Budget of Paradoxes/H

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
A Budget of Paradoxes by Augustus De Morgan
1825-1839

THE CABBALA.[edit]

Cabbala Algebraica. Auctore Gul. Lud. Christmann.[601] Stuttgard, 1827, 4to.

Eighty closely printed pages of an attempt to solve equations of every degree, which has a process called by the author cabbala. An anonymous correspondent spells cabbala as follows, χαββαλλ, and makes 666 out of its letters. This gentleman has sent me since my Budget commenced, a little heap of satirical communications, each having a 666 or two; for instance, alluding to my remarks on the spelling of chemistry, he finds the fated number in χιμεια. With these are challenges to explain them, and hints about the end of the world. All these letters have different fantastic seals; one of them with the legend "keep your temper,"—another bearing "bank token five pence." The only signature is a triangle with a little circle in it, which I interpret to mean that the writer confesses himself to be the round man stuck in the three-cornered hole, to be explained as in Sydney Smith's joke.

[ 273 ]

There is a kind of Cabbala Alphabetica which the investigators of the numerals in words would do well to take up: it is the formation of sentences which contain all the letters of the alphabet, and each only once. No one has done it with v and j treated as consonants; but you and I can do it. Dr. Whewell[602] and I amused ourselves, some years ago, with attempts. He could not make sense, though he joined words: he gave me

Phiz, styx, wrong, buck, flame, quid.

I gave him the following, which he agreed was "admirable sense": I certainly think the words would never have come together except in this way:

I, quartz pyx, who fling muck beds.

I long thought that no human being could say this under any circumstances. At last I happened to be reading a religious writer—as he thought himself—who threw aspersions on his opponents thick and threefold. Heyday! came into my head, this fellow flings muck beds; he must be a quartz pyx. And then I remembered that a pyx is a sacred vessel, and quartz is a hard stone, as hard as the heart of a religious foe-curser. So that the line is the motto of the ferocious sectarian, who turns his religious vessels into mudholders, for the benefit of those who will not see what he sees.

I can find no circumstances for the following, which I received from another:

Fritz! quick! land! hew gypsum box.

From other quarters I have the following:

Dumpy quiz! whirl back fogs next.

This might be said in time of haze to the queer little figure in the Dutch weather-toy, which comes out or goes in with the change in the atmosphere. Again,

[ 274 ]

Export my fund! Quiz black whigs.

This Squire Western might have said, who was always afraid of the whigs sending the sinking-fund over to Hanover. But the following is the best: it is good advice to a young man, very well expressed under the circumstances:

Get nymph; quiz sad brow; fix luck.

Which in more sober English would be, Marry; be cheerful; watch your business. There is more edification, more religion in this than in all the 666-interpretations put together.

Such things would make excellent writing copies, for they secure attention to every letter; v and j might be placed at the end.

 

ON GODFREY HIGGINS.[edit]

The Celtic Druids. By Godfrey Higgins,[603] Esq. of Skellow Grange, near Doncaster. London, 1827, 4to.
Anacalypsis, or an attempt to draw aside the veil of the Saitic Isis: or an inquiry into the origin of languages, nations, and religions. By Godfrey Higgins, &c..., London, 1836, 2 vols. 4to.

The first work had an additional preface and a new index in 1829. Possibly, in future time, will be found bound up with copies of the second work two sheets which Mr. Higgins circulated among his friends in 1831: the first a "Recapitulation," the second "Book vi. ch. 1."

The system of these works is that—

"The Buddhists of Upper India (of whom the Phenician Canaanite, Melchizedek, was a priest), who built the Pyramids, Stonehenge, Carnac, &c. will be shown to have founded all the ancient mythologies of the world, which, however varied and corrupted in recent times, were originally one, and that one founded on principles sublime, beautiful, and true."

[ 275 ]

These works contain an immense quantity of learning, very honestly put together. I presume the enormous number of facts, and the goodness of the index, to be the reasons why the Anacalypsis found a permanent place in the old reading-room of the British Museum, even before the change which greatly increased the number of books left free to the reader in that room.

Mr. Higgins, whom I knew well in the last six years of his life, and respected as a good, learned, and (in his own way) pious man, was thoroughly and completely the man of a system. He had that sort of mental connection with his theory that made his statements of his authorities trustworthy: for, besides perfect integrity, he had no bias towards alteration of facts: he saw his system in the way the fact was presented to him by his authority, be that what it might.

He was very sure of a fact which he got from any of his authorities: nothing could shake him. Imagine a conversation between him and an Indian officer who had paid long attention to Hindoo antiquities and their remains: a third person was present, ego qui scribo. G. H. "You know that in the temples of I-forget-who the Ceres is always sculptured precisely as in Greece." Col. ——, "I really do not remember it, and I have seen most of these temples." G. H. "It is so, I assure you, especially at I-forget-where." Col. ——, "Well, I am sure! I was encamped for six weeks at the gate of that very temple, and, except a little shooting, had nothing to do but to examine its details, which I did, day after day, and I found nothing of the kind." It was of no use at all.

Godfrey Higgins began life by exposing and conquering, at the expense of two years of his studies, some shocking abuses which existed in the York Lunatic Asylum. This was a proceeding which called much attention to the treatment of the insane, and produced much good effect. He was very resolute and energetic. The magistracy of his [ 276 ] time had such scruples about using the severity of law to people of such station as well-to-do farmers, &c.: they would allow a great deal of resistance, and endeavor to mollify the rebels into obedience. A young farmer flatly refused to pay under an order of affiliation made upon him by Godfrey Higgins. He was duly warned; and persisted: he shortly found himself in gaol. He went there sure to conquer the Justice, and the first thing he did was to demand to see his lawyer. He was told, to his horror, that as soon as he had been cropped and prison-dressed, he might see as many lawyers as he pleased, to be looked at, laughed at, and advised that there was but one way out of the scrape. Higgins was, in his speculations, a regular counterpart of Bailly; but the celebrated Mayor of Paris had not his nerve. It was impossible to say, if their characters had been changed, whether the unfortunate crisis in which Bailly was not equal to the occasion would have led to very different results if Higgins had been in his place: but assuredly constitutional liberty would have had one chance more. There are two works of his by which he was known, apart from his paradoxes. First, An apology for the life and character of the celebrated prophet of Arabia, called Mohamed, or the Illustrious. London, 8vo. 1829. The reader will look at this writing of our English Buddhist with suspicious eye, but he will not be able to avoid confessing that the Arabian prophet has some reparation to demand at the hands of Christians. Next, Horæ Sabaticæ; or an attempt to correct certain superstitions and vulgar errors respecting the Sabbath. Second edition, with a large appendix. London, 12mo. 1833. This book was very heterodox at the time, but it has furnished material for some of the clergy of our day.

I never could quite make out whether Godfrey Higgins took that system which he traced to the Buddhists to have a Divine origin, or to be the result of good men's meditations. Himself a strong theist, and believer in a future [ 277 ] state, one would suppose that he would refer a universal religion, spread in different forms over the whole earth from one source, directly to the universal Parent. And this I suspect he did, whether he knew it or not. The external evidence is balanced. In his preface he says:

"I cannot help smiling when I consider that the priests have objected to admit my former book, The Celtic Druids, into libraries, because it was antichristian; and it has been attacked by Deists, because it was superfluously religious. The learned Deist, the Rev. R. Taylor [already mentioned], has designated me as the religious Mr. Higgins."

The time will come when some profound historian of literature will make himself much clearer on the point than I am.

 

ON POPE'S DIPPING NEEDLE.[edit]

The triumphal Chariot of Friction: or a familiar elucidation of the origin of magnetic attraction, &c. &c. By William Pope.[604] London, 1829, 4to.

Part of this work is on a dipping-needle of the author's construction. It must have been under the impression that a book of naval magnetism was proposed, that a great many officers, the Royal Naval Club, etc. lent their names to the subscription list. How must they have been surprised to find, right opposite to the list of subscribers, the plate presenting "the three emphatic letters, J. A. O." And how much more when they saw it set forth that if a square be inscribed in a circle, a circle within that, then a square again, &c., it is impossible to have more than fourteen circles, let the first circle be as large as you please. From this the seven attributes of God are unfolded; and further, that all matter was moral, until Lucifer churned it into physical "as far as the third circle in Deity": this Lucifer, called Leviathan in Job, being thus the moving cause of [ 278 ] chaos. I shall say no more, except that the friction of the air is the cause of magnetism.

 

Remarks on the Architecture, Sculpture, and Zodiac of Palmyra; with a Key to the Inscriptions. By B. Prescot.[605] London, 1830, 8vo.

Mr. Prescot gives the signs of the zodiac a Hebrew origin.

 

THE JACOTOT METHOD.[edit]

Epitomé de mathématiques. Par F. Jacotot,[606] Avocat. 3ième edition, Paris, 1830, 8vo. (pp. 18).
Méthode Jacotot. Choix de propositions mathématiques. Par P. Y. Séprés.[607] 2nde édition. Paris, 1830, 8vo. (pp. 82).

Of Jacotot's method, which had some vogue in Paris, the principle was Tout est dans tout,[608] and the process Apprendre quelque chose, et à y rapporter tout le reste.[609] The first tract has a proposition in conic sections and its preliminaries: the second has twenty exercises, of which the first is finding the greatest common measure of two numbers, and the last is the motion of a point on a surface, acted on by given forces. This is topped up with the problem of sound in a tube, and a slice of Laplace's theory of the tides. All to be studied until known by heart, and all the rest will come, or at least join on easily when it comes. There is much truth in the assertion that new knowledge [ 279 ] hooks on easily to a little of the old, thoroughly mastered. The day is coming when it will be found out that crammed erudition, got up for examinations, does not cast out any hooks for more.

 

Lettre à MM. les Membres de l'Académie Royale des Sciences, contenant un développement de la réfutation du système de la gravitation universelle, qui leur a été présentée le 30 août, 1830. Par Félix Passot.[610] Paris, 1830, 8vo.

Works of this sort are less common in France than in England. In France there is only the Academy of Sciences to go to: in England there is a reading public out of the Royal Society, &c.

 

A DISCOURSE ON PROBABILITY.[edit]

About 1830 was published, in the Library of Useful Knowledge, the tract on Probability, the joint work of the late Sir John Lubbock[611] and Mr. Drinkwater (Bethune).[612] It is one of the best elementary openings of the subject. A binder put my name on the outside (the work was anonymous) and the consequence was that nothing could drive out of people's heads that it was written by me. I do not know how many denials I have made, from a passage in one of my own works to a letter in the Times: and I am not sure that I have succeeded in establishing the truth, even now. I accordingly note the fact once more. But as a book has no right here unless it contain a paradox—or thing counter to general opinion or practice—I will produce two small ones. Sir John Lubbock, with whom lay the executive arrangement, had a strong objection to the last word in "Theory of Probabilities," he maintained that the singular probability, should be used; and I hold him quite right.

[ 280 ]

The second case was this: My friend Sir J. L., with a large cluster of intellectual qualities, and another of social qualities, had one point of character which I will not call bad and cannot call good; he never used a slang expression. To such a length did he carry his dislike, that he could not bear head and tail, even in a work on games of chance: so he used obverse and reverse. I stared when I first saw this: but, to my delight, I found that the force of circumstances beat him at last. He was obliged to take an example from the race-course, and the name of one of the horses was Bessy Bedlam! And he did not put her down as Elizabeth Bethlehem, but forced himself to follow the jockeys.

 

[Almanach Romain sur la Loterie Royale de France, ou les Etrennes nécessaires aux Actionnaires et Receveurs de la dite Loterie. Par M. Menut de St.-Mesmin. Paris, 1830. 12mo.

This book contains all the drawings of the French lottery (two or three, each month) from 1758 to 1830. It is intended for those who thought they could predict the future drawings from the past: and various sets of sympathetic numbers are given to help them. The principle is, that anything which has not happened for a long time must be soon to come. At rouge et noir, for example, when the red has won five times running, sagacious gamblers stake on the black, for they think the turn which must come at last is nearer than it was. So it is: but observation would have shown that if a large number of those cases had been registered which show a run of five for the red, the next game would just as often have made the run into six as have turned in favor of the black. But the gambling reasoner is incorrigible: if he would but take to squaring the circle, what a load of misery would be saved. A writer of 1823, who appeared to be thoroughly acquainted with the gambling of Paris and London, says that the gamesters by [ 281 ] profession are haunted by a secret foreboding of their future destruction, and seem as if they said to the banker at the table, as the gladiators said to the emperor, Morituri te salutant.[613]

In the French lottery, five numbers out of ninety were drawn at a time. Any person, in any part of the country, might stake any sum upon any event he pleased, as that 27 should be drawn; that 42 and 81 should be drawn; that 42 and 81 should be drawn, and 42 first; and so on up to a quine déterminé, if he chose, which is betting on five given numbers in a given order. Thus, in July, 1821, one of the drawings was

8   46   16   64   13.

A gambler had actually predicted the five numbers (but not their order), and won 131,350 francs on a trifling stake. M. Menut seems to insinuate that the hint what numbers to choose was given at his own office. Another won 20,852 francs on the quaterne, 8, 16, 46, 64, in this very drawing. These gains, of course, were widely advertised: of the multitudes who lost nothing was said. The enormous number of those who played is proved to all who have studied chances arithmetically by the numbers of simple quaternes which were gained: in 1822, fourteen; in 1823, six; in 1824, sixteen; in 1825, nine, &c.

The paradoxes of what is called chance, or hazard, might themselves make a small volume. All the world understands that there is a long run, a general average; but great part of the world is surprised that this general average should be computed and predicted. There are many remarkable cases of verification; and one of them relates to the quadrature of the circle. I give some account of this and another. Throw a penny time after time until head arrives, which it will do before long: let this be called a set. Accordingly, H is the smallest set, TH the next smallest, then TTH, &c. For abbreviation, let a set in which seven tails [ 282 ] occur before head turns up be T7H. In an immense number of trials of sets, about half will be H; about a quarter TH; about an eighth, T2H. Buffon[614] tried 2,048 sets; and several have followed him. It will tend to illustrate the principle if I give all the results; namely, that many trials will with moral certainty show an approach—and the greater the greater the number of trials—to that average which sober reasoning predicts. In the first column is the most likely number of the theory: the next column gives Buffon's result; the three next are results obtained from trial by correspondents of mine. In each case the number of trials is 2,048.

