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send qualified persons to different parts of the globe to observe this rare phenomenon; and so contemptible were the means which they possessed for carrying this plan into execution, that' Dr Bradley was requested to inform himself, against the next council, upon what terms the several instruments might be hired for the occasion, the Society giving security for their restitution. On the day of the transit, Dr Bradley was so ill that Dr Bliss was obliged to take his place at the observatory.
Our eye,' says Professor Rigaud, looks into the Greenwich Registers with feelings of interest for traces of that hand which conveyed so much instruction to mankind, and catches occasionally the sight of it till 1st September, 1761, when the sun's transit was the last observation that Bradley ever entered, most probably that he ever made. His existence continued for a few months longer, but his scientific career was closed.'
For several years before his death he had felt strong symptoms of decay, which produced a melancholy depression of spirits. This distress arose from an apprehension that he would survive his reason; but his fears were groundless. He preserved his faculties unimpaired, and died of a chronic inflammation in the abdominal viscera, in the house of his father-in-law, Samuel Peach, Esq., at Chalford, in Gloucestershire, on the 13th July, 1762, in the 70th year of his age. He was buried at Minchinhampton beside his mother and his wife, and an inscription to his memory, composed by Dr Blayney of Oxford, was engraven on a brass plate upon his tomb. He left an only daughter to bewail his death.
Such is a brief analysis of Professor Rigaud's valuable memoir. The practical astronomer must have recourse to the original, to obtain the gratification which he will not fail to receive from its perusal. To us it has all the charms of a romance; and we are convinced that those who, either as amateurs or as astronomers, have devoted any portion of their time to the construction and use of optical and astronomical instruments, will appreciate the sources of interest to which we refer.
The rest of this large volume consists of three portions, namely, those papers of Dr Bradley which appeared in previous publications-the papers which are now printed for the first time-and his astronomical correspondence.
The first of these portions consists of papers chiefly taken from the Philosophical transactions, and occupies 116 pages: The second poon, which occupies 275 pages, consists of the following papers :
1. Description of Molineux's instrument put up at Kew. By S. Molyneux.
2. Observations made at Kew, from the MSS. of Molyneux and Bradley.
3. Memoranda respecting Bradley's instrument at Wansted.* 4. Zenith observations at Wansted.
5. Demonstration of the rules for aberration.
6. Reduction of the Wansted observations.
7. Miscellaneous Astronomical observations.
8. State of the instruments at the Greenwich Observatory in 1742.
9. Experiments to determine the length of the pendulum at Greenwich.
10. Memoranda for observing the Transit of Venus.
Dr Bradley's correspondence, which forms the third part of the original papers, occupies 120 pages; and consists of letters from Clairaut, Lacaille, Pingré, Maupertuis, Lemonnier, De Lisle, P. Frisi, Gesner, Ferner, Grischow, Earl of Macclesfield, James Ferguson, G. Graham, Joseph Harris, James Stirling, S. Molyneux, J. Bevis, N. Bliss, Mat. Raper, T. Melvill, and C. Walmesly. Bradley's own letters are addressed to the Earl of Macclesfield, Dr Smith, James Stirling, G. Graham, Maupertuis, Dr Bevis, M. De Lisle, M. Lemonnier, Grischow, Barker, Hadley and Nash. These letters are of course interesting only
Professor Rigaud has added a very curious appendix, containing Harriot's observations, in 1607, upon Halley's comet. They had been so disfigured by Baron Zach, that a faithful reprint of them was necessary. The originals are at Petworth, among the Harriot papers, in the possession of the Earl of Egremont, to whom they descended from Henry, Earl of Northumberland.
In a copious supplement to this work, published by Mr Rigaud, in 1833, he has given a most elaborate and interesting account of these papers, along with fac similes of Harriot's observations on the satellites of Jupiter, and the spots upon the Sun; and he has shown, in opposition to Baron Zach, who had taken a most erroneous view of the contents of these MSS., that Harriot had not anticipated Galileo, either in the discovery of the solar spots, or of the satellites of Jupiter.
* This, and all the other articles are from Bradley's MSS. unless otherwise mentioned.
We cannot conclude this article without expressing to the University of Oxford the gratitude which every astronomer must feel for its liberality in publishing so expensive a work, and illustrating it with so many interesting embellishments. Distinguished as Oxford has been among the Universities of Europe, and as the seat of classical and ethical learning in England, it has not been wanting in its contributions to the mathematical and physical sciences. If it cannot boast of a Newton, it can yet marshal the names of Briggs, Wren, Halley, Ward, Gregory, Keill, and Bradley. Even now, when science has been gradually decaying in many of the other universities of Britain, it has been throwing out new and vigorous shoots on the banks of the Isis; and by the genius and learning of such men as Buckland, Rigaud, Kidd, Daubeny, Powell, and others, the tide of discovery, which, in obedience to its primordial law, has been quitting our eastern shores, may be arrested in its westward course, and bear to the 'city of palaces' some of its choicest and its proudest gifts.
