Lord Francis Jeffrey Jeffrey Sydney Smith.

The Edinburgh review: or critical journal, Volume 152 online

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JULY, 1880 OCTOBER, 1880.









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SFOinswooDa ahd oo., hvw-stiubt bquabb
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Art. I. — 1. The Posthumous Works of Robert Hooke, M.D.,
F.R.S. With the Author's Life. By Richard
Waller. London: 1705.

2. Micrographia ; or some Physiological Descriptions of

Minute Bodies made by Magnifying Glasses. By
Robert Hooke, F.R.S. London: 1664.

3. The Transit of Venus across the Sun. A Transla-

tion of the celebrated Discourse thereupon by the
Rev. Jeremiah Horrox. To which is prefixed a
Memoir of his Life and Labours. By the Rev.
Anmdell Blount Whatton, B.A., L.L.B. London :
1859, 1

n. — L Mind in the Lower Animals in Health and Disease.
By W. LaiJtier Lind&y, M.D., F.R.S.E., F.L.S.
London: 1879.

2. Etudes sur les Facult^s mentales des Animaux corn-
parses k celles de THomme. Par J, C. Houzeau,
Membre de T Acad^ie de Belgique. Mons : 1872, . 36

nL — 1. The Russians on the Amur. By E. G. Ravenstein.
London : 1861.

2. The Eastern Seas. A Narrative of the Voyage of
H.M.S. * Dwarf.' By Captain R. W. Bax, R.N.
London: 1875.

8. Russian Development and our Naval and Military
Position in the North Pacific. By Captain J. C.
R. Colomb. Journal of the Royal United Service
Institution, vol. xxi. London : 1877.

4. Les Colonies Fran9aise8. Par Paul Gafiarel, Pro-

fesseur k la Faculty des Lettres de Dijon. Paris :
1880, 70

IV. — ^The Life of His Royal Highness the Prince Consort. By
Sir Theodore Martin, K.C.B. Vols. IV. and V. Lon-
don : 1879-80, 97

v.— 1. Etudes sur la Religion des Soubbas ou Sab^ens, leurs
dogmes, leurs mceurs. Par M. N. Siouffi, Vice-
Consul de France k Moussoul. Paris : 1880.

2. Reisen im Orient. Von H. Petermann. 2 vols. Leip-
zig: 1860.


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ii Contents.


3. Codex Nazarffiiis, Liber Adami appellatus. Ed. Nor-

beig. Lond. Goth. : 1815.

4. Thesaurus, sive Liber Magnus, vulgo * Liber Adami *

appellatus, opus Mandaeorum summi ponderis.
Descr. et ed. H. Petermann. 2 vols. Berlin :

5. Qolasta, oder Gesange und Lehre von der Taufe und

dem Ausgang der Seele. Mandaischer Text mit
sammtlichen Varianten. Herausgegeben von J.
Euting. Stuttgart: 1867.

6. Mandaische Grammatik. Yon Th. Noldeke. Halle :


7. Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus. Von Dr. D. Chwol-

sohn. 2 vols. St. Petersburg : 1856, . .117

VI. — Hodge and his Masters. By Richard Jefferies, author of
*The Gamekeeper at Home/ * Wild Life in a Southern
County,* &c. London : 1880, 139

VII.— M^moires de Madame de R^musat, 1802-1808. Publics,
avec une Pr^ce et des Notes, par son petit-fils, Paul
de Rdmusat, S^nateur de la Haute-Garonne. Trois
tomes. Paris: 1880, 170

VIII.— Italy and her Invaders, 376-476. By Thomas Hodgkin,
T~^ B.A., Fellow of University College, London. 2 vols.

J 8vo. ' Oxford, at the Clarendon Press: 1880, . . 194

IX. — Diary and Correspondence of Samuel Pepys, Esq., F.R.S.,
from his MS. Cypher in the Pepysian Library, with a
Life and Notes, by Richard, Lord Braybrooke. De-
ciphered, with additional Notes, by Rev. Mynors
Bright, M.A., President and Senior Fellow of Magda-
lene College, Cambridge. With numerous Portraits
from the Collection in the Pepysian Library, printed
in permanent Woodbury- type. 6 vols. 8vo. London :
1875-79, 223

X. — Calendar of Letters, Despatches, and State Papers, relat-
ing to the Negotiations between England and Spain,
preserved in the Archives at Simancas and elsewhere.
Vol. IV. Part I. Henry VIIL 1529-1530. Edited
by Pascual de Gayangos. Published by the authority
of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Trea-
sury, under the direction of the Master of the RoUs.
London: 1879, 258

j XL— The New Parliament, 1880. By William Saunders.

