Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

regard to Messrs. Alwood, Leslie, and Woodhouse, may be traceci, perhaps, to notives not so thoroughly honourable, as te be offered in excuse for the hostility which we have stig, matized. Some of these motives are developed by Dr. Ro. bertson, to which we shall presently arlvert.

The productions of Dr. Robertson, which lave irritated the spleen of the Monthly and Critical Reviewer, are, wa New Demonstration of the Binomial Theorem” in the Philosophical Transactions for 1806; and a paper • On the Precession of the Equinoxes," in the Pbil. Trans, for 1807. The Demonstration of the Binomial Theorem is presented in both Reviews under a deformed and mutilated aspect, the better to give scope for the attacks on its author. Most of these attacks are entirely unjustifiable. Thus, the Reviewer affirms that the Demonstration has no claim to originality: Dr. Robertson proves the contrary. The Reviewer asserts that the Demonstration is essentially the same as Euler's: Dr. Robert.. son proves, by an actual comparison, that the two are widely different. The Reviewer says, ' “ the proof is not a direct one:" Dr. R. clearly proves that it is direct. The Reviewer insipnates that Sir Isaac Newton demonstrated the Theorem : Dr. R. shows, by quotations froin Bishop Horsley, and Baron Maseres, (as indeed every mathematician well knows) that Newton did not demonstrate it. The Reviewer affirms that such a proof may be found in Baron Maseres's Scriptores Logarithnici : Dr. R. asserts truly that there is no such thing. In shori Dr. R. proves decidedly, that the Monthly Reviewer's k review of his Demonstration is a bungling and gross misre.. presentation from the beginning to the end; and that his charge of plagiarism would more become a boy with a smattering of Algebra, than an intelligent and candid critic."

With regard to the paper on the Precession of the Equinoxes, all that the Critical Reviewer thinks proper to say is, 5. It is impossible to understand this paper without the aid of diagrams:" perhaps he did not give himself time to under. stand it with that aid: but he might have given a summary analysis even without a diagram, and that in Dr. Robertson's own words. The Monthly Reviewer, on the contrary, complains of the cousumption of ink and paper in the geometrical method by diagrams, and would have wished the essay to be entirely analytical. He accuses Dr. Robertson of plagiarism from T. Siinpson, and extols a Demonstration by Dr. Milner in the Pbil. Trans. for 1779. The Doctor completely rebuts this charge of plagiarism, as well as several other similar insinuations; he shows that Dr. Milner's Demonstration is correct in the result merely by a compensation of equal and contrary errors, and consequently that the Reviewer has not given the

subject sufficient attention to distinguish between a correct and a faulty demonstration; and farther observes, that in the strictures, occupying 10 pages of the Monthly Review, there is only one remurk that fairly applies to his Menoir.

Dr. Robertson then proceeds to state his reasons for suspecting that the author of these criticisms is Mr. Il'oodhouse, of Caius College, Cainbridge; and relates succinctly the unfair conduct of the Montbly Reviewer toward Dr. Hutton in 1802, that gentleman's public ascription of the articles to Mr. Woodhouse, and Mr. Wi's subsequent silence on this public impeachment. At all events, Dr. R. thinks it fair to infer, that the Reviewer must bc, if not Mr. W. himself, yet some near and dear friend, who, from a fear that he could not favour him in the Monthly Review, "had quitted his post in a most cowardly inanner, in consequence of Dr. Hutton's letters." To confirm this surmise, Dr. Robertson mentions the following carious particulars :

• In the year 1803 Mr. Woodhouse published a quarto volume, entitled, “ The Principles of Analytical Calculation,” in this work the author very kindly undertakes to inform mathematicians, what is really meant by the sign of equality, how they are to understand the negative sign, what is the precise object of the binomial theorem, &c., &c.

