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We need scarcely say that we utterly and totally dissent from
Macaulay's estimate of Plato's philosophic writings, (see " Essay on
Lord Bacon," second part,) which he compares to a magnificent tree,
full of beautiful leaves and flowers, but producing no fruit. Writings
which have inspired the souls of so many thousands with loftier aspi-
rations and with a more earnest love of virtue, may be truly said to
have borne fruit of the most precious kind, compared with which the
boasted products of the Baconian philosophy are little better than
the apples of the Dead Sea. That Plato's writings have often pro-
duced the results which we have ascribed to them will scarcely be
denied, we think, by any one familiar with those writings or with the
history of antiquity. To cite one example out of many, Cato the
Younger, confessedly one of the noblest and most virtuous of all the
Romans, when surrounded with misfortunes on every hand, and
amid the ruins of his country, sought and found consolation and hope
in the sublime teachings of Plato's " Phzdo."

t See " Representative Men," article " Plato," the whole of
which is well worthy of perusal by those who would have_ a vivid
conception of Plato's power as a philosopher. This essay, it seems
to us, is one of Mr. Emerson's happiest efforts; and, if he some-
times exaggerates the greatness and worth of his hero, the fault is
more than atoned for by a thorough and vivid appreciation of his
subject, perhaps the most important, as it is the rarest, qualification
af a good critic.

the gods as having human passions and as influenced
by selfish human motives. While he taught the exist-
ence of one supreme God, the source and upholder of
all things, he appears to have recognized, at the same
time, a class of inferior deities, or beings with godlike
attributes, far superior to man. One of the most re-
markable features of Plato's philosophy is his theory of
ideas. With him, an idea is not simply an image or
conception formed by the human mind: it is rather an
eternal thought of the Divine mind. He held that the
human soul is not only immortal, but that it has always
existed.} In its pre-existent state it has had a perception
of the eternal ideas (i.e. the perfect forms or patterns
of things) as they exist in the mind of God. A dim,
shadowy remembrance of those celestial patterns is what
sometimes enables us to form a conception of loveliness,
virtue, etc. far more perfect, more divine, than anything
our mortal eyes have ever beheld. It is thus that the
gifted painter is enabled to give us forms of beauty more
exquisite than any that can be found in this world. It
is thus, also, that on hearing of a generous action we
are enabled to form an idea of generosity ; for it is ob-
vious that such an action could have no significance to
one who had never known the feeling of generosity in his
soul : in a perfectly selfish man, if such a one could be
found, it would not awaken admiration, but sin ply con-
tempt. Xenophon tells us, in the second book of his
"Anabasis," that Menon the Thessalian considered
honesty and truth to be nothing else 'han stupidity or
folly. A Platonist would explain this by saying that all
traces of the Divine ideas of truth and justice had,
through the love of gain or love of power, become
obliterated from his soul. Plato taught that the only
way in which men can rise in wisdom and virtue is
by striving to restore the lost ideas and to make their
minds approximate the mind of God.

Plato appears to have made himself thoroughly ac-
quainted with all the previous philosophic systems which
had appeared in Greece. He had not only diligently
studied the doctrines of Heracli'tus, Pythagoras, and
Socrates, but also those of Anaxagoras, Parmenides, and
others of less note. " He reduced," says Ritter, " into
a beautiful whole the scattered results of the earlier
Greek philosophy, reconciling their seeming differences
and conflicting tendencies. . . . When, indeed, we com-
pare the barrenness of the earlier philosophers with the
fertility of Plato, that love, which he knows so well how
to inspire in us, warms almost to veneration, so rich, so
varied, and so abundant are his observations, and so
profound his knowledge of man and of the world. . . .
To such richness of materials Plato united the rarest
skill of language and composition to a degree which has
never since been equalled."

Respecting Plato's intellectual power as a philosopher,
Mr. E-nerson grandly observes that " his strength is like
the momentum of a falling planet, and his discretion
the return of its due and perfect curve." Again he says,
"The way to know him [Plato] is to compare him, not
with nature, but with other men. How many ages have
gone by, and he remains unapproached !" (" Representa-
tive Men.")

