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BOOK OF NATURE.
JOHN MASON GOOD, M.D. F.R.S. F.R.S.L.
MEM. AM. PHIL. SOC. AND F.L.S. OF PHILADELPHIA.
FROM THE LAST LONDON EDITION.
TO WHICH IS NOW PREFIXED,
A SKETCH OF THE AUTHOR'S LIFE.
COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME.
PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS,
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW-YORK, #.
The Book of Nature. By John Mason Good, M.D. F.R.S. F.R.S.L. Mem. Am. ihil. Soc. and F.L.S. of Philadelphia. To which is now Prefixed, a Sketch of the Author's Life.""
In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled "An Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned." also to an Act entitled, "An Act, supplementary to an Act, entitled an Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and ex. tending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."
FREDERICK J. BETTS,
TRANSFER PROM LENOX.
SKETCH OF THE AUTHOR'S LIFE.
In attempting to furnish the readers of "The Book of Nature" with a delineation of the life and character of its distinguished author, even a more experienced biographer might approach the task with hesitancy. The writer of the following sketch will not therefore affect to conceal his apprehensions that in so brief a space as is allotted to him, he may fail of doing justice to the name and memory of one possessed of such rare intellectual and moral endowments. Happily, however, the name of Dr. John Mason Good has become identified with the history of our own times, and his numerous and able contributions to our stock of knowledge, of a literary, professional, and religious nature, furnish a monument to his memory more imperishable than brass. His friend and contemporary, Dr. Olinthus Gregory, in his "Memoirs," embracing his life, writings, and character, has given to the world ample testimonials of his surprising genius, untiring industry, and extraordinary erudition. And though the lines are traced by the hand of affection, yet we discover no marks of fulsome adulation or enthusiastic eulogy. The writer seemed to feel that to depart from the simple and artless narrative of facts would but detract from the merits of the individual whose learning and virtues constit.ted his theme. Little else than a summary of this interesting biography will be attempted in the present sketch.
Dr. John Mason Good was the son of the Rev. Peter Good, a minister of the Independent or Congregational class of Dissenters, at Epping, in Essex. He was born May 25th, 1764, and received his name from the celebrated John Mason, author of the treatise on 66 Self-knowledge," who
was his maternal uncle.
His first studies were under the superintendence of his father; who, for the sake of educating his sons to his own mind, organized a seminary, in which were also the sons of a few of his personal friends,—— the number of pupils being limited to sixteen. There he very early acquired those habits of study, and that taste for literary pursuits, in which he was destined to excel in after-life. He acquired, while very young, an accurate knowledge of the Latin, Greek, and French languages, and thus laid the foundation for his subsequent high attainments as a linguist.
When he was a little more than twelve years of age, his indefatigable studies began very seriously to impair his health, and his sedentary habits produced a curvature of the spine, which interrupted his growth, and well nigh destroyed his constitution. But even then, it was only at the fervent importunity of his honoured father, that he consented to partake
with his companions of those rural and healthful sports, so necessary to mental relaxation and corporeal strength. And although he seemed to have no relish for these puerile pursuits at first, yet their effect upon his body and mind was such, that he soon engaged in them with his characteristic ardour, and became as healthful, agile, and erect as any of his youthful associates.
At fifteen years of age he was apprenticed to Mr. Johnson, a surgeon apothecary, at Gosport. Here he quickly acquired and performed the pharmaceutic functions; and, by reading and practice, very soon became a very valuable assistant to his master. Within the first year, notwithstanding his multifarious avocations, he commenced his career as a writer, by composing a "Dictionary of Poetic Endings," and a number of little poems of sterling merit. Next, he employed his leisure hours in drawing up "An abstracted View of the principal Tropes and Figures of Rhetoric in their Origin and Powers," illustrated by a variety of examples.
Before he had completed his sixteenth year, Mr. Johnson's illness threw upon his apprentice an unusual weight of responsibility; and the business of conducting the establishment, almost entirely without superintendence, engrossed most of his time. He nevertheless begau under these embarrassing circumstances to study the Italian language, of which he soon made himself master; and his commonplace book shows with what zeal, industry, and effect he pursued this and his other studies.
Shortly afterward, however, Mr. Johnson's continued indisposition rendered it necessary to engage a gentleman of skill and experience to conduct his extensive business; and he selected for this purpose Mr. Babington, then an assistant-surgeon at Harlem Hospital, and since well known as a physician of high reputation in London.
The death of Mr. Johnson occurring soon after the consummation of this arrangement, Dr. Babington and Mr. Good were separated, after having formed a mutual and endearing attachment, each having availed himself of opening prospects which simultaneously presented themselves. After pursuing his studies a short time under the direction of a skilful surgeon at Havant, into whose family he was received, he was offered a partnership with a reputable surgeon at Sudbury. To qualify himself for this situation he went to London in 1783, and attended the lectures of Dr. Fordyce, Dr. Lowder, and other eminent professors; and availing himself of the advantages of hospital practice, he became an active member of a society for the promotion of natural philosophy, then existing among the students of Guy's Hospital. He soon distinguished himself by the part he took in the discussions, and by his original essays, one of which, "On the Theory of Earthquakes," is said to have been peculiarly ingenious, elaborate, and classical.
The following summer of 1784, he commenced his professional career in Sudbury, and though but twenty years of age, soon gave striking proofs of his surgical skill, which gained him the confidence of the public; and his partner soon after retired from the business, and resigned the practice in his favour. In 1785, he married Miss Godfrey, of Coggeshall, a young lady of accomplished mind and fascinating manners. But scarce had the joyous festivity of his youthful heart commenced, which he so beautifully expresses in the poem written on his marriage, before he found, alas! "a worm was