Page images

ejection from his fellowship, Saunderson | ing one another perpendicularly, and was proposed as his successor. To parallel to the sides of the table. The qualify him for this situation, a man board was perforated, at every point of damus for conferring upon him the intersection, by small holes, in which degree of M. a. was procured from he stuck two sorts of pins, a larger and Queen Anne, and he was elected to the a smaller; and in this manner perchair in 1711. He opened his duties formed all his calculations. The writer with an inaugural speech, in elegant of his life prefixed to his Algebra, says, and truly Ciceronian Latin, and applied “ he could place and displace his pins himself to his lectures, and the instruc with incredible nimbleness and facility, tion of his pupils, with increased ardour. much to the pleasure and surprise of all In 1723, he quitted his apartments in the beholders. He could even break Christ's College, took a house in Cam off in the middle of a calculation, and bridge, and soon afterwards married resume it when he pleased, and could the daughter of a neighbouring clergy- presently know the condition of is, by man, by whom he had a son and a only drawing his fingers gently over daughter. When George the Second the table." visited the university, in 1728, he de That a blind man should become an sired an interview with the professor, expert mathematician, seems, at first, who attended the king in the senate, surprising; and the few instances of and was there created LL.D., by the such a phenomenon in ancient times, royal favour. The sedentary pursuits were looked upon with wonder, almost of Dr. Saunderson had considerably im- amounting to adoration and awe. “But, paired a constitution naturally strong if we consider," says the biographer of and healthy, and he became ultimately Saunderson, in Dr. Aikin's collection, a valetudinarian. He was seized with " that the ideas of extended quantity, a numbness of the limbs in the early which are the chief objects of mathepart of 1739, which terminated in a matics, may as well be acquired by the mortification in one of his feet, and sense of feeling as that of sight; that a proved fatal to him on the 19th of fixed and steady attention is the prinApril, in that year.

cipal qualification for this study; and The character of Dr. Saunderson was that the blind are, by necessity, more that of an honest, free-speaking man; abstracted than others (for which reawho displayed also much wit and viva son, it is said, that Democritus put out city in conversation, and was esteemed his eyes, that he might think more inan excellent companion. His sincerity tensely) we shall, perhaps, find reason created him many enemies, but he had to suppose that there is no branch of also many warm friends. As a mathe- science so much adapted to their circummatician, he was skilled in every branch stances." of that science, and composed various Dr. Saunderson appears to have pos. papers for the use of his pupils, none of sessed the sense, both of feeling and which, however, were published till hearing, in a very refined degree. Ex. after his death. His Elements of Alge- periment had taught him that it was bra, in ten books, appeared in 1740, in impossible to distinguish colours by the two volumes, quarto ; and, in 1756, former sense, but his nicety of touch was printed his Treatise on Fluxions, was such, with regard to smooth and at the end of which are some valuable rough surfaces, that in a set of Roman Latin comments on Newton's Prin- medals, he once pointed out the genuine cipia, which explain, and often improve from the false, though they had been upon, the doctrines. His method of counterfeited with such exactness as to performing arithmetical calculations deceive the eye of a connoisseur. His was on a calculating table, of a pecu sense of feeling also enabled him to liar construction, by the sense of feeling take notice of every cloud that interonly, for which reason it was called his rupted the sun, when walking in a garpalpable arithmetic. The table was a den, and he could even tell when any smooth, thin board, of something more thing was held near his face, or when than a foot square, raised upon a frame he passed by a tree at no great distance, so as to lie hollow, and divided into one merely by the different impulse of the hundred little squares, by lines intersect. air on his face. His ear was so exact,

that he could distinguish the fifth part or piazzas, which reflected a sound, and of a note; could judge of the size of a was afterwards conducted thither again, room by the same sense; and, if even could tell in what part of it he stood, he walked over a pavement, in courts | merely by the note it sounded.


