Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

spark of originality.' He lived to show the highest and the rarest originality of speculative thought, the power of seeing a whole science as it is to be, and lending aid in placing it upon its proper basis. Hundreds of those who would have beaten him hollow at Cambridge problems are wholly unfit to attempt the formation of any the least idea of the scope and meaning of his works on algebra

"At the time when Peacock took his degree, the public mind of Cambridge was stirred on the question of the University mathematics. The English school, following Newton's notation of fluxions, had almost lost the power of reading the continental treatises. There were two undergraduates, Herschel and Peacock, who were well read, especially Peacock, in the foreign writers. There was a third, Babbage, who, without the same depth of reading, had trained a rare genius for analysis in the same school. A fourth was Maule (afterwards judge), who might have been among the first of mathematicians, if he had chosen that career. Woodhouse, an older man, had opened the way by a treatise in 1803. The younger gentlemen determined to act in concert, for the introduction of the continental mathematics. They formed an

Analytical Society. whether consisting of more The

, .... , Analytics

than themselves we know not, and published a society. VOL. II. F

volume of Memoirs in 1813. They translated the work of Lacroix on the Differential Calculus, and prepared a volume of examples, of which Peacock compiled the larger part, in a manner which showed very extraordinary reading for a man of his age. This translation, and these examples, carried the day: and Peacock, when he became Moderator in 1817, completed the victory by introducing the modern language and notation into the public examinations. His colleague did not join him in the alteration; and the Moderators of 1818 returned to the old system. Peacock was again Moderator in 1819 with a colleague of his own cabal (Mr. Gwatkin): and from that year the change was fully accepted. There are those who like to know the precise time and manner of all things: let them stand informed that the official recognition 6f the continental school of mathematicians at Cambridge dates from nine o'clock in the morning of Monday, January 13, 1817, when Peacock put into the hands of each candidate for honours a printed paper, the fourth question of which stands thus:—

H x

'Find the integral of ^ , ^

In 1826 appeared in the Encyclopaedia

.. . Metropolitana his article on the history of

hbsay on r »

arithmetic Arithmetic, the most learned essay on the subject which exists Dr. Peacock exercised

great influence over his contemporaries by soundness of judgment, extent of knowledge, and suavity of manners. His various qualities and attainments were perfectly blended, and lent force to each other: the combination was one of power; for he was a man of business, of science, of learning, and of character."

The ' Memoirs of William Beckford, of Font- William hill,' are reviewed on the nth of December: Fonthiil. "Only the other day we rambled, on a sunny autumn afternoon, through the domain of that Wiltshire Sardanapalus whose name heads the book we review. It is now a tangled mass of overgrown woods, bound and clamped with brambles. The nine miles of drive, along which his four grey ponies used to pad and trot, are now chopped into three estates. The great Abbey, that country people tell you cost a million, rose like an exhalation and passed away like a summer cloud. One turret gallery

alone stands as a place for pic-nics The

agate cups, gold lamps, proof engravings, Hondekoeters, Weeninxes.'and all such rarities are scattered to the four winds, just like his old rival Horace Walpole's; and now the bleak wind whistling from the broad crop-eared Wiltshire downs keeps rumbling and muttering in every blast, 'Vanity of vanities: all is vanity and

vexation of spirit.'

II is father. "Beckford's father, the Lord Mayor, was chiefly remarkable for his enormous riches and his consistent opposition to the narrow Hanoverian interests and the consequent German war.

Although himself in some things abstemious

to a miserly pitch, the Lord Mayor used to give City dinners which cost sometimes as much as

10,000/. each The young heir, born 1789,

with the first fortune in England, and ten years to nurse it in, was spoiled by his widowed mother. His tutor, recommended by the celebrated Lord Littleton, and aided by the dead father's greatest friend, the Earl of Chatham, did little to correct his pupil's pride, irritability, and desultory cleverness. His mother's friends, Lords Camden, Thurlow, and Bathurst, Hermes Harris, and Gay's old patroness, the Duchess of Queensberry, petted and caressed him

"After a grand coming-of-age festival at Fonthill, the possessor of a million of money and a hundred thousand a year went abroad again in search of pleasure, with a physician, a musician, and Cozens the artist, three carriages, led horses and outriders, seeking for 'wild spots,' yet plunging into every festivity. The composition of 'Vathek' the anonymous author assigns to 1782,—the year before Beckford married and went abroad for several years to Switzerland

"In 1786, Beckford's wife, a daughter of the Death of his Earl of Aboyne, died at Vevay, and from this time the Orientalist never did well with the world. He moved at first restlessly about Switzerland, and then going down to Wiltshire for six months' sorrowful contemplation started for Portugal with a retinue of thirty persons

"In 1796 Beckford returned to reside altogether in retirement in Wiltshire, with a train of artists, musicians, and topographers, to encourage him in every despotic whim, eccentricity and vice. How this desire for solitude came upon him the biographer does not say; but it first evidenced itself in a tyrannical determination to build a ring wall of nine miles round his property to keep out his sworn enemies, the trespassing fox-hunters. As soon as this was done he began to take fancies about the damp of the Abbey, and began a new mansion of stupendous magnificence,—dreaming, probably, of Solomon and the deeds of Pre-Adamite builders, for there was always a love of the unusual and supernatural in this pursuer of pleasure. The visit Visit of Lord

Nelson

of Lord Nelson and Sir William Hamilton, in 1800, was the occasion of a fite, that lit up the old doomed Abbey till it blazed through Wiltshire like a fiery beacon. Peter Pindar and

« ZurückWeiter »