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that took place, concerning the invention of the fluxionary and the differential calculus, tended to confirm those prejudices, and to alienate the minds of the British from the foreign mathematicians, and the analytical methods which they pursued. That this reached beyond the minds of ordinary men, is clear from the way in which Robins censures Euler and Bernoulli, chiefly for their love of algebra, while he ought to have seen that in the very works which he criticizes with so much asperity, things are performed which neither he nor any of his countrymen, at that time, could have ventured to undertake.
We believe, however, that it is chiefly in the public institutions of England that we are to seek for the cause of the deficiency here referred to, and particularly in the two great centres from which knowledge is supposed to radiate over all the rest of the island. In one of these, where the dictates of Aristotle are still listened to as infallible decrees, and where the infancy of science is mistaken for its maturity, the mathematical sciences have never flourished; and the scholar has no means of advancing beyond the mere elements of geometry. In the other seminary, the dominion of prejudice is not equally strong; and the works of Locke and Newton are the text from which the prelections are read. Mathematical learning is there the great object of study; but still we must disapprove of the method in which this object is pursued. A certain portion of the works of Newton, or of some other of the writers who treat of pure or mixt mathematics in the synthetic method, is prescribed to the pupil, which the candidate for academical honours must study day and night. He must study it, not to learn the spirit of geometry, or to acquire the duvauis svention by which the theorems were discovered, but to know them as a child does his chatechism, by heart, so as to answer readily to certain interrogations. In all this, the invention finds no exercise; the student is confined within narrow limits; his curiosity is not roused; the spirit of discovery is not awakened. Suppose that a young man studying mechanics, is compelled to get by heart. the whole of the heavy and verbose demonstrations contained in Keil's introduction (which we believe is an exercise sometimes prescribed); what is likely to be the consequence? The exercise afforded to the understanding by those demonstrations, may no doubt be improving to the mind: but as soon as they are well understood, the natural impulse is to go on; to seck for something higher; or to think of the application of the theorems demonstrated. If this natural expansion of the mind is restrained; if the student is forced to fall back; and to go again and again over the same ground, disgust is likely to ensue; the more likely, indeed, the more he is fitted for a better employment
of his talents; and the least evil that can be produced, is the loss of the time, and the extinction of the ardour that might have enabled him to attempt investigation himself, and to acquire both the power and the taste of discovery. Confinement to a regular routine, and moving round and round in the same circle, must, of all things, be the most pernicious to the inventive faculty. The laws of periodical revolution, and of returning continually in the same tract, may, as we have seen, be excellently adapted to a planetary system, but are ill calculated to promote the ends of an academical institution. We would wish to see, then, some of those secular accelerations by which improvements go on increasing from one age to another. But this has been rarely the case; and it is melancholy to reflect, how many of the Universities of Europe have been the strongholds where prejudice and error made their last stand-the fastnesses from which they were latest of being dislodged. We do not mean to hint that this is true of the university of which we now speak, where the credit of teaching the doctrines of Locke and Newton is sufficient to cover a multitude of sins. Still, however, we must take the liberty to say, that Newton is taught there in the way least conducive to solid mathematical improvement.
Perhaps, too, we might allege, that another public institution, intended for the advancement of science, the Royal Society, has not held out, in the course of the greater part of the last century, sufficient encouragement for mathematical learning. But this would lead to a long disquisition; and we shall put an end to the present digression, with remarking, that though the mathematicians of England have taken no share in the deeper researches of physical astronomy, the observers of that country have discharged their duty better. The observations of Bradley and Maskelyne have been of the utmost importance in this theory; their accuracy, their number, and their uninterrupted series, have rendered them a fund of immense astronomical riches. Taken in conjunction with the observations made at Paris, they have furnished La Place with the data for fixing the numerical values of the constant quantities in his different series; without which, his investigations could have had no practical application. We may add, that no man has so materially contributed to render the formulas of the mathematician useful to the art of the navigator, as the present Astronomer-Royal. He has been the main instrument of bringing down this philosophy from the heavens to the earth; of adapting it to the uses of the unlearned; and of making the problem of the Three Bodies the surest guide of the mariner in his journey acorss the ocean.
ART. II. Hours of Idleness: A Series of Poems, Original and Tranflated. By George Gordon, Lord Byron, a Minor. 8vo. pp. 200. Newark. 1807.