BROOK, son of John Taylor, Esq. of Demoivre's Fifteenth Problem, with the Bifrons House, in Kent, was born at assistance of Combinations and Infinite Edmonton, in 1685. After having made Series; and A Solution of the Problem considerable progress in the languages of G. G. Leibnitz, proposed to the and mathematics, under a private tutor, English. . The injury his health had he was, in 1701, entered a fellow-com- received in consequence of his intense moner of St. John's College, Cambridge. study, compelled him to make a second Pursuing his mathematical studies with tour to the continent, where he resided, ardour and success, he wrote, in 1708, for some months, at Aix-la-Chapelle. his Treatise on the Centre of Oscillation, On his return, he devoted himself which was subsequently published in chiefly to the completion of a treatise, the Philosophical Transactions; and, in which his taste for drawing had induced the following year, he graduated B.A. him to write, on Linear Perspective, a In 1712, he was elected a fellow of the work in much reputation with artists, Royal Society, having previously given as improved and published by Mr. a solution of Kepler's famous problem, Kirby, under the title of Brook Taylor's in the course of a correspondence be- | Perspective made Easy. The original tween himself and Professor Keill. In was characterized, by Joseph Bernouilli

, 1714, he was elected secretary of the in the Acta of Leipsic, as“ abstruse to Royal Society, whose reputation he all, and unintelligible to artists;" an considerably augmented by his know- assertion which produced an irreconledge of those branches of science, cileable quarrel between him and the which, at this time, engaged their par- subject of our memoir. It must be conticular attention, and involved them in fessed, that the work is ill calculated controversies with several foreign aca for practitioners, though, unquestiondemies. In the same year, he took his ably of great merit, and one which, degree of LL.D.; and, in 1715, held a among mathematicians, is_deservedly correspondence with Count Raymond held in high repute. Dr. Taylor's ande Montmort, respecting the tenets of swer to Bernouilli's objections, may be Malebranche, in which he displayed so seen in the Thirtieth Volume of the much ability, as to come in for a share Philosophical Transactions, to which he of praise in the éloge pronounced before communicated his last paper that he the French Academy, on the death of published there, in 1721, entitled_An that eminent mathematician. Whilst Experiment made to ascertain the Pro. visiting Paris, in 1716, the greatest at portion of Expansion of Liquor in the tention and respect were paid to him Thermometer, with regard to the degree by the most distinguished characters, of Heat. The author died, of a decline, and, among others, he was introduced which was undoubtedly hastened by his to Lord Bolingbroke, Count de Caylus, intense study, in December, 1731, in and the celebrated Bossuet.

the forty-sixth year of his age. He was Shortly after his return to London, twice married, and survived both his in February, 1717, he composed, and wives, the last dying in child-bed, in communicated to the Royal Society, 1730. three admirable treatises, entitled, re Dr. Taylor appears to have been a spectively, An Attempt towards an Im- very accomplished man, and to have provement of the Method of Approxi- extended his inquiries into a variety of mating in the Extraction of Roots in subjects, besides those of which we have Equations in Numbers ; A Solution of already spoken. Among his post

humous papers, were found detached own writings, and the writings of those parts of a treatise on the Jewish sacri who best knew him, prove him to have fices, and a dissertation, of great length, been the finished Christian, gentleman, on the lawfulness of eating blood and scholar.” He is said to have drawn figures with Besides the works before-mentioned, extraordinary precision and beauty of Dr. Taylor was the author of an essay, pencil, and to have painted landscapes entitled Contemplatio Philosophica, a with admirable force of colour, and very masterly performance, published freedom of touch. He was also a by Sir William Young, in 1793. His tolerable proficient in music, and, but other papers, in the Philosophical for his attention to other pursuits, pro- Transactions, are, On the Ascent of mised to become eminent, both in the Water between Two Glass Planes ; On theory and practice of that art. With the Motion of a Stretched String; Merespect to his private character, his thodus Incrementorum ; An Account biographer and grandson, Sir William of an Experiment for the Discovery of Young, observes : " in the best accepta the Law of Magnetic Attraction; and tion of duties relative to each situation his Treatise on the Principles of Linear of life in which he was engaged, his Perspective.


