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the other, he has proved to the Royal Society, of which he is at once a member and an ornament, the fallacy of the celebrated proposition relative to the quadrature of the circle; a discovery for which rewards were proffered by more than one learned body on the continent, while it is said to have engaged the attention and baffled the efforts of the illustrious Newton himself *.
These are high claims and pretensions; and it only remains to be seen, whether they are well founded. Should my observations lead to an inquiry into the truth of this statement, and, if true, produce speedy retribution in behalf of a meritorious but unprotected individual, who, by the self-same act that rescued the state from new millions of debt, and ensured the triumph of our navy, produced his own inevitable ruin; I shall feel a high degree of gratification, and console myself with the reflection, that my labours have not been wholly in vain. An appeal, equally pure and disinterested, like this, is at least calculated to solicit attention by its diffusion, and pique curiosity by
*This paper, proving the infinite incommensurability of the circumference with the diameter, and the consequent impracticability of a perfect geometrical quadrature of the circle, was read before the Royal Society in the spring of 1812.
its singularity. Literature is never so nobly employed as in the cause of neglected genius, or oppressed worth. Voltaire, by similar means, warded off the stroke of despotism from the family of the unhappy Calas: I want only the magic of his pen, and the influence of his celebrity, to obtain, not an act of favour, but of gratitude and justice, in behalf of an injured individual.
About this period, some events occurred which contributed not a little to render Mr. Tooke, for a time, completely wretched. One of these was the singular duel that took place between sir Francis Burdett and Mr. Paull; in consequence of which both were severely wounded. Another was the then recent contest for Middlesex, in which an immense sum of money had been expended, without effecting any useful purpose, either public or private.
It was now full time for the politician of Wimbledon to have retired from the scene of action, and, reposing under the shade of his former laurels, to have consigned the remaining portion of his life to the care of his declining health, and that quiet and tranquillity which constitute the comfort of old age. But such were not his intentions; and indeed it was not in his nature to remain passive under the pressure of any cala
mity, on the part of either himself or his friends.
Accordingly, on May 6, 1807, Mr. Tooke addressed a letter to the editor of the "Times," in which he disclaimed the wish to see a neighbouring baronet returned a knight of the shire. "If my advice," added he, "had been as omnipotent, as the dirty scribblers of the day have chosen to represent it, over the mind of sir Francis Burdett, he never would have been a candidate at all. Nor did I ever labour by entreaty more earnestly for any thing, than I did from the beginning, and before the beginning, to dissuade sir Francis from being a candidate for Middlesex; and, for his sake, I rejoice that he is not returned to parliament for that place or for any other."
He then alludes to the late combat between sir Francis and Mr. Paull, concerning the latter of whom, he expresses himself as follows:
"I always treated him with civility, but have most cautiously avoided any other connexion with him of any kind; nor could he ever prevail upon me, though he used much importunity, to write a single syllable for him, or concerning him. There was something about him with which it was impossible for me to connect myself. I wished him very well; knew no harm
of him; suspected none; but my ally whispered to me-Vetabo sub iisdem sit trabibus, fragilemque mecum solvat phaselum. It was unfounded prejudice, perhaps; but I have experienced something in this world; and superfluous caution may be pardoned to old age."
This was soon after followed by a pamphlet, entitled "A Warning to the Electors of Westminster*;" in which he states, "that their late rejected candidate, Mr. Paull, meditates another assassination of their present representative, sir Francis Burdett. Duel, I think," adds the author," he will never have again with any gentleman in his senses. But there is no answering for tastes; and if Mr. Paull should prefer Newgate to the King's Bench, and hanging to starving, he may yet commit a murder."
Mr. Paull, although wounded and confined to his bed, answered the charges contained in the former of these publications by means of a printed letter; in which, among other things, he denied that he had intruded himself into the author's house, at Wimbledon, " on Sundays," and actually produced invitations for that purpose, which had been entirely forgotten, amidst the paroxysms of resentment occasioned by re
*Printed for J. Johnson, St. Paul's Church-yard, 1807,
In 1808, the events that occurred in Spain attracted the attention of all Europe, and suddenly rendered that once hostile state a suppliant to Great Britain for aid and assistance. A foreigner imposed under the character of a sovereign, and two of her native kings become prisoners at once, and that too by the basest arts; seemed to excite both the loyalty and the pride of a generous and lofty nation, and promised results highly beneficial to the best interests of humanity.
On this occasion, it was suggested to me, by a very respectable person, that a general demonstration of public indignation would prove highly useful; and it was at the same time hinted, that, as I was in the habit of seeing Mr. Tooke, if it were possible to procure his assistance to such a measure, his name and connexions would contribute not a little to clothe it with the garb of popularity.
It was not difficult to obtain my assent to so just and proper a measure; I therefore invited Mr. Tooke, and one of his friends, to dinner, and begged the gentleman, who had made the proposal, to be of the party. The interview accordingly took place, and it was resolved to seize a proper occasion to commence the subject meant to be discussed. But, long