Budget of Paradoxes/F

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A Budget of Paradoxes by Augustus De Morgan
1750-1799

THOMAS WRIGHT OF DURHAM.[edit]

An original theory or Hypothesis of the Universe. By Thomas Wright[331] of Durham. London, 4to, 1750.

Wright is a speculator whose thoughts are now part of our current astronomy. He took that view—or most of it—of the milky way which afterwards suggested itself to William Herschel. I have given an account of him and his work in the Philosophical Magazine for April, 1848.

Wright was mathematical instrument maker to the King, [ 152 ] and kept a shop in Fleet Street. Is the celebrated business of Troughton & Simms, also in Fleet Street, a lineal descendant of that of Wright? It is likely enough, more likely that that—as I find him reported to have affirmed—Prester John was the descendant of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Having settled it thus, it struck me that I might apply to Mr. Simms, and he informs me that it is as I thought, the line of descent being Wright, Cole, John Troughton, Edward Troughton,[332] Troughton & Simms.[333]

 

BISHOP HORNE ON NEWTON.[edit]

The theology and philosophy in Cicero's Somnium Scipionis explained. Or, a brief attempt to demonstrate, that the Newtonian system is perfectly agreeable to the notions of the wisest ancients: and that mathematical principles are the only sure ones. [By Bishop Horne,[334] at the age of nineteen.] London, 1751, 8vo.

This tract, which was not printed in the collected works, and is now excessively rare, is mentioned in Notes and Queries, 1st S., v, 490, 573; 2d S., ix, 15. The boyish satire on Newton is amusing. Speaking of old Benjamin Martin,[335] he goes on as follows:

[ 153 ]

"But the most elegant account of the matter [attraction] is by that hominiform animal, Mr. Benjamin Martin, who having attended Dr. Desaguliers'[336] fine, raree, gallanty shew for some years [Desaguliers was one of the first who gave public experimental lectures, before the saucy boy was born] in the capacity of a turnspit, has, it seems, taken it into his head to set up for a philosopher."

Thus is preserved the fact, unknown to his biographers, that Benj. Martin was an assistant to Desaguliers in his lectures. Hutton[337] says of him, that "he was well skilled in the whole circle of the mathematical and philosophical sciences, and wrote useful books on every one of them": this is quite true; and even at this day he is read by twenty where Horne is read by one; see the stalls, passim. All that I say of him, indeed my knowledge of the tract, is due to this contemptuous mention of a more durable man than himself. My assistant secretary at the Astronomical Society, the late Mr. Epps,[338] bought the copy at a stall because his eye was caught by the notice of "Old Ben Martin," of whom he was a great reader. Old Ben could not be a Fellow of the Royal Society, because he kept a shop: even though the shop sold nothing but philosophical instruments. Thomas Wright, similarly situated as to shop and goods, never was a Fellow. The Society of our day has greatly degenerated: those of the old time would be pleased, no doubt, that the glories of their day [ 154 ] should be commemorated. In the early days of the Society, there was a similar difficulty about Graunt, the author of the celebrated work on mortality. But their royal patron, "who never said a foolish thing," sent them a sharp message, and charged them if they found any more such tradesmen, they should "elect them without more ado."

Horne's first pamphlet was published when he was but twenty-one years old. Two years afterwards, being then a Fellow of his college, and having seen more of the world, he seems to have felt that his manner was a little too pert. He endeavored, it is said, to suppress his first tract: and copies are certainly of extreme rarity. He published the following as his maturer view:

A fair, candid, and impartial state of the case between Sir Isaac Newton and Mr. Hutchinson.[339] In which is shown how far a system of physics is capable of mathematical demonstration; how far Sir Isaac's, as such a system, has that demonstration; and consequently, what regard Mr. Hutchinson's claim may deserve to have paid to it. By George Horne, M.A. Oxford, 1753, 8vo.

It must be remembered that the successors of Newton were very apt to declare that Newton had demonstrated attraction as a physical cause: he had taken reasonable pains to show that he did not pretend to this. If any one had said to Newton, I hold that every particle of matter is a responsible being of vast intellect, ordered by the Creator to move as it would do if every other particle attracted it, and gifted with power to make its way in true accordance with that law, as easily as a lady picks her way across the street; what have you to say against it?—Newton must have replied, Sir! if you really undertake to maintain this as demonstrable, your soul had better borrow a little power [ 155 ] from the particles of which your body is made: if you merely ask me to refute it, I tell you that I neither can nor need do it; for whether attraction comes in this way or in any other, it comes, and that is all I have to do with it.

The reader should remember that the word attraction, as used by Newton and the best of his followers, only meant a drawing towards, without any implication as to the cause. Thus whether they said that matter attracts matter, or that young lady attracts young gentleman, they were using one word in one sense. Newton found that the law of the first is the inverse square of the distance: I am not aware that the law of the second has been discovered; if there be any chance, we shall see it at the year 1856 in this list.

In this point young Horne made a hit. He justly censures those who fixed upon Newton a more positive knowledge of what attraction is than he pretended to have. "He has owned over and over he did not know what he meant by it—it might be this, or it might be that, or it might be anything, or it might be nothing." With the exception of the nothing clause, this is true, though Newton might have answered Horne by "Thou hast said it."

(I thought everybody knew the meaning of "Thou hast said it": but I was mistaken. In three of the evangelists Σὺ λέγεις is the answer to "Art thou a king?" The force of this answer, as always understood, is "That is your way of putting it." The Puritans, who lived in Bible phrases, so understood it: and Walter Scott, who caught all peculiarities of language with great effect, makes a marked instance, "Were you armed?—I was not—I went in my calling, as a preacher of God's word, to encourage them that drew the sword in His cause. In other words, to aid and abet the rebels, said the Duke. Thou hast spoken it, replied the prisoner.")

Again, Horne quotes Rowning[340] as follows:

[ 156 ]

"Mr. Rowning, pt. 2, p. 5 in a note, has a very pretty conceit upon this same subject of attraction, about every particle of a fluid being intrenched in three spheres of attraction and repulsion, one within another, 'the innermost of which (he says) is a sphere of repulsion, which keeps them from approaching into contact; the next, a sphere of attraction, diffused around this of repulsion, by which the particles are disposed to run together into drops; and the outermost of all, a sphere of repulsion, whereby they repel each other, when removed out of the attraction.' So that between the urgings, and solicitations, of one and t'other, a poor unhappy particle must ever be at his wit's end, not knowing which way to turn, or whom to obey first."

Rowning has here started the notion which Boscovich[341] afterwards developed.

I may add to what precedes that it cannot be settled that, as Granger[342] says, Desaguliers was the first who gave experimental lectures in London. William Whiston gave some, and Francis Hauksbee[343] made the experiments. The prospectus, as we should now call it, is extant, a quarto tract of plates and descriptions, without date. Whiston, in his life, [ 157 ] gives 1714 as the first date of publication, and therefore, no doubt, of the lectures. Desaguliers removed to London soon after 1712, and commenced his lectures soon after that. It will be rather a nice point to settle which lectured first; probabilities seem to go in favor of Whiston.

 

FALLACIES IN A THEORY OF ANNUITIES.[edit]

An Essay to ascertain the value of leases, and annuities for years and lives. By W[eyman] L[ee]. London, 1737, 8vo.
A valuation of Annuities and Leases certain, for a single life. By Weyman Lee, Esq. of the Inner Temple. London, 1751, 8vo. Third edition, 1773.

Every branch of exact science has its paradoxer. The world at large cannot tell with certainty who is right in such questions as squaring the circle, etc. Mr. Weyman Lee[344] was the assailant of what all who had studied called demonstration in the question of annuities. He can be exposed to the world: for his error arose out of his not being able to see that the whole is the sum of all its parts.

By an annuity, say of £100, now bought, is meant that the buyer is to have for his money £100 in a year, if he be then alive, £100 at the end of two years, if then alive, and so on. It is clear that he would buy a life annuity if he should buy the first £100 in one office, the second in another, and so on. All the difference between buying the whole from one office and buying all the separate contingent payments at different offices, is immaterial to calculation. Mr. Lee would have agreed with the rest of the world about the payments to be made to the several different offices, in consideration of their several contracts: but he differed from every one else about the sum to be paid to one office. He contended that the way to value an annuity is to find out the term of years which the individual has an even chance of surviving, and to charge for the life annuity the value of an annuity certain for that term.

[ 158 ]

It is very common to say that Lee took the average life, or expectation, as it is wrongly called, for his term: and this I have done myself, taking the common story. Having exposed the absurdity of this second supposition, taking it for Lee's, in my Formal Logic,[345] I will now do the same with the first.

A mathematical truth is true in its extreme cases. Lee's principle is that an annuity on a life is the annuity made certain for the term within which it is an even chance the life drops. If, then, of a thousand persons, 500 be sure to die within a year, and the other 500 be immortal, Lee's price of an annuity to any one of these persons is the present value of one payment: for one year is the term which each one has an even chance of surviving and not surviving. But the true value is obviously half that of a perpetual annuity: so that at 5 percent Lee's rule would give less than the tenth of the true value. It must be said for the poor circle-squarers, that they never err so much as this.

Lee would have said, if alive, that I have put an extreme case: but any universal truth is true in its extreme cases. It is not fair to bring forward an extreme case against a person who is speaking as of usual occurrences: but it is quite fair when, as frequently happens, the proposer insists upon a perfectly general acceptance of his assertion. And yet many who go the whole hog protest against being tickled with the tail. Counsel in court are good instances: they are paradoxers by trade. June 13, 1849, at Hertford, there was an action about a ship, insured against a total loss: some planks were saved, and the underwriters refused to pay. Mr. Z. (for deft.) "There can be no degrees of totality; and some timbers were saved."—L. C. B. "Then if the vessel were burned to the water's edge, and some rope saved in the boat, there would be no total loss."—Mr. Z. "This is putting a very extreme case."—L. C. B. "The argument [ 159 ] would go that length." What would Judge Z.—as he now is—say to the extreme case beginning somewhere between six planks and a bit of rope?

 

MONTUCLA'S WORK ON THE QUADRATURE.[edit]

Histoire des recherches sur la quadrature du cercle ... avec une addition concernant les problèmes de la duplication du cube et de la trisection de l'angle. Paris, 1754, 12mo. [By Montucla.]

This is the history of the subject.[346] It was a little episode to the great history of mathematics by Montucla, of which the first edition appeared in 1758. There was much addition at the end of the fourth volume of the second edition; this is clearly by Montucla, though the bulk of the volume is put together, with help from Montucla's papers, by Lalande.[347] There is also a second edition of the history of the quadrature, Paris, 1831, 8vo, edited, I think, by Lacroix; of which it is the great fault that it makes hardly any use of the additional matter just mentioned.

Montucla is an admirable historian when he is writing from his own direct knowledge: it is a sad pity that he did not tell us when he was depending on others. We are not to trust a quarter of his book, and we must read many other books to know which quarter. The fault is common enough, but Montucla's good three-quarters is so good that the fault is greater in him than in most others: I mean the fault of not acknowledging; for an historian cannot read everything. But it must be said that mankind give little encouragement to candor on this point. Hallam, in his [ 160 ] History of Literature, states with his own usual instinct of honesty every case in which he depends upon others: Montucla does not. And what is the consequence?—Montucla is trusted, and believed in, and cried up in the bulk; while the smallest talker can lament that Hallam should be so unequal and apt to depend on others, without remembering to mention that Hallam himself gives the information. As to a universal history of any great subject being written entirely upon primary knowledge, it is a thing of which the possibility is not yet proved by an example. Delambre attempted it with astronomy, and was removed by death before it was finished,[348] to say nothing of the gaps he left.

Montucla was nothing of a bibliographer, and his descriptions of books in the first edition were insufficient. The Abbé Rive[349] fell foul of him, and as the phrase is, gave it him. Montucla took it with great good humor, tried to mend, and, in his second edition, wished his critic had lived to see the vernis de bibliographe which he had given himself.

I have seen Montucla set down as an esprit fort, more than once: wrongly, I think. When he mentions Barrow's[350] address to the Almighty, he adds, "On voit, au reste, par là, que Barrow étoit un pauvre philosophe; car il croyait en l'immortalité de l'âme, et en une Divinité autre que la nature [ 161 ] universelle."[351] This is irony, not an expression of opinion. In the book of mathematical recreations which Montucla constructed upon that of Ozanam,[352] and Ozanam upon that of Van Etten,[353] now best known in England by Hutton's similar treatment of Montucla, there is an amusing chapter on the quadrators. Montucla refers to his own anonymous book of 1754 as a curious book published by Jombert.[354] He seems to have been a little ashamed of writing about circle-squarers: what a slap on the face for an unborn Budgeteer!

Montucla says, speaking of France, that he finds three notions prevalent among the cyclometers: (1) that there is a large reward offered for success; (2) that the longitude problem depends on that success; (3) that the solution is the great end and object of geometry. The same three [ 162 ] notions are equally prevalent among the same class in England. No reward has ever been offered by the government of either country. The longitude problem in no way depends upon perfect solution; existing approximations are sufficient to a point of accuracy far beyond what can be wanted.[355] And geometry, content with what exists, has long passed on to other matters. Sometimes a cyclometer persuades a skipper who has made land in the wrong place that the astronomers are in fault, for using a wrong measure of the circle; and the skipper thinks it a very comfortable solution! And this is the utmost that the problem ever has to do with longitude.

 

ANTINEWTONIANISMUS.[edit]

Antinewtonianismus.[356] By Cælestino Cominale,[357] M.D. Naples, 1754 and 1756, 2 vols. 4to.

The first volume upsets the theory of light; the second vacuum, vis inertiæ, gravitation, and attraction. I confess I never attempted these big Latin volumes, numbering 450 closely-printed quarto pages. The man who slays Newton in a pamphlet is the man for me. But I will lend them to anybody who will give security, himself in £500, and two sureties in £250 each, that he will read them through, and give a full abstract; and I will not exact security for their return. I have never seen any mention of this book: it has a printer, but not a publisher, as happens with so many unrecorded books.

[ 163 ]

 

OFFICIAL BLOW TO CIRCLE SQUARERS.[edit]

1755. The French Academy of Sciences came to the determination not to examine any more quadratures or kindred problems. This was the consequence, no doubt, of the publication of Montucla's book: the time was well chosen; for that book was a full justification of the resolution. The Royal Society followed the same course, I believe, a few years afterwards. When our Board of Longitude was in existence, most of its time was consumed in listening to schemes, many of which included the quadrature of the circle. It is certain that many quadrators have imagined the longitude problem to be connected with theirs: and no doubt the notion of a reward offered by Government for a true quadrature is a result of the reward offered for the longitude. Let it also be noted that this longitude reward was not a premium upon excogitation of a mysterious difficulty. The legislature was made to know that the rational hopes of the problem were centered in the improvement of the lunar tables and the improvement of chronometers. To these objects alone, and by name, the offer was directed: several persons gained rewards for both; and the offer was finally repealed.

 

AN INTERESTING HOAX.[edit]

Fundamentalis Figura Geometrica, primas tantum lineas circuli quadraturæ possibilitatis ostendens. By Niels Erichsen (Nicolaus Ericius), shipbuilder, of Copenhagen. Copenhagen, 1755, 12mo.

This was a gift from my oldest friend who was not a relative, Dr. Samuel Maitland of the "Dark Ages."[358] He found it among his books, and could not imagine how he came by it: I could have told him. He once collected interpretations of the Apocalypse: and auction lots of such [ 164 ] books often contain quadratures. The wonder is he never found more than one.

The quadrature is not worth notice. Erichsen is the only squarer I have met with who has distinctly asserted the particulars of that reward which has been so frequently thought to have been offered in England. He says that in 1747 the Royal Society on the 2d of June, offered to give a large reward for the quadrature of the circle and a true explanation of magnetism, in addition to £30,000 previously promised for the same. I need hardly say that the Royal Society had not £30,000 at that time, and would not, if it had had such a sum, have spent it on the circle, nor on magnetic theory; nor would it have coupled the two things. On this book, see Notes and Queries, 1st S., xii, 306. Perhaps Erichsen meant that the £30,000 had been promised by the Government, and the addition by the Royal Society.

October 8, 1866. I receive a letter from a cyclometer who understands that a reward is offered to any one who will square the circle, and that all competitors are to send their plans to me. The hoaxers have not yet failed out of the land.

 

TWO JESUIT CONTRIBUTIONS.[edit]

Theoria Philosophiæ Naturalis redacta ad unicam legem virium in natura existentium. Editio Veneta prima. By Roger Joseph Boscovich. Venice, 1763, 4to.

The first edition is said to be of Vienna, 1758.[359] This is a celebrated work on the molecular theory of matter, grounded on the hypothesis of spheres of alternate attraction and repulsion. Boscovich was a Jesuit of varied pursuit. During his measurement of a degree of the meridian, while on horseback or waiting for his observations, he composed a Latin poem of about five thousand verses on eclipses, [ 165 ] with notes, which he dedicated to the Royal Society: De Solis et Lunæ defectibus,[360] London, Millar and Dodsley, 1760, 4to.

