Tag Archives: J. M. Child

C. D. Broad

This gigantic tome (it is of about the same size as a volume of the Encyclopædia Britannica in the ordinary edition) contains Boseovich’s chief work in Latin with an English translation on the opposite pages. The text is that of the Venetian edition of 1703, the translation has been made by Mr. J. M. Child. Dr. Branislav Petronievie of the University of Belgrade provides a short life of Boscovich and Mr. Child writes an introduction in which he states and explains the main outlines of Boscovich’s theory of nature.

The expenses of publication have been partly met by the government of the new kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. So far as I am aware, this is the only instance on record in which one of the succession states of the late Austrian empire has done anything which can be counted to its credit. It is a little pathetic that patriotic Jugo-Slavs should have had to take Boscovich as their leading representative in Science, for it is admitted that he left his native land as a boy and only returned to it once for a few months. He is said to have been acquainted with the Serbo-Croatian tongue, but he had the good sense to write nothing whatever in it. M. Petronievie makes the best of a bad job by saying that, ‘although Boscovich had studied in Italy and passed the greater part of his life there, he had never penetrated to the spirit of the language’. We may, perhaps, conclude that the Serbo-Croatian genius has not blossomed very freely in science when such a very indirect representative has had to be chosen for the purpose of patriotic ‘boosting’.

Setting these nationalist absurdities aside, we may say that Boscovich was undoubtedly a great man, and that it was well worth while to produce an edition of his works for the use of English readers. It seems a pity that the volume should be so extremely unhandy; it is better adapted to form part of a bomb-proof shelter than of a library. But the binding and printing are excellent. So far as I (who can make no claim to be an accurate Latin scholar) can judge, the translation is quite satisfactory. Mr. Child’s introduction is both interesting and helpful; and I am afraid that many readers will be tempted to read it and leave Boscovich’s own exposition to take care of itself.

C. D. Broad, Review of R. J. Boscovich, Theoria philosophiae naturalis, Mind, vol. 32, no. 127 (July, 1923), p. 374