London : June, 1880, 281


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Abt. I. — 1. Life of Thomas Graham, Lord Lynedoch. By Alexan-
der M. Delavoye, Captain 56th Foot (late 90th L.I.).
London : Richardson <& Co. : 1880.

2. Records of the 90th Regiment (Perthshire Light
Infantry). By Alexander M. Delavoye. London:
1880, ; . . 803

H. — Register of the Rectors, Fellows, Scholars, Exhibitioners,
and Bible Clerks of Exeter College, Oxford, with illus-
trative Documents and a History of the College. By
Rev. C. W. Boase, Fellow and Tutor. Oxford:
1879. 8vo 844

UL — Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, East Lidies,
China, and Japan, preserved in Her Majesty's Public
Record Office and elsewhere. Edited by W. Noel
Sainsbury, Esq. 3 vols., 1513-1616, 1617-1621,
1622-1624. London, 379

IV. — 1. Spectrum Analysis. ,Six Lectures delivered in 1868.
By Henry E. Roscoe, F.R.S. 8vo. London : 1869.

2. Le Stelle : Saggio di Astronomia Siderale. Del P.
A. Secchi. MUano : 1878.

3. Researches in Spectrum Analysis in connexion with
the Spectrum of the Sun. By J. Norman Lockyer,
F.R.S. * Proceedings of the Royal Society,' vol.
xxviiL: 1879.

4. On the Spectra of some of the Fixed Stars. By
William Hu^ins, F.R.A.S., and W. A. Miller, M.D.,
LL.D. ' Philosophical Transactions of the Royal
Society,' vol. cliv. : 1864.

5. Further Investigations on the Spectra of some of the
Stars and Nebulce, with an attempt to determine there-
from whether these Bodies are moving towards or from
the Earth. By William Huggins, F.R.S. * Philoso-
phical Transactions of the Royal Society,' vol. clviii. :

6. The Universe of Stars. By Richard A. Proctor.
Second Edition. London: 1878, . . . .408


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V. — ^Bcrits In^dits de Saint-Simon publies sur les manuscrits
^ conserves au D6p6t des Affaires Etrangeres. Par

^ M. P. Faug^re. Tome Premier : Parall^le des trois

V^ premiers Rois Bourbons. Paris: 1880, . . . 444

VI. — History of the Mongols, from the Ninth to the Nineteenth
Century. By Henry' H. Howorth, F.S.A. Part 1.
The Mongols Proper and the Kalmuks. London :
1876. Part 2. (In two divisions.) London : 1880, 473

VII. — 1. Germany, Present and Past. By S. Baring Gould,
M.A. Two vols. London: 1879.

2. Berlin imder the New Empire. By Henry Vizetelly.
Two vols- London: 1879.

3. Etudes sur TEmpire d'Allemagne. Par J. Cohen.
Paris: 1879.

4. Die gute alte Zeit. Von Moritz Busch. Two vols.
Berlin : 1880, 503

VIII. — The Early History of Charles James Fox. By George

Otto Trevelyan, M.P. 8vo. London : 1880, . . 540

IX. — Papers relating to the Advance of Ayoob Khan on Canda-
har. Presented to both Houses of Parliament by com-
mand of Her Majesty : 1880, .... .677


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JULY, 1880.


Art. I. — 1. The Posthumous Works of Robert Hooke,
M.D.y F.R.S. With the Author's Life. By Richarp
Waller. London: 1705.

2. Micrographia ; or some Physiological Descriptions of Minute
Bodies made hy Magnifying Glasses, By Robert Hooke,
F.R.S. London: 1664.

3. Tlie Transit of Venus across the Sun. A Translation of the
celebrated Discourse thereupon by the Rev. Jeremiah
HoRROX. To which is prefixed a Memoir of his Life and
Labours. By the Rev. Arundell Blount Whatton,
B. A., LL.B. London : 1859.

