Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

travel foring 10%; bu cisained

which leading him chiefly to oriental learning and the mathematics, he quickly distinguished himself in each of these studies; and his eminent skill in the latter procured him the professorship of geometry in Gresham college, which he obtained February 22, 1630.

At this time, he had not only read the writings of Coper. nicus, Regiomontanus, Purbach, Tycho Brahe, and Kepler; with other celebrated astronomers of that and the preceding age, but had made the ancient Greek, Arabian, and Persian authors familiar to him, having before gained an accurate skill in the oriental languages; but the acquisitions he had already made serving to create a thirst for more, he determined to travel for farther improvement. Accordingly he went to Holland in 1635, and having attended for some time the lectures of Golius, the learned professor of Arabic at Leyden, he proceeded to Paris, where he conversed with the celebrated Claudius Hardy, about the Persian language; but finding very scanty aid in that country, he continued his journey to Rome, in order to view the antiquities of that city. He also visited other parts of Italy; and before his departure, meeting with the earl of Arundel, was offered 2001. a year to live with his lordship, and attend him as a companion in his travels to Greece; the earl also promising every other act of friendship that might lie in his power. A proposal so advantageous would have been eagerly accepted by Mr. Greaves, but he had now projected a voyage to Egypt, and was about to return to England, in order to furnish himself with every thing proper to complete the execution of his design.

Immediately after his return, he acquainted archbishop Laud, who was his liberal patron, with his intentions, and, being encouraged by his grace, set about making preparations for it. His primary view was to measure the pyramids with all proper exactness, and also to make astronomical and geographical observations, as opportunities offered, for the improvement of those sciences. A large apparatus of proper mathematical instruments was consequently to be provided ; and, as the expence of purchasing these would be considerable, he applied for assistance to the city of London, but met with an absolute denial. This he very much resented, and in relating the generosity of his brothers upon his own money falling short, be observes, «« That they had strained their own occasions, to enable him, in despite of the city, to go on with his designs."

it indeparture, indes his broth he received Arabic a

He had been greatly disappointed in his hopes of meeting with curious books in Italy; he therefore proposed to make that another principal part of his business; and to compass it in the easiest manner, he bought several books before his departure, in order to exchange them with others in the east. Besides his brothers, he had probably some help from Laud, from whom he received a general discretionary commission to purchase for him Arabic and other MSS. and likewise such coins and medals as he could procure. Laud also gave him a letter of recommendation to 'sir Peter Wyche, the English ambassador at Constantinople.

Thus furnished, he embarked in the river Thames for Leghorn, June 1637, in company with his particular friend Mr. Edward Pococke, whom he had earnestly solicited to that voyage*. After a short stay in Italy, he arrived at Constantinople before Michaelmas. Here he met with a kind reception from sir Peter Wyche, and became acquainted with the venerable Cyril Lucaris, the Greek patriarch, by whom he was much assisted in purchasing Greek MSS., and who promised to recommend him to the monks of Mount Athos, where he would have the liberty of entering into all the libraries, and of collecting a catalogue of such books as either were not printed, or else, by the help of some there, might be more correctly published. These, by dispensing with the ana-" themas which former patriarchs had laid upon all Greek libraries, to preserve the books from the Latins, Cyril

* Our author's generosity on this grees, fall down upon the business of hccasion deserves particular mention. the consulship, and how hovourable a Íu a letter to this friend, Dec. 23, 1656, thing it would be if you were sent our he writes thus : “ I shall desire your a second time, as Golius, in the Low favour in sending up to me, by my Countries, was by the States, after he brother Thomas, vlug Beig's astro. had been once there before. If my nomical tables, of which I purpose to lord should be pleased to resolve and make this use. The next week I will compass the business, I shall like it shew them to my lord's grace (Laudl well; if not, I shall procure 3001. for and highly commend your care in pro- you and myself, besides getting a discuring those tables, being the most 'pensation for the allowances of our accurate that ever were extant; then places in our absence, and by God's will I discover my intention of having blessing, in three years dispatch the them printed and dedicated to his whole journey. It sball go bard, but grace; but because I presume that I will loo get some citizen in, as a be. there are mnany things which in these nefactor to the design; if not, 3001. of parts cannot perfectly be understood, mine, whereof I give you the half, toI shall acquaint my loral with my de. gether with the return of our stipends, sire of taking a journey into those will, in a pleniiful manner, if I be not countries, for the more emendace deceived, in Turkey inaintain use edition of them; afterwards, by de.

proposed to present to archbishop Laud, for the better prosecution of his designs in the edition of Greek authors; but all this was frustrated by the death of that patriarch, · who was barbarously strangled June 1638, by express command of the grand signior, on pretence of holding a correspondence with the emperor of Muscovy.

