Page images
PDF
EPUB

cially the mechanical ones of Borelli, Baglivi, Pitcairn, and Keill, This work has been admired for the elegance of its style, but the opinions are now antiquated. In 1704 he was appointed to the chair of chemistry in Oxford; and the year after he attended the army under Lord Peterborough in the Spanish expedition. He remained physician to the army for two years, after which he travelled in Italy, and visited the celebrated physicians Baglivi and Lancisi. He returned home in 1707, and published an account of the Spanish expedition. The same year he became doctor in medicine. In 1709 his · Prelectiones Chemica' appeared, dedicated to Sir Isaac Newton. They were attacked by the German philosophers, and defended by Dr Freind in an appendix to the second edition. In 1711 he was elected a fellow of the Royal society, aud travelled into Flanders as physician to the duke of Ormond. He returned to London and settled in practice there, becoming a fellow of the college of physicians in 1716. He soon got involved in a dispute with Dr Woodward, professor of medicine in Gresham-college, occasioned by a treatise on fevers which he published in that year. In 1717 he read the Gulstonian lecture, and three years after delivered the Harveian oration. In 1722 he became member of parliament for Launceston in Cornwall, and is said to have spoken frequently in the house, and to have exerted himself with considerable energy on several occasions. Being suspected of connexion with Bishop Atterbury, he was committed to the Tower in March, 1722. During his imprisonment he is believed to have made considerable preparations for

his great work on the history of medicine, addressed to Dr Mead. This was published in the years 1725 and 1726. He remained but a short time in confinement, and on being liberated became physician to the prince of Wales. When the prince came to the throne, Freind became physician to the queen, but enjoyed this honour only a short time. He died on the 26th of June, 1728, of a fever, in the fifty-second year of

He was buried at Hitcham in Buckinghamshire, and a monument was erected to his memory in Westminster-abbey.

His works, especially the . History of Medicine,' are still deservedly appreciated. His character is described in the Harveian oration of Sir Edward Wilmot in 1735; where he is called a deep philosopher, a learned physician and elegant writer, and an ornament to society; and described as very honest and humane, ever desirous of doing good. His friendship with Dr Mead is well-known.

his age.

John Woodward.

BORN A. D. 1665.-DIED A. D. 1728.

John WOODWARD, a native of Derbyshire, was born on the 1st of May, 1665. After having received the rudiments of education at a country school, he was apprenticed to a linen-draper, whom, however, he soon quitted, and shortly after, became acquainted with Dr Peter Barwick, a physician, “who finding him," says Ward, his biographer, “ of a very promising genius, took him under his tuition in his own family.” After having made considerable progress in philosophy, phy. sic, and anatomy, he was invited to visit Sir Ralph Dutton, Dr Barwick's son-in-law, at Sherborne in Gloucestershire, where his mineralogical observations and collections “ led him to conclude," says the authority before cited, “ that the great mixture, which he every. where found, both of native and extraneous fossils, must result from some general cause; and, at length, convinced him of the universality of the Mosaic deluge."

In January, 1692, he was chosen professor of physic in Gresham college, on the recommendation particularly of Dr Barwick, who certified that Woodward“ had made the greatest advance, not only in physic, anatomy, botany, and other parts of natural philosophy, but likewise in history, geography, mathematics, philology, and all other useful learning, of any man he ever knew of his age." In 1693 he was chosen a fellow of the royal society. In 1695 he obtained his degree of M. D. by mandate from Archbishop Tenison; and, during the same year, published a work, entitled, "An Essay towards a Natural History of the Earth and Terrestrial Bodies, especially in Minerals, as also of the Sea, Rivers, and Springs; with an account of the Universal Deluge, and of the Effects it had upon the Earth. In 1696 he published a pamphlet, entitled, “Brief Instructions for making Observations in all parts of the World, as also for Collecting, Preserving, and sending over Natural Things,' &c. In 1698 he was admitted a licentiate, and in 1792, elected a fellow of the royal college of physicians. In 1704, a Latin translation of his essay having been printed at Zurich, he became engaged in a controversy with Cuper and Leibnitz, and, some years afterwards, with Camerarius, who closed the dispute with a very handsome acknowledgment of Woodward's abilities.

In 1718 he published a work, entitled, “ The State of Physic and Diseases, with an Inquiry into the Causes of the late increase of them ; but more particularly of the Small-pox: with some considerations upon the New Practice of Purging in that Disease,' &c. This practice had been supported by Drs Mead and Freind, especially by the latter, in his ‘Commentary on Fevers.' Woodward endeavoured to show the advantage of emetics; but was defeated in the controversy.

