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his skull, and caused an additional wound. Perhaps it may not be absurd to suppose, that his brain then received an injury, from which it never recovered; for we ourselves have known cases, where an external injury of the bones of the head, without producing any fatal result, has notwithstanding considerably changed the disposition of the patient, and produced a nervous irritability and impatience of temper, not unlike the passion for excitement, and the rapid excitability, of the subject of this article.
Naudæus, who is one of those who believe Cardan to have been actually mad, thus sums up his peculiarities in his Judicium de Cardano, prefixed to the “ Life:"-" Insanienti autem proximum vixisse quis de isto homine dubitare possit, qui somniis, ostentis, auguriisque vanissimis et maxime ridiculis fidem adhiberet, qui totus ex delirantium vetularum observationibus penderet; qui quoties vellet, a sensibus per extasim peregrinaretur ; qui spectra et larvas videret; qui paredrum aliquem et sibi faventem genium adesse vel stulte crederet, vel maligne mentiretur; qui uxorem sine dote ; qui filiorum educationem neglexit; qui juniorem ex illis auricula avulsa, puerum vero nomine Gulielmum, verberibus, licet immerentem sæpius multavit; qui se jactatum a patre pro spurio fuisse et abortivo medicamento priusquam nasceretur tentatum, refert: qui pannosus aliquando, mox ornatus in publicum prodiret; qui inter amicorum colloquia lubentius nihil diceret, quam quod illis ingratum fore cognoverat; qui Lunam non secus in coelo de die quam noctu videret; qui Romæ diverso ab aliis cultu spectandus incederet: qui Bononiæ suffultum stribus tantum rotis currum aliquoties usurparet, qui juvenis rixas miscebat, adultus meretrices sectabatur, vir factus a ludis et alea non temperabat, senex quoque carcerem vitare non potuit; qui denique probra vitæ suæ, turpitudinesque vel minimas e privatæ domus secreto, ubi non secus ac aliorum hominum sordes et flagitia delitescere rectius potuissent, non evulgavit modo, sed nauseanti ferme per tot ineptias et narrationes inconditas lectori obtrusit: Nam si facere istæc, sapientis est, nescio sane cur Orestes, Coræbus, Amphistides, non ipsi quoque sapientes inter numerari possit.”
Archbishop Parker, in his treatise De Deo, has dedicated a section of his disputation on atheistical philosophers to the consideration of this character. As the book is of uncommon occurrence, and one of those sterling works which are suffered to moulder on the shelves of public libraries, we will translate part of the interesting discussion.
The archbishop, after collecting and describing very happily some of his most remarkable peculiarities and contradictions, says, “ that another cause which acted together with the natural disposition of Cardan to produce that odd mixture of folly
and wisdom in him, was his habit of perpetual thinking, by which the bile was absorbed and burnt up. He himself tells us, that he was unequal and variable in every thing, except in this constant addiction to thought-though not on the same subject, yet so intent was it, that he suffered neither eating, pleasure, or pain to interrupt the course of it, and whether riding, eating, in bed, watching, or talking, he was always meditating upon something. And while making a voyage down the river Loire, having nothing else to employ himself upon, he wrote his long commentaries on Ptolemy. We do not, however, require Cardan's own testimony to prove his excessive application, when there are so many monuments of his industry and erudition remaining to us; to such an extent, indeed, that perhaps no man that ever lived is to be compared with him for variety of learning. In the first place, he was well acquainted with the writings of all the ancients—nor did he just skim over the heads and contents of books, as some do, who ought not to be called learned men, but skilful bookmongers, or, as he himself says, who do not write but copy. Every author that Cardan read, (and he read nearly all) he became intimately acquainted with, so that if any one, disputing with him, quoted the authority of the ancients, and made any the least slip or mistake, he could instantly set them right. In the same manner that he devoured the writings of others, so he produced immense works of his own; he left nothing untried in any one science, and in most discovered something new, so that Andreas Alciatus gave him the name of the 'man of inventions,' whom he repaid by the title of light of his country ;' and to say the least, he wrote so many books on every topic of science, that you might form a complete library out of his works alone. Although the books which he has left behind him weigh down the shelves of the library, as many have perished as have been published. He himself at one time burnt nine complete works, at another one hundred and ten, besides many others which have been lost through neglect before they came to be printed. Good God! what midnight watchings, what labours, must a man who could do all this, have consumed in study. So long and so vehemently did he apply himself to this intense contemplation, that at last he began to think he was in possession of a faculty which he calls repræsentatio, by which he could understand things without study, by means of an interior light shining within him. From which you may learn the fact that he had studied with such an enduring obstinacy, that he began to persuade himself that the visions which appeared before him in these fits and transports of the mind, were the genuine inspirations of the Deity."
