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MEDICAL SCIENCE AND NATURAL HISTORY.
In the English medical science of the latter part of the seven teenth century the most distinguished name is that of Dr. Thomas Sydenham (b. 1624, d. 1689). Discarding mere theory, Syden ham applied himself to the careful observation of nature and facts and his practice and writings are considered as marking an era in the history of the healing art. After his time little innovation was made
among British practitioners, either in the treatment or doctrine of diseases, till the era of Cullen and Brown in the middle of the succeeding century. Anatomical science from the middle of the seventeenth to the middle of the eighteenth century was principally advanced by Malpighi, Steno, Ruysch, Duverney, Morgagni, Albinus, Haller, and other Italian, French, and German physicians; but some new facts were also contributed by Humphrey Ridley, the author of a work on the Brain, published in 1695; by William Cowper, whose Anatomical Tables, published in 1698, however, are asserted to have been stolen from the Dutch anatomist Bidloo; by the eldest Alexander Monro, the author of the Osteology, first published in 1726, and the founder of the medical school of Edinburgh; and by the celebrated William Cheselden, author of the Osteography, published in 1733, and of various other works, and the most expert English operator of his day. To these names ought to be added that of Stephen Hales, whose Vegetable Statics, published in 1727, and Haemastatics, published in 1733, carried both vegetable and animal physiology considerably farthei than any preceding work either English or foreign. Something was also done in the new sciences (if they were yet entitled to be so called) of zoology and comparative anatomy, by Nehemiah Grew, Edward Tyson, Samuel Collins, and other early members of the Royal Society. Grew is likewise one of the fathers of modern botany; but that science was indebted for altogether a new form to the famous John Ray, whose various works were published between 1670 and his death in 1705. “ Botany,” says a late writer, in noticing the merits of Ray, “he found was fast settling back into the chaos of the middle ages, partly beneath the weight of undigested materials, but more from the want of some fixed principles by which the knowledge of the day should be methodized. Profiting by the discoveries of Grew and the other vegetable
anatomists, to which he added a great store of original observations, he, in his Historia Plantarum, the first volume of which appeared in 1686, embodied in one connected series all the facts that had been collected concerning the structure and functions of plants : to these he added an exposition of what he considered the philosophy of classification, as indicated partly by human reason, and partly by experience; and from the whole he deduced a classifica. tion which is unquestionably the basis of that which, under the name of the system of Jussieu, is everywhere recognized at the present day.”ı Ray's views, however, were encountered even in his own day by the artificial system of the French botanist Tournefort ; and before the middle of the next century the science was again revolutionized by the genius of the great Linnæus. The Botanical, or Physic Garden, as it was called, at Oxford, we may here mention, had been founded and endowed by Henry Danvers, Earl of Danby, in 1632. Ornithology and ichthyology may almost be said to owe their beginning, at least in this country, to Ray's friend, Francis Willughby. Willughby died, at the age of thirtyseven, in 1672, but his works on these subjects — his Ornithologiæ Libri Tres, and his Historia Piscium — were not published till some years after, under the superintendence of Ray; indeed, of the latter, which did not appear till 1686, Ray was half the author as well as the editor. A similar service was performed to conchology by the magnificent Historia Conchyliorum of Dr. Martin Lister, the first part of which appeared in 1685, the fifth and last in 1693. Finally, in geology, while some progress was made in the collecting and even in the arranging of facts by Ray, Dr. John Woodward, and others, and a few elementary general principles or natural laws of the science were beginning to be perceived, a host of speculators, headed by the eloquent Thomas Burnet and the eccentric William Whiston, both men of genius and learning, but of more fancy than either judgment or knowledge of the subjects which in this instance they undertook to discuss, produced in the last years
of the seventeenth and the first of the eighteenth century many theories of the earth, which explained not only its structure, but its origin and its destiny, — in other words, its whole history, past, present, and future, - - as well as such a task could be accomplished by the imagination working without materials, and without the aid of
ENGLISH LITERATURE SINCE THE REVOLUTION OF
FIRST EFFECTS OF THE REVOLUTION ON OUR LITERATURE.
The Revolution, brought on by some of the same causes that had given birth to the Commonwealth, and restoring something of the same spirit and condition of things, came like another nightfall upon our higher literature, putting out the light of poetry in the land still more effectually than had even that previous triumph of the popular principle. Up to this date English literature had grown and flourished chiefly in the sunshine of court protection and favor; the public appreciation and sympathy were not yet sufficiently extended to afford it the necessary warmth and shelter. Its spirit, consequently, and affections were in the main courtly; it drooped and withered when the encouragement of the court was withdrawn, from the deprivation both of its customary support and sustenance and of its chief inspiration. And, if the decay of this kind of light at the Revolution was, as we have said, still more complete than that which followed upon the setting up of the Commonwealth, the difference seems to have been mainly owing to there having been less of it to extinguish at the one epoch than at the other. At the Restoration the impulse given by the
great poets of the age of Elizabeth and James was yet operating, without having been interrupted and weakened by any foreign influence, upon the language and the national mind. Doubtless, too, whatever may be thought of the literary tendencies of puritanism and republicanism when they had got into the ascendant, the nurture both for head and heart furnished by the ten years of high deeds, and higher hopes and speculations, that ushered in the Commonwealth, must have been of a far other kind than any that was to be got out of the thirty years, or thereby, of laxity, frivolity, denationalization, and insincerity of all sorts, down the comparatively smooth stream of which men slid, without effort and without thought, to the Revolution. No wonder that some powerful minds were trained by the former, and almost none by the latter.
