Imágenes de páginas

and, we think, very objectionable, Decimals are taught im. mediately after multiplication and division of integers; then follow vulgar fractions, with mixed numbers, reduction, addition, subtraction, &c. of compound numbers, rules of three direct, inverse, and compound, extraction of roots, proportions and progressions, and logarithms. The instructions are given in the form of lectures, but are in general exceedingly tedious; while the demonstrations of the rules are often unsatisfactory. The definitions of multiplication and division are by no means scientific and general: when applied to pure fractions they are quite erroneous, unless it be the same thing to augment and to diminish. The directions given for the management of logarithms are very defective: the pupil is no where taught how to extract any root of a fractional quantity' by means of those useful numbers. One part of M. Florian-Jolly's plan, however, deserves commendation ; we mean that in which the subject of each lecture is made the business of subsequent examination; though too many of his questions, by including their answers, reminded us of the college tụtor's mode of examining noblemen in our youthful

days Pray, my Lord, is not figure the boundary of exi tension an

In volume the second, the author treats of plane geometry and trigonometry; that is, he presents his readers with some useful propositions in each, but by no means a complete sys. tem of either; many very valuable theorems are no where to be found. Instead of teaching the science, our author tro often gratifies bis propensity to indulge in extraneous remarks, by way of displaying the universality of his knowledge. For example, in defining a curve, he tells us of “ that line in the shape of a corkscrew, which is a species of cycloid, descriled by the moon, in turning round the earth at the same tine that she follows her in her revolution round the sun;" fom which it is plain that this " man of genius and learning" coes not know the figure of the moon's absolute orbit; thagh there is no late writer of any, respectability on astronomy, who has not shewn that the moon's real path, instead of leing like a corkscrew, has no point of contrary flexure, but dways presents its concavity towards the sun. So admirably š this writer qualified to instruct his pupils in "astronomy!”

M. Florian-Jolly commences his sixth lecture on geanetry, by shewing the " Use of trangles in measuring suraces ;' and this he accomplishes in a very original way, by end.avouring to prove that they are of no use at all, and after stating the proper requisites for a measıring unit of surfaces, issuring us that “ the perfect square is the only figure possessed of those requisites.” This, we conceive, is a tolerable speci

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

men of “ a considerable degree of philosophical precision." We observe, also, that the author has no where pointed out how to find the area of a triangle. The last two lectures are on the subject of plane trigonometry; a subject, which is here treated very diffusely, but neither fully nor perspicuously. The author tells us that “ three, at least, of the six parts which compose a triangle should be known, in order to find the others; and those three parts ought to be either two sides and one angle, or two angles and one side.” This is not correct, and about ten pages farther the author contradicts it, by remarking that when the three sides of a triangle are given, we are enabled to ascertain the value of each of its three angles. He concludes with espatiating upon the utility of recti. lineal trigonometry, especially in astronomy, geography, and the use of the globes: seeming to be perfectly unconscious that spherical trigonometry (of which he does not treat), instead of plane trigonometry, is that which has principally assisted in those departments of science. Indeed he frequently appears to have the most confused notions of the mutual connection of different branches of mathematics. Thus,

he sagely remarks that “ algebra and its application to geometry are of no use but to such as wish to dive profoundly into the sciences," at the same time that he tells us the principles of algebra” are essential to the demonstration of “the coníc sec. tion:” of which affirmations, one contradicts the other, and both are untrue.

Had Mr.F.presented his work to the public ungarnished with elogiums which he must know to be misapplied, we should hve barely withheld our commendation, and have suffered it to be decently buried in that oblivion which is the daily fae of such imbecile and imperfect productions. But when sone of those who have long taken upon them to direct the public choice, either from ignorance, idleness, or interest, give him sanction and popularity by their praise, and when theauthor himself is indelicate enough to insert their absurdities into his book, we feel it a duty we owe the public to contibute our feeble efforts to prevent or dissipate the delusion. We are not to be dazzled by the glare of childish paradox; nor can we permit that a man whose talents and acquisitons appear to us rather below mediocrity than above it, destitite of taste, with but litle knowledge, and, as we shoula conjecture, with less expenence, should be palmed upon the wold, as a person of * gerius and learning," "a just and legitimate investigator," displaying “a considerable de ,

oi philosophical precisin," and qualified to operate a funlamental change in the general, mode of education."


Art. IV. The Life of Thuanus, with some Account of his Writings, and

a Translation of the Preface to his History. By the Rev. J. Collinson, M, A. of Queen's College Oxford. 8vo. pp. 467. Price 108. 6d. boards.

Longman and Co. '1807. IN order to render the account of an individual generally in

teresting, a few things are obviously requisite. Our admiration is naturally called forth, when we contemplate great and extraordinary qualities of mind. Intrepidity in danger, a spirit of heroic enterprize, sagacity in forming great designs, with promptness and ability in executing them, are features of character which are sure to awaken the interest of the reader. With less admiration perhaps, though with more applause, we view the extraordinary exercise of those dispositions, which depend not in so great a degree on natural constitution and more on choice and predetermination. Of this kind are diffusive benevolence, a disregard of private interest, steady and inflexible adherence to approved principles in defiance of promises, threats, torture and death. We are also much pleased with the accounts of those who are called the wits of the age. There is much delight to be found in penetrating as far as possible into the recesses of the mind which has enlightened the world by its discoveries, astonished us by the sublimity of its conceptions, or amused us with new combinations of thought. And where these intellectual and moral qualities are wanting, entertainment may sometimes be found in the unusual incidents and vicissitudes, which throw an agreeable diversity over the lives of some men who would otherwise have passed undistinguished among the crowd.