 

Traité de paix entre Des Cartes et Newton, précédé des vies littéraires de ces deux chefs de la physique moderne.... By Aimé Henri Paulian.[361] Avignon, 1763, 12mo.

I have had these books for many years without feeling the least desire to see how a lettered Jesuit would atone Descartes and Newton. On looking at my two volumes, I find that one contains nothing but the literary life of Descartes; the other nothing but the literary life of Newton. The preface indicates more: and Watt mentions three volumes.[362] I dare say the first two contain all that is valuable. On looking more attentively at the two volumes, I find them both readable and instructive; the account of Newton is far above that of Voltaire, but not so popular. But he should not have said that Newton's family came from Newton in Ireland. Sir Rowland Hill gives fourteen Newtons in Ireland;[363] twice the number of the cities that contended for the birth of Homer may now contend for the origin of Newton, on the word of Father Paulian.

 

Philosophical Essays, in three parts. By R. Lovett, Lay Clerk of the Cathedral Church of Worcester. Worcester, 1766, 8vo.
The Electrical Philosopher: containing a new system of physics [ 166 ] founded upon the principle of an universal Plenum of elementary fire.... By R. Lovett, Worcester, 1774, 8vo.

Mr. Lovett[364] was one of those ether philosophers who bring in elastic fluid as an explanation by imposition of words, without deducing any one phenomenon from what we know of it. And yet he says that attraction has received no support from geometry; though geometry, applied to a particular law of attraction, had shown how to predict the motions of the bodies of the solar system. He, and many of his stamp, have not the least idea of the confirmation of a theory by accordance of deduced results with observation posterior to the theory.

 

BAILLY'S EXAGGERATED VIEW OF ASTRONOMY.[edit]

Lettres sur l'Atlantide de Platon, et sur l'ancien Histoire de l'Asie, pour servir de suite aux lettres sur l'origine des Sciences, adressées à M. de Voltaire, par M. Bailly.[365] London and Paris, 1779, 8vo.

I might enter here all Bailly's histories of astronomy.[366] The paradox which runs through them all more or less, is the doctrine that astronomy is of immense antiquity, coming from some forgotten source, probably the drowned island of Plato, peopled by a race whom Bailly makes, as has [ 167 ] been said, to teach us everything except their existence and their name. These books, the first scientific histories which belong to readable literature, made a great impression by power of style: Delambre created a strong reaction, of injurious amount, in favor of history founded on contemporary documents, which early astronomy cannot furnish. These letters are addressed to Voltaire, and continue the discussion. There is one letter of Voltaire, being the fourth, dated Feb. 27, 1777, and signed "le vieux malade de Ferney, V. puer centum annorum."[367] Then begin Bailly's letters, from January 16 to May 12, 1778. From some ambiguous expressions in the Preface, it would seem that these are fictitious letters, supposed to be addressed to Voltaire at their dates. Voltaire went to Paris February 10, 1778, and died there May 30. Nearly all this interval was his closing scene, and it is very unlikely that Bailly would have troubled him with these letters.[368]

 

An inquiry into the cause of motion, or a general theory of physics. By S. Miller. London, 1781, 4to

Newton all wrong: matter consists of two kinds of particles, one inert, the other elastic and capable of expanding themselves ad infinitum.

 

SAINT-MARTIN ON ERRORS AND TRUTH.[edit]

Des Erreurs et de la Vérité, ou les hommes rappelés au principe universel de la science; ouvrage dans lequel, en faisant remarquer aux observateurs l'incertitude de leurs recherches, et leurs méprises continuelles, on leur indique la route qu'ils auroient dû suivre, pour acquérir l'évidence physique sur l'origine du bien et du mal, sur l'homme, sur la nature matérielle, et la nature sacrée; sur la base des gouvernements [ 168 ] politiques, sur l'autorité des souverains, sur la justice civile et criminelle, sur les sciences, les langues, et les arts. Par un Ph.... Inc.... A Edimbourg. 1782.[369] Two vols. 8vo.

This is the famous work of Louis Claude de Saint-Martin[370] (1743-1803), for whose other works, vagaries included, the reader must look elsewhere: among other things, he was a translator of Jacob Behmen.[371] The title promises much, and the writer has smart thoughts now and then; but the whole is the wearisome omniscience of the author's day and country, which no reader of our time can tolerate. Not that we dislike omniscience; but we have it of our own country, both home-made and imported; and fashions vary. But surely there can be but one omniscience? Must a man have but one wife? Nay, may not a man have a new wife while the old one is living? There was a famous instrumental professor forty years ago, who presented a friend to Madame ——. The friend started, and looked surprised; for, not many weeks before, he had been presented to another lady, with the same title, at Paris. The musician observed his surprise, and quietly said, "Celle-ci est Madame —— de Londres." In like manner we have a London omniscience now current, which would make any one start who only knew the old French article.

The book was printed at Lyons, but it was a trick of French authors to pretend to be afraid of prosecution: it [ 169 ] made a book look wicked-like to have a feigned place of printing, and stimulated readers. A Government which had undergone Voltaire would never have drawn its sword upon quiet Saint-Martin. To make himself look still worse, he was only ph[ilosophe] Inc...., which is generally read Inconnu[372] but sometimes Incrédule; [373] most likely the ambiguity was intended. There is an awful paradox about the book, which explains, in part, its leaden sameness. It is all about l'homme, l'homme, l'homme,[374] except as much as treats of les hommes, les hommes, les hommes;[375] but not one single man is mentioned by name in its 500 pages. It reminds one of

"Water, water everywhere,
And not a drop to drink."

Not one opinion of any other man is referred to, in the way of agreement or of opposition. Not even a town is mentioned: there is nothing which brings a capital letter into the middle of a sentence, except, by the rarest accident, such a personification as Justice. A likely book to want an Edimbourg godfather!

Saint-Martin is great in mathematics. The number four essentially belongs to straight lines, and nine to curves. The object of a straight line is to perpetuate ad infinitum the production of a point from which it emanates. A circle ○ bounds the production of all its radii, tends to destroy them, and is in some sort their enemy. How is it possible that things so distinct should not be distinguished in their number as well as in their action? If this important observation had been made earlier, immense trouble would have been saved to the mathematicians, who would have been prevented from searching for a common measure to lines which have nothing in common. But, though all straight lines have the number four, it must not be supposed that they are all equal, for a line is the result of its law and [ 170 ] its number; but though both are the same for all lines of a sort, they act differently, as to force, energy, and duration, in different individuals; which explains all differences of length, etc. I congratulate the reader who understands this; and I do not pity the one who does not.

Saint-Martin and his works are now as completely forgotten as if they had never been born, except so far as this, that some one may take up one of the works as of heretical character, and lay it down in disappointment, with the reflection that it is as dull as orthodoxy. For a person who was once in some vogue, it would be difficult to pick out a more fossil writer, from Aa to Zypœus, except,—though it is unusual for (,—) to represent an interval of more than a year—his unknown opponent. This opponent, in the very year of the Des Erreurs ... published a book in two parts with the same fictitious place of printing;

Tableau Naturel des Rapports qui existent entre Dieu, l'Homme, et l'Univers. A Edimbourg, 1782, 8vo.[376]

There is a motto from the Des Erreurs itself, "Expliquer les choses par l'homme, et non l'homme par les choses. Des Erreurs et de la Vérité, par un PH.... INC...., p. 9."[377] This work is set down in various catalogues and biographies as written by the PH.... INC.... himself. But it is not usual for a writer to publish two works in the same year, one of which takes a motto from the other. And the second work is profuse in capitals and italics, and uses Hebrew learning: its style differs much from the first work. The first work sets out from man, and has nothing to do with God: the second is religious and raps the knuckles of the first as follows: "Si nous voulons nous préserver de toutes [ 171 ] les illusions, et surtout des amorces de l'orgueil par lesquelles l'homme est si souvent séduit, ne prenons jamais les hommes, mais toujours Dieu pour notre terme de comparaison."[378] The first uses four and nine in various ways, of which I have quoted one: the second says, "Et ici se trouve déjà une explication des nombres quatre et neuf, qui ont peu embarrassé dans l'ouvrage déjà cité. L'homme s'est égaré en allant de quatre à neuf...."[379] The work cited is the Erreurs, etc., and the citation is in the motto, which is the text of the opposition sermon.

 

A FORERUNNER OF THE METRIC SYSTEM.[edit]

Method to discover the difference of the earth's diameters; proving its true ratio to be not less variable than as 45 is to 46, and shortest in its pole's axis 174 miles.... likewise a method for fixing an universal standard for weights and measures. By Thomas Williams.[380] London, 1788, 8vo.

Mr. Williams was a paradoxer in his day, and proposed what was, no doubt, laughed at by some. He proposed the sort of plan which the French—independently of course—carried into effect a few years after. He would have the 52d degree of latitude divided into 100,000 parts and each part a geographical yard. The geographical ton was to be the cube of a geographical yard filled with sea-water taken some leagues from land. All multiples and sub-divisions were to be decimal.

I was beginning to look up those who had made similar proposals, when a learned article on the proposal of a [ 172 ] metrical system came under my eye in the Times of Sept. 15, 1863. The author cites Mouton,[381] who would have the minute of a degree divided into 10,000 virgulæ; James Cassini,[382] whose foot was to be six thousandths of a minute; and Paucton,[383] whose foot was the 400,000th of a degree. I have verified the first and third statements; surely the second ought to be the six-thousandth.

 

An inquiry into the Copernican system ... wherein it is proved, in the clearest manner, that the earth has only her diurnal motion ... with an attempt to point out the only true way whereby mankind can receive any real benefit from the study of the heavenly bodies. By John Cunningham.[384] London, 1789, 8vo.

The "true way" appears to be the treatment of heaven and earth as emblematical of the Trinity.

 

Cosmology. An inquiry into the cause of what is called gravitation or attraction, in which the motions of the heavenly bodies, and the preservation and operations of all nature, are deduced from an universal principle of efflux and reflux. By T. Vivian,[385] vicar of Cornwood, Devon. Bath, 1792, 12mo.

[ 173 ]

Attraction, an influx of matter to the sun; centrifugal force, the solar rays; cohesion, the pressure of the atmosphere. The confusion about centrifugal force, so called, as demanding an external agent, is very common.

 

THOMAS PAINE'S RIGHTS OF MAN.[edit]

The rights of Man, being an answer to Mr. Burke's attack on the French Revolution.[386] By Thomas Paine.[387] In two parts. 1791-1792. 8vo. (Various editions.)[388]
A vindication of the rights of Woman, with strictures on political and moral subjects. By Mary Wollstonecraft.[389] 1792. 8vo.
A sketch of the rights of Boys and Girls. By Launcelot Light, of Westminster School; and Lætitia Lookabout, of Queen's Square, Bloomsbury. [By the Rev. Samuel Parr,[390] LL.D.] 1792. 8vo. (pp.64).

When did we three meet before? The first work has sunk into oblivion: had it merited its title, it might have [ 174 ] lived. It is what the French call a pièce de circonstance; it belongs in time to the French Revolution, and in matter to Burke's opinion of that movement. Those who only know its name think it was really an attempt to write a philosophical treatise on what we now call socialism. Silly government prosecutions gave it what it never could have got for itself.

Mary Wollstonecraft seldom has her name spelled right. I suppose the O! O! character she got made her Woolstonecraft. Watt gives double insinuation, for his cross-reference sends us to Goodwin.[391] No doubt the title of the book was an act of discipleship to Paine's Rights of Man; but this title is very badly chosen. The book was marred by it, especially when the authoress and her husband assumed the right of dispensing with legal sanction until the approach of offspring brought them to a sense of their child's interest.[392] Not a hint of such a claim is found in the book, which is mostly about female education. The right claimed for woman is to have the education of a rational human being, and not to be considered as nothing but woman throughout youthful training. The maxims of Mary Wollstonecraft are now, though not derived from her, largely followed in the education of girls, especially in home education: just as many of the political principles of Tom Paine, again not derived from him, are the guides of our actual legislation. I remember, forty years ago, an old lady used to declare that she disliked girls from the age of sixteen to five-and-twenty. "They are full," said she, "of femalities." She spoke of their behavior to women as well as to men. She [ 175 ] would have been shocked to know that she was a follower of Mary Wollstonecraft, and had packed half her book into one sentence.

The third work is a satirical attack on Mary Wollstonecraft and Tom Paine. The details of the attack would convince any one that neither has anything which would now excite reprobation. It is utterly unworthy of Dr. Parr, and has quite disappeared from lists of his works, if it were ever there. That it was written by him I take to be evident, as follows. Nichols,[393] who could not fail to know, says (Anecd., vol. ix, p. 120): "This is a playful essay by a first-rate scholar, who is elsewhere noticed in this volume, but whose name I shall not bring forward on so trifling an occasion." Who the scholar was is made obvious by Master Launcelot being made to talk of Bellendenus.[394] Further, the same boy is made to say, "Let Dr. Parr lay his hand upon his heart, if his conscience will let him, and ask himself how many thousands of wagon-loads of this article [birch] he has cruelly misapplied." How could this apply to Parr, with his handful of private pupils,[395] and no reputation for severity? Any one except himself would have called on the head-master of Westminster or Eton. I doubt whether the name of Parr could be connected with the rod by anything in print, except the above and an anecdote of his pupil, Tom Sheridan.[396] The Doctor had dressed for a dinner visit, and [ 176 ] was ready a quarter of an hour too soon to set off. "Tom," said he, "I think I had better whip you now; you are sure to do something while I am out."—"I wish you would, sir!" said the boy; "it would be a letter of licence for the whole evening." The Doctor saw the force of the retort: my two tutelaries will see it by this time. They paid in advance; and I have given liberal interpretation to the order.

The following story of Dr. Parr was told me and others, about 1829, by the late Leonard Horner,[397] who knew him intimately. Parr was staying in a house full of company, I think in the north of England. Some gentlemen from America were among the guests, and after dinner they disputed some of Parr's assertions or arguments. So the Doctor broke out with "Do you know what country you come from? You come from the place to which we used to send our thieves!" This made the host angry, and he gave Parr such a severe rebuke as sent him from the room in ill-humor. The rest walked on the lawn, amusing the Americans with sketches of the Doctor. There was a dark cloud overhead, and from that cloud presently came a voice which called Tham (Parr-lisp for Sam). The company were astonished for a moment, but thought the Doctor was calling his servant in the house, and that the apparent direction was an illusion arising out of inattention. But presently the sound was repeated, certainly from the cloud,

"And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before."

There was now a little alarm: where could the Doctor have got to? They ran to his bedroom, and there they discovered a sufficient rather than satisfactory explanation. The Doctor had taken his pipe into his bedroom, and had seated himself, in sulky mood, upon the higher bar of a large and deep old-fashioned grate with a high mantelshelf. Here he had [ 177 ] tumbled backwards, and doubled himself up between the bars and the back of the grate. He was fixed tight, and when he called for help, he could only throw his voice up the chimney. The echo from the cloud was the warning which brought his friends to the rescue.

 

ATTACKS ON RELIGIOUS CUSTOMS.[edit]

Days of political paradox were coming, at which we now stare. Cobbett[398] said, about 1830, in earnest, that in the country every man who did not take off his hat to the clergyman was suspected, and ran a fair chance of having something brought against him. I heard this assertion canvassed, when it was made, in a party of elderly persons. The Radicals backed it, the old Tories rather denied it, but in a way which satisfied me they ought to have denied it less if they could not deny it more. But it must be said that the Governments stopped far short of what their partisans would have had them do. All who know Robert Robinson's[399] very quiet assault on church-made festivals in his History and Mystery of Good Friday (1777)[400] will hear or remember with surprise that the British Critic pronounced it a direct, unprovoked, and malicious libel on the most [ 178 ] sacred institutions of the national Church. It was reprinted again and again: in 1811 it was in a cheap form at 6s. 6d. a hundred. When the Jacobin day came, the State was really in a fright: people thought twice before they published what would now be quite disregarded. I examined a quantity of letters addressed to George Dyer[401] (Charles Lamb's G.D.) and what between the autographs of Thelwall, Hardy, Horne Tooke, and all the rebels,[402] put together a packet which produced five guineas, or thereabouts, for the widow. Among them were the following verses, sent by the author—who would not put his name, even in a private letter, for fear of accidents—for consultation whether they could safely be sent to an editor: and they were not sent. The occasion was the public thanksgiving at St. Paul's for the naval victories, December 19, 1797.

