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Imprisonment Of The Learned
by [?]

De Foe, confined in Newgate for a political pamphlet, began his “Review;” a periodical paper, which was extended to nine thick volumes in quarto, and it has been supposed served as the model of the celebrated papers of Steele.

Wicquefort’s curious work “on Ambassadors” is dated from his prison, where he had been confined for state affairs. He softened the rigour of those heavy hours by several historical works.

One of the most interesting facts of this kind is the fate of an Italian scholar, of the name of Maggi. Early addicted to the study of the sciences, and particularly to the mathematics, and military architecture, he successfully defended Famagusta, besieged by the Turks, by inventing machines which destroyed their works. When that city was taken in 1571, they pillaged his library and carried him away in chains. Now a slave, after his daily labours he amused a great part of his nights by literary compositions; De Tintinnabulis, on Bells, a treatise still read by the curious, was actually composed by him when a slave in Turkey, without any other resource than the erudition of his own memory, and the genius of which adversity could not deprive him.


[Footnote 1: Withers, throughout these unique eclogues, which are supposed to narrate the discourses of “friendly shepherds” who visit him–
Within the jaws of strict imprisonment;
A forlorn shepherd void of all the means,
Whereon man’s common hope in danger leads”

–is still upheld by the same consciousness of rectitude which inspired Sir Richard Lovelace in his better-known address “To Althea from Prison.” Withers’ poem was published before Lovelace was born. A few lines from Withers will display this similarity. Speaking of his enemies, he says:–

“They may do much, but when they have done all,
Only my body they may bring in thrall.
And ’tis not that, my Willy; ’tis my mind,
My mind’s more precious freedom I so weigh,
A thousand ways they may my body bind,
In thousand thralls, but ne’er my mind betray:
And hence it is that I contentment find,
And bear with patience this my load away:
I’m still myself, and that I’d rather be.
Than to be lord of all these downs in fee.”]