Having spoken of Cardan's morbid love of fame as a key which lays open the cause of some of his almost unaccountable vagaries, the archbishop proceeds :
“ After mentioning these causes of madness, when we add the extreme calamities of his life, who can doubt but that a sound mind might have been overturned by them. Surely this man, if any one, was persecuted from his very cradle to his death-bed by the insatiable • ira Junonis. He was attempted to be destroyed in the womb, from which he was obliged to be extracted ; the nurse to whose care he was entrusted, had the plague upon her, of which she soon after died; he was treated with great cruelty by his parents ; and while a tender infant severely punished; in early youth nearly consumed with disease, more than once bitten by dogs, and on the point of perishing by a variety of accidents, &c. Before he had arrived at man's estate, he lost his father, and being left in great poverty, was compelled to support his family by making almanacks; his life as well as his fame was frequently hazarded in consequence of calumnies, law-suits, and plots to destroy him by treachery or poison; he was constantly terrified by dreams and empty portents; he was rejected with disgrace at every attempt he made to advance himself, and in his old age was thrust into prison. The finishing stroke was put to this tragedy of his life, by the miserable death of his eldest son, John Baptist who was beheaded in the flower of his age, for poisoning his wife. Hence all the woes of Cardan; so deep a wound he could neither bear, nor heal; and so, despairing of all happiness, his mind fell under the intolerable misery. Although he was of a hard nature, and rose superior to his other calamities; he perceived himself broken down and buried under so great a ruin. 'Hoc,' says he, primum et maximum infortunium, per quod neque retineri honeste poteram neque sine causa dimitti, nec tuto habitare in patria, nec eam secure relinquere poteram; despectus obambulabam urbem, contemptus conversabar, ingratus devitabam amicos, quid agerem non occurrebat quo me conferrem, non habebam, nescio an infelicior an odiosior." : : We wish that our limits would allow us to continue the quotation—the Archbishop goes on to detail from the “ Life" some affecting instances of the dire havoc, which the misfortunes of his son had made in Cardan's mind ; after which, he defends the philosopher very successfully from the charge of atheism and infidelity-on what grounds the latter charge was founded, we are at a loss to conceive, for Cardan was much more of a fanatic than an infidel ;-unless it was his audacious attempt to draw the horoscope of Jesus Christ, and proving therefrom, that all the actions of his life necessarily followed from the position of the stars at the time of his nativity, which
brought upon him much odium, and for which he is abused by Scaliger.* Scaliger ought to have been aware of what Naudæus has shewn, that Cardan was so far from being the inventor of this scheme, that four other writers had done the same thing long before Cardan lived. The most modern was Tiberius Russilianus Sextus of Calabria, who lived in the time of Pope Leo X. This man undertook to defend 400 distinct propositions in public at Padua, Florence, and Bologna-twelve of these were censured by the church: the one which chiefly excited their displeasure was this—he undertook to prove that Jesus Christ, in his personal character, was subject to the influence of the stars; and that his birth, that he would be a great prophet, and all relating to him corporeally, especially his violent death, might have been foretold. The upholder of the Thesis, angry at the monks for their interference, published a book, entitled an “Apology against the Monks,” in which he laid down three different schemes of the nativity of Christ. Before him, Peter d'Ailli, Cardinal and Bishop of Cambray, declared that from astrological observations, the birth of Christ might have been foreshewn, and also proposed a scheme. Albertus Magnus upheld the same doctrine; but before them all, Albumasar had written much concerning the birth of Christ on astrological principles. Instead of accusing Cardan of impiety, his opponents might have much more justly charged him with a species of literary dishonesty, in concealing the names of the inventors of this scheme, and submitting to the odium of being considered the author, rather than lose the credit of the invention. No one can read this life, without perceiving that religion, and that of the Romish church too, was very deeply rooted in the mind of this singular philosopher. When in England, he refused a very advantageous appointment, rather than acknowledge the supremacy of the king. For this same reason, that neither the air nor the religion of Denmark was likely to agree with him, did he reject the invitation from that state. The ground which he assigns for loving solitude, is that of any one but an infidel: “ Diligo (says he) solitudinem, nunquam enim magis sum cum his, quos vehementer diligo quam solus sum: diligo autem Deum et spiritum
logical prinoiten much eodoctrine bed a scheme.
*“ Audi subtiliatem nostri sæculi, extitit ante xliv annos cymbalum genethliacorum, qui Domini nostri Jesu Christi thema edidit, et omnia quæ illi acciderunt, ex positu stellarum, necessario illi contigisse ratiocinatur: impiam dicam magis, an jocularem audaciam, quæ et Dominum stellarum stellis subjecerit, et natum eo tempore putarit, quod adhuc in lite positum est, ut vanitas cum impietate certaret." Scalig. in Proleg. ad Manilium.
VOL. I. PART 1.
bonum : hos dum solus sum contemplor, immensum bonum, sapientiam æternam, lucis puræ principium et autorem, gaudium verum in nobis, ubi periculum non est ne nos deserat, veritatis fundamentum, amorem voluntarium, autorem omnium, qui beatus est in seipso et beatorum omnium tutela et desiderium : Justitia profundissima seu altissima, mortuos curans, et viventium non oblitus. Spiritus autem mandato illius me defendens, misericors consultor bonus, et in adversis auxiliator et consolator.” -Cap. 53.
It is with some regret that we find, the extent of this -article forbids us from enlarging on the many other curious points, connected with the life and works of Cardan. We will conclude both our observations and quotations by the following lines of Horace, in which Cardan characterizes himself."Non aliter (says he) de me ego sentio quam Horatius de suo Tigellio; quinimo Horatium dixerim tum de me sub illius persona locutum.”
“ Nil æquale homini fuit illi: sæpe velut qui
Hor. Sat. 1. 3. 9.
Akt. IX. The Dramatic Works of John Dryden, Esq. In
6 Vols. London, 1735. "
• The character of Dryden's genius is better known than his works--the powers of his mind are universally acknowledged--it is a part of the national creed; that he was a great poet, is an axiom which all are ready to grant in limine; and it is well that his fame has become a settled conviction in the public mind, for were a man casually called upon to prove the truth of the position, though secure of ultimate victory, he would find the task not unencumbered with difficulty—he could not appeal to any particular work, as being universally read, and as universally admired and approved. His translations, it is true, are spirited, and convey all and frequently more than the writer's meaning; but then, he