offered, he at last picked up a book, called, An introduction to the knowledge of God, of man, and of the uni
In reading this book he was struck with a variety of objects that were equally interesting and new.
But as this book contained only general principles, he went to Dresden, and inquired among the booksellers, who was the most celebrated author that had written on philosophy. the booksellers he was recommended to the works of Wolfius, written in the German language, and Wolfius having been mentioned in several books he had read, as one of the most able men of his age, he readily took him for his guide in the regions of philosophy.
The first purchase that he made of Wolfius's works, was his Logic, and at this he laboured a full year, still attending to his other studies, so as not to lose what he had gained before. In this book, he found himself referred to another, written by the same author, called Mathematical Principles, as the fittest to give just ideas of things and facilitate the practice of logic, he therefore inquired after this book with a design to buy it, but finding it too dear for his finances, he was obliged to content himself with an abridgment of it, which he purchased in the autumn of 1743. From this book he derived much pleasure and much profit, and it employed him from October, 1743, to February, 1745.
He then proceeded to mataphysics, at which he laboured till the October following, and he would fain have entered on the study of physics, but his indigence was an insuperable impediment, and he was obliged to content himself with this author's morality, politics, and remarks on metaphysics, which employed him till July, 1746, by this time he had scraped together a sum sufficient to buy the physics, which he had so earnestly desired, and this work he read twice within the year.
About this time, a dealer in old books sold him a volume of Wolfius's Mathematical Principles at large, and the spherical trigonometry which he found in this book was a new treasure, which he was very desirous to make his own. This, however, cost him incredible labour, and filled every moment that he could spare from his business and his sleep for something more than a year,
He proceeded to the study of Kahrel's Law of Nature and Nations, and at the same time procured a little book on the terrestrial and celestial globes. These books, with a few that he borrowed, were the sources from wbich he derived such a stock of knowledge, as is seldom found even among those who have associated with the inhabitants of an university and had perpetual access to public libraries.
Mr. Hoffman, during Ludwig's residence at his house, dressed him in his own gown, with other proper habiliments, and be observes, that this alteration of his dress had such an effect, that Hoffman could not conceive the man's accent or dialect to be the same, and he felt himself secretly inclined to treat him with more deference than when he was in his peasant's dress, though the alteration was made in his presence and with his own apparel.
It happened also that before Ludwig went home, there was an eclipse of the sun, and Mr. Hoffman proposed to his guest that he should observe this phænomenon as an astronomer, and for that purpose furnished him with proper instruments. The impatience of Ludwig till the time of the eclipse is not to be expressed; he had hitherto been acquainted with the planetary world only by books and a view of the heavens with the naked eye, he had never yet looked through a telescope, and the anticipation of the pleasure which the new observation would yield him, scarcely suffered him either to eat or sleep ; but it unfortunately happened, that just before the eclipse came on, the sky became cloudy, and continued so during the whole time of its continuance. This misfortune was more than the philosophy even of Ludwig could bear; as the cloud came on, he looked up at it in the agony of a man that expected the dissolution of nature to follow ; when it came over the sun, he stood fixed in a consternation not to be described, and when he knew the eclipse was past, his disappointment and grief were little short of distraction.
Mr. Hoffman soon after went in his turn to visit Mr. Ludwig, and take a view of his dwelling, his library, his study, and his instruments. He found an old crazy cottage, the inside of which had been long blacked with smoke; the walls were covered with propositions and diagrams written with chalk. In one corner was a bed, in another a cradle, and under a little window at the side, three pieces of board laid side by side over two trussels, made a writing table for the philoso"pher, upon which were scattered some pieces of writing paper, containing extracts of books, various calculations, and geometrical figures ; the books which have been mentioned before, were placed on a shelf with the compass and ruler that have been described, which, with a wooden square and a pair of 6-inch globes, constituted the library and musæum of the truly celebrated John Ludwig.
In this hovel he lived till the year 1754, and while he was pursuing the study of philosophy at his leisure hours, he was indefatigable in his day labour as a poor peasant, sometimes carrying a basket at his back, and sometimes driving a wheelbarrow, and crying such garden-stuff as he had to sell about the village. In this state he was subject to frequent insults, “such as patient merit takes of the unworthy," and he bore them without reply or any other mark either of resentment or contempt, when those who could not agree with him about the price of his commodities used to turn from him with an air of superiority, and call him in derision a silly clown, a stupid dog.