H 1,024 1,061 1,048 1,017 1,039
TH 512 494 507 547 480
T2H 256 232 248 235 267
T3H 128 137 99 118 126
T4H 64 56 71 72 67
T5H 32 29 38 32 33
T6H 16 25 17 10 19
T7H 8 8 9 9 10
T8H 4 6 5 3 3
T9H 2   3 2 4
T10H 1   1 1
T11H     0 1
T12H     0 0
T13H 1   1 0
T14H     0 0
T15H     1 1
&c.     0 0
  —— —— —— —— ——
    2,048   2,048   2,048   2,048   2,048

[ 283 ]

In very many trials, then, we may depend upon something like the predicted average. Conversely, from many trials we may form a guess at what the average will be. Thus, in Buffon's experiment the 2,048 first throws of the sets gave head in 1,061 cases: we have a right to infer that in the long run something like 1,061 out of 2,048 is the proportion of heads, even before we know the reasons for the equality of chance, which tell us that 1,024 out of 2,048 is the real truth. I now come to the way in which such considerations have led to a mode in which mere pitch-and-toss has given a more accurate approach to the quadrature of the circle than has been reached by some of my paradoxers. What would my friend[615] in No. 14 have said to this? The method is as follows: Suppose a planked floor of the usual kind, with thin visible seams between the planks. Let there be a thin straight rod, or wire, not so long as the breadth of the plank. This rod, being tossed up at hazard, will either fall quite clear of the seams, or will lay across one seam. Now Buffon, and after him Laplace, proved the following: That in the long run the fraction of the whole number of trials in which a seam is intersected will be the fraction which twice the length of the rod is of the circumference of the circle having the breadth of a plank for its diameter. In 1855 Mr. Ambrose Smith, of Aberdeen, made 3,204 trials with a rod three-fifths of the distance between the planks: there were 1,213 clear intersections, and 11 contacts on which it was difficult to decide. Divide these contacts equally, and we have 1,218½ to 3,204 for the ratio of 6 to 5\pi, presuming that the greatness of the number of trials gives something near to the final average, or result in the long run: this gives \pi = 3.1553. If all the 11 contacts had been treated as intersections, the result would have been [ 284 ] \pi = 3.1412, exceedingly near. A pupil of mine made 600 trials with a rod of the length between the seams, and got \pi = 3.137.

This method will hardly be believed until it has been repeated so often that "there never could have been any doubt about it."

The first experiment strongly illustrates a truth of the theory, well confirmed by practice: whatever can happen will happen if we make trials enough. Who would undertake to throw tail eight times running? Nevertheless, in the 8,192 sets tail 8 times running occurred 17 times; 9 times running, 9 times; 10 times running, twice; 11 times and 13 times, each once; and 15 times twice.]

 

ON CURIOSITIES OF π.[edit]

1830. The celebrated interminable fraction 3.14159..., which the mathematician calls \pi, is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter. But it is thousands of things besides. It is constantly turning up in mathematics: and if arithmetic and algebra had been studied without geometry, \pi must have come in somehow, though at what stage or under what name must have depended upon the casualties of algebraical invention. This will readily be seen when it is stated that \pi is nothing but four times the series

1 - \tfrac{1}{3} + \tfrac{1}{5} - \tfrac{1}{7} + \tfrac{1}{9} - \tfrac{1}{11} + ...

ad infinitum.[616] It would be wonderful if so simple a series [ 285 ] had but one kind of occurrence. As it is, our trigonometry being founded on the circle, \pi first appears as the ratio stated. If, for instance, a deep study of probable fluctuation from average had preceded, \pi might have emerged as a number perfectly indispensable in such problems as: What is the chance of the number of aces lying between a million + x and a million - x, when six million of throws are made with a die? I have not gone into any detail of all those cases in which the paradoxer finds out, by his unassisted acumen, that results of mathematical investigation cannot be: in fact, this discovery is only an accompaniment, though a necessary one, of his paradoxical statement of that which must be. Logicians are beginning to see that the notion of horse is inseparably connected with that of non-horse: that the first without the second would be no notion at all. And it is clear that the positive affirmation of that which contradicts mathematical demonstration cannot but be accompanied by a declaration, mostly overtly made, that demonstration is false. If the mathematician were interested in punishing this indiscretion, he could make his denier ridiculous by inventing asserted results which would completely take him in.

More than thirty years ago I had a friend, now long gone, who was a mathematician, but not of the higher branches: he was, inter alia, thoroughly up in all that relates to mortality, life assurance, &c. One day, explaining to him how it should be ascertained what the chance is of the survivors of a large number of persons now alive lying between given limits of number at the end of a certain time, I came, of course upon the introduction of \pi, which I could only describe as the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. "Oh, my dear friend! that must be a delusion; what can the circle have to do with the numbers alive at the end of a given time?"—"I cannot demonstrate it to you; but it is demonstrated."—"Oh! stuff! I think you can prove anything with your differential calculus: figment, [ 286 ] depend upon it." I said no more; but, a few days afterwards, I went to him and very gravely told him that I had discovered the law of human mortality in the Carlisle Table, of which he thought very highly. I told him that the law was involved in this circumstance. Take the table of expectation of life, choose any age, take its expectation and make the nearest integer a new age, do the same with that, and so on; begin at what age you like, you are sure to end at the place where the age past is equal, or most nearly equal, to the expectation to come. "You don't mean that this always happens?"—"Try it." He did try, again and again; and found it as I said. "This is, indeed, a curious thing; this is a discovery." I might have sent him about trumpeting the law of life: but I contented myself with informing him that the same thing would happen with any table whatsoever in which the first column goes up and the second goes down; and that if a proficient in the higher mathematics chose to palm a figment upon him, he could do without the circle: à corsaire, corsaire et demi,[617] the French proverb says. "Oh!" it was remarked, "I see, this was Milne!"[618] It was not Milne: I remember well showing the formula to him some time afterwards. He raised no difficulty about \pi; he knew the forms of Laplace's results, and he was much interested. Besides, Milne never said stuff! and figment! And he would not have been taken in: he would have quietly tried it with the Northampton and all the other tables, and would have got at the truth.

[ 287 ]

 

EUCLID WITHOUT AXIOMS.[edit]

The first book of Euclid's Elements. With alterations and familiar notes. Being an attempt to get rid of axioms altogether; and to establish the theory of parallel lines, without the introduction of any principle not common to other parts of the elements. By a member of the University of Cambridge. Third edition. In usum serenissimæ filiolæ. London, 1830.

The author was Lieut. Col. (now General) Perronet Thompson,[619] the author of the "Catechism on the Corn Laws." I reviewed the fourth edition—which had the name of "Geometry without Axioms," 1833—in the quarterly Journal of Education for January, 1834. Col. Thompson, who then was a contributor to—if not editor of—the Westminster Review, replied in an article the authorship of which could not be mistaken.

Some more attempts upon the problem, by the same author, will be found in the sequel. They are all of acute and legitimate speculation; but they do not conquer the difficulty in the manner demanded by the conditions of the problem. The paradox of parallels does not contribute much to my pages: its cases are to be found for the most part in geometrical systems, or in notes to them. Most of them consist in the proposal of additional postulates; some are attempts to do without any new postulate. Gen. Perronet Thompson, whose paradoxes are always constructed on much study of previous writers, has collected in the work above named, a budget of attempts, the heads of which are in the Penny and English Cyclopædias, at "Parallels." He has given thirty instances, selected from what he had found.[620]

[ 288 ]

Lagrange,[621] in one of the later years of his life, imagined that he had overcome the difficulty. He went so far as to write a paper, which he took with him to the Institute, and began to read it. But in the first paragraph something struck him which he had not observed: he muttered Il faut que j'y songe encore,[622] and put the paper in his pocket.

 

THE LUNAR CAUSTIC JOKE.[edit]

The following paragraph appeared in the Morning Post, May 4, 1831:

"We understand that although, owing to circumstances with which the public are not concerned, Mr. Goulburn[623] declined becoming a candidate for University honors, that his scientific attainments are far from inconsiderable. He is well known to be the author of an essay in the Philosophical Transactions on the accurate rectification of a circular arc, and of an investigation of the equation of a lunar caustic—a problem likely to become of great use in nautical astronomy."

[ 289 ]

This hoax—which would probably have succeeded with any journal—was palmed upon the Morning Post, which supported Mr. Goulburn, by some Cambridge wags who supported Mr. Lubbock, the other candidate for the University of Cambridge. Putting on the usual concealment, I may say that I always suspected Dr-nkw-t-r B-th-n-[624] of having a share in the matter. The skill of the hoax lies in avoiding the words "quadrature of the circle," which all know, and speaking of "the accurate rectification of a circular arc," which all do not know for its synonyme. The Morning Post next day gave a reproof to hoaxers in general, without referring to any particular case. It must be added, that although there are caustics in mathematics, there is no lunar caustic.

So far as Mr. Goulburn was concerned, the above was poetic justice. He was the minister who, in old time, told a deputation from the Astronomical Society that the Government "did not care twopence for all the science in the country." There may be some still alive who remember this: I heard it from more than one of those who were present, and are now gone. Matters are much changed. I was thirty years in office at the Astronomical Society; and, to my certain knowledge, every Government of that period, Whig and Tory, showed itself ready to help with influence when wanted, and with money whenever there was an answer for the House of Commons. The following correction subsequently appeared. Referring to the hoax about Mr. Goulburn, Messrs. C. H. and Thompson Cooper[625] have corrected an error, by stating that the election which gave rise to the hoax was that in which Messrs. Goulburn [ 290 ] and Yates Peel[626] defeated Lord Palmerston[627] and Mr. Cavendish.[628] They add that Mr. Gunning, the well-known Esquire Bedell of the University, attributed the hoax to the late Rev. R. Sheepshanks, to whom, they state, are also attributed certain clever fictitious biographies—of public men, as I understand it—which were palmed upon the editor of the Cambridge Chronicle, who never suspected their genuineness to the day of his death. Being in most confidential intercourse with Mr. Sheepshanks,[629] both at the time and all the rest of his life (twenty-five years), and never heard him allude to any such things—which were not in his line, though he had satirical power of quite another [ 291 ] kind—I feel satisfied he had nothing to do with them. I may add that others, his nearest friends, and also members of his family, never heard him allude to these hoaxes as their author, and disbelieve his authorship as much as I do myself. I say this not as imputing any blame to the true author, such hoaxes being fair election jokes in all time, but merely to put the saddle off the wrong horse, and to give one more instance of the insecurity of imputed authorship. Had Mr. Sheepshanks ever told me that he had perpetrated the hoax, I should have had no hesitation in giving it to him. I consider all clever election squibs, free from bitterness and personal imputation, as giving the multitude good channels for the vent of feelings which but for them would certainly find bad ones.

[But I now suspect that Mr. Babbage[630] had some hand in the hoax. He gives it in his "Passages, &c." and is evidently writing from memory, for he gives the wrong year. But he has given the paragraph, though not accurately, yet with such a recollection of the points as brings suspicion of the authorship upon him, perhaps in conjunction with D. B.[631] Both were on Cavendish's committee. Mr. Babbage adds, that "late one evening a cab drove up in hot haste to the office of the Morning Post, delivered the copy as coming from Mr. Goulburn's committee, and at the same time ordered fifty extra copies of the Post to be sent next morning to their committee-room." I think the man—the only one I ever heard of—who knew all about the cab and the extra copies must have known more.]

 

ON M. DEMONVILLE.[edit]

Demonville.—A Frenchman's Christian name is his own secret, unless there be two of the surname. M. Demonville is a very good instance of the difference between a [ 292 ] French and English discoverer. In England there is a public to listen to discoveries in mathematical subjects made without mathematics: a public which will hear, and wonder, and think it possible that the pretensions of the discoverer have some foundation. The unnoticed man may possibly be right: and the old country-town reputation which I once heard of, attaching to a man who "had written a book about the signs of the zodiac which all the philosophers in London could not answer," is fame as far as it goes. Accordingly, we have plenty of discoverers who, even in astronomy, pronounce the learned in error because of mathematics. In France, beyond the sphere of influence of the Academy of Sciences, there is no one to cast a thought upon the matter: all who take the least interest repose entire faith in the Institute. Hence the French discoverer turns all his thoughts to the Institute, and looks for his only hearing in that quarter. He therefore throws no slur upon the means of knowledge, but would say, with M. Demonville: "A l'égard de M. Poisson,[632] j'envie loyalement la millième partie de ses connaissances mathématiques, pour prouver mon systême d'astronomie aux plus incrédules."[633] This system is that the only bodies of our system are the earth, the sun, and the moon; all the others being illusions, caused by reflection of the sun and moon from the ice of the polar regions. In mathematics, addition and subtraction are for men; multiplication and division, which are in truth creation and destruction, are prerogatives of deity. But nothing multiplied by nothing is one. M. Demonville obtained an introduction to William the Fourth, who desired the opinion of the Royal Society upon his system: the [ 293 ] answer was very brief. The King was quite right; so was the Society: the fault lay with those who advised His Majesty on a matter they knew nothing about. The writings of M. Demonville in my possession are as follows.[634] The dates—which were only on covers torn off in binding—were about 1831-34:

Petit cours d'astronomie[635] followed by Sur l'unité mathématique.Principes de la physique de la création implicitement admis dans la notice sur le tonnerre par M. Arago.Question de longitude sur mer.[636]Vrai système du monde[637] (pp. 92). Same title, four pages, small type. Same title, four pages, addressed to the British Association. Same title, four pages, addressed to M. Mathieu. Same title, four pages, on M. Bouvard's report.—Résumé de la physique de la création; troisième partie du vrai système du monde.[638]

 

PARSEY'S PARADOX.[edit]

The quadrature of the circle discovered, by Arthur Parsey,[639] author of the 'art of miniature painting.' Submitted to the consideration of the Royal Society, on whose protection the author humbly throws himself. London, 1832, 8vo.

Mr. Parsey was an artist, who also made himself conspicuous by a new view of perspective. Seeing that the sides of a tower, for instance, would appear to meet in a point if the tower were high enough, he thought that these sides ought to slope to one another in the picture. On this [ 294 ] theory he published a small work, of which I have not the title, with a Grecian temple in the frontispiece, stated, if I remember rightly, to be the first picture which had ever been drawn in true perspective. Of course the building looked very Egyptian, with its sloping sides. The answer to his notion is easy enough. What is called the picture is not the picture from which the mind takes its perception; that picture is on the retina. The intermediate picture, as it may be called—the human artist's work—is itself seen perspectively. If the tower were so high that the sides, though parallel, appeared to meet in a point, the picture must also be so high that the picture-sides, though parallel, would appear to meet in a point. I never saw this answer given, though I have seen and heard the remarks of artists on Mr. Parsey's work. I am inclined to think it is commonly supposed that the artist's picture is the representation which comes before the mind: this is not true; we might as well say the same of the object itself. In July 1831, reading an article on squaring the circle, and finding that there was a difficulty, he set to work, got a light denied to all mathematicians in—some would say through—a crack, and advertised in the Times that he had done the trick. He then prepared this work, in which, those who read it will see how, he showed that 3.14159... should be 3.0625. He might have found out his error by stepping a draughtsman's circle with the compasses.

Perspective has not had many paradoxes. The only other one I remember is that of a writer on perspective, whose name I forget, and whose four pages I do not possess. He circulated remarks on my notes on the subject, published in the Athenæum, in which he denies that the stereographic projection is a case of perspective, the reason being that the whole hemisphere makes too large a picture for the eye conveniently to grasp at once. That is to say, it is no perspective because there is too much perspective. [ 295 ]

 

ON A COUPLE OF GEOMETRIES.[edit]

Principles of Geometry familiarly illustrated. By the Rev. W. Ritchie,[640] LL.D. London, 1833, 12mo.
A new Exposition of the system of Euclid's Elements, being an attempt to establish his work on a different basis. By Alfred Day,[641] LL.D. London, 1839, 12mo.