"God bless me! what a thing!
Have you heard that the King
Goes to St. Paul's?
[ 179 ]
Good Lord! and when he's there,
He'll roll his eyes in prayer,
To make poor Johnny stare
At this fine thing.
"No doubt the plan is wise
To blind poor Johnny's eyes
By this grand show;
For should he once suppose
That he's led by the nose,
Down the whole fabric goes,
Church, lords, and king.
"As he shouts Duncan's[403] praise,
Mind how supplies they'll raise
In wondrous haste.
For while upon the sea
We gain one victory,
John still a dupe will be
And taxes pay.
"Till from his little store
Three-fourths or even more
Goes to the Crown.
Ah, John! you little think
How fast we downward sink
And touch the fatal brink
At which we're slaves."

I would have indicted the author for not making his thirds and sevenths rhyme. As to the rhythm, it is not much better than what the French sang in the Calais theater when the Duke of Clarence[404] took over Louis XVIII in 1814.

"God save noble Clarence,
Who brings our king to France;
God save Clarence!
He maintains the glory
Of the British navy,
etc., etc."

[ 180 ] Perhaps had this been published, the Government would have assailed it as a libel on the church service. They got into the way of defending themselves by making libels on the Church, of what were libels, if on anything, on the rulers of the State; until the celebrated trials of Hone settled the point for ever, and established that juries will not convict for one offence, even though it have been committed, when they know the prosecution is directed at another offence and another intent.

 

HONE'S FAMOUS TRIALS.[edit]

The results of Hone's trials (William Hone, 1779-1842) are among the important constitutional victories of our century. He published parodies on the Creeds, the Lord's Prayer, the Catechism, etc., with intent to bring the Ministry into contempt: everybody knew that was his purpose. The Government indicted him for impious, profane, blasphemous intent, but not for seditious intent. They hoped to wear him out by proceeding day by day. December 18, 1817, they hid themselves under the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Commandments; December 19, under the Litany; December 20, under the Athanasian Creed, an odd place for shelter when they could not find it in the previous places. Hone defended himself for six, seven, and eight hours on the several days: and the jury acquitted him in 15, 105, and 20 minutes. In the second trial the offense was laid both as profanity and as sedition, which seems to have made the jury hesitate. And they probably came to think that the second count was false pretence: but the length of their deliberation is a satisfactory addition to the value of the whole. In the first trial the Attorney-General (Shepherd) had the impudence to say that the libel had nothing of a political tendency about it, but was avowedly set off against the religion and worship of the Church of England. The whole [ 181 ] is political in every sentence; neither more nor less political than the following, which is part of the parody on the Catechism: "What is thy duty towards the Minister? My duty towards the Minister is, to trust him as much as I can; to honor him with all my words, with all my bows, with all my scrapes, and with all my cringes; to flatter him; to give him thanks; to give up my whole soul to him; to idolize his name, and obey his word, and serve him blindly all the days of his political life." And the parody on the Creed begins, "I believe in George, the Regent almighty, maker of new streets and Knights of the Bath." This is what the Attorney-General said had nothing of a political tendency about it. But this was on the first trial: Hone was not known. The first day's trial was under Justice Abbott (afterwards C. J. Tenterden).[405] It was perfectly understood, when Chief Justice Ellenborough[406] appeared in Court on the second day, that he was very angry at the first result, and put his junior aside to try his own rougher dealing. But Hone tamed the lion. An eye-witness told me that when he implored of Hone not to detail his own father Bishop Law's[407] views on the Athanasian Creed, which humble petition Hone kindly granted, he held by the desk for support. And the same when—which is not reported—the Attorney-General appealed to the Court for protection against a [ 182 ] stinging attack which Hone made on the Bar: he held on, and said, "Mr. Attorney, what can I do!" I was a boy of twelve years old, but so strong was the feeling of exultation at the verdicts that boys at school were not prohibited from seeing the parodies, which would have been held at any other time quite unfit to meet their eyes. I was not able to comprehend all about the Lord Chief Justice until I read and heard again in after years. In the meantime, Joe Miller had given me the story of the leopard which was sent home on board a ship of war, and was in two days made as docile as a cat by the sailors.[408] "You have got that fellow well under," said an officer. "Lord bless your Honor!" said Jack, "if the Emperor of Marocky would send us a cock rhinoceros, we'd bring him to his bearings in no time!" When I came to the subject again, it pleased me to entertain the question whether, if the Emperor had sent a cock rhinoceros to preside on the third day in the King's Bench, Hone would have mastered him: I forget how I settled it. There grew up a story that Hone caused Lord Ellenborough's death, but this could not have been true. Lord Ellenborough resigned his seat in a few months, and died just a year after the trials; but sixty-eight years may have had more to do with it than his defeat.

A large subscription was raised for Hone, headed by the Duke of Bedford[409] for £105. Many of the leading anti-ministerialists joined: but there were many of the other side who avowed their disapprobation of the false pretense. Many could not venture their names. In the list I find: [ 183 ] A member of the House of Lords, an enemy to persecution, and especially to religious persecution employed for political purposes—No parodist, but an enemy to persecution—A juryman on the third day's trial—Ellen Borough—My name would ruin me—Oh! minions of Pitt—Oil for the Hone—The Ghosts of Jeffries[410] and Sir William Roy [Ghosts of Jeffries in abundance]—A conscientious Jury and a conscientious Attorney, £1 6s. 8d.—To Mr. Hone, for defending in his own person the freedom of the press, attacked for a political object, under the old pretense of supporting Religion—A cut at corruption—An Earldom for myself and a translation for my brother—One who disapproves of parodies, but abhors persecution—From a schoolboy who wishes Mr. Hone to have a very grand subscription—"For delicacy's sake forbear," and "Felix trembled"—"I will go myself to-morrow"—Judge Jeffries' works rebound in calf by Law—Keep us from Law, and from the Shepherd's paw—I must not give you my name, but God bless you!—As much like Judge Jeffries as the present times will permit—May Jeffries' fame and Jeffries' fate on every modern Jeffries wait—No parodist, but an admirer of the man who has proved the fallacy of the Lawyer's Law, that when a man is his own advocate he has a fool for his client—A Mussulman who thinks it would not be an impious libel to parody the Koran—May the suspenders of the Habeas Corpus Act be speedily suspended—Three times twelve for thrice-tried Hone, who cleared the cases himself alone, and won three heats by twelve to one, £1 16s.—A conscientious attorney, £1 6s. 8d.—Rev. T. B. Morris, rector of Shelfanger, who disapproves of the parodies, but abhors the making an affected zeal for religion the pretext for political persecution—A Lawyer opposed in principle to [ 184 ] Law—For the Hone that set the razor that shaved the rats—Rev. Dr. Samuel Parr, who most seriously disapproves of all parodies upon the hallowed language of Scripture and the contents of the Prayer-book, but acquits Mr. Hone of intentional impiety, admires his talents and fortitude, and applauds the good sense and integrity of his juries—Religion without hypocrisy, and Law without impartiality—O Law! O Law! O Law!

These are specimens of a great many allusive mottoes. The subscription was very large, and would have bought a handsome annuity, but Hone employed it in the bookselling trade, and did not thrive. His Everyday Book[411] and his Apocryphal New Testament,[412] are useful books. On an annuity he would have thriven as an antiquarian writer and collector. It is well that the attack upon the right to ridicule Ministers roused a dormant power which was equal to the occasion. Hone declared, on his honor, that he had never addressed a meeting in his life, nor spoken a word before more than twelve persons. Had he—which however could not then be done—employed counsel and had a guilty defense made for him, he would very likely have been convicted, and the work would have been left to be done by another. No question that the parodies disgusted all who reverenced Christianity, and who could not separate the serious and the ludicrous, and prevent their existence in combination.

My extracts, etc., are from the nineteenth, seventeenth, and sixteenth editions of the three trials, which seem to have been contemporaneous (all in 1818) as they are made up into one book, with additional title over all, and the motto "Thrice the brindled cat hath mew'd." They are published by Hone himself, who I should have said was a publisher [ 185 ] as well as was to be. And though the trials only ended Dec. 20, 1817, the preface attached to this common title is dated Jan. 23, 1818.[413]

The spirit which was roused against the false dealing of the Government, i.e., the pretense of prosecuting for impiety when all the world knew the real offense was, if anything, sedition—was not got up at the moment: there had been previous exhibitions of it. For example, in the spring of 1818 Mr. Russell, a little printer in Birmingham, was indicted for publishing the Political Litany[414] on which Hone was afterwards tried. He took his witnesses to the summer Warwick assizes, and was told that the indictment had been removed by certiorari into the King's Bench. He had notice of trial for the spring assizes at Warwick: he took his witnesses there, and the trial was postponed by the Crown. He then had notice for the summer assizes at Warwick; and so on. The policy seems to have been to wear out the obnoxious parties, either by delays or by heaping on trials. The Government was odious, and knew it could not get verdicts against ridicule, and could get verdicts against impiety. No difficulty was found in convicting the sellers of Paine's works, and the like. When Hone was held to bail it was seen that a crisis was at hand. All parties in politics furnished him with parodies in proof of religious persons having made instruments of them. The parodies by Addison and Luther were contributed by a Tory lawyer, who was afterwards a judge.

Hone had published, in 1817, tracts of purely political ridicule: Official Account of the Noble Lord's Bite,[415] Trial of the Dog for Biting the Noble Lord, etc. These were not touched. After the trials, it is manifest that Hone was [ 186 ] to be unassailed, do what he might. The Political House that Jack built, in 1819; The Man in the Moon, 1820; The Queen's Matrimonial Ladder, Non mi ricordo, The R—l Fowls, 1820; The Political Showman at Home, with plates by G. Cruickshank,[416] 1821 [he did all the plates]; The Spirit of Despotism, 1821—would have been legitimate marks for prosecution in previous years. The biting caricature of several of these works are remembered to this day. The Spirit of Despotism was a tract of 1795, of which a few copies had been privately circulated with great secrecy. Hone reprinted it, and prefixed the following address to "Robert Stewart, alias Lord Castlereagh"[417]: "It appears to me that if, unhappily, your counsels are allowed much longer to prevail in the Brunswick Cabinet, they will bring on a crisis, in which the king may be dethroned or the people enslaved. Experience has shown that the people will not be enslaved—the alternative is the affair of your employers." Hone might say this without notice.

In 1819 Mr. Murray[418] published Lord Byron's Don Juan,[419] and Hone followed it with Don John, or Don Juan Unmasked, a little account of what the publisher to the Admiralty was allowed to issue without prosecution. The parody on the Commandments was a case very much in point: and Hone makes a stinging allusion to the use of the "unutterable Name, with a profane levity unsurpassed by [ 187 ] any other two lines in the English language." The lines are

"'Tis strange—the Hebrew noun which means 'I am,'
The English always use to govern d——n."

Hone ends with: "Lord Byron's dedication of 'Don Juan' to Lord Castlereagh was suppressed by Mr. Murray from delicacy to Ministers. Q. Why did not Mr. Murray suppress Lord Byron's parody on the Ten Commandments? A. Because it contains nothing in ridicule of Ministers, and therefore nothing that they could suppose would lead to the displeasure of Almighty God."

The little matters on which I have dwelt will never appear in history from their political importance, except in a few words of result. As a mode of thought, silly evasions of all kinds belong to such a work as the present. Ignorance, which seats itself in the chair of knowledge, is a mother of revolutions in politics, and of unread pamphlets in circle-squaring. From 1815 to 1830 the question of revolution or no revolution lurked in all our English discussions. The high classes must govern; the high classes shall not govern; and thereupon issue was to be joined. In 1828-33 the question came to issue; and it was, Revolution with or without civil war; choose. The choice was wisely made; and the Reform Bill started a new system so well dovetailed into the old that the joinings are hardly visible. And now, in 1867, the thing is repeated with a marked subsidence of symptoms; and the party which has taken the place of the extinct Tories is carrying through Parliament a wider extension of the franchise than their opponents would have ventured. Napoleon used to say that a decided nose was a sign of power: on which it has been remarked that he had good reason to say so before the play was done. And so had our country; it was saved from a religious war, and from a civil war, by the power of that nose over its colleagues. [ 188 ]

 

THOMAS TAYLOR, THE PLATONIST.[edit]

The Commentaries of Proclus.[420] Translated by Thomas Taylor.[421] London, 1792, 2 vols. 4to.[422]

The reputation of "the Platonist" begins to grow, and will continue to grow. The most authentic account is in the Penny Cyclopædia, written by one of the few persons who knew him well, and one of the fewer who possess all his works. At page lvi of the Introduction is Taylor's notion of the way to find the circumference. It is not geometrical, for it proceeds on the motion of a point: the words "on account of the simplicity of the impulsive motion, such a line must be either straight or circular" will suffice to show how Platonic it is. Taylor certainly professed a kind of heathenism. D'lsraeli said, "Mr. T. Taylor, the Platonic philosopher and the modern Plethon,[423] consonant to that philosophy, professes polytheism." Taylor printed this in large type, in a page by itself after the dedication, without any disavowal. I have seen the following, Greek and translation both, in his handwriting: "Πᾶς ἀγαθὸς ᾗ ἀγαθὸς ἐθνικός· καὶ πᾶς χριστιανὸς ᾗ χριστιανὸς κακός. Every good man, so far as he is a good man, is a heathen; and every Christian, so far as he is a Christian, is a bad man." Whether Taylor had in his head the Christian of the New Testament, or whether he drew from those members of the "religious world" who make manifest the religious flesh and the religious devil, [ 189 ] cannot be decided by us, and perhaps was not known to himself. If a heathen, he was a virtuous one.

 

A NEW ERA IN FICTION.[edit]

(1795.) This is the date of a very remarkable paradox. The religious world—to use a name claimed by a doctrinal sect—had long set its face against amusing literature, and all works of imagination. Bunyan, Milton, and a few others were irresistible; but a long face was pulled at every attempt to produce something readable for poor people and poor children. In 1795, a benevolent association began to circulate the works of a lady who had been herself a dramatist, and had nourished a pleasant vein of satire in the society of Garrick and his friends; all which is carefully suppressed in some biographies. Hannah More's[424] Cheap Repository Tracts,[425] which were bought by millions of copies, destroyed the vicious publications with which the hawkers deluged the country, by the simple process of furnishing the hawkers with something more saleable.

Dramatic fiction, in which the characters are drawn by themselves, was, at the middle of the last century, the monopoly of writers who required indecorum, such as Fielding and Smollett. All, or nearly all, which could be permitted to the young, was dry narrative, written by people who could not make their personages talk character; they all spoke [ 190 ] alike. The author of the Rambler[426] is ridiculed, because his young ladies talk Johnsonese; but the satirists forget that all the presentable novel-writers were equally incompetent; even the author of Zeluco (1789)[427] is the strongest possible case in point.

Dr. Moore,[428] the father of the hero of Corunna,[429] with good narrative power, some sly humor, and much observation of character, would have been, in our day, a writer of the Peacock[430] family. Nevertheless, to one who is accustomed to our style of things, it is comic to read the dialogue of a jealous husband, a suspected wife, a faithless maid-servant, a tool of a nurse, a wrong-headed pomposity of a priest, and a sensible physician, all talking Dr. Moore through their masks. Certainly an Irish soldier does say "by Jasus," and a cockney footman "this here" and "that there"; and this and the like is all the painting of characters which is effected out of the mouths of the bearers by a narrator of great power. I suspect that some novelists repressed their power under a rule that a narrative should narrate, and that the dramatic should be confined to the drama.

I make no exception in favor of Miss Burney;[431] though she was the forerunner of a new era. Suppose a country [ 191 ] in which dress is always of one color; suppose an importer who brings in cargoes of blue stuff, red stuff, green stuff, etc., and exhibits dresses of these several colors, that person is the similitude of Miss Burney. It would be a delightful change from a universal dull brown, to see one person all red, another all blue, etc.; but the real inventor of pleasant dress would be the one who could mix his colors and keep down the bright and gaudy. Miss Burney's introduction was so charming, by contrast, that she nailed such men as Johnson, Burke, Garrick, etc., to her books. But when a person who has read them with keen pleasure in boyhood, as I did, comes back to them after a long period, during which he has made acquaintance with the great novelists of our century, three-quarters of the pleasure is replaced by wonder that he had not seen he was at a puppet-show, not at a drama. Take some labeled characters out of our humorists, let them be put together into one piece, to speak only as labeled: let there be a Dominie with nothing but "Prodigious!" a Dick Swiveller with nothing but adapted quotations; a Dr. Folliott with nothing but sneers at Lord Brougham;[432] and the whole will pack up into one of Miss Burney's novels.

Maria Edgeworth,[433] Sydney Owenson (Lady Morgan),[434] Jane Austen,[435] Walter Scott,[436] etc., are all of our century; as [ 192 ] are, I believe, all the Minerva Press novels, as they were called, which show some of the power in question. Perhaps dramatic talent found its best encouragement in the drama itself. But I cannot ascertain that any such power was directed at the multitude, whether educated or uneducated, with natural mixture of character, under the restraints of decorum, until the use of it by two religious writers of the school called "evangelical," Hannah More and Rowland Hill.[437] The Village Dialogues, though not equal to the Repository Tracts, are in many parts an approach, and perhaps a copy; there is frequently humorous satire, in that most effective form, self-display. They were published in 1800, and, partly at least, by the Religious Tract Society, the lineal successor of the Repository association, though knowing nothing about its predecessor. I think it right to add that Rowland Hill here mentioned is not the regenerator of the Post Office.[438] Some do not distinguish accurately; I have heard of more than one who took me to have had a logical controversy with a diplomatist who died some years before I was born.

