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Nivers worthy persons, inquisitive into natural philosophy, and other parts of human learning: and particularly of what hath been called the New Philosophy, or Experimental Philosophy. We did, by agreement, divers of us meet weekly in London, on a certain day, to treat and discourse of such affairs. Of such number were, Dr. John Wilkins, afterwards Bishop of Chester; Dr. Jonathan Goddard, Dr. George Ent, Dr. Glisson, Dr. Merret, doctors in physick; Mr. Samuel Foster, then Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College; Mr. Theodore Haak, a German of the Palatinate, and then resident in London (who, I think, gave the first occasion, and first suggested these meetings); and many others. These meetings we held sometimes at Dr. Goddard's lodgings, in Wood-street, or some convenient place near, on occasion of his keeping an operator for grinding glasses for telescopes and microscopes; and sometimes at a convenient place in Cheapside; sometimes at Gresham College, or some place near adjoining. Our business was, precluding matters of theology and state affairs, to discourse and consider of philosophical enquiries, and such as related thereunto, as physick, anatomy, geometry, astronomy, navigation, staticks, magneticks, chemicks, mechanicks, and natural experiments; with the state of these studies, as then cultivated, at home and abroad.- About the year 1648, 1649, some of us being removed to Oxford, first Dr. Wilkins, then I, and, soon after, Dr. Goddard, our company divided. Those in London continued to meet there, as before; and we with them, when we had occasion to be there. And those of us at Oxford, with Dr. Ward, since Bishop of Salisbury; Dr. Ralph Bathurst, now President of Trinity College, in Oxford; Dr. Petty, since Sir William Petty ; Dr, Willis, then an eminent physician in Oxford; and
credulity'. Besides this, ---with a seeming
divers others; continued such meetings in Oxford, and brought those studies into fashion there: meeting first at Dr. Pettie's lodgings, in an apothecarie's house, because of the convenience of inspecting drugs, and the like, as there was occasion : and, after his remove to Ireland, tho' not so constantly, at the lodgings of Dr. Wilkins, then Warden of Wadham College; and after his removal to Trinity College in Cambridge, at the lodgings of the honourable Mr. Robert Boyle, then resident for divers. years in Oxford. Those meetings in London continued: and after the king's return, in 1660, were increased with the accession of divers worthy and honourable persons; and were afterwards in= corporated by the name of the Royal Society, &c. and $o continues to this day.” -The reader will pardon a digression intended to restore the honour of so excellent an institution to its right authors; and to rescue the time of its formation from the foul slanders of barbarism, ignorance, and darkness, so frequently cast on it b.
· He was subject to much weakness and credulity.] Wisdom and folly; understanding and credulity;
* Wallis's Account of some passages in bis life, quoted in the notes of the Life of A. Sidney, p. 44. 4to. Lond. 1763. And Ward's Preface to the Lives of the Professors of Gresham College, p. 10. fol. Lond. 1740. See also Sprats. History, p. 53.
Wood, speaking of Henry Stubbe, says, while he continued undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxon, it was usual with him to discourse in the public schools very fluently in the Greek tongue; as it was, at the same time, with one John Pettie, of Baliol, afterwards of Queen's College, and others, whose names are forgotten. But since the king's restoration, we have had no such matters; which shews, in some part, that education and discipline were more severe then (as indeed they were) than after, when scholars were given more to liberty and frivolous studies. Athena Oxon. vol. II. c. 561.
openness and frankness of heart, which
though opposites and contraries, very frequently reside in one and the same man; and nothing is, more como mon, than to see those of superior capacities fall into weaknesses and follies, which men of plain sense hold in contempt and very deservedly ridicule.--Witches, the stars, charms, oracles, ghosts, and every phantom, which weakness or wickedness, in various ages and different countries have imagined, or feigned, have, some or other of them, been embraced, as truths, by nen most respectable on account of their knowledge, virtue and integrity. I need not quote proofs for this: such as are desirous of them inay read Plutarch, among the ancients; and recollect, that the names of Sir Thomas Brown, Sir Matthew Hale, Mr. Boyle, and many others, among the moderns; are in the number of the believers of the intercourse of the devil with the most wretched and despicable of the daughters of Eve. To which may be added that the profession of a conjurer was so very common amongst the catholics, that ay question is put by the Jesuit Sanchez, “whether. ą conjurer is obliged to return the gain which he makes by conjuration? Which he thus resolves : ' If the conjurer has not taken the care and pains to know, by the devil's means, what could not be known otherwise; he is obliged to restitution : but if be has taken all due care, he is not obligeda.” No wonder, therefore, is it to find a prince of Charles's character, who was unused to enquiry, and accustomed to assent to those about him, liable to weakness, and exposed to credulity: Burnet tells us, “the king had ordered Mountague, his ambassador, at Paris, in the year 1678, to find out
* Paschal's Letters, vol. I, p. 183. 8vo. Lond. 1744.
pleased much those who came near him,
an astrologer, of whom it was no wonder he had a good opinion: for he had, long before his restoration, foretold, he should enter London on the 29th of May,-60. He was yet alive; and Mountague found him, and saw he was capable of being corrupted. So he resolved to prompt him, to send the king such hints as should serve his own ends. And he was so bewitched with the duchess of Cleveland, that he trusted her with this secret. But she, growing jealous of a new amour, took all the ways she could think on to ruin him ; reserving this of the astrologer for her last shift. And by it she compassed her ends: for Mountague was entirely lost upon it with the king, and came over without being recalleda.” This, at first sight, seems a strange passage: a passage which seems to have been picked up merely to reflect on the king and the ambassador. But improbabilities, though, for a time, they may and ought to hinder the assent of the human mind; do not, ought not, always to prevent it. Our understandings are too narrow; our knowledge too little; our experience too small; to say, absolutely, what is, or what is not, possible, or impossible, to be believed, or done, by men variously circumstanced : and, therefore, foolish as this story may now appear, it yet, possibly, may be very true; nay, certainly, is so.--For the duchess of Cleveland's letter to the king, is now in the British Museum; dated, Paris, Tuesday the 28th, --78, and in it is contained the following expressions : “ When I was to come over,” says she," he (Mountague] brought me two letters to bring to you, which he read both to me before he sealed them. The one was a
? Burnet, vol. I. p. 499.
mans, that, he said, you had great faith in; for that he had, at several times, foretold things to you that were of consequence; and that you believed him in all things, like a changeling as you were: and that now he had wrote you word, that, in a few months, the king of France, and his son, were threatened with death; or, at least, with a great fit of sickness, in which they would be in great danger, if they did not die: and that therefore he counsell’d you to defer any resolutions either of war or peace, till some months were past; for that, if this happened, it would make a great change in France. The anıbassador, after he had read this to me, said, Now the good of this is, said he, that I can do what I will with this man: for he is poor; and a good sum of money will make him write whatever I will. So he proposed to me, that he and I should join together in the ruin of my lord treasurer [Danby], and the duchess of Portsmouth ; which might be done thus : The man, though he was infirm and ill, should go into England; and there, after having been a little time, to sollicit you for money; for that you were so base, that, though you employed him, you let him starve; so that he was obliged to give him 501. and that the man had writ several times to you for
money. And, says he, when he is in England, he shall tell the king things that he foresees will infallibly ruin him; and so wish those to be removed, as having an ill star, that would be unfortunate to you if they were not removed: but if that were done, he was confident you would have the most glorious reign that ever was. This, says he, I am sure I can order so, as to bring to a good effect, if you willa." From this letter, we may judge of the goodness of Burnet’s intelligence; and
a See the Appendix.