Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/552

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ful to cool the enthusiasm of the scientific visionary, who is apt often to account for what never has existed."

The king could, however, discuss soberly the topics beloved by the F. R. S., who had many a long scientific talk with him. He tried experiments himself, and Pepys speaks of going down at Whitehall "into the king's little elaboratory under his closet; a pretty place; and there saw a great many chymical glasses and things but understood none of them." Pepys was accompanied by his fellow-members, Lord Brouncker and Sir R. Murray. Under date of May 3, 1661, Evelyn writes: "This evening I was with my Lord Brouncker, Sir Robert Murray, Sir Pa. Neill, Monsieur Zulichem, and Mr. Bull (all of them of our society and excellent mathematicians) to show his Majesty, who was present, Saturn's annulus very neere eclipsed by the moon; also Jupiter and satelites, thro' his Majesty's great telescope, drawing 35 foote; on which were divers discourses." Another day Evelyn accompanied Charles "to Mons. Febure, his chymist (and who had formerly been my master in Paris), to see his accurate preparation for the composing Sir Walter Raleigh's rare cordial; he made a learned discourse before his Majesty in French on each ingredient." Another scientist of high rank was Prince Rupert, who with his own hands (which the jeering courtiers said too often bore the stains of the laboratory) taught Evelyn to engrave mezzotinto, and whom Evelyn introduced to the Royal Society, where, in spite of smoke-begrimed linen and fingers stained with acids, the soldier chemist was warmly welcomed as an agreeable companion and scientific brother. The well-known "Prince Rupert's drops" may be numbered among the scientific toys invented in this age.

Pepys gives an amusing account of an encounter between Charles II and the celebrated scholar, wit, and inventor, Sir William Petty. "Thence to Whitehall," he says, "where in the duke's chamber the king come and stay'd an hour or two, laughing at Sir William Petty, who was there about his boat (one of his inventions); and at Gresham College in general; at which poor Petty was, I perceived, at some loss; but did argue discretely, and bear the unreasonable follies of the king's objections and other bystanders with great discretion, and offered to take odds against the king's best boats; but the king would not lay, but cried him down with words only. Gresham College he mightly laughed at for spending time only in weighing ayre and doing nothing else since they sat."

Some time before this Evelyn wrote: "I went with that excellent person and philosopher, Sir Robert Murray, to visit Mr. Boyle. At Chelsy I saw divers effects of the Eolipile for weighing aire!" Boyle was the discoverer of "the law of the air's elasticity."