The philosophic writings of Plato are, with some
slight exceptions, in the form of dialogues, in all of
which, save one, (" The Laws,") Socrates is one of the
chief interlocutors. The different dialogues have been
distributed by Schleiermacher into three divisions.

The first division, in which the development of the

by way of appendix or supplement, the "Apology
ates," " Critos," " Ion," " Hippias Minor," " Hip-

added, '
of Socrates,'

parchus," "Minos," and "Alcibiades II." The second
division, in which the predominant subject is the expla-
nation of knowledge, including the difference between
philosophical and common knowledge, comprises the

{He appears to have believed not that the soul has always existed
m its present form or condition, or anything like it. but that as God
is the source of all things, and as His thoughts and purposes art
eternal, the soul may therefore be said to have always had an exijt-
ence in that infinite Being of whom it is an emanation.

as k; c as s; g hard; g as/; G, H, K. guttural; N, natal: R, trill, J: s as i; th as in this. ( g=See Explanations, p. 23. '




"Gorgias," "Thesetetus," "Meno," "Euthydemus,"
'Cratylus," "Sophistes," " Politicus," ("Statesman,")
"Symposium," ("Banquet,") "Phasdo," (or " Phaedon,")
and "Philebus," with an appendix containing the "The-
ages," " Erastx," "Alcibiades I.," " Menexenus," " Hip-
pias Major," and "Clitophon." The third division
consists of such as contain an objective scientific ex-
position, in other words, combine practical science
with speculative philosophy: these are the "Republic,"
" Timaeus," and " Critias," to which may be added " The
Laws." The first edition of Plato's entire works was
that published in Venice by Aldus in 1513; the best
are perhaps first, that of Ast, published at Leipsic, in
9 vols. Svo, 1819-27, and, second, that of G. Stallbaum,
in 8 vols. Svo, Leipsic, 1821-25, ( ar >d 'he same text in 8
ols. izmo, 1826.) Jowett's "Dialogues of Plato," in 5
vols., is the best English translation of Plato.

See FRIHDKICH AST, " Plato's Leben und Schriften," Leipsic,
1816; STALLBAI'M, " Disputatio de Platonis Vita, Ingenio et
Scriptis," prefixed to his edition of Plato's works ; RITTER, " His-
tory of Ancient Philosophy," translated by A. J. W. MORISON, 4
jols. Svo, Oxford, 1838 ; SCHLEIXRMACHER, " Introductions to the

_ -_ . . _ . irgh.

COHBES-DOUNOUS, "Essai historique sur Platon," etc., 2 vols., 1809;
A. FOLKER, "Dissertatio de Vita Platonis," 1797 ; ANDRB DACIER,
" Plato's Leben, mil einer naherrj Angabe seiner philosophischen
Lehrsatze, aus dem Franzosischen," 1*19: I. OGIENSKI, " Pericles
et Plato: Inquisitio historica et phiiosophica," 1838 ; T. VAN SWIN-
DBREN, " Oratio de Platone optimo in Legibus condendis Principe
magistro," 1807 : also the articles on " Plato " in the " Encyclopedia
Britannica," in SMITH'S " Greek and Roman Biography," etc., and in
the " Nouvelle Biographic Ge'ne'rale," from the pen of DR. HOBFEK.

Plato, [Gr. nAuTuv,] an eminent Athenian corulc
poet of the old comedy, flourished about 428-390 B.C.,
and was contemporary with Aristophanes. He attacked
Cleon and other demagogues in his plays, which dis-
played keen wit, vigour, and purity of style. Many
fragments of them have come down to us. According
to some critics, he was a writer of the middle comedy.

Platof, Platov, or Platow, pli'tof, Hetman of the
Cossacks, was bom on the Don about 1760. He served
as general in the Russian army which marched to the
aid of Prussia in 1806. He harassed the retreating
French army in 1812, and entered Paris with a troop
of Cossacks in 1814. Died in 1818.

Platon. See PLATO.