These works belong to a small class which have the peculiarity of insisting that in the general propositions of geometry a proposition gives its converse: that "Every B is A" follows from "Every A is B." Dr. Ritchie says, "If it be proved that the equality of two of the angles of a triangle depends essentially upon the equality of the opposite sides, it follows that the equality of opposite sides depends essentially on the equality of the angles." Dr. Day puts it as follows:

"That the converses of Euclid, so called, where no particular limitation is specified or implied in the leading proposition, more than in the converse, must be necessarily true; for as by the nature of the reasoning the leading proposition must be universally true, should the converse be not so, it cannot be so universally, but has at least all the exceptions conveyed in the leading proposition, and the case is therefore unadapted to geometric reasoning; or, what is the same thing, by the very nature of geometric reasoning, the particular exceptions to the extended converse must be identical with some one or other of the cases under the universal affirmative proposition with which we set forth, which is absurd."

[ 296 ]

On this I cannot help transferring to my reader the words of the Pacha when he orders the bastinado,—May it do you good! A rational study of logic is much wanted to show many mathematicians, of all degrees of proficiency, that there is nothing in the reasoning of mathematics which differs from other reasoning. Dr. Day repeated his argument in A Treatise on Proportion, London, 1840, 8vo. Dr. Ritchie was a very clear-headed man. He published, in 1818, a work on arithmetic, with rational explanations. This was too early for such an improvement, and nearly the whole of his excellent work was sold as waste paper. His elementary introduction to the Differential Calculus was drawn up while he was learning the subject late in life. Books of this sort are often very effective on points of difficulty.

 

NEWTON AGAIN OBLITERATED.[edit]

Letter to the Royal Astronomical Society in refutation of Mistaken Notions held in common, by the Society, and by all the Newtonian philosophers. By Capt. Forman,[642] R.N. Shepton-Mallet, 1833, 8vo.

Capt. Forman wrote against the whole system of gravitation, and got no notice. He then wrote to Lord Brougham, Sir J. Herschel, and others I suppose, desiring them to procure notice of his books in the reviews: this not being acceded to, he wrote (in print) to Lord John Russell[643] to complain of their "dishonest" conduct. He then sent a manuscript letter to the Astronomical Society, inviting controversy: he was answered by a recommendation to study [ 297 ] dynamics. The above pamphlet was the consequence, in which, calling the Council of the Society "craven dunghill cocks," he set them right about their doctrines. From all I can learn, the life of a worthy man and a creditable officer was completely embittered by his want of power to see that no person is bound in reason to enter into controversy with every one who chooses to invite him to the field. This mistake is not peculiar to philosophers, whether of orthodoxy or paradoxy; a majority of educated persons imply, by their modes of proceeding, that no one has a right to any opinion which he is not prepared to defend against all comers.

 

David and Goliath, or an attempt to prove that the Newtonian system of Astronomy is directly opposed to the Scriptures. By Wm. Lauder,[644] Sen., Mere, Wilts. Mere, 1833, 12mo.

Newton is Goliath; Mr. Lauder is David. David took five pebbles; Mr. Lauder takes five arguments. He expects opposition; for Paul and Jesus both met with it.

Mr. Lauder, in his comparison, seems to put himself in the divinely inspired class. This would not be a fair inference in every case; but we know not what to think when we remember that a tolerable number of cyclometers have attributed their knowledge to direct revelation. The works of this class are very scarce; I can only mention one or two from Montucla.[645] Alphonso Cano de Molina,[646] in the last century, upset all Euclid, and squared the circle upon the ruins; he found a follower, Janson, who translated him from Spanish into Latin. He declared that he believed in Euclid, until God, who humbles the proud, taught him better. One Paul Yvon, called from his estate de la Leu, a merchant at Rochelle, supported by his book-keeper, M. Pujos, and a [ 298 ] Scotchman, John Dunbar, solved the problem by divine grace, in a manner which was to convert all Jews, Infidels, etc. There seem to have been editions of his work in 1619 and 1628, and a controversial "Examen" in 1630, by Robert Sara. There was a noted discussion, in which Mydorge,[647] Hardy,[648] and others took part against de la Leu. I cannot find this name either in Lipenius[649] or Murhard,[650] and I should not have known the dates if it had not been for one of the keenest bibliographers of any time, my friend Prince Balthasar Boncompagni,[651] who is trying to find copies of the works, and has managed to find copies of the titles. In 1750, Henry Sullamar, an Englishman, squared the circle by the number of the Beast: he published a pamphlet every two or three years; but I cannot find any mention of him in English works.[652] In France, in 1753, M. de Causans,[653] of the Guards, cut a circular piece of turf, squared it, and [ 299 ] deduced original sin and the Trinity. He found out that the circle was equal to the square in which it is inscribed; and he offered a reward for detection of any error, and actually deposited 10,000 francs as earnest of 300,000. But the courts would not allow any one to recover.

 

SIR JOHN HERSCHEL.[edit]

1834. In this year Sir John Herschel[654] set up his telescope at Feldhausen, Cape of Good Hope. He did much for astronomy, but not much for the Budget of Paradoxes. He gives me, however, the following story. He showed a resident a remarkable blood-red star, and some little time after he heard of a sermon preached in those parts in which it was asserted that the statements of the Bible must be true, for that Sir J. H. had seen in his telescope "the very place where wicked people go."

But red is not always the color. Sir J. Herschel has in his possession a letter written to his father, Sir W. H.,[655] dated April 3, 1787, and signed "Eliza Cumyns," begging to know if any of the stars be indigo in color, "because, if there be, I think it may be deemed a strong conjectural illustration of the expression, so often used by our Saviour in the Holy Gospels, that 'the disobedient shall be cast into outer darkness'; for as the Almighty Being can doubtless confine any of his creatures, whether corporeal or spiritual, to what part of his creation He pleases, if therefore any of the stars (which are beyond all doubt so many suns to other systems) be of so dark a color as that above mentioned, they may be calculated to give the most insufferable heat to those dolorous systems dependent upon them (and to reprobate spirits placed there), without one ray of cheerful light; and may therefore be the scenes of future punishments." This letter is addressed to Dr. Heirschel at Slow. Some have placed the infernal regions inside the earth, but [ 300 ] others have filled this internal cavity—for cavity they will have—with refulgent light, and made it the abode of the blessed. It is difficult to build without knowing the number to be provided for. A friend of mine heard the following (part) dialogue between two strong Scotch Calvinists: "Noo! hoo manny d'ye thank there are of the alact on the arth at this moment?—Eh! mabbee a doozen—Hoot! mon! nae so mony as thot!"

 

THE NAUTICAL ALMANAC.[edit]

1834. From 1769 to 1834 the Nautical Almanac was published on a plan which gradually fell behind what was wanted. In 1834 the new series began, under a new superintendent (Lieut. W. S. Stratford).[656] There had been a long scientific controversy, which would not be generally intelligible. To set some of the points before the reader, I reprint a cutting which I have by me. It is from the Nautical Magazine, but I did hear that some had an idea that it was in the Nautical Almanac itself. It certainly was not, and I feel satisfied the Lords of the Admiralty would not have permitted the insertion; they are never in advance of their age. The Almanac for 1834 was published in July 1833.

The New Nautical Almanac—Extract from the 'Primum Mobile,' and 'Milky Way Gazette.' Communicated by Aerolith.

A meeting of the different bodies composing the Solar System was this day held at the Dragon's Tail, for the purpose of taking into consideration the alterations and amendments introduced into the New Nautical Almanac. The honorable luminaries had been individually summoned [ 301 ] by fast-sailing comets, and there was a remarkably full attendance. Among the visitors we observed several nebulæ, and almost all the stars whose proper motions would admit of their being present.

The Sun was unanimously called to the focus. The small planets took the oaths, and their places, after a short discussion, in which it was decided that the places should be those of the Almanac itself, with leave reserved to move for corrections.

Petitions were presented from α and δ Ursæ Minoris, complaining of being put on daily duty, and praying for an increase of salary.—Laid on the plane of the ecliptic.

The trustees of the eccentricity[657] and inclination funds reported a balance of .00001 in the former, and a deficit of 0".009 in the latter. This announcement caused considerable surprise, and a committee was moved for, to ascertain which of the bodies had more or less than his share. After some discussion, in which the small planets offered to consent to a reduction, if necessary, the motion was carried.

The Focal Body then rose to address the meeting. He remarked that the subject on which they were assembled was one of great importance to the routes and revolutions of the heavenly bodies. For himself, though a private arrangement between two of his honourable neighbours (here he looked hard at the Earth and Venus) had prevented his hitherto paying that close attention to the predictions of the Nautical Almanac which he declared he always had wished to do; yet he felt consoled by knowing that the conductors of that work had every disposition to take his peculiar circumstances into consideration. He declared that he had never passed the wires of a transit without deeply feeling his inability to adapt himself to the present state of his theory; a feeling which he was afraid had sometimes caused a slight tremor in his limb. Before [ 302 ] he sat down, he expressed a hope that honourable luminaries would refrain as much as possible from eclipsing each other, or causing mutual perturbations. Indeed, he should be very sorry to see any interruption of the harmony of the spheres. (Applause.)

The several articles of the New Nautical Almanac were then read over without any comment; only we observed that Saturn shook his ring at every novelty, and Jupiter gave his belt a hitch, and winked at the satellites at page 21 of each month.

The Moon rose to propose a resolution. No one, he said, would be surprised at his bringing this matter forward in the way he did, when it was considered in how complete and satisfactory a manner his motions were now represented. He must own he had trembled when the Lords of the Admiralty dissolved the Board of Longitude, but his tranquillity was more than reestablished by the adoption of the new system. He did not know but that any little assistance he could give in Nautical Astronomy was becoming of less and less value every day, owing to the improvement of chronometers. But there was one thing, of which nothing could deprive him—he meant the regulation of the tides. And, perhaps, when his attention was not occupied by more than the latter, he should be able to introduce a little more regularity into the phenomena. (Here the honourable luminary gave a sort of modest libration, which convulsed the meeting with laughter.) They might laugh at his natural infirmity if they pleased, but he could assure them it arose only from the necessity he was under, when young, of watching the motions of his worthy primary. He then moved a resolution highly laudatory of the alterations which appeared in the New Nautical Almanac.

The Earth rose, to second the motion. His honourable satellite had fully expressed his opinions on the subject. He joined his honourable friend in the focus in wishing to pay every attention to the Nautical Almanac, but, [ 303 ] really, when so important an alteration had taken place in his magnetic pole[658] (hear) and there might, for aught he knew, be a successful attempt to reach his pole of rotation, he thought he could not answer for the preservation of the precession in its present state. (Here the hon. luminary, scratching his side, exclaimed, as he sat down, "More steamboats—confound 'em!")

An honourable satellite (whose name we could not learn) proposed that the resolution should be immediately despatched, corrected for refraction, when he was called to order by the Focal Body, who reminded him that it was contrary to the moving orders of the system to take cognizance of what passed inside the atmosphere of any planet.

Saturn and Pallas rose together. (Cries of "New member!" and the former gave way.) The latter, in a long and eloquent speech, praised the liberality with which he and his colleagues had at length been relieved from astronomical disqualifications. He thought that it was contrary to the spirit of the laws of gravitation to exclude any planet from office on account of the eccentricity or inclination of his orbit. Honourable luminaries need not talk of the want of convergency of his series. What had they to do with any private arrangements between him and the general equations of the system? (Murmurs from the opposition.) So long as he obeyed the laws of motion, to which he had that day taken a solemn oath, he would ask, were old planets, which were now so well known that nobody trusted them, to....

The Focal Body said he was sorry to break the continuity of the proceedings, but he thought that remarks upon character, with a negative sign, would introduce [ 304 ] differences of too high an order. The honourable luminary must eliminate the expression which he had brought out, in finite terms, and use smaller inequalities in future. (Hear, hear.)

Pallas explained, that he was far from meaning to reflect upon the orbital character of any planet present. He only meant to protest against being judged by any laws but those of gravitation, and the differential calculus: he thought it most unjust that astronomers should prevent the small planets from being observed, and then reproach them with the imperfections of the tables, which were the result of their own narrow-minded policy. (Cheers.)

Saturn thought that, as an old planet, he had not been treated with due respect. (Hear, from his satellites.) He had long foretold the wreck of the system from the friends of innovation. Why, he might ask, were his satellites to be excluded, when small planets, trumpery comets, which could not keep their mean distances (cries of oh! oh!), double stars, with graphical approximations, and such obscure riff-raff of the heavens (great uproar) found room enough. So help him Arithmetic, nothing could come of it, but a stoppage of all revolution. His hon. friend in the focus might smile, for he would be a gainer by such an event; but as for him (Saturn), he had something to lose, and hon. luminaries well knew that, whatever they might think under an atmosphere, above it continual revolution was the only way of preventing perpetual anarchy. As to the hon. luminary who had risen before him, he was not surprised at his remarks, for he had invariably observed that he and his colleagues allowed themselves too much latitude. The stability of the system required that they should be brought down, and he, for one, would exert all his powers of attraction to accomplish that end. If other bodies would cordially unite with him, particularly his noble friend next him, than whom no luminary possessed greater weight—

Jupiter rose to order. He conceived his noble friend [ 305 ] had no right to allude to him in that manner, and was much surprised at his proposal, considering the matters which remained in dispute between them. In the present state of affairs, he would take care never to be in conjunction with his hon. neighbour one moment longer than he could help. (Cries of "Order, order, no long inequalities," during which he sat down.)

Saturn proceeded to say, that he did not know till then that a planet with a ring could affront one who had only a belt, by proposing mutual co-operation. He would now come to the subject under discussion. He should think meanly of his hon. colleagues if they consented to bestow their approbation upon a mere astronomical production. Had they forgotten that they once were considered the arbiters of fate, and the prognosticators of man's destiny? What had lost them that proud position? Was it not the infernal march of intellect, which, after having turned the earth topsy-turvy, was now disturbing the very universe? For himself (others might do as they pleased), but he stuck to the venerable Partridge,[659] and the Stationers' Company, and trusted that they would outlive infidels and anarchists, whether of Astronomical or Diffusion of Knowledge Societies. (Cries of oh! oh!)

Mars said he had been told, for he must confess he had not seen the work, that the places of the planets were given for Sundays. This, he must be allowed to say, was an indecorum he had not expected; and he was convinced the Lords of the Admiralty had given no orders to that effect. He hoped this point would be considered in the measure which had been introduced in another place, and that some [ 306 ] one would move that the prohibition against travelling on Sundays extend to the heavenly as well as earthly bodies.

Several of the stars here declared, that they had been much annoyed by being observed on Sunday evenings, during the hours of divine service.

The room was then cleared for a division, but we are unable to state what took place. Several comets-at-arms were sent for, and we heard rumors of a personal collision having taken place between two luminaries in opposition. We were afterwards told that the resolution was carried by a majority, and the luminaries elongated at 2 h. 15 m. 33,41 s. sidereal time.

