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FATHER PAUL SARPI.
Á THÉR PAUL, whose name, before he
entered into the monastic life, was Peter Sarpi, was born at Venice, August 14, 1552. His father followed merchandize, but with so little fuccess, that, at his death; he left his family very ill provided for, but under the care of a mother, whose piety was
to bring the blessing of Providence upon them, and whose wife conduct supplied the want of fortune
of Happily for young Sarpi, the had a brother, master of a celebrated school, under whose direction
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,
a natural aversion to pleasure and gaiety, and a memory fo 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 perfons 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 folemn public 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 lis memory retentive, .
Being made a priest at twenty-two, he was distinguished by the illustrious cardinal Borromeo with his confidence, and employed by him on many occasions, not without the envy of persons of less merit, who were so far exasperated as to lay a charge against him, before the inquisition, for denying that the Trinity could be proved from the first chapter of Genesis; but the accusation was too ridiculous to be taken notice of.
After this he passed successively through the dignities of his order, and in the intervals of his employment applied himself to his studies with so extensive a capacity, as left no branch of knowledge untouched. By him Acquependente, the great anatomist, confesses that he was informed how vision is performed ; and there are proofs that he was not a stranger to the circulation of the blood. He frequently conversed upon astronomy with mathematicians, upon anatomy with surgeons, upon medicine with physicians, and with chemists upon the analysis of metals, nos as a superficial enquirer, but as a complete master,
But the hours of repose, that he employed so well, < were interrupted by a new information in the inquisition, where a former acquaintance produced a letter written by him in cyphers, in which he said, “ that 1. “ he detested the court of Rome, and that no pre“ ferment was obtained there but by dishonest 66 means.
This accusation, however dangerous, was passed over on account of his great reputation, but made such impreslion on that court, that he was afterwards denied a bishoprick by Clement VIII. After these difficulties were surmounted, Father Paul again retired to his solitude, where he appears, by
fome writings drawn up by him at that time, to have turned his attention more to improvements in piety than learning. Such was the care with which he read the scriptures, that, it being his custom to draw a line under any passage which he intended more nicely to consider, there was not a single word in his New Testament but was underlined; the fame marks of attention appeared in his Old Testament, Pfalter, and Breviary
But the most active scene of his life began about the year 1615, when Pope Paul Vth, exasperated by fome decrees of the senate of Venice that interfered with the pretended rights of the church, laid the whole state under an interdict.
The senate, filled with indignation at this treatment, forbade the bishops to receive or publish the Pope's bull; and convening the rectors of the churches, commanded them to celebrate divine fer, vice in the accustomed manner, with which most of them readily complied; but the Jesuits and some others refusing, were by a solemn edict expelled the Itate.
Both parties, having proceeded to extremities, employed their ablest writers to defend their measures : on the Pope's side, among others, Cardinal Bellarmine entered the lists, and with his confederate authors defended the papal claims with great fcurrility of expression, and very sophistical reasonings, which were confuted by the Venetian apologists in much more decent language, and with much greater solidity of argument.
On this occasion Father Paul was most eminently distinguished, by his Defence of the Rights of the sų