Mr. Hoffman, when he dismissed him, presented him with 100 crowns, which have fulfilled all his wishes, and made him the happiest man in the world: with this sum he has built bimself a more commodious habitation in the middle of his vineyard, and furnished it with many moveables and utensils, of which he was in great want, but above all, he has procured a very considerable addition to his library, an article so essential to his happiness, that he declared to Mr. Hoffman, he would not accept the whole province in which he lived upon condition that he should renounce his studies, and that he had rather live on bread and water, than withhold from his mind that food, which his intellectual hunger perpetually required.
ACCOUNT OF HENRY WILD, THE LEARNED TAILOR OF
Mr. Henry Wild, professor of the oriental languages, was born in the city of Norwich, and educated there at a grammar school, and almost fitted for the University; but his friends wanting fortune and interest to maintain him there, bouñd him an apprentice to a tailor, with whom he served out the term of seven years; after which, he worked as a journeyman seven years more.
About the end of the last seven years, te was seized with a fever and ague, which continued two or three years, and reduced him at last so low, as to disable bine from working at his trade. In this situation, he amused himself with some old books of controversial divinity, wherein he found great stress laid on the Hebrew original of several texts of scripture. Though he had almost lost his school learning, his curiosity, and strong desire of knowledge, excited him to attempt to make himself master of it. He was obliged at first to make use of an English Hebrew grammar and lexicon, but by degrees he recovered the language he had learnt at school. As his health was re-established, he divided his time between the business of his profession, and his studies, which last em. ployed the greatest part of his nights. Thus self taught and assisted only by his own great genius, by dint of continual application, and almost unparalleled industry, he added the knowledge of all, or the much greater part of the oriental languages, to that of the Hebrew. But still he laboured in ob
scurity, till at length he was accidentally discovered to the world.
The late worthy Dr. Prideaux, dean of Norwich, a name justly celebrated in the learned world, was offered some Arabic MSS. in parchment, by a bookseller of that city. But whether be thought the price demanded was too great, or whether he expected, as few would buy them, the bookseller would be obliged to lower his price, he left them on his hands. Soon after, Mr. Wild heard of them, and purchased them. Some weeks after, the dean called at the shop, and inquired for the MSS. but was informed they were sold. Chagrined at his disappointment, he asked the name and profession of the person who had bought them. On his being told he was a tailor;
run instantly,” said the dean, in a passion, “and fetch them, if they are not cut in pieces to make measures.
.” He was soon relieved from his fears, by Mr. Wild's appearance with the MSS. He inquired whether he would part with them, but was answered in the negative. The dean hastily asked what he did with them ? he replied “ I read them.” He was desired to read, which he did ; he was then bid to render a passage or two into English, which he did readily and exactly. Amazed at this, the dean, partly at his own expense, partly by a subscription, raised among persons, whose inclinations led them to this kind of learning, sent him to Oxford, where, though he was never a member of the University, he was, by the dean's interest, admitted to the Bodleian library, and employed for some years in translating, or making extracts out of oriental MSS. Thus he bid adieu to his needle.
About 1718, I found him at Oxford, and learned Hebrew of him, but do not recollect how long he had been there before. He was there known by the name of the Arabian tailor. All the hours that the library was open, he constantly attended; when it was shut, he employed most of his leisure time in teaching the oriental languages to young gentlemen, at the moderate price of half a guinea a language, except for the Arabic, for which, as I remember, he had a guinea.
About 1720, he removed to London, where he spent the remainder of his life, under the patronage of the famous Dr. Mead; there I saw him at the latter end of 1721 When he died I know not, but in 1734 his translation, out of the Arabic of Al-Mesra, or Mahomet's journey to Heaven, was published. In the dedication, which was addressed to Mr. Mackrel of Norwich, it is said to be a posthumous work. It is the only
iece of his that ever was printed, and I have heard him read it in MS.
When I knew him he seemed to be about 40, though his