Robert SIMSON was born of a paratively, little attention to the modern respectable family, in the county of inventions of fuxions and logarithms. Lanark, in 1687. He was educated at With these, however, some of his postthe University of Glasgow, where some humous papers show him to have been of his relations were professors; and fully acquainted; but as the ancient made great progress in every branch of geometrical analysis was but imperfectly learning, particularly philosophy and known to many, he determined to aitheology. He was accounted one of tempt the entire recovery of this methe best botanists of his years; and such thod. He first undertook the restora. was his proficiency in the oriental lan tion of Euclid's Porisms, from the scanty guages, that he was enabled to supply and mutilated account of that work in the place of a sick relation, who taught a single passage of Pappus, a copy of in that class. He studied divinity, with whose mathematical collections had a view of entering into the church; but been given him by Dr. Halley, enriched his fondness for mathematics, which, with his own notes. Of this discovery, as he pursued them, increased almost which he effected as early as 1718, he to adoration, ended in his determina- communicated an account to the Royal tion to devote himself to that science Society, in 1723, in which year it was altogether. In 1711, his reputation printed in the Philosophical Transaccaused him to be elected 'regius pro- tions. He next engaged upon the fessor of mathematics in the University Loci Plani of Apollonius, and comof Glasgow; and, about the same time, pleted it about 1738; though, in his own he went to London, where he formed estimation, so imperfectly, that he withan acquaintance with Halley, and other held the impression for some years eminent men of that period. . On his after it was printed, and only consented return, he applied himself to the duties to its publication, in 1746, at the earnest of his professorship, with equal zeal solicitation of his friends. He, how. for the interest of science and the ad ever, recalled as many copies as posvancement of his pupils.

sible, for the purpose of recorrecting Dr. Simson had, for some time, the work ; and even then was loth to deeply studied the works of the ancient consider it a perfect restoration of geometers ; and, satisfied with demon- | Apollonius. _ About the same time, apstrating truth on the pure principles peared his Treatise on Conic Sections ; laid down in them, had paid, com- which, together with his restoration of

The Loci, was received with unanimous which he retained till his latest moapprobation, and stamped the author ments. He was never married ; and, as one of the first and most elegant instead of living in a commodious house, geometers of the age. Science, how- allotted to him as professor, took some ever, is, perhaps, less indebted to him chambers, spacious enough for his acfor these works, ihan for his restitution commodation, with scarcely any other of the Elements and Data of Euclid ; furniture than his small but valuable an edition of which he published about library, which he left to the university. the year 1758. This was a great deside- His official servant acted as valet, footratum in geometry; for although other man, and bed-maker; and when he authors had attempted a restoration of entertained company, it was at a neigh. the data of EuclM, it was but partial, in bouring house, where an apartment was comparison with the ample restitution specially kept for himself and his guests. effected by Dr. Simson. Few incidents Besides the works before-mentioned, varied the life of one so much devoted | he restored The Sectio Determinata of to study as the subject of our memoir, Apollonius, which was published after who died, after a long course of almost his death, along with the work on the uninterrupted health, in 1768, at the age Porisms of Euclid, at the expense of of eighty-one.

the Earl of Stanhope. A very interDr. Simson was tall and dignified in esting account of Dr. Simson's life and stature, with a fine expressive counte- writings has been published by Dr. nance, and a gracefulness of manner, Trail, in one quarto volume..


This gentleman, one of the most dis- of his time to the study of classical tinguished promoters of scientific know- antiquities. The weight and value of ledge, of his day, was the son of a bar- ancient coins, formed the chief object of rister, and born in Westminster, in the his researches, with a view to which, year 1690. He received the first part he inspected various cabinets; and, on of his education under the private his return, he presented the Society of tuition of Mr. Cappel, nephew of the Antiquaries, of which he was a member, celebrated Lewis Cappel. In his seven- a dissertation on the subject. Before teenth year, he was entered of Clare the same body, he also read a paper Hall, Cambridge, where he distinguished upon the measurements of Trajan's and himself in his pursuit of mathematical Antonine's pillars; and, at their reand philosophical studies. As early as quest, subsequently printed a table of his twenty-third year, he was elected a all the English gold coins with which fellow of the Royal Society, of which he had presented them. Among other Sir Isaac Newton was then at the head. papers, which he communicated to the The subject of our memoir was fre- Royal Society, were, Remarks on the quently elected into the council of the Standard Measure, preserved in the Society; and, in 1723, he was nomi- capitol of Rome; and a Model of an nated, by Sir Isaac, who entertained a Ancient Sphere, preserved in the Farhigh opinion of his abilities, one of the nesian Palace: a draught of the latter vice-presidents. On the death of New- was published in Dr. Bentley's edition ton, in 1727, Mr. Folkes was a candi- | of Manilius. date for the presidentship, which was, In 1739, Mr. Folkes visited Paris, however, obtained by Sir Hans Sloane, where he was treated with marked but he still continued a member of the respect by all the literary and scientific council, and was re-appointed vice- savans of that metropolis. On the represident, in 1733.

