OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Progress of the Nation page 9

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 <9> 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

It is difficult to conceive more overbearing, unjust, and unworthy proceedings than those of Newton against Flamstead. Sir David Brewster, in a recent "Life of Newton," 1831, has endeavoured to defend him by asserting that Flamstead did not appreciate Newton's theory - as if Flamstead was not quite at liberty to have his own opinion, an opinion shared by many at the time, and which theory, in the first edition of the "Principia," the only one then out, was in some respects grossly incorrect – "rejected," as Flamstead termed it, "by the heavens." Secondly, that Flamstead showed unwillingness to furnish Newton with the requisite lunar observations. He was under no obligation whatever to do so; yet, as proved, he furnished him with all he had made. It is contended also that the committee had a right to break the seal of Flamstead to come at his catalogue - an assertion than which nothing can be more immoral.

On the whole view of this case, as it rests on broad facts, we are compelled, in justice betwixt man and man, to declare our opinion that Flamstead was not only one of the most illustrious astronomers which this country has produced, but also one of the most ill-used of men; and without derogating an iota from the scientific merits of Sir Isaac Newton, it is clear, from his conduct to both Leibnitz and Flamstead, that he adds another proof to that of Bacon, that intellectual greatness and moral greatness do not necessarily reside in the same mind.

Amongst the other men of mathematical note in this period we may mention Henry Briggs, the coadjutor of Napier. His "Trigonometrica Britannica" showed that he had had a near view of the binomial theorem afterwards discovered by Newton. This work was published after his death by his friend, Henry Gellibrand, also an able mathematician. Thomas Harriot, author of a work on algebra - "Artis Analytic Praxis" - is said to have discovered the solar spots before Galileo, and the satellites of Jupiter only a few days after Galileo. Samuel Horrocks was beforehand with Newton in the theory of the lunar motions, which Newton afterwards demonstrated to be the necessary consequence of gravitation. Dr. Wallis, Crabtree, Gascoine, Milbourn, Shakerley, and Gunter - the author of Gunter's scale - were all men of high merit in those branches of science. Barrow we have already mentioned as a distinguished geometrician as well as a theologian. He was only excelled in optics by Newton himself; and in his "Sectiones Geometricse" he nearly anticipated Newton's principle of fluxions. James Gregory, professor of mathematics at Edinburgh, the first constructor of a reflecting telescope; and his nephew, David Gregory, of Oxford; John Collins, author of various philosophical works and papers; Roger Cotes, author of "Harmonia Mensurarum," &c.; and Dr. Brooke Taylor, author of "Methodus Incrementorum," were all substantial contributors to the higher sciences at this era. Halley, whose name occurs so unfavourably in the affair with Flamstead, succeeded him as astronomer royal, and is noted as being the first to find out the exact return of a comet which bears his name, and by a catalogue of the southern stars, published in 1679. Besides his profound astronomical talents, he added in various ways to the knowledge of the time. He was the first to construct tables of mortality; introduced improvements of the diving-bell; and wrote various treatises on the variations of the compass, on the trade winds, and other subjects.

In pneumatics and chemistry the Honourable Robert Boyle made some discoveries, and considerably improved the air-pump; and Robert Hooke, already mentioned as one of the earliest theorists of gravitation, also had a pretty clear notion of the gas now termed oxygen. Thomas Sydenham is a great name in medicine of this time; and the department of natural history took a new start under the hands of Rae, Willoughby, Lester, and others. Rae published his "History Plantarum," and edited Willoughby's works on birds and fishes. Conchology was advanced by Martin Lester, and Woodward even opened up the new region of mineralogy. The two most extraordinary discoveries, however, next to those of Newton, remain yet to be mentioned - that of the circulation of the blood, by Harvey, and of the steam-engine, by Solomon de Caus, introduced into this country by the marquis of Worcester.

