« AnteriorContinua »
vast precipices, hanging woods, deep vales, the easy falls of water in some places, and in others cataracts tumbling over rocks ---form all together the most beautiful and delightful scenes. All the decorations of art are but foils and shadows to such natural charms.
In the midst of these scenes, and in a theatrical space of about two hundred acres, which the hand of nature cut, or hollowed out, on the side of a mountain, stands Cleator-Lodge, a neat and pretty mansion. Near it were groves of various trees, and the water of a strong spring murmured from the front down to a lake at the bottom of the hill.
$. 5. This was Miss Chara&ter of Maria Spence.
Spence's country-house. Here
the wife and excellent Maric pass’d the best part of her time, and never went to any public place but Harrogate once a year. In reading, riding, fishing, and some visits to and from three or four neighbours now and then, her hours were happily and usefully employed. Hiftory and Mathematics she took great delight in, and had a very surprizing knowledge in the last. She was another of those ladies I met with in my travels, who un
derstood that method of calculation, beyond which nothing further is to be hoped or expected; I mean the arithmetic of fluxions.
Very few men among the learned can consider magnitudes as generated by motion, or determine their proportions one to another from the celerities of the motion by which they are generated. I question if the Critical Reviewers can do it (I am sure they cannot,) though they have made fo licentiously free with me. They may however pretend to know something of the natter, and so did Berkley, late Bishop of Cloyne in Ireland: yet that prelate, in reality, understood no more of the method than a porter does, though he presumed to write against it, and the divine Newton, the inventor of it : I say it. But Maria Spence, in the 24th year of her age (at this time,) was a master in the Auxionary way. She had not only a clear and adequate notion of fluxions, but was able to penetrate into the depths of this science, and had made sublime discoveries in this incomparable method of reasoning. She astonished me. I thought Mrs. Burcott and Mrs. Fletcher (mentioned in my first volume, p. 275.) were very extraordinary women, on account of their knowledge in algebra, and the fine
answers they gave to the most difficult problems in universal arithmetic: but this fort of reasoning is far inferior to the fluxionary method of calculation; as the latter opens and discovers to us the secrets and receffes of nature, which have always before been locked up in obscurity and darkness. By fluxions, such difficulties are resolved, as raise the wonder and surprise of all mankind, and which would in vain be attempted by any other method whatsoever. What then must we think of a young woman well skilled in such work
not only able to find the fluxions of powing or determinate quantities, that is, the velocities with which they arise or begin to be generated in the first moments of formation (called the velocities of the incremental parts,) and the velocities in the last ratio's, as vanishing or ceasing to be ; but from given fluxions to find the fluents ; ---- and be ready in drawing tangents to curves ; in the folution of problems de maximis & minimis, that is, the greatest or least posible quantity attainable in any case; in the invention of points of inflection and retrogression ; in finding the evoluta of a given curve; in finding the caustic curves, by reflection and refraction, &c. &c. this was amazing beyond any thing I had seen ; or did ever fee fince, except Mrs. Benlow
of Richmondshire, with whom I became acquainted in 1739. (See Memoirs of several Ladies of Great Britain, Vol. I.) With astonishment I beheld her. I was but à young beginner, or learner, in respect of her, though I had applied so close to fluxions (after I had learned algebra), that my head was often ready to spilt with pain ; nor had I the capacity, at that time, to comprehend thoroughly the process of several operations she performed with beauty, fimplicity, and charming elegance. Admirable Maria! No one have I ever seen that was her fuperior in this science : one equal only have I known, the lady a little beforementioned. And does not this demonstrate, that the faculties and imagination of 'women's minds, properly cultivated, may equal those of the greatest men ? And since women have the fame improvable minds as the male 4 reflection on part of the species, why the women,
the education of Thould they not be cultivated by the same method? Why should reason be left to itself in one of the sexes, and be disciplined with so much care in the other. Learning and knowledge are perfections in us not as we are men, but as we are rational creatures, in which order of beings the female world is upon the same level with the male. We ought to consider in Vol. IV.
this particular, not what is the sex, but what is the species they belong to. And if women of fortune were so considered, and educated accordingly, I am sure the world would soon be the better for it. It would be so far from making them those ridiculous mortals Moliere has described under the character of learned ladies; that it would render them more agreeable and useful, and enable them by the acquisition of true sense and knowledge, to be fuperior to gayeiy and spectacle, dress and dissipation. They would see that the sovereign good can be placed in nothing else but in rečtitude of conduet ; as that is agreeable to our nature; conducive to well-being; accommodate to all places and times ; durable, self-derived, indeprivable ; and of consequence, that on rational and masculine religion only they can rest the foal of the foot, and the sooner they turn to it, the happier here and hereafter they shall be. Long before the power of sense, like the setting fun, is gradually forsaking them, (that power on which the pleasures of the world depend) they would, by their acquired understanding and knowledge, see the folly of pleasure, and that they were born not only to virtue, friendship, bonesty, and faith, but to religion, piety, adoration, and a generous surrender of their minds to the supreme cause. They would