 * * * It is reported, but we hope without foundation, that Saturn, and several other discontented planets, have accepted an invitation from Sirius to join his system, on the most liberal appointments. We believe the report to have originated in nothing more than the discovery of the annual parallax of Sirius from the orbit of Saturn; but we may safely assure our readers that no steps have as yet been taken to open any communication.

We are also happy to state, that there is no truth in the rumor of the laws of gravitation being about to be repealed. We have traced this report, and find it originated with a gentleman living near Bath (Captain Forman, R.N),[660] whose name we forbear to mention.

A great excitement has been observed among the nebulæ, visible to the earth's southern hemisphere, particularly among those which have not yet been discovered from thence. We are at a loss to conjecture the cause, but we shall not fail to report to our readers the news of any movement which may take place. (Sir J. Herschel's visit. He could just see this before he went out.)

[ 307 ]

 

WOODLEY'S DIVINE SYSTEM.[edit]

A Treatise on the Divine System of the Universe, by Captain Woodley, R.N.,[661] and as demonstrated by his Universal Time-piece, and universal method of determining a ship's longitude by the apparent true place of the moon; with an introduction refuting the solar system of Copernicus, the Newtonian philosophy, and mathematics. 1834.[662] 8vo.
Description of the Universal Time-piece. (4pp. 12mo.)

I think this divine system was published several years before, and was republished with an introduction in 1834.[663] Capt. Woodley was very sure that the earth does not move: he pointed out to me, in a conversation I had with him, something—I forget what—in the motion of the Great Bear, visible to any eye, which could not possibly be if the earth moved. He was exceedingly ignorant, as the following quotation from his account of the usual opinion will show:

"The north pole of the Earth's axis deserts, they say, the north star or pole of the Heavens, at the rate of 1° in 71¾ years.... The fact is, nothing can be more certain than that the Stars have not changed their latitudes or declinations one degree in the last 71¾ years."

This is a strong specimen of a class of men by whom all accessible persons who have made any name in science are hunted. It is a pity that they cannot be admitted into scientific societies, and allowed fairly to state their cases, and stand quiet cross-examination, being kept in their answers very close to the questions, and the answers written down. I am perfectly satisfied that if one meeting in the year were devoted to the hearing of those who chose to come forward on such conditions, much good would be done. But I strongly suspect few would come forward [ 308 ] at first, and none in a little while: and I have had some experience of the method I recommend, privately tried. Capt. Woodley was proposed, a little after 1834, as a Fellow of the Astronomical Society; and, not caring whether he moved the sun or the earth, or both—I could not have stood neither—I signed the proposal. I always had a sneaking kindness for paradoxers, such a one, perhaps, as Petit André had for his lambs, as he called them. There was so little feeling against his opinions, that he only failed by a fraction of a ball. Had I myself voted, he would have been elected; but being engaged in conversation, and not having heard the slightest objection to him, I did not think it worth while to cross the room for the purpose. I regretted this at the time, but had I known how ignorant he was I should not have supported him. Probably those who voted against him knew more of his book than I did.

I remember no other instance of exclusion from a scientific society on the ground of opinion, even if this be one; of which it may be that ignorance had more to do with it than paradoxy. Mr. Frend,[664] a strong anti-Newtonian, was a Fellow of the Astronomical Society, and for some years in the Council. Lieut. Kerigan[665] was elected to the Royal Society at a time when his proposers must have known that his immediate object was to put F.R.S. on the title-page of a work against the tides. To give all I know, I may add that the editor of some very ignorant bombast about the "forehead of the solar sky," who did not know the difference between Bailly[666] and Baily,[667] received hints which induced him to withdraw his proposal for election into the Astronomical Society. But this was an act of kindness; [ 309 ] for if he had seen Mr. Baily in the chair, with his head on, he might have been political historian enough to faint away.

 

De la formation des Corps. Par Paul Laurent.[668] Nancy, 1834, 8vo.

Atoms, and ether, and ovules or eggs, which are planets, and their eggs, which are satellites. These speculators can create worlds, in which they cannot be refuted; but none of them dare attack the problem of a grain of wheat, and its passage from a seed to a plant, bearing scores of seeds like what it was itself.

 

ON JOHN FLAMSTEED.[edit]

An account of the Rev. John Flamsteed,[669] the First Astronomer-Royal.... By Francis Baily,[670] Esq. London, 1835, 4to. Supplement, London, 1837, 4to.

My friend Francis Baily was a paradoxer: he brought forward things counter to universal opinion. That Newton was impeccable in every point was the national creed; and failings of temper and conduct would have been utterly disbelieved, if the paradox had not come supported by very unusual evidence. Anybody who impeached Newton on existing evidence might as well have been squaring the circle, for any attention he would have got. About this book I will tell a story. It was published by the Admiralty for distribution; and the distribution was entrusted to Mr. Baily. On the eve of its appearance, rumors of its extraordinary revelations got about, and persons of influence applied to the Admiralty for copies. The Lords were in a difficulty: but on looking at the list they saw names, as they [ 310 ] thought, which were so obscure that they had a right to assume Mr. Baily had included persons who had no claim to such a compliment as presentation from the Admiralty. The Secretary requested Mr. Baily to call upon him. "Mr. Baily, my Lords are inclined to think that some of the persons in this list are perhaps not of that note which would justify their Lordships in presenting this work."—"To whom does your observation apply, Mr. Secretary?"—"Well, now, let us examine the list; let me see; now,—now,—now,—come!—here's Gauss[671]who's Gauss?"—"Gauss, Mr. Secretary, is the oldest mathematician now living, and is generally thought to be the greatest."—"O-o-oh! Well, Mr. Baily, we will see about it, and I will write you a letter." The letter expressed their Lordships' perfect satisfaction with the list.

There was a controversy about the revelations made in this work; but as the eccentric anomalies took no part in it, there is nothing for my purpose. The following valentine from Mrs. Flamsteed,[672] which I found among Baily's papers, illustrates some of the points:

"3 Astronomers' Row, Paradise: February 14, 1836.

"Dear Sir,—I suppose you hardly expected to receive a letter from me, dated from this place; but the truth is, a gentleman from our street was appointed guardian angel to the American Treaty, in which there is some astronomical question about boundaries. He has got leave to go back to fetch some instruments which he left behind, and I take this opportunity of making your acquaintance. That America has become a wonderful place since I was down among you; you have no idea how grand the fire at New York [ 311 ] looked up here. Poor dear Mr. Flamsteed does not know I am writing a letter to a gentleman on Valentine's day; he is walked out with Sir Isaac Newton (they are pretty good friends now, though they do squabble a little sometimes) and Sir William Herschel, to see a new nebula. Sir Isaac says he can't make out at all how it is managed; and I am sure I cannot help him. I never bothered my head about those things down below, and I don't intend to begin here.

"I have just received the news of your having written a book about my poor dear man. It's a chance that I heard it at all; for the truth is, the scientific gentlemen are somehow or other become so wicked, and go so little to church, that very few of them are considered fit company for this place. If it had not been for Dr. Brinkley,[673] who came here of course, I should not have heard about it. He seems a nice man, but is not yet used to our ways. As to Mr. Halley,[674] he is of course not here; which is lucky for him, for Mr. Flamsteed swore the moment he caught him in a place where there are no magistrates, he would make a sacrifice of him to heavenly truth. It was very generous in Mr. F. not appearing against Sir Isaac when he came up, for I am told that if he had, Sir Isaac would not have been allowed to come in at all. I should have been sorry for that, for he is a companionable man enough, only holds his head rather higher than he should do. I met him the other day walking with Mr. Whiston,[675] and disputing about the deluge. 'Well, Mrs. Flamsteed,' says he, 'does old Poke-the-Stars understand gravitation yet?' Now you must know that is rather a sore point with poor dear Mr. Flamsteed. He says that Sir Isaac is as crochetty about the moon as ever; and as to [ 312 ] what some people say about what has been done since his time, he says he should like to see somebody who knows something about it of himself. For it is very singular that none of the people who have carried on Sir Isaac's notions have been allowed to come here.

"I hope you have not forgotten to tell how badly Sir Isaac used Mr. Flamsteed about that book. I have never quite forgiven him; as for Mr. Flamsteed, he says that as long as he does not come for observations, he does not care about it, and that he will never trust him with any papers again as long as he lives. I shall never forget what a rage he came home in when Sir Isaac had called him a puppy. He struck the stairs all the way up with his crutch, and said puppy at every step, and all the evening, as soon as ever a star appeared in the telescope, he called it puppy. I could not think what was the matter, and when I asked, he only called me puppy.

"I shall be very glad to see you if you come our way. Pray keep up some appearances, and go to church a little. St. Peter is always uncommonly civil to astronomers, and indeed to all scientific persons, and never bothers them with many questions. If they can make anything out of the case, he is sure to let them in. Indeed, he says, it is perfectly out of the question expecting a mathematician to be as religious as an apostle, but that it is as much as his place is worth to let in the greater number of those who come. So try if you cannot manage it, for I am very curious to know whether you found all the letters. I remain, dear sir, your faithful servant,

"Margaret Flamsteed.
Francis Baily, Esq.

"P.S. Mr. Flamsteed has come in, and says he left Sir Isaac riding cockhorse upon the nebula, and poring over it as if it were a book. He has brought in his old acquaintance Ozanam,[676] who says that it was always his maxim on [ 313 ] earth, that 'il appartient aux docteurs de Sorbonne de disputer, au Pape de prononcer, et au mathématicien d'aller en Paradis en ligne perpendiculaire.'"[677]

 

ON STEVIN.[edit]

The Secretary of the Admiralty was completely extinguished. I can recall but two instances of demolition as complete, though no doubt there are many others. The first is in

Simon Stevin[678] and M. Dumortier. Nieuport, 1845, 12mo.

M. Dumortier was a member of the Academy of Brussels: there was a discussion, I believe, about a national Pantheon for Belgium. The name of Stevinus suggested itself as naturally as that of Newton to an Englishman; probably no Belgian is better known to foreigners as illustrious in science. Stevinus is great in the Mécanique Analytique of Lagrange;[679] Stevinus is great in the Tristram Shandy of Sterne. M. Dumortier, who believed that not one Belgian in a thousand knew Stevinus, and who confesses with ironical shame that he was not the odd man, protested against placing the statue of an obscure man in the Pantheon, to give foreigners the notion that Belgium could show nothing greater. The work above named is a slashing retort: any one who knows the history of science ever so little may imagine what a dressing was given, by mere extract from foreign writers. The tract is a letter signed J. du Fan, but this is a pseudonym of Mr. Van de Weyer.[680] The Academician says Stevinus was a man who was not [ 314 ] without merit for the time at which he lived: Sir! is the answer, he was as much before his own time as you are behind yours. How came a man who had never heard of Stevinus to be a member of the Brussels Academy?

The second story was told me by Mr. Crabb Robinson,[681] who was long connected with the Times, and intimately acquainted with Mr. W***.[682] When W*** was an undergraduate at Cambridge, taking a walk, he came to a stile, on which sat a bumpkin who did not make way for him: the gown in that day looked down on the town. "Why do you not make way for a gentleman?"—"Eh?"—"Yes, why do you not move? You deserve a good hiding, and you shall get it if you don't take care!" The bumpkin raised his muscular figure on its feet, patted his menacer on the head, and said, very quietly,—"Young man! I'm Cribb."[683] W*** seized the great pugilist's hand, and shook it warmly, got him to his own rooms in college, collected some friends, and had a symposium which lasted until the large end of the small hours.

 

FINLEYSON AS A PARADOXER.[edit]

God's Creation of the Universe as it is, in support of the Scriptures. By Mr. Finleyson.[684] Sixth Edition, 1835, 8vo.

[ 315 ]

This writer, by his own account, succeeded in delivering the famous Lieut. Richard Brothers[685] from the lunatic asylum, and tending him, not as a keeper but as a disciple, till he died. Brothers was, by his own account, the nephew of the Almighty, and Finleyson ought to have been the nephew of Brothers. For Napoleon came to him in a vision, with a broken sword and an arrow in his side, beseeching help: Finleyson pulled out the arrow, but refused to give a new sword; whereby poor Napoleon, though he got off with life, lost the battle of Waterloo. This story was written to the Duke of Wellington, ending with "I pulled out the arrow, but left the broken sword. Your Grace can supply the rest, and what followed is amply recorded in history." The book contains a long account of applications to Government to do three things: to pay 2,000l. for care taken of Brothers, to pay 10,000l. for discovery of the longitude, and to prohibit the teaching of the Newtonian system, which makes God a liar. The successive administrations were threatened that they would have to turn out if they refused, which, it is remarked, came to pass in every case. I have heard of a joke of Lord Macaulay, that the House of Commons must be the Beast of the Revelations, since 658 members, with the officers necessary for the action of the House, make 666. Macaulay read most things, and the greater part of the rest: so that he might be suspected of having appropriated as a joke one of Finleyson's serious points—"I wrote Earl Grey[686] upon the 13th of July, 1831, informing him that his Reform [ 316 ] Bill could not be carried, as it reduced the members below the present amount of 658, which, with the eight principal clerks or officers of the House, make the number 666." But a witness has informed me that Macaulay's joke was made in his hearing a great many years before the Reform Bill was proposed; in fact, when both were students at Cambridge. Earl Grey was, according to Finleyson, a descendant of Uriah the Hittite. For a specimen of Lieut. Brothers, this book would be worth picking up. Perhaps a specimen of the Lieutenant's poetry may be acceptable: Brothers loquitur, remember:

"Jerusalem ! Jerusalem! shall be built again!
More rich, more grand then ever;
And through it shall Jordan flow!(!)
My people's favourite river.
There I'll erect a splendid throne,
And build on the wasted place;
To fulfil my ancient covenant
To King David and his race.
 * * * * *
"Euphrates' stream shall flow with ships,
And also my wedded Nile;
And on my coast shall cities rise,
Each one distant but a mile.
 * * * * *
"My friends the Russians on the north
With Persees and Arabs round,
Do show the limits of my land,
Here! Here! then I mark the ground."

 

ON THEOLOGICAL PARADOXERS.[edit]

Among the paradoxers are some of the theologians who in their own organs of the press venture to criticise science. These may hold their ground when they confine themselves to the geology of long past periods and to general cosmogony: for it is the tug of Greek against Greek; and both sides deal much in what is grand when called hypothesis, petty when called supposition. And very often they are not conspicuous when they venture upon things within knowledge; [ 317 ] wrong, but not quite wrong enough for a Budget of Paradoxes. One case, however, is destined to live, as an instance of a school which finds writers, editors, and readers. The double stars have been seen from the seventeenth century, and diligently observed by many from the time of Wm. Herschel, who first devoted continuous attention to them. The year 1836 was that of a remarkable triumph of astronomical prediction. The theory of gravitation had been applied to the motion of binary stars about each other, in elliptic orbits, and in that year the two stars of γ Virginis, as had been predicted should happen within a few years of that time—for years are small quantities in such long revolutions—the two stars came to their nearest: in fact, they appeared to be one as much with the telescope as without it. This remarkable turning-point of the history of a long and widely-known branch of astronomy was followed by an article in the Church of England Quarterly Review for April 1837, written against the Useful Knowledge Society. The notion that there are any such things as double stars is (p. 460) implied to be imposture or delusion, as in the following extract. I suspect that I myself am the Sidrophel, and that my companion to the maps of the stars, written for the Society and published in 1836, is the work to which the writer refers:

"We have forgotten the name of that Sidrophel who lately discovered that the fixed stars were not single stars, but appear in the heavens like soles at Billingsgate, in pairs; while a second astronomer, under the influence of that competition in trade which the political economists tell us is so advantageous to the public, professes to show us, through his superior telescope, that the apparently single stars are really three. Before such wondrous mandarins of science, how continually must homunculi like ourselves keep in the background, lest we come between the wind and their nobility."

