‘It is impossible not to admire the sagacity and range of information displayed in describing so man...
‘It is impossible not to admire the sagacity and range of information displayed in describing so many extraordinary men...masterly’-- The Quarterly Review, 1845Henry Brougham (1778-1868), lawyer, politician, and Lord Chancellor of England (1830-34), was also a well-known writer, wit, and eccentric. Brougham lived at the heart of intellectual life in Victorian Britain, counting Hazlitt, Leigh Hunt, Byron and Lamb among his friends. In 1802 he co-founded The Edinburgh Review and went on to write more than 80 articles for it. In the 1820s he helped to create the University of London, and to provide libraries for workingmen. In his public life Brougham supported the abolition of slavery, and brought about radical reform of the legal system. On his retirement from high office, Brougham went to live in France and devoted himself to writing. He spent the last 30 years of his life at Cannes.Lives of Men of Letters and Science, who Flourished in the Time of George III was published in the 1840s and has never been reprinted until now. In it Brougham provides stylish and scholarly biographical essays on sixteen luminaries from eighteenth-century England and France. He brings his own considerable scientific learning to his chapters on the chemists Joseph Black, Henry Cavendish, Humphrey Davy and Lavoisier, the engineer James Watt, and the mathematicians D’Alembert and Simson. The naturalist and promoter of science Joseph Banks is also the subject of an essay. The Men of Letters discussed range from Voltaire and Rousseau through Hume and Priestley to Gibbon, Dr Johnson and the historian William Robertson. There is also a particularly detailed treatment of Adam Smith. Brougham was not a man to pull his punches, and some of these Lives...provoked controversy in the journals. His writings were much discussed in their day, and scholars across a variety of disciplines will be pleased to have them available again.