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Poverty Of The Learned
by [?]

Cardinal Bentivoglio, the ornament of Italy and of literature, languished, in his old age, in the most distressful poverty; and having sold his palace to satisfy his creditors, left nothing behind him but his reputation. The learned Pomponius Laetus lived in such a state of poverty, that his friend Platina, who wrote the lives of the popes, and also a book of cookery, introduces him into the cookery book by a facetious observation, that “If Pomponius Laetus should be robbed of a couple of eggs, he would not have wherewithal to purchase two other eggs.” The history of Aldrovandus is noble and pathetic; having expended a large fortune in forming his collections of natural history, and employing the first artists in Europe, he was suffered to die in the hospital of that city, to whose fame he had eminently contributed.

Du Ryer, a celebrated French poet, was constrained to write with rapidity, and to live in the cottage of an obscure village. His bookseller bought his heroic verses for one hundred sols the hundred lines, and the smaller ones for fifty sols. What an interesting picture has a contemporary given of a visit to this poor and ingenious author! “On a fine summer day we went to him, at some distance from town. He received us with joy, talked to us of his numerous projects, and showed us several of his works. But what more interested us was, that, though dreading to expose to us his poverty, he contrived to offer some refreshments. We seated ourselves under a wide oak, the table-cloth was spread on the grass, his wife brought us some milk, with fresh water and brown bread, and he picked a basket of cherries. He welcomed us with gaiety, but we could not take leave of this amiable man, now grown old, without tears, to see him so ill treated by fortune, and to have nothing left but literary honour!”

Vaugelas, the most polished writer of the French language, who devoted thirty years to his translation of Quintus Curtius, (a circumstance which modern translators can have no conception of), died possessed of nothing valuable but his precious manuscripts. This ingenious scholar left his corpse to the surgeons, for the benefit of his creditors!

Louis the Fourteenth honoured Racine and Boileau with a private monthly audience. One day the king asked what there was new in the literary world. Racine answered, that he had seen a melancholy spectacle in the house of Corneille, whom he found dying, deprived even of a little broth! The king preserved a profound silence; and sent the dying poet a sum of money.

Dryden, for less than three hundred pounds, sold Tonson ten thousand verses, as may be seen by the agreement.

Purchas, who in the reign of our first James, had spent his life in compiling his Relation of the World, when he gave it to the public, for the reward of his labours was thrown into prison, at the suit of his printer. Yet this was the book which, he informs Charles I. in his dedication, his father read every night with great profit and satisfaction.

The Marquis of Worcester, in a petition to parliament, in the reign of Charles II., offered to publish the hundred processes and machines, enumerated in his very curious “Centenary of Inventions,” on condition that money should be granted to extricate him from the difficulties in which he had involved himself by the prosecution of useful discoveries. The petition does not appear to have been attended to! Many of these admirable inventions were lost. The steam-engine and the telegraph, may be traced among them.

It appears by the Harleian MS. 7524, that Rushworth, the author of the “Historical Collections,” passed the last years of his life in gaol, where indeed he died. After the Restoration, when he presented to the king several of the privy council’s books, which he had preserved from ruin, he received for his only reward the thanks of his majesty.