Bernard, Edward

, a learned critic and astronomer, was born at Perry St. Paul, commonly called Pauler’s Perry, near Towcester in Northamptonshire, the 2d of May 1638. He received some part of his education at Northampton but his father dying when he was very young, his mother sent him to an uncle in London, who entered him at Merchant-taylors-school, in 1648 here he continued tillJune 1655, when he was elected scholar of St. John’s college in Oxford, of which also he became afterwards fellow. DuTing his stay at school, he had accumulated an uncommon fund of classical learning, so that when he went to the university, he was a great master of the Greek and Latin tongues, and not unacquainted with the Hebrew. He had also previously acquired a good Latin style, could compose | verses well, and often used to divert himself with writing epigrams, but he quitted these juvenile employments when at the university, and applied himself to history, philology, and philosophy, and made himself master of the Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, and Coptic. He applied himself next to the mathematics, under the famous Dr. J. Wallis. He took the degree of B. A. Feb. the 12th, 1659 that of master, April 16, 1662 and that of B. D. June 9, 1668. Decem,ber following he went to Leyden, to consult several Oriental manuscripts left to that university by Joseph Scaliger and Levinus Warner, and especially the 5th, 6th, and 7th books of Apollonius Pergieus’s conic sections; the Greek text of which is lost, but which are preserved in the Arabic version of that author. This version had been brought from the East by James Golius, and was in the possession of his executor, who, pleased that Mr. Bernard’s chief design in coming to Holland was to examine this manuscript, allowed him the free use of it. He accordingly transcribed these three books, with the diagrams, intending to publish them at Oxford, with a Latin version, and proper commentaries; but was prevented from completing this design. Abraham Echellensis had published a Latin translation of these books in 1661, and Christianus Ravius gave another in 1669: but Dr. Smith remarks, that these two authors, though well skilled in the Arabic language, were entirely ignorant of the mathematics, which made it regretted that Golius died while he was preparing that work for the press; and that Mr. Bernard, who understood both the language and the subject, and was furnished with all the proper helps for such a design, was abandoned by his friends, though they had before urged him to. undertake it. It was, however, at last published by Dr. Halley in 1710.

At his return to Oxford, he examined and collated the most valuable manuscripts in the Bodleian library; which induced those who published ancient authors, to apply to him for observations or emendations, which he readily imparted, and by this means became engaged in a very extensive correspondence with the learned in most countries. In 1669, the celebrated Christopher Wren, Savilian professor of astronomy at Oxford, having been appointed surveyor-general of his majesty’s works, and being much detained at London by this employment, obtained leave to name a deputy at Oxford, and pitched upon Mr. Bernard, | which obliged the latter to confine his application more particularly to the study of astronomy. In 1672, the master and fellows of his college presented him to the rectory of Cheame in Surrey and February following, Dr. Peter Mews, the master, being advanced to the bishopric of Bath, and Wells, appointed Mr. Bernard one of his chaplains. But the following year he quitted all views of preferment, by accepting the Savilian professorship of astronomy, vacant by the resignation of sir Christopher Wren for, by the statutes of the founder, sir Henry Savile, the professors are not allowed to hold any other office either ecclesiastical or civil.

About this time a scheme was set on foot at Oxford, of collecting and publishing the ancient mathematicians. Mr. Bernard, who had first formed the project, collected all the books published on that subject since the invention of printing, and all the Mss. he could discover in the Bodleian and Savilian libraries, which he arranged in order of time, and according to the matter they contained. Of this he drew up a synopsis or view, which he presented to bishop Fell, a great encourager of the undertaking. This was published by his biographer, Dr. Thomas Smith, at the end of his life. As a specimen, Mr. Bernard published also a few sheets of Euclid, in folio, containing the Greek text, and a Latin version, with Proclus’s commentary in Greek and Latin, and learned scholia and corollaries. He undertook also an edition of the “Parva syntaxis Alexandrina” in which, besides Euclid, are contained the small treatises of Theodosius, Autolycus, Menelaus, Aristarchus, and Hipsicles but it was never published. In 1676, he was sent to France by Charles II. to be tutor to the dukes of Grafton and Northumberland, natural sons of the king, by the duchess of Cleveland, with whom they then lived at Paris j but the plainness and simplicity of his manners not suiting the gaiety of the duchess’s family, he continued with them only one year, when he returned to Oxford having reaped however the advantage, during his stay at Paris, of becoming acquainted with most of the learned men in that city, particularly Justel, Huet, Mabillon, Quesnel, Dacier, Renaudot, and others.

