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LIVES OF EMINENT PERSONS
KING OF PRUSSIA ..
PRAYERS and MEDITATIONS, with Preface by Rev.
George Strahan, D.D.....
429 et seq.
FATHER PAUL SARPI.
FATHER PAUL, whose name, before he entered into the monastick life, was Peter Sarpi, was born at Venice, August 14, 1552. His father followed merchandize, but with so little success, that, at his death, he left his family very ill provided for, but under the care of a mother, whose piety was likely to bring the blessing of Providence upon them, and whose wise conduct supplied the want of fortune by advantages of greater value.
Happily for young Sarpi, she had a brother, master of a celebrated school, under whose direction he was placed by her. Here he lost no time, but cultivated his abilities, naturally of the first rate, with unwearied application. He was born for study, having a natural aversion to pleasure and gaiety, and a memory so tenacious, that he could repeat thirty verses upon once hearing them.
Proportionable to his capacity was his progress in literature: at thirteen, having made himself master of school-learning, he turned his studies to philosophy and the mathematicks, and entered upon logick under Capella of Cremona, who, though a celebrated master of that science, confessed himself
in a very little time unable to give his pupil farther instructions.
As Capella was of the order of the Servites, his scholar was induced, by his acquaintance with him, to engage in the same profession, though his uncle and his mother represented to him the hardships and austerities of that kind of life, and advised him with great zeal against it. But he was steady in his resolutions, and in 1566 took the habit of the order, being then only in his 14th year, a time of life in most persons very improper for such engagements, but in him attended with such maturity of thought, and such a settled temper, that he never seemed to regret the choice he then made, and which he confirmed by a solemn publick profession in 1572.
At a general chapter of the Servites, held at Mantua, Paul (for so we shall now call him), being then only twenty years old, distinguished himself so much in a publick disputation by his genius and learning, that William Duke of Mantua, a great patron of letters, solicited the consent of his superiors to retain him at his court, and not only made him publick professor of divinity in the cathedral, but honoured him with many proofs of his esteem.
But Father Paul, finding a court life not agreeable to his temper, quitted it two years afterwards, and retired to his beloved privacies, being then not only acquainted with the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Chaldee languages, but with philosophy, the mathematicks, canon and civil law, all parts of natural philosophy, and chemistry itself; for his application was unintermitted, his head clear, his
apprehension quick, and his memory retentive.