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INSCRIBED TO A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG LADY
S o'er each note of various found
Confess, sweet maid! thy potent sway.
Charm'd with thy strains, the raptur'd breast
Delights to own thy soft controul:
Alternate flits the trembling foul.
Whate'er thou wilt, thou canst inspire;
By thee with hate, or love we glow,
Now melting with melodious woe.
But fay, since nature gave thee charms
With partial hand, too favour'd maid!
Employ'st thou thus sweet music's aid?
For know, thy music's pow'r as strong
As beauty's empire o'er the mind;
To charm and captivate mankind.
The Vevi Annual Register; or. General Repository os History, Politics, and Literature,for the Year 1798. To -which is prefixed, The History of Knowledge, Learning, and Taste, in Great Britain, during the Reign of King Charles the Second. Robinsons. 10s. 6d.
THIS valuable Work is distributed into its usual compartments: British and Foreign History, Principal Occurrences, Public Papers, Biographical Anecdotes and Characters, Manners of Nations, Classical and Polite Criticism, Anriquities, Miscellaneous Papers, Poetry, Domestic and Foreign Literature. Each of these articles stems 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 cither 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 reser to a Volume where their curiosity receives an ample gratisication.
The Introductory History of Knowledge is written with judgment and impartiality. It contains an accountofthe Royal Society, which certainly cannot fail of being interesting to Britons. We mail therefore introduce it to the notice of our readers without any surther ceremqny, V0L..YIII, C • The
The Rise, Progress, andEstablishment of Mr Roy Ai 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 sucicty, which has been perhaps more respectable in its character, and more usesul in its exertions than any similar institution in Europe. The humble origin * of the Royal Society has been already noticed; but it belongs to this part os ourundertaking to enter more sully into the detail.
"To assert that the great prosiciency 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 bote and hazardous! but it is certain that little progress had been previously made in that interesting branch of human knowledge. Except the solitary speculations of Bacon, little had hitherto been efsected; but the recommendation of that great man, to refer every thing in physics to the severe test of direct experiment, cleared the path os 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 fact. 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, should have effected norhing. Not one usesul discovery is recorded as rewarding the tabours of the English alchemists, though their brethren on the continent contributed in no small degree to the improvement of practical chemistry.
"Even mathematical science, for which the English philosophers have since been so justly celebrated, was, antecedent to the period of which we are treating, in no very flourishing state; hut the age which produced the Royal Society was alia distinguished by some excellent mathematicians; and Ough
* See our History of Knowledge, &c. under the Usurpation.
tred tred, Ward, and Wallis, led the way to Barrow, Newton, and tf alley. Thus, though classical learning, theology, and metaphysics, had been cultivated with success in the preceding ages, the reign 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 " some space after the end of the civil Wars;" but more correct information assixes 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, j 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 Woodstreet, on account of his havjng an operator in his house for the purpose of grinding glasses for telescopes: sometimes at a house in Cheapside, and sometimes at Giesham-college. From these meetings, the great topics which at that period divided and distracted society, 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 os the Invisible or Philosophical College.
a 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: Wilk.ms, who was appointed Warden of Wadham-collcge; 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. Wilkius' 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 ossices and stations; and it was resorted to by others, whom the distresses of the times drove to take resuge from the din of Cca arms,
arms, and the detestable contests of party and politics, in the quiet (hades of that celebrated seminary. Their sirst 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 unpleafant topics which spread onfy discord and calamity wherever they were agitated. The principal persons who formed this small but illustrious assembly, were Dr. Seth Wardj afterwards lord-bishop of Exeter, Mr. Boyle, sir 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 sixed method of proceeding; yet experimental science engaged more deeply their attention than speculation and conjecture. The folly of both of these was too apparent in the metaphysical writers of the day for wife men, such as constituted 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 causes, and its members were called to the exercise of difscrent 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 institution at present shamefully abused, by being made a sinecure 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 Brouncker and Brereton, sir Paul Neilc, Mr. John Evelyn, Mr Henlhaw, Mr. Slingfby, 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 1659, converted into a barrack for soldiers.
"The meetings were resumed when the public affairs assumed a more quiet aspect after the restoration, and they were