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LIVES

ILLUSTRIOUS AND DISTINGUISHED

S

IRISHMEN.

George Berkeley, D.D., Bishop of Cloyne.

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GEORGE BERKELEY was the son of William Berkeley, of Kilcrin, near Thomastown, in the county of Kilkenny-the county of Flood, Langrishe, Bushe, and other names not to be forgotten in the roll of honour. He was born, March 12, 1684.

We are not enabled to give any detail of the history of his ancestors. It is mentioned in the memorial written by Dr Stock, and appended to the collection of his writings, that his grandfather came over to Ireland after the restoration, his family having been great sufferers, for their loyalty, in the civil wars; and that he “obtained the collectorship of Belfast." His ancestor is elsewhere mentioned as a younger branch of the earls of Berkeley.

Berkeley received the first part of his education at Kilkenny school, from which so many scholars of the first eminence have come. Of the peculiar indications of his schoolboy years, no notice has been preserved. He entered as a pensioner in the University of Dublin, in his fifteenth year, under the tuition of Dr Hall; and in 1707, when about twenty-three, he obtained a fellowship. The same year he published an essay on mathematical science, which had been written before he was twenty, and was probably the fruit of his studies for the fellowship. This was an attempt to demonstrate arithmetic without algebra or Euclid. As we intend to conclude this memoir with a distinct notice of his writings, we shall only here observe the evidence. which such an attempt contains of a moral feature in his character, which, we are fully convinced, had a very considerable effect in determining the nature of all his writings, and some parts, at least, of his conduct: this was a freedom from the influence thrown over the mind by the settled conventions of human opinion, and a consequent disposition to take novel and eccentric courses, at the real or apparent dictate of reason or duty,ma temper, of which one of the results was, a very unusual simplicity and singleness of character;

VOL. V.

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