Platon, pla'ton, (LEFSHIN or LEFFSCHIN,) an eminent
Russian prelate, born near Moscow in 1737. He dis-
tinguished himself as an eloquent pulpit orator, and be-
came court preacher to Catherine II. He was appointed
Archbishop of Moscow in 1775, and Metropolitan of the
Russian Church in 1787. He published many sermons
and theological works, which are highly commended.
Died in November, 1812.

Platone. See PLATO.

Platt, (THOMAS COLLIER,) an American poli-
tician, was born at Owego, New York, in 1833. He
was elected to Congress in 1873, and in 1881 to the
Senate, but resigned, with his colleague Conkling, the
same year, through opposition to Garfield's policy of
civil-service reform. In 1880 he became president of
the United States Express Company. He was en-
gaged in other business, but devoted his time largely
to politics, and for years was the autocrat of the Re-
publican party in New York. He was re-elected to
the Senate in 1896.

Platte-Montagne, plaVmAN'tifi', (MATTHEW VAN
PLATHEN-BERCH or PLATTENBERG,) a Flemish painter
and engraver, born at Antwerp about 1606. He removed
to Paris, where he painted portraits and engraved land-
shapes. Died in 1660. His son NICOLAS (1631-1705;
was also a painter and engraver.

Plaute. See PLAUTUS.

Plauto. See PLAUTUS.

Plau'tua, [Fr. PLAUTE, plot ; It. PLAUTO, p!8w 'to ]
(TlTUS MACCIUS,) the most celebrated of the Roman j
comic poets, was a native of Sarsina, in Umbria. It
is supposed that he was born about 254, or, as some
gay, in 224 B.C. In his youth he served a baker by
grinding corn with a hand-mill. Little is known of his
history. According to Cicero, he died in 184 B.C. His

' plays were very popular in his own time, and are gen-
erally admired by modern critics. His elegance, re-
finement, and wit are commended by Cicero and other
ancient critics. Horace censures his coarse jests and
his versification. The titles of his extant plays are
" Amphitruo," " Asinaria," " Aulularia," " Bacchides,"
"Captivi," "Curculio," "Casina," " Cistellaria," "Epi-
dicus," " Menaechmi," " Mercator," " Miles Gloriosus,"
" Mostellaria," " Persa," " Pcenulus," " Pseudolus," " Ru-
dens," "Stichus," " Trinummus," and "Truculentus."
There is a good English version of Plautus by Bonnel
Thornton. The "Captivi" was pronounced the most
perfect of comedies by Lessing, who, as a critic, had
scarcely any superior.

Play'fair, (JOHN,) an eminent Scottish mathemati-
cian and astronomer, born at Benvie, Forfarshire, on the
loth of March, 1748, was educated at the University of
Saint Andrew's. He became minister of the parishes of
Liff and Benvie in 1773, and professor of mathematica
in the University of Edinburgh in 1785. In 1805 he
succeeded Professor Robison as professor of natural
philosophy in the same university. He contributed to
the "Edinburgh Review" many articles, among which is
a review of La Place's " Traite de Mecanique celeste,"
(1808.) He published "Elements of Geometry," (1795,)
which was extensively used in schools, " Illustrations
of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth," (1802,) and
"Outlines of Natural Philosophy," (2 vols., 1812.)
Among his contributions to the "Transactions" of the
Edinburgh Royal Society are " Remarks on the Astron-
omy of the Brahmins." and " On the Solids of Greatest
Attraction." DiediniSig. " He possessed in the highest
degree," says Jeffrey, " all the characteristics both of a
fine and powerful understanding, at once penetrating and
vigilant, but more distinguished perhaps for the caution
and sureness (or success) of its march than for the bril-
liancy or rapidity of its movements."

Play'fair, (Lvox,) LORD, an English chemist,
born in Bengal, in India, in 1819. He studied at
Saint Andrew's, and at Giessen under Liebig. He be-
came in 1843 professor of chemistry in the Royal
Institution in Manchester, and in 1858 in the Uni-
versity of Edinburgh. He was for a time postmaster-
general and then Deputy-Speaker of the House of
Commons, and was made vice-president of the Council
in 1886. He was made a Knight Commander of the
Bath in 1883, and a peer in 1892.

