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jecta membra, some of us were illiberal enough to prophesy very evil things concerning the execution of this work ; with how little reason will soon be erident.
To say that a Biographer should not be satisfied with merely registering events and their dates ; that he should not dispatch important persons in a few lines, nor extend his account of the insignificant over whole pages; that he should be careful to discriminate the characters of men, however briefly, by selecting the prominent from the inferior qualities; that he should state perspicuously, though perhaps concisely, the discoveries, opinions, and excellences of individuals whose lives form an epoch in the history of science, literature, and the arts; that he should fairly appreciate the respective merits of eminent rivals in particular. pursuits ; that he should distinctly relate the atchievements of those who have wrought important changes in the condition or in the character of nations; and that in all cases he should display an accurate judgement, a liberal taste in composition, and such a sound system of moral principles as may enable his labours to improve, as well as instruct and amuse his readers ;-would only be to state the expectations with which intelligent men would certainly consult the work now before us, and the rules by which its pretensions must be ascertained at a tribunal of criticism. We must avoid expatiating on these points, as the remarks we have to offer on many of the particular articles as specimens of the work, and on its general merits, will necessarily occupy a considerable extent on our pages.
Adrian, the fifteenth emperor, is thought worthy of filling troo lines and a half, in a work which professes to give "a copious account of eminent persons in all ages, countries, &c.” If all accounts of this Adrian had been equally copious, who would ever have known of his coming to Britain, and building the celebrated wall between Carlisle and Newcastle, of his amazingly retentive memory,-of his remitting 16 years' arrears due to his treasury,-of his wishing to enrol Jesus Christ among the gods of Rome, -and of those remarkable latin verses, composed on his death-bed, which so affectingly depict the uncertainty he experienced relative to a future state ? Agnesi
, Donna, a lady, whose extent of scientific and literary acquirements, and profundity of knowledge, were perhaps never excelled by any female, and who lived in the eighteenth century, is permitted to occupy almost 8 lines. Hypatia, the daughter of Theon of Alexandria, alike celebrated for her learning, her beauty, and her tragical end, is in the same manner, the subject of a most interesting memoir of five lines !
Alfred the Great has as much related concerning him as could be comprised in little more than a column. But those who wish to appreciate justly the character of Alfred, as a man, ascholar, and a king, must turn to some other book for information. Here is no mention of Alfred's change of conduct subsequent to his afflictions and the reproofs of St. Neot--no account of the il original books he wrote, or of his different translations,—no mention of his introducing toe art of brickmaking into the kingdom, and the consequent erection of brick dwellingsinstead of wooden hovels,-no notice of bis instituting the inestimable trial by jury,-nor any reference to other works for farther information. In this latter respect, indeed, Dr. Lempriere is remarkably deficient throughout the whole volume.
Archimedes, the greatest mathematician of whom we have any account (except Newton), a man of the profoundest genius, of the finest taste, of the most fertile mechanical invention, of the noblest patriotism, is actually indulged with four lines and a quarter, in this voluminous collection. Such of our readers as recollect what Plutarch says of Archimedes in his life of Marcellus, or Montucla in the first volume of his Histoire des Mathematiques, will be much surprised at such an infringement upon " the rules of proportion" which Dr. L. allows to be so "materially essential.” But Archimedes is not the only cele. brațed man who is thus treated; for the account of Apollonius occupies 1 } lines; of Ptolemy 3; of Hipparchus, 3; Euclid, 27; Sophocles, 8; Aristotle, 6; Hippocrates, 57; and Galen 31 !!! We ought to state, on the other hand, that. about 100 lines each are allotted to such men as Baretti and Garrick, about 60 each to such as Barry and Foote, the actors, and Thomas Baker, the antiquary, &c. &c.
Aretin, Guido, we are told by Dr. L. was “ the inventor of six notes in music." This is not correct. He divided the scale into hexachords; he indicated the sounds by the six well known monosyllables taken froin the Latin hymn to St. John; and he made a most important improvement in musical notation by the introduction of the four and five lined staves.
Speaking of a certain poem, which it is unnecessary to name, our author says it " was corrected and purged” of its licentiousness" in the edition of 1768.” We cannot say precisely how much it was purged; but we know that a shame ful quantity of filth remains, which Dr. L., as a clergyman, might have duly stigmatized, without incurring any charge of Methodism. Nor should we have complaived, had he noticed the decidedly immoral tendency of some of Burns's Poems, or Temarked that some of those of George Buchanan are shockingly indelicate and disgraceful to his character. But our author
seems to measure morality and virtue by a novel kind of standard : speaking of Smollet's Roderick Random and Peregrine Pickle, which he calls “bis two best works,” he remarks that
some parts of his narrative are more licentious thun virtue can approve.”. As if virtue could approve some degree of licentiousness!
We were a little surprized to find that Dr. L. takes no notice of Bacon's Essays, nor of his Advancement of learning.
Barrow, Isaac. We are told respecting this great man, that his writings “are numerous and valuable, and chiefly on mathematical subjects.” On the contrary, his original writings on theological topics, published in four folio volumes, nearly quadruple in extent his original mathematical productions. Indeed, the whole account of Barrow furnishes but little information of the kind for which any reader would look. Surely it was within the province of the biographer, to state in. what manner the mathematical discoveries of Barrow prepared the way for some of those of Newton, or in what respects his mathemarical inquiries differed from those of Wilkins, James Grea gory, and other coeval writers; to point out the peculiarities of his eloquence, and in what it was distinguished from that of Jeremy Taylor, or of Richard Baxter, or of Tillotson; and, since his celebrity as a divine is so exalted, to state whether he was an Ariani, a Socinian, an Arainian, or a Calvinist. Is the complete neglect of these important particulars, the way
to select" and exhibit “the most prominent features?"