Being desirous to know what his friend the critic said of all this in. struction, I turned to the Monthl; Review, number after number, and, strange to tell, I found that in this publication he deserted Mr. W. on this occasion, although on others he unifo'mly approves of his wri ings and' adopts his opinions: the Monthly R-view is silent as to the merits of the above performance. But in the developement of secret proceedings, it frequently happens that the discovery of one circumstance enables the enquirer to follow his object : and this was the case in the present in. stance. I proceeded to examine the internal evidence in support of the assertion, that the same person frequently wrote in the Critical Review; and on turning to that publication for June 1803, I found the same learned critic holding forth with all his eloquence on the transcendent merits of his friend's publication. Like a skilful general, he had only moved out of the reach of Dr. Hutton's galling fire. His friendship towards Mr. W. was unabated; and it was exerted, as it appears from dates, with remarkable promptitude. The order of the Syndics of the press, for fixing the price of the book, is dated Feb. 12th. 1803. There niust have been some interval between this time and the publication of the work ; so that the critic must have been very quick in reading and comprehending his author, and very assiduous in drawing up a condensed but minute ac. count of its excellence before June. The volume, it is true, is thin ; but we are told by the critic, that " it will exercise the talents of the higher mathematicians,"

• The same friend to Mr. W. appears in the Critical Review for July 1805, and, in contemplating his merits, the critic seems to be overwhelmed with adiniration. " His science and skill” the reviewer observes,” can be appreciated only by the higher mathematiciang. A comparison between the mathematicians of this country and France, during the last century, would be highly worthy of his pen ; for yet, notwithstanding the high encomiums paid to the French, and the voluminous works issuing from the Parisian press, we are inclined to think, that they have rather increased the forms, than added much to the stock of science. Our author will ena. ble us to see this matter in the clearest point of view, as he is one of the few mathematicians of Cambridge, and when we say Cambridge we cannot add many for the rest of England, who have studied with diligence and attention the late French writers on the differential calculus, or what we more properly call Auxions." -As numbers labour in vain to attract public attention, and to obtain the approbation of critics, this author must be esteemed very fortunate indeed in having an advocate, who can so readily comprehend his most intricate researches, and who can, without delay, announce their comparative excellence to the world.

The readers of this statement will not, we suppose, be diuch puzzled, to account for the eulogies bestowed on Mr. Woodhouse. We recollect but two other of our mathematical au. thors, who have received unmingled praise from the Monthly Reviewer. One of them is Mr. Professor Leslie, the critique on whose ingenious treatise on Heat was remarkably encomiastic. But this was probably the discharge of a debt of gratitude: for it is generally understood that when Mr. Leslie dissolved his connection with the Monthly Review, on going abroad with one of the Wedgwood family, he recommended as a successor the gentleman who has since distinguished himself so highly by the want of impartiality and candour. The remaining instance, was the late Mr. Atwood, who was warmly commended, for the express purpose, it would seem, of depreciating Dr. Hutton in the comparison ; and the critic afterwards acknowledged in the same Review (when speaking of the Supplement to Mr. Atwood's Dissertation on Arches) that his former praise was misplaced, and that “if reviewers were allowed to revise their judgements he should be inclined to give a different opinion.”

Mr. Hellins had published, in the Philosophical Transactions for 1802, a curious paper on the Rectification of the Hyperbola, in all cases, by means .of appropriate theorems, derived in a natural and easy manner from the properties of the curve, and of such quick convergency, as considerably facilitated the computation of hyperbolic arcs. The fair way to review this paper would have been, to compare the new serieses given by Mr. Hellins, with the serieses for the same purpose exhibited by other authors. But the Monthly Critic shifts or shuffles the business to the rectification of ellipses ! Mr. Hellins chastises the arrogance of his anonymous assailant, exposes his ignonorance and disingenuousness, refutes his falsehoods, and proves him guilty of wilful and deliberate misrepresentation. We have already extended this article, however, much be

cephes, for the then is the bertson, and the co

yond our intended limits; and must therefore refer to Mr. Hellins's pamphlet, for the particulars of his defence.

These injured writers have both succeeded in demonstrating the unfairness and malignity of their judge ; and we sincerely hope the circulation of their pamphlets will be such, as to preserve their own reputation from suffering any serious damage.

