Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/46

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416 SIR JOHN LESLIE.


pearsonage and stature convenient, albeit michtie and strong theiruith; of coui- tenance amiable and lufely, specially in his communication ; his eyes graye and scharp of sicht, that quhomsoever he did ones see and marke, he \vald perfytly knawe in all tymes thairefter; of witt in all things quick and prompt, of a princely stomacke and heich courage in greit perillis, doubtful affairis and mat- eris of weichtie importance ; he had in a maner a divine foresicht, for in sic thingis as he went about to doo, he did them advisedlye, and with grit delib- eracion, to the intent that amangis all men his witt and prudence might be noted and regardit, and alsfarre excell and pas all uthers in estait and dignitie. Be- sides this, he was sober, moderate, honest, effabill, curteous ; and so farr abhor- rit pride and arrogance, that he was ever sharpe and quick to thame quhilk were spotted or nottit with that crime. He was alsua a good and suir justiciar, be the quhilke one thing he allurit to him the hartis of all the people, because they lived quietlie and in rest, out of all oppressioun and molestacioun of the nobili- tye and riche persones ; and to this severyte of his wes joinit and annexit a certane merciful pitye, quhilk he did oftymes shaw to sic as had offendit, taking rather composicions of money nor menis lyvis. * * * * This gude and modest prince did not devoure and consume the riches of his countrey, for by his heich pollicye marvellouslie riched his real me and himselfe, both with gold and silver, all kinds of riche substance, quhairof he left greyt stoir and quant i- tie in all his palices at his departing. And so this king, living all his tyme in the favour of fortune, in heich honour, riches, and glorye, and for his nobill actis and prudent pollyces, worthye to be registrat in the buike of fame, gaif up and randerit his spreit into the hands of Allmichty God, quhair I doubt not bot he lies suir fruition of the joye that is preparit for these as sell sitt on the richt hand of our Salveour."

LESLIE, (Sin) JOHN, professor of natural philosophy in the university of Edinburgh, and distinguished by his valuable writings and discoveries, was born at the kirk-town of Largo, in Fife, on the 16th of April, 17C6. His father, Robert Leslie, by profession a joiner and cabinet-maker, and originally from the neighbourhood of St Andrews, was a much respected and worthy man, and seems, in point of education and general attainments, to have been superior to the majority of persons in his station at that period. The mother of Sir John Leslie was Anne Carstairs, a native of Largo. When very young, he was sent to a woman's school in the village, but remained only a short time there. Af- terwards he was placed under a Mr Thomson at Lundin Mill, with whom he learned to write ; and lastly he went to Leven school, and began to learn Latin ; but being a weakly boy, and unable to walk so far, he was obliged after about six weeks to give up attendance. As these were the only schools he at- tended before going to college, it is evident that his elementary acquirements must have been exceedingly imperfect. He received, however, while at home, some lessons in mathematics from his elder brother Alexander, and soon began to show a surprising aptitude for that branch of science. His manners at this period of life were remarkably reserved and shy. He seemed bent on devoting himself entirely to study, and read with peculiar avidity all the books that came within his reach, on mathematics and natural philosophy. To Latin he took a strong dislike, and could not be induced to resume the study of it till after his first year at college.

His extraordinary proficiency in geometrical exercises, joined to a considera- tion of the unfavourable circumstances under which he had acquired it, brought him at an early period under the notice of professors Robison and Stewart, of the university of Edinburgh, who were much impressed by the extraordinary powers which he displayed. It was at length resolved by bis parents, that he should