WHEWELL, WILLIAM, n.n., was b. in 1795 at Lancaster. His father intended him for his own trade—that of a joiner; but the boy having excelled at school in mathe matics was persuaded to go to Cambridge. He entered at Trinity college, and gradu ated (second wrangler, and second Smith's prize-man) B.A. in 1816. He became a fel low, and afterward a tutor of Trinity, where also, for manyyears, he acted as a suc cessful " coach," or private tutor. In 1820 he became a fellow of the royal society. Between 1828 and 1832 he was professor of mineralogy in Cambridge; and between 1838 and 1855, professor of moral theology, or In 1841 he was appointed master of Trinity; and in the sameyear, he was president of the British association at its meeting at Plymouth. He was also, for a time, president of the geological society. In 1855 he became vice-chancellor of the university of Cambridge. lie died at Trinity (18613), in consequence of injuries sustained through a fall when riding.
Whowell, when he acted as a private tutor, produced several text-books On mathe matical subjects (one of which, his Dynamics [18231 is deservedly admired), which were for a time popular, but may now be said to have been superseded. He also contributed a variety of papers to the transactions of learned and scientific societies, and to scientific journals, and to the reviews. In some of these, lie treated of such subjects as the tides, electricity, magnetism, and heat; in others, of abstruse and recondite subjects, literary, historical, and metaphysical. Later in life, while he continued to write papers of this class, he concentrated his powers mainly on the production of large works. Among the Most important of his hooks and General Physics considered in Reference to Natural Theology, being the third Bridgewater treatise (Load., 1833); History of the Inductive Sciences, from the Earliest to the Present Times (3 vols., Lond., 1837); The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences,founded upon their History (2 vols., Loud. 1840); T lie Elements of _Morality, including Polity (Lond., 1855). Among his other works Plurality of Worlds, which had considerable popularity from its subject; The History of Scientific _ideas, Novum Organum Renovatum; Notes 071, the Architecture of German Cleurdics; Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy in England; Indications °film Crea tor; translation of Goethe's Herman and Dorothea; translation of Auerbach's Professor's Wife; translation of Grotius's Rights of Peace and War; a translation of Plato's works; and The Platonic Dialogues for English Readers. Besides these books, he published many essays, as yet uncollected. His last composition, so far as is known, is an attack on Comte and Positivism, which appeared in Macmillan's Magazine after his death.
Whewell's acquisitions were most various; it would have been sufficient occupation for the lives of most book-worms to have made them. His 'writings, again, were so
various and volmniuous, it might be thought sufficient employment of the life of a mere clever book-maker to have produced them. Whewell was neither nor book maker. A student, he was always increasing his stock of knowledge; a vigorous and independent thinker and writer, he was always giving forth the results of his studies to the public; and having thus proceeded during a long life of almost unin terruptcd good health, he may be taken as illustrating what at the best may be achieved by a man of ambition, ability, and unflagging industry, without genius. He was nowise superficial, like many preteuders to encycloptudic knowledge; he was really master of all that could be learned on a great many subjects. It has been said of him, " knowl edge was his forte, omniscience his foible;" but it is absurd to suggest that a man can have and strain after too much knowledge, if it be, as his was, thorough knowledge. His chief ambition was to grasp, survey, and co-ordinate the sciences; and he did excel lent service both to science and history in the effort to gratify it. The task suited one of his extraordinary acquisitions, good sense, and philosophic comprehension. Had he been a man of more imagination and ingenuity, he might, of course, have been better employed in endeavoring to advance some single science. As he was, this was beyond hint: lie made some original investigations; but the results must be pronounced unim portant.
Whewell was a large, strong, erect man, with a red face and a loud voice. He was an effective preacher and lecturer, though in both characters wanting in that "some thing" which wins and rivets the hearer. He was accused of being arrogant; and his general bearing gave color to the charge. A story, long current, may be told as illus trating at once his varied knowledge and his personal relations to his brother fellows. He used so to overwhelm with his learning the company at the fellows' table and in the combination room, that a conspiracy was formed to put him down. Some fellows got up a knowledge of Chinese music from scattered articles in old reviews, with which they presumed he would be unacquainted. They then made Chinese music the subject of, as it were, a casual conversation at table. For a time, contrary to his usual habit, he took no part in the conversation. When they had about exhausted themselves, how ever, he remarked: " I was imperfectly, and to some extent incorrectly, informed regarding Chinese music when I wrote the articles from which you drawn your information." They were caught in their own trap, and had, as on other occasions, to submit to be instructed.