If the homunculus who wrote this be still above ground, [ 318 ] how devoutly must he hope he may be able to keep in the background! But the chief blame falls on the editor. The title of the article is:

"The new school of superficial pantology; a speech intended to be delivered before a defunct Mechanics' Institute. By Swallow Swift, late M.P. for the Borough of Cockney-Cloud, Witsbury: reprinted Balloon Island, Bubble year, month Ventose. Long live Charlatan!"

As a rule, orthodox theologians should avoid humor, a weapon which all history shows to be very difficult to employ in favor of establishment, and which, nine times out of ten, leaves its wielder fighting on the side of heterodoxy. Theological argument, when not enlivened by bigotry, is seldom worse than narcotic: but theological fun, when not covert heresy, is almost always sialagogue. The article in question is a craze, which no editor should have admitted, except after severe inspection by qualified persons. The author of this wit committed a mistake which occurs now and then in old satire, the confusion between himself and the party aimed at. He ought to be reviewing this fictitious book, but every now and then the article becomes the book itself; not by quotation, but by the writer forgetting that he is not Mr. Swallow Swift, but his reviewer. In fact he and Mr. S. Swift had each had a dose of the Devil's Elixir. A novel so called, published about forty years ago, proceeds upon a legend of this kind. If two parties both drink of the elixir, their identities get curiously intermingled; each turns up in the character of the other throughout the three volumes, without having his ideas clear as to whether he be himself or the other. There is a similar confusion in the answer made to the famous Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum:[687] it is headed Lamentationes Obscurorum Virorum.[688] [ 319 ] This is not a retort of the writer, throwing back the imputation: the obscure men who had been satirized are themselves made, by name, to wince under the disapprobation which the Pope had expressed at the satire upon themselves.

Of course the book here reviewed is a transparent forgery. But I do not know how often it may have happened that the book, in the journals which always put a title at the head, may have been written after the review. About the year 1830 a friend showed me the proof of an article of his on the malt tax, for the next number of the Edinburgh Review. Nothing was wanting except the title of the book reviewed; I asked what it was. He sat down, and wrote as follows at the head, "The Maltster's Guide (pp. 124)," and said that would do as well as anything.

But I myself, it will be remarked, have employed such humor as I can command "in favor of establishment." What it is worth I am not to judge; as usual in such cases, those who are of my cabal pronounce it good, but cyclometers and other paradoxers either call it very poor, or commend it as sheer buffoonery. Be it one or the other, I observe that all the effective ridicule is, in this subject, on the side of establishment. This is partly due to the difficulty of quizzing plain and sober demonstration; but so much, if not more, to the ignorance of the paradoxers. For that which cannot be ridiculed, can be turned into ridicule by those who know how. But by the time a person is deep enough in negative quantities, and impossible quantities, to be able to satirize them, he is caught, and being inclined to become a user, shrinks from being an abuser. Imagine a person with a gift of ridicule, and knowledge enough, trying his hand on the junction of the assertions which he will find in various books of algebra. First, that a negative quantity has no logarithm; secondly, that a [ 320 ] negative quantity has no square root; thirdly, that the first non-existent is to the second as the circumference of a circle to its diameter. One great reason of the allowance of such unsound modes of expression is the confidence felt by the writers that √-1 and log(-1) will make their way, however inaccurately described. I heartily wish that the cyclometers had knowledge enough to attack the weak points of algebraical diction: they would soon work a beneficial change.[689]

 

AN EARLY METEOROLOGIST.[edit]

Recueil de ma vie, mes ouvrages et mes pensées. Par Thomas Ignace Marie Forster.[690] Brussels, 1836, 12mo.

Mr. Forster, an Englishman settled at Bruges, was an observer in many subjects, but especially in meteorology. He communicated to the Astronomical Society, in 1848, the information that, in the registers kept by his grandfather, his father, and himself, beginning in 1767, new moon on Saturday was followed, nineteen times out of twenty, by twenty days of rain and wind. This statement being published in the Athenæum, a cluster of correspondents averred that the belief is common among seamen, in all parts of the world, and among landsmen too. Some one quoted a distich:

"Saturday's moon and Sunday's full
Never were fine and never wull."

[ 321 ] Another brought forward:

"If a Saturday's moon
Comes once in seven years it comes too soon."

Mr. Forster did not say he was aware of the proverbial character of the phenomenon. He was a very eccentric man. He treated his dogs as friends, and buried them with ceremony. He quarrelled with the curé of his parish, who remarked that he could not take his dogs to heaven with him. I will go nowhere, said he, where I cannot take my dog. He was a sincere Catholic: but there is a point beyond which even churches have no influence.

The following is some account of the announcement of 1849. The Athenæum (Feb. 17), giving an account of the meeting of the Astronomical Society in December, 1858, says:

"Dr. Forster of Bruges, who is well known as a meteorologist, made a communication at which our readers will stare: he declares that by journals of the weather kept by his grandfather, father, and himself, ever since 1767, to the present time, whenever the new moon has fallen on a Saturday, the following twenty days have been wet and windy, in nineteen cases out of twenty. In spite of our friend Zadkiel[691] and the others who declare that we would smother every truth that does not happen to agree with us, we are glad to see that the Society had the sense to publish this communication, coming, as it does, from a veteran observer, and one whose love of truth is undoubted. It must be that the fact is so set down in the journals, because Dr. Forster says it: and whether it be only a fact of the journals, or one of the heavens, can soon be tried. The new moon of March next, falls on Saturday the 24th, at 2 in the afternoon. We shall certainly look out."

[ 322 ]

The following appeared in the number of March 31:

"The first Saturday Moon since Dr. Forster's announcement came off a week ago. We had previously received a number of letters from different correspondents—all to the effect that the notion of new moon on Saturday bringing wet weather is one of widely extended currency. One correspondent (who gives his name) states that he has constantly heard it at sea, and among the farmers and peasantry in Scotland, Ireland, and the North of England. He proceeds thus: 'Since 1826, nineteen years of the time I have spent in a seafaring life. I have constantly observed, though unable to account for, the phenomenon. I have also heard the stormy qualities of a Saturday's moon remarked by American, French, and Spanish seamen; and, still more distant, a Chinese pilot, who was once doing duty on board my vessel seemed to be perfectly cognizant of the fact.' So that it seems we have, in giving currency to what we only knew as a very curious communication from an earnest meteorologist, been repeating what is common enough among sailors and farmers. Another correspondent affirms that the thing is most devoutly believed in by seamen; who would as soon sail on a Friday as be in the Channel after a Saturday moon.—After a tolerable course of dry weather, there was some snow, accompanied by wind on Saturday last, here in London; there were also heavy louring clouds. Sunday was cloudy and cold, with a little rain; Monday was louring, Tuesday unsettled; Wednesday quite overclouded, with rain in the morning. The present occasion shows only a general change of weather with a tendency towards rain. If Dr. Forster's theory be true, it is decidedly one of the minor instances, as far as London weather is concerned.—It will take a good deal of evidence to make us believe in the omen of a Saturday Moon. But, as we have said of the Poughkeepsie Seer, the thing is very curious whether true or false. Whence comes this universal proverb—and a hundred others—while the meteorological observer [ 323 ] cannot, when he puts down a long series of results, detect any weather cycles at all? One of our correspondents wrote us something of a lecture for encouraging, he said, the notion that names could influence the weather. He mistakes the question. If there be any weather cycles depending on the moon, it is possible that one of them may be so related to the week cycle of seven days, as to show recurrences which are of the kind stated, or any other. For example, we know that if the new moon of March fall on a Saturday in this year, it will most probably fall on a Saturday nineteen years hence. This is not connected with the spelling of Saturday—but with the connection between the motions of the sun and moon. Nothing but the Moon can settle the question—and we are willing to wait on her for further information. If the adage be true, then the philosopher has missed what lies before his eyes; if false, then the world can be led by the nose in spite of the eyes. Both these things happen sometimes; and we are willing to take whichever of the two solutions is borne out by future facts. In the mean time, we announce the next Saturday Moon for the 18th of August."

How many coincidences are required to establish a law of connection? It depends on the way in which the mind views the matter in question. Many of the paradoxers are quite set up by a very few instances. I will now tell a story about myself, and then ask them a question.

So far as instances can prove a law, the following is proved: no failure has occurred. Let a clergyman be known to me, whether by personal acquaintance or correspondence, or by being frequently brought before me by those with whom I am connected in private life: that clergyman does not, except in few cases, become a bishop; but if he become a bishop, he is sure, first or last, to become an arch-bishop. This has happened in every case. As follows:

1. My last schoolmaster, a former Fellow of Oriel, was [ 324 ] a very intimate college friend of Richard Whately[692], a younger man. Struck by his friend's talents, he used to talk of him perpetually, and predict his future eminence. Before I was sixteen, and before Whately had even given his Bampton Lectures, I was very familiar with his name, and some of his sayings. I need not say that he became Archbishop of Dublin.

2. When I was a child, a first cousin of John Bird Sumner[693] married a sister of my mother. I cannot remember the time when I first heard his name, but it was made very familiar to me. In time he became Bishop of Chester, and then, Archbishop of Canterbury. My reader may say that Dr. C. R. Sumner,[694] Bishop of Winchester, has just as good a claim: but it is not so: those connected with me had more knowledge of Dr. J. B. Sumner;[695] and said nothing, or next to nothing, of the other. Rumor says that the Bishop of Winchester has declined an Archbishopric: if so, my rule is a rule of gradations.

3. Thomas Musgrave,[696] Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, was Dean of the college when I was an undergraduate: this brought me into connection with him, he giving impositions for not going to chapel, I writing them out according. We had also friendly intercourse in after life; I forgiving, he probably forgetting. Honest Tom [ 325 ] Musgrave, as he used to be called, became Bishop of Hereford, and Archbishop of York.

4. About the time when I went to Cambridge, I heard a great deal about Mr. C. T. Longley,[697] of Christchurch, from a cousin of my own of the same college, long since deceased, who spoke of him much, and most affectionately. Dr. Longley passed from Durham to York, and thence to Canterbury. I cannot quite make out the two Archbishoprics; I do not remember any other private channel through which the name came to me: perhaps Dr. Longley, having two strings to his bow, would have been one archbishop if I had never heard of him.

5. When Dr. Wm. Thomson[698] was appointed to the see of Gloucester in 1861, he and I had been correspondents on the subject of logic—on which we had both written—for about fourteen years. On his elevation I wrote to him, giving the preceding instances, and informing him that he would certainly be an Archbishop. The case was a strong one, and the law acted rapidly; for Dr. Thomson's elevation to the see of York took place in 1862.

Here are five cases; and there is no opposing instance. I have searched the almanacs since 1828, and can find no instance of a Bishop not finally Archbishop of whom I had known through private sources, direct or indirect. Now what do my paradoxers say? Is this a pre-established harmony, or a chain of coincidences? And how many instances will it require to establish a law?[699]

[ 326 ]

 

THE HERSCHEL HOAX.[edit]

Some account of the great astronomical discoveries lately made by Sir John Herschel at the Cape of Good Hope. Second Edition. London, 12mo. 1836.

This is a curious hoax, evidently written by a person versed in astronomy and clever at introducing probable circumstances and undesigned coincidences.[700] It first appeared in a newspaper. It makes Sir J. Herschel discover men, animals, etc. in the moon, of which much detail is given. There seems to have been a French edition, the original, and English editions in America, whence the work came into Britain: but whether the French was published in America or at Paris I do not know. There is no doubt that it was produced in the United States, by M. Nicollet,[701] an astronomer, once of Paris, and a fugitive of some kind. About him I have heard two stories. First that he fled to America with funds not his own, and that this book was a mere device to raise the wind. Secondly, that he was a protégé of Laplace, and of the Polignac party, and also an outspoken man. That after the revolution he was so obnoxious to the republican party that he judged it prudent to quit France; which he did in debt, leaving money for his creditors, but not enough, with M. Bouvard. In America he connected himself with an assurance office. [ 327 ] The moon-story was written, and sent to France, chiefly with the intention of entrapping M. Arago, Nicollet's especial foe, into the belief of it. And those who narrate this version of the story wind up by saying that M. Arago was entrapped, and circulated the wonders through Paris, until a letter from Nicollet to M. Bouvard[702] explained the hoax. I have no personal knowledge of either story: but as the poor man had to endure the first, it is but right that the second should be told with it.

 

SOME MORE METEOROLOGY.[edit]

The Weather Almanac for the Year 1838. By P. Murphy,[703] Esq., M.N.S.

By M. N. S. is meant member of no society.. This almanac bears on the title-page two recommendations. The Morning Post calls it one of the most important-if-true publications of our generation. The Times says: "If the basis of his theory prove sound, and its principles be sanctioned by a more extended experience, it is not too much to say that the importance of the discovery is equal to that of the longitude." Cautious journalist! Three times that of the longitude would have been too little to say. That the landsman might predict the weather of all the year, at its beginning, Jack would cheerfully give up astronomical longitude—the problem—altogether, and fall back on chronometers with the older Ls, lead, latitude, and look-out, applied to dead-reckoning. Mr. Murphy attempted to give the weather day by day: thus the first seven days of March [ 328 ] bore Changeable; Rain; Rain; Rain-wind; Changeable; Fair; Changeable. To aim at such precision as to put a fair day between two changeable ones by weather theory was going very near the wind and weather too. Murphy opened the year with cold and frost; and the weather did the same. But Murphy, opposite to Saturday, January 20, put down "Fair, Probable lowest degree of winter temperature." When this Saturday came, it was not merely the probably coldest of 1838, but certainly the coldest of many consecutive years. Without knowing anything of Murphy, I felt it prudent to cover my nose with my glove as I walked the street at eight in the morning. The fortune of the Almanac was made. Nobody waited to see whether the future would dement the prophecy: the shop was beset in a manner which brought the police to keep order; and it was said that the Almanac for 1838 was a gain of 5,000l. to the owners. It very soon appeared that this was only a lucky hit: the weather-prophet had a modified reputation for a few years; and is now no more heard of. A work of his will presently appear in the list.

 

THE GREAT PYRAMIDS.[edit]

Letter from Alexandria on the evidence of the practical application of the quadrature of the circle in the great pyramids of Gizeh. By H. C. Agnew,[704] Esq. London, 1838, 4to.