HPhe seventeenth century must be regarded as the most
memorable in the history of science ; our own age has
been remarkable for the skilful application of scientific analysis,
but it has not produced a Bacon and a Galileo, a Harvey and
a Newton. Between 1600 and 1700 theoretical knowledge
received an increase far outweighing in importance the sum-
total of what has been achieved between 1700 and the present
time. The definitive acceptance of the true theory of the
world, and its triumphant establishment on a basis of universal
and harmonious law ; the constitution of physiology as a science
hj the great discovery of the circulation of the blood ; the vast
stride made in mechanics by the clear recognition of the laws of
motion ; the knowledge of the fundamental truths relating to
light and colour ; the foundation of the sciences of mwnetism,
electricity, and chemistry, are all due to that period. The nine-
teenth century is not more pre-eminent for the invention of me-
chanical agencies by which the external conditions of human



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2 The English Precursors of Newton. July,

life have been revolutionised than the seventeenth for the pro-
duction of those momentous * aids to sense'* — the telescope,
microscope, barometer, and thermometer — by which an inde-
finite series of new worlds have been annexed to the domain of
human intelligence. In the abstract re^on of mathematics,
the performances of the epoch under consideration are equally
remarkable. By the invention of logarithms, calculation was
hardly less expedited than communication has been in our
time by the discovery of the electric telegraph; while the
differential and integral calculus, through the enormous increase
of power conferred by it, might not inappropriately be termed
the steam-engine of the intellect. Yet, notwithstanding the
utilitarian character of the prevalent philosophy, inventions
of practical utility remained comparativelv rare ; and no
advance, corresponding in any degree with that accomplished
in science, was made in the comforts and conveniences of every-
day life. Thus, by a singular irony, a generation which sought
in its experiments * fruit,' found * light ;' while our own age,
which, with the dying Goethe, demands *more light,' has
received instead ^ fruit ' not always sweet to the taste.

To Englishmen the seventeenth century is rendered of pecu-
liar interest by the circumstance that, during its course, the
centre of scientific progress was shifted, through the over-
whelming force of genius, from the Continent to this island.
When it opened, our countrymen were in the position of dis-
ciples ; when it closed, they were recognised as the teachers of
Europe. The advance made in the interval was enormous.
In 1600, Tycho Brahe was still inculcating at Prague the
geocentric theory of the universe ; Gralileo was expounding the

* sphere' on Ptolemaic principles; Harvey was listening at
Padua — ^the * Quartier Latin of Venice,' as M. Renan has
called it — ^to the cloudy conjectures of Fabricius as to the
purpose served by the valves in the veins. In 1700, the

* Prindpia ' had been for thirteen years the common property
of mankind; Newton was acknowledged as the arbiter of
science by the greater part of the civilised world ; the principles
of mechanics were settled on the same footing on which they
stand to-day ; and the last cavil against the innovation of the
Folkestone physician had long a^o been forgotten. We pro-
pose, in the following pages, to sketch, in its broader outlines,
the movement of thought which led to such great results, and
to devote some brief attention to a man whose career was the
most conspicuous failure of the century, and who, aspiring to

• Novum Organum, lib. ii. Aph. xzxix.

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1880. The English Precursors of Newton. S

play the part of the Octavlus, was condemned to that of the
Antony of science.

Dr. Sobert Hooke not only was unable to ^ command suc-
* cess,' bnt we doubt whether he could have conscientiously
asserted that he deserved it. He was original, diligent, and
ingenious ; but he wanted the concentration, disinterestedness^
and, above all, the indefeasible patience, which mark die highest
order of minds. Amongst the contemporaries of Newton, he
approached most nearly to, and contrasted most strongly with,
that great man, whose shining qualities and achievements have
been set off by the convenient foil of his rival's defects of
temper and fortune. It may perhaps be possible to derive a
lai^er lesson from the consideration of his life's work than the
trite moral conveyed by his exhibition in the character of the
captive in the car of triumphant genius. In Newton the epoch
was idealised; in Hooke it was simply reflected. We can
study more conveniently the varying impulses and undefined
aspirations of a period of transition and progress in the versa-
tility which obeyed, than in the steady purpose which trans*
formed and dominated them. The greatest men are of all
time ; the lesser are an epitome of their age. They pass with
it; but they teach in passing.