Upon his return to the university, he applied himself to his former studies and though, in conformity to the obligation of his professorship, he devoted the greatest part of his time to mathematics, yet his inclination was now more | to history, chronology, and antiquities. He undertook a new edition of Josephus, but it was never completed. The history of this undertaking is somewhat curious. Several years before, bishop Fell had resolved, with our author’s assistance, to print at the theatre at Oxford a new edition of Josephus, more correct than any of the former. But, either for want of proper means to complete that work, or in expectation of one promised by the learned Andrew Bosius, this design was laid aside. Upon the death of Bosius, it was resumed again and Mr. Bernard collected all the manuscripts he could procure out of the libraries of Great Britain, both of the Greek text and Epiphanius’s Latin translation, and purchased Bosius’s valuable papers of his executors at a great price. Then he published a specimen of his edition of Josephus, and wrote great numbers of letters to his learned friends in France, Holland, Germany, and other countries, to desire their assistance in that work. He laboured in it a good while with the utmost vigour and resolution, though his constitution was much broken by intense application. But this noble undertaking was left unfinished, for these two reasons. First, many persons complained of Epiphanius’s translation, because it was defective, and not answerable to the original in many places, and required a new version, or at least to have that of Gelenins revised and corrected. Secondly, objections were made to the heap of various readings that were to be introduced in this edition, and with the length of the commentaries, in which whole dissertations were inserted without any apparent necessity, that ought to have been placed at the end of the work, or printed by themselves. These things occasioning a contest between Mr. Bernard and the curators of the Oxford press, the printing of it was interrupted and at last the purpose of having it done at the expence of the university, was defeated by the death of bishop Fell. However, about six or seven years after, Mr. Bernard was prevailed upon by three booksellers of Oxford to resume the work, and to publish it in a less form upon the model of his specimen but they not being able to bear the expence of it, on account of the war, after a few sheets were printed off, desisted from their undertaking. These repeated discouragements hindered the learned author from proceeding further than the four first books, and part of the fifth, of the Jewish Antiquities and the first book, tmd part of the second, of the Destruction of Jerusalem j | which were printed at the Theatre at Oxford in 1686 and 1687, and published in 1700, fol. In the notes, the learned author shews himself an universal scholar and discerning critic and appears to have been master of most of the Oriental learning- and languages. These notes have been incorporated into Havercamp’s edition.