[ 329 ]

Mr. Agnew detects proportions which he thinks were suggested by those of the circumference and diameter of a circle.

 

THE MATHEMATICS OF A CREED.[edit]

The creed of St. Athanasius proved by a mathematical parallel. Before you censure, condemn, or approve; read, examine, and understand. E. B. Revilo.[705] London, 1839, 8vo.

This author really believed himself, and was in earnest. He is not the only person who has written nonsense by confounding the mathematical infinite (of quantity) with what speculators now more correctly express by the unlimited, the unconditioned, or the absolute. This tract is worth preserving, as the extreme case of a particular kind. The following is a specimen. Infinity being represented by \scriptstyle\infty as usual, and f, s, g, being finite integers, the three Persons are denoted by \scriptstyle\infty^f, \scriptstyle(m \infty)^s, \scriptstyle\infty^g, the finite fraction m representing human nature, as opposed to \scriptstyle\infty. The clauses of the Creed are then given with their mathematical parallels. I extract a couple:

"But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.

"It has been shown that \scriptstyle\infty^f, \scriptstyle\infty^g, and \scriptstyle(m \infty)^s, together, are but \scriptstyle\infty, and that each is \scriptstyle\infty, and any magnitude in existence represented by \scriptstyle\infty always was and always will be: for it cannot be made, or destroyed, and yet exists.

[ 330 ] "Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead: and inferior to the Father, touching his Manhood."

"\scriptstyle(m\infty)^s is equal to \scriptstyle\infty^f as touching \scriptstyle\infty, but inferior to \scriptstyle\infty^f as touching m: because m is not infinite."

I might have passed this over, as beneath even my present subject, but for the way in which I became acquainted with it. A bookseller, not the publisher, handed it to me over his counter: one who had published mathematical works. He said, with an air of important communication, Have you seen this, Sir! In reply, I recommended him to show it to my friend Mr.——, for whom he had published mathematics. Educated men, used to books and to the converse of learned men, look with mysterious wonder on such productions as this: for which reason I have made a quotation which many will judge had better have been omitted. But it would have been an imposition on the public if I were, omitting this and some other uses of the Bible and Common Prayer, to pretend that I had given a true picture of my school.

[Since the publication of the above, it has been stated that the author is Mr. Oliver Byrne, the author of the Dual Arithmetic mentioned further on: E. B. Revilo seems to be obviously a reversal.]

 

LOGIC HAS NO PARADOXERS.[edit]

Old and new logic contrasted: being an attempt to elucidate, for ordinary comprehension, how Lord Bacon delivered the human mind from its 2,000 years' enslavement under Aristotle. By Justin Brenan.[706] London, 1839, 12mo.

Logic, though the other exact science, has not had the sort of assailants who have clustered about mathematics. There is a sect which disputes the utility of logic, but there are no special points, like the quadrature of the circle, which [ 331 ] excite dispute among those who admit other things. The old story about Aristotle having one logic to trammel us, and Bacon another to set us free,—always laughed at by those who really knew either Aristotle or Bacon,—now begins to be understood by a large section of the educated world. The author of this tract connects the old logic with the indecencies of the classical writers, and the new with moral purity: he appeals to women, who, "when they see plainly the demoralizing tendency of syllogistic logic, they will no doubt exert their powerful influence against it, and support the Baconian method." This is the only work against logic which I can introduce, but it is a rare one, I mean in contents. I quote the author's idea of a syllogism:

"The basis of this system is the syllogism. This is a form of couching the substance of your argument or investigation into one short line or sentence—then corroborating or supporting it in another, and drawing your conclusion or proof in a third."

On this definition he gives an example, as follows: "Every sin deserves death," the substance of the "argument or investigation." Then comes, "Every unlawful wish is a sin," which "corroborates or supports" the preceding: and, lastly, "therefore every unlawful wish deserves death," which is the "conclusion or proof." We learn, also, that "sometimes the first is called the premises (sic), and sometimes the first premiss"; as also that "the first is sometimes called the proposition, or subject, or affirmative, and the next the predicate, and sometimes the middle term." To which is added, with a mark of exclamation at the end, "but in analyzing the syllogism, there is a middle term, and a predicate too, in each of the lines!" It is clear that Aristotle never enslaved this mind.

I have said that logic has no paradoxers, but I was speaking of old time. This science has slept until our own day: Hamilton[707] says there has been "no progress made in [ 332 ] the general development of the syllogism since the time of Aristotle; and in regard to the few partial improvements, the professed historians seem altogether ignorant." But in our time, the paradoxer, the opponent of common opinion, has appeared in this field. I do not refer to Prof. Boole,[708] who is not a paradoxer, but a discoverer: his system could neither oppose nor support common opinion, for its grounds were not in the conception of any one. I speak especially of two others, who fought like cat and dog: one was dogmatical, the other categorical. The first was Hamilton himself—Sir William Hamilton of Edinburgh, the metaphysician, not Sir William Rowan Hamilton[709] of Dublin, the mathematician, a combination of peculiar genius with unprecedented learning, erudite in all he could want except mathematics, for which he had no turn, and in which he had not even a schoolboy's knowledge, thanks to the Oxford of his younger day. The other was the author of this work, so fully described in Hamilton's writings that there is no occasion to describe him here. I shall try to say a few words in common language about the paradoxers.

Hamilton's great paradox was the quantification of the predicate; a fearful phrase, easily explained. We all know that when we say "Men are animals," a form wholly unquantified in phrase, we speak of all men, but not of all animals: it is some or all, some may be all for aught the proposition says. This some-may-be-all-for-aught-we-say, or not-none, is the logician's some. One would suppose [ 333 ] that "all men are some animals," would have been the logical phrase in all time: but the predicate never was quantified. The few who alluded to the possibility of such a thing found reasons for not adopting it over and above the great reason, that Aristotle did not adopt it. For Aristotle never ruled in physics or metaphysics in the old time with near so much of absolute sway as he has ruled in logic down to our own time. The logicians knew that in the proposition "all men are animals" the "animal" is not universal, but particular yet no one dared to say that all men are some animals, and to invent the phrase, "some animals are all men" until Hamilton leaped the ditch, and not only completed a system of enunciation, but applied it to syllogism.

My own case is as peculiar as his: I have proposed to introduce mathematical thought into logic to an extent which makes the old stagers cry:

"St. Aristotle! what wild notions!
Serve a ne exeat regno[710] on him!"

Hard upon twenty years ago, a friend and opponent who stands high in these matters, and who is not nearly such a sectary of Aristotle and establishment as most, wrote to me as follows: "It is said that next to the man who forms the taste of the nation, the greatest genius is the man who corrupts it. I mean therefore no disrespect, but very much the reverse, when I say that I have hitherto always considered you as a great logical heresiarch." Coleridge says he thinks that it was Sir Joshua Reynolds who made the remark: which, to copy a bull I once heard, I cannot deny, because I was not there when he said it. My friend did not call me to repentance and reconciliation with the church: I think he had a guess that I was a reprobate sinner. My offences at that time were but small: I went on spinning syllogism systems, all alien from the common logic, until I had six, the initial letters of which, put together, from the [ 334 ] names I gave before I saw what they would make, bar all repentance by the words

RUE NOT!

leaving to the followers of the old school the comfortable option of placing the letters thus:

TRUE? NO!

It should however be stated that the question is not about absolute truth or falsehood. No one denies that anything I call an inference is an inference: they say that my alterations are extra-logical; that they are material, not formal; and that logic is a formal science.

The distinction between material and formal is easily made, where the usual perversions are not required. A form is an empty machine, such as "Every X is Y"; it may be supplied with matter, as in "Every man is animal." The logicians will not see that their formal proposition, "Every X is Y," is material in three points, the degree of assertion, the quantity of the proposition, and the copula. The purely formal proposition is "There is the probability α that X stands in the relation L to Y." The time will come when it will be regretted that logic went without paradoxers for two thousand years: and when much that has been said on the distinction of form and matter will breed jokes.

I give one instance of one mood of each of the systems, in the order of the letters first written above.

Relative.—In this system the formal relation is taken, that is, the copula may be any whatever. As a material instance, in which the relations are those of consanguinity (of men understood), take the following: X is the brother of Y; X is not the uncle of Z; therefore, Z is not the child of Y. The discussion of relation, and of the objections to the extension, is in the Cambridge Transactions, Vol. X, Part 2; a crabbed conglomerate.

Undecided.—In this system one premise, and want of power over another, infer want of power over a conclusion. [ 335 ] As "Some men are not capable of tracing consequences; we cannot be sure that there are beings responsible for consequences who are incapable of tracing consequences; therefore, we cannot be sure that all men are responsible for the consequences of their actions."

Exemplar.—This, long after it suggested itself to me as a means of correcting a defect in Hamilton's system, I saw to be the very system of Aristotle himself, though his followers have drifted into another. It makes its subject and predicate examples, thus: Any one man is an animal; any one animal is a mortal; therefore, any one man is a mortal.

Numerical.—Suppose 100 Ys to exist: then if 70 Xs be Ys, and 40 Zs be Ys, it follows that 10 Xs (at least) are Zs. Hamilton, whose mind could not generalize on symbols, saw that the word most would come under this system, and admitted, as valid, such a syllogism as "most Ys are Xs; most Ys are Zs; therefore, some Xs are Zs."

Onymatic.—This is the ordinary system much enlarged in propositional forms. It is fully discussed in my Syllabus of Logic.

Transposed.—In this syllogism the quantity in one premise is transposed into the other. As, some Xs are not Ys; for every X there is a Y which is Z; therefore, some Zs are not Xs.

Sir William Hamilton of Edinburgh was one of the best friends and allies I ever had. When I first began to publish speculation on this subject, he introduced me to the logical world as having plagiarized from him. This drew their attention: a mathematician might have written about logic under forms which had something of mathematical look long enough before the Aristotelians would have troubled themselves with him: as was done by John Bernoulli,[711] [ 336 ] James Bernoulli,[712] Lambert,[713] and Gergonne;[714] who, when our discussion began, were not known even to omnilegent Hamilton. He retracted his accusation of wilful theft in a manly way when he found it untenable; but on this point he wavered a little, and was convinced to the last that I had taken his principle unconsciously. He thought I had done the same with Ploucquet[715] and Lambert. It was his pet notion that I did not understand the commonest principles of logic, that I did not always know the difference between the middle term of a syllogism and its conclusion. It went against his grain to imagine that a mathematician could be a logician. So long as he took me to be riding my own hobby, he laughed consumedly: but when he thought he could make out that I was mounted behind Ploucquet or Lambert, the current ran thus: "It would indeed have been little short of a miracle had he, ignorant even of the common principles of logic, been able of himself to rise to generalization so lofty and so accurate as are supposed in the peculiar doctrines of both the rival logicians, Lambert and Ploucquet—how useless soever these may in practice prove to be." All this has been sufficiently discussed elsewhere: "but, masters, remember that I am an ass."

I know that I never saw Lambert's work until after all Hamilton supposed me to have taken was written: he himself, who read almost everything, knew nothing about it until after I did. I cannot prove what I say about my knowledge of Lambert: but the means of doing it may turn up. For, by the casual turning up of an old letter, I have [ 337 ] found the means of clearing myself as to Ploucquet. Hamilton assumed that (unconsciously) I took from Ploucquet the notion of a logical notation in which the symbol of the conclusion is seen in the joint symbols of the premises. For example, in my own fashion I write down ( . ) ( . ), two symbols of premises. By these symbols I see that there is a valid conclusion, and that it may be written in symbol by striking out the two middle parentheses, which gives ( . . ) and reading the two negative dots as an affirmative. And so I see in ( . ) ( . ) that ( ) is the conclusion. This, in full, is the perception that "all are either Xs or Ys" and "all are either Ys or Zs" necessitates "some Xs are Zs." Now in Ploucquet's book of 1763, is found, "Deleatur in præmissis medius; id quod restat indicat conclusionem."[716] In the paper in which I explain my symbols—which are altogether different from Ploucquet's—there is found "Erase the symbols of the middle term; the remaining symbols show the inference." There is very great likeness: and I would have excused Hamilton for his notion if he had fairly given reference to the part of the book in which his quotation was found. For I had shown in my Formal Logic what part of Ploucquet's book I had used: and a fair disputant would either have strengthened his point by showing that I had been at his part of the book, or allowed me the advantage of it being apparent that I had not given evidence of having seen that part of the book. My good friend, though an honest man, was sometimes unwilling to allow due advantage to controversial opponents.

But to my point. The only work of Ploucquet I ever saw was lent me by my friend Dr. Logan,[717] with whom I have often corresponded on logic, etc. I chanced (in 1865) [ 338 ] to turn up the letter which he sent me (Sept. 12, 1847) with the book. Part of it runs thus: "I congratulate you on your success in your logical researches [that is, in asking for the book, I had described some results]. Since the reading of your first paper I have been satisfied as to the possibility of inventing a logical notation in which the rationale of the inference is contained in the symbol, though I never attempted to verify it [what I communicated, then, satisfied the writer that I had done and communicated what he, from my previous paper, suspected to be practicable]. I send you Ploucquet's dissertation....'

It now being manifest that I cannot be souring grapes which have been taken from me, I will say what I never said in print before. There is not the slightest merit in making the symbols of the premises yield that of the conclusion by erasure: the thing must do itself in every system which symbolises quantities. For in every syllogism (except the inverted Bramantip of the Aristotelians) the conclusion is manifest in this way without symbols. This Bramantip destroys system in the Aristotelian lot: and circumstances which I have pointed out destroy it in Hamilton's own collection. But in that enlargement of the reputed Aristotelian system which I have called onymatic, and in that correction of Hamilton's system which I have called exemplar, the rule of erasure is universal, and may be seen without symbols.

Our first controversy was in 1846. In 1847, in my Formal Logic, I gave him back a little satire for satire, just to show, as I stated, that I could employ ridicule if I pleased. He was so offended with the appendix in which this was contained, that he would not accept the copy of the book I sent him, but returned it. Copies of controversial works, sent from opponent to opponent, are not presents, in the usual sense: it was a marked success to make him angry enough to forget this. It had some effect however: during the rest of his life I wished to avoid provocation; for I [ 339 ] could not feel sure that excitement might not produce consequences. I allowed his slashing account of me in the Discussions to pass unanswered: and before that, when he proposed to open a controversy in the Athenæum upon my second Cambridge paper, I merely deferred the dispute until the next edition of my Formal Logic. I cannot expect the account in the Discussions to amuse an unconcerned reader as much as it amused myself: but for a cut-and-thrust, might-and-main, tooth-and-nail, hammer-and-tongs assault, I can particularly recommend it. I never knew, until I read it, how much I should enjoy a thundering onslought on myself, done with racy insolence by a master hand, to whom my good genius had whispered Ita feri ut se sentiat emori.[718] Since that time I have, as the Irishman said, become "dry moulded for want of a bating." Some of my paradoxers have done their best: but theirs is mere twopenny—"small swipes," as Peter Peebles said. Brandy for heroes! I hope a reviewer or two will have mercy on me, and will give me as good discipline as Strafford would have given Hampden and his set: "much beholden," said he, "should they be to any one that should thoroughly take pains with them in that kind"—meaning objective flagellation. And I shall be the same to any one who will serve me so—but in a literary and periodical sense: my corporeal cuticle is as thin as my neighbors'.

