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Sir William Browne will pronounce to be an excellent likeness.
"A Speech on the Royal Society, Nov. 19,
long misunderstood passage, and, in support of his explanation, had the charity to repeat his own paraphrase of it in English verse, just come hot, as he said, from the brain. When this and chocolate were over, having seen all he wanted of me, he desired to see something more of the seat; and particularly what he called the monument, by which I understood him to mean, the Prior's tower, with your inscription. Accordingly I ordered a servant to attend him thither; and, when he had satisfied his curiosity, either to let him out from the park above into the Down, or from the garden below into the Road. Which he chose, I never asked; and so this honourable visit ended. Hereby you will understand that the design of all this was, to be admired. And, indeed, he had my admiration to the full; but for nothing so much, as for his being able, at past eighty, to perform this expedition on foot, in no good weather, and with all the alacrity of a boy, both in body and mind." Letter to Dr. Hurd, Nov. 18, 1767.
"Sir, I have something very interesting indeed, to recommend to the consideration of the Society, previously to proposing names for the new Council: and, to give it the weight it deserves, must desire leave to read, as part of my speech, part of an address from that great mathematician Dr. James Jurin, who then honoured one of our secretaries' chairs, to that greater mathematician, and universal scholar, Martin Folkes, esq. then a most worthy vice-president to that greatest of all mathematicians that ever existed, or perhaps ever will exist, Sir Isaac Newton, then president. It is signed James Jurin, and addressed to Martin Folkes, esq. vice-president of the Royal Society.
"Honoured Sir, I shall not, I presume, need any other apology for prefixing your name to this Thirty-fourth Volume of Philosophical Transactions, when I declare, that the motive of my doing so was the same which induced the greatest man that ever lived to single you out to fill his chair, and to preside in the assemblies of the Royal Society, when the frequent returns of his indisposition would no longer permit him to attend them with his usual assiduity. The motive, Sir, we all know, was your uncommon love to, and your singular attainments in, those noble and manly sciences, to which the glory of Sir Isaac Newton, and the reputation of the Royal Society, is solely and entirely owing. That great man was sensible, that something more than knowing the name, the shape, and obvious qualities of an insect, a pebble, a plant, or a shell, was requisite to form a Philosopher, even of the lowest rank, much more to qualify one to sit at the head of so great and learned a body. We all of us remember that saying so frequently in his mouth, "That Natural History might indeed furnish materials for Natural Philosophy; but, however, Natural History was not Natural Philo
1772, recommending Mathematics, as the Para
sophy;" and it was easy to see with what intent he so often used this remarkable expression. We knew his love to the Royal Society, and his fears for it. It was not that he despised so useful a branch of Learning as Natural History, he was too wise to do so; but still he judged that this humble Handmaid to Philosophy, though she might be well employed in amassing implements and materials for the service of her Mistress, yet must very much forget herself, and the meanness of her station, if ever she should presume to claim the throne, and arrogate to herself the title of the Queen of Science."
"Thus far Dr. Jurin. From hence, Sir, I would remark, how egregiously they must mistake the title of our Society for promoting Natural Knowledge, who think Natural History, which consists only in most accurately classing and describing the various and numberless productions of Nature, in what are called by the superb name of Three Kingdoms, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, to mean the same thing with Natural Knowledge and consequently to be a sufficient qualification for our chair. Whereas, on the contrary, it appears from what has been read, and is certain to demonstration, that Natural History is the very lowest and least part of Natural Knowledge; whose great empire extends far, infinitely far, beyond our single globe, even as far as to the created universe. I mean, as far as human sagacity and observation may possibly be able to examine and search into it. Mathematics being the only key, capable of opening the doors to such vast researches; it follows, that this capital and principal part of Natural Knowledge must be infinitely superior to that mean part just mentioned: that is, in a proportion greater than any that can possibly be given or assigned. This key the immortal Sir Isaac Newton has, indeed, completed, and made a master-key, by his consummate considerations, on Infinite Series, Quadrature of Curves, Nascent and Evanescent Quantities, Prime and Ultimate Ratios, in short, by his most admirable invention and doctrine of Fluxions: now perfectly explained to all mathematicians, by that excellent controversy concerning it, in the Republic of Letters, and Works of the Learned, for the years 1735 and 1736; between Mr. Benjamin Robins, Dr. Henry Pemberton, Dr. James Wilson, on the one part, and Dr. James Jurin, Dr. Robert Smith, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, on the other part; the total of which was promised to me, and has been since published in the works of Mr. Robins, by his most intimate and learned friend, Dr. Wilson, after the irreparable loss of the Author in India; who was so very great a genius as likely, if he had lived, to have become a second Sir Isaac Newton. With this master-key Sir Isaac has himself almost opened every apartment of Natural Knowledge : and left it easy for succeeding Mathematicians to open all the rest that may possibly be at all accessible to the Human UnderVOL. III.
