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play the part of the Octavius, was condemned to that of the Antony of science.
Dr. Robert Hooke not only was unable to command suc* cess, but 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 the 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 larger 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 versatility which obeyed, than in the steady purpose which transformed 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 far less pretentious stamp. Experimental science does not date, even in England, from the Chancellor of England and of Nature.' Roma ante Romulum fuit. The Egremont Castle of traditional knowledge shook, it is true, to its foundations at the formidable blast of this new Sir Eustace, and the Peripatetic usurper 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 modern aspect and accommodation.
Among the multifarious forms of activity stirred into life by the ferment of the Italian Renaissance, perhaps the least questionable in its results was that leading to the love and study of nature. Two men of singular genius, Leon Battista Alberti and Leonardo da Vinci, led the way; and their example was followed by the astronomers, anatomists, physicians, and botanists, with whom, in the following century, Italy abounded. Mathematics 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
by Poggio or Filelfo, now greeted the solution of a problem by Cardano, or the discovery of a formula by Ferri or Tartaglia. Nor did these abstract enquiries remain long unfruitful. The questions which had busied the brain of Archimedes at the siege of Syracuse began to emerge from the neglect of wellnigh eighteen centuries, and the mechanical powers' of lever, pulley, screw, and inclined plane, were once more, 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 sagacity and boldness that, within a few years of the publication of Copernicus's great work, three Englishmen 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 astronomy 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 ingenious contrivance of an automaton-scarabæus, which, during a performance of the Pax' of Aristophanes, visibly mounted upwards carrying 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 501. 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 projection. 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
poverty in the fifth year of her successor. He left, for the benefit of posterity, a detailed record of his supernatural communications; and the magic crystal which he professed to have received from the hand of an angel may still be seen, together with Robert Burns's punch-bowl, and a casket carved out of Shakespeare's walnut-tree, among the curiosities preserved in the 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 promulgation of the Copernican theory, he visited the Low Countries for scientific purposes, and subsequently lectured and studied at the Universities of Paris and Louvain. safely conclude that he there acquired the convictions which led him to instigate, and patronise with a preface, the publication of John Field's • Ephemeris' for 1557, juxta Copernici et Reinholdi canones.
This performance has earned for Field the title of the Proto-Copernican of England, justly due, no doubt, to the first English astronomer who adopted, ex professo, the heliocentric theory of the solar system. But in a book which appeared probably a few months earlier, the same views were upheld as unhesitatingly, if not so systematically. Its author 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 lively aversion, that not even the desolation of a night in Alsatia could induce him to seek solace in its
The same writer's Castle of Knowledge' might have proved a more efficacious remedy for ennui. It is an astronomical dialogue, the progress of which is enlivened by some touches of quaint satire.“ We take from it the following extract, noteworthy as (so far as we know) the first printed reference in the English language to the memorable innovation of the Canon of Frauenburg :
Master. Copernicus, a man of great learning, of much experience, and of wonderful diligence in observation, hath renewed the opinion of Aristarchus Samius, and affirmeth that the earth not only moveth circularly about his own centre, but also may be, yea and is, continually
out of the precise centre 38 hundreth thousand miles; but because the understanding of that controversy dependeth on profounder knowledge than there in this introduction may be uttered conveniently, I will let it pass till some other time.
Scholar. Nay, Sir, in good faith, I desire not to hear such vain phantasies, 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. You are too young to be a good judge in so great a matter : it passeth far your learning, and their's also that are much better learned than you, to improve (disprove) his supposition by good argument, and therefore you were best to condemn nothing that 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 peradventure be as earnest then to credit it, as you are now to condemn it.' *
The objurgations of Giordano Bruno on the occasion of his visit to Oxford in 1583, made, we can infer, but little impression on the hard-headed English Peripatetics of the time, and the Copernican system seems to have receded rather than advanced in credit during the last twenty years of the century. • How prove you,' asks Blundevile in his . Exercises' (published 1594), 'that there is but one world?' •By the autho
rity,' he unhesitatingly replies, of Aristotle!' and the inertia of his ignorance is noways shaken by his own admission that Copernicus, .by help of his false supposition, hath made truer demonstrations of the motions and revolutions of the celestial sphere than ever were made before.
Already, however, the Aristotelian dictatorship was being undermined, where it could not be overthrown. William Gilbert of Colchester, physician to Queen Elizabeth (whom he only survived a few months), deserves to be called the founder of experimental science in England. In his treatise • De Magnete, published in 1600, he brought together a copious store of facts, the result of his own patient investigations, and connected them by a consistent theory, thus starting the science of electricity on a career still full of promise for the future. He was not only a Copernican, but anticipated Galileo in an important correction of the Copernican theory, pointing out the fallacy by which a so-called “third movement was considered necessary to account for the parallelism of the earth's axis of rotation. In his youth he had studied on the
* The Castle of Knowledge, p. 165. London : 1556. Quoted also by Professor De Morgan, Companion to the British Almanac for 1837,' p. 36.
† Companion to the British Almanac for 1837, p. 43.
| De Mundo nostro sublunari, lib. i. cap. xi. p. 165, published (posthumously) in 1651.
Continent, and his works were there in great repute, while his own countrymen probably shared the half-contemptuous estimate of Bacon, who placed him but a degree higher than Paracelsus and the alchemists in the school of fantastic philosophy.'
With the opening of the new century, progress became more rapid. Harriot, the friend of Raleigh, made notable advances in algebra, and was among the earliest of telescopic observers; Napier published in 1614 his · Marvellous Canon of Logarithms;' and Harvey, whose theory of investigation was as sound as his practice was successful, began his immortal Lectures on the Motion of the Heart and Blood,' in 1619. In the same year was born, at Toxteth, near Liverpool, a man whose name would assuredly have been as illus-trious as it is now obscure, if a premature death had not cut short his labours before they had well begun.
Jeremiah Horrocks belonged to a Lancashire family of little pretension and less means. His puritanism was signified by his entrance at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and his poverty by his admission as a sizar, May 18, 1632. A passion for astronomy early seized upon him, but his tastes met with neither encouragement nor cultivation at Cambridge, which at that time afforded no form of scientific training. Books were his sole instructors, and his slender resources the limit of his choice. Indeed, his short life was one continued struggle against the tyranny of material difficulties. After a residence of three years, he left the University, summoned home probably by domestic exigencies, and spent his remaining years in the daily treadmill of tuition, or some equally harassing occupation. He found time, however, for astronomical observations, and in 1636 his zeal for his favourite pursuit was still further quickened by meeting with a congenial spirit in William Crabtree, a clothier of Broughton, near Manchester, one of a remarkable group of North-country mathematicians, to whom fate was as unkind in the untimeliness of their deaths as in the obscurity of their lives. Encouraged by his new friend, Horrocks quickly exchanged the guidance of Lansberg for that of Kepler, henceforward the object of his enthusiastic, but by no means undiscriminating devotion. Even in the Rudolphine Tables he discovered inaccuracies, trifling, it is true, in comparison with the boastful blundering of the reactionary Belgian
There is no positive evidence in support of the tradition that Horrocks was born in 1619. The fact that he was in orders and held a curacy in 1639 throws a doubt upon his age, as men are not or
dained at twenty.