During the latter part of his life, which terminated in April, 1728, he devoted the chief portion of his time to “his darling fossils and

His collection was purchased by the university.of Cambridge, to which he bequeathed £150 per annum for the foundation of a mineralogical lectureship, which appears to have been first held by Dr Conyers iddleton. Shortly after his death appeared 'A Catalogue of Fossils in the collection of John Woodward, M.D.,' and an octavo edition from his pen, entitled, “ Fossils of all kinds digested into a Method suitable to their Mutual Relations and Affinity. Besides the works already mentioned, he was the author of some archæological tracts, and a few contributions to the Philosophical transactions.

Dr Woodward appears to have been a man of considerable abilities, and great benevolence. One of his biographers states, that “ as he was a genius sui generis, so his method of reasoning was often grounded upon a way of reasoning peculiar to himself.” As

As a geologist, he is at least entitled to praise, for having made actual observations the basis of his theories.

sir Richard Steele.

BORN A. D. 1676.—DIED A. D. 1729.

This celebrated writer was a native of Dublin, where he was born

out the year 1676. A branch of this family was possessed of a considerable estate in the county of Wexford, and his father, who was a counsellor-at-law, was some time private secretary to James, first duke of Ormond. As the father was of English extraction, he carried his son Richard, while very young, to London, and put him to school at the Charterhouse, where he first contracted his intimacy with Addison From the Charterhouse he was sent to Merton college, Oxford ; where he rather idled his time, but gave some indications of his abilities, and of his taste for polite literature. He even proceeded so far as to compose a comedy, but, by the advice of a brother-collegian, he was prevented from making it public. He left the university without taking any degree, and entered as a private gentleman in the horseguards, a step which gave so much offence to his friends, that he lost the succession to a good estate in the county of Wexford in consequence. Steele was, however, well-adapted by nature for the way of life that he had chosen. His disposition was gay ; and he not only abounded with good-nature and generosity, but was distinguished by the brilliancy of his wit, and his engaging manners; nor was he by any means destitute of courage. These qualities rendered him the delight of the soldiery, and soon procured him an ensign's commission. In the meantime, he was easily led away into every kind of riotous dissipation; and all his fine talents and many amiable qualities were unhappily prostituted in the pursuit of licentious pleasure. But he was not without his hours of cool reflection; and in some of these it was that he drew up, for his own private use, a little treatise entitled “The Christian Hero ;' with a design--as he himself assures us—to fix upon bis mind a deep impression of the value of virtue and religion, in opposition to his propensity to unwarrantable pleasures. He printed this treatise in the year 1701, with a dedication to his patron Lord Cutts who appointed him his private secretary, and likewise procured for him a company in Lord Lucas's regiment of fusiliers. But so direct and notorious was the contradiction between the tenour of this book and the general course of the author's life that it exposed Steele to much raillery amongst his acquaintances. It was perhaps with the view of doing away with the impressions occasioned by this publication that he composed his comedy, called “The Funeral, or Grief a-la-mode.' This performance was brought upon the stage the same year, and met with a very favourable reception.

