Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

the System, in a Second Letter to Earl Grey. By

Richard Whately, D.D., Archbishop of Dublin. Lon-

don. 1834.

A Sermon Preached before the Additional Curate's Fund

Society for Ireland, on Tuesday, the 5th of April 1842.

By the Most Reverend Richard Whately, D.D., Arch-

bishop of Dublin. Published at the Request of the

Society. Dublin.

Easy Lessons on Money Matters, for the Use of Young

People. Published under the Direction of the Com-

mittee of General Literature and Education, appointed

by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

The Seventh Edition. London. 1843.

Easy Lessons on Reasoning. Re-printed from "The

Saturday Magazine." London. 1843.

Introductory Lessons on Christian Evidences. Third

Edition, with a Revised Preface. London. 1843.

Papers of the Dublin Law Institute. No. I., Address by

His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, on the Intellec-

tual and Moral Influences of the Professions. Dublin.

Thoughts on the Sabbath; being an Additional Note

Appended to the Second Edition of "Essays on some

of the Difficulties in the Writings of St. Paul, and in

other parts of the New Testament." By Richard

Whately, D.D., Archbishop of Dublin. Second Edi-

tion, Enlarged. London. 1832.

A View of the Scripture Revelations Concerning a Future

State. Fifth Edition. By the Archbishop of Dublin.

London.

The Kingdom of Christ Delineated, in Two Essays, on

our Lord's own Account of His Person, and the Nature

of His Kingdom, and of the Constitution, Powers, and

Ministry of a Christian Church, as Appointed by Him-

self. By Richard Whately, D.D., Archbishop of Dub-

lin. Third Edition. London. 1842.

Page

THE

NORTH BRITISH
BRITISH REVIEW.

MAY, 1844.

ART. I.-Eloge Historique de G. CUVIER. Par M. FLOURENS, Secrétaire Perpétuel de l'Académie Royale des Sciences_de l'Institut de France. (Mémoires de l'Acad. Roy. des Sc., tom. xiv., p. 1.)

WHEN the philosopher or the poet dies, society often seems indifferent, if not insensible to its loss. In passing from his study to his grave, it is but seldom that the sage leaves a blank behind him which it is difficult to fill. The gay circle which he enlivened had previously mourned the absence of its brightest ornament, and the official place which he dignified had probably been assigned to another occupant. It is within the family circle alone that the void is felt; it is at the domestic hearth, or at the household altar, where the master spirit can have no successor. To this sanctuary the world neither seeks nor finds admittance. Their eye rests but on the lustre of his fame; and if they have watched its growing progress, and scanned it at its meridian height, amid the honours and applause of contemporary devotion, they are not likely to pronounce a higher award when it becomes posthumous. When the arbiters of genius have once issued their irreversible decree, the wreath which they have planted on the living forehead will not hang with a brighter green on the shadow of its name. Newton, and Laplace, and Watt, thus became immortal before they had thrown off the coil of mortality.

It is otherwise, however, with those of a less fortunate genius -to whom has been allotted a briefer span, or a more troubled career-who have fallen "in the blaze of their fame," or who have been doomed to earn it in the midst of professional rivalry,

VOL. I. NO. I.

A

or in the arena of political strife. Time had not ripened their glory. Though the fruitbud and its blossom had fulfilled their promise, the gathering of the vintage had not arrived. Over their name and their labours, passion and prejudice had perchance thrown their blighting influence. Jealousy may have fixed on them her green eye; and, amid the bustle and collisions of life, their genius may have cast but a dim light around them, while it exhibited its native brightness when seen from afar, and under a less troubled sky.

To a certain extent, this was the fate of George Cuvier, who, to the highest qualities of a naturalist and philosopher, added those of an enlightened statesinan and a Christian patriot. This eminent individual lived in eventful times-in a community divided against itself, and under governments notorious either for the usurpation or the abuse of power. The calls of public duty-the love, perhaps too ardent, of secular distinction-and the bitterness of domestic grief-had often interrupted the continuity, and disturbed the quiet of his labours; and, at an age not far advanced, he was suddenly carried off in the midst of great and incompleted discoveries. The meteor of his fame shot across the European horizon; and when it left its sphere of clouds and storms, even his enemies acknowledged its splendour, and Cuvier at once exchanged the labours and anxieties of a public servant for the reputation and glory of a sage.

If it is interesting to trace the footsteps of great men struggling against adverse fortune, grappling with and overcoming error, and, under poverty and persecution, wresting from Nature her most hidden mysteries; it is not less so to follow the intellectual giant through a more prosperous career, resisting the seductions of wealth, and honour, and official station, and, in the midst of their distractions, consecrating to mental toil the vigour of his manhood, and the serenity of his riper age. To such alternatives of destiny, the youthful champion of truth will look without either disquietude or fear. He will study them as foreshadows of a lot which may be his own; and in the generosity of his feelings, he will not shun the right path, even when it is one of labour and of suffering. Who would not, for the glory of Tasso, endure all the horrors of his cell-or, for the fame of Galileo, his "prisoned solitude"—or, for the immortality of Kepler, his privations and his wrongs? But though Providence has thus attached a deeper and more poetic interest to the history and renown of the martyr, yet aspirants for fame, as well as its arbiters, must not forget the important truth, so well illustrated in the life of Cuvier, that the mind has often achieved its proudest triumphs under the fostering care of wealth and station, and amid the serenity of continuous and peaceful labour.

George Leopold Chretien Frederick Dagobert Cuvier was born on the 23d August 1769, at Montbeliard, then a town in the Duchy of Wirtemberg, but now belonging to France, and in the department of Doubs. His family came originally from a village of Jura of the name of Cuvier, and, at the period of the Reformation, had established itself in the small principality of Montbeliard, where some of its members had held important offices. The grandfather of Cuvier was of a humble branch, and was the attorney of the town. He had two sons, the youngest of whom entered the Swiss regiment of Waldner, then in the service of France; and by his bravery and good conduct became an officer and chevalier of the order of Military Merit-a rank which, among the Protestants, was equivalent to the Catholic cross of St. Louis. After forty years' service, he retired with a small pension, and was afterwards appointed to the command of the artillery at Montbeliard. At the advanced age of fifty, he married a young lady—the mother, and the first teacher of Cuvier.

By this lady the father of Cuvier had three sons. The eldest of them died while she was pregnant with her second child, and so deeply did this misfortune prey upon her spirits that her infant George, like Sir Isaac Newton, was born with such a feeble and sickly constitution that he was scarcely expected to reach the years of manhood. The affectionate cares of the mother were proportioned to the helplessness and delicacy of the child. With a vigilance that never slumbered, and an affection that ever increased, she watched over his varying health, instilled into his mind the first lessons of religion, and had taught him to read fluently before he had completed his fourth year. In this prematurity of his mind, so frequently associated with a feeble constitution, his devoted parent seems to have foreseen the future greatness of her son: she made him repeat to her his Latin lessons, though herself ignorant of the language, conducted him. every morning to school, made him practise drawing under her own superintendence, and supplied him with the best works on history and literature. In this manner did young Cuvier acquire a passion for reading, and a desire to understand everything-the two liberal fountains from which his reason drew its materials, and his imagination its stores.

His father had destined him for the military profession; but in the gradual development of his genius, his aptitude for every species of intellectual labour turned the views of his parents into a different channel. In the library of the Gymnasium, where he stood at the head of the classes of history, geography, and mathematics, he lighted upon a copy of Conrad Gesner's History of Animals and Serpents, with coloured plates; and, about the same time, he

« AnteriorContinua »