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INSCRIBED TO A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG LADY
IN BEACONSFIELD, ON HER SKILL ON THE
A S o’er each note of various sound
Confess, sweet maid! thy potent sway.
Delights to own thy soft controul :
Alternate flits the trerabling soul.
By thee with hate, or love we glow,
Now melting with melodious woe.
With partial hand, too favour'd maid !
Employ'st thou thus sweet music's aid?
As beauty's empire o'er the mind;
To charm and captivate mankind.
The New Annual Register; or, General Repository of
1 compartments: British and Foreign History, Principal `Occurrences, Public Papers, Biographical Anecdotes and Characters, Manners of Nations, Clarfical and Polite Criticism, Antiquities, Miscellaneous Papers, Poetry, Domestic and Foreign Literature. Each of these articles seems to have been selected and arranged with accuracy.
The utility of such an annual work is obvious: it collects into a convenient compass the most important part of our history, whether we regard ourselves either in a political or literary point of view. And it must be pleasing both to the gentleman and scholar to have it in their power 10 refer to a Volume where their curiofity receives an ample gratification.
The Introductory History of Knowledge is written with judgment and impartiality. It contains an account of the ROYAL SOCIETY, which certainly canpot fail of being interesting to Britons. We shall therefore introduce it to the notice of our readers without any further ceremony, VOL. VIII,
The Rife, Progress, and Establishment of the ROYAL
SOCIETY, in the reign of Charles the Second. « The reign of Charles was inglorious in almost every instance; yet it was distinguished by the establishment of a society, which has been perhaps more respectable in its character, and more useful in its exertions than any similar inftitution in Europe. The humble origin * of the Royal Society has been already noticed; but it belongs to this part of our undertaking to enter more fully into the detail.
“ To assert that the great proficiency in natural science, which has been the glory of the British nation, is to be wholly attributed to the exertions of this association, would be bold and hazardous ! but it is certain that little progress had been previously made in that interesting branch of human know. ledge. Except the folitary speculations of Bacon, little had hitherto been effected; but the recommendation of that great man, to refer every thing in physics to the severe test of direct experiment, cleared the path of science, and opened the way to real discoveries.
“ Alchemy had been a favourite study in the two preceding reigns. The theatre, which is, in general, “ a brief chronicle of the times," and the best record of manners and national character, of national folly at least, attests this fa&t. Johnson's Alchemist is read and acted, though the object of ridicule which is the foundation of the piece, is no longer interesting.
“ It is however matter of surprize, that industry, even without the aid of science, thould have effected nothing. Not one useful discovery is recorded as rewarding the labours of the English alchemists, though their brethren on the continent contributed in no small degree to the improvement of practical chemittry.
“ Even mathematical science, for' which the English philosophers have fince been so juftly celebrated, was, antecedent to the period of which we are treating, in no very flourishing ftate ; but the age which produced the Royal Society was allo distinguished by some excellent mathematicians; and Ougli
* See our History of Knowledge, &c, under the Usurpation.
tred, Ward, and Wallis, led the way to Barrow, Newton, and Halley. Thus, though claslıcal learning, theology, and metaphysics, had been cultivated with success in the preceding ages, the seign of Charles II. may be regarded as the dawn of English philosophy.
« The commencement of the Royal Society is referred by its historian Sprat to 6 fome space after the end of the civil wars;" but more correct information affixes the date to the year 1645. At that time some ingenious and inquisitive men, among whom was the celebrated mathematician Dr. John Wallis, and the no less celebrated Dr. (afterwards bishop). Wilkins, agreed to meet weekly on a certain day, to converse on subjects of natural and experimental philosophy. The meetings were sometimes held at the apartments of Dr. Jonathan Goddard, a physician of some eminence, in Woodftreet, on account of his having an operator in his house for the purpose of grinding glasses for telescopes: sometimes at a house in Cheapfide, and sometimes at Gresham-college. From these meetings, the great topics which at that period divided and distracted fociety, politics and theology, were excluded; and the sciences which chiefly engaged the attention of the society, were geometry, astronomy, anatomy, physic, chemistry, navigation, magnetism, and mechanics. This society was sometimes distinguished by the name of the Invisible or Philosophical College.
“ The society in this infant state experienced something of the unsettled nature of the times; and about the year 1648 it was nearly dissolved by the removal of Dr: Wilkins, who was, appointed Warden of Wadham-college; of Dr. Wallis, who was nominated Savilian professor of geometry; and of Dr. Goddard, who was made warden of Merton-college. Those who remained in London continued to meet as before, and the Oxford members joined them when they visited the metropolis. The meetings, however, were continued with more spirit, and, probably, more regularity at Oxford, “ in Dr. Wilkins' lodgings (to use the words of Sprat) in Wadham-college, which was then the resort for virtuous and learned men.” The university, as the same author informs us, had several men of eminence at that time attached to it in various offices and stations; and it was reforted to by others, whom the distresses of the times drove to take refuge from the din of
arms, and the detestable contests of party and politics, in the quiet shades of that celebrated seminary. Their first object was, as ir had been in London, to enjoy society in peace, to contribute to each other's mutual entertainment and instruction, and to avoid those unpleasant topics which spread only discord and calamity wherever they were agitated. The principal persons who formed this small but illustrious assembly, were Dr. Seth Ward, afterwards lord-bishop of Exeter, Mr. Boyle, fir William Petty, Dr. Wilkins, Mr. Matthew Wren, Dr. Wallis, Dr. Goddard, Dr. Willis, Dr. Christopher Wren, and Mr. Rooke,
« These meetings, however, were still little more than social or conversation parties. They had no rules or fixed me. thod of proceeding; yet experimental science engaged more deeply their attention than speculation and conjecture. The foily of both of these was too apparent in the metaphyfical writers of the day for wise men, such as conftituted this little society, to engage themselves in. They were more commonly employed in experiments of chemistry and mechanics. Their instruments, however, were few; and their discoveries in chemistry seem to have been of little importance.
“ In the year 1658, the society was dispersed from various caufes, and its members were called to the exercise of different functions in different parts of the kingdom. The majority of them, however, had resorted to the metropolis; and here their meetings were resumed at Gresham-college, an inftitution at present shamefully abused, by being made a finecure for idle and indeed merely nominal professors. They generally met at the Wednesday's and Thursday's lectures of Dr. Wren and Mr. Rooke, for such were the men who, at that period, occupied those stations. Here they were joined by several other eminent persons, among whom were the lords Brounce ker and Brereton, fir Paul Neilc, Mr. John Evelyn, Mr Henfhaw, Mr. Slingsby, Dr. Timothy Clark, Dr. Ent, Mr. Balle, Mr. Hill, and Dr. Crone. The calamities of the times again dispersed our philosophers; and even the place of their meeting was, in the year 1959, converted into a barrack for foldiers.
" The meetings were resumed when the public affairs afTumed a more quiet aspect after the restoration, and they were