At the beginning of Queen Anne's reign, through the interest of the earls of Halifax and Sunderland to whom he had been recommended by Addison, Steele was appointed writer of the Gazette. Soon after his promotion to this office, he produced his second comedy, called • The tender Husband ;' in which he was assisted by his friend Addison, and which was acted in the year 1704, with great success. But his next play, “The Lying Lovers,' met with a different reception, and proved a complete failure, or as he himself expresses it, was 66 damned for its piety." In the year 1709 he began to publish • The Tatler.' This excellent paper was undertaken in concert with Swift, who a little before had published some humorous pieces under the name of · Isaac Bickerstaff, which had been very favourably received. The general purpose of. The Tatler' was--as the author observes—“to expose the false arts of life, to pull off the disguises of cunning, vanity, and affectation, and to recommend a general simplicity in our dress, our discourse, and our behaviour.” Nothing more was aimed at while Swift was concerned in it; nor did the papers rise above this design till the change of the ministry, when Addison had leisure to engage more constantly in the work. With his assistance it began to aim at higher objects, and its reputation proportionably increased. About a year before he began to publish · The Tatler,' Steele married his second wife. His first wife was a lady of Barbadoes, by whom he became possessed of an estate in that island, valued at about eight hundred pounds + year; but it was encumbered with considerable debts and legacies. His second wife was Mary Sourlock, daughter of Jonathan Sourlock, Esq. of Langunnor, in Wales. This lady was very handsome, and he was strongly attached to her to the end of her life. In one of bis letters to her he says, “ The vainest woman upon earth never saw in her glass half the attractions which I view in you. Your air, your shape, your every glance, motion and gesture, have such peculiar graces, that you possess my whole soul; and I know no life but in the hopes of your approbation. I know not what to say, but that I love you with the sincerest passion that ever entered the heart of man. I will make it the business of my life to find out the means of convincing you that I prefer you to all that is pleasing upon earth.”—In the * Epistolary Correspondence of Richard Steele, published by Nichols, in 1787, in two volumes small 8vo. are many curious letters from Steele to this lady, after they were married. It appears, however, that the temper of Steele and his wife were in some respects very different, which often occasioned disagreements between them. He was improvident, little attentive to his expenses, and generous to a very high degree; while she was not merely prudent, but parsimonious, and fond of money; and though she had a valuable estate in Wales, hoarded up the greater part of the income of it, and kept it almost entirely in her hands. Steele’s inattention to economy often involved him in great difficulties. Dr Johnson says, “Steele, whose imprudence and generosity, or vanity of profusion, kept him always incurably necessitous, upon some pressing exigence in an evil hour, borrowed a hundred pounds of his friend Addison, probably without much purpose of re-payment; but Addison, who seems to have had other notions of a hundred pounds, grew impatient of delay, and reclaimed his loan by an execution. Steele felt with great sensibility the obduracy of his creditor ; but with emotions of sorrow rather than of anger.”—Johnson has represented this transaction in a manner injurious to Addison, and very wide of the truth ; the facts of the case are these : Steele had built and inhabited for a few years a small but elegant house, adjoining to Hampton court; to which he gave the name of Hovel at Hampton-wick. Here he lived in a manner which his finances would by no means admit; and, being much embarrassed for money, he borrowed a thousand pounds of Addison, on this house and its furniture, giving bond for the re-payment of the money at the end of twelve months. Addison soon found, however, that it would be a great benefit to Steele to compel him to quit his bouse at Hampton. On the forfeiture of his bond, therefore, he directed his attorney to proceed to execution. The house and furniture were accordingly sold; and the surplus was remitted by Addison to Steele with a very kind letter, stating the friendly reason of this extraordinary proceeding, namely, to awaken him if possible from an infatuation which must end in his inevitable ruin. Steele received the letter with his usual composure and gaiety, met his friend as usual, and declared that he always considered this step as really intended by Addison to do him service.

The great success which «The Tatler' justly obtained was highly favourable both to the interests and the reputation of Steele ; and during the course of this publication he was made a commissioner of the stampduties, in the year 1710. Upon the change of the ministry, in that year, he sided with the duke of Marlborough; and when his Grace was dismissed from all employments, he addressed a letter of thanks to him for the services he had done his country, under the title of “The Englishman's Thanks to the Duke of Marlborough. However, as our anthor still continued to hold his place in the stamp-office, under the new administration, he restrained his pen from political subjects; and, having dropped. The Tatler,' he formed the plan of The Spectator,' in concert with his friend Addison, whose assistance was the chief support of that admirable work, which made its first appearance in March, 1710-11, and was continued without interruption till December, 1712, when it was discontinued for a while ; but being resumed on the 18th of June, 1714, it was completed on the 20th of December in the same year. • The Spectator' was received with such unusual approbation and applause, that Steele was encouraged to prosecute the same design under a different title, and accordingly soon after • The Spectator' was discontinued he began “The Guardian,' the first number of which was published in March, and the last in October 1713. But in the course of this paper, his thoughts took such a political turn, and he gave his pen so free scope, that some of his friends were dissatisfied with his manner of conducting it, and Pope and Congreve in particular withdrew their assistance. This, however, was no check to the ardour of Steele, who had engaged with great warmth against the ministry, and was determined to exert himself to the utmost in his favourite cause. With this view he resolved to procure a seat in the house of commons, at the ensuing election ; and that there might be no obstacle in his way, he immediately resigned his office as commissioner of the stamprevenues, and his pension as servant to his late royal highness Prince George of Denmark. Having taken these measures, he renewed his attack upon the ministry ; and on the 7th of August, 1713, he published his famous letter to · The Guardian,' on the demolition of Dunkirk. Parliament being dissolved the next day, he wrote several other warm political tracts against the administration.

In August, 1713, he was elected member of parliament for Stockbridge; and soon after began to write “The Englishman,' a paper which was published thrice a-week, the first number being dated October 8tă, 1713. During the course of this publication Mr Steele also published • The Crisis, or a Discourse representing, from the most ancient

« PreviousContinue »