Hooke believed himself to be the disciple of Bacon ; but his
real instructors were men of a widely different and &r less
pretentious stamp. Experimental science does not date, even
in England, from the ^ Chancellor of England and of Nature.'
Roma ante Eomulum fuit. The Egremont Castle of tradi-
tional knowledge shook, it is true, to its foundations at the
formidable blast of this new Sir Eustace, and the Peripatetic
nsorper heard in it his knell. But the fortress was already
dismantled ; a numerous and unrelenting foe had silently taken
possession of its outworks and bastions, and, stone by stone,
was busy turning the materials of the ancient stronghold to
account in the construction of habitations of more modem
lepect and aoconunodation.

Among the multifarious forms of activity stirred into life by
the ferment of the Italian Benaissance, perhaps the least ques*
tiooable in its results was that, leading to the love and 0tudy
of nature. Two men of singular genius, Leon Battista Albert!
and Leonardo da Vinci, led the way ; and their example was
followed bv the astronomers, anatomists, physicians, and bo-
tanists, with whom, in the following century, Italy abounded.
Mathonatics were at the same time cultivated with signal
success ; and the learned enthusiasm which, a hundred years
earlier, had hailed the unearthing of a long-forgotten codex


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4 The English Precursors of Newton. Jnljr,

by Poggio or Filelfo, now greeted the Bolution of a problem by
Cardano, or the discovery of a formula by Ferri or Tartaglia.
Nor did these abstract enqairies remain long unfruitful The
questions which had busied the brain of Archimedes at the
siege of Syracuse began to emerge from the neglect of well-
nigh eighteen centuries, and the * mechanical powers ' of lever,
pulley, screw, and inclined plane, were once more, as our
neighbours say, the order of the day. The movement was now no
longer limited to the sub- Alpine peninsula. Simon Stevin of
far-away Bruges, and Michael Varro of Geneva, deserve to
be named, with Benedetti of Venice and Del Monte of Pesaro,
as the precursors of Galileo, whose strongest title to fame is
that he first brought natural investigations under the rigid but
salutary yoke of the sciences of number and of space.

In England the same impulse made itself felt, although,
amid the religious troubles of the time, its effects were at first
obscure and intermittent. It is, however, much to the credit
of our national sagaci^ and boldness that, within a few years
of the publication of Copernicus's great work, three English-
men were found to advocate doctrines so novel, so startling,
and so repugnant to ordinary experience as those contained in
it. The introduction into England of the new views in astro-
nomy was, in all probability, due to the notorious Dr. John
Dee, the favoured soothsayer of Elizabeth and Leicester,
whose reputation as a mathematician has been eclipsed by
his fame as a magician. His career aptly illustrates an old
proverb, exhibiting the evil effects on later life of a bad name
gratuitously bestowed in youth. The suspicions roused by his
mgenious contrivance of an automaton-scarabseus, which,
during a performance of the * Pax ' of Aristophanes, visibly
mounted upwards carnring a man and a basket on its back,
seem to have tickled his inordinate vanity, and, more than
thirty years later, he hired a certain Edward Kelly to instruct
him in occult arts at a salary of 50/. a year. Himself a dupe,
he was the fitter to dupe others ; and succeeded for a time in
imposing his pretensions on several of the greatest personages
in Europe. At length he and his spiritualistic pedagogue
were compelled to retire to the castle of Trebonia, in Bohemia,
where Kelly's supposed mastery of the great alchemistic secret
procured them such affluence, that, according to the popular
belief, Dee's young son was accustomed to play at quoits with
gold produced by means of the * philosophical powder of pro-
• jection.' Finally, the confederates quarrelled ; Dee was re-
called to England^ by Elizabeth, and receiving, after the
manner of that princess, more promises than pay, died in


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1880. The English Precursors of Newton. 5

poverty in the fifth year of her successor. He left, for the
benefit of posterity, a detailed record of his supernatural com-
munications ; and the magic crystal which he professed to have
received from the hand oi an angel may still be seen, together
with Kobert Bums's punch-bowl, and a casket carved out of
Shakespeare's walnut-tree, among the curiosities preserved in
tlie British Museum.

