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so great a progress in learning and all things praiseworthy, that his master appointed him a little tutor to the lord viscount Fairfax of Emely in Ireland. While he stayed here, he was admitted in Peter-house, his uncle the bishop's college f; but when he removed to (and was fit for) the university of Cambridge, Feb. 1645, he was planted in Trinity college. His condition was very low, his father having suffered much in his estate on account of adhering to the king's cause; and being gone away from London to Oxford, his chief support at first was from the liberality of the famous and reverend Dr. Hammond, to whose memory he paid his thanks in an excellent Epitaph, (among his Poems,) wherein he describes the doctor and himself too ; for the most, and most noble, parts of the character do exactly agree to them both. Being now, as it were, without relations, he abused not the opportunity to negligence in his studies, or licentiousness in his manners, but seasoned his tender years with the principles and the exercise of diligence, learning, and piety, the best preparatives for the succeeding varieties of life.
The young man continued such a royalist, that he would never take the Covenant; yet carrying himself with fairness, candour, and prudence, he gained the good-will of the chief governors of the university. One day Dr. Hill, master of the colleges, laying his hand on his head, said, Thou art a good lad; 'tis pity thou art a cavalier : and when in an Oration on the Gunpowder-Treason h he had so celebrated the former times, as to reflect much on the present, some Fellows were provoked to move for his expulsion; but the master silenced them with this; Barrow is a better man than any of us. Afterward, when the Engagement was imposed, he subscribed it; but upon second thoughts, repenting of
f He was admitted December 15th, 1643, which was the year of his uncle being ejected from his fellowship. See note b. This was perhaps the reason of his entering afterwards at Trinity
g He was appointed by the parliament, who had ejected Dr. Comber, for adhering to the king.
h See vol. VIII. p. 231.
what he had done, he went back to the commissioners, and declared his dissatisfaction, and got his name rased out of the list.
For the juniors, he was always ready to give them his help, and very freely; though for all the exercises he made for them in verse and prose he never received any recompense but one pair of gloves.
While he was yet a young scholar, his judgment was too great to rest satisfied with the shallow and superficial physiology then commonly taught and received in the universities, wherewith students of meaner abilities contentedly took up: but he applied himself to the reading and considering the writings of the lord Verulam, monsieur Descartes, Galileo, and other the great wits of the last age, who seemed to offer something more solid and substantial.
When the time came that he could be chosen fellow of his college, ann. Dom. 1649, he obtained by his merit; nothing else could recommend him who was accounted of the contrary party. After his election, finding the times not favourable to men of his opinion in the affairs of church and state, to qualify him (as he then thought) to do most good, he designed the profession of physic, and for some years bent his studies that way, and particularly made a great progress in the knowledge of anatomy, botanics, and chymistry. But afterward, upon deliberation with himself, and conference with his uncle, the late lord bishop of St. Asaph, thinking that profession not well consistent with the oath he had taken when admitted fellow, to make divinity the end of his studies, he quitted medicine, and applied himself chiefly to what his oath seemed to oblige him.
He was upon all opportunities so open and communicative, that many of his friends in that college (for out of it he had few acquaintance) can, and I hope some one will, report frequent instances of his calm teinper in a factious time, his large charity in a mean estate, his facetious talk upon fit occasions, his indefatigable industry in various studies, his clear judgment on all arguments, his steady virtue in all difficulties, which they must often have observed, and can better describe.
i He was elected scholar in 1647, and took his degree of B.A. in 1649. In 1652 he commenced M.A, and on
the 12th of June in the following year he was incorporated in that degree at Oxford. Ward. Wood,
Of his way of discourse I shall here note one thing, that, when his opinion was demanded, he did usually speak to the importance as well as to the truth of the question : this was an excellent advantage, and to be met with in few men's conversation.
