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his power and prerogative. Since that, he has frequently committed many things to their search: he has referr'd many foreign rarities to their inspection: he has recommended many domestick improvements to their care: he has demanded the result of their țryals, in many appearances of nature: he has been present, and assisted with his own hands, at the performing of many of their experiments, in his gardens, his parks, and on the river. And, besides, I will not conceal, that he has sometimes reproved them for the slowness of their proceedings: at which reproofs they have not so much cause to be afflicted that they are the reprehensions of a king, as to be comforted that they are the reprehensions of his love and affection to their progress. For a testimony of which royal be nignity, and to free them from all hindrances and occasions of delay, he has given them the establishment of his letters patent."
One would think, by this passage, that the Royal Society had its beginning in this reign: but, setting aside the name and the charter, it had its existence long before. For it was under the parliament, when the authority and the name of king was little reverenced, but merit, and arts of aļl kinds, encouraged. It was in this memorable period, so favourable to liberty and the sciences, that this noble society, though without a name, was set on foot.
“About the year 1645," says Dr. Wallis, a very eminent member, “ while I lived in London, at a time when, by our civil wars, academical studies were much interrupted in both oựr universities, besides the conversation of divers eminent divines, as to matters theological; I had the opportunity of being acquainted with
History of the Royal Society, p. 133. 4to. Lond. 1667.
divers 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 incorporated by the name of the Royal Society, &c. and so 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 froin 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 his 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 Sprat's History, p. 53.
6 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 fuently 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. Athenæ 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 common, 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, charins, 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 men most respectable on account of their knowledge, virtue and integrity. I need not quote proofs for this : such as are desirous of them may 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 a question is put by the Jesuit Sanchez, “ whether a 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 he 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
a Paschal's Letters, vol. I. p. 183. 8vo. Lond. 174.40
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 recalled a.” 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