 

THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY.[edit]

A few years ago, an attempt was made by myself and others to collect some information about the Cheap Repository (see Notes and Queries, 3d Series, vi. 241, 290, 353; Christian Observer, Dec. 1864, pp. 944-49). It appeared that after the Religious Tract Society had existed more than fifty years, a friend presented it with a copy of the original prospectus of the Repository, a thing the existence of which was not known. In this prospectus it is announced that from the plan "will be carefully excluded whatever is enthusiastic, absurd, or superstitious." The "evangelical" [ 193 ] party had, from the foundation of the Religious Tract Society, regretted that the Repository Tracts "did not contain a fuller statement of the great evangelical principles"; while in the prospectus it is also stated that "no cause of any particular party is intended to be served by it, but general Christianity will be promoted upon practical principles." This explains what has often been noticed, that the tracts contain a mild form of "evangelical" doctrine, free from that more fervid dogmatism which appears in the Village Dialogues; and such as H. More's friend, Bishop Porteus[439]—a great promoter of the scheme—might approve. The Religious Tract Society (in 1863) republished some of H. More's tracts, with alterations, additions, and omissions ad libitum. This is an improper way of dealing with the works of the dead; especially when the reprints are of popular works. A small type addition to the preface contains: "Some alterations and abridgements have been made to adapt them to the present times and the aim of the Religious Tract Society." I think every publicity ought to be given to the existence of such a practice; and I reprint what I said on the subject in Notes and Queries.

Alterations in works which the Society republishes are a necessary part of their plan, though such notes as they should judge to be corrective would be the best way of proceeding. But the fact of alteration should be very distinctly announced on the title of the work itself, not left to a little bit of small type at the end of the preface, in the place where trade advertisements, or directions to the binder, are often found. And the places in which alteration has been made should be pointed out, either by marks of omission, when omission is the alteration, or by putting the altered sentences in brackets, when change has been made. May any one alter the works of the dead at his own discretion? [ 194 ] We all know that readers in general will take each sentence to be that of the author whose name is on the title; so that a correcting republisher makes use of his author's name to teach his own variation. The tortuous logic of "the trade," which is content when "the world" is satisfied, is not easily answered, any more than an eel is easily caught; but the Religious Tract Society may be convinced [in the old sense] in a sentence. On which course would they feel most safe in giving their account to the God of truth? "In your own conscience, now?"

I have tracked out a good many of the variations made by the Religious Tract Society in the recently published volume of Repository Tracts. Most of them are doctrinal insertions or amplifications, to the matter of which Hannah More would not have objected—all that can be brought against them is the want of notice. But I have found two which the respect I have for the Religious Tract Society, in spite of much difference on various points, must not prevent my designating as paltry. In the story of Mary Wood, a kind-hearted clergyman converses with the poor girl who has ruined herself by lying. In the original, he "assisted her in the great work of repentance;" in the reprint it is to be shown in some detail how he did this. He is to begin by pointing out that "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." Now the clergyman's name is Heartwell: so to prevent his name from contradicting his doctrine, he is actually cut down to Harwell. Hannah Moore meant this good man for one of those described in Acts xv. 8, 9, and his name was appropriate.

Again, Mr. Flatterwell, in persuasion of Parley the porter to let him into the castle, declares that the worst he will do is to "play an innocent game of cards just to keep you awake, or sing a cheerful song with the maids." Oh fie! Miss Hannah More! and you a single lady too, and a contemporary of the virtuous Bowdler![440] Though Flatterwell be an [ 195 ] allegory of the devil, this is really too indecorous, even for him. Out with the three last words! and out it is.

The Society cuts a poor figure before a literary tribunal. Nothing was wanted except an admission that the remarks made by me were unanswerable, and this was immediately furnished by the Secretary (N. and Q., 3d S., vi. 290). In a reply of which six parts out of seven are a very amplified statement that the Society did not intend to reprint all Hannah More's tracts, the remaining seventh is as follows:

"I am not careful [perhaps this should be careful not] to notice Professor De Morgan's objections to the changes in 'Mary Wood' or 'Parley the Porter,' but would merely reiterate that the tracts were neither designed nor announced to be 'reprints' of the originals [design is only known to the designers; as to announcement, the title is Tis all for the best, The Shepherd of Salisbury Plain, and other narratives by Hannah More']; and much less [this must be careful not; further removed from answer than not careful] can I occupy your space by a treatise on the Professor's question: 'May any one alter the works of the dead at his own discretion?'"

To which I say: Thanks for help!

I predict that Hannah More's Cheap Repository Tracts will somewhat resemble the Pilgrim's Progress in their fate. Written for the cottage, and long remaining in their original position, they will become classical works of their kind. Most assuredly this will happen if my assertion cannot be upset, namely, that they contain the first specimens of fiction addressed to the world at large, and widely circulated, in which dramatic—as distinguished from puppet—power is shown, and without indecorum.

[ 196 ]

According to some statements I have seen, but which I have not verified, other publishing bodies, such as the Christian Knowledge Society, have taken the same liberty with the names of the dead as the Religious Tract Society. If it be so, the impropriety is the work of the smaller spirits who have not been sufficiently overlooked. There must be an overwhelming majority in the higher councils to feel that, whenever altered works are published, the fact of alteration should be made as prominent as the name of the author. Everything short of this is suppression of truth, and will ultimately destroy the credit of the Society. Equally necessary is it that the alterations should be noted. When it comes to be known that the author before him is altered, he knows not where nor how nor by whom, the lowest reader will lose his interest.

 

A TRIBUTE TO WILLIAM FREND.[edit]

The principles of Algebra. By William Frend.[441] London, 1796, 8vo. Second Part, 1799.

This Algebra, says Dr. Peacock,[442] shows "great distrust [ 197 ] of the results of algebraical science which were in existence at the time when it was written." Truly it does; for, as Dr. Peacock had shown by full citation, it makes war of extermination upon all that distinguishes algebra from arithmetic. Robert Simson[443] and Baron Maseres[444] were Mr. Frend's predecessors in this opinion.

The genuine respect which I entertained for my father-in-law did not prevent my canvassing with perfect freedom his anti-algebraical and anti-Newtonian opinions, in a long obituary memoir read at the Astronomical Society in February 1842, which was written by me. It was copied into the Athenæum of March 19. It must be said that if the manner in which algebra was presented to the learner had been true algebra, he would have been right: and if he had confined himself to protesting against the imposition of attraction as a fundamental part of the existence of matter, he would have been in unity with a great many, including Newton himself. I wish he had preferred amendment to rejection when he was a college tutor: he wrote and spoke English with a clearness which is seldom equaled.

His anti-Newtonian discussions are confined to the preliminary chapters of his Evening Amusements,[445] a series of astronomical lessons in nineteen volumes, following the moon through a period of the golden numbers.

There is a mistake about him which can never be destroyed. It is constantly said that, at his celebrated trial in 1792, for sedition and opposition to the Liturgy, etc., he was expelled from the University. He was banished. People cannot see the difference; but it made all the difference to [ 198 ] Mr. Frend. He held his fellowship and its profits till his marriage in 1808, and was a member of the University and of its Senate till his death in 1841, as any Cambridge Calendar up to 1841 will show. That they would have expelled him if they could, is perfectly true; and there is a funny story—also perfectly true—about their first proceedings being under a statute which would have given the power, had it not been discovered during the proceedings that the statute did not exist. It had come so near to existence as to be entered into the Vice-Chancellor's book for his signature, which it wanted, as was not seen till Mr. Frend exposed it: in fact, the statute had never actually passed.

There is an absurd mistake in Gunning's[446] Reminiscences of Cambridge. In quoting a passage of Mr. Frend's pamphlet, which was very obnoxious to the existing Government, it is printed that the poor market-women complained that they were to be scotched a quarter of their wages by taxation; and attention is called to the word by its being three times printed in italics. In the pamphlet it is "sconced"; that very common old word for fined or mulcted.

Lord Lyndhurst,[447] who has [1863] just passed away under a load of years and honors, was Mr. Frend's private pupil at Cambridge. At the time of the celebrated trial, he and two others amused themselves, and vented the feeling which was very strong among the undergraduates, by chalking the walls of Cambridge with "Frend for ever!" While thus engaged in what, using the term legally, we are probably to call his first publication, he and his friends were surprised by the proctors. Flight and chase followed of course: Copley and one of the others, Serjeant Rough,[448] escaped: the [ 199 ] third, whose name I forget, but who afterwards, I have been told was a bishop,[449] being lame, was captured and impositioned. Looking at the Cambridge Calendar to verify the fact that Copley was an undergraduate at the time, I find that there are but two other men in the list of honors of his year whose names are now widely remembered. And they were both celebrated schoolmasters; Butler[450] of Harrow, and Tate[451] of Richmond.

But Mr. Frend had another noted pupil. I once had a conversation with a very remarkable man, who was generally called "Place,[452] the tailor," but who was politician, political economist, etc., etc. He sat in the room above his shop—he was then a thriving master tailor at Charing Cross—surrounded by books enough for nine, to shame a proverb. The blue books alone, cut up into strips, would have measured Great Britain for oh-no-we-never-mention-'ems, the Highlands included. I cannot find a biography of this worthy and able man. I happened to mention William Frend, and he said, "Ah! my old master, as I always call him. Many and many a time, and year after year, did he come in every [ 200 ] now and then to give me instruction, while I was sitting on the board, working for my living, you know."

Place, who really was a sound economist, is joined with Cobbett, because they were together at one time, and because he was, in 1800, etc., a great Radical. But for Cobbett he had a great contempt. He told me the following story. He and others were advising with Cobbett about the defense he was to make on a trial for seditious libel which was coming on. Said Place, "You must put in the letters you have received from Ministers, members of the Commons from the Speaker downwards, etc., about your Register, and their wish to have subjects noted. You must then ask the jury whether a person so addressed must be considered as a common sower of sedition, etc. You will be acquitted; nay, if your intention should get about, very likely they will manage to stop proceedings." Cobbett was too much disturbed to listen; he walked about the room ejaculating "D—— the prison!" and the like. He had not the sense to follow the advice, and was convicted.

Cobbett, to go on with the chain, was a political acrobat, ready for any kind of posture. A friend of mine gave me several times an account of a mission to him. A Tory member—those who know the old Tory world may look for his initials in initials of two consecutive words of "Pay his money with interest"—who was, of course, a political opponent, thought Cobbett had been hardly used, and determined to subscribe handsomely towards the expenses he was incurring as a candidate. My friend was commissioned to hand over the money—a bag of sovereigns, that notes might not be traced. He went into Cobbett's committee-room, told the patriot his errand, and put the money on the table. "And to whom, sir, am I indebted?" said Cobbett. "The donor," was the answer, "is Mr. Andrew Theophilus Smith," or some such unlikely pair of baptismals. "Ah!" said Cobbett, "I have known Mr. A. T. S. a long time! he was always a true friend of his country!" [ 201 ]

To return to Place. He is a noted instance of the advantage of our jury system, which never asks a man's politics, etc. The late King of Hanover, when Duke of Cumberland, being unpopular, was brought under unjust suspicions by the suicide of his valet: he must have seduced the wife and murdered the husband. The charges were as absurd as those brought against the Englishman in the Frenchman's attempt at satirical verses upon him:

"The Englishman is a very bad man;
He drink the beer and he steal the can:
He kiss the wife and he beat the man;
And the Englishman is a very G—— d——."

The charges were revived in a much later day, and the defense might have given some trouble. But Place, who had been the foreman at the inquest, came forward, and settled the question in a few lines. Every one knew that the old Radical was quite free of all disposition to suppress truth from wish to curry favor with royalty.

John Speed,[453] the author of the English History,[454] (1632) which Bishop Nicolson[455] calls the best chronicle extant, was a man, like Place, of no education, but what he gave himself. The bishop says he would have done better if he had a better training: but what, he adds, could have been expected from a tailor! This Speed was, as well as Place. But he was [ 202 ] released from manual labor by Sir Fulk Grevil,[456] who enabled him to study.

 

A STORY ON SIMSON.[edit]

I have elsewhere noticed that those who oppose the mysteries of algebra do not ridicule them; this I want the cyclometers to do. Of the three who wrote against the great point, the negative quantity, and the uses of 0 which are connected with it, only one could fire a squib. That Robert Simson[457] should do such a thing will be judged impossible by all who admit tradition. I do not vouch for the following; I give it as a proof of the impression which prevailed about him:

He used to sit at his open window on the ground floor, as deep in geometry as a Robert Simson ought to be. Here he would be accosted by beggars, to whom he generally gave a trifle, he roused himself to hear a few words of the story, made his donation, and instantly dropped down into his depths. Some wags one day stopped a mendicant who was on his way to the window with "Now, my man, do as we tell you, and you will get something from that gentleman, and a shilling from us besides. You will go and say you are in distress, he will ask you who you are, and you will say you are Robert Simson, son of John Simson of Kirktonhill." The man did as he was told; Simson quietly gave him a coin, and dropped off. The wags watched a little, and saw him rouse himself again, and exclaim "Robert Simson, son of John Simson of Kirktonhill! why, that is myself. That man must be an impostor." Lord Brougham tells the same story, with some difference of details.

[ 203 ]

 

BARON MASERES.[edit]

Baron Maseres[458] was, as a writer, dry; those who knew his writings will feel that he seldom could have taken in a joke or issued a pun. Maseres was the fourth wrangler of 1752, and first Chancellor's medallist (or highest in classics); his second was Porteus[459] (afterward Bishop of London). Waring[460] came five years after him: he could not get Maseres through the second page of his first book on algebra; a negative quantity stood like a lion in the way. In 1758 he published his Dissertation on the Use of the Negative Sign,[461] 4to. There are some who care little about + and -, who would give it house-room for the sake of the four words "Printed by Samuel Richardson."

Maseres speaks as follows: "A single quantity can never be marked with either of those signs, or considered as either affirmative or negative; for if any single quantity, as b, is marked either with the sign + or with the sign - without assigning some other quantity, as a, to which it is to be added, or from which it is to be subtracted, the mark will have no meaning or signification: thus if it be said that the square of -5, or the product of -5 into -5, is equal to +25, such an assertion must either signify no more than that 5 times 5 is equal to 25 without any regard to the signs, or it must be mere nonsense and unintelligible jargon. I speak according to the foregoing definition, by which the affirmativeness or negativeness of any quantity implies a relation to another quantity of the same kind to which it [ 204 ] is added, or from which it is subtracted; for it may perhaps be very clear and intelligible to those who have formed to themselves some other idea of affirmative and negative quantities different from that above defined."

Nothing can be more correct, or more identically logical: +5 and -5, standing alone, are jargon if +5 and -5 are to be understood as without reference to another quantity. But those who have "formed to themselves some other idea" see meaning enough. The great difficulty of the opponents of algebra lay in want of power or will to see extension of terms. Maseres is right when he implies that extension, accompanied by its refusal, makes jargon. One of my paradoxers was present at a meeting of the Royal Society (in 1864, I think) and asked permission to make some remarks upon a paper. He rambled into other things, and, naming me, said that I had written a book in which two sides of a triangle are pronounced equal to the third.[462] So they are, in the sense in which the word is used in complete algebra; in which A + B = C makes A, B, C, three sides of a triangle, and declares that going over A and B, one after the other, is equivalent, in change of place, to going over C at once. My critic, who might, if he pleased, have objected to extension, insisted upon reading me in unextended meaning.

On the other hand, it must be said that those who wrote on the other idea wrote very obscurely about it and justified Des Cartes (De Methodo)[463] when he said: "Algebram vero, ut solet doceri, animadverti certis regulis et numerandi formulis ita esse contentam, ut videatur potius ars quædam confusa, cujus usu ingenium quodam modo turbatur et obscuratur, quam scientia qua excolatur et perspicacius [ 205 ] reddatur."[464] Maseres wrote this sentence on the title of his own work, now before me; he would have made it his motto if he had found it earlier.

There is, I believe, in Cobbett's Annual Register,[465] an account of an interview between Maseres and Cobbett when in prison.

The conversation of Maseres was lively, and full of serious anecdote: but only one attempt at humorous satire is recorded of him; it is an instructive one. He was born in 1731 (Dec. 15), and his father was a refugee. French was the language of the house, with the pronunciation of the time of Louis XIV. He lived until 1824 (May 19), and saw the race of refugees who were driven out by the first Revolution. Their pronunciation differed greatly from his own; and he used to amuse himself by mimicking them. Those who heard him and them had the two schools of pronunciation before them at once; a thing which seldom happens. It might even yet be worth while to examine the Canadian pronunciation.