Playfair, (WILLIAM,) a Scottish political writer and
ingenious inventor, born near Dundee in 1759, was a
brother of Professor John Playfair. He made several
useful mechanical inventions. About 1814 he became
editor of Galignani's "Messenger," in Paris. He after-
wards resided in London. Among his numerous works
are a "History of Jacobinism," (1795,) and "British
Family Antiquity," (9 vols., 1809-12.) Died in 1823.

Pleas'on-ton, (ALFRED,) an American general, born
in Washington, I >. C., in 1824, graduated at West Point
in 1844, served with distinction in the Mexican war and
against the Indians in the West and in Florida, and in the
civil war became in 1862 a brigadier-general of volun-
teers. He commanded a body of cavalry at Antietam,
(1862,) and at Chancellorsville, (1863,) and had the chief
command of the Union cavalry at Gettysburg, July 1-3,
1863. He served in Missouri when that State was in-
vaded by General Price in 1864, and at the end of the
war was brevetted brigadier-general for eminent services.
In 1888 he went on the retired list with the rank of colo-
nel. Died in Washington, February 17, 1897.

Fleg'mund, an English prelate under the reign of
Alfred the Great, was made Archbishop of Canterbury
in 890 A.D. He was distinguished for his learning and
virtues, and was honaured with the friendship of the
king. lie is supposed to have had a part in the com-
pilation of the " Saxon Chronicle."

Pleiades, plee'va-dez, [Gr. Ittadifec or TLefoiwlcf ; Fr.
PLEIADES, pla'e-Sd'; Eng. PLEIADS, plee'vads, ] the
daughters of Atlas and Pleione, were seven fn numbei,
and were said to be sisters of the Hyades. Their names

a, e, 5, 6, u, y, long; i, e, 6, same, less prolonged; a, e, 1, 6, u, y, short; a, e, j, 9, obscure; far, fill, fat; met; not; good; moon;




STEROPE, and MEROFE. According to one legend, they
were attendants of Diana, and, to protect them from the
amorous pursuit of Orion, were changed into doves and
placed among the stars. They were sometimes called

Plerapius. See PLEMP.

Plenck, von, fon plenk, (JOSEPH JAKOU,) a German
surgeon and botanist, born at Vienna in 1738. He pub-
lished, besides other works, one " On Diseases of the
Eyes," (" De Morbis Oculorum," 1777,) and "Figures
of Medicinal Plants," ("Icones Plantarum medicina-
lium," 7 vols., 1788-1804.) Died in 1807.

See MHUSEL, "Gelehrtes Deutschland. "

Flessing, ples'sing, (FRIEDRICH VICTOR LEBRECHT,)
a German philosopher, born near Magdeburg in 1752.
He was professor of philosophy at Duisburg, and wrote
two works on the philosophy of the ancients, entitled
"Osiris and Socrates," (1783,) and "Memnonium, or
an Essay to Unveil the Mysteries of Antiquity," (1787.)
Died in 1806.


Plessis, ples'see', (JOSEPH OCTAVE,) a Canadian arch-
bishop, born at Montreal, March 3, 1762. In 1801 he
was consecrated Bishop of Canata in purtibus, and made
coadjutor to the Bishop of Quebec. This act gave rise
to a long controversy with the British government, for
the crown had hitherto claimed and exercised the right
of presentation to the Roman Catholic bishoprics of
Canada. In 1806 he succeeded as Bishop of Quebec,
and in 1819 his see was made archiepiscopal. Died at
Quebec, December 4, 1825.

Plessis d'Argentre. See ARGENTRE, D'.

Flessis-Moruay. See MORNAY,

Plessis-Praslin. See CHOISEUU

Pleyel, pli'el', (JOSEPH ETIENNE CAMILLE,) a com-
poser and pianist, was born at Strasburg about 1790.
He became a partner of Kalkbrenner in the fabrication
of pianos in Paris. Died in 1855.

a French pianist, wife of the preceding, was born in
Paris, July 4, 181 1. From an early age her extraordinary
gifts attracted the attention of musicians. She made the
tour of the principal European cities, and in 1848 went
to Berlin as teacher at the Conservatorium, a position
which she retained until 1872. Died March 30, 1875.