Behaim, Martin, the navigator, is honoured with 10 lines in Dr. Lempriere's book. Our biographer mentions his sail. ing to the Brazils, the straights of Magellan, &c, and constructing on his return a globe with a representation of his voyage traced upon it; the globe being still to be seen at Nuremberg. 6. This carious circumstance,” says he, “if supported by truth, detracts from the long established merit of Columbus, as the first discoverer of America,” Without stopping to criticise the phraseology of this strange sentence, we may venture to say, it was Dr. L.'s duty to ascertain the truth of this relation; and he would not have found the inquiry very difficult. It is a well established fact, that Colunıbus obtained information from Behaim, at Madeira, relative to the discoveries of the voyage to the Brazils, &c, from which he had then returned. The public records of the city of Nuremberg, and Behaim's own letters written in 1486, and preserved in the archives of that city, fully confirm this point. But the evidence of Ric. cioli, the Italian astronomer, who does not give his country. man the honour of the discovery of America, is as decisive as can be wished ; his language is, “Let Behm and Columbus
have cach their praise ; they were both excellent navigators; but Columbus would never have thought of his expedition to America had not Bæhm gone thither before hiin. His name is not so much celebrated as that of Columbus, Americus, or Magellan, although he is superior to all.” Had'Dr. L. made himself acquainted with this and abundant other evidence easily to be obtained, he might have saved himself the trouble of composing the invective against poor Vespucius.
Berkeley, the celebrated and excellent bishop of Cloyne, seems to have been rather a weak man in the estimation of our reverend biographer: for “ In the midst of his easy fortune, and respectable connections, he formed the wild scheme of erecting a college in the Bermuda islands for the conversion of the savage Americans to Christianity !" What a siinpleton! why, his conduct was almost as ridiculous as that of another “ wild” pro. jector who said on a very memorable occasion—" And now behold I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befal '
me there : save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying, that bonds and afflictions
abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I / my life dear unto myself, &c.” Should our Doctor of Divinity
ever stumble upon this text, we can imagine how finely he would expatjate upon the folly of the apostle's leaving his “ easy fortune" and his " respectable connections," and exposing himself to bonds and affictions, that he might“preach the kingdom of God.” There is a striking contrast between the sentiments of our divine, and the applause so honourably bestowed by a Medical Doctor on the benevolence and missionary zeal of Berkeley, we refer the reader to Drake's Essays, Vol. 3. quoted E. R. i. 825.
But in other respects Dr. Lempriere has not done justice to the character of Berkeley. He makes no mention of the nature and design of his elaborate piece “ the Analyst," and offers no representation of his peculiar system of metaphysics, We may mention likewise, in this place, that whoever expects to obtain, from Dr. Lempriere, the slightest hint as to the nature of the metaphysical systems of Locke, Andrew Baxter, Hartley, Reid, or Kant, will be woefully disappointed. Where the exercise of acute judgement or cautious discriminatin is required, the reader must “turn inward,” and place to reliance on our learned biographer,
Black, Joseph, the celebrated chemist, was the discoverer of the principle of latent or fixed heat, and of the nature of the alkaline earths and of fixed air : but neither of these dish coveries is mentioned in the account of him given by Dr. Lempriere. He was born, he studied, he became professor, he lectured, he published books, he died. This is the sum of
what we learn from our biographer relative to this father of modern chemistry. The same nearly, mutatis mutandis, will serve for the other most eminent modern chemists, Bergman, Lavoisier, and Scheele. We are told, indeed, that Lavoisier's “ new system of chemistry was received with great applause in France, &c.,;" but what his new system was, the reader is left to guess.
· Boerhaave, our author informs us, “has been styled penuri. ous :",it was the duty of the biographer to affirm positively, and not leave his readers to infer it by implication, that he was not so.. He might also have stated that this great chemist and physician was as remarkable for his cheerfulness, and his powers of delicate raillery, as for his vast acquirements : and we do not see that it would have been inconsistent with his clerical character, to have described the plan which Boerhaave followed to enable him to go through much business. It was his daily pracę tice, as soon as he rose in the morning, which was in general very early, “to retire for an hour to private prayer and meditation on some part of the scriptures. He often told his friends, when they asked him how it was possible for him to go through so much fatigue, that it was this which gave him spirit and vigour in the business of the day. This he therefore recommended as the best rule he could give : for nothing, he said, could tend more to the health of the body than the tranquility of the mind; and that he knew nothing which could support himself or his fellow creatures, amidst the various distresses of life, but a well grounded confidence in the Supreme Being upon the principles of Christianity.”
Brown, John, the author of a new and important system of medicine, was, as Dr. L. kindly informs us," a strong sup. porter of the doctrine of stimulants, which act on what he calls the correspondent excitability in the body.” Who can be so unreasonable as to wish for a more luminous display of the Brunonian theory than this?
Browne, Simon, the dissenting minister, whose affecting insanity. led him to suppose that in him the thinking substance was annihilated, and that he was utterly divested of consciousnięss, is mentioned by our biographer. But he does not seem to have made himself acquainted with the particulars of this remarkable case: for he speaks of " incoherent expressions" in ths dedication of one of his books to Queen Caroline, preserved in No. 88 of the Adventurer. Could not Dr. L. turn to that number of the Adventurer He would then bave found that the dedication does not contain one “incoherent expression, but that its author keeps his own affecting case in view from beginning to end, and that his grand object was to intreat an interest in the queen's prayers that he might be res