Maseres went as Attorney-General to Quebec; and was appointed Cursitor Baron of our Exchequer in 1773. There is a curious story about his mission to Canada, which I have heard as good tradition, but have never seen in print. The reader shall have it as cheap as I; and I confess I rather believe it. Maseres was inveterately honest; he could not, at the bar, bear to see his own client victorious, when he knew his cause was a bad one. On a certain occasion he was in a cause which he knew would go against him if a certain case were quoted. Neither the judge nor the opposite counsel seemed to remember this case, and Maseres could not help dropping an allusion which brought it out. [ 206 ] His business as a barrister fell off, of course. Some time after, Mr. Pitt (Chatham) wanted a lawyer to send to Canada on a private mission, and wanted a very honest man. Some one mentioned Maseres, and told the above story: Pitt saw that he had got the man he wanted. The mission was satisfactorily performed, and Maseres remained as Attorney-General.

The Doctrine of Life Annuities[466] (4to, 726 pages, 1783) is a strange paradox. Its size, the heavy dissertations on the national debt, and the depth of algebra supposed known, put it out of the question as an elementary work, and it is unfitted for the higher student by its elaborate attempt at elementary character, shown in its rejection of forms derived from chances in favor of the average, and its exhibition of the separate values of the years of an annuity, as arithmetical illustrations. It is a climax of unsaleability, unreadability, and inutility. For intrinsic nullity of interest, and dilution of little matter with much ink, I can compare this book to nothing but that of Claude de St. Martin, elsewhere mentioned, or the lectures On the Nature and Properties of Logarithms, by James Little,[467] Dublin, 1830, 8vo. (254 heavy pages of many words and few symbols), a wonderful weight of weariness.

The stock of this work on annuities, very little diminished, was given by the author to William Frend, who paid warehouse room for it until about 1835, when he consulted me as to its disposal. As no publisher could be found who would take it as a gift, for any purpose of sale, it was consigned, all but a few copies, to a buyer of waste paper.

Baron Maseres's republications are well known: the Scriptores Logarithmici[468] is a set of valuable reprints, mixed [ 207 ] with much which might better have entered into another collection. It is not so well known that there is a volume of optical reprints, Scriptores Optici, London, 1823, 4to, edited for the veteran of ninety-two by Mr. Babbage[469] at twenty-nine. This excellent volume contains James Gregory, Des Cartes, Halley, Barrow, and the optical writings of Huyghens, the Principia of the undulatory theory. It also contains, by the sort of whim in which such men as Maseres, myself, and some others are apt to indulge, a reprint of "The great new Art of weighing Vanity,"[470] by M. Patrick Mathers, Arch-Bedel to the University of St. Andrews, Glasgow, 1672. Professor Sinclair,[471] of Glasgow, a good man at clearing mines of the water which they did not want, and furnishing cities with water which they did want, seems to have written absurdly about hydrostatics, and to have attacked a certain Sanders,[472] M.A. So Sanders, assisted by James Gregory, published a heavy bit of jocosity about him. This story of the authorship rested on a note made in his [ 208 ] copy by Robert Gray, M.D.; but it has since been fully confirmed by a letter of James Gregory to Collins, in the Macclesfield Correspondence. "There is one Master Sinclair, who did write the Ars Magna et Nova,[473] a pitiful ignorant fellow, who hath lately written horrid nonsense in the hydrostatics, and hath abused a master in the University, one Mr. Sanders, in print. This Mr. Sanders ... is resolved to cause the Bedel of the University to write against him.... We resolve to make excellent sport with him."

On this I make two remarks: First, I have learned from experience that old notes, made in books by their possessors, are statements of high authority: they are almost always confirmed. I do not receive them without hesitation; but I believe that of all the statements about books which rest on one authority, there is a larger percentage of truth in the written word than in the printed word. Secondly, I mourn to think that when the New Zealander picks up his old copy of this book, and reads it by the associations of his own day, he may, in spite of the many assurances I have received that my Athenæum Budget was amusing, feel me to be as heavy as I feel James Gregory and Sanders. But he will see that I knew what was coming, which Gregory did not.

 

MR. FREND'S BURLESQUE.[edit]

It was left for Mr. Frend to prove that an impugner of algebra could attempt ridicule. He was, in 1803, editor of a periodical The Gentleman's Monthly Miscellany, which lasted a few months.[474] To this, among other things, he contributed the following, in burlesque of the use made of 0, to which he objected.[475] The imitation of Rabelais, a writer [ 209 ] in whom he delighted, is good: to those who have never dipped, it may give such a notion as they would not easily get elsewhere. The point of the satire is not so good. But in truth it is not easy to make pungent scoffs upon what is common sense to all mankind. Who can laugh with effect at six times nothing is nothing, as false or unintelligible? In an article intended for that undistinguishing know-0 the "general reader," there would have been no force of satire, if division by 0 had been separated from multiplication by the same.

I have followed the above by another squib, by the same author, on the English language. The satire is covertly aimed at theological phraseology; and any one who watches this subject will see that it is a very just observation that the Greek words are not boiled enough.

Pantagruel's Decision of the Question about Nothing.

"Pantagruel determined to have a snug afternoon with Epistemon and Panurge. Dinner was ordered to be set in a small parlor, and a particular batch of Hermitage with some choice Burgundy to be drawn from a remote corner of the cellar upon the occasion. By way of lunch, about an hour before dinner, Pantagruel was composing his stomach with German sausages, reindeer's tongues, oysters, brawn, and half a dozen different sorts of English beer just come into fashion, when a most thundering knocking was heard at the great gate, and from the noise they expected it to announce the arrival at least of the First Consul, or king Gargantua. Panurge was sent to reconnoiter, and after a quarter of an hour's absence, returned with the news that the University of Pontemaca was waiting his highness's leisure in the great hall, to propound a question which [ 210 ] had turned the brains of thirty-nine students, and had flung twenty-seven more into a high fever. With all my heart, says Pantagruel, and swallowed down three quarts of Burton ale; but remember, it wants but an hour of dinner time, and the question must be asked in as few words as possible; for I cannot deprive myself of the pleasure I expected to enjoy in the company of my good friends for a set of mad-headed masters. I wish brother John was here to settle these matters with the black gentry.

"Having said or rather growled this, he proceeded to the hall of ceremony, and mounted his throne; Epistemon and Panurge standing on each side, but two steps below him. Then advanced to the throne the three beadles of the University of Pontemaca with their silver staves on their shoulders, and velvet caps on their heads, and they were followed by three times three doctors, and thrice three times three masters of art; for everything was done in Pontemaca by the number three, and on this account the address was written on parchment, one foot in breadth, and thrice three times thrice three feet in length. The beadles struck the ground with their heads and their staves three times in approaching the throne; the doctors struck the ground with their heads thrice three times, and the masters did the same thrice each time, beating the ground with their heads thrice three times. This was the accustomed form of approaching the throne, time out of mind, and it was said to be emblematic of the usual prostration of science to the throne of greatness.

"The mathematical professor, after having spit, and hawked, and cleared his throat, and blown his nose on a handkerchief lent to him, for he had forgotten to bring his own, began to read the address. In this he was assisted by three masters of arts, one of whom, with a silver pen, pointed out the stops; the second with a small stick rapped his knuckles when he was to raise or lower his voice; and a third pulled his hair behind when he was to look Pantagruel in the face. Pantagruel began to chafe like a lion: [ 211 ] he turned first on one side, then on the other: he listened and groaned, and groaned and listened, and was in the utmost cogitabundity of cogitation. His countenance began to brighten, when, at the end of an hour, the reader stammered out these words:

"'It has therefore been most clearly proved that as all matter may be divided into parts infinitely smaller than the infinitely smallest part of the infinitesimal of nothing, so nothing has all the properties of something, and may become, by just and lawful right, susceptible of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, squaring, and cubing: that it is to all intents and purposes as good as anything that has been, is, or can be taught in the nine universities of the land, and to deprive it of its rights is a most cruel innovation and usurpation, tending to destroy all just subordination in the world, making all universities superfluous, leveling vice-chancellors, doctors, and proctors, masters, bachelors, and scholars, to the mean and contemptible state of butchers and tallow-chandlers, bricklayers and chimney-sweepers, who, if it were not for these learned mysteries, might think that they knew as much as their betters. Every one then, who has the good of science at heart, must pray for the interference of his highness to put a stop to all the disputes about nothing, and by his decision to convince all gainsayers that the science of nothing is taught in the best manner in the universities, to the great edification and improvement of all the youth in the land.'

"Here Pantagruel whispered in the ear of Panurge, who nodded to Epistemon, and they two left the assembly, and did not return for an hour, till the orator had finished his task. The three beadles had thrice struck the ground with their heads and staves, the doctors had finished their compliments, and the masters were making their twenty-seven prostrations. Epistemon and Panurge went up to Pantagruel, whom they found fast asleep and snoring; nor could he be roused but by as many tugs as there had been [ 212 ] bowings from the corps of learning. At last he opened his eyes, gave a good stretch, made half a dozen yawns, and called for a stoup of wine. I thank you, my masters, says he; so sound a nap I have not had since I came from the island of Priestfolly. Have you dined, my masters? They answered the question by as many bows as at entrance; but his highness left them to the care of Panurge, and retired to the little parlor with Epistemon, where they burst into a fit of laughter, declaring that this learned Baragouin about nothing was just as intelligible as the lawyer's Galimathias. Panurge conducted the learned body into a large saloon, and each in his way hearing a clattering of plates and glasses, congratulated himself on his approaching good cheer. There they were left by Panurge, who took his chair by Pantagruel just as the soup was removed, but he made up for the want of that part of his dinner by a pint of champagne. The learning of the university had whetted their appetites; what they each ate it is needless to recite; good wine, good stories, and hearty laughs went round, and three hours elapsed before one soul of them recollected the hungry students of Pontemaca.

"Epistemon reminded them of the business in hand, and orders were given for a fresh dozen of hermitage to be put upon table, and the royal attendants to get ready. As soon as the dozen bottles were emptied, Pantagruel rose from table, the royal trumpets sounded, and he was accompanied by the great officers of his court into the large dining hall, where was a table with forty-two covers. Pantagruel sat at the head, Epistemon at the bottom, and Panurge in the middle, opposite an immense silver tureen, which would hold fifty gallons of soup. The wise men of Pontemaca then took their seats according to seniority. Every countenance glistened with delight; the music struck up; the dishes were uncovered. Panurge had enough to do to handle the immense silver ladle: Pantagruel and Epistemon had no time for eating, they were fully employed in carving. The bill [ 213 ] of fare announced the names of a hundred different dishes. From Panurge's ladle came into the soup plate as much as he took every time out of the tureen; and as it was the rule of the court that every one should appear to eat, as long as he sat at table, there was the clattering of nine and thirty spoons against the silver soup-plates for a quarter of an hour. They were then removed, and knives and forks were in motion for half an hour. Glasses were continually handed round in the mean time, and then everything was removed, except the great tureen of soup. The second course was now served up, in dispatching which half an hour was consumed; and at the conclusion the wise men of Pontemaca had just as much in their stomachs as Pantagruel in his head from their address: for nothing was cooked up for them in every possible shape that Panurge could devise.

"Wine-glasses, large decanters, fruit dishes, and plates were now set on. Pantagruel and Epistemon alternately gave bumper toasts: the University of Pontemaca, the eye of the world, the mother of taste and good sense and universal learning, the patroness of utility, and the second only to Pantagruel in wisdom and virtue (for these were her titles), was drank standing with thrice three times three, and huzzas and clattering of glasses; but to such wine the wise men of Pontemaca had not been accustomed; and though Pantagruel did not suffer one to rise from table till the eighty-first glass had been emptied, not even the weakest headed master of arts felt his head in the least indisposed. The decanters indeed were often removed, but they were brought back replenished, filled always with nothing.

"Silence was now proclaimed, and in a trice Panurge leaped into the large silver tureen. Thence he made his bows to Pantagruel and the whole company, and commenced an oration of signs, which lasted an hour and a half, and in which he went over all the matter contained in the Pontemaca address; and though the wise men looked very serious during the whole time, Pantagruel himself and his whole [ 214 ] court could not help indulging in repeated bursts of laughter. It was universally acknowledged that he excelled himself, and that the arguments by which he beat the English masters of arts at Paris were nothing to the exquisite selection of attitudes which he this day assumed. The greatest shouts of applause were excited when he was running thrice round the tureen on its rim, with his left hand holding his nose, and the other exercising itself nine and thirty times on his back. In this attitude he concluded with his back to the professor of mathematics; and at the instant he gave his last flap, by a sudden jump, and turning heels over head in the air, he presented himself face to face to the professor, and standing on his left leg, with his left hand holding his nose, he presented to him, in a white satin bag, Pantagruel's royal decree. Then advancing his right leg, he fixed it on the professor's head, and after three turns, in which he clapped his sides with both hands thrice three times, down he leaped, and Pantagruel, Epistemon, and himself took their leaves of the wise men of Pontemaca.

"The wise men now retired, and by royal orders were accompanied by a guard, and according to the etiquette of the court, no one having a royal order could stop at any public house till it was delivered. The procession arrived at Pontemaca at nine o'clock the next morning, and the sound of bells from every church and college announced their arrival. The congregation was assembled; the royal decree was saluted in the same manner as if his highness had been there in person; and after the proper ceremonies had been performed, the satin bag was opened exactly at twelve o'clock. A finely emblazoned roll was drawn forth, and the public orator read to the gaping assembly the following words:

"'They who can make something out of nothing shall have nothing to eat at the court of—Pantagruel.'" [ 215 ]

Origin of the English Language, related by a Swede.

"Some months ago in a party in Holland, consisting of natives of various countries, the merit of their respective languages became a topic of conversation. A Swede, who had been a great traveler, and could converse in most of the modern languages of Europe, laughed very heartily at an Englishman, who had ventured to speak in praise of the tongue of his dear country. I never had any trouble, says he, in learning English. To my very great surprise, the moment I sat foot on shore at Gravesend, I found out, that I could understand, with very little trouble, every word that was said. It was a mere jargon, made up of German, French, and Italian, with now and then a word from the Spanish, Latin or Greek. I had only to bring my mouth to their mode of speaking, which was done with ease in less than a week, and I was everywhere taken for a true-born Englishman; a privilege by the way of no small importance in a country, where each man, God knows why, thinks his foggy island superior to any other part of the world: and though his door is never free from some dun or other coming for a tax, and if he steps out of it he is sure to be knocked down or to have his pocket picked, yet he has the insolence to think every foreigner a miserable slave, and his country the seat of everything wretched. They may talk of liberty as they please, but Spain or Turkey for my money: barring the bowstring and the inquisition, they are the most comfortable countries under heaven, and you need not be afraid of either, if you do not talk of religion and politics. I do not see much difference too in this respect in England, for when I was there, one of their most eminent men for learning was put in prison for a couple of years, and got his death for translating one of Æsop's fables into English, which every child in Spain and Turkey is taught, as soon as he comes out of his leading strings. Here all the company unanimously cried out against the Swede, that it was [ 216 ] impossible: for in England, the land of liberty, the only thing its worst enemies could say against it, was, that they paid for their liberty a much greater price than it was worth.—Every man there had a fair trial according to laws, which everybody could understand; and the judges were cool, patient, discerning men, who never took the part of the crown against the prisoner, but gave him every assistance possible for his defense.

"The Swede was borne down, but not convinced; and he seemed determined to spit out all his venom. Well, says he, at any rate you will not deny that the English have not got a language of their own, and that they came by it in a very odd way. Of this at least I am certain, for the whole history was related to me by a witch in Lapland, whilst I was bargaining for a wind. Here the company were all in unison again for the story.

"In ancient times, said the old hag, the English occupied a spot in Tartary, where they lived sulkily by themselves, unknowing and unknown. By a great convulsion that took place in China, the inhabitants of that and the adjoining parts of Tartary were driven from their seats, and after various wanderings took up their abode in Germany. During this time nobody could understand the English, for they did not talk, but hissed like so many snakes. The poor people felt uneasy under this circumstance, and in one of their parliaments, or rather hissing meetings, it was determined to seek a remedy: and an embassy was sent to some of our sisterhood then living on Mount Hecla. They were put to a nonplus, and summoned the Devil to their relief. To him the English presented their petitions, and explained their sad case; and he, upon certain conditions, promised to befriend them, and to give them a language. The poor Devil was little aware of what he had promised; but he is, as all the world knows, a man of too much honor to break his word. Up and down the world then he went in quest of this new language: visited all the universities, and all [ 217 ] the schools, and all the courts of law, and all the play-houses, and all the prisons; never was poor devil so fagged. It would have made your heart bleed to see him. Thrice did he go round the earth in every parallel of latitude; and at last, wearied and jaded out, back came he to Hecla in despair, and would have thrown himself into the volcano, if he had been made of combustible materials. Luckily at that time our sisters were engaged in settling the balance of Europe; and whilst they were looking over projects, and counter-projects, and ultimatums, and post ultimatums, the poor Devil, unable to assist them was groaning in a corner and ruminating over his sad condition.

