Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/247

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235
THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND.

tant observations which have made the Observatory of Greenwich the most famous in the world. When, in 1698, Peter the Great visited England, he showed his great natural love for all that bore upon navigation by spending considerable time in the observatory and among the Fellows of the Royal Society. His quick mind evidently saw the advantages of such a society and observatory, for later in his life he established the Academy of Sciences and the National Observatory at St. Petersburg.

In 1695 Dr. Woodward, Fellow, brought forward his "Essay towards a Natural History of the Earth," which secured considerable notice from the great knowledge displayed upon geological subjects. He founded the professorship of Geology at Cambridge, and bequeathed his geological museum to the university at his death. In 1710 he managed to insult Sir Hans Sloane, then president of the society, for which the society demanded an apology. This he refused to give, and was expelled. He appealed to law for reinstatement, but failed. So ended the first quarrel in the history of the society. Woodward must have had a testy temper, for he had a quarrel with Dr. Mead over some medical topic about which they disagreed, and which resulted in a duel under the gate of Gresham College. During the duel Woodward's foot slipped and he fell. "Take your life!" exclaimed Dr. Mead. "Anything but your physic," replied Woodward.

1709 is the date of the death of Sir Godfrey Copley, Fellow, and the foundation by his will of the medal of that name, which has been so pertinently styled by Sir Humphry Davy "the ancient olive crown of the Royal Society." This medal is awarded yearly "to the living author (native or foreign) of such philosophical research, either published or communicated to the society, as may appear to the council to be deserving that honor," and many of the brightest men of science throughout the world have been recipients of this medal.

In 1752 England officially changed the calendar, the Royal Society, as would be supposed, being chiefly instrumental in the change. The bill was drawn up by president of the society Folkes, the secretary, Duval, and Astronomer Royal Bradley.

The Julian calendar, as instituted by Julius Cæsar, was so perfect that it was universally used until the sixteenth century. But as time ran on it was seen that the Julian year was eleven minutes longer than it should be, so that by 1582 there was a discrepancy of ten days. This resulted in great confusion in the Church, respecting the proper dating of Easter and all other movable feasts. Pope Gregory XIII set to work to correct this, and, by the recommendation of Lilius, a Neapolitan astronomer, proposed the Gregorian Calendar or New Style, in which he corrected the excessive ten days by declaring that the day following the 5th of