mount Qualification for their Chair. By Sir William Browne, F. R. S."
standing. Mathematics had just begun to gain ground in the University of Cambridge, in the year 1707, when I was admitted a student there at the age of 15, principally by the encouragement of Dr. Laughton, a noted Tutor in Clare-hall, who then had Mr. Martin Folkes under his tuition, and happened, as has often been the case, to be soon surpassed in his own new doctrine, by the great genius of this Pupil. He had published a sheet of questions for the use of the Soph schools, on the Mathematical Newtonian Philosophy; and when Proctor, in the year 1711, most zealously promoted disputations on them there, to the great credit and reputation of the disputants, he himself chusing to moderate in them, instead of appointing a Moderator as usual. Sir Isaac Newton's Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy or Knowledge, a book originally but of ten or twelve shillings price, had risen so high above par, that I gave no less than two guineas for one, which was then esteemed a very cheap purchase, as it quickly appeared a very valuable one. But the two succeeding editions, by Dr. Halley, and by Dr. Pemberton, have since brought it, on easy terms, into the hands of every mathematician. The eighteenth century, therefore, in which we are now so far advanced, most justly deserves the distinguishing appellation of the Mathematical Age; from whence it may reasonably be expected, that no person, who is not a Mathematician, will now either judge himself, or be judged by others, qualified to take the chair of Natural Knowledge. It must consequently appear proper to recommend to the consideration of the Society, as so many members are Mathematicians, that ten of the most deserving may be nominated for the New Council, out of whom the most eminent may, both receive himself, and do the Society the honour of becoming their President. I am sensible and aware, Sir, that my enemies, those at least that have so ridiculously named me in the news papers as a candidate, though I am not so much as a Member of the Council, and of course not at all eligible, will be ready to suggest, that all I have now said means only to recommend myself to be named for the New Council, with a vain view of obtaining this chair. But all my friends know, and I would have all my enemies also know, that when I addressed my farewell speech to the chair of the College of Physicians, and left the College, by the name of Warwick Castle, as it had been made impregnable to the attack of Scotch, Irish, French, English, for such was their mixture, Rebel, and College-breaking Licentiates, under my Governorship, which began and ended in one and the same day, being the last of my Presidentship, I had then determined never to be tied again to any chair; but to be at full liberty to take the pleasure of my profession, at Tunbridge, at Bath, or else where, after having undergone the drudgery of it for more than
"An Address* to the Royal Society, Nov. 26, 1772."
half a century; and to enjoy for the rest of my days, what Sir William Temple declares to be "one of the greatest pleasures in life, such a degree of liberty, as to be able to walk one's own pace, and one's own way." I shall conclude, from a most earnest zeal only for promoting Natural Knowledge, with a most earnest wish, that the Society may observe that golden rule, Detur Digniori, in the disposal of their chair: on which ought to be inscribed in letters of gold, that motto put by Plato on the doors of his Academy, Οὐδεὶς ἀγεωμέτρητον εἰσίτω. Let none enter here, who is not a Mathematician. Let the Natural Historian horizontally range the whole globe in search of "an insect, a pebble, a plant or a shell;" but let him not look up so high above his level or element, as even so much as to dream of ascending or clinging to the Chair of Natural Knowledge.