"On a sudden, a hellish joy overspread his countenance; up he jumped, and, like Archimedes of old, ran like a madman amongst the throng, turning over tables, and papers, and witches, roaring out for a full hour together nothing else but 'tis found, 'tis found! Away were sent the sisterhood in every direction, some to traverse all the corners of the earth, and others to prepare a larger caldron than had ever yet been set upon Hecla. The affairs of Europe were at a stand: its balance was thrown aside; prime ministers and ambassadors were everywhere in the utmost confusion; and, by the way, they have never been able to find the balance since that time, and all the fine speeches upon the subject, with which your newspapers are every now and then filled, are all mere hocus-pocus and rhodomontade. However, the caldron was soon set on, and the air was darkened by witches riding on broomsticks, bringing a couple of folios under each arm, and across each shoulder. I remember the time exactly: it was just as the council of Nice had broken up, so that they got books and papers there dog cheap; but it was a bad thing for the poor English, as these were the worst materials that entered into the caldron. Besides, as the Devil wanted some amusement, and had not seen an account of the transactions of this famous council, he had all the books brought from it laid before him, and split his sides almost [ 218 ] with laughing, whilst he was reading the speeches and decrees of so many of his old friends and acquaintances. All this while the witches were depositing their loads in the great caldron. There were books from the Dalai Lama, and from China: there were books from the Hindoos, and tallies from the Caffres: there were paintings from Mexico, and rocks of hieroglyphics from Egypt: the last country supplied besides the swathings of two thousand mummies, and four-fifths of the famed library of Alexandria. Bubble! bubble! toil and trouble! never was a day of more labor and anxiety; and if our good master had but flung in the Greek books at the proper time, they would have made a complete job of it. He was a little too impatient: as the caldron frothed up, he skimmed it off with a great ladle, and filled some thousands of our wind-bags with the froth, which the English with great joy carried back to their own country. These bags were sent to every district: the chiefs first took their fill, and then the common people; hence they now speak a language which no foreigner can understand, unless he has learned half a dozen other languages; and the poor people, not one in ten, understand a third part of what is said to them. The hissing, however, they have not entirely got rid of, and every seven years, when the Devil, according to agreement, pays them a visit, they entertain him at their common halls and county meetings with their original language.

"The good-natured old hag told me several other circumstances, relative to this curious transaction, which, as there is an Englishman in company, it will be prudent to pass over in silence: but I cannot help mentioning one thing which she told me as a very great secret. You know, says she to me, that the English have more religions among them than any other nation in Europe, and that there is more teaching and sermonizing with them than in any other country. The fact is this; it matters not who gets up to teach them, the hard words of the Greek were not sufficiently [ 219 ] boiled, and whenever they get into a sentence, the poor people's brains are turned, and they know no more what the preacher is talking about, than if he harangued them in Arabic. Take my word for it if you please; but if not, when you get to England, desire the bettermost sort of people that you are acquainted with to read to you an act of parliament, which of course is written in the clearest and plainest style in which anything can be written, and you will find that not one in ten will be able to make tolerable sense of it. The language would have been an excellent language, if it had not been for the council of Nice, and the words had been well boiled.

"Here the company burst out into a fit of laughter. The Englishman got up and shook hands with the Swede: si non è vero, said he, è ben trovato.[476] But, however I may laugh at it here, I would not advise you to tell this story on the other side of the water. So here's a bumper to Old England for ever, and God save the king."

 

ON YOUTHFUL PRODIGIES.[edit]

The accounts given of extraordinary children and adolescents frequently defy credence.[477] I will give two well-attested instances.

The celebrated mathematician Alexis Claude Clairault (now Clairaut)[478] was certainly born in May, 1713. His treatise on curves of double curvature (printed in 1731)[479] received [ 220 ] the approbation of the Academy of Sciences, August 23, 1729. Fontenelle, in his certificate of this, calls the author sixteen years of age, and does not strive to exaggerate the wonder, as he might have done, by reminding his readers that this work, of original and sustained mathematical investigation, must have been coming from the pen at the ages of fourteen and fifteen. The truth was, as attested by De Molières,[480] Clairaut had given public proofs of his power at twelve years old. His age being thus publicly certified, all doubt is removed: say he had been—though great wonder would still have been left—twenty-one instead of sixteen, his appearance, and the remembrances of his friends, schoolfellows, etc., would have made it utterly hopeless to knock off five years of that age while he was on view in Paris as a young lion. De Molières, who examined the work officially for the Garde des Sceaux, is transported beyond the bounds of official gravity, and says that it "ne mérite pas seulement d'être imprimé, mais d'être admiré comme un prodige d'imagination, de conception, et de capacité."[481]

That Blaise Pascal was born in June, 1623, is perfectly well established and uncontested.[482] That he wrote his conic sections at the age of sixteen might be difficult to establish, though tolerably well attested, if it were not for [ 221 ] one circumstance, for the book was not published. The celebrated theorem, "Pascal's hexagram,"[483] makes all the rest come very easy. Now Curabelle,[484] in a work published in 1644, sneers at Desargues,[485] whom he quotes, for having, in 1642, deferred a discussion until "cette grande proposition nommée le Pascale verra le jour."[486] That is, by the time Pascal was nineteen, the hexagram was circulating under a name derived from the author. The common story about Pascal, given by his sister,[487] is an absurdity which no doubt has prejudiced many against tales of early proficiency. He is made, when quite a boy, to invent geometry in the order of Euclid's propositions: as if that order were natural sequence of investigation. The hexagram at ten years old would be a hundred times less unlikely.

The instances named are painfully astonishing: I give one which has fallen out of sight, because it will preserve an imperfect biography. John Wilson[488] is Wilson of that [ 222 ] Ilk, that is, of "Wilson's Theorem." It is this: if p be a prime number, the product of all the numbers up to p-1, increased by 1, is divisible without remainder by p. All mathematicians know this as Wilson's theorem, but few know who Wilson was. He was born August 6, 1741, at the Howe in Applethwaite, and he was heir to a small estate at Troutbeck in Westmoreland. He was sent to Peterhouse, at Cambridge, and while an undergraduate was considered stronger in algebra than any one in the University, except Professor Waring, one of the most powerful algebraists of the century.[489] He was the senior wrangler of 1761, and was then for some time a private tutor. When Paley,[490] then in his third year, determined to make a push for the senior wranglership, which he got, Wilson was recommended to him as a tutor. Both were ardent in their work, except that sometimes Paley, when he came for his lesson, would find "Gone a fishing" written on his tutor's outer door: which was insult added to injury, for Paley was very fond of fishing. Wilson soon left Cambridge, and went to the bar. He practised on the northern circuit with great success; and, one day, while passing his vacation on his little property at Troutbeck, he received information, to his great surprise, that Lord Thurlow,[491] with whom he had [ 223 ] no acquaintance, had recommended him to be a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. He died, Oct. 18, 1793, with a very high reputation as a lawyer and a Judge. These facts are partly from Meadley's Life of Paley,[492] no doubt from Paley himself, partly from the Gentleman's Magazine, and from an epitaph written by Bishop Watson.[493] Wilson did not publish anything: the theorem by which he has cut his name in the theory of numbers was communicated to Waring, by whom it was published. He married, in 1788, a daughter of Serjeant Adair,[494] and left issue. Had a family, many will say: but a man and his wife are a family, even without children. An actuary may be allowed to be accurate in this matter, of which I was reminded by what an actuary wrote of another actuary. William Morgan,[495] in the life of his uncle Dr. Richard Price,[496] says that the Doctor and his [ 224 ] wife were "never blessed with an addition to their family." I never met with such accuracy elsewhere. Of William Morgan I add that my surname and pursuits have sometimes, to my credit be it said, made a confusion between him and me. Dates are nothing to the mistaken; the last three years of Morgan's life were the first three years of my actuary-life (1830-33). The mistake was to my advantage as well as to my credit. I owe to it the acquaintance of one of the noblest of the human race, I mean Elizabeth Fry,[497] who came to me for advice about a philanthropic design, which involved life questions, under a general impression that some Morgan had attended to such things.[498]

[ 225 ]

 

NEWTON AGAIN OVERTHROWN.[edit]

A treatise on the sublime science of heliography, satisfactorily demonstrating our great orb of light, the sun, to be absolutely no other than a body of ice! Overturning all the received systems of the universe hitherto extant; proving the celebrated and indefatigable Sir Isaac Newton, in his theory of the solar system, to be as far distant from the truth, as many of the heathen authors of Greece and Rome. By Charles Palmer,[499] Gent. London, 1798, 8vo.

Mr. Palmer burned some tobacco with a burning glass, saw that a lens of ice would do as well, and then says:

"If we admit that the sun could be removed, and a terrestrial body of ice placed in its stead, it would produce the same effect. The sun is a crystaline body receiving the radiance of God, and operates on this earth in a similar manner as the light of the sun does when applied to a convex mirror or glass."

Nov. 10, 1801. The Rev. Thomas Cormouls,[500] minister of Tettenhall, addressed a letter to Sir Wm. Herschel, from which I extract the following:

"Here it may be asked, then, how came the doctrines of Newton to solve all astronomic Phenomina, and all problems concerning the same, both a parte ante and a parte post.[501] It is answered that he certainly wrought the principles he made use of into strickt analogy with the real Phenomina of the heavens, and that the rules and results arizing from them [ 226 ] agree with them and resolve accurately all questions concerning them. Though they are not fact and true, or nature, but analogous to it, in the manner of the artificial numbers of logarithms, sines, &c. A very important question arises here, Did Newton mean to impose upon the world? By no means: he received and used the doctrines reddy formed; he did a little extend and contract his principles when wanted, and commit a few oversights of consequences. But when he was very much advanced in life, he suspected the fundamental nullity of them: but I have from a certain anecdote strong ground to believe that he knew it before his decease and intended to have retracted his error. But, however, somebody did deceive, if not wilfully, negligently at least. That was a man to whom the world has great obligations too. It was no less a philosopher than Galileo."

That Newton wanted to retract before his death, is a notion not uncommon among paradoxers. Nevertheless, there is no retraction in the third edition of the Principia, published when Newton was eighty-four years old! The moral of the above is, that a gentleman who prefers instructing William Herschel to learning how to spell, may find a proper niche in a proper place, for warning to others. It seems that gravitation is not truth, but only the logarithm of it.


Notes[edit]

331 ^  Wright (1711-1786) was a physicist. He was offered the professorship of mathematics at the Imperial Academy of St. Petersburg but declined to accept it. This work is devoted chiefly to the theory of the Milky Way, the via lactea as he calls it after the manner of the older writers.

332 ^  Troughton (1753-1835) was one of the world's greatest instrument makers. He was apprenticed to his brother John, and the two succeeded (1770) Wright and Cole in Fleet Street. Airy called his method of graduating circles the greatest improvement ever made in instrument making. He constructed (1800) the first modern transit circle, and his instruments were used in many of the chief observatories of the world.

333 ^  William Simms (1793-1860) was taken into partnership by Troughton (1826) after the death of the latter's brother. The firm manufactured some well-known instruments.

334 ^  This was George Horne (1730-1792), fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, vice-Chancellor of the University (1776), Dean of Canterbury (1781), and Bishop of Norwich (1790). He was a great satirist, but most of his pamphlets against men like Adam Smith, Swedenborg, and Hume, were anonymous, as in the case of this one against Newton. He was so liberal in his attitude towards the Methodists that he would not have John Wesley forbidden to preach in his diocese. He was twenty-one when this tract appeared.

335 ^  Martin (1704-1782) was by no means "old Benjamin Martin" when Horne wrote this pamphlet in 1749. In fact he was then only forty-five. He was a physicist and a well-known writer on scientific instruments. He also wrote Philosophia Britannica or a new and comprehensive system of the Newtonian Philosophy (1759).

336 ^  Jean Théophile Desaguliers, or Des Aguliers (1683-1744) was the son of a Protestant who left France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. He became professor of physics at Oxford, and afterwards gave lectures in London. Later he became chaplain to the Prince of Wales. He published several works on physics.

337 ^  Charles Hutton (1737-1823), professor of mathematics at Woolwich (1772-1807). His Mathematical Tables (1785) and Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary (1795-1796) are well known.

338 ^  James Epps (1773-1839) contributed a number of memoirs on the use and corrections of instruments. He was assistant secretary of the Astronomical Society.

339 ^  John Hutchinson (1674-1737) was one of the first to try to reconcile the new science of geology with Genesis. He denied the Newtonian hypothesis as dangerous to religion, and because it necessitated a vacuum. He was a mystic in his interpretation of the Scriptures, and created a sect that went under the name of Hutchinsonians.

340 ^  John Rowning, a Lincolnshire rector, died in 1771. He wrote on physics, and published a memoir on A machine for finding the roots of equations universally (1770).

341 ^  It is always difficult to sanction this spelling of the name of this Jesuit father who is so often mentioned in the analytic treatment of conics. He was born in Ragusa in 1711, and the original spelling was Ruđer Josip Bošković. When he went to live in Italy, as professor of mathematics at Rome (1740) and at Pavia, the name was spelled Ruggiero Giuseppe Boscovich, although Boscovicci would seem to a foreigner more natural. His astronomical work was notable, and in his De maculis solaribus (1736) there is the first determination of the equator of a planet by observing the motion of spots on its surface. Boscovich came near having some contact with America, for he was delegated to observe in California the transit of Venus in 1755, being prevented by the dissolution of his order just at that time. He died in 1787, at Milan.

342 ^  James Granger (1723-1776) who wrote the Biographical History of England, London, 1769. His collection of prints was remarkable, numbering some fourteen thousand.

343 ^  He was curator of experiments for the Royal Society. He wrote a large number of books and monographs on physics. He died about 1713.

344 ^  Lee seems to have made no impression on biographers.

345 ^  This work appeared at London in 1852.

346 ^  Of course this is no longer true. The most scholarly work to-day is that of Rudio, Archimedes, Huygens, Lambert, Legendre, vier Abhandlungen über die Kreismessung ... mit einer Uebersicht über die Geschichte des Problems von der Quadratur des Zirkels, von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf unsere Tage, Leipsic, 1892.

347 ^  Joseph Jérome le François de Lalande (1732-1807), professor of astronomy in the Collège de France (1753) and director of the Paris Observatory (1761). His writings on astronomy and his Bibliographie astronomique, avec l'histoire de l'astronomie depuis 1781 jusqu'en 1802 (Paris, 1803) are well known.

348 ^  De Morgan refers to his Histoire de l'Astronomie au 18e siècle, which appeared in 1827, five years after Delambre's death. Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre (1749-1822) was a pupil of and a collaborator with Lalande, following his master as professor of astronomy in the Collège de France. His work on the measurements for the metric system is well known, and his four histories of astronomy, ancienne (1817), au moyen âge (1819), moderne (1821), and au 18e siècle (posthumous, 1827) are highly esteemed.

349 ^  Jean-Joseph Rive (1730-1792), a priest who left his cure under grave charges, and a quarrelsome character. His attack on Montucla was a case of the pot calling the kettle black; for while he was a brilliant writer he was a careless bibliographer.

350 ^  Isaac Barrow (1630-1677) was quite as well known as a theologian as he was from his Lucasian professorship of mathematics at Cambridge.

351 ^  "Besides we can see by this that Barrow was a poor philosopher; for he believed in the immortality of the soul and in a Divinity other than universal nature."

352 ^  The Récréations mathématiques et physiques (Paris, 1694) of Jacques Ozanam (1640-1717) is a work that is still highly esteemed. Among various other works he wrote a Dictionnaire mathématique ou Idée générale des mathématiques (1690) that was not without merit. The Récréations went through numerous editions (Paris, 1694, 1696, 1741, 1750, 1770, 1778, and the Montucla edition of 1790; London, 1708, the Montucla-Hutton edition of 1803 and the Riddle edition of 1840; Dublin, 1790).

353 ^  Hendryk van Etten, the nom de plume of Jean Leurechon (1591-1670), rector of the Jesuit college at Bar, and professor of philosophy and mathematics. He wrote on astronomy (1619) and horology (1616), and is known for his Selecta Propositiones in tota sparsim mathematica pulcherrime propositae in solemni festo SS. Ignatii et Francesci Xaverii, 1622. The book to which De Morgan refers is his Récréation mathématicque, composée de plusieurs problèmes plaisants et facetieux, Lyons, 1627, with an edition at Pont-à-Mousson, 1629. There were English editions published at London in 1633, 1653, and 1674, and Dutch editions in 1662 and 1672.

I do not understand how De Morgan happened to miss owning the work by Claude Gaspar Bachet de Meziriac (1581-1638), Problèmes plaisans et délectables, which appeared at Lyons in 1612, 8vo, with a second edition in 1624. There was a fifth edition published at Paris in 1884.

