Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 9.djvu/34

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NOTES 'AND QUERIES. [9 th s. ix. JAN. n, 1902.

story of the algebraical proof of the existence of God which was presented to Diderot at the Court of Catherine II. The statement at p. 474 is the more detailed :

"The soorner was informed that an eminent mathematician had an algebraical proof of the existence of God, which he would communi- cate before the whole Court, if agreeable. Diderot gladly consented. The mathematician, who is not named, was Euler. He came to Diderot with the gravest air, and in a tone of perfect con-

a-\-~b n .p. .

viction said, ' Monsieur ! - = x, done JJieu

existe ; repondez ! ' Diderot, to whom algebra was Hebrew, though this is expressed in a very round- about way by Thiebault, and whom we may sup- pose to have expected some verbal argument of alleged algebraical closeness, was disconcerted ; while peals of laughter sounded on all sides. Next day he asked permission to return to France, which was granted."

Now Thiebault (' Mes Souvenirs de Vingt Ans de Sejour a Berlin,' Paris, 1804, tome iii. pp. 141-2) says

" que Diderot, voulant prouver la nullite et 1'in- eptie de cette pretendue prenve, mais ressentant malgre" lui 1'embarras ou Ton est d'abord lorsque on clecouvre chez les autres le dessein de nous jouer, n'avait pu echapper aux plaisanteries dont on etoit pret a 1'assaillir ; que cette a venture lui en faisant craindre d'autres encore, il avoit temoigne pen de temps apres le desir de retourner en France."

Here, instead of anything approaching to a hint that algebra was Hebrew to Diderot, which De Morgan says Thiebault " expressed in a very roundabout way," there is a very reasonable explanation of Diderot's defeat. Besides, it is not true that Diderot was ignorant of algebra. His ' Memoires sur Difforents Sujets de Mathernatiques ' (Paris, 1748) are sufficient proof of the contrary.

I think it must be admitted that, for once, De Morgan's "odium theologicum" got the better of his accuracy. J. R- N.

HARVEY AND THE CIRCULATION OF THE BLOOD : AN INEDITED POEM, c. 1673. On the back of the title of a copy of Dr. William Harvey's 'Anatomical Exercises concerning the Motion of the Heart and Blood,' with preface by Zachary Wood, physician of Rot- terdam, 1673, 12mo, which was included in lot 827 of a book sale at Sotheby's Rooms on the 5th ult., is the following curious MS. poem, without title or name of author, but probably contemporary with the date of the book (i.e., some sixteen years after Harvey's death), or, if we may judge by the last two lines thereof, in reference to the rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral after the Great Fire of 1666, not later than the year 1675. Although I have (inter alia) unquestionably given more attention to the subject of the great anato-

mist than any other person during a long series of years at an enormous expenditure of time and money, and with many remark- able results I do not remember to have met with this poem elsewhere, either in MS. or print ; and 1 should think that its author was himself a physician and a former owner of the volume in question. As the latter contains on its pages some autographs and MS. notes, I hoped by such means either to ascertain the authorship of the poem or to obtain a clue thereto, but in vain, as the same are evidently in other and later hands ; and the initial fly-leaf, which may have borne the writer's name, or afforded some other interest- ing information, is wanting, owing possibly to the looseness of the covers. The last half of the poem no doubt refers to the loss during the great Civil War of Harvey's papers, which our poet appears to imagine would otherwise have been given to the world in print, either by the doctor himself in his life- time, or by others after his decease.

Considering the great and world-wide inte- rest which is attached to everything of early date relating to the "immortal" discoverer of the circulation of the blood, I venture to think that no apology is needed for seeking to enshrine in the columns of 'N. & Q.' this curious and apparently hitherto unknown morceau.

Methinks in Arts great Circle others stand Lock't vp together hand in hand, Ev'ry one leads as he is led, The same bare path they tread, A dance like Fairies a Fantastick round, But neither change their motion, nor their ground : Had Harvey to this Road confiri'd his Wit, His noble Circle of y e Blood had been vntrodden

yet. Great Doctor, y e [altered from "in"] Art of

Curing 's cur'd by thee, We now thy Patient Physick see From all inveterate diseases free,

Purg'd of old errors by thy care, New dieted, put forth to clearer air,

It now will strong & healthfull proue, It selfe before Lethargick lay, & could not moue.

These Usefull Secrets to his Pen we owe, And thousands more 'twas ready to bestow ; Of w ch a Barbarous War's unlearned Rage

Has robb'd the ruin'd Age ; cruell Loss ! as if y e Golden fleece

With so much cost and labour bought

[altered from "brought"], And from afar by a great Heroe brought,

Had sunk ev'n in y e Ports of Greece. cursed War ! who can forgiue thee this?

Houses & Townes may rise again

And ten times easier 'tis To rebuild Pauls, than any work of his.

W. I. R. V.

JOHN KANE, A FORGOTTEN ACTOR. As I always look upon 'N. & Q.' as a medium for