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a religious minim, and one of the greatest philosophers of his

, a religious minim, and one of the greatest philosophers of his age, was born at Toulouse, of an ancient and noble family, July 17, 1601. While he was a child, he discovered an inclination to letters and the sciences, and nothing is said to have had so great an effect in quieting his infant clamours, as putting some little boot into his hands. He went through his course in the college of Jesuits, and acquitted himself with great diligence in every part of scholarship, both with respect to literary and religious exercises. He was determined to a religious life, by a check given to his vanity when he was learning rhetoric. He had written a poem, in order to dispute the prize of eloquence, and believed the victory was unjustly adjudged to another. This made him resolve to ask the minim’s habit, and having acquitted himself satisfactorily in the trials of his probation-time, he was received upon his taking the vow in 1619, when he was eighteen. He went through his course of philosophy under a professor who was very much attached to the doctrine of Aristotle; and he omitted no opportunity of disputing loudly against all the parts of that philosopher’s scheme, which he suspected of heterodoxy. His preceptor considered this as a good presage; and in a short time discovered, to his great astonishment, that his pupil was very well versed in mathematics, without having had the help of a teacher. In this, like Pascal, he had been his own master but what he says of himself upon this point must be understood with some limitation; namely, that “in his leisure hours of one year from the duties of the choir and school, he discovered of himself as many geometrical theorems and problems, as were to be found in the first six books of Euclid’s Elements.