354 ^  His title page closes with "Paris, Chez Ch. Ant. Jombert.... M DCC LIV."

This was Charles-Antoine Jombert (1712-1784), a printer and bookseller with some taste for painting and architecture. He wrote several works and edited a number of early treatises.

355 ^  The late Professor Newcomb made the matter plain even to the non-mathematical mind, when he said that "ten decimal places are sufficient to give the circumference of the earth to the fraction of an inch, and thirty decimal places would give the circumference of the whole visible universe to a quantity imperceptible with the most powerful microscope."

356 ^  Antinewtonianismi pars prima, in qua Newtoni de coloribus systema ex propriis principiis geometrice evertitur, et nova de coloribus theoria luculentissimis experimentis demonstrantur.... Naples, 1754; pars secunda, Naples, 1756.

357 ^  Celestino Cominale (1722-1785) was professor of medicine at the University of Naples.

358 ^  The work appeared in the years from 1844 to 1849.

359 ^  There was a Vienna edition in 1758, 4to, and another in 1759, 4to. This edition is described on the title page as Editio Veneta prima ipso auctore praesente, et corrigente.

360 ^  The first edition was entitled De solis ac lunae defectibus libri V. P. Rogerii Josephi Boscovich ... cum ejusdem auctoris adnotationibus, London, 1760. It also appeared in Venice in 1761, and in French translation by the Abbé de Baruel in 1779, and was a work of considerable influence.

361 ^  Paulian (1722-1802) was professor of physics at the Jesuit college at Avignon. He wrote several works, the most popular of which, the Dictionnaire de physique (Avignon, 1761), went through nine editions by 1789.

362 ^  This is correct.

363 ^  Probably referring to the fact that Hill (1795-1879), who had done so much for postal reform, was secretary to the postmaster general (1846), and his name was a synonym for the post office directory.

364 ^  Richard Lovett (1692-1780) was a good deal of a charlatan. He claimed to have studied electrical phenomena, and in 1758 advertised that he could effect marvelous cures, especially of sore throat, by means of electricity. Before publishing the works mentioned by De Morgan he had issued others of similar character, including The Subtile Medium proved (London, 1756) and The Reviewers Reviewed (London, 1760).

365 ^  Jean Sylvain Bailly (1736-1793), member of the Académie française and of the Académie des sciences, first deputy elected to represent Paris in the Etats-généraux (1789), president of the first National Assembly, and mayor of Paris (1789-1791). For his vigor as mayor in keeping the peace, and for his manly defence of the Queen, he was guillotined. He was an astronomer of ability, but is best known for his histories of the science.

366 ^  These were the Histoire de l'Astronomie ancienne (1775), Histoire de l'Astronomie moderne (1778-1783), Histoire de l'Astronomie indienne et orientale (1787), and Lettres sur l'origine des peuples de l'Asie (1775).

367 ^  "The sick old man of Ferney, V., a boy of a hundred years." Voltaire was born in 1694, and hence was eighty-three at this time.

368 ^  In Palmézeaux's Vie de Bailly, in Bailly's Ouvrage Posthume (1810), M. de Sales is quoted as saying that the Lettres sur l'Atlantide were sent to Voltaire and that the latter did not approve of the theory set forth.

369 ^  The British Museum catalogue gives two editions, 1781 and 1782.

370 ^  A mystic and a spiritualist. His chief work was the one mentioned here.

371 ^  Jacob Behmen, or Böhme (1575-1624), known as "the German theosophist," was founder of the sect of Boehmists, a cult allied to the Swedenborgians. He was given to the study of alchemy, and brought the vocabulary of the science into his mystic writings. His sect was revived in England in the eighteenth century through the efforts of William Law. Saint-Martin translated into French two of his Latin works under the titles L'Aurore naissante, ou la Racine de la philosophie (1800), and Les trois principes de l'essence divine (1802). The originals had appeared nearly two hundred years earlier,—Aurora in 1612, and De tribus principiis in 1619.

372 ^  "Unknown."

373 ^  "Skeptical."

374 ^  "Man, man, man."

375 ^  "Men, men, men."

376 ^  It is interesting to read De Morgan's argument against Saint-Martin's authorship of this work. It is attributed to Saint-Martin both by the Biographie Universelle and by the British Museum Catalogue, and De Morgan says by "various catalogues and biographies."

377 ^  "To explain things by man and not man by things. On Errors and Truth, by a Ph.... Inc...."

378 ^  "If we would preserve ourselves from all illusions, and above all from the allurements of pride, by which man is so often seduced, we should never take man, but always God, for our term of comparison."

379 ^  "And here is found already an explanation of the numbers four and nine which caused some perplexity in the work cited above. Man is lost in passing from four to nine."

380 ^  Williams also took part in the preparation of some tables for the government to assist in the determination of longitude. He had published a work two years before the one here cited, on the same subject,—An entire new work and method to discover the variation of the Earth's Diameters, London, 1786.

381 ^  This is Gabriel Mouton (1618-1694), a vicar at Lyons, who suggested as a basis for a natural system of measures the mille, a minute of a degree of the meridian. This appeared in his Observationes diametrorum solis et lunae apparentium, meridianarumque aliquot altitudinum cum tabula declinationum solis.... Lyons, 1670.

382 ^  Jacques Cassini (1677-1756), one of the celebrated Cassini family of astronomers. After the death of his father he became director of the observatory at Paris. The basis for a metric unit was set forth by him in his Traité de la grandeur et de la figure de la terre, Paris, 1720. He was a prolific writer on astronomy.

383 ^  Alexis Jean Pierre Paucton (1732-1798). He was, for a time, professor of mathematics at Strassburg, but later (1796) held office in Paris. His leading contribution to metrology was his Métrologie ou Traité des mesures, Paris, 1780.

384 ^  He was an obscure writer, born at Deptford.

385 ^  He was also a writer of no scientific merit, his chief contributions being religious tracts. One of his productions, however, went through many editions, even being translated into French; Three dialogues between a Minister and one of his Parishioners; on the true principles of Religion and salvation for sinners by Jesus Christ. The twentieth edition appeared at Cambridge in 1786.

386 ^  This was the Reflections on the Revolution in France, and on the proceedings in certain societies in London relative to that event (London, 1790) by Edmund Burke (1729-1797). Eleven editions of the work appeared the first year.

387 ^  Paine (1736-1809) was born in Norfolkshire, of Quaker parents. He went to America at the beginning of the Revolution and published, in January 1776, a violent pamphlet entitled Common Sense. He was a private soldier under Washington, and on his return to England after the war he published The Rights of Man. He was indicted for treason and was outlawed to France. He was elected to represent Calais at the French convention, but his plea for moderation led him perilously near the guillotine. His Age of Reason (1794) was dedicated to Washington. He returned to America in 1802 and remained there until his death.

388 ^  Part I appeared in 1791 and was so popular that eight editions appeared in that year. It was followed in 1792 by Part II, of which nine editions appeared in that year. Both parts were immediately republished in Paris, and there have been several subsequent editions.

389 ^  Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was only thirty-three when this work came out. She had already published An historical and moral View of the Origin and Progress of the French Revolution (1790), and Original Stories from Real Life (1791). She went to Paris in 1792 and remained during the Reign of Terror.

390 ^  Samuel Parr (1747-1827) was for a time head assistant at Harrow (1767-1771), afterwards headmaster in other schools. At the time this book was written he was vicar of Hatton, where he took private pupils (1785-1798) to the strictly limited number of seven. He was a violent Whig and a caustic writer.

391 ^  On Mary Wollstonecraft's return from France she married (1797) William Godwin (1756-1836). He had started as a strong Calvinistic Nonconformist minister, but had become what would now be called an anarchist, at least by conservatives. He had written an Inquiry concerning Political Justice (1793) and a novel entitled Caleb Williams, or Things as they are (1794), both of which were of a nature to attract his future wife.

392 ^  This child was a daughter. She became Shelley's wife, and Godwin's influence on Shelley was very marked.

393 ^  This was John Nichols (1745-1826), the publisher and antiquary. He edited the Gentleman's Magazine (1792-1826) and his works include the Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century (1812-1815), to which De Morgan here refers.

394 ^  William Bellenden, a Scotch professor at the University of Paris, who died about 1633. His textbooks are now forgotten, but Parr edited an edition of his works in 1787. The Latin preface, Praefatio ad Bellendum de Statu, was addressed to Burke, North, and Fox, and was a satire on their political opponents.

395 ^  As we have seen, he had been head-master before he began taking "his handful of private pupils."

396 ^  The story has evidently got mixed up in the telling, for Tom Sheridan (1721-1788), the great actor, was old enough to have been Dr. Parr's father. It was his son, Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), the dramatist and politician, who was the pupil of Parr. He wrote The Rivals (1775) and The School for Scandal (1777) soon after Parr left Harrow.

397 ^  Horner (1785-1864) was a geologist and social reformer. He was very influential in improving the conditions of child labor.

398 ^  William Cobbett (1762-1835), the journalist, was a character not without interest to Americans. Born in Surrey, he went to America at the age of thirty and remained there eight years. Most of this time he was occupied as a bookseller in Philadelphia, and while thus engaged he was fined for libel against the celebrated Dr. Rush. On his return to England he edited the Weekly Political Register (1802-1835), a popular journal among the working classes. He was fined and imprisoned for two years because of his attack (1810) on military flogging, and was also (1831) prosecuted for sedition. He further showed his paradox nature by his History of the Protestant Reformation (1824-1827), an attack on the prevailing Protestant opinion. He also wrote a Life of Andrew Jackson (1834). After repeated attempts he succeeded in entering parliament, a result of the Reform Bill.

399 ^  Robinson (1735-1790) was a Baptist minister who wrote several theological works and a number of hymns. His work at Cambridge so offended the students that they at one time broke up the services.

400 ^  This work had passed through twelve editions by 1823.

401 ^  Dyer (1755-1841), the poet and reformer, edited Robinson's Ecclesiastical Researches (1790). He was a life-long friend of Charles Lamb, and in their boyhood they were schoolmates at Christ's Hospital. His Complaints of the Poor People of England (1793) made him a worthy companion of the paradoxers above mentioned.

402 ^  These were John Thelwall (1764-1834) whose Politics for the People or Hogswash (1794) took its title from the fact that Burke called the people the "swinish multitude." The book resulted in sending the author to the Tower for sedition. In 1798 he gave up politics and started a school of elocution which became very famous. Thomas Hardy (1752-1832), who kept a bootmaker's shop in Piccadilly, was a fellow prisoner with Thelwall, being arrested for high treason. He was founder (1792) of The London Corresponding Society, a kind of clearing house for radical associations throughout the country. Horne Tooke was really John Horne (1736-1812), he having taken the name of his friend William Tooke in 1782. He was a radical of the radicals, and organized a number of reform societies. Among these was the Constitutional Society that voted money (1775) to assist the American revolutionists, appointing him to give the contribution to Franklin. For this he was imprisoned for a year. With his fellow rebels in the Tower in 1794, however, he was acquitted. As a philologist he is known for his early advocacy of the study of Anglo-Saxon and Gothic, and his Diversions of Purley (1786) is still known to readers.

403 ^  This was the admiral, Adam Viscount Duncan (1731-1804), who defeated the Dutch off Camperdown in 1797.

404 ^  He was created Duke of Clarence and St. Andrews in 1789 and was Admiral of the Fleet escorting Louis XVIII on his return to France in 1814. He became Lord High Admiral in 1827, and reigned as William IV from 1830 to 1837.

405 ^  This was Charles Abbott (1762-1832) first Lord Tenterden. He succeeded Lord Ellenborough as Chief Justice (1818) and was raised to the peerage in 1827. He was a strong Tory and opposed the Catholic Relief Bill, the Reform Bill, and the abolition of the death penalty for forgery.

406 ^  Edward Law (1750-1818), first Baron Ellenborough. He was chief counsel for Warren Hastings, and his famous speech in defense of his client is well known. He became Chief Justice and was raised to the peerage in 1802. He opposed all efforts to modernize the criminal code, insisting upon the reactionary principle of new death penalties.

407 ^  Edmund Law (1703-1787), Bishop of Carlisle (1768), was a good deal more liberal than his son. His Considerations on the Propriety of requiring subscription to the Articles of Faith (1774) was published anonymously. In it he asserts that not even the clergy should be required to subscribe to the thirty-nine articles.

408 ^  Joe Miller (1684-1738), the famous Drury Lane comedian, was so illiterate that he could not have written the Joe Miller's Jests, or the Wit's Vade-Mecum that appeared the year after his death. It was often reprinted and probably contained more or less of Miller's own jokes.

409 ^  The sixth duke (1766-1839) was much interested in parliamentary reform. He was a member of the Society of Friends of the People. He was for fourteen years a member of parliament (1788-1802) and was later Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1806-1807). He afterwards gave up politics and became interested in agricultural matters.

410 ^  George Jeffreys (c. 1648-1689), the favorite of James II, who was active in prosecuting the Rye House conspirators. He was raised to the peerage in 1684 and held the famous "bloody assize" in the following year, being made Lord Chancellor as a result. He was imprisoned in the Tower by William III and died there.

411 ^  The Every Day Book, forming a Complete History of the Year, Months, and Seasons, and a perpetual Key to the Almanack, 1826-1827.

412 ^  The first and second editions appeared in 1820. Two others followed in 1821.

413 ^  The three trials of W. H., for publishing three parodies; viz the late John Wilkes' Catechism, the Political Litany, and the Sinecurists Creed; on three ex-officio informations, at Guildhall, London, ... Dec. 18, 19, & 20, 1817,... London, 1818.

414 ^  The Political Litany appeared in 1817.

415 ^  That is, Castlereagh's.

416 ^  The well-known caricaturist (1792-1878), then only twenty-nine years old.

417 ^  Robert Stewart (1769-1822) was second Marquis of Londonderry and Viscount Castlereagh. As Chief Secretary for Ireland he was largely instrumental in bringing about the union of Ireland and Great Britain. He was at the head of the war department during most of the Napoleonic wars, and was to a great extent responsible for the European coalition against the Emperor. He suicided in 1822.

418 ^  John Murray (1778-1843), the well-known London publisher. He refused to finish the publication of Don Juan, after the first five cantos, because of his Tory principles.

419 ^  Only the first two cantos appeared in 1819.

420 ^  Proclus (412-485), one of the greatest of the neo-Platonists, studied at Alexandria and taught philosophy at Athens. He left commentaries on Plato and on part of Euclid's Elements.

421 ^  Thomas Taylor (1758-1835), called "the Platonist," had a liking for mathematics, and was probably led by his interest in number mysticism to a study of neo-Platonism. He translated a number of works from the Latin and Greek, and wrote two works on theoretical arithmetic (1816, 1823).

422 ^  There was an earlier edition, 1788-89.

423 ^  Georgius Gemistus, or Georgius Pletho (Plethon), lived in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. He was a native of Constantinople, but spent most of his time in Greece. He devoted much time to the propagation of the Platonic philosophy, but also wrote on divinity, geography, and history.

424 ^  Hannah More (1745-1833), was, in her younger days, a friend of Burke, Reynolds, Dr. Johnson, and Garrick. At this time she wrote a number of poems and aspired to become a dramatist. Her Percy (1777), with a prologue and epilogue by Garrick, had a long run at Covent Garden. Somewhat later she came to believe that the playhouse was a grave public evil, and refused to attend the revival of her own play with Mrs. Siddons in the leading part. After 1789 she and her sisters devoted themselves to starting schools for poor children, teaching them religion and housework, but leaving them illiterate.

425 ^  These were issued at the rate of three each month,—a story, a ballad, and a Sunday tract. They were collected and published in one volume in 1795. It is said that two million copies were sold the first year. There were also editions in 1798, 1819, 1827, and 1836-37.

426 ^  That is, Dr. Johnson (1709-1784). The Rambler was published in 1750-1752, and was an imitation of Addison's Spectator.

427 ^  Dr. Moore, referred to below.

428 ^  Dr. John Moore (1729-1802), physician and novelist, is now best known for his Journal during a Residence in France from the beginning of August to the middle of December, 1792, a work quoted frequently by Carlyle in his French Revolution.

429 ^  Sir John Moore (1761-1809), Lieutenant General in the Napoleonic wars. He was killed in the battle of Corunna. The poem by Charles Wolfe (1791-1823), The Burial of Sir John Moore (1817), is well known.

430 ^  Referring to the novels of Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866), who succeeded James Mill as chief examiner of the East India Company, and was in turn succeeded by John Stuart Mill.

431 ^  Frances Burney, Madame d'Arblay (1752-1840), married General d'Arblay, a French officer and companion of Lafayette, in 1793. She was only twenty-five when she acquired fame by her Evelina, or a Young Lady's Entrance into the World. Her Letters and Diaries appeared posthumously (1842-45).

