Notes to pages 80-96

p. 80 A Biographical Sketch of the life of James Tytler etc., is a pamphlet of 71 pages, published without attribution in 1805. One of the four copies currently held in the NLS has the name ‘Meek’ written in pencil. The work has been subsequently ascribed to Robert Meek, a name now associated with an English minister of the Anglican Church. I have been unable to ascertain when or by whom this link was made, or on what evidence. This Robert Meek was active in the Church in various parishes (Bristol, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire) until at least 1858, having first been named as curate of Yatton Keynel, Wilts., in 1833. He was a radical in his early days, but settled down to conformity fairly early.

However, if he was the author of this pamphlet then he wrote it at a very early age, possibly as young as 16.  My guess is that some other Meek wrote this ‘biographical sketch’.

The numerous other items mentioned in this paragraph will be discussed more fully in later notes, or you could use the search facility [top right].

p. 87 The Farto-Turdoniad’. The words of this ‘poem’ were published by Peter Buchan in his Secret Songs of Silence (1832):

However, I managed to locate what may be the only surviving original, in the Library of the University of California, who kindly sent me a copy

The Farto-turdoniad
The Farto-turdoniad

p. 92 ‘Old Smellie’ is William Smellie FRSE FSA (Scot) (1740–1795),  a Scottish master printer, naturalist, antiquary, editor and encyclopedist. He was editor of the first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. He disaproved of the proposal to include biographies in the second edition and hence the role of editor passed to Tytler. He is said to have claimed that he compiled the encyclopedia using ‘scissors and paste’.

Diderot: Denis Diderot  5 October 1713 – 31 July 1784) was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent figure during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder, chief editor, and contributor to the Encyclopédie along with Jean le Rond d’Alembert.

The Encyclopédie was notorious for its espousal of Enlightenment thinking, and aroused criticism from both Church and State. The third edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, edited by Bishop Gleig, went to some lengths to dissociate itself from the Encyclopédie.

p. 93-95 the anatomists mentioned in this article from the EB II are

Harvey: William Harvey 1578-1657
Buffon: The French naturalist Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707-1788)
Steno: The bishop and anatomist Niels Stensen (1638–1686)
Maupertuis: Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1698 – 27 July 1759); his thinking on ‘the struggle for life’ is one of the early signs of ‘evolution’.

Leevenhoek: Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek; (1632 –  1723); noted fopr his improvements to the microscope and his work on microbiology.

The list is indicative of Tytler’s grasp of an obscure subject; all of those  mentioned were long dead by the time of publication of EBII, but his comment was still pertinent.