Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 15.djvu/40

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the doctor into special favour and had a laboratory built under the royal bedchamber, with communication by means of a private staircase. Here the king was wont to retire with the Duke of Buckingham and Dickinson, the latter exhibiting many experiments for his majesty's edification. Upon the accession of James II (1685), Dickinson was confirmed in his office as king's physician, and held it until the abdication of James (1688).

Being much troubled with stone, Dickinson now retired from practice and spent the remaining nineteen years of his life in study and in the making of books. He died on 3 April 1707, aged 83, and was buried in the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, where a monument bearing an elaborate Latin inscription was erected to his memory. While still a young man he published a book under the title of 'Delphi Phoenicizantes,' Oxford, 1665, in which he attempted to prove that the Greeks borrowed the story of the 'Pythian Apollo' from the Hebrew scriptures. Anthony à Wood says that Henry Jacob, and not Dickinson, was the author of this book. This was followed by 'Diatriba de Noae in Italiam Adventu,' Oxford, 1655. In maturer age Dickinson published his notions of alchemy, in which he seems to have believed, in 'Epistola ad T. Mundanum de Quintessentia Philosophorum,' Oxford. 1686. The great work on which he spent his latest years was a system of philosophy set forth in a book entitled 'Physica vetus et vera,' Lond. 4to, 1702. In this laborious work, on which years had been spent, and part of which he had to write twice in consequence of an accident by fire to the manuscript, the author pretends to establish a philosophy founded on principles collected out of the 'Pentateuch.' In a very confused manner he mixes up his notions on the atomic theory with passages from Greek and Latin writers as well as from the Bible. The book, however, attracted attention, and was published in Rotterdam, 4to, 1703, and in Leoburg, 12mo, 1705. Besides these he left behind him in manuscript a treatise in the Latin on the 'Grecian Games,' which Blomberg published in the second edition of his life of the author. Evelyn went to see him and thus records the visit: ' I went to see Dr. Dickinson the famous chemist. We had a long conversation about the philosopher's elixir, which he believed attainable and had seen projection himself by one who went under the name of Mundanus, who sometimes came among the adepts, but was unknown as to his country or abode ; of this the doctor has written a treatise in Latin, full of very astonishing relations. He is a very learned person, formerly a fellow of St. John's College, Oxford, in which city he practised physic, but has now altogether given it over, and lives retired, being very old and infirm, yet continuing chymistry.'

[Wood's Athenae Oxon. (Bliss), i. 45, iii. 331, 477, 610, 1030; Fasti, ii. 103, 121, 193; Biog. Brit. (Kippis); Dickinson's Life and Writings by Blomberg, 1737, 2nd edit. 1739; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Munk's Coll. of Phys. i. 394-6 ; Evelyn's Diary, ii. 375.]

R. H.

DICKINSON, JAMES (1659–1741), quaker, born in 1659 at Lowmoor House, Dean, Cumberland, was the son of quaker parents of fair means and position, both of whom he lost when very young. He seems to have had more than the average education, and from his earliest years to have been very susceptible to religious influences and somewhat of a visionary. When nineteen he felt it his duty to become a quaker minister, of which body he was a birthright member. His first effort was at a presbyterian meeting at Tallentire, near Cockermouth; when being put out of the conventicle he continued his discourse through the window until thrown down and injured by the congregation. Till 1682 he chiefly laboured in the north of England, but in this year he visited Ireland and did much to strengthen the footing quakerism had already gained in Ulster. In 1669, after visiting Scotland, he went to New Jersey for a few months, and subsequently made a prolonged preaching excursion in England, frequently being ill-treated, but escaping imprisonment. At an open-air meeting in the Isle of Portland he was seized by a constable and was dragged by the legs along the road and beaten till almost dead (see Piety Promoted). On his recovery he visited Holland, being chased on the way by a Turkish ship. Dickinson claims to have had a ‘sight of this strait’ and to have been assured that he should not be captured. As he could not speak Dutch, and was obliged to speak through an interpreter, his visit was not successful. After another tour in England and Ireland he went into Scotland and laboured for some time with Robert Barclay of Ury, at whose death, which was occasioned by a disease contracted during this journey, he was present. Dickinson now sailed for Barbadoes in a ship which formed part of a convoy, the whole of which, with the exception of the ship he was in and two others, was captured by the French fleet, and these only escaped through a succession of fogs. After staying in Barbadoes a sufficient time to visit the different quaker meetings in the island, he went on to New York, and thence travelled through the New England states. Of this journey he gives a full and