« PreviousContinue »
particularly the new members from Scotland, in this first session of the first British parliament, thought it a disgrace, that a debtor, who enjoyed bis liberty only under privilege, should sit in the house; and it was resolved to make the publication, which had given such general offence, the ground of his expulsion. A committee was appointed, which reported that the book contained several blasphemous expressions, and seemed intended to expose the scriptures ; and, notwithstanding a very spirited defence, in which Asgill solemnly protested, that he did not publish the treatise with any intention to expose the scriptures, but under a firm belief of their truth, as well as of the truth of his argument, he was expelled.
From this time Asgill grew daily more involved in debt; and he was soon laid in the King's-bench prison by his creditors. Here he remained through the long period of thirty years, furnishing himself with amusement, and occasional supplies, by writing pamphlets, chiefly political, against the Pretender, and by practising in the way of his profession. Notwithstanding misfortunes, which must have been at least accompanied with a consciousness of indiscretion, he retained great vivacity of spirits, and powers of entertaining conversation, till his death, which happened in the rules of the King's-bench in 1738, at the age of fourscore, or, according to some accounts, of near a hundred.
Cljcm s JEtcfetll.
BORN A. D. 1686 DIED A. D. 1740.
This gentleman, well-known to the world by the friendship and mtimacy which subsisted between him and Mr Addison, was the son of the Rev. Richard Tickell, and was born in 1686, at Bridekirk in Cumberland. In 1701 he was sent to Queen's college, Oxford; in 1708 he was made master of arts, and in 1710 was chosen fellow; for which, as he did not comply with the statutes by taking orders, he obtained a dispensation from the crown. In the year 1726 he married at Dublin, and in that year vacated his fellowship.
While he was at the university he addressed some verses to Mr Addison on his opera of ' Rosamond,' which so effectually recommended him to that gentleman that he held him in esteem ever afterwards. He produced another piece of the same kind on 'Cato,' but not with equal happiness. When Mr Addison went into Ireland, as secretary to Lord Sunderland, he carried Tickell with him and employed him in business; and when he afterwards, in 1717, rose to be secretary of state, he conferred the place of under-secretary on Mr Tickell. On Mr Addison's resigning the secretaryship, Mr Craggs, who succeeded him, continued Tickell in his place, which he held till that gentleman's death. Addison had communicated to Sir Richard Steele his design of preferring Mr Tickell to be his under-secretary, which Sir Richard warmly opposed. He observed that Tickell was of a temper too enterprising to be governed. This produced a great animosity between Sir Richard and Tickell, which subsisted during their lives. Tickell, in his life of Addison, prefixed to his own edition of that great man's wojrks—for when Addison died he left him the charge of publishing his works—throws out some unmannerly reflections against Sir Richard, who was at that time in Scotland as one of the commissioners on the forfeited estates. Upon Sir Richard's return to London he dedicated to Mr Congreve, Addison's comedy, called ' The Drummer,' in which he took occasion, very smartly, to retort upon Tickell, and clear himself of the imputation laid to his charge, namely, that of taking to himself the merit of Mr Addison's papers in ' The Spectator.'
About the year 1713, Tickell published 'The Prospect of Peace,' addressed to his excellency the lord-privy-seal, which met with so favourable a reception from the public, that six editions were speedily sold. Upon this poem Addison bestowed many encomiums. 'The Royal Progress,' which Mr Tickell meant as a compliment to George I. on his arrival in the British dominions, is also mentioned in ' The Spectator' in opposition to such performances as are generally written in a swelling style, and in which the bombast is mistaken for the sublime. His imitation of ' The Prophecy of Nereus' was written about the year 1715, and was intended as a ridicule upon the earl of Mar's enterprise, which he prophecies will be crushed by the duke of Argyle. The 'Epistle from a Lady in England to a Gentleman at Avignon,' stands high among party-poems. The great propensity of the Jacobites to place confidence in imaginary means, and to construe all extraordinary appearances into ominous signs of the restoration of their king, is most happily noticed in this poem. 'Kensington Gardens' is the longest of Tickell's poems. The fiction is framed partly of Grecian deities and partly of Gothic fairies. The versification is harmonious, and the language elegant.
