Page images

tion of the man whofe life he is writing, we reprehended the compilers for having omitted the detail of a fact, which, confidered in every point of view, hath been eftemed, by many, as the trueft index to that famous reformer's just character. We now find that the prefent editors have inferted, circumftantially, and properly, the hiftory of Calvin's cruelty and violence, in the perfecution of Servetus.

A fimilar inftance of omiffion we observed in the life of Laud, where we expected an account of the inhuman treatment of the Rev. Mr. (or Dr.) Leighton: but we are forry to find the prefent edition totally filent with respect to the cruelties exercised on that zealous but unfortunate writer. Leighton was a remarkable character; and the perfecution he fuffered, exhibits a moft striking picture of the times in which he lived, when cruelty, pride, and bigotry triumphed over humanity, meekness, and the rights of confcience. This Scottish divine wrote an appeal to Parliament, against the oppreffions of the prelates of those days, in the Spiritual Court and Star Chamber; for which, at the inftigation of Laud, he was fentenced to pay a fine of ten thousand pounds, to be degraded from his miniftry,-to be fet on the pillory at Westminster, and there whipped, while the court was fitting, to be pilloried a fecond time, and have one of his ears cut off, one fide of his nofe flit, and be branded on the face with S. S. (awer of fedition),-a few days after to be pilloried again in Cheapfide, there to be whipped, have his other ear cut off, and the other fide of his nofe flit, and afterwards to be shut up in a clofe dungeon, for life. After this fentence was pronounced, the revengeful Archbishop pulled off his cap, and with fervent zeal thanked God for fo juft a judgment! a tranfaction, which gives us fo remarkable trait of Laud's difpofition, ought furely to have been noticed by his biographer. We have been induced to mention this circumftance a fecond time, in hopes, that, as our former hints were in part regarded, when this publication goes through another edition, the compilers may, if they agree with us in lentiment, have an opportunity of fupplying the omiffion.

The fize and limits of this compilement, notwithstanding the number of volumes, muft of neceflity exclude many of the minutia that are to be met with in larger works of a like kind; which circumftance obliges the compilers to be cautious in felecting the materials for their biographical Dictionary; for these are fo diffuse, diffimilar, and numerous, that they require great judg ment in the choice, rejection, and advantageous arrangement.

With what fuccefs our authors have executed their task would best appear from a variety of specimens ; but, for fuch ample evidence we have not fufficient room, though we want not in

*See Review, Vol. xxviii. page 32.


elination to do juftice to the merit of the work, which is by no means inconfiderable. We fhall, however, give our readers the brief account which we here meet with, of a perfon, who deferves to be better known to the world than he has hitherto been, or, perhaps, ever might have been, bad not a niche been provided for him in this temple of fame.

DEMOIVRE (ABRAHAM) an illuftrious Mathematician, of French origin, was born at Vitri in Champagne, May 1667. The revocation of the edict of Nantz, in 1685, determined him to fly into England, fooner than abandon the religion of his fathers. He laid the foundation of his mathematical ftudies in France, and perfected himself at London; where a mediocrity of fortune obliged him to employ his talent in this way, and read public lectures, for his better fupport. The Principia Mathematica of Newton, which chance is faid to have thrown in his way, made him comprehend, at once, how little he had advanced in the fcience he profeffed. He fell hard to work : he fucceeded as he went along; and he foon became connected with, and celebrated among, the first-rate mathematicians. His eminence and abilities foon opened to him an entrance into the Royal Society' at London, and afterwards into the Academy of Sciences at Paris. His merit was fo well known, and acknowledged, by the former, that they judged him a fit perfon to decide the famous contest between Newton and Leibnitz. The collection of the Academy at Paris contains no memoir of this Author; who died at London, in November 1754*, foon after his admiflion into it; but the philofophical tranfactions of London have several, and all of them interefting +. He published alfo fome capital works, fuch as " Mifcellanea Analytica, de feriebus et quadraturis, in 1730. 4to." But perhaps he has been more generally known by his " Doctrine of Chances; or Method of calculating the Probabilities of Events at Play." This work was first printed in 1718, in quarto, and dedicated to Sir Ifaac Newton; it was reprinted in 178 with great additions and improvements; a third edition with additions and a "Treatife on Annuities" was dedicated to Lord Carpenter.-Pope did not overlook this Mathematician;

"Sure as De Moivre.".

Of this very eminent man we know but little, except from his writings: his being appointed by the Royal Society to determine the contest between two of the greatest men in the world, at that time, is a fufficient proof of the esteem in which he was held by

*We fupply the Day: November 27.

Our biographers might have obferved, that his firft paper in the Philofophical Tranfactions, fo early as March 1695, is a moft learned production. It contains the method for the quadrature of curvilinear figures, the dimensions of folids generated by them, and alfo the application of fluxions to many other important purposes. We always looked upon this paper as a remarkable effort of genius in (we believe) a felf-taught young mathematician, who had not yet filled his 28th year.


that learned body; the particulars of that conteft, with Demoivre's decifion of it, might afford matter of fatisfaction to the mathematicians of the prefent day: a future edition of the work before us, may, perhaps, fupply this defect.

A uniform tenor, and confiftency, is effentially neceffary in works of this kind, not only with refpect to facts, but to fentiments of things, and general principles. The reader who is anxious with regard to the abovementioned decifion of Demoivre's, and who wishes to be informed how that great controverfy, which engaged the attention of all the mathematicians in Europe, was finally determined, might expect to find it here recorded, either in the life of Newton, or of Leibnitz, or of Demoivre : nothing, however, appears on the fubject, in the prefent edition : unless it is to be found in fome other article, which we have not perufed.

We mean not, by the foregoing little exceptions, to depreciate the general merit of this ufeful publication; which may be confidered as a ftore-houfe of valuable materials for the information and entertainment of its readers,-many articles of which are not elsewhere, collectively, to be met with. In a word we cannot but look on the work as a very acceptable addition to the public ftock of biographical literature. R-m.

ART. IV. An Eftimate of the comparative Strength of Great Britain, during the prefent, and four preceeding Reigns, and of the Loffes of her Trade from every War fince the Revolution. By George Chalmers. 8vo. 3s. 6d. Stockdale. 1786.

TR. Chalmers is well known by his laborious and accurate

investigations of hiftorical, political, and commercial fubjects. He here purfues the fame line of inquiry, and maintains the fame principles which he laid down in his former works. He combats the gloomy and desponding notions [as he deems them] adopted by Dr. Price and his followers; and, by a chain of facts, corroborated by many collateral circumstances, he proves, we think, in as clear a manner as the nature of the fubject admits, that ever fince the revolution, Great Britain has been in a continually progreffive ftate with regard to population and induftry; and he adduces very probable reasons to fhew, that at the present moment, the manufactures and trade of this country are, perhaps, in a more flourishing fate, upon the whole, than at any former period.

The facts ftated in this publication are fo numerous and important, that we cannot attempt to do justice to the author by abridging them, but must refer the curious reader to the work itfelf, which will afford a rich fund of valuable materials to every political fpeculator. We cannot, however, avoid taking notice,


that he has been at great pains to prove, by a variety of examples, that nothing deferves to be fo little relied upon as the opinions. generally diffeminated by political writers, concerning the profperous or unprofperous ftate of the manufactures and trade of the nation, at the time of the publication of their works, fince it appears that many men of great character and eminent abilities have frequently reprefented the nation as being in an uncommonly declining ftate at the very moment, when (as our author contends) it was enjoying an extraordinary degree of prosperity. Nor are they party writers only, who are faid thus to mifreprefent the circumftances of the prefent times, but men of unblemished morals, totally unconnected with all parties. Even the ingenious Herrenfchwand whofe work we had fo lately occafion to mention with applause *, may be adduced as an example of this kind of mifreprefentation; for he ftates it as a notorious fact, that fince the lofs of America, our trade thither, and confequently our manufactures, have greatly declined, fo as to exhibit very unequivocal symptoms of the existence of a political malady of the most dangerous tendency; yet our author fhows that in the year 1771, 1772, 1773, our average exports to the American colonies amounted to the value of 3,064,8431. and in 1784 to 3,359,864. So eafily may men believe what they have preconceived fhould naturally come to pafs!

Although Mr. Chalmers has judiciously availed himself of every collateral circumftance, that came within his reach, to eftablifh his pofitions, yet he has, in general, relied on cuftomhoufe entries, as the fource of his principal facts,-and notwithftanding all that he has urged with a view to remove the objections brought against thofe accounts; we cannot help thinking that these objections are fuch, as do not authorize that confidence which he has all along placed in them. It is not enough. to fay, that the errors at one period arifing from vanity, or fraudulent views, will be nearly counterbalanced by the fimilar errors occafioned by the fame motives at another period: before this be admitted, it must be proved that no alteration has been made in the laws during these two periods, for if any alteration in the law has taken place, it may not only remove the whole excefs, on one fide, occafioned by the circumftances abovenamed, but may even throw the faulty excess to the oppofite fide of the account. Thus, if at one time no duties were charged on certain articles exported, vanity might naturally prompt the merchant to make entries far above the truth, fo as to augment the value of the exports greatly beyond what they fhould have been; but if, at another period, a high duty should be demanded on exporting the fame articles, care would not only

Vid. Rev. Feb. 1787. Art. I.


[ocr errors]

be taken not to over-rate them, but pains would be bestowed to enter them as much under value as poffible. From these, and other obvious confiderations, we are fatisfied that no reliance fhould be had on cuftomhoufe entries, &c. in matters of great confequence, unless they are accompanied with an accurate account of the ftate of the law at the time. Without this, these accounts are more likely to mislead than to direct the judgment. We cannot, therefore, help wifhing, that the ftrefs laid upon them fhould be less than has, of late, been the fashion.

One other remark we fhall beg leave to make on this fubject: viz. that it were well if the internal commerce obtained a greater degree of attention, than it usually receives. A foreign trade may fometimes be augmented in confequence of a deranged internal œconomy; where people emigrate, the food and neceffaries they ought to have confumed, muft either be exported or fuffered to perish; but an encrease of foreign trade originating from this cause, is a great evil instead of a bleffing. We might extend our remarks farther on this fubject, but fhall content ourselves with recommending it to political fpeculators, never to lose fight of this maxim-that the internal traffic of any nation is of much higher value, and an object of much greater importance to preferve undiminished, than its external trade-and therefore foould ever be attended to as the first object.

As we prefume the intention of our author's performance was merely to remove fome prejudices that are fuppofed to have been imbibed from the perufal of certain popular treatises, it was not to be fuppofed that he would choose to embarrass the class of readers for whom it was intended, with fubtle difcuffions which would have been neceffary to discriminate, in all cafes, between truth and error, had he even been capable of thefe difcuffions, or difpofed to enter on them himfelf. It was enough to produce plaufible arguments, and it would have been improper to exprefs any diffidence himself, where he meant that his readers fhould feel none.

We fubjoin a few miscellaneous facts that will prove interefting to many of our readers :

In the gift of Edward III. (1377) it was found that the population of England and Wales amounted to about 2,092,978 fouls,-in 1483 to about 4,688,000; at the revolution (1688, about 6,500,000 or 7,000,000; and at prefent probably to near 8,000,000.

In the year 1377, the undermentioned towns were, by enumeration, found to contain inhabitants as follow:

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »