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acceptable successor. But the learning and daring vigilance of Giral – dus were by no means recommendations to a monarch who had already had in another eminent ecclesiastic an unfortunate experience of such qualifications. Henry also was made aware of Giraldus's family importance which
him added influence in Pembrokeshire; and with these prepossessions turned a deaf ear to the application. He had nevertheless the sagacity to discern that the qualifications which he thus excluded from the hostile ranks of the Roman church, might be usefully enlisted in his own; and Giraldus was retained in his establishment as tutor to prince John.
It was in this latter capacity that he visited Ireland, in 1185. Henry having resolved to appoint his son John to the government of Ireland, sent over Giraldus with an expedition, commanded by Richard de Cogan, that he might form a judgment, and report on the state of affairs in that country. He came in the train of his brother, Philip de Barri; and was associated in his commission with the archbishop of Dublin, an Englishman, who resided in England, but who was on this occasion sent over to his Irish diocese. In common with his associate, Giraldus came over strongly prejudiced against Ireland and the Irish church-then in many important respects, superior to the English. They made it their main concern, nevertheless, to inquire into all the particulars of its discipline and doctrine, and were soon scandalized by the discovery of numerous proofs of an independent spirit among the body of the Irish clergy and laity, while the more powerful and intelligent of the bishops were anxious asserters of the authority of the Roman see. These demerits roused the professional spirit of Giraldus; he saw every thing in consequence through a dense mist of prejudice, and gave frequent offence to the Irish bishops by his invidious and acrimonious observations. In the warmth of their simple zeal, the Irish informed the sarcastic scholar of the high claims of their church to veneration; they referred to its antiquity, and enumerated its saints. The taunting archdeacon replied, “ You have your saints—but where are your martyrs? I cannot find one Irish martyr in your
calendar.” « Alas! it must be acknowledged,” was the answer of the bishop of Cashel, “ that as yet our people have not learned such enormous guilt as to murder God's servants; but now that Englishmen have settled in our island, and that Henry is our sovereign, we may soon expect enough of martyrs to take away this reproach from our church."* On another occasion, the abbot of Baltinglass preached a sermon in Dublin at one of the cathedrals, on the subject of clerical continence. Giraldus was present on the occasion, no tolerant listener to the Irish orator; but when from dwelling strongly on the obligations of this virtue, the abbot proceeded to an implied comparison between the English and Irish churches, and dwelt on the high and exemplary purity of his brethren before their morals had sustained contamination from the flagitious impurities of the English ecclesiastics who had recently been sent amongst them, the spleen of Giraldus could no longer be contained, but starting from his chair, he poured forth a fierce and recriminatory answer. He had the candour to admit the
virtue claimed for the Irish church, and the admission was perhaps made with a scorn which depreciated the praise of a virtue then not held in high request; while he overwhelmed his adversary with charges of drunkenness, treachery, dissimulation, falsehood and barbarism, against the ecclesiastics of the Irish church. The bishoprics of Leighlin and Ferns, were offered to Giraldus by prince John, during this residence, but he was probably not very ambitious to settle in a country so disturbed as Ireland, and of which the manners and literature were so little congenial to the tastes of a man of letters: he was also bent on literary projects, and then engaged in assiduous preparation for his work on Irish topography, of which he at this time collected the ample materials, and finished the work on his return to Wales.*
In 1198, the bishop of St David's dying, Giraldus was nominated by the chapter, but rejected at Rome, where there arose a violent contention on the subject—which was however decided in favour of the other candidate, the prior of Llanthony abbey. The see of St David's was the favourite object of Giraldus' life—it was endeared to him by all those early and native associations, which have a first place among the best affections of the heart, and most of all with those whose habits imply the cultivation of the moral feelings. For this he had refused all other honours-Leighlin and Ferns, Bangor and Llandaff. The chapter of St David's zealously seconded this desire—and he was on three several occasions elected. But neither the king who looked for more subservient qualifications, nor the pope, whose views were inconsistent with the merit pleaded before him by Giraldus “presentarunt vobis allic libras, sed nos libras," a jest, the simplicity of which may at least have contended with its wit for the smiles of the conclave or the papal cabinet.f
Notwithstanding the popularity of Giraldus in his native place, with the favour of three monarchs, and the splendid opportunities of preferment which had so often presented themselves, the favourite ambition of his heart seems to have allured him through life, and like the muse, as pathetically described by poor Goldsmith,
“ That foundest me poor at first and keepest me so," landed his old age in trouble and weariness. His old age was imbittered by a contest with the archbishop of Canterbury, the result of which was his resignation of all his church preferments. Henceforth he lived in studious retirement, glad to escape from the responsibility and the stormy collisions of official employment. From this tranquil pause from a laborious life, even the offer of the see of St David's could not seduce him. He had, perhaps, the wisdom to see the vanity of a burdensome elevation, when the spirit and energy of life are past, and neither the capacity for enjoyment or duty remain. He probably felt that the interval of decrepitude and decay, which is the short avenue to another state, has other objects than the mistaken game which stakes heart, body and soul, in the struggle for earthly prefermentwhich deceives the young and mocks the old, who have a sterner wit
ness than popular respect in their homes and breasts. The old archdeacon of St David's refused the dignity which had been the desire of his life, and the act shows a mind more disciplined than is often found, or a spirit sadly broken by old
and vexation. Giraldus died in his native province, in his 74th year, and was buried in the cathedral of St David's. He is justly described by his biographer, as one of the brightest luminaries that adorned the annals of the twelfth century. *
The works of Giraldus were numerous. Ware mentions a long list now grown unimportant at the distance of more than six centuries. Those which concern us chiefly are the works on the topography, and on the conquest of Ireland: which last has been the main authority for all English historians who have ever since written on the period included in his work. This concludes, however, with
the first expedition of prince John. The statements of Giraldus are t severely assailed by Lynch, the well-known antiquarian, who lived in
the reigns of Charles I. and Charles II.
John a Sacrobosco.
DIED A. D. 1235.
The once eminent geographer, John a Sacrobosco, or John of Holywood, in the county of Wicklow, is one of the many persons whose just fame is lost in the obscurity which they assisted to dispel. Of the particulars of his life little is preserved; but his name holds its place in the history of science; and his treatise on the sphere continued to be reprinted and looked on as the best yet extant for three hundred years. With the usual fortune of great men, whose lives have not been distinctly recorded, he has been claimed for England and Scotland. But the claim has no ground in either case, beyond conjecture: the claim of Ireland cannot, indeed, be altogether placed beyond the reach of doubt; yet may be preferred on the most probable grounds. Stanihurst asserts his Irish origin, and Ware declines to decide, but includes him among his Irish writers. Unquestionably he lived in a period when learning continued to find a refuge in the comparative seclusion of the Irish monasteries; and when it was yet customary for eminent Irishmen to follow the steps of their illustrious predecessors to seek distinction in the rising schools of Italy and France. We have at least the presumption of a clear analogy in our favour.
This ancient mathematician and astronomer, taught the mathematical sciences, as then known, in the university of Paris, in 1230. Besides his standard work on the sphere, he also wrote on the astrolabe, on the calendar, and an arithmetical treatise. He died in Paris, in 1235, and was buried in the church “ D. Maturini.”+
From the paucity of our facts in this memoir, we have avoided our usual course of interweaving them with some appropriate notice of the history of the geographical and astronomical knowledge of our author's time. In the literary series for the next period, which will bring us
+ Ware's Writers.
+ Cambrancis ensus Bhes
to the times of Boyle and Newton, we shall have a most convenient opportunity to enter fully upon all the details of these interesting subjects. A cursory outline may here be acceptable, and will serve to explain the importance we attribute to Sacrobosco.
The period of Sacrobosco may be viewed as the early dawn of that science which will hereafter be recollected as the glory of the nineteenth century. From the sixth century till the thirteenth, there lay a dull and rayless torpor over the intellectual faculties, in which the science of antiquity was lost. To estimate the advantages and disadvantages which then affected its revival, it may here be sufficient to make a few remarks upon the earlier history of science.
There is a broad interval between the geographical research which bounded the known world by the surrounding sea of darkness, whose unknown shores were peopled with the Hyperboreans, and Lestrigons, and Cimmerians, and other dire chimeras of ignorance, and the voyages of Ross and Parry. The step is wide from the gnomon of Thales to the practical science of Kater, Sabine and Roy, or to the exquisite scientific and instrumental precision of the Ordnance Survey in Ireland. Wider still is the ascent of discovery between the “fiery clouds” of Anaxagoras and his school, and the nebulæ—the “heaven of heavens” of Sir William Herschell, who has expanded the field of observation beyond the flight of the sublimest poetry. Yet astronomy had, nevertheless, been then, and through every period of which there is any record, an object of earnest and industrious inquiry. The most striking and glorious phenomena of the external worid, could not fail at any period to excite the admiration, wonder, and speculative contemplation, of a being endowed with the vast grasp of reason which has since explored them with such marvellous success. They were a study to the inquiring, and a religion to the superstitious, from the first of times. The history of the human mind, perhaps, offers no succession of phenomena more illustrative, than the long variety of theories which seem to mark, as they descend, the advances of observation, or illustrate the law of action, by which the reason of man progresses towards its end. To pursue this view would require a volume to itself. It must here suffice to say, that hitherto there appears to have existed no adequate notions of the system of the heavens; neither the form or magnitude of the earth were known; or the distances, magnitudes, and motions of the other great bodies of the solar system. Of the earlier science of the Egyptians, the objects were confined to the measurement of time; and if we knew no farther, the error of their ancient
year would sufficiently fix the limit of their knowledge. The Greek philosophers, Pythagoras and his cotemporaries, whose knowledge is referred to Egypt, were evidently further advanced, but have left the landmarks of their progress in the curious absurdity of their theoretical views. It is sufficient that they had no notion, even approaching the truth, on the true magnitude and frame of the solar system. Yet it is not to be passed over, that even at that early period, the surprising sagacity of Pythagoras attained to some just fundamental notions which there were then no sufficient means to verify, and which were destined to sleep for many ages, till taken up by the Italian geometers in the beginning of the sixteenth century. Pythagoras conceived the first idea of the true system: he supposed the sun to be at rest in the centre, and the earth with the other planets to be carried round in circular orbits. This great philosopher made even a further step, reaching by a very strange and wonderfully ingenious analogy (if the story be true) to both the principle of gravitation and the precise law of its application. He was, by an accident, led to make experiments on sound: by one of these he ascertained the force with which various degrees of tension, caused by different weights, acted on strings of different lengths, so as to produce proportional intensities of sound. This discovery, which is supposed to have been the origin of stringed instruments of music, he applied to the solar system, and conjectured that the planets were, according to the same principle, drawn to the sun, with a force proportional to their several masses and inversely as the squares
of their distances. It seems to have wanted little to improve this happy thought; but that little was wanting. There can nevertheless be little doubt, that it continued to pass down the stream of ages, and to recur to the most sagacious understandings of aftertimes. The fact was veiled by the mystical spirit of the Pythagorean and Platonic philosophy, in a mythological dress: Apollo playing on his seven-stringed harp, appositely described the harmonious analogy of nature's law. It was this conception which originated the idea of the music of the spheres, as imagined by the early philosophers of Greece.
Though the geometers of ancient Greece had carried some principal branches of mathematics to an astonishing degree of perfection, their progress in physical science is chiefly memorable for its errors and the narrowness of its scope. Six hundred years before our era, Thales had invented the geometry of triangles, and measured the heights of the pyramids by their shadows. The elements of plane and solid geometry, cultivated in the long interval between, were matured by the genius of Euclid, Apollonius, and Archimedes: by this latter philosopher, whose genius finds few parallels in human history, mechanics also, and different branches of physical science, were advanced to an extent not now to be distinctly defined. But there lay around those mighty ancients a vast field of obscurity, which they had not attained the means to penetrate. Other aids, both instrumental and theoretical, were reserved for the development of future times; their knowledge was confined in its application to the operations of the rule and compass. Beyond this narrow scope lay the wide realm since fully explored by the science of Galileo and Newton, inaccessible to observation, and darkly explored by conjecture and theory, then, as now and ever the resources of human ignorance and curiosity, where knowledge cannot reach.
Nevertheless, so early as the time of Aristotle, the sounder method of observation and experiment were known: but the field of knowledge was too contracted for the range of speculation. The recognition was but partial. Yet from this period, the phenomena of astronomy were observed, registered, and submitted to mathematical computation. The visible stars were grouped and catalogued, eclipses were calculated, and attempts were made, on sound geometrical principles, to measure the circumference of the earth. Just notions of the