, a man of some celebrity and talents, was born at Little Bronghton,
, a man of some celebrity and talents, was born at Little Bronghton, in the parish of Bridekirk, Cumberland, in 1714. His father, who was a tobacco-pipe maker, had a small paternal estate; on which, with his trade, he was barely enabled to live, and bring up his family, without their becoming burthensome to their parish. It is not certain, that his son Abraham ever went to any school, although there is a tradition, that, very early in life, before he was able to do any work, his parents once spared him for three weeks, to attend a school in the village, where y^uth were taught at the rate of a shilling for the quarter. If this report be well-founded, all the education he ever had that was paid for, cost three-pence. By some means or other however he learned to read: and, before he haJ. arrived at manhood, he had also learned to write. With these humble attainments to set out with, it does him great honour that, at length by dint of industry alone, he became a man of science and a man of learning. He was of a thinking, inquisitive mind; and, having taught himself arithmetic, in preference to any other science, only because he met with a book of arithmetic and no other, for the same reason he applied himself to mathematical investigations. Whatever he attempted, he attempted with all hio might, and pursued with unwearied diligence. In the day-time, he was employed in husbandry, or in making pipes: and, at night, eagerly betook himself to work the theorems (which word he long used to pronounce theorems) on which, during the day, he had been intensely ruminating. Often has he sat up all night, delineating diagrams; to the serious grief of his parents, who considered only the apparent unprofitableness of such pursuits, and the certain loss of the lump or two of cannel-coal, incurred by his lucubrations. Hardly ever, even in the subsequent more prosperous periods of his life, did he aspire to any thing beyond a rush light. The parents, contented in their ignorance, felt no ambition to have their son pass through life otherwise than they had done, in the midst of hard work and hard fare. And, as his midnight studies, and abstractedness of mind, seemed not to them likely to qualify him either to work more, or to eat less, they thought it their duty, and for his interest, to discountenance and discourage his passion for theorems his books and his slate were hid and he was double-tasked with labour. It was this poor man’s fate to begin and continue through life his pursuit after knowledge, under almost every possible disadvantage: yet difficulties and discouragements seemed but to increase his ardour. He used to relate, with vast self-complacence and satisfaction, a device he had formed, by which he flattered himself he should be permitted to stick to his studies without interruption, at his few intervals of leisure. He married early; and his wife, adopting the opinions and maxims of his parents, was no friend to studies, which appeared to her little likely to lead to any thing that might help to feed and clothe themselves, or their children. Over his house of one room, there was a kind of loft, or hoarded floor, (in Cumberland called a banks), which, however, had neither door, window, nor stairs. Hither, by means of a single rope, which he always drew up after him, he mounted with his book and his slate; and here he went through Euclid. This anecdote (says his biographer) is but simple, yet it is not insignificant.