Pleyl, pill, or Pleyel, pli'el, (!GNAZ,) a celebrated
composer, father of J. E. C. Pleyel, born at Ruppersthal,
near Vienna, in 1756 or 1757. Having studied under
Haydn and subsequently visited Italy, he was appointed,
after his return, chapel-master at Strasburg. In 1795
he settled in Paris, where he established a piano-manu-
factory and published the "Bibliotheque Musicale." His
works are chiefly pieces of instrumental music, which
were very popular in his time. Died in 1831.

Plim'soll, (SAMUEL,) an English philanthropist,
born at Bristol in 1824. He became prosperous as a
coal merchant, and in 1868 began to champion the
cause of seamen. In "Our Seamen" he attacked
ship-owners so vigourously that the public took up the
cause. In 1874 he brought in a bill to establish a
fixed load-line, and advocated it so earnestly against
vested interests that he won. Since then " Plimsoll's
line" has been marked on every English merchant-
man. Died in 1898.

Pline. See PLINY.

Plinio. See PLINY.

Plinius. See PLINY.

Pliii'I-us Va-le-rl-a'nus, the reputed author of a
medical work called " Medicinae Plinianre Libri quinque."
It is supposed to have been compiled several centuries
after the Christian era.

Plln'y [Fr. PLINE, plen ; It. PLINIO, plee'ne-o] THE
ELDER, (or, more fully, Ca'ius Plin'ius Secuu dus,)
a celebrated Roman naturalist, was born at Verona, or,
according to some authorities, Novum Comum, (the
modern Como,) in 23 A.D. He served in the army in
Germany, under Lucius Pomponius, and returned to
Rome about the age of thirty. He studied law, and
practised as a pleader for a few years. He was after-
wards procuiator in Spain in the reign of Nero, and

f as k; 9 as s: g hard; g as/; G, H, K, guttural; N, nasal; R, trilled; s as z; th as in this.


became a friend and favoured officer of Vespasian. We
possess but little other information of his public life,
except that at the time of his death he had command
of a fleet stationed at Misenum. In August, 79 A.D.,
occurred a great eruption of Vesuvius. Observing the
immense cloud of smoke which arose in the form of a
tree from the volcano, he embarked at Misenum on a
vessel and approached nearer to the scene of danger.
He calmly noted the variations of the portentous phe-
nomenon, amidst the shower of cinders and pumice-
stones which fell around his vessel, and landed at Stabia.
In the ensuing night he attempted to return to the vessel,
but he perished on land, suffocated by ashes or sul-
phurous exhalations. This was probably the eruption
which destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

He left historical and grammatical works, which are
lost. The only work of Pliny that has come down to us
is his " Natural History," (" Naturae Historiarum Libri
XXXVII.,") which is thus characterized by Cuvier, (in
the " Biographic Universelle :") " It is at the same time
one of the most precious monuments that antiquity has left
for us, and the evidence of an erudition very wonderful in
a warrior and statesman. In order to appreciate justly
this vast and celebrated composition, it is necessary to
direct our attention to the plan, the facts, and the style.
The plan is immense. . . . He includes astronomy,
natural philosophy, geography, agriculture, commerce,
medicine, and the arts, as well as natural history properly
so called. . . . Pliny was not an observer like Aristotle ;
still less was he a man of genius, capable, like that great
philosopher, of tracing the laws and relations ifi ac-
cordance with which the works of nature are formed
and arranged, ( co-ordonnte. ) In general, he is only a
compiler. ... A comparison of his extracts with the
originals which are extant, especially with Aristotle,
convinces us that Pliny did not prefer to take from the
authors he consulted that which was most important
or most exact. In general, he prefers the singular and
marvellous. ... If Pliny has for us little merit as a
naturalist and critic, it is far otherwise in respect to his
talent as a writer, and the vast treasury of Latin terms
and locutions which have made his work one of the rich-
est depositories of the language of the Romans." He
was a decided pantheist, and had no faith in the future
existence of the human soul. His style is vigorous,
condensed, pointed, and abounds in antithesis. Among
the best editions of Pliny is that published by Sillig,
Hamburg. " His profound erudition," says Bufton, "is
enhanced by elevation of ideas and nobleness of style.
He not only knew all that could be known in his time,
but he had that large faculty of thinking which multi-
plies science, he had that delicacy (finesse) of reflection
on which depend elegance and taste, and he imparts to
his reader a certain freedom of spirit and boldness o(
thought, which is the germ of philosophy."