Nor was this the only loss which our traveller sustained by Cyril's death; for having procured out of an ignorant monastery which depended on the patriarch, fourteen good MSS. of the fathers, he was forced privately to restore the books and lose the money, to avoid a worse inconvenience. Thus Constantinople was no longer agreeable to him, and the less so, because he had not been able to perfect himself in the Arabic tongue for want of sufficient masters, which he hoped to have found there. In these circumstances, parting with his fellow-traveller Pococke, he embraced the opportunity then offered of passing in company with the annual Turkish fleet to Alexandria, where, having in his way touched at Rhodes, he arrived before the end of September 1638. This was the boundary of his intended progress. The country afforded a large field for the exercise of his curious and inquisitive genius; and he amitted no opportunity of remarking whatever the heavens, earth, or subterraneous parts, offered, that seemed any way useful and worthy of notice; but, in his astronomical observations, he was too often interrupted by the rains, which, contrary to the received opinion, he found to be frequent and violent, especially in the middle of winter. He was also much disappointed here in his expectations of purchasing books, finding very few of these, and no learned men. But the principal purpose of his coming here being to take an accurate survey of the pyramids, he went twice to the deserts near Grand Cairo, where they stand; and having executed bis undertaking entirely to his satisfaction, embarked at Alexandria in April 1639. Arriving in two months at Leghorn, he made the tour of Italy a second time, in order to examine more accurately the true state of the Roman weights and measures, as he was now furnished with proper instruments for that purpose, made by the best bands.

From Leghorn he proceeded to Florence, where he was received with particular marks of esteem by the grand duke of Tuscany, Ferdinand II. to whom he had inscribed a Latin poem from Alexandria, in which he exhorted that

prince to clear those seas of pirates, with whom they were extremely infested. He obtained, likewise, admittance into the Medicean library, which had been denied to him as a stranger when he was here in his former tour. From Florence he went to Rome, and took most exact measurements of all the ancient remains of that city and neighbourhood; after which he returned to Leghorn, where taking his passage in a vessel called the Golden Fleece, at the end of March, he arrived at London before Midsummer 1640, with a curious collection of Arabic, Persic, and Greek MSS. together with a great number of gems, coins, and other valuable antiquities, having spent full three years in this agreeable tour.

But upon his return, the ensuing national troubles proved greatly detrimental to his private affairs, and he suffered much for his loyalty to the king and his gratitude to Laud. After a short stay at Gresham college, which was no longer a place of safety for him, he went to Ox. ford, and set about digesting his papers, and preparing such of them as might be most useful for the press. Iu . this business he was assisted by archbishop Usher, to whom he had been long known; and here he drew a map of Lesser Asia at his grace's request, who was writing his dissertation of that country, printed in 1641.

All this while he gave himself no concern about his Gresham lecture, from which the usurping powers removed him on November 15, 1643. But this loss had been more than abundantly compensated by the Savilian professorship of astronomy, to which he was chosen the day before, in the room of Dr. Bainbridge, lately deceased ; and he had a dispensation from the king, to hold his fellowship at Merton-college, because the stipend was much impaired by means of the civil wars. The lectures being also impracticable on the same account, he was at full leisyre to continue his attention to his papers ; and accordingly we find that he had made considerable progress by September the following year; some particulars of which may be seen in a letter of that date to archbishop Usher. Among other things, it appears that he had made several extracts from them concerning the true length of the year; and happening, in 1645, to fall into discourse with some persons of figure at the court then at Oxford, with whom he much

associated, about amendiog the Kalendar, he proposed a · method of doing it by omitting the intercalary day in the

to his pable prom which among oth

leap-year for forty years, and to render it conformable to the Gregorian*, He, drew up a scheme for that purpose, which was approved by the king and council; but the state of the times would not permit the execution of it. The publication of his “ Pyramidographia,” and the “ Description of the Roman Foot and Denarius,” employed him the two subsequent years: he determined lo begin with these, as they contained the fruit of his labours in the primary view of his travels t, and he was not in a condition to pro. ceed any farther at present.

Hitherto he had been able, in a considerable degree, to surmount his difficulties, there being still left some members in the house of commons who had a regard for learning, among whom Selden made the greatest figure. That gentleman was burgess for the university of Oxford; and, being well known to our author before his travels, he dedicated his “ Roman Foot” to him, under the character of his noble and learned friend: and his friendship was very serviceable to Greaves, in a prosecution in the parliament, in 1647, occasioned by his executorship to Dr. Bainbridge. This trust had so involved him in law-suits as entirely to frustrate his design of going to Leyden to consult some Persian MSS. necessary for publishing some treatises in that language. Upon the arrival of the parliamentary commissioners at Oxford, several complaints were made to them against him on the same account; which being sent by them to the committee of the house of commons, our author, probably by the interest of Selden (who was a member of that committee), was there acquitted, after which he applied to the court of aldermen and the committee of Camden-house for restitution. But though he evaded this farther difficulty by the assistance of some powerful friends, yet this respite was but short; however,

going to blishing. Sliamentary. de to

* The same method had been pro- Greaves is in the Phil. Trans. No. 257. posed to pope Gregory, who rejected These are the most generally-useit, as Mr. Greaves says, that he might ful parts of his works. The latter is have the honour of doing it at once, ranked among the classics, and is and thereby of calling that year Annus nearly allied to the former; the exact. Gregorianus, which our author did not ness of which is put beyond all doubt doubt might justly be called Annus in a piece of sir Isaac Newton, pubConfusionis, as the ancienus called that lished along with the most correct edi. year in which Julius Cæsar corrected tions of it, in 1737, 8vo. Mr. Greaves the calendar, by a subtraction of days, took care to preserve, to the latest after the same manner. But we have times, the present standard of the mea. lately seen this method of doing it at sures used in all nations, by taking once put in practice, without any ill the dimensions of the inside of the consequences at all. This piece of Mr. largest pyramid with the English foot.

« ZurückWeiter »