With regard to the Reviewer, if he can enjoy any satisfaction, it must be from the consideration that his name and person are only probably, not demonstrably, identified. Mr. Woodhouse is a gentleman, for whose talents and acquirements as a mathematician we have high respect : we hope he will be able, by a positive and unequivocal disavowal of the articles usually ascribed to him, to show that this is not the only kind of respect due to his character.

Lastly, these divulgations of truth should not be neglected by the proprietors of these hoary Reviews. If the cause of literature and science can be advanced, and the benefits of sound and honourable criticism demonstrated, by a Reviewer concealing some facts on which investigations rest, grossly misrepresenting others, and forming unfair combinations of particulars, for the purpose of attaching blame where it is not justly applicable; then is the critic who has excited the animadversions of Hutton, Robertson,' and Hellins, admirably fitted for his employment. But if, on the contrary, Reviewers should be characterized by the strictest impartiality, if they should avoid every thing arrogant or disingenuous, and detest a wilful misrepresentation; then will the proprietors of the Monthly and Critical Reviews perceive, that in order to retain that portion of public favour which they possess, it is imperatively necessary to disclaim any farther connection with the individual, whoever he may be, that has so long persevered, with impunity, in a system of the most in. ' defensible and unprovoked defamation. , Art. VII. The Fathers of the English Church, or a Selection from the

Writings of the Reformers and early Protestant Divines of the Church of England. Vol. I. Containing various Tracts and Extracts from the Works of William Tindal, John Frith, Patrick Hamilton, George Joy, and Robert Barnes. With Memorials of their Lives and Writings, from Fox and Bishop Bale. 8vo. pp. xiv. 636. Price 98. Boards,

Hatchard, Rivingtons. 1807. OF all the illustrious periods which our history furnishes,

none suggests inore important reflections than the æra of the Reformation. The history of the Christian church scarcely offers a more interesting subject of contemplation, since the time when its Divine Founder appeared among mankind.

fuery the linsed this

It will perhaps be worth while, in reference to the work before us, to notice cursorily the principal features of this in: estimable moral revolution, and to take a short view of its proximate causes in the characters of its immediate authors. For it is always true, that the continued agency of those means by which reformations, especially of a religious kind, were at first established, is to a certain extent necessary for their future support. And yet it is obviously the patural effect of time, with regard to all reforms, both civil and religious, to obscure the conduct and character of those who were the active instruments in producing them, as well as the mode and order of their production.

Those who are unacquainted with the history of that period, would with difficulty believe what gross and enortnous impositions were practised by the church of Rome, on the consciences and understandings of mankind. These were the result of continually increasing additions to the observances and appendages, with which mere human authority had encumbered the pure and simple religion of Christ; and were the natural offspring of the interests and fancies of men, which have the same common tendency, and operate by the same general outlines, in all ages and situations. That such abuses are not peculiar to one period or country, nor attach themselves with greater facility to one religion than another, is evident from the state of the Jews at the coming of our Saviour, when the law of Moses was overwhelmed by a corresponding load of cumbrous ceremonies, profane traditions, and perverse interpretations. The truth, as well as the importance of this fact will appear, from a view of the causes and consequences of the two systems of corruption. In cach case, the deterioration had arisen from a combination of principles; from a desire, on the part of the ruling order to advance temporal power and gratify private passions by the exercise of ecclesiastical prerogatives; and a disposition, on the part of the general body, to evade the spiritual obligations to holiness of heart and life, by a substitution of ceremonial observances.

These principles, unhappily common to human nature, are perpetual in their operation ; they have been found to deface even the beginnings of reform, and when indulged have generally increased with rapidity.' It is therefore of importance ever to bear in mind the firm but mild opposition, by which in this country the abuses then existing were surmount. ed, and the barriers which have been placed, by our political constitution, against the erroneous system which upheld them. But the most important object of attention is, the correction of the judgements, and the einancipation of the con. sciences of mankind, by the general diffu:ion of religious inte

« ПредишнаНапред »