signation of Sir Hans Sloane, in 1741, He passed the greater part of this he was chosen president of the Royal and the two following years, in Italy, Society; and shortly afterwards was where he devoted the principal portion enrolled, in the room of Dr. Halley, as

one of the eight foreign members of the of which, had, a short time previous to Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris. his death, deprived him of the use of In 1745, appeared his valuable work, his mental faculties. entitled A Table of English Silver Mr. Folkes appears to have attained Coins, from the Norman Conquest to a very unusual degree of eminence in the Present Time, with their weights, the scientific world, considering that he intrinsic values, and some remarks benefitted it by no new discovery, He upon the several pieces. At the same was principally skilled in the elucidation time, he reprinted his Table of Gold of the intrinsic subjects of weights, Coins, and intended to have illustrated coins, and measures; but was an active both with plates, but his death pre- promoter of every species of curious vented their publication by himself. and useful knowledge. He left a large They were subsequently purchased, and valuable cabinet and library, which and published, in a new edition of the was sold by public auction. Besides work, by the Antiquarian Society. Of the works before mentioned, he comthis body, Mr. Folkes became presi- municated a variety of papers to the dent, and he was also honoured with | Philosophical Transactions, displaying the degree of LL.D., by both univer- considerable elegance of style and exsities, some time previous to his de tent of information. His private chacease,

which took place in 1754. The racter is said to have been extremely cause of it was palsy, repeated attacks estimable.


This eminent astronomer was born brokeshire, to which he was admitted at Shireborn, in Gloucestershire, in the a few months after he had taken priest's year 1692. His life, devoted almost orders. entirely to science, affords but few in It was during his residence at Wan. cidents for the biographer. He received stead, in Essex, with his uncle, Dr. the first part of his education at a Pound, to whom he sometimes offiboarding-school in Northleach, and ciated as curate, that Bradley combeing intended for the church, was sent menced those observations, which afterto Baliol College, Oxford, of which he wards conducted him to some of the was admitted a commoner, on the 15th finest discoveries of which the science of March, 1710. He graduated B. A. of astronomy can boast. He soon began in 1714, M. A. in 1717, and received to attract the notice of some of the most ordination as deacon, from the Bishop eminent members of the Royal Society; of London, on the 24th of May, 1719. and Lord Macclesfield, Sir Isaac Newton, Shortly afterwards, he obtained priest's Dr. Halley, and others, were amongst orders from the. Bishop of Hereford, those who particularly encouraged him. who made him his chaplain, and, at the On the 31st of October, 1721, he was same time, presented him to the vicarage appointed to succeed Dr. Keill, as of Bridstow, in Herefordshire.

Savilian professor of astronomy; and, Bradley would, in all probability, have on his acceptance of this office, rerisen to eminence in the church, by his signed his livings, both of Bridstow and own talents, and the patronage of his Landewy. In 1724, he communicated friends, had not his early predilection to the Royal Society his observations on for the science of astronomy given his the comet of 1723; and, in 1726, his mind a different turn. To enable him observations on some eclipses of Juto pursue this uninterruptedly, Mr. piter's satellites ; neither papers posMolyneux, then secretary to the Prince sessing any other merit than the accuof Wales, and distinguished for his suc. racy with which the observations were cessful cultivation of optics and astro made. nomy, procured for him the sinecure He was, however, not long in making, rectory of Landewy Welfry, in Pem a very important discovery, that of

« PreviousContinue »