HE poefy of this young lord belongs to the clafs which neither gods nor men are faid to permit. Indeed, we do not recollect to have seen a quantity of verfe with fo few deviations in either direction from that exact standard. His effufions are fpread over a dead flat, and can no more get above or below the level, than if they were so much stagnant water. As an extenuation of this offence, the noble author is peculiarly forward in pleading minority. We have it in the title-page, and on the very back of the volume; it follows his name like a favourite part of his style. Much stress is laid upon it in the preface, and the poems are connected with this general statement of his case, by particular dates, substantiating the age at which each was written. Now, the law upon the point of minority, we hold to be perfectly clear. It is a plea available only to the defendant; no plaintiff can offer it as supplementary ground of action. Thus, if any suit could be brought against Lord Byron, for the purpose of compelling him to put into court a certain quantity of poetry; and if judgement were given against him; it is highly probable that an exception would be taken, were he to deliver for poetry, the contents of this volume. To this he might plead minority; but as he now makes voluntary tender of the article, he hath no right to sue, on that ground, for the price in good current praise, should the goods be unmarketable. This is our view of the law on the point, and we dare to say, so will it be ruled. Perhaps however, in reality, all that he tells us about his youth, is rather with a view to increase our wonder, than to soften our censures. He possibly means to say, See how a minor can write! This poem was actually composed by a young man of eighteen, and this by one of only sixteen!'-But, alas, we all remember the poetry of Cowley at ten, and Pope at twelve; and so far from hearing, with any degree of surprise, that very poor verses were written by a youth from his leaving school to his leaving college, inclusive, we really believe this to be the most common of all occurrences; that it happens in the life of nine men in ten who are educated in England; and that the tenth man writes better verse than Lord Byron.
His other plea of privilege, our author rather brings forward in order to wave it. He certainly, however, does allude frequently to his family and ancestors-sometimes in poetry, sometimes in notes; and while giving up his claim on the score of rank, he takes care to remember us of Dr Johnson's saying, that when a T3
nobleman appears as an author, his merit should be handsomely acknowledged. In truth, it is this consideration only, that induces us to give Lord Byron's poems a place in our review, beside our desire to counsel him, that he do forthwith abandon poetry, and turn his talents, which are considerable, and his opportunities, which are great, to better account.
With this view, we must beg leave sériously to assure him, that the mere rhyming of the final syllable, even when accompanied by the presence of a certain number of feet; nay, although (which does not always happen) those feet should scan regularly, and have been all counted accurately upon the fingers,-is not the whole art of poetry. We would entreat him to believe, that a certain portion of liveliness, somewhat of fancy, is necessary to constitute a poem; and that a poem in the present day, to be read, must contain at least one thought, either in a little degree different from the ideas of former writers, or differently expressed. We put it to his candour, whether there is any thing so deserving the name of poetry in verses like the following, written in 1806, and whether, if a youth of eighteen could say any thing so uninteresting to his ancestors, a youth of nineteen should publish it.
Shades of heroes, farewell! your defcendant, departing
The fame of his fathers he ne'er can forget.
He vows, that he ne'er will difgrace your renown;
When decay'd, may he mingle his duft with your own. P. 3. Now we positively do assert, that there is nothing better than these stanzas in the whole compass of the noble minor's volume. Lord Byron should also have a care of attempting what the greatest poets have done before him, for comparisons (as he must have had occasion to see at his writing master's) are odious.Gray's Ode on Eton College, should really have kept out the ten hobbling stanzas on a distant view of the village and school of
Where fancy, yet, joys to retrace the refemblance,
Of comrades, in friendfhip and mischief allied;
Which refts in the bofom, though hope is deny'd.'-p. 4.
In like manner, the exquisite lines of Mr Rogers, On a Tear,' might have warned the noble author off those premises, and spared us a whole dozen such stanzas as the following. • Mild Charity's glow, To us mortals below,
Shows the foul from barbarity clear;
And its dew is diffus'd in a Tear.
The man doom'd to fail,
The green fparkles bright with a Tear. '-p. 11.
And so of instances in which former poets had failed. Thus, we do not think Lord Byron was made for translating, during his non-age, Adrian's Address to his Soul, when Pope succeeded so indifferently in the attempt. If our readers, however, are of another opinion, they may look at it.
Ah! gentle, fleeting, wav'ring fprite,
To what unknown region borne,
But pallid, cheerlefs, and forlorn. '—page 72. However, be this as it may, we fear his translations and imitations are great favourites with Lord Byron. We have them of all kinds, from Anacreon to Ossian; and, viewing them as school exercises, they may pass. Only, why print them after they have had their day and served their turn? And why call the thing in p. 79. a translation, where two words (Aye) of the original are expanded into four lines, and the other thing in p. 81, where μεσονυκλίοις ποθ ̓ ὁ gais, is rendered by means of six hobbling verses? -As to his Ossianic poesy, we are not very good judges, being, in truth, so moderately skilled in that species of composition, that we should, in all probability, be criticizing some bit of the genuine Macpherson itself, were we to express our opinion of Lord Byron's raphsodies. If, then, the following beginning of a Song of bards,' is by his Lordship, we venture to object to it, as far as we can comprehend it. What form rises on the roar of clouds, whose dark ghost gleams on the red stream of tempests? His voice rolls on the thunder; 'tis Orla, the brown chief of Otihona. He was,' &c. &c. After detaining this. brown chief' some time, the bards conclude by giving him their advice to