A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Brewster, Sir David

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Brewster, Sir David (1781-1868). -- Man of science and writer, b. at Jedburgh, originally intended to enter the Church, of which, after a distinguished course at the Univ. of Edin., he became a licentiate. Circumstances, however, led him to devote himself to science, of which he was one of the most brilliant ornaments of his day, especially in the department of optics, in which he made many discoveries. He maintained his habits of investigation and composition to the very end of his long life, during which he received almost every kind of honorary distinction open to a man of science. He also made many important contributions to literature, including a Life of Newton (1831), The Martyrs of Science (1841), More Worlds than One (1854), and Letters on Natural Magic addressed to Sir W. Scott, and he also edited, in addition to various scientific journals, The Edinburgh Encyclopædia (1807-29). He likewise held the offices successively of Principal of the United Coll. of St. Salvator and St. Leonard, St. Andrews (1838), and of the Univ. of Edin. (1859). He was knighted in 1831. Of high-strung and nervous temperament, he was somewhat irritable in matters of controversy; but he was repeatedly subjected to serious provocation. He was a man of highly honourable and fervently religious character.