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A Budget of Paradoxes, Volume I by De Morgan

Beseeching help Finleyson pulled out the arrow

This writer, by his own account, succeeded in delivering the famous Lieut. Richard Brothers[685] from the lunatic asylum, and tending him, not as a keeper but as a disciple, till he died. Brothers was, by his own account, the nephew of the Almighty, and Finleyson ought to have been the nephew of Brothers. For Napoleon came to him in a vision, with a broken sword and an arrow in his side, beseeching help: Finleyson pulled out the arrow, but refused to give a new sword; whereby poor Napoleon, though he got off with life, lost the battle of Waterloo. This story was written to the Duke of Wellington, ending with "I pulled out the arrow, but left the broken sword. Your Grace can supply the rest, and what followed is amply recorded in history." The book contains a long account of applications to Government to do three things: to pay 2,000l. for care taken of Brothers, to pay 10,000l. for discovery of the longitude, and to prohibit the teaching of the Newtonian system, which makes God a liar. The successive administrations were threatened that they would have to turn out if they refused, which, it is remarked, came to pass in every case. I have heard of a joke of Lord Macaulay, that the House of Commons must be the Beast of the Revelations, since 658 members, with the officers necessary for the action of the House, make 666. Macaulay read most things, and the greater part of the rest: so that he might be suspected of having appropriated as a joke one of Finleyson's serious points--"I wrote Earl Grey[686] upon the 13th of July, 1831, informing him that his Reform {316} Bill could not be carried, as it reduced the members below the present amount of 658, which, with the eight principal clerks or officers of the House, make the number 666." But a witness has informed me that Macaulay's joke was made in his hearing a great many years before the Reform Bill was proposed; in fact, when both were students at Cambridge. Earl Grey was, according to Finleyson, a descendant of Uriah the Hittite. For a specimen of Lieut. Brothers, this book would be worth picking up. Perhaps a specimen of the Lieutenant's poetry may be acceptable: Brothers _loquitur_, remember:

"Jerusalem ! Jerusalem! shall be built again! More rich, more grand then ever; And through it shall Jordan flow!(!) My people's favourite river. There I'll erect a splendid throne, And build on the wasted place; To fulfil my ancient covenant To King David and his race. * * * * * * "Euphrates' stream shall flow with ships, And also my wedded Nile; And on my coast shall cities rise, Each one distant but a mile. * * * * * * "My friends the Russians on the north With Persees and Arabs round, Do show the limits of my land, Here! Here! then I mark the ground."


Among the paradoxers are some of the theologians who in their own organs of the press venture to criticise science. These may hold their ground when they confine themselves to the geology of long past periods and to general cosmogony: for it is the tug of Greek against Greek; and both sides deal much in what is grand when called _hypothesis_, petty when called _supposition_. And very often they are not conspicuous when they venture upon things within knowledge; {317} wrong, but not quite wrong enough for a Budget of Paradoxes. One case, however, is destined to live, as an instance of a school which finds writers, editors, and readers. The double stars have been seen from the seventeenth century, and diligently observed by many from the time of Wm. Herschel, who first devoted continuous attention to them. The year 1836 was that of a remarkable triumph of astronomical prediction. The theory of gravitation had been applied to the motion of binary stars about each other, in elliptic orbits, and in that year the two stars of [gamma] Virginis, as had been predicted should happen within a few years of that time--for years are small quantities in such long revolutions--the two stars came to their nearest: in fact, they appeared to be one as much with the telescope as without it. This remarkable turning-point of the history of a long and widely-known branch of astronomy was followed by an article in the _Church of England Quarterly Review_ for April 1837, written against the Useful Knowledge Society. The notion that there are any such things as double stars is (p. 460) implied to be imposture or delusion, as in the following extract. I suspect that I myself am the _Sidrophel_, and that my companion to the maps of the stars, written for the Society and published in 1836, is the work to which the writer refers:

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