Sir W. H. was suffering under local paralysis before our controversy commenced: and though his mind was quite unaffected, a retort of as downright a character as the attack might have produced serious effect upon a person who had shown himself sensible of ridicule. Had a second attack of his disorder followed an answer from me, I should have been held to have caused it: though, looking at Hamilton's genial love of combat, I strongly suspected that a retort in kind

[ 340 ]

"Would cheer his heart, and warm his blood,
And make him fight, and do him good."

But I could not venture to risk it. So all I did, in reply to the article in the Discussions, was to write to him the following note: which, as illustrating an etiquette of controversy, I insert.

"I beg to acknowledge and thank you for.... It is necessary that I should say a word on my retention of this work, with reference to your return of the copy of my Formal Logic, which I presented to you on its publication: a return made on the ground of your disapproval of the account of our controversy which that work contained. According to my view of the subject, any one whose dealing with the author of a book is specially attacked in it, has a right to expect from the author that part of the book in which the attack is made, together with so much of the remaining part as is fairly context. And I hold that the acceptance by the party assailed of such work or part of a work does not imply any amount of approval of the contents, or of want of disapproval. On this principle (though I am not prepared to add the word alone) I forwarded to you the whole of my work on Formal Logic and my second Cambridge Memoir. And on this principle I should have held you wanting in due regard to my literary rights if you had not forwarded to me your asterisked pages, with all else that was necessary to a full understanding of their scope and meaning, so far as the contents of the book would furnish it. For the remaining portion, which it would be a hundred pities to separate from the pages in which I am directly concerned, I am your debtor on another principle; and shall be glad to remain so if you will allow me to make a feint of balancing the account by the offer of two small works on subjects as little connected with our discussion as the Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum, or the Lutheran dispute. I trust that by accepting my Opuscula you will enable me to avoid the [ 341 ] use of the knife, and leave me to cut you up with the pen as occasion shall serve, I remain, etc. (April 21, 1852)."

I received polite thanks, but not a word about the body of the letter: my argument, I suppose, was admitted.

 

SOME DOGGEREL AND COUNTER DOGGEREL.[edit]

I find among my miscellaneous papers the following jeu d'esprit, or jeu de bêtise,[719] whichever the reader pleases—I care not—intended, before I saw ground for abstaining, to have, as the phrase is, come in somehow. I think I could manage to bring anything into anything: certainly into a Budget of Paradoxes. Sir W. H. rather piqued himself upon some caniculars, or doggerel verses, which he had put together in memoriam [technicam] of the way in which A E I O are used in logic: he added U, Y, for the addition of meet, etc., to the system. I took the liberty of concocting some counter-doggerel, just to show that a mathematician may have architectonic power as well as a metaphysician.

 

DOGGEREL.
BY SIR W. HAMILTON.
A it affirms of this, these, all,
Whilst E denies of any;
I it affirms (whilst O denies)
Of some (or few, or many).
Thus A affirms, as E denies,
And definitely either;
Thus I affirms, as O denies,
And definitely neither.
A half, left semidefinite,
Is worthy of its score;
U, then, affirms, as Y denies,
This, neither less nor more.
Indefinito-definites,
I, UI, YO, last we come;
[ 342 ]
And this affirms, as that denies
Of more, most (half, plus, some).
COUNTER DOGGEREL.
BY PROF. DE MORGAN.
(1847.)
Great A affirms of all;
Sir William does so too:
When the subject is "my suspicion,"
And the predicate "must be true."
Great E denies of all;
Sir William of all but one:
When he speaks about this present time,
And of those who in logic have done.
Great I takes up but some;
Sir William! my dear soul!
Why then in all your writings,
Does "Great I" fill[720] the whole!
Great O says some are not;
Sir William's readers catch,
That some (modern) Athens is not without
An Aristotle to match.
"A half, left semi-definite,
Is worthy of its score:"
This looked very much like balderdash,
And neither less nor more.
It puzzled me like anything;
In fact, it puzzled me worse:
Isn't schoolman's logic hard enough,
Without being in Sibyl's verse?
[ 343 ]
At last, thinks I, 'tis German;
And I'll try it with some beer!
The landlord asked what bothered me so,
And at once he made it clear.
It's half-and-half, the gentleman means;
Don't you see he talks of score?
That's the bit of memorandum
That we chalk behind the door.
Semi-definite's outlandish;
But I see, in half a squint,
That he speaks of the lubbers who call for a quart,
When they can't manage more than a pint.
Now I'll read it into English,
And then you'll answer me this:
If it isn't good logic all the world round,
I should like to know what is?
When you call for a pot of half-and-half,
If you're lost to sense of shame,
You may leave it semi-definite,
But you pay for it all just the same.
 * * * * *

I am unspeakably comforted when I look over the above in remembering that the question is not whether it be Pindaric or Horatian, but whether the copy be as good as the original. And I say it is: and will take no denial.

Long live—long will live—the glad memory of William Hamilton, Good, Learned, Acute, and Disputatious! He fought upon principle: the motto of his book is:

"Truth, like a torch, the more it's shook it shines."

There is something in this; but metaphors, like puddings, quarrels, rivers, and arguments, always have two sides to them. For instance,

"Truth, like a torch, the more it's shook it shines;
But those who want to use it, hold it steady.
They shake the flame who like a glare to gaze at,
They keep it still who want a light to see by."

Notes[edit]

601 ^  Wilhelm Ludwig Christmann (1780-1835) was a protestant clergyman and teacher of mathematics. For a while he taught under Pestalozzi. Disappointed in his ambition to be professor of mathematics at Tubingen, he became a confirmed misanthrope and is said never to have left his house during the last ten years of his life. He wrote several works: Ein Wort über Pestalozzi und Pestalozzismus (1812); Ars cossae promota (1814); Philosophia cossica (1815); Aetas argentea cossae (1819); Ueber Tradition und Schrift, Logos und Kabbala (1829), besides the one mentioned above. The word coss in the above titles was a German name for algebra, from the Italian cosa (thing), the name for the unknown quantity. It appears in English in the early name for algebra, "the cossic art."

602 ^  See note 174.

603 ^  See note 589.

604 ^  He seems to have written nothing else.

605 ^  See note 596. The name is here spelled correctly.

606 ^  Joseph Jacotot (1770-1840), the father of this Fortuné Jacotot, was an infant prodigy. At nineteen he was made professor of the humanities at Dijon. He served in the army, and then became professor of mathematics at Dijon. He continued in his chair until the restoration of the Bourbons, and then fled to Louvain. It was here that he developed the method with which his name is usually connected. He wrote a Mathématiques in 1827, which went through four editions. The Epitomé is by his son, Fortuné.

607 ^  He wrote on educational topics and a Sacred History that went through several editions.

608 ^  "All is in all."

609 ^  "Know one thing and refer everything else to it," as it is often translated.

610 ^  A writer of no reputation.

611 ^  Sir John Lubbock (1803-1865), banker, scientist, publicist, astronomer, one of the versatile men of his time.

612 ^  See note 165.

613 ^  "Those about to die salute you."

614 ^  Georges Louis Leclerc Buffon (1707-1788), the well-known biologist. He also experimented with burning mirrors, his results appearing in his Invention des miroirs ardens pour brûler à une grande distance (1747). The reference here may be to his Resolution des problèmes qui regardent le jeu du franc carreau (1733). The prominence of his Histoire naturelle (36 volumes, 1749-1788) has overshadowed the credit due to him for his translation of Newton's work on Fluxions.

615 ^  See ON CURIOSITIES OF π. This article was a supplement to No. 14 in the Athenæum Budget.—A. De M.

616 ^  There are many similar series and products. Among the more interesting are the following:

\frac{\pi}{2}=\frac{2\cdot 2\cdot 4\cdot 4\cdot 6\cdot 6\cdot 8\cdots}{1\cdot 3\cdot 3\cdot 5\cdot 5\cdot 7\cdot 7\cdots},

\frac{\pi-3}{4}=\frac{1}{2\cdot 3\cdot 4}-\frac{1}{4\cdot 5\cdot 6}+\frac{1}{6\cdot 7\cdot 8}-\cdots,

\frac{\pi}{6}=\sqrt{\frac{1}{3}}\cdot \left(1 -\frac{1}{3\cdot 3}+\frac{1}{3^2\cdot 5}-\frac{1}{3^3\cdot 7}+\frac{1}{3^4\cdot 9}- \cdots\right),

\frac{\pi}{4}= 4\left(\frac{1}{5}-\frac{1}{3\cdot 5^3}+\frac{1}{5\cdot 5^5}-\frac{1}{7\cdot 5^7}+ \cdots\right) - \left(\frac{1}{239}-\frac{1}{3\cdot 239^3}+\frac{1}{5\cdot 239^5}- \cdots\right).

617 ^  "To a privateer, a privateer and a half."

618 ^  Joshua Milne (1776-1851) was actuary of the Sun Life Assurance Society. He wrote A Treatise on the Valuation of Annuities and Assurances on Lives and Survivorships; on the Construction of tables of mortality; and on the Probabilities and Expectations of Life, London, 1815. Upon the basis of the Carlisle bills of mortality of Dr. Heysham he reconstructed the mortality tables then in use and which were based upon the Northampton table of Dr. Price. His work revolutionized the actuarial science of the time. In later years he devoted his attention to natural history.

619 ^  See note 576. He also wrote the Theory of Parallels. The proof of Euclid's axiom looked for in the properties of the equiangular spiral (London, 1840), which went through four editions, and the Theory of Parallels. The proof that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles looked for in the inflation of the sphere (London, 1853), of which there were three editions.

620 ^  For the latest summary, see W. B. Frankland, Theories of Parallelism, an historical critique, Cambridge, 1910.

621 ^  Joseph Louis Lagrange (1736-1813), author of the Mécanique analytique (1788), Théorie des functions analytiques (1797), Traité de la résolution des équations numériques de tous degrés (1798), Leçons sur le calcul des fonctions (1806), and many memoirs. Although born in Turin and spending twenty of his best years in Germany, he is commonly looked upon as the great leader of French mathematicians. The last twenty-seven years of his life were spent in Paris, and his remarkable productivity continued to the time of his death. His genius in the theory of numbers was probably never excelled except by Fermat. He received very high honors at the hands of Napoleon and was on the first staff of the Ecole polytechnique (1797).

622 ^  "I shall have to think it over again."

623 ^  Henry Goulburn (1784-1856) held various government posts. He was under-secretary for war and the colonies (1813), commissioner to negotiate peace with America (1814), chief secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1821), and several times Chancellor of the Exchequer. On the occasion mentioned by De Morgan he was standing for parliament, and was successful.

624 ^  On Drinkwater Bethune see note 165.

625 ^  Charles Henry Cooper (1808-1866) was a biographer and antiquary. He was town clerk of Cambridge (1849-1866) and wrote the Annals of Cambridge (1842-1853). His Memorials of Cambridge (1874) appeared after his death. Thompson Cooper was his son, and the two collaborated in the Athenae Cantabrigiensis (1858).

626 ^  William Yates Peel (1789-1858) was a brother of Sir Robert Peel, he whose name degenerated into the familiar title of the London "Bobby" or "Peeler." Yates Peel was a member of parliament almost continuously from 1817 to 1852. He represented Cambridge at Westminster from 1831 to 1835.

627 ^  Henry John Temple, third Viscount of Palmerston (1784-1865), was member for Cambridge in 1811, 1818, 1820, 1826 (defeating Goulburn), and 1830. He failed of reelection in 1831 because of his advocacy of reform. This must have been the time when Goulburn defeated him. He was Foreign Secretary (1827) and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1830-1841, and 1846-1851). It is said of him that he "created Belgium, saved Portugal and Spain from absolutism, rescued Turkey from Russia and the highway to India from France." He was Prime Minister almost continuously from 1855 to 1865, a period covering the Indian Mutiny and the American Civil War.

628 ^  William Cavendish, seventh Duke of Devonshire (1808-1891). He was member for Cambridge from 1829 to 1831, but was defeated in 1831 because he had favored parliamentary reform. He became Earl of Burlington in 1834, and Duke of Devonshire in 1858. He was much interested in the promotion of railroads and in the iron and steel industries.

629 ^  Richard Sheepshanks (1794-1855) was a brother of John Sheepshanks the benefactor of art. (See note 314.) He was a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, a fellow of the Royal Society and secretary of the Astronomical Society. Babbage (See note 469) suspected him of advising against the government support of his calculating machine and attacked him severely in his Exposition of 1851, in the chapter on The Intrigues of Science. Babbage also showed that Sheepshanks got an astronomical instrument of French make through the custom house by having Troughton's (See note 332) name engraved on it. Sheepshanks admitted this second charge, but wrote a Letter in Reply to the Calumnies of Mr. Babbage, which was published in 1854. He had a highly controversial nature.

630 ^  See note 469. The work referred to is Passages from the Life of a Philosopher, London, 1864.

631 ^  Drinkwater Bethune. See note 165.

632 ^  Siméon-Denis Poisson (1781-1840) was professor of calculus and mechanics at the Ecole polytechnique. He was made a baron by Napoleon, and was raised to the peerage in 1837. His chief works are the Traité de mécanìque (1811) and the Traité mathématique de la chaleur (1835).

633 ^  "As to M. Poisson, I really wish I had a thousandth part of his mathematical knowledge that I might prove my system to the incredulous."

634 ^  This list includes most of the works of Antoine-Louis-Guénard Demonville. There was also the Nouveau système du monde ... et hypothèses conformes aux expériences sur les vents, sur la lumière et sur le fluide électro-magnétique, Paris, 1830.

635 ^  Paris, 1835.

636 ^  Paris, 1833.

637 ^  The second part appeared in 1837. There were also editions in 1850 and 1852, and one edition appeared without date.

638 ^  Paris, 1842.

639 ^  Parsey also wrote The Art of Miniature Painting on Ivory (1831), Perspective Rectified (1836), and The Science of Vision (1840), the third being a revision of the second.

640 ^  William Ritchie (1790-1837) was a physicist who had studied at Paris under Biot and Gay-Lussac. He contributed several papers on electricity, heat, and elasticity, and was looked upon as a good experimenter. Besides the geometry he wrote the Principles of the Differential and Integral Calculus (1836).

641 ^  Alfred Day (1810-1849) was a man who was about fifty years ahead of his time in his attempt to get at the logical foundations of geometry. It is true that he laid himself open to criticism, but his work was by no means bad. He also wrote A Treatise on Harmony (1849, second edition 1885), The Rotation of the Pendulum (1851), and several works on Greek and Latin Grammar.

642 ^  Walter Forman wrote a number of controversial tracts. His first seems to have been A plan for improving the Revenue without adding to the burdens of the people, a letter to Canning in 1813. He also wrote A New Theory of the Tides (1822). His Letter to Lord John Russell, on Lord Brougham's most extraordinary conduct; and another to Sir J. Herschel, on the application of Kepler's third law appeared in 1832.