Tractent Fabrilia Fabri.
* "Sir, Having read on Sunday last, at a coffee-house in St. James's-street, in the postscript of the London Evening Post of the day before, the following short paragraph relating to this Society, I was as greatly offended at it as becomes a Member who has the honour of the Society so very much at heart.
If the Royal Society are not Scotchified enough to elect Sir John Pringle their President, another of the King's Friends is to be nominated-no less a person than the noted Pinchbeck, Buckle and Knick-knack maker to the King.'
"However, Sir, for my own part, I as little expect to see the former of these two in this chair, as the latter of them: because, if his own words deserve to be credited, he cannot be permitted to attend it. The College of Physicians, on the day after Michaelmas day last, elected Sir John Pringle one of their Junior Censors for the year ensuing; who, not being present, wrote afterwards a letter to the President, desiring to be excused; because ill health would not permit him to attend that office. Now the office of Censor requires only an attendance once a month on the first Friday. Therefore it is argumentum à fortiori, that the same ill health cannot permit him to attend this chair, which requires an attendance once a week. Q. e. d. It is my duty, as Member of both Societies, truly to state this fact. If it be contradicted, I shall say with Demea in Terence, Hunc suo sibi gladio jugulo!-Sir, Your chair is so important, that a deceased President ought to be supplied by the same solemnity as a deceased Representative is by a County. A General Meeting should be appointed before St. Andrew's day, to nominate by majority of voices ten most noted Mathematical Philosophers, to be scratched for the New Council, that the most eminent may be elected President; the worthiest successor to Sir Isaac Newton being solely qualified for this office, most honourable indeed when possessed by Natural Philosophy, but when only by Natutal History the very reverse."
Sir William Browne died at his house in Queensquare, Bloomsbury, March 10, 1774, at the age of 82. His lady died July 25, 1763, in her 64th year.
Many pleasant stories were related of the peculiarities of the worthy old Physician; some of which will be found below *.
His Will was remarkably singular, much Greek and Latin being interspersed in it. By one of the clauses, if his grandson Martin Folkes (then late Fellow Commoner of Emanuel College, Cambridge) should die without issue, upwards of a 1000l. per Annum was to devolve to that University. He left annuities to all his servants; and amongst other legacies 28. a week to a favourite Italian Greyhound.
He left two prize-medals to be annually contended for by the young Cambridge Poets; on which is his portrait, and D. GVLIELMVS BROWNE EQUES. NAT. III. NON. A. I. MDCXCIII. Motto, ESSE ET VIDERI. Reverse, Apollo presenting a wreath to a Physician, SVNT SVA PRAEMIA LAVDI. ELECTYS
COLL. MED. LOND. PRAESES. A. S. MDCCLXXV.
Besides the Work mentioned in p. 314, Sir William Browne published:
1."Oratio Harveiana, Principibus Medicis
* On a controversy for a Raker in the parish where he lived in London, carried on so warmly as to open taverns for men, and coffee-house breakfasts for ladies, he exerted himself greatly; wondering a man bred at two universities should be so little regarded. A parishioner answered," he had a calf that sucked two cows, and a prodigious great one it was.". He used to frequent the annual ball at the ladies boarding school, Queen's Square, merely as a neighbour, a good-natured man, and fond of the com pany of sprightly young folks. A Dignitary of the church being there one day to see his daughter dance, and finding this upright figure stationed there, told him he believed he was Hermippus redivivus, who lived anhelitu puellaruin. At the age of SO, on St. Luke's day, 1771, he came to Batson's coffee-house in his laced coat and band, and fringed white gloves, to shew himself to Mr. Crosby, then Lord-Mayor. A gentleman present observing that he looked very well, he replied," he had neither wife nor debts." + This Oration (inscribed, " Præsidi dignissimo, colendissimo; doctissimis, amicissimis Collegis; hanc Orationem, quam edi