The history of kings and statesmen is generally read with much eagerness; because their actions commonly affect the welfare of a people, and extend in their consequences to distant posterity. When they move, it is with such a momentum, that by a little distortion of meaning we might apply to them what was said of another character in high rule, “ Earth trembled as he strode.” In short, if men are conspicuous for grand and striking features of character, if their lives have been chequered with unusual vicissitudes of fortune, or if they have moved in a sphere where their conduct has administered to the happiness or sealed the misery of multitudes ; it is the fault of the biographer, and not of the subject, when the public refuse their attention or withhold their applause. There have been a few characters in the tide of times," rari nantes in gurgite vasto,” who have combined in grand assemblage all the qualities suited to elevate, astonish, amuse, and inform. Such materials for biography are not often to be had; and indeed much less is sufficient to awaken interest and to impart instruction and pleasure.

[ocr errors]

Something extraordinary, however, is absolutely necessary. If the minds of those, whose character a writer undertakes to delineate, be cast in a common mould, and are undistin.. guished by remarkable qualities natural or acquired ; if no unusual occurrences variegate the blank tenor of their lives, but each day dully took its turn and was forgotten; if'no great advantage.or mischief to others attended their conduct; by labouring to draw the attention of the public to so dry and barren a chronicle of days, weeks, and years, he perforins a superfluous and ridiculous task. With these reflexions, we shall proceed to consider whether the life of De Thou affords such materials, as justify the hope that an account of it would be generally interesting ; and we shall afterwards state our opinion of the manner in which Mr. Collinson has performed the duty of a biographer.'

James Augustus Thuanus, or De Thou, was born at Paris, Oct. 9, 1553. His family was respectable, and his grandfather and father successively filled the office of first President of the Parliament, which was the highest dignity in the profession of the law. He was sent when a youth to the Burgundian College; and at the age of seventeen, entered on the study of the law under the direction of the celebrated Cujacius. He says of himself that he

• possessed greater love of learning than strength of genius or me, mory; and profited more by cultivating the society of eminent men, than by any application of his own, the fatigue of which his constitution could 'not bear. He enjoyed the most perfect liberty, particularly in his stu. dies; and being left, as it were, to the guidance of his own discretion, marked out a plan of conduct for himself. It was his earnest desire to be admitted to the company of celebrated literary characters; and having seen Turnebus * a little before his death, the impression made upon his imagination was so lively, that the image of this great man appeared continually in his dreams,

Several men of great mental powers, and Sir Isaac Newton, among the number, bave told the world that they did not possess abilities superior to those of other men ; but as we are not bound to believe them, in the face of so much evidence to the contrary as their works supply, we are disposed to charge such declarations to the modesty of the speaker. But the memoirs of De Thou, written by himself, leave us no doubt that he always spoke of his own qualities to the very extent of their value; and we may therefore accept his formal resignation of any credit for singular strength of genius or memory. He was soon after recalled by his father to Paris,

* A man of consunimate erudition, and equal modesty. See More vigne's Essay on Pedants, to whom he brings Turnebus as a contraste

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


« Which city, at that time resounded with preparations for the nuptials of the young king of Navarre, with Margaret of Valois, sister to Charles 'IXKing of France. Thuanus, with some difficulty, gained admission to the ceremony, and took particular notice of the celebrated a Coligni, chief of the Protestant party, and who, not many days after was wounded by a concealed assassin. This occurrence first interrupted ; the public tranquillity; and on the 24th of August, six days after the nuptials, ensued the dreadful massacre of St. Bartholomew. Of this transaction, Thuanus expresses his decided detestation, and defends his opinion against the prevailing arguments of the time, by the example of his father, an acknowledged Catholic, whom he considers an unexception." able guide in all political and religious concerns, and whol applied to that day these verses of Statius : Excidat. illa dies ævo, nęc postera credant ???

'; 1 Saecula'; nos certè taceamụs, et obruta multà''"...; .* 0,1 Nocte tegi nostræ patiamur crimina gentis. .'m10sty dos

; mi.
May that foul day be blotted in time's flight," "
And buried in th oblivious gloom of night;
We will at least forbear the deed to name,

Nor let posterity believe our shame. : ،،، As he went to mass, for the festival of St. Bartholomew took place that year on a Sunday, he was forced to behold some of the mangled bodies, and to suppress his tears, which even the slaughter of beasts would have excited in one of his tender disposition;" he retired from the tumult to a house of his brother Christopher's, near Montmartre, from which place the body of Coligni, 'suspended on a gibbet, was discernible. “ Having lately seen that victorious general crowned with honor and triumph, he was induced to reflect on the vicissitudes of life, and silently to adore the wonderful judgments of God, which continually re. mind man of his frail and perishable statę.” pp. 9_11.

As he was intended for the ecclesiastical profession, he resided at Paris for many years with the Bishop of Chartres his uncle. Here he began to collect his library, afterwards so celebrated, and to form the plan of his great historical work. His residence with his uncle was sometimes interrupted by excursions into the neighbouring kingdoms in the train of some minister from the court.

In 1578 he was chosen counsellor of the ecclesiastical order in Paris, and some time after appointed to a commission for ad. ministering justice in Guienne, His next determination was to resign bis church preferment, and solicit the place of Master of the Requests, which he obtained. When he was more than thirty years of age, he had the resolution to enter upon the study of mathematics, of which he was before ignorant, and read through Euclid with Proclus's commentaries. After passing through the situation of King's Advocate he was ad. yanced to be President of the Parliament. The impediments to his marriage, arising from his former profession, being removed Vow IV,

3 X

« AnteriorContinuar »