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diately accused him of piracy--an absurd assertion, which involves the fact, that Great Britain had no primitive writers who treated on the arts and sciences. The only foreigner from whom Chambers translated to any great extent was Wolfius, and after this admission, there remain but two serious objections to the manner in which he executed his labours. The first, that by concealing his authorities he assumed a character of originality which did not belong to him, deserves all the reprobation it has received ; but the second, that by an injudicious selection of heads he has confused the essence of his matter, does not appear to be so well grounded; for it is palpably the interest of such a series of volumes to disperse information into the greatest alphabetical variety possible. Here, therefore, we can only revert to that estimate of Chamber's merits which has been already summed up: he is more to be commended for what he led others to do, than for what he did himself; at the same time that the circumstances under which he worked afford the strongest evidence of standard intellect.
The Cyclopædia is a book which grew in value and increased in merits almost with every subsequent year : sone mention, therefore, of its continuous history may perhaps be introduced with propriety as well as interest in this sketch of the life of its parent. While a sixth edition was in contemplation, the proprietors resolved to enlarge the contents by a supplement in 2 vols. folio, and for the execution of this addition fixed upon the late George Lewis Scott. That gentleman's preferment, however, about the same time to the post of sub-preceptor to the late King, then Prince of Wales, prevented him from continuing in the chief management of the concern. His duties were therefore transferred to Dr. John Hill, and the supplement was thus printed with both names. In process of time, it was determined to condense the whole into a new work, and after some unimportant changes of editors, the design was entrusted to the late Dr. Abraham Rees. The impression thus produced is decidedly the best we possess. It began to appear in 4to. in weekly numbers, during the year 1778, and was completed in 1785. Its sale was extensive, and its reputation standard: it received material additions as new discoveries exploded ancient doctrines, and seems to be now perfected in 80 parts, which bind up in 40 volumes.
The profitable success of the Cyclopædia from its very onset, naturally occasioned many rival publications; and it has been asserted, that at no period during the last fifty years have there been wanting one or more publications upon a similar plan. Of speculations so various, it cannot be expected that any notice should be taken here: as mere compilations, few of them are destitute of attractions; the Britannica ranks at the head of the list; but the Metropolitana, now in a course of publication seems likely to dispute the palm of superiority, even with Chambers's amended series. · Resuming the life of Chambers, it remains to be observed, that although the Cyclopædia was evidently the principal occupation of his life, and must be considered the sole foundation of his fame, yet his labours were by no means confined to this one undertaking. He took an active share in conducting the Literary Magazine, an unsuccessful periodical, which was first circulated in 1735; and also joined with Mr. Martyn, formerly professor of Botany at the University of Cambridge, in preparing an abridged translation of those Philosophical Transactions which were printed by the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris. This work did not make 'its appearance until the year 1742: it consisted of five volumes, 8vo. and by no means fulfilled the expectations which had been formed of its deserts. Martyn, in a subsequent publication, was ungenerous enough to avow that the censure applied to Chambers's portion of the task; but this assertion is to be cautiously entertained, for, as the latter was dead when the volumes went to press, the former must have edited them, and by consequence should have corrected what he could not approve, particularly as there seems to have been ample time allowed him for the care. One other work has been ascribed to Chambers, namely, the translation of that excellent French treatise on Perspective, which is generally styled the Jesuit’s. It was originally sold in 4to., is decently executed, and has passed through several editions. · Upon the face of these statements it is palpable, that Chainbers must have spent a life of singular industry; but the fact is established by more positive proof; for his amanuensis has declared, that between the years 1728 and 1732, his writings filled no less than twenty folio volumes, so closely copied out, that the contents would at least have extended, in print, to thirty volumes of the same size. With such habits, his health suffered considerably, and he was at last compelled, by the remonstrances of his physicians, to exchange the confinement of his chambers in Gray's Inn, for the purer air of the suburbs. He accordingly took lodgings at Canonbury House, Islington ; whence, not receiving the necessary reliefs, he was obliged to make a journey into the South of France. This excursion wrought some benefit : he returned to England, and again resided at Canonbury House. In these quarters, however, his old complaints returned with a violence his constitution was unable to resist, and a quiet death quickly ensued. As his life was retired, so his obsequies were modestly respectable: his grave was excavated immediately under the tablet already described.
The peroration to Chambers's Life in Dr. Aikin's Biographical Dictionary, is expressed with so much truth and precision, that it is almost literally extracted here:
“ It is remarkable,” says the writer, “that no part of the foregoing narrative makes us acquainted with the time of the birth or probable age of Chambers. From the year 1728 to the date of his death, we reckon only twelve years, and it is probable that if he had died remarkably young, the fact would have been noticed. If he went apprentice, as is usual, at the age of fourteen, and quitted his service at twenty-one; and if . we may conjecture that he was sixty years old when he died, there will remain a chasm of twenty-seven years, concerning which we have no account, except we allow the interval to have been filled up by the composition of his great work. The intellectual character of Chambers appears to have been sagacity and attention : his application was indefatigable ; but it seems rather to have been the application of a man of business, than of a philosopher ardent in the pursuit of discoveries. To read, to understand, and to communicate, appears to have been the only concern of his life. He was an excellent teacher, but we have no proof that he was any thing more, or that the plan of his occupation permitted him to strike into any new paths: His temper was cheerful, but impetuous; his mode of life reserved, economical and regular--a virtue which was the more heavily impressed upon his nature, inasmuch as the emoluments he received from his literary labours were trifling in comparison with the profits de. rived by the booksellers from their sale.