Tickell's translation of the first book of 'The Iliad' was published much about the same time with Pope's. Steele, in his dedication of 'The Drummer' to Mr Congreve, gives it as his opinion that Addison was himself the author. Pope also considered Addison as the writer of Tickell's version. These translations, published at the same time, were certainly meant as rivals to one another. We cannot convey a more adequate idea of this than in the words of Pope, in a letter to James Craggs, Esq. dated 15th July, 1715. "Sir,—They tell me the busy part of the nation are not more busy about whig and tory than these idle fellows of the feather, about Mr Tickell's and my translation. I, like the tories, have the town in general, that is, the mob, on my side; but it is usual with the smaller party to make up in industry what they want in number, and that is the case with the little senate of Cato. However, if our principles be well considered, I must appear a brave whig, and Mr Tickell a rank tory. I translated Homer for the public in general, he, to gratify the inordinate desires of one man only. We have, it seems, a great Turk in poetry who can never bear a brother on the throne; and has his mutes too, a set of meddlers, winkers, and whisperers, whose business it is to strangle all other offsprings of wit in their birth. The new translator of Homer is the humblest slave he has, that is to say, his first minister: let him receive the honours he gives me, but receive them with fear and trembling: let him be proud of the approbation of his absolute lord; I appeal to the people as my rightful judges and masters; and if they are not inclined to condemn me, I fear no arbitrary high-flying proceeding from the court-faction at Button's. But after all I have said of this great man,
there u» no rupture between us; we are each of us so civil and obliging
i Tickell had formerly, while at Oxford, translated the first book of the ' Iliad;' that he designed to print it, and had desired him to look it over ; that he must therefore beg that I would not desire him to look over my first book, because if he did it would have the air of doubledealing. I assured him that I did not at all take it ill of Mr Tickell that he was going to publish his translation; that he certainly had as much right to translate any author as myself, and that publishing both was entering on a fair stage. I then added that I would not desire him to look over my first book of the ' Iliad,' because he had looked over Mr Tickell's, but could wish to have the benefit of his observations on my second, which I had then finished, and which Mr Tickell had not touched upon. Accordingly I sent him the second book next morning, and Mr Addison a few days afterwards returned it with very high commendations. Soon after it was generally known that Mr Tickell was publishing the first book of the ' Iliad,' I met Dr Young in the street, and upon our falling into that subject the Doctor expressed a great deal of surprise at Tickell's having had such a translation so long by him. He said that it was inconceivable to him, and that there must be some mistake in the matter; that each used to communicate to the other whatever verses they wrote, even to the least things; that Tickell could not have been busied in so long a work there without his knowing something of the matter; and that he had never heard a single word of it till on this occasion. This surprise of Dr Young, together with what Steele has said against Tickell in relation to this affair, make it highly probable that there was some underhand-dealing in that business; and indeed Tickell himself, who is a very fair worthy man, has since in a manner as good as owned it to me—(Mr Pope.)— When it was introduced into a conversation between Mr Tickell and Mr Pope by a third person, Tickell did not deny it, which, considering his honour and zeal for his departed friend, was the same as owning it." Upon these suspicions Pope always, in his 'Art of Sinking,' quotes this book as the work of Addison.
In June, 1724, Mr Tickell was appointed secretary to the lordsjustices of Ireland, a place of great honour, and which he held till his death, which happened at Bath, on the 23d of April, 1740.
BoRN A. D. 1656. DIED A. D. 1742.
