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teacher, together with the assistance of a lad, he proceeded through the Latin classics, committing to memory the text of each author, as well as the arrangement of syntax and the vernacular translation.
Laborious and unceasing were the toils he had thus to undergo, but his powers seemed to expand in a degree proportioned to the burden they had to sustain. He soon, however, began to experience an ample reward for all his labors, in the access which they gave him to the finest models of literature and taste, to examples of the most fascinating creations of the imagination, to the most delicate application of the powers of language, and to the exhibition of common objects, through the splendid medium with which genius alone can invest them.
On leaving this school, he entered the Edinburgh University, where he became a favorite pupil of the learned Dugald Stewart. His studies during this course were conducted with a view to prepare him for the ministry; but having passed through all the trials and exercises prerequisite to taking orders, warm debates arose among the judges, (perhaps as blind morally as Davidson was physically,) whether his misfortune did not altogether disqualify him for an active charge. Their decision being unfavorable, he turned his attention to natural philosophy and chemistry, under the instruction of Dr. Black, a celebrated chemist. Mr. Davidson commenced his career as a public lecturer, in Edinburgh, where his previous high reputation as a college student drew around him
many From thence he made a tour of Scotland, delivering a course of lectures in each village and city he visited, with remarkable ability and sucHe invented a very important apparatus for relieving mining pits of their fire-damp, or carbonic acid gas. Dr. Davidson was twice married, and both ladies aided him in his experiments, with a neatness and grace that excited general admiration.
Death closed the labors of this amiable and accomplished philosopher in the autumn of 1826.
To these great names we may add, without descending in the scale of merit, that of our own NELSON, professor of classics in Rutger's College, New Jersey. We find a sketch of this eminent and accomplished scholar in the memoirs of Rev. Dr. Griffin, and as we possess no additional facts concerning him, we give from it the following brief extract:
"The life of Mr. Nelson was a striking exemplification of that resolution which conquers fortune. Total blindness, after a long and gradual advance, came upon him about his twentieth year, when terminating his college course. It found him poor, and left him, to all appearance, both penniless and wretched, with two sisters to maintain; without money, without friends, without a profession, and without sight. Under such an accumulation of griefs, most minds would have sunk, but with him it was otherwise; at all times proud and resolute, his spirit rose at once into what might well be termed a fierceness, and independence, and he resolved within
himself to be indebted for support to no exertions but his own. His classical education, which, owing to his feeble vision, had been necessarily imperfect, he now determined to complete, and immediately entered upon the apparently hopeless task, with a view to fit himself as a teacher of youth. He instructed his sisters in the pronunciation of Greek and Latin, and employed one or the other constantly in the task of reading aloud to him the classics usually taught in the schools.
"A naturally faithful memory, spurred on by such strong excitement, performed its oft-repeated miracles, and in a space of time incredibly short, he became master of their contents even to the minutest points of critical reading. In illustration of this, the author remembers on one occasion, that a dispute having arisen between Mr. Nelson and the classical professor of the college, as to the construction of a passage in Virgil, from which his students were reciting, the professor appealed to the circumstance of a comma in the sentence, as conclusive of the question. 'True,' said Mr. Nelson, coloring with strong emotion, but permit me to observe,' said he, turning his sightless eyeballs towards the book he held in his hand, that, in my Heyne's edition it is a colon, and not a comma.'
"At this period a gentleman, who accidentally became acquainted with his history, in a feeling somewhat between pity and confidence, placed his two sons under his charge, with a view to enable him to try
the experiment of teaching. A few months' trial was sufficient; he then fearlessly appeared before the public, and at once challenged a comparison with the best established classical schools in the city. The novelty and boldness of the attempt attracted general attention; the lofty confidence he displayed in himself excited respect; and soon his untiring assiduity, his real knowledge, and a burning zeal, which, knowing no bounds in his own devotion to his scholars, awakened somewhat of a corresponding spirit in their minds, completed the conquest. His reputation spread daily; scholars flocked to him in crowds; competition sunk before him; and in the course of a few years he found himself in the enjoyment of an income superior to that of any college patronage in the United States, with to him the infinitely higher gratification of having risen above the pity of the world, and fought his own blind way to honorable independence. Nor was this all; he had succeeded in placing classical education on higher ground than any of his predecessors or cotemporaries had done, and he felt proud to think that he was, in some measure, a benefactor to that college which, a few years before, he had entered in poverty and quitted in blindness.”
When we reflect upon a list of characters like the foregoing, who have elicited light from darkness, and become ornaments to their nation and age, we cannot but feel more reconciled to our lot, and inspired with the glorious thought that, notwithstanding our privation, life is yet what we make it. Whatever may be
the obstacles opposed to our progress, so long as perseverance and enterprise can triumph over them, none but the timid and pusillanimous should fear or sink in despair. Science and religion, the unalloyed and inexhaustible fountains of human happiness, lie still within our reach, inviting as the fruits of Paradise.
DIVINES, LAWYERS AND PHYSICIANS.
As ministers of the gospel, the blind have in every age and branch of the christian church received but little encouragement, if they have not always been indiscriminately rejected. Davidson, notwithstanding his fine talents and thorough preparation, could not obtain clerical credentials; and Blacklock was driven from his charge by popular prejudice, after a regular installment. Yet, with all these discouragements, love to God, and an ardent desire to see humanity rescued from the thralldom of sin and misery, have constrained many of our order to become able and efficient laborers in Christ's moral vineyard. We would not, however, urge claims to a sphere to which the Lord himself will call those "of whom he hath need;" but should the all-wise Creator and controller of the universe call one deprived of natural vision, that he might "see and tell of things invisible to mortal sight," we cannot comprehend by