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which runs through such popular judgments. But there is this remarkable circumstance in the case, that where we find a real and thorough acquaintance with these branches of human know ledge, acquired with comparative ease, and possessed with unob. trusive simplicity, all our prejudices against such female acquirements vanish. Indeed, there can hardly fail, in such cases, to be something peculiar in the kind, as well as degree, of the intellectual character. Notwithstanding all the dreams of theorists, there is a sex in minds. One of the characteristics of the female intellect is a clearness of perception, as far as it goes : with them, action is the result of feeling; thought, of seeing; their practica emotions do not wait for instruction from speculation; their reasoning is undisturbed by the prospect of its practical consequences. If they theorize, they do so
• In regions mild, of calm and serene air,
Which men call earth.' Their course of action is not perturbed by the powers of philosophic thought, even when the latter are strongest. The heart goes on with its own concerns, asking no counsel of the head; and, in return, the working of the head (if it does work) is not impeded by its having to solve questions of casuistry for the heart. In men, on the other hand, practical instincts and theoretical views are perpetually disturbing and perplexing each other. Action must be conformable to rule ; theory must be capable of application to action. The heart and the head are in perpetual negotiation, trying in vain to bring about a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive. The end of this is, as in many similar cases, inextricable confusion-an endless seesaw of demand and evasion. In the course of this business, the man is mystified; he is involved in a cloud of words, and cannot see beyond it. He does not know whether his opinions are founded on feeling or on reasoning, on words or on things. He learns to talk of matters of speculation without clear notions; to combine one phrase with another at a venture; to deal in generalities; to guess at relations and bearings; to try to steer himself by antitheses and assumed maxims. Women never do this : what they understand, they understand clearly; what they see at all, they see in sunshine. It may be, that in many or in most cases,
this brightness belongs to a narrow Goshen; that the heart is stronger than the head; that the powers of thought are less developed than the instincts of action. It certainly is to be hoped that it is so. But, from the peculiar mental character to which we have referred, it follows, that when women are philosophers, they are likely to be lucid ones; that when they extend the range of their speculaVOL. LI. NO. CI.
tive views, there will be a peculiar illumination thrown over the prospect. If they attain to the merit of being profound, they will add to this the great excellence of being also clear.
We conceive that this might be shown to be the case in such women of philosophical talent as have written in our own time. But we must observe, that none of these appear to have had pos* session of the most profound and abstruse province of human knowledge, mathematics, except the lady now under review. Indeed, the instances of eminent female mathematicians who have appeared in the history of the world are very rare. There are only two others who occur to us as worthy of entirely honourable notice-Hypatia and Agnesi ; and both these were very extraordinary persons. It is, indeed, a remarkable circumstance, that the Principia' of Newton were in the last century translated and commented on by a French lady; as the great French work on the same subject, in our own time, the · Mécanique Céleste' of Laplace, has been by a lady of this country. But Madame de Chastelet's whole character and conduct have not attracted to her the interest which belongs to the other two. The story of Hypatia is unhappily as melancholy as it is well known. She was the daughter of Theon, the celebrated Platonist and mathematician of Alexandria, and lived at the time when the struggle between Christianity and Paganism was at its height in that city. Hypatia was educated in the doctrines of the heathen philosophy, and in the more abstruse sciences; and made a progress of which contemporary historians speak with admiration and enthusiasm. Synesius, bishop of Ptolemais, sends most fervent salutations to her, the philosopher, and that happy society which enjoys the blessings of her divine voice.' She succeeded her father in the government of the Platonic school, where she had a crowded and delighted audience. She was admired and consulted by Orestes, the governor of the city, and this distinction unhappily led to her destruction. In a popular tumult she was attacked, on a rumour that she was the only obstacle to the reconciliation of the governor and of Cyril the archbishop. On a fatal day,' says Gibbon, in the holy season of Lent, Hypatia was torn from her chariot, stripped naked, dragged to the church, and inhumanly butchered by the hands of Peter the reader and a troop of savage and merciless fanatics : her flesh was scraped from her bones with oyster-shells, and her quivering limbs were delivered to the flames.'
From this strange and revolting story, we turn to the other name which we have mentioned, Madame Agnesi, who flourished during the last century at Bologna, where her father was professor; and when the infirmity of his health interfered with his discharge
of this duty, the filial feelings of the daughter were gratified by a permission from Pope Benedict XIV. to fill the professorial chair, which she did with distinguished credit. Before this, at the age of nineteen (in 1738), she had published • Propositiones Phisophicæ;' and, along with a profound knowledge of analysis, she possessed a complete acquaintance with the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Germai, and Spanish languages. Her Instituzioni Analitiche' were translated by Colson, the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge ; and this version was at one time a book in familiar use at that university. The end of her history, though not of the terrible nature of that of Hypatia, is perhaps what an English woman would look upon as rather characteristic than happy. She relinquished the studies of her early life, and went into the monastery of the Blue Nuns, at Milan, where she died January 9, 1799.*
We must leave it to some future reviewers to tell of the rapid acquisitions and extensive accomplishments of Mrs. Somerville ; which, indeed, will hear confronting with those of Hypatia and Agnesi. Her profound mathematical work on the Mechanism of the Heavens' has already been treated of in this Journal; the germ of the present treatise was the preliminary dissertation to that work; and whät opinion this development of that sketch is likely to give the world at large of her talents as a philosopher and writer, we hope we have enabled our readers to determine.