643 ^  Lord John Russell (1792-1878) first Earl Russell, was one of the strongest supporters of the reform measures of the early Victorian period. He became prime minister in 1847, and again in 1865.

644 ^  Lauder seems never to have written anything else.

645 ^  See note 22.

646 ^  The names of Alphonso Cano de Molina, Yvon, and Robert Sara have no standing in the history of the subject beyond what would be inferred from De Morgan's remark.

647 ^  Claude Mydorge (1585-1647), an intimate friend of Descartes, was a dilletante in mathematics who read much but accomplished little. His Récréations mathématiques is his chief work. Boncompagni published the "Problèmes de Mydorge" in his Bulletino.

648 ^  Claude Hardy was born towards the end of the 16th century and died at Paris in 1678. In 1625 he edited the Data Euclidis, publishing the Greek text with a Latin translation. He was a friend of Mydorge and Descartes, but an opponent of Fermat.

649 ^  That is, in the Bibliotheca Realis of Martin Lipen, or Lipenius (1630-1692), which appeared in six folio volumes, at Frankfort, 1675-1685.

650 ^  See note 29.

651 ^  Baldassare Boncompagni (1821-1894) was the greatest general collector of mathematical works that ever lived, possibly excepting Libri. His magnificent library was dispersed at his death. His Bulletino (1868-1887) is one of the greatest source books on the history of mathematics that we have. He also edited the works of Leonardo of Pisa.

652 ^  He seems to have attracted no attention since De Morgan's search, for he is not mentioned in recent bibliographies.

653 ^  Joseph-Louis Vincens de Mouléon de Causans was born about the beginning of the 18th century. He was a Knight of Malta, colonel in the infantry, prince of Conti, and governor of the principality of Orange. His works on geometry are the Prospectus apologétique pour la quadrature du cercle (1753), and La vraie géométrie transcendante (1754).

654 ^  See note 119.

655 ^  See note 120.

656 ^  Lieut. William Samuel Stratford (1791-1853), was in active service during the Napoleonic wars but retired from the army in 1815. He was first secretary of the Astronomical Society (1820) and became superintendent of the Nautical Almanac in 1831. With Francis Baily he compiled a star catalogue, and wrote on Halley's (1835-1836) and Encke's (1838) comets.

657 ^  See Sir J. Herschel's Astronomy, p. 369.—A. De M.

658 ^  Captain Ross had just stuck a bit of brass there.—A. De M.

Sir James Clark Ross (1800-1862) was a rear admiral in the British navy and an arctic and antarctic explorer of prominence. De Morgan's reference is to Ross's discovery of the magnetic pole on June 1, 1831. In 1838 he was employed by the Admiralty on a magnetic survey of the United Kingdom. He was awarded the gold medal of the geographical societies of London and Paris in 1842.

659 ^  John Partridge (1644-1715), the well-known astrologer and almanac maker. Although bound to a shoemaker in his early boyhood, he had acquired enough Latin at the age of eighteen to read the works of the astrologers. He then mastered Greek and Hebrew and studied medicine. In 1680 he began the publication of his almanac, the Merlinus Liberatus, a book that acquired literary celebrity largely through the witty comments upon it by such writers as Swift and Steele.

660 ^  See note 642.

661 ^  William Woodley also published several almanacs (1838, 1839, 1840) after his rejection by the Astronomical Society in 1834.

662 ^  It appeared at London.

663 ^  The first edition appeared in 1830, also at London.

664 ^  See note 441.

665 ^  Thomas Kerigan wrote The Young Navigator's Guide to the siderial and planetary parts of Nautical Astronomy (London, 1821, second edition 1828), a work on eclipses (London, 1844), and the work on tides (London, 1847) to which De Morgan refers.

666 ^  Jean Sylvain Bailly, who was guillotined. See note 365.

667 ^  See note 670.

668 ^  Laurent seems to have had faint glimpses of the modern theory of matter. He is, however, unknown.

669 ^  See note 133.

670 ^  Francis Baily (1774-1844) was a London stockbroker. His interest in science in general and in astronomy in particular led to his membership in the Royal Society and to his presidency of the Astronomical Society. He wrote on interest and annuities (1808), but his chief works were on astronomy.

671 ^  If the story is correctly told Baily must have enjoyed his statement that Gauss was "the oldest mathematician now living." As a matter of fact he was then only 58, three years the junior of Baily himself. Gauss was born in 1777 and died in 1855, and Baily was quite right in saying that he was "generally thought to be the greatest" mathematician then living.

672 ^  Margaret Cooke, who married Flamsteed in 1692.

673 ^  John Brinkley (1763-1835), senior wrangler, first Smith's prize-man (1788), Andrews professor of astronomy at Dublin, first Astronomer Royal for Ireland (1792), F.R.S. (1803), Copley medallist, president of the Royal Society and Bishop of Cloyne. His Elements of Astronomy appeared in 1808.

674 ^  See note 248.

675 ^  See note 276.

676 ^  See note 352.

677 ^  "It becomes the doctors of the Sorbonne to dispute, the Pope to decree, and the mathematician to go to Paradise on a perpendicular line."

678 ^  See note 124.

679 ^  See note 621.

680 ^  Sylvain van de Weyer, who was born at Louvain in 1802. He was a jurist and statesman, holding the portfolio for foreign affairs (1831-1833), and being at one time ambassador to England.

681 ^  Henry Crabb Robinson (1775-1867), correspondent of the Times at Altona and in the Peninsula, and later foreign editor. He was one of the founders of the Athenæum Club and of University College, London. He seems to have known pretty much every one of his day, and his posthumous Diary attracted attention when it appeared.

682 ^  Was this Whewell, who was at Trinity from 1812 to 1816 and became a fellow in 1817?

683 ^  Tom Cribb (1781-1848) the champion pugilist. He had worked as a coal porter and hence received his nickname, the Black Diamond.

684 ^  John Finleyson, or Finlayson, was born in Scotland in 1770 and died in London in 1854. He published a number of pamphlets that made a pretense to being scientific. Among his striking phrases and sentences are the statements that the stars were made "to amuse us in observing them"; that the earth is "not shaped like a garden turnip as the Newtonians make it," and that the stars are "oval-shaped immense masses of frozen water." The first edition of the work here mentioned appeared at London in 1830.

685 ^  Richard Brothers (1757-1824) was a native of Newfoundland. He went to London when he was about 30, and a little later set forth his claim to being a descendant of David, prince of the Hebrews, and ruler of the world. He was confined as a criminal lunatic in 1795 but was released in 1806.

686 ^  Charles Grey (1764-1845), second Earl Grey, Viscount Howick, was then Prime Minister. The Reform Bill was introduced and defeated in 1831. The following year, with the Royal guarantees to allow him to create peers, he finally carried the bill in spite of "the number of the beast."

687 ^  The letters of obscure men, the Epistolæ obscurorum virorum ad venerabilem virum Magistrum Ortuinum Gratium Dauentriensem, by Joannes Crotus, Ulrich von Hutten, and others appeared at Venice about 1516.

688 ^  The lamentations of obscure men, the Lamentationes obscurorum virorum, non prohibete per sedem Apostolicam. Epistola D. Erasmi Roterodami: quid de obscuris sentiat, by G. Ortwinus, appeared at Cologne in 1518.

689 ^  The criticism was timely when De Morgan wrote it. At present it would have but little force with respect to the better class of algebras.

690 ^  Thomas Ignatius Maria Forster (1789-1860) was more of a man than one would infer from this satire upon his theory. He was a naturalist, astronomer, and physiologist. In 1812 he published his Researches about Atmospheric Phenomena, and seven years later (July 3, 1819) he discovered a comet. With Sir Richard Phillips he founded a Meteorological Society, but it was short lived. He declined a fellowship in the Royal Society because he disapproved of certain of its rules, so that he had a recognized standing in his day. The work mentioned by De Morgan is the second edition, the first having appeared at Frankfort on the Main in 1835 under the title, Recueil des ouvrages et des pensées d'un physicien et metaphysicien.

691 ^  Zadkiel, whose real name was Richard James Morrison (1795-1874), was in his early years an officer in the navy. In 1831 he began the publication of the Herald of Astrology, which was continued as Zadkiel's Almanac. His name became familiar throughout Great Britain as a result.

692 ^  See note 566.

693 ^  Sumner (1780-1862) was an Eton boy. He went to King's College, Cambridge, and was elected fellow in 1801. He took many honors, and in 1807 became M.A. He was successively Canon of Durham (1820), Bishop of Chester (1828), and Archbishop of Canterbury (1848). Although he voted for the Catholic Relief Bill (1829) and the Reform Bill (1832), he opposed the removal of Jewish disabilities.

694 ^  Charles Richard Sumner (1790-1874) was not only Bishop of Winchester (1827), but also Bishop of Llandaff and Dean of St. Paul's, London (1826). He lost the king's favor by voting for the Catholic Relief Bill.

695 ^  John Bird Sumner, brother of Charles Richard.

696 ^  Thomas Musgrave (1788-1860) became Fellow of Trinity in 1812, and senior proctor in 1831. He was also Dean of Bristol.

697 ^  Charles Thomas Longley (1794-1868) was educated at Westminster School and at Christ Church, Oxford. He became M.A. in 1818 and D.D. in 1829. Besides the bishoprics mentioned he was Bishop of Ripon (1836-1856), and before that was headmaster of Harrow (1829-1836).

698 ^  Thomson (1819-1890) was scholar and fellow of Queen's College, Oxford. He became chaplain to the Queen in 1859.

699 ^  This is worthy of the statistical psychologists of the present day.

700 ^  The famous Moon Hoax was written by Richard Adams Locke, who was born in New York in 1800 and died in Staten Island in 1871. He was at one time editor of the Sun, and the Hoax appeared in that journal in 1835. It was reprinted in London (1836) and Germany, and was accepted seriously by most readers. It was published in book form in New York in 1852 under the title The Moon Hoax. Locke also wrote another hoax, the Lost Manuscript of Mungo Park, but it attracted relatively little attention.

701 ^  It is true that Jean-Nicolas Nicollet (1756-1843) was at that time in the United States, but there does not seem to be any very tangible evidence to connect him with the story. He was secretary and librarian of the Paris observatory (1817), member of the Bureau of Longitudes (1822), and teacher of mathematics in the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. Having lost his money through speculations he left France for the United States in 1831 and became connected with the government survey of the Mississippi Valley.

702 ^  This was Alexis Bouvard (1767-1843), who made most of the computations for Laplace's Mécanique céleste (1793). He discovered eight new comets and calculated their orbits. In his tables of Uranus (1821) he attributed certain perturbations to the presence of an undiscovered planet, but unlike Leverrier and Adams he did not follow up this clue and thus discover Neptune.

703 ^  Patrick Murphy (1782-1847) awoke to find himself famous because of his natural guess that there would be very cold weather on January 20, although that is generally the season of lowest temperature. It turned out that his forecasts were partly right on 168 days and very wrong on 197 days.

704 ^  He seems to have written nothing else. If one wishes to enter into the subject of the mathematics of the Great Pyramid there is an extensive literature awaiting him. Richard William Howard Vyse (1784-1853) published in 1840 his Operations carried on at the Pyramids of Gizeh in 1837, and in this he made a beginning of a scientific metrical study of the subject. Charles Piazzi Smyth (1819-1900), astronomer Royal for Scotland (1845-1888) was much carried away with the number mysticism of the Great Pyramid, so much so that he published in 1864 a work entitled Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid, in which his vagaries were set forth. Although he was then a Fellow of the Royal Society (1857), his work was so ill received that when he offered a paper on the subject it was rejected (1874) and he resigned in consequence of this action. The latest and perhaps the most scholarly of all investigators of the subject is William Matthew Flinders Petrie (born in 1853), Edwards professor of Egyptology at University College, London, whose Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh (1883) and subsequent works are justly esteemed as authorities.

705 ^  As De Morgan subsequently found, this name reversed becomes Oliver B...e, for Oliver Byrne, one of the odd characters among the minor mathematical writers of the middle of the last century. One of his most curious works is The first six Books of the Elements of Euclid; in which coloured diagrams and symbols are used instead of letters (1847). There is some merit in speaking of the red triangle instead of the triangle ABC, but not enough to give the method any standing. His Dual Arithmetic (1863-1867) was also a curious work.

706 ^  Brenan also wrote on English composition (1829), a work that went through fourteen editions by 1865; a work entitled The Foreigner's English Conjugator (1831), and a work on the national debt.

707 ^  See note 211.

708 ^  See note 592.

709 ^  Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865), the discoverer of quaternions (1852), was an infant prodigy, competing with Zerah Colburn as a child. He was a linguist of remarkable powers, being able, at thirteen years of age, to boast that he knew as many languages as he had lived years. When only sixteen he found an error in Laplace's Mécanique céleste. When only twenty-two he was appointed Andrews professor of astronomy, and he soon after became Astronomer Royal of Ireland. He was knighted in 1835. His earlier work was on optics, his Theory of Systems of Rays appearing in 1823. In 1827 he published a paper on the principle of Varying Action. He also wrote on dynamics.

710 ^  "Let him not leave the kingdom,"—a legal phrase.

711 ^  Probably De Morgan is referring to Johann Bernoulli III (1744-1807), who edited Lambert's Logische und philosophische Abhandlungen, Berlin, 1782. He was astronomer of the Academy of Sciences at Berlin.

712 ^  Jacob Bernoulli (1654-1705) was one of the two brothers who founded the famous Bernoulli family of mathematicians, the other being Johann I. His Ars conjectandi (1713), published posthumously, was the first distinct treatise on probabilities.

713 ^  Johann Heinrich Lambert (1728-1777) was one of the most learned men of his time. Although interested chiefly in mathematics, he wrote also on science, logic, and philosophy.

714 ^  Joseph Diez Gergonne (1771-1859), a soldier under Napoleon, and founder of the Annales de mathématiques (1810).

715 ^  Gottfried Ploucquet (1716-1790) was at first a clergyman, but afterwards became professor of logic at Tübingen.

716 ^  "In the premises let the middle term be omitted; what remains indicates the conclusion."

717 ^  Probably Sir William Edmond Logan (1789-1875), who became so interested in geology as to be placed at the head of the geological survey of Canada (1842). The University of Montreal conferred the title LL.D. upon him, and Napoleon III gave him the cross of the Legion of Honor.

718 ^  "So strike that he may think himself to die."

719 ^  "Witticism or piece of stupidity."

720 ^  A very truculently unjust assertion: for Sir W. was as great a setter up of some as he was a puller down of others. His writings are a congeries of praises and blames, both cruel smart, as they say in the States. But the combined instigation of prose, rhyme, and retort would send Aristides himself to Tartarus, if it were not pretty certain that Minos would grant a stet processus under the circumstances. The first two verses are exaggerations standing on a basis of truth. The fourth verse is quite true: Sir W. H. was an Edinburgh Aristotle, with the difference of ancient and modern Athens well marked, especially the perfervidum ingenium Scotorum.—A. De M.