Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/548

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ing protest against their admission: "It is a fundamental rule of the society not to meddle with religion; and the reason is that we may give no occasion to religious bodies to meddle with us"; nor did the Fellows wish to "dissatisfy those of other religious bodies" who did not share the views of the Christian Knowledge Association. In the early days of the Philosophic Club, when only a few intimate friends belonged to it, Robert Boyle, on account of its smallness and lack of influence, often sportively called it the Invisible College—a name which, when this learned junto had become large and important, was recalled with terror by the enemies of the association, whether Aristotelians or religious bigots, who alike considered "the new experimental philosophy subversive of the Christian faith." The newly invented telescope and microscope were regarded by others besides ignorant fanatics with hatred and dread, as "atheistical inventions which perverted our sight, and made everything appear in a new and false light."

The opponents of the Royal Society asserted that the principal object that its supporters had in view was the extinction of universities, which were the strongholds of scholasticism and theology. Yet this association was one of the chief interests in the lives of many of the most devout and scholarly men of the seventeenth century. "Our holy religion" held the first place in their hearts, though they considered the "new philosophy" second in importance to Christianity. The imaginations and plans of the society were magnificent, but they were never carried out. The Fellows were fond of talking of their "universal correspondence," which, in the near future, would keep their ten secretaries—who, however, were never elected, though the constitution provided for them—hard at work; and they loved to throw an air of secrecy over their deliberations. These harmless vaunts and concealments added to the panic which the virtuosi excited in people who were ever dreading the establishment, openly or by the treachery of the Jesuits, of popery and arbitrary power, and led to the most unfounded suspicions and accusations.

One of the most injurious things said against the society was that its members were of the school of the Italian Campanella, who, it was claimed, wished to identify church and state throughout the world, and bring all nations under the power of a single tyrannical ruler, and to that end would divert men from theology and politics by occupying them with experimental philosophy. Campanella's universal king, as soon as by trickery or by some unaccountable and unexplained means he had firmly seated himself on his throne, would, it was asserted, carry out the dearest object of the philosopher, and substitute everywhere the ancient pagan philosophic for the modern Christian sects. Probably