The theory of the circulation of the blood, like almost every other great theory founded on fact, was not left for Harvey to ponder out ab origine. That the blood flowed from the heart to the extremities was known to the ancients, and stated by Aristotle. Galen even had argued, from the discovery of valves in the pulmonary artery, that the blood was also returned to the heart. Servetus, of Geneva, the same who was put to death for heresy, had demonstrated the circulation through the lungs, and again this theory had been propounded by Realdus Columbus in 1559. In 1571 Caesalpines of Arezzo came still nearer to the true theory, from observing the swelling of veins below a ligature - thence inferring that the blood flowed from the extremities as well as to them. It is clear, therefore, that all but positive demonstration was arrived at when Harvey appeared. But though this demonstration was all that was now needed, it was a work of no ordinary courage and genius. The few facts known were overlaid by such a heap of absurd and contradictory notions amongst medical men, that nothing but the nicest and completest experiments could establish the truth. This Harvey undertook td do, and accomplished it. He informed Boyle, as we learn from that philosopher's "Treatise on Final Causes," that the idea of the true circulation was first suggested to him when studying under Fabricius Aquapendente, at Padua, by noticing the valves in the veins - the same that had attracted the attention of Galen. To ascertain the fact he made numerous and accurate experiments on both dead and living animals, and the result was the clearest proof of the fact that the blood is propelled from the heart through the arteries, and returned to it through the veins. Besides this his experiments threw a flood of light on the action of the heart, on its diastolic and systolic functions, as observed both in adult subjects and in the foetus; on the true action of the lungs on the blood, and other important points. His completed views were so opposed to the notions of the faculty at the time, that a stupendous prejudice was raised against him, and his practice fell off greatly from the clamour which was raised against what his fellow practitioners called his wild speculations. It is a well-known feet that not one medical man who had passed his fortieth year ever admitted the discovery of Harvey. The most famous anatomists abroad joined in the outcry against his theory. Primirosius, Parisanus, Riolanus, professors of anatomy at Pans, and Plempius, professor at Louvain, were violent against it. Harvey very modestly permitted the storm to blow, certain that a truth built on positive facts would in the end prevail. He refused to answer the attacks of any one but Riolanus; but his friend, Dr. Ent, ably wielded the pen in his defence, and Harvey had the pleasure to see Plempius before long confess himself a convert, and many others then followed.

Besides Harvey's great discovery, he made many other Anatomical investigations with great care and ability, and especially on a vital subject, detailed in his treatise "De Generatione." His merit became so fully acknowledged that he was elected president of the college of physicians.

But the gifted men of this age who could determine the laws of worlds, and systems of worlds, and the vital principles of the living body, failed to perceive the wondrous capabilities of another invention destined to revolutionise society at a later day The marquis of Worcester, whom we have seen figuring conspicuously, as the earl of Glamorgan, in the civil strife of Charles I.'s reign, constructed a steam-engine - a very rude one, of course - which Sorbiere, a Frenchman, saw at work at his lordship's house at Vauxhall in 1663. It was capable of throwing up water to a great height. This engine is described by the marquis in his "Century of Inventions," published this same year, 1663. It is the sixty- eighth in the catalogue, and entitled "An admirable and most forcible way to drive up water by fire." He used a cannon for his boiler, and says he has seen "water run like a constant fountain-stream forty feet high. One vessel of water rarified by fire driveth up forty of cold water."

The marquis had learned this invention from the work of a Frenchman, Solomon de Caus, entitled "Les Raison de Forces Mouvantes." This De Caus had travelled in, England, and had importuned his own countrymen to examine what he deemed a wonderful discovery - the power of steam; but, like Thomas Gray, when urging on this country a system of railroads, was treated as a bore and a maniac. The marquis found De Caus actually confined in the Bicestre in Paris as a madman, for wanting to convince his countrymen of the marvellous powers of steam. The marquis's own notion appeared to be that the engine might be employed chiefly for the raising of water - a trait attributed to him by Stuart, in his "Anecdotes of Steam- Engines," published in 1651, in which the writer mentions a little engine at work at his house in Lambeth, which "might be applied to draw or hale ships, boates, &c., up rivers against the stream; to draw carts, wagons, &c., as fast without cattel; to draw the plough without cattel, to the same dispatch, if need be," &c.

The marquis's views were thus rapidly expanding on the subject; and it is wonderful that the invention should have been suffered to sleep a century and a half longer. Still more wonderful is it that the powers of steam slept so long when, according to Gibbon, the architect of St. Sophia, Constantinople, centuries ago, was so well aware of it that he used to shake the house of his neighbour, an enemy of his, with steam machinery.

Painting, Sculpture, and Engraving

Of architecture there was none belonging to this period. The glorious old gothic had closed for the time its career, and even the most eminent architects despised it. We have seen Inigo Jones introducing an Italian style, and committing the atrocity of erecting Grecian screens in Gothic cathedrals; and we shall in our next review find Wren, the architect of the noble classical fabric of St. Paul's, equally incapable of perceiving the beauty of Gothic. To him it was barbarian.

With Charles II. came in French taste, and almost all the professors of painting, sculpture, and engraving were foreigners. The whole art of painting was expended on the decorations of walls and ceilings after the fashion of Le Brun, but not with his genius, and in portrait. Verrio and Sir Peter Lely, both foreigners, engrossed the patronage of the court and the admiration of the public.

Antonio Verrio, a Neapolitan painter, who transferred himself to France and then to England, covered immense spaces of wall and ceiling at Windsor Castle and other places, with his gods, goddesses, and similar figures, pouring them out, as Walpole observes, without much invention and as little taste, but certainly with a great show of colour. He painted most of the ceilings at Windsor, one side of the hall of St. George and the chapel, most of which works are now destroyed. On the ceiling of St. George's Hall he drew Ashley Cooper, earl of Shaftesbury, as Faction dispersing libels; and the housekeeper, Mrs. Marriott, as Fury, because she had offended him. He was paid enormously for these works, and spent it as freely in ostentation. He had a. house in St. James's Park, and was also master gardener to the king. Walpole gives an extraordinary example of his freedom in demanding money of the king. He had just received a thousand pounds, when he appeared at court, and found Charles in such a circle that he could not approach him, but, nothing daunted, he called out to him that he desired to speak to him. Being asked what he wanted, he replied, Money. The king smiled, and reminded him of the thousand pounds just had. "Yes," said he, "but pedlars and painters cannot give long credit; that was soon paid away, and I have no gold left." "At that rate," said Charles, "you would spend more than I do." "True," replied the impudent foreigner; "but does your majesty keep an open table as I do?"