See SALMASIUS, " Exercitationes Plinianas," 1629: A. Jos. A
TURRE REZZONICO, " Disquisitiones Plinianx," 2 vols., 1763-67;
PAUL EBEB, " Dissertatio de Vita C. Plinii," 1356 ; A. L. A. Fia,
" Eloge de Pline le Naturaliste," 1821 ; BXuR. " Geschkhte der
Rbmischen Literatur;" "Nouvelle Biographic Ge'ne'rale."

Pliny THE YOUNGER, [Fr. PLINE LE JEUNE, plen leh
zhun.l (or, more fully, Cai'us Plin'ius Csecll'lua Se-
cun'dus,) a Latin author and orator, born at Comum,
(now Como,) on Lake Larius, (Lake Como,) in 61 or 62
A.D., was a nephew and adopted son of the preceding.
He was a son of Caius Csecilius and Plinia, a sister
of Pliny the Elder. At the age of fourteen he wrote a
Greek tragedy. He studied rhetoric under Quinrilian,
and practised law at Rome. After he had held other
high offices, he became, in 103, governor or proconsul
of Bithynia. He wrote to Trajan a famous letter, in
which he bore testimony to the good morality of
the Christians and requested directions in relation to
their treatment. Although he was a man of humane
disposition, he enforced the law which condemned to
death those who refused to abjure their religion. He
was a friend of the historian Tacitus. Pliny wrote,
besides several works which are lost, a " Panegyric on
Trajan," which is greatly admired, and left a collection
of Letters, in ten books, which, after those of Cicero, are
perhaps the most precious relics of Roman epistolary
correspondence that have come down to us. They have

Explanations, p. 23.!




been translated into English by Lord Orrery and Mr.

See MASSON, "Vita Plinii junioris," Amsterdam, 1700; CRLLA-
Rius, "Vita Plinii;" "Life of Pliny the Younger," prefixed to E.
THIERPELD'S German version of his Epistles, etc., 1828; OLPH,
"Commentatio de C. Plinio Secundo," etc., 1784; JULES JANIN,
" Pline le Jeune et Quintilien," ^38 ; " Nouvelle Biographic Gene-

Plitt, (GusTAV LEOPOLD,) a German divine, born at
Genin, March 27, 1836. He studied at Erlangen and
Berlin, and in 1867 became professor of church history
at Erlangen. He published " Einleitung in die Augus-
tana," (1867-68,) a " Life of Luther," (1883,) and other
works. Died at Erlangen, September 10, 1880.

Ploos van Amstel, plos vin am'stel, (CoRNELis,) a
Dutch amateur engraver and designer, bom at Amster-
dam in 1726. He imitated many drawings of old Italian,
Flemish, Dutch, and German masters, and made a rich
collection of the engravings of those artists. Died about
1800. A collection of his imitations was published in

Plot, (ROBERT,) an English naturalist and antiquary,
born in Kent in 1641. He became professor of chemistry
at Oxford about 1684, and historiographer-royal in 1680.
He published a "Natural History of Oxfordshire,"
(1677,) and a "Natural History of Staffordshire," (1686.)
Died in 1696.

Flotin. See PLOTINUS.

Flo-ti'na, (POMPEIA,) the wife of the emperor Tra-
jan, is represented as a woman of excellent character.
She died in the reign of Hadrian, who erected a temple
in her honour.

Plo-ti'nus, [Gr. Ittumwc; Fr. PLOTIN, plo'tan'; Ger.
PLOTIN, plo-teen',] an eminent Greek philosopher of the
Neo-Platonic school, was born at Lycopolis, in Egypt,

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Online LibraryJoseph ThomasUniversal pronouncing dictionary of biography and mythology (Volume 2) → online text (page 232 of 425)