432 ^  Henry Peter, Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868), well known in politics, science, and letters. He was one of the founders of the Edinburgh Review, became Lord Chancellor in 1830, and took part with men like William Frend, De Morgan's father-in-law, in the establishing of London University. He was also one of the founders of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. He was always friendly to De Morgan, who entered the faculty of London University, whose work on geometry was published by the Society mentioned, and who was offered the degree of doctor of laws by the University of Edinburgh while Lord Brougham was Lord Rector. The Edinburgh honor was refused by De Morgan who said he "did not feel like an LL.D."

433 ^  Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849).

434 ^  Sydney Owenson (c. 1783-1859) married Sir Thomas Morgan, a well-known surgeon, in 1812. Her Irish stories were very popular with the patriots but were attacked by the Quarterly Review. The Wild Irish Girl (1806) went through seven editions in two years.

435 ^  1775-1817.

436 ^  1771-1832.

437 ^  The famous preacher (1732-1808). He was the first chairman of the Religious Tract Society. He is also known as one of the earliest advocates of vaccination, in his Cow-pock Inoculation vindicated and recommended from matters of fact, 1806.

438 ^  Sir Rowland Hill (1795-1879), the father of penny postage.

439 ^  Beilby Porteus (1731-1808), Bishop of Chester (1776) and Bishop of London (1787). He encouraged the Sunday-school movement and the dissemination of Hannah More's tracts. He was an active opponent of slavery, but also of Catholic emancipation.

440 ^  Henrietta Maria Bowdler (1754-1830), generally known as Mrs. Harriet Bowdler. She was the author of many religious tracts and poems. Her Poems and Essays (1786) were often reprinted. The story goes that on the appearance of her Sermons on the Doctrines and duties of Christianity (published anonymously), Bishop Porteus offered the author a living under the impression that it was written by a man.

441 ^  William Frend (1757-1841), whose daughter Sophia Elizabeth became De Morgan's wife (1837), was at one time a clergyman of the Established Church, but was converted to Unitarianism (1787). He came under De Morgan's definition of a true paradoxer, carrying on a zealous warfare for what he thought right. As a result of his Address to the Inhabitants of Cambridge (1787), and his efforts to have abrogated the requirement that candidates for the M.A. must subscribe to the thirty-nine articles, he was deprived of his tutorship in 1788. A little later he was banished (see De Morgan's statement in the text) from Cambridge because of his denunciation of the abuses of the Church and his condemnation of the liturgy. His eccentricity is seen in his declining to use negative quantities in the operations of algebra. He finally became an actuary at London and was prominent in radical associations. He was a mathematician of ability, having been second wrangler and having nearly attained the first place, and he was also an excellent scholar in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.

442 ^  George Peacock (1791-1858), Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Lowndean professor of astronomy, and Dean of Ely Cathedral (1839). His tomb may be seen at Ely where he spent the latter part of his life. He was one of the group that introduced the modern continental notation of the calculus into England, replacing the cumbersome notation of Newton, passing from "the dotage of fluxions to the deism of the calculus."

443 ^  Robert Simson (1687-1768); professor of mathematics at Glasgow. His restoration of Apollonius (1749) and his translation and restoration of Euclid (1756, and 1776—posthumous) are well known.

444 ^  Francis Maseres (1731-1824), a prominent lawyer. His mathematical works had some merit.

445 ^  These appeared annually from 1804 to 1822.

446 ^  Henry Gunning (1768-1854) was senior esquire bedell of Cambridge. The Reminiscences appeared in two volumes in 1854.

447 ^  John Singleton Copley, Baron Lyndhurst (1772-1863), the son of John Singleton Copley the portrait painter, was born in Boston. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and became a lawyer. He was made Lord Chancellor in 1827.

448 ^  Sir William Rough (c. 1772-1838), a lawyer and poet, became Chief Justice of Ceylon in 1836. He was knighted in 1837.

449 ^  Herbert Marsh, afterwards Bishop of Peterborough, a relation of my father.—S. E. De M.

He was born in 1757 and died in 1839. On the trial of Frend he publicly protested against testifying against a personal confidant, and was excused. He was one of the first of the English clergy to study modern higher criticism of the Bible, and amid much opposition he wrote numerous works on the subject. He was professor of theology at Cambridge (1707), Bishop of Llandaff (1816), and Bishop of Peterborough.

450 ^  George Butler (1774-1853), Headmaster of Harrow (1805-1829), Chancellor of Peterborough (1836), and Dean of Peterborough (1842).

451 ^  James Tate (1771-1843), Headmaster of Richmond School (1796-1833) and Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral (1833). He left several works on the classics.

452 ^  Francis Place (1771-1854), at first a journeyman breeches maker, and later a master tailor. He was a hundred years ahead of his time as a strike leader, but was not so successful as an agitator as he was as a tailor, since his shop in Charing Cross made him wealthy. He was a well-known radical, and it was largely due to his efforts that the law against the combinations of workmen was repealed in 1824. His chief work was The Principles of Population (1822).

453 ^  Speed (1552-1629) was a tailor until Grevil (Greville) made him independent of his trade. He was not only an historian of some merit, but a skilful cartographer. His maps of the counties were collected in the Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, 1611. About this same time he also published Genealogies recorded in Sacred Scripture, a work that had passed through thirty-two editions by 1640.

454 ^  The history of Great Britaine under the conquests of ye Romans, Saxons, Danes, and Normans.... London, 1611, folio. The second edition appeared in 1623; the third, to which De Morgan here refers, posthumously in 1632; and the fourth in 1650.

455 ^  William Nicolson (1655-1727) became Bishop of Carlisle in 1702, and Bishop of Derry in 1718. His chief work was the Historical Library (1696-1724), in the form of a collection of documents and chronicles. It was reprinted in 1736 and in 1776.

456 ^  Sir Fulk Grevil, or Fulke Greville (1554-1628), was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth, Chancellor of the Exchequer under James I, a patron of literature, and a friend of Sir Philip Sidney.

457 ^  See note 443.

458 ^  See note 444.

459 ^  See note 439.

460 ^  Edward Waring (1736-1796) was Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge. He published several works on analysis and curves. The work referred to was the Miscellanea Analytica de aequationibus algebraicis et curvarum proprietatibus, Cambridge, 1762.

461 ^  A Dissertation on the use of the Negative Sign in Algebra...; to which is added, Machin's Quadrature of the Circle, London, 1758.

462 ^  The paper was probably one on complex numbers, or possibly one on quaternions, in which direction as well as absolute value is involved.

463 ^  De Morgan quotes from one of the Latin editions. Descartes wrote in French, the title of his first edition being: Discours de la méthode pour bien conduire sa raison et chercher la vérité dans les sciences, plus la dioptrique, les météores et la géométrie qui sont des essais de cette méthode, Leyden, 1637, 4to.

464 ^  "I have observed that algebra indeed, as it is usually taught, is so restricted by definite rules and formulas of calculation, that it seems rather a confused kind of an art, by the practice of which the mind is in a certain manner disturbed and obscured, than a science by which it is cultivated and made acute."

465 ^  It appeared in 93 volumes, from 1758 to 1851.

466 ^  The principles of the doctrine of life-annuities; explained in a familiar manner ... with a variety of new tables ..., London, 1783.

467 ^  I suppose the one who wrote Conjectures on the physical causes of Earthquakes and Volcanoes, Dublin, 1820.

468 ^  Scriptores Logarithmici; or, a Collection of several curious tracts on the nature and construction of Logarithms ... together with same tracts on the Binomial Theorem ..., 6 vols., London, 1791-1807.

469 ^  Charles Babbage (1792-1871), whose work on the calculating machine is well known. Maseres was, it is true, ninety-two at this time, but Babbage was thirty-one instead of twenty-nine. He had already translated Lacroix's Treatise on the differential and integral calculus (1816), in collaboration with Herschel and Peacock. He was Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge from 1828 to 1839.

470 ^  The great and new Art of weighing Vanity, or a discovery of the ignorance of the great and new artist in his pseudo-philosophical writings. The "great and new artist" was Sinclair.

471 ^  George Sinclair, probably a native of East Lothian, who died in 1696. He was professor of philosophy and mathematics at Glasgow, and was one of the first to use the barometer in measuring altitudes. The work to which De Morgan refers is his Hydrostaticks (1672). He was a firm believer in evil spirits, his work on the subject going through four editions: Satan's Invisible World Discovered; or, a choice collection of modern relations, proving evidently against the Saducees and Athiests of this present age, that there are Devils, Spirits, Witches, and Apparitions, Edinburgh, 1685.

472 ^  This was probably William Sanders, Regent of St. Leonard's College, whose Theses philosophicae appeared in 1674, and whose Elementa geometriae came out a dozen years later.

473 ^  Ars nova et magna gravitatis et levitatis; sive dialogorum philosophicorum libri sex de aeris vera ac reali gravitate, Rotterdam, 1669, 4to.

474 ^  Volume I, Nos. 1 and 2, appeared in 1803.

475 ^  His daughter, Mrs. De Morgan, says in her Memoir of her husband: "My father had been second wrangler in a year in which the two highest were close together, and was, as his son-in-law afterwards described him, an exceedingly clear thinker. It is possible, as Mr. De Morgan said, that this mental clearness and directness may have caused his mathematical heresy, the rejection of the use of negative quantities in algebraical operations; and it is probable that he thus deprived himself of an instrument of work, the use of which might have led him to greater eminence in the higher branches." Memoir of Augustus De Morgan, London, 1882, p. 19.

476 ^  "If it is not true it is a good invention." A well-known Italian proverb.

477 ^  See note 132.

478 ^  He was born at Paris in 1713, and died there in 1765.

479 ^  Recherches sur les courbes à double courbure, Paris, 1731. Clairaut was then only eighteen, and was in the same year made a member of the Académie des sciences. His Elémens de géométrie appeared in 1741. Meantime he had taken part in the measurement of a degree in Lapland (1736-1737). His Traité de la figure de la terre was published in 1741. The Academy of St. Petersburg awarded him a prize for his Théorie de la lune (1750). His various works on comets are well known, particularly his Théorie du mouvement des comètes (1760) in which he applied the "problem of three bodies" to Halley's comet as retarded by Jupiter and Saturn.

480 ^  Joseph Privat, Abbé de Molières (1677-1742), was a priest of the Congregation of the Oratorium. In 1723 he became a professor in the Collège de France. He was well known as an astronomer and a mathematician, and wrote in defense of Descartes's theory of vortices (1728, 1729). He also contributed to the methods of finding prime numbers (1705).

481 ^  "Deserves not only to be printed, but to be admired as a marvel of imagination, of understanding, and of ability."

482 ^  Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), the well-known French philosopher and mathematician. He lived for some time with the Port Royalists, and defended them against the Jesuits in his Provincial Letters. Among his works are the following: Essai pour les coniques (1640); Recit de la grande expérience de l'équilibre des liqueurs (1648), describing his experiment in finding altitudes by barometric readings; Histoire de la roulette (1658); Traité du triangle arithmétique (1665); Aleae geometria (1654).

483 ^  This proposition shows that if a hexagon is inscribed in a conic (in particular a circle) and the opposite sides are produced to meet, the three points determined by their intersections will be in the same straight line.

484 ^  Jacques Curabelle, Examen des Œuvres du Sr. Desargues, Paris, 1644. He also published without date a work entitled: Foiblesse pitoyable du Sr. G. Desargues employée contre l'examen fait de ses œuvres.

485 ^  See note 233.

486 ^  Until "this great proposition called Pascal's should see the light."

487 ^  The story is that his father, Etienne Pascal, did not wish him to study geometry until he was thoroughly grounded in Latin and Greek. Having heard the nature of the subject, however, he began at the age of twelve to construct figures by himself, drawing them on the floor with a piece of charcoal. When his father discovered what he was doing he was attempting to demonstrate that the sum of the angles of a triangle equals two right angles. The story is given by his sister, Mme. Perier.

488 ^  Sir John Wilson (1741-1793) was knighted in 1786 and became Commissioner of the Great Seal in 1792. He was a lawyer and jurist of recognized merit. He stated his theorem without proof, the first demonstration having been given by Lagrange in the Memoirs of the Berlin Academy for 1771,—Demonstration d'un théorème nouveau concernant les nombres premiers. Euler also gave a proof in his Miscellanea Analytica (1773). Fermat's works should be consulted in connection with the early history of this theorem.

489 ^  He wrote, in 1760, a tract in defense of Waring, a point of whose algebra had been assailed by a Dr. Powell. Waring wrote another tract of the same date.—A. De M.

William Samuel Powell (1717-1775) was at this time a fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. In 1765 he became Vice Chancellor of the University. Waring was a Magdalene man, and while candidate for the Lucasian professorship he circulated privately his Miscellanea Analytica. Powell attacked this in his Observations on the First Chapter of a Book called Miscellanea (1760). This attack was probably in the interest of another candidate, a man of his own college (St. John's), William Ludlam.

490 ^  William Paley (1743-1805) was afterwards a tutor at Christ's College, Cambridge. He never contributed anything to mathematics, but his Evidences of Christianity (1794) was long considered somewhat of a classic. He also wrote Principles of Morality and Politics (1785), and Natural Theology (1802).

491 ^  Edward, first Baron Thurlow (1731-1806) is known to Americans because of his strong support of the Royal prerogative during the Revolution. He was a favorite of George III, and became Lord Chancellor in 1778.

492 ^  George Wilson Meadley (1774-1818) published his Memoirs of ... Paley in 1809. He also published Memoirs of Algernon Sidney in 1813. He was a merchant and banker, and had traveled extensively in Europe and the East. He was a convert to unitarianism, to which sect Paley had a strong leaning.

493 ^  Watson (1737-1816) was a strange kind of man for a bishopric. He was professor of chemistry at Cambridge (1764) at the age of twenty-seven. It was his experiments that led to the invention of the black-bulb thermometer. He is said to have saved the government £100,000 a year by his advice on the manufacture of gunpowder. Even after he became professor of divinity at Cambridge (1771) he published four volumes of Chemical Essays (vol. I, 1781). He became Bishop of Llandaff in 1782.

494 ^  James Adair (died in 1798) was counsel for the defense in the trial of the publishers of the Letters of Junius (1771). As King's Serjeant he assisted in prosecuting Hardy and Horne Tooke.

495 ^  Morgan (1750-1833) was actuary of the Equitable Assurance Society of London (1774-1830), and it was to his great abilities that the success of that company was due at a time when other corporations of similar kind were meeting with disaster. The Royal Society awarded him a medal (1783) for a paper on Probability of Survivorship. He wrote several important works on insurance and finance.

496 ^  Dr. Price (1723-1791) was a non-conformist minister and a writer on ethics, economics, politics, and insurance. He was a defender of the American Revolution and a personal friend of Franklin. In 1778 Congress invited him to America to assist in the financial administration of the new republic, but he declined. His famous sermon on the French Revolution is said to have inspired Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France.

497 ^  Elizabeth Gurney (1780-1845), a Quaker, who married Joseph Fry (1800), a London merchant. She was the prime mover in the Association for the Improvement of the Female Prisoners in Newgate, founded in 1817. Her influence in prison reform extended throughout Europe, and she visited the prisons of many countries in her efforts to improve the conditions of penal servitude. The friendship of Mrs. Fry with the De Morgans began in 1837. Her scheme for a female benefit society proved worthless from the actuarial standpoint, and would have been disastrous to all concerned if it had been carried out, and it was therefore fortunate that De Morgan was consulted in time. Mrs. De Morgan speaks of the consultation in these words: "My husband, who was very sensitive on such points, was charmed with Mrs. Fry's voice and manner as much as by the simple self-forgetfulness with which she entered into this business; her own very uncomfortable share of it not being felt as an element in the question, as long as she could be useful in promoting good or preventing mischief. I can see her now as she came into our room, took off her little round Quaker cap, and laying it down, went at once into the matter. 'I have followed thy advice, and I think nothing further can be done in this case; but all harm is prevented.' In the following year I had an opportunity of seeing the effect of her most musical tones. I visited her at Stratford, taking my little baby and nurse with me, to consult her on some articles on prison discipline, which I had written for a periodical. The baby—three months old—was restless, and the nurse could not quiet her, neither could I entirely, until Mrs. Fry began to read something connected with the subject of my visit, when the infant, fixing her large eyes on the reader, lay listening till she fell asleep." Memoirs, p. 91.

498 ^  Mrs. Fry certainly believed that the writer was the old actuary of the Equitable, when she first consulted him upon the benevolent Assurance project; but we were introduced to her by our old and dear friend Lady Noel Byron, by whom she had been long known and venerated, and who referred her to Mr. De Morgan for advice. An unusual degree of confidence in, and appreciation of each other, arose on their first meeting between the two, who had so much that was externally different, and so much that was essentially alike, in their natures.—S. E. De M.

Anne Isabella Milbanke (1792-1860) married Lord Byron in 1815, when both took the additional name of Noel, her mother's name. They were separated in 1816.

499 ^  An obscure writer not mentioned in the ordinary biographies.

500 ^  Not mentioned in the ordinary biographies, and for obvious reasons.

501 ^  "Before" and "after."