Being a tory, at the revolution he refused to paint for king William; but was employed by the earl of Exeter at Burleigh House, and the earl of Devonshire at Chatsworth, where plenty of his works remain. Dr. Waagen says he received more from lord Exeter alone than Raphael or Michael Angelo received for all their immortal works. The earl paid him for twelve years one thousand five hundred pounds a year - that is eighteen thousand pounds - besides his keep and equipage at his disposal. At length the earl persuaded him to work for King William at Hampton Court, where, besides other things, he painted the staircase so badly that he was suspected to have done it on purpose. In the wake of Verrio came Jacques Rousseau and Charles de la Fosse, the painters of the dome of the Invalides in Paris. Some few Englishmen, too, were employed in this department of fresco-painting. Isaac Fuller, a remains of whose performance may be seen in the dome of St. Mary Abchurch, in London; John Freeman, a scene painter for the theatre; and Robert Streater, a man of superior skill, who painted the ceiling of the theatre at Oxford, and many other ceilings, besides works of other kinds, historic, and even still life.

Lely, the painter of Charles's beauties, now at Hampton Court, was a native of Germany, but had studied chiefly in Holland, where Charles is supposed to have met with him. His ladies are certainly endowed with remarkable beauty and grace, but there is a certain likeness running through them all, especially in the complexion, the tone and tint of the flesh, as well as the disposal of the drapery, which gives one the inevitable -impression that they are to a great degree got up, and made rather after his peculiar model than their own real appearance. Whether they be striking likenesses, however, they are beautiful pictures, His draperies are arranged in broad folds, and he relieves his figures by a landscape background, which made Walpole say, "His nymphs trail fringes and embroidery through meadows and purling streams" The essence of Lely's painting is court artifice. It is showy, affected, and meretricious. Besides his court portraits he occasionally attempted the historic, one of the best of this kind which he executed being "Susannah and the Elders," at Burleigh House. His portraits in crayons are also preferred by some to his paintings in oil.

Lely set the fashion for portraiture in his time; no painter could hope to succeed if he did not conform to his style. Amongst a crowd of foreigners who sought to Share his popularity were Henry Gascar, James Huysman, and Sunman, from the Netherlands - all excellent portrait painters. Netscher also came hither for a short time; and William Wissing, of Amsterdam, an admirable artist, succeeded Lely at his death, and was only eclipsed by the rising fame of Kneller, a German, who afterwards became king William's court painter. Of the French school was Philip Duval, a pupil of the celebrated Le Brun's.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 <9> 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Pictures for The Progress of the Nation page 9

John Bunyan
John Bunyan >>>>
Roger Williams
Roger Williams >>>>
Miltons Birthplace
Miltons Birthplace >>>>
John Milton
John Milton >>>>
Scene from the Hudibras
Scene from the Hudibras >>>>
Allegorical Figure of a Commonwealth
Allegorical Figure of a Commonwealth >>>>
Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton >>>>
John Bunyan
John Bunyan >>>>
Coinage >>>>
Dr. William Harley
Dr. William Harley >>>>
Thomas Britton
Thomas Britton >>>>
Furniture >>>>
Costumes of Charles II
Costumes of Charles II >>>>
St. Stephens, Walbrook
St. Stephens, Walbrook >>>>
Chelsea Hospital
Chelsea Hospital >>>>
Nell Gwynnes Looking Glass.
Nell Gwynnes Looking Glass. >>>>
A Dramatic Performance in an Inn Yard
A Dramatic Performance in an Inn Yard >>>>
Old London Water Carriers
Old London Water Carriers >>>>
Medal exhibiting a Man-of-War
Medal exhibiting a Man-of-War >>>>
Calcutta in the Seventeenth Century
Calcutta in the Seventeenth Century >>>>
The Finger Pillory
The Finger Pillory >>>>
The Drunkard's Cloak
The Drunkard's Cloak >>>>
The Ducking Stool for Scolds
The Ducking Stool for Scolds >>>>
Gog and Magog
Gog and Magog >>>>
The game of Pell Mell
The game of Pell Mell >>>>
The Hall of an old English Squire
The Hall of an old English Squire >>>>
The Folly on the Thames
The Folly on the Thames >>>>
Sir Christopher Wrens plan for rebuilding London
Sir Christopher Wrens plan for rebuilding London >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About