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efficacy of such of them as aimed at anything beyond a bare statement of facts, even in his own day. It was this especially which exposed some of his moral lucubrations to Swift's annihilating ridicule.
On being brought home from Eton, Boyle, who was his father's favourite son, was placed under the care of a neighbouring clergyman, who, instructing him, he says, “both with care and civility, soon brought him to renew his first acquaintance with the Roman tongue, and to improve it so far that in that language he could readily enough express himself in prose, and begun to be no dull proficient in the poetic strain. Although, however,” he adds, “naturally addicted to poetry, he forbore, in after life, to cultivate his talent for that species of composition, because, in his travels, having by discontinuance forgot much of the Latin tongue, he after. ward never could find time to redeem his losses by a serious study of the ancient poets.” From all this it is evident that the natural bent of his mind did not incline him very strongly to classical studies; and as, for the most obviously wise purposes, there has been established among men a diversity of intellectual endowments and tendencies, and every mind is most efficient when it is employed most in accordance with its natural dispositions and predilections, it was just as well that the course of his education was now changed. In his eleventh year he and one of his brothers were put under the charge of a Mr. Marcombes, a French gentleman, and sent to travel on the Continent. In the narrative of his early life, in which he designates himself by the name of Philoretus, Mr. Boyle has left us an acount of his travelling tutor. a man,” says he,“ whose gait, his mien, and outside, had very much of his nation, having been divers years a traveller and a soldier; he was well fashioned, His natural were much better than his acquired parts, though not in an eminent, yet in a competent degree. Scholarship he wanted not, having in his greener years been a professed student in divinity; but he was much less read in books than men, and hated pedantry as much as any of the seven deadly sins. * * *
well knew what belonged to a gentleman.
6. He was
Before company he was always very civil to his pupils, apt to eclipse their failings, and set off their good qualities to the best advantage. But in his private conversation he was cynically disposed, and a very nice critic both of words and men; which humour he used to exercise so freely with Philoretus, that at last he forced him to a very cautious and considerate way of expressing himself, which after turned to his no small advantage. The worst quality he had was his choler, to excesses of which he was excessively prone; and that being the only passion to which Philoretus was much observed to be inclined, his desire to shun clashing with his governor, and his accustomedness to bear the sudden sallies of his impetuous humour, taught our youth so to subdue that passion in himself, that he was soon able to govern it habitually and with ease.
Under the guidance of this gentleman, who, although not much fitted, apparently, to make his pupils profound scholars, or even to imbue them with à taste for elegant literature, was, probably, very well qualified both to direct their powers of observation, and to superintend and assist the general growth of their minds at this early age, the two brothers passed through France to Geneva, where they continued some time studying rhetoric, logic, mathematics, and political geography.
The party afterward set off for Italy; and, after visiting Venice and other places, proceeded to Florence, where they spent the winter.
While residing here, Mr. Boyle made himself master of the Italian language. But another acquisition, for which he was indebted to his visit to Florence, probably influenced to a greater extent the future course of his pursuits; we mean the knowledge he obtained of the then recent astronomical discoveries of Galileo. This great philosopher died in the neighbourhood of Florence, in the beginning of the year 1642, while Boyle and his brother were pursuing their studies in that city. The young Englishman, who was himself destined to acquire so high a reputation by his experiments in various departments of physical science, some of them the same which Galileo had cultivated, probably never even beheld his illustrious precursor; but we cannot tell how much of Boyle's love of experimental inquiry, and his ambition to distinguish himself in that field, may have been caught from this his accidental residence in early life in a place where the renown of Galileo and his discoveries must have been on the lips of all.
Boyle returned to England in 1644. Although he was yet only in his eighteenth year, he seems to have thought that his education had been long enough under the direction of others, and he resolved, therefore, for the future, to be his own instructer. Accordingly, his father being dead, he retired to an estate which had been left him in Dorsetshire, and gave himself up, we are told, for five years, to the study principally of natural philosophy and chymistry. His literary and moral studies, however, it would appear, were not altogether suspended during this time. In a letter written by him from his retirement to his old tutor, Mr. Marcombes, we find him mentioning, as also among his occupations, the composing of essays in prose and verse, and the study of ethics, “wherein,” says he, “of late I have been very conversant, and desirous to call them from the brain down into the breast, and from the school to the house."
These details do not like many of those we have given in former parts of our work, exhibit to us the ardent lover of knowledge, beset with impediments at every step in his pursuit of the object on which he has placed his affections, and having little or nothing to sustain him under the struggle except the unconquerable strength of the passion with which his heart is filled. On the contrary, we have here a young man who has enjoyed, from his birth upward, every facility for the improvement of his mind, and is now surrounded with all the conveniences he could desire, for a life of the most various and excursive study. A happy and enviable lot! Yet by how few of those to whom it has been granted, as well as to him of whom we are now speaking, have its advantages been used as they were by him! The truth is, that if the mind be not in love with knowledge, no mere outward advantages will enable any one to make much progress in the pursuit of it; while, with this love for it, all the difficulties which the unkindness of fortune can throw in the way of its acquisition may be over
The examples we have already recorded of many a successful struggle with such difficulties, in their most collected and formidable strength, sufficiently warrant us to hold out this encouragement to all.
In the same letter to Mr. Marcombes which we have just quoted, we find Boyle making mention, for the first time, of what he calls “our new Philosophical or Invisible College,” some of the leading members of which, he informs his correspondent, occasionally honoured him with their company at his house. By this Invisible College, he undoubtedly means that association of learned individuals who began about this period to assemble together in London for the purposes of scientific discussion, and whose meetings formed the germe of the Royal Society.
In 1654 Mr. Boyle removed to Oxford, and it was
during his residence there that he made some of the principal discoveries with which his name is connected. In particular, it was here that he prosecuted those experiments upon the mechanical properties of the air, by which he first made himself generally known to the public, and the results of which rank among the most important of his contributions to natural science. The first account which he published of these experiments appeared at Oxford in 1660, under the title of “New Experiments Physico-Mechanical, touching the spring of the air and its effects.” The work is in the form of letters to his nephew, the son of the Earl of Cork. It may be not unnaturally supposed that Boyle's attention was first directed to the subject of Pneumatics when he was engaged at Florence in making himself acquainted with the discoveries of Galileo, whose experiments first introduced anything like science into that department of inquiry. He states himself, in his first letter to his nephew, that he had some years before heard of a book, by the Jesuit Schottus, giving an account of a contrivance by which Otto Guericke, consul of Magdeburg, had succeeded in emptying glass vessels of their contained air, by sucking it out at the mouth of the vessel, plunged under water. He alludes here to Guericke's famous invention of the instrument now commonly called the airpump. This ingenious and ardent cultivator of science, who was born in Magdeburg, in Saxony, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, in his original attempts to produce a vacuum, used first to fill his vessel with water, which he then sucked out by a common pump, ta king care, of course, that no air entered to replace the liquid. This method was probably suggested to Guericke by Torricelli's beautiful experiment, mentioned in the former volume, with the barometrical tube, the vacuum produced in the upper part of which, by the descent of the mercury, has been