Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/553

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537
THE ROYAL SOCIETY.

Pepys, no doubt, while the king teased and jeered at Sir William Petty, was indignantly recalling the society's many fine experiments with colors, fire, loadstones, microscopes, the airpump, thermometer, liquors, musical sounds, vibrations of the air, blood injected into a dog to prove Harvey's theory