This distinguished astronomer and mathematician was born in the village or hamlet of Huggerstone, in the neighbourhood of London, in the year 1656. His father was a soap-manufacturer, and had amassed a large fortune in that business. His son Edmund early displayed very promising abilities, which induced the family to think he might be fitted for some better occupation than that of a soap-boiler. He was therefore placed at a suitable age in St Paul's school, where the learned Dr Thomas Gale was head-master. Here he made rapid progress in classical attainments, and at the age of fifteen became captain of the school. His attainments were even then not limited to the classics. His taste and inclinations seemed to incline to mathematics, in which, before the age of sixteen, he had made very respectable progress. So early as his seventeenth year he had observed the variations of the magnetic needle, and had acquired considerable knowledge of astronomy. In the year 1673, he entered as a commoner of the Queen's college, Oxford, where he applied with extraordinary diligence to mathematics and astronomy. His father, though no philosopher, had acuteness enough to perceive the bent of his son's mind, and was willing to afford him every encouragement in its cultivation. No expense was spared in supplying him with books and instruments of all kinds. Such was the early and rapid progress of young Halley, that at the age of nineteen he communicated to the world 'The direct and geometrical Method of finding the Aphelia and Eccentricity of the Planets,' a desideratum which had been long sought by astronomers. Soon after he made other improvements in the science of astronomy; and in June, 1675, determined the motion of the sun on its own axis by discovering a spot on its surface, a fact which was not previously ascertained. The same year he made another important discovery; the occultation of Mars by the moon, which enabled him to determine the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope in opposition to the theory of the French philosophers. While he remained at Oxford, he made several other important and useful discoveries, particularly the motions of Saturn and Jupiter, and the method of constructing eclipses of the sun, &c. He proceeded with great avidity and eminent success to prosecute his researches, and formed the design of completing the scheme of the whole heavens, by the addition of those stars which lie too near the south pole to be observed by the astronomer in these northern parts of the world. He announced his intention to the secretary of state, Sir Joseph Williamson, and other official persons. He was accordingly supplied with a letter from his majesty, Charles II. to the East India company, who engaged to convey him to the island of St Helena, and supply him with every accommodation necessary for his purpose. At the age of twenty he embarked upon this undertaking; and, in three months, was pursuing his observations at the appointed spot. In two years he returned home, having completed a planisphere, in which, with the utmost accuracy, he had laid down the exact places of all the stars near
tLe tooth pole. Hi* labours were presented to the kins, who Wm pfcasei
to fxprr.M bit high gratification, and to grant him a letter of mandamus to the university of Oxford tor the degree of M. A. Toe same year he Wm elected fallow of the Royal society. In the rear 1679, Mr HaSey pave his catalogue to the world, and the same year was chosen by the
. Royal society to go to Dantzic, to settle a dispute between M. I fevdius and Mr Hook, respecting the accnracy of some astronomical observation*. After bis return to London he resolved upon what was termed the grand tour, in company with his friend Mr Nekon. On the road between Calais and Paris, Mr Halley made the discovery of the comet of that year, as it appeared the second time, on its return from the sun. He was enabled to complete his observation* upon it from the observatory at Paris. One principal object of this tour was to establish a friendly correspondence between the philosophers of Greenwich arid of France and other places, as well as to improve himself by intercourse with Cassini and other eminent astronomers. From France be went into Italy, and spent there nearly the whole of the year 1681. He then returned to England, and, in 1682, married a daughter of Mr Tooke, auditor of the exchequer. He fixed his resi
i deuce at Islington, and continued to pursue bis studies with the utmost diligence. Soon after he published his 'Theory of the Variations of the Compass ,' and, about the same time, entered upon a new method of determining longitudes by the moon's motion. His studies were, however, at this period somewhat interrupted by the death of his father, who bad fallen into indigent circumstances, partly through losses sustained in the fire of London, and partly through an imprudent second marriage. His own family also rapidly increased, which tended, in some degree, to embarrass his studies. However, he rose above all thexe difficulties, and continued bis important pursuits with the utmost zeal and diligence. In or about 1684, he first obtained the acquaintance of Newton, at Cambridge, whither he went to consult him respecting some difficulties in his calculations, which he could find no mathematicians to assist him in. It will be readily supposed the two philosophers were mutually delighted. It is (-aid that Halley, finding Newton possessed of so rich a fund of philosophy, prevailed upon him to give it to the world, and that, in some measure, the publication of tin: 'Principia' is to be traced to this interview. That immortal work appeared soon after, and Mr Halley, to whom Newton intrusted the editing of it, prefixed a discourse of his own and some elegant Latin verses. About a year before the appearance of the ' Principia,' Halley had been appointed assistant-secretary to the Royal society. After this appointment he read several valuable papers, and published some important works on various points of astronomy, all of a useful practical nature, and tending greatly to the advancement of science. In the course of ten years he produced about thirty dissertations on a great variety of subjects; natural philosophy, antiquities, philology, and criticism. In 1691 he applied for the vacant Savilian professorship of astronomy at Oxford, but lost it on account of his infidelity ;—for, strange as it may seem, this acute and able philosopher was a disbeliever and even a banterer of religion. He was, however, open and frank in his acknowledgment of infidelity, and not like many philosophers who profess friendship for religion, only