ART. IV. Strafford; a Tragedy: in Five Acts. By J. BROWNING, Esq. 8vo. London: 1837
HIS is a play which, aided by the exertions of Mr Macready, one or two more of
noted actors of
had a considerable share of success on the London theatre this year. Low as the condition of our national stage at present is, this favourable run of a simple historical play, on an English subject, by an author little known, and unassisted, as far as we can discover, by any advantage of puffing, or green-room connexion, is a phenomenon to which we feel ourselves called upon to attend. We use our best exertions to keep au courant of the literature of the day; and yet, with the single exception of 'lon,' we have scarcely had for years occasion to concern ourselves with the acting drama. If we might be permitted the use of so vain-glorious an argument, we should say that this very circumstance proves how small a space the acting drama occupies in the thoughts of the literary world. This is a melancholy reflection to us, who are firm in the persuasion that high dramatic excellence, and popular interest in its exhibition, are at once causes and indications of a vigorous and healthy tone of public feeling. Nor is the prospect materially improved, when we find ourselves called upon to treat such productions as that before us with the respect
due to general favourites. To say that it has succeeded at all, amidst the difficulties which now beset the legitimate drama, is undoubtedly to say that it possesses merit and interest. But our commendations, we fear, can go little farther than this superficial syllogism, which deduces proof of excellence from popular applause. Nevertheless, we find fault less with Mr Browning than with the times on which he has fallen. If exaggerated, unnatural sentiments, far-fetched affectation of style, a kind of conceited poverty of language, much whine and occasional rant, and a sacrifice of all probability of plot, historical truth, and distinctness of character, for the purpose of dressing up one or two overdone parts full of points and situations, to suit reigning actors, are tolerated and enjoyed by the audience, the temptation to fall into these juvenile sins is too great for a young poet to resist. Our theatre does in fact seem approaching the last crisis of its long agony. The reading and critical part of the public have deserted it, chiefly because talent is growing more and more solitary and fastidious in its habits, and the lonely enjoyments of literature engross so much of its attention as to leave little time for the socialities of the stage. Fashionable people eschew it, because it interferes with fashionable hours, and because it brings them into unfashionable places and company. And of the more sober and simple class of society-in which perhaps, no longer ago than the later days of Garrick and the earlier ones of Kemble, the drama found itsstrongest support-prevalent religious scruples, it is said, now keep away a very large proportion. Theatrical writers have of course participated in this decay. The largest division of them consists, as it always did, of regular mercenaries—we mean no disrespect by the phrase-men who make that employment an exclusive or subsidiary profession. Many of them are of no common order of talent; but their object is merely to sell. Adaptations from the French farces, occasional pieces to suit the talents of particular actors, and those lowest specimens of what the human intellect can do, the libretti of comic operas-these are the commodities in which they chiefly deal. And, like men of sense, they make it their business to please the taste of the day, although they may occasionally be heard, at theatrical-fund dinners and on similar exciting occasions, to talk very big about guiding and purifying it. The other, or unprofessional class of dramatists (those on whom we chiefly depend for contributions to the regular drama, which requires too great an outlay of time and mind, the author's capital, to be taken up by the operatives), is unfortunately small in number and poor in names. How can it be otherwise, when, after all that Mr Bulwer's legislative labours have effected, both the fame and the profit of a well-puffed
fashionable novel are likely to exceed by far the utmost which can be attained in the labours of the higher drama? Ambition, in this line, seems to be generally regarded as at once more hopeless and less creditable than in any other. And, as far as tragedy is concerned, it appears to have been abandoned of late years almost exclusively to a peculiar set or clique of authors, mutually patronising and patronised by our few tragic actors-drawing their notions of external things from the scenery of the stage-painter, their characters and language from the green-room-and the stage thus produces the drama, instead of serving for its developement, and very seldom receives any accession of fresh thought or vigorous life from the world of man and nature without.
Mr Browning has done wisely in making the plot of his play simple, and as near the historical outline as possible. The opening scene presents us with the chiefs of the Roundhead party, met in private conclave to discuss the dissolution of the Scots Parliament, and the expected arrival of the apostate Wentworth from Ireland. Vane and the more eager Puritans, denounce him as the chief cause of the renovated strength of the King's affairs, and excite each other with denunciations against England's great enemy. Pym holds somewhat aloof, as anxious once more to put his former friend to the trial, before he finally devotes him as a sacrifice to his injured country. In the next, Lady Carlisle explains to Strafford, who has just arrived from Ireland at Whitehall, the posture of affairs; and tells him how Savill, Holland, Vane the elder, and the rest of the Queen's party, seek to disparage the services he has rendered to the royal cause-in her own choice phrase, how they
"Sneer, make light of, one may say
Nibble, at what you do.'
The lady departs, leaving Wentworth harassed and indignant, and Pym breaks in upon his solitude. The two old friends bandy some sarcasms, and keep each other at a very stiff distance, until the taunts of the Roundhead, concerning Charles's rejection of Wentworth's repeated prayer for an earldom, rouse the pride of the royalist; who seems once more on the point of going back to his old party, when, by another of those opportune arrivals which abound in the play, King Charles enters. Wentworth lets fall Pym's hand, and is his Sovereign's devoted servant again. He prays the King to trust him for once-combats his irresolution by reasoning and entreaty-and induces him to promise the assembling of a Parliament in Ireland and in England, to assist in this juncture of the quarrel with the Scots. The King, though sorely shaken again by the taunts of his Queen, Henrietta, adheres for a while to this resolution; and, in the second Act, we