It is, however, as an astronomer, not as a spiritualist, that
we have to do with him. In 1547, four years after the pro-
mulgation of the Copemican theory, he visited the Low Coun-
tries for scientific purposes, and subsequently lectured and
studied at the Universities of Paris and Louvain. We may
safely conclude that he there acquired the convictions which
led lum to instigate, and patronise with a preface, the publica-
tion of John Field's * Ephemeris ' for 1557, juxta Copernici et
Reinholdi canones. This performance has earned for Field
iiie title of the * Proto-Copemican of England,' justly due, no
doubt, to the first English astronomer who adopted, exprofesso^
the heliocentric theory of the solar system. But ii\ a book
which appeared probably a few months earlier, the same views
were upheld as unhesitatingly, if not bo systematically. Its
mthor was more ingenious than fortunate. What is most
certainly known of his life is its unhappy end. Robert Recorde
was an eminent physician as well as an able mathematician.
In his medical capacity he is believed to have been attached to
the households of Edward VI. and Mary, and he undoubtedly
died in a debtor's prison, the year of Elizabeth's accession. He
has the merit of having introduced algebra— or, as he termed
it, * Cossike Practice ' — ^into England in a book named * The
* Whetstone of Witte,' represented by Scott as constituting
the sole literary possession of old Trapbois the miser, and as
inspiring, by its very title, the young Lord of Glenvarloch with
such a hvely aversion, that not even the desolation of a i^jght
in Alsatia could induce him to seek solace in its pages. The
8ame writer's * Castle of Knowledge ' might have proved a
■Qiore efficacious remedy for ennui. It is an astronomical
dialogue, the progress oi which is enlivened by some touches of
quaint satire. We take from it the following extract, note-
worthy as (so far as we know) the first printed reference in the
£uglish language to the memorable innovation of the Canon of
Frauenburg : —

* Master. Ck)pemicii8, a man of great learning, of much experience,'
and of wonderful diligence in observation, bath renewed the opinion of
Aristarchus Samiua, and affirmeth that the earth not onl^ moveth cir-
cularly about his own centre, but also may be, yea and is, continually


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6 The English Preenrstnrs of Newton. J11I71

Otit'' df the procise centre SS kitndretii thottfiaad miles ; bat becanae
the XDideESBtaiiding of that oontiOTeii^ dependeth on proibunder know-^
ledge than there in this introduction may be uttered conTeniently, I will
let it paas till some other time,

* Scholar. Najr^ Sir, in good faith, I desire not to hear such vain
phantadesy so far against common reason, and repugnant to the consent
of all the learned multitude of writers, and therefore let it pass for ever,
and a day longer.

* Master. Yon are too yomig to be a good judge in so great a matter :
it passeth &i your learning, and their's also that are much better
karned than you, to improve (disprove) hia suppositioQ by good argu-
ment, and therefore you were best to condemn nothing ^t you do not
well understand; but another time, as I said, I will so declare his
supposition, that you shall not only wonder to hear it, but also perad-
ventoze be as earnest then to credit it, as you are now to condemn it.' *

The objurgations of Giordano Bruno on the occasion of his
yisit to Oxford in 1583, made, we can infer, but little impress
sion on the hard-headed English Peripatetics of the time> and
the Copemican system seems to have receded rather than
advance^ in credit during the last twenty years of the century*

* How prove you,* asks Blundevile in his * Exercises ' (pub-
lished 1594), ^ that there is but one world? ' ^ By the autho-

* rity,' he unhesitatingly replies, *of Aristotle P and the
inertia of his ignorance is noways shaken by his own ad-
mission that Copernicus, ^ by help of his false supposition,
hath made truer demonstrations of the motions and revolutions
of tlie celestial sphere than ever were made before/f

Already, however, the Aristotelian dictatorship was being
undermined, where it could not be overthrown. William

Online LibraryLord Francis Jeffrey Jeffrey Sydney SmithThe Edinburgh review: or critical journal, Volume 152 → online text (page 1 of 69)