Tractare res multi norunt, æstimare pauci. CARDAN. While he read Scaliger on Eusebius, he perceived the dependence of chronology on astronomy, which put him on the study of Ptolemy's Almagest; and finding that book and all astronomy to depend on geometry, he applied himself to Euclid's Elements, not satisfied till he had laid firm foundations; and so he made his first entry into the mathematics, having the learned Mr. John Ray then for his socius studiorum, and always for his esteemed friend: he proceeded to the demonstration of the other ancient mathematicians, and published his Euclid in a less form and a clearer method than any one had done before him: at the end of his demonstration of Apollonius he has writ, April 14. Intra hæc temporis intervalla peractum hoc opus. Muy 16. To so much diligence nothing was impossible : and in all his studies his way was not to leave off his design till he brought it to effect; only in the Arabic language he made an essay for a little while, and then deserted it. In the same place having also writ, Labore et constantia, he adds, bonæ si conjungantur humilitati et subministrent charitati. With these speculations the largeness of his mind could join poetry, to which he was always addicted, and very much valued that part thereof which consists of description ; but the hyperboles of some modern poets he as much slighted: for our plays, he was an enemy to them, as a principal cause of the debauchery of these times; (the other causes he thought to be the French education and the ill examples of great persons ;) for satires, he writ none; his wit was pure and peaceable.
When Dr. Duport resigned the chair of Greek professor, he recommended this his pupil for his successor, who justified his tutor's opinion by an excellent performance of the probation excercise ; but being thought inclined to Arminianism, he obtained it not k: however, he always acknowledged the favour which Dr. Whichcote shewed him on that, as on all occasions. The partiality of others against him in that affair some thought might help forward his desire to see foreign countries. I make no doubt, but that he, who in lesser occurrences did very judiciously consider all circumstances, had on good grounds made this resolution, and wish we now knew them!; for the reasons and counsels of action would take off from the dryness of this narration, and more strongly recommend him to imitation.
To provide for his voyage, ann. Dom. 1654 m, he sold his books, and went first into France : at Paris he found his father attending the English court, and out of his small viaticum made him a seasonable present. He gave his college an account of his voyage thither, which will be found among his Poems"; and some further observations in a letter', which will shew his piercing judgment in political affairs, when he applied his thoughts that way.
After some months he went to Italy, and made a stay at Florence; where he had the favour, and neglected not the advantage, to peruse many books in the great duke's library, and ten thousand of his medals, and discourse thereon with Mr. Fitton, the fame of whose extraordinary abilities in that sort of learning had caused the duke to invite him to the charge of that great treasury of antiquity P.
k It was given to Mr. Ralph Widdington. Biog. Brit.
i Dr. Pope writes, “ This disap"pointment, the melancholy aspect “ of public affairs, together with a “ desire to see some of those places
mentioned in Greek and Latin “writers, made him resolve to travel.”
m In the Biog. Brit. it is 1655, where it is also said, “ This same
year his Euclid was printed at Cam
bridge, which he had left behind « him for that purpose.”
n See vol. VIII. p. 433.
Florence was too dear a place for him to remain in long 9: his desire was to visit Rome, rather than any other place; but the plague then raging there, he took ship at Livorn, (Nov. 1657',) for Smyrnas, where he made himself most welcome to consul Bretton', and the merchants; and so at Constantinople, to sir Thomas Bendish, the English ambassador, and sir Jonathan Daws, from whose civility he received many favours; and there ever after continued between them an intimate friendship.
As he could presently learn to play at all games, so he could accommodate his discourse to all capacities, that it should be grateful and profitable; he could argue a point without arrogance or passion to convince the learned, and could talk pleasantly to the entertainment of easier minds, yet still maintaining his own character, which had some such authority as is insinuated in these words of Cicero to Atticus, (Ep. xx. 1. 14.) Non te Bruti nostri vulticulus ab ista oratione deterret?
p This passage was misunderstood by Dr. Pope, who states, that the duke invited Barrow to undertake this charge.
q Here the straitness of his cir. cumstances must have put an end to his travels, had he not been generously supplied with money by Mr. James Stock, a young merchant of London, to whom he afterwards dedi. cated his edition of Euclid's Data.
r The Biog. Brit. says November 6th, 1656, which appears to be correct.
S“ In his passage from Leghorn to Constantinople, the ship he sailed “ in was attacked by an Algerine pi“ rate : during the fight, he betook “ himself to his arms, stayed upon
" the deck, cheerfully and vigorously “ fighting, till the pirate, perceiving “ the stout defence the ship made, “ steered off and left her. I asked “him, why he did not go down into “ the hold, and leave the defence of “ the ship to those to whom it did be“ long: he replied, It concerned no
man more than myself: I would “ rather have lost my life, than have « fallen into the hands of those mer« ciless infidels. This engagement « he describes at large in a copy of
verses in the fourth volume of his “ works :" (vol. VIII. p. 445.) Pope.
t He wrote an elegy upon his death, which may be seen in vol. VIII. p. 492.