The reader of ancient folios (if any such persons remain in the land) will easily imagine how, a few centuries ago, such works as these would have come forth preluded by commendatorie verses,' in which the author would have been compared to Minerva and to Urania, or probably (very reasonably) preferred to all the nine Muses and the goddess to boot. In a case so fitted to excite unusual admiration, we are not at all surprised that the ancient usage should have been thought of; and though neither Mrs. Somerville's modesty nor the fashion of the day would authorize the insertion of such effusions in her pages, we happen to be able to lay before our readers one or two of these productions: we presume they are intended to be valued (like coronation medals struck in base metal) rather for the rarity of the occasion than the ex
* We have not met with any account of this sisterhood ; but we conceive that when Protestant nunneries are established in this country, (as we have occasionally recommended,) it would be desirable to have one foundation, at least, of this colour, We presume that they would substitute a review for the breviary, and a confidential critic or professor for the father confessor. We do not pretend to suggest any rule for the dress of the order; but their principal daily meeting would probably be a repast upon bread and water-(tvusted bread and warm water in this severe climate could not be considered blameable indulgences;)' and it might correspond with the lauds of Catholic institutivas—' Lauds--the last portion of nocturns officium matutinum-vespertinum?
cellence of the article ; and with that view we shall insert two specimens from the mint of Cambridge. The first is a sonnet :
Lady, it was the wont in earlier time,
Be yours, and peace of heart grow with your growing fame.' Another of these versifiers proceeds thus, after a well-known model:
• Three women, in three different ages born,
Instructs the world, yet dubbed by none a Blue.'
nuge academicæ ; but we may observe, that we believe our own countrywoman does not claim to have been born in a different century from Madame Agnesi ; and that, though Hypatia talked Greek, as Mrs. Somerville does English, the former was an Egyptian, and the latter, we are obliged to confess, is Scotch by her birth, though we are very happy to claim her as one of the brightest ornaments of England.
ART. IV.The Doctor, fc. 2 vols. 12mo. London. 1834. THIS work has excited more attention than any one belonging,
or approaching, to the class of novels, which has appeared in England for a considerable number of years; and we are not at all disposed to wonder that such should have been the case. It is
broadly distinguished from the mass of books recently published in the same shape and form, both by excellencies of a very high order, and by defects, indicating such occasional contempt of sound judgment, and sense, and taste, as we can hardly suppose in a strong and richly cultivated mind, unless that mind should be in a certain measure under the influence of disease. The author says
of one of his characters :- He was born with one of those heads in which the thin partition that divides great wit from folly is wanting. The partition in his own head would seem to be a moveable
one. A clearer or a more vigorous understanding than he in his better parts exhibits, we have seldom encountered; but two-thirds of his performance look as if they might have been penned in the vestibule of Bedlam. The language, however, even where the matter is most absurd, retains the ease,
strength, and the purity of a true master of English ; and there occur, ever and anon, in chapters over which no human being but a reviewer will ever travel for the second time, turns of expression which would of themselves justify us in pronouncing the author of this *apish and fantastic' nondescript to be a man of genius.
The writer is often a wise one- - but his attempts at what is now called wit are, in general, unsuccessful: nor can we speak much better of his humour, though he has undoubtedly a few passages which might make Heraclitus chuckle. With these rare exceptions, his jocularity is pedantic and chilling—bis drollery wiredrawn, super-quaint, Whistlecraftish. The red letters and mysterious monogram of his title-page—the purple German-text of his dedication to the Bhow Begum Redora Niabarma—his division of chapters into ante-initial, initial, and post-initial-bis interchapters—his post-fixed preface, &c. &c.—what are all these things but paltry imitations of the poorest sort of fun in Tristram Shandy? All his jesting about bells, and the manly and English arť of bell-ringing, (excepting one Dutch quotation,) appears to us equally dolorous. As for his bitter sneers at Lord Byron his clumsy and grossly affected contempt for Mr. Jeffrey-and the heavy magniloquence of his own self-esteem—we dismiss them at once in silence. They mark as evidently the disruption of the thin partition, as his prolix babble on the garden-physic of his great-grandmother, the drivelling of the alchemists, and the succession of the mayors of Doncaster—or his right merry and conceited elaboration of one of the dirtiest of all the practical jokes in Rabelais.
If we were not quite serious in our suspicion that · The Doctor' is the work of a man who stands more in need of physic than of criticism, we should have felt it our duty to illustrate, by citations, the justice of the language which we have not hesitated to