SURVIVING WRITERS OF THE PRECEDING PERIOD.
With the exception of some two or three names, none of them of the highest class, to be presently mentioned, almost the only writers that shed any lustre on the first reign after the Revolution are those of a few of the survivors of the preceding era. Dryden, fallen on what to him were evil days and evil tongues, and forced in his old age to write for bread with less rest for his wearied head
nd hand than they had ever had before, now produced some of his most laborious and also some of his most happily executed works: his translation of Virgil, among others, his Fables, and his Alexander's Feast. Lee, the dramatic poet, discharged from Bedlam, finished two more tragedies, his Princess of Cleve and his Massacre of Paris, before, “ returning one night from the Bear and Harrow, in Butcher-Row, through Clare Market, to his lodgings in Duke Street, overladen with wine, he fell down on the ground as some say, according to others on a bulk, and was killed or stifled in the snow,” early in the year 1692.7 The comic Etherege also outlived the deposition of his patron James II., but is not known to have written anything after that event; he followed James to France, and is reported to have died characteristically at Ratisbon a year or two after: “having treated some company with a liberal entertainment at his house there, where he had taken his glass too freely, and, being, through his great complaisance, too forward in waiting on his guests at their departure, flushed as he was, he tumbled down-stairs and broke his neck, and so fell a martyr to jollity and civility.”2 Wycherley, who at the date of the Revolution was under fifty, lived to become a correspondent of Pope, and even saw out the reign of Anne; but he produced nothing in that of William, although he published a volume of poems in 1704, and left some other trifles behind him, which were printed long afterwards by Theobald. Southerne, indeed, who survived till 1746, continued to write and publish till within twenty years
1 MS. note by Oldys, quoted in Biog. Dram. It was not known whether his death happened in this or the preceding year, till Mr. Peter Cunningham ascertained from the Burial Register that he was buried in the churchyard of St. Clement Danes on the 6th of April, 1692. — See Campbell's Specimens of the British Poets, edit. of 1844, p. 301.
2 Biog. Dram., on authority of Biog. Brit., the writer in which says that he received this account from John Locker, Esq.
SURVIVING WRITERS OF THE PRECEDING PERIOD. 187
of his death ; his two best dramas — his Fatal Marriage and his Oroonoko — were both produced in the reign of William. South erne, though not without considerable pathetic power, was fortu nate in a genius on the whole not above the appreciation of the unpoetical age he lived in: “Dryden once took occasion to ask him how much he got by one of his plays; to which he answered that he was really ashamed to inform him. But, Mr. Dryden being a little importunate to know, he plainly told him that by his last play he cleared seven hundred pounds, which appeared astonishing to Dryden, as he himself had never been able to acquire more than one hundred by his most successful pieces.” 1 Southerne, who, whatever estimate may be formed of his poetry, was not, we may gather from this anecdote, without some conscience and modesty, had worse writers than himself to keep him in countenance by their preposterous prosperity, in this lucky time for mediocrity and dulness. Shadwell was King William's first poetlaureate, and Nahum Tate his next. Tate, indeed, and his friend Dr. Nicholas Brady, were among the most flourishing authors and greatest public favorites of this reign : it was now that they perpetrated in concert their version, or perversion, of the Psalms, with which we are still afflicted. Brady also published a play, and, at a later date, some volumes of sermons and a translation of the Æneid, which, fortunately, not having been imposed or recommended by authority, are all among the most forgotten of books. Elkanah Settle, too, was provided for as city poet.
Among writers of another class, perhaps the most eminent who, having been distinguished before the Revolution, survived and continued to write after that event, was Sir William Temple. His Miscellanies, by which he is principally known, though partly composed before, were not published till then. John Evelyn, who, however, although a very miscellaneous as well as voluminous writer, has hardly left any work that is held in esteem for either style or thought, or for anything save what it may contain of positive information or mere matter of fact, also published one or two books in the reign of William, which he saw to an end; for he died at the age of eighty-five, in 1706. Bishop Stillingfleet, who had been known as an author since before the Restoration, for his Irenicum appeared in 1659, when he was only in his twenty-fourth year, and who had kept the press in employment by a rapid suc
1 Biog. Dram.