In 1683, he went again to Leyden, to be present at the sale of Nicholas Heinsius’s library; where he purchased, at a great price, several of the classical authors, thut had been either collated with manuscripts, or illustrated with the original notes of Joseph Scaliger, Bonaventure Vulcanius, the two Heinsiuses, and other celebrated critics. Here he renewed his acquaintance with several persons of eminent learning, particularly Gruevius, Spanheim, Triglandius, Gronovius, Perizonius, Ryckius, Gallaeus, Rulaeus, and especially Nicholas Witsen, burgomaster of Amsterdam, who presented him with a Coptic dictionary, brought from Egypt by Theodore Petraeus of Holsatia; and afterwards transmitted to him in 1686, the Coptic and Ethiopic types made of iron, for the use of the printingpress at Oxford. With such civilities he was so much pleased, and especially with the opportunities he had of making improvements in Oriental learning, that he would have settled at Leyden, if he could have been chosen professor of the Oriental languages in that university, but not being able to compass this, he returned to Oxford. He began now to be tired of astronomy, and his health declining, he was desirous to resign but no other preferment offering, he was obliged to hold his professorship some years longer than he intended; in 1684 he took his degree of D. D. and in 1691, being presented to the rectory of Brightwell in Berkshire, he quitted his professorship, and was succeeded by David Gregory, professor of mathematics at Edinburgh. In 1692, he was employed in drawing up a catalogue of the manuscripts in Great Britain and Ireland, which was published at Oxford 1697, fol. Dr. Bernard’s share in this undertaking was the drawing up a most useful and complete alphabetical Index to which he prefixed this title, “Librorum manuscriptorum Magnae Britanniae et Hibernise, atque externarum aliquot Bibliothecarum Index secundum alphabetum Edwardus Bernardus construxit Oxonii.” In this Index he mentions a great number of valuable Greek manuscripts, which are to be found in several foreign libraries, as well as our own. | Towards the latter end of his life, he was much afflicted with the stone, yet, notwithstanding this and other infirmities, he took a third voyage to Holland, to attend the sale of Golius’s manuscripts. After six or seven weeks absence, he returned to London, and from thence to Oxford. There he fell into a languishing consumption, which put an end to his life, Jan. 12, 1696, before he was quite fifty-nine years of age. Four days after, he was interred in St. John’s chapel, where a monument of white marble was soon erected for him by his widow, to whom he had been married only three years. In the middle of it there is the form of an Heart carved, circumscribed with these words, according to his own direction a little before he died, Habemus Cor Bernard!: and underneath E. B. S. T. P. Obiit Jan. 12, 1696. The same is also repeated on a small square marble, under which he was buried. As to this learned man’s character, Dr. Smith, who knew him well, gives him a very great one. “He was (says he) of a mild disposition, averse to wrangling and disputes and if by chance or otherwise he happened to be present where contests ran high, he would deliver his opinion with great candour and modesty, and in few words, but entirely to the purpose. He was a candid judge of other men’s performances; not too censorious even on trifling books, if they contained nothing contrary to good manners, virtue, or religion and to those which displayed wit, learning, or good sense, none gave more ready and more ample praise. Though he was a true son of the Church of England, yet he judged favourably and charitably of dissenters of all denominations. His piety and prudence never suffered him to be hurried away by an immoderate zeal, in declaiming against the errors of others. His piety was sincere and unaffected, and his devotions both in public and private very regular and exemplary. Of his great and extensive learning, the works he published, and the manuscripts he has left, are a sufficient evidence.” This character is supported by the concurring evidence of all his learned contemporaries. The works he published were 1. “Tables of the longitudes and latitudes of the fixed Stars.” 2. “The Obliquity of the Ecliptic from the observations of the ancients, in Latin.” 3. “A Latin letter to Mr. John Flamsteed, containing observations on the Eclipse of the Sun, July 2, 1684, at Oxford.” All these are in the Philosophical Transactions, | 4, “A treatise of the ancient Weights and Measures,” printed first at the end of Dr. Edward Pocock’s Commentary on Hosea, Oxford, 1685, fol. and afterwards reprinted in Latin, with very great additions and alterations, under this title, “De mensuris & ponderibus antiquis, libri tres,” Oxon. 1688, 8vo. 5. “Private Devotions, with a brief explication of the Ten Commandments,Oxford, 1689, 12mo. 6. “Orbis eruditi Literatura a charactere Samaritico deducta” printed at Oxford from a copper-plate, on one side of a broad sheet of paper: containing at one view, the different forms of letters used by the Phoenicians, Samaritans, Jews, Syrians, Arabs, Persians, Brachmans, and other Indian philosophers, Malabarians, Greeks, Cophts, Russians, Sclavonians, Ethiopians, Francs, Saxons, Goths, &c. all collected from ancient inscriptions, coins, and manuscripts together with the abbreviations used by the Greeks, physicians, mathematicians, and chymists. 7. “Etymologicum Britannicum, or derivations of the British and English words from the Russian, Sclavonian, Persian, and Armenian languages printed at the end of Dr. Hickes’s Grammatica Anglo- Saxonica & Moeso-Gotthica,” Oxon. 1689, 4to. 8. He edited Mr. William Guise’s “Misnoe pars prima, ordinis primi Zeraim tituli septem,” Oxon. 1690, 4to. 9. “Chronologiae Samaritanae Synopsis,” in two tables the first containing the most famous epochas, and remarkable events, from the beginning of the world the second a catalogue of the Samaritan High Priests from Aaron, published in the “Acta Eruditqrum Lipsiensia,April 1691, p. 167, &c. He also was author of the following: 10. “Notse in fragmentum Seguierianum Stephani Byzantini” in the library of monsieur Seguier, chancellor of France part of which, relating to Dodone, were published by Gronovius, at the end' of his “Exercitationes de Dodone,Leyden, 1681. 11. “Adnotationes in Epistolam S. Barnabce,” published in bishop Fell’s edition of that author, Oxon. 1685, 8vo. 12. “Short notes, in Greek and Latin, upon Cotelerius’s edition of the Apostolical Fathers, printed in the Amsterdam edition of them. 13.” Veterum testimonia de Versione LXXII interpretum," printed at the end of Aristeae Historia LXXII interpretum, published by Pr. Henry Aldrich, Oxon. 1692, 8vo. 14. He translated into Latin, the letters of the Samaritans, which Dr. R. Huntington procured them to write to their brethren, the Jews in England, in | 1673|­while he was at Sichem. Dr. Smith having obtained a copy of this translation, gave it to the learned Job LudoL fus, when he was in England, who published it in the collection of Samaritan Epistles, written to himself and other learned men. Besides these works, he also assisted several learned men in their editions of books, and collated manuscripts for them and left behind him in manuscript many books of his own composition, with very large collections which, together with the books enriched in the margin with the notes of the most learned men, and collected by him in France and Holland, were purchased by the curators of the Bodleian library, for the sum of two hundred pounds. They likewise bought a considerable number of curious and valuable books out of his library, which were wanting in the Bodleian, for which they paid one hundred and forty pounds. The rest of his books were sold by auction, all men of letters striving to purchase those which had any observations of Dr. Bernard’s own hand. 1


Biog. Brit. from his Life by Dr. Thomas Smith, published with bishop Huntington’s Letters, 8vo. 1704.