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xviii

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.

modifying his character through life. With prematurely
developed mental powers, he had a slender constitation,
and suffered from a variety of maladies, and especially from
an affection of the eyes, which often interrupted his studies
for weeks together. During these intervals, his father de-
voted much time to the instruction and amusement of his
son, by reading to him, and assisting him to get by heart
short poems, and other matter worthy of being committed
to memory.
  At the age of twelve, young Biernatzki was attacked by
a disease of the chest, which brought him near the grave,
and kept him long hovering between life and death. After
the crisis was thought to have passed, he fell into a stupor,
and soon sunk into a state of suspended animation, in which
condition he lay for four and twenty hours. At the expira-
tion of this period consciousness suddenly returned, but
with a nearly total loss of all recollection of previous events,
except of the sufferings of his deceased mother, and he
never regained a distinct remembrance of his former life.
Health was very gradually restored, though never after-
ward firmly established, and it was not until the following
year that Biernatzki was able to enter the gymnasium at
Altona. He was here respected as much for his frank,
manly, and truthful character, as for his diligence in study;
his progress in the acquisition of learning was highly credit-
able, and he was particularly distinguished for his knowl-
edge of Latin. He had been accustomed from childhood
to look upon theology as his chosen vocation, and he there-
fore lost no time from uncertainty or indecision with respect
to the course of study most likely to be useful to him in his
future professional life. Both his poetical temperament,
which was rapidly developing itself, and his intended call-
ing, gave, in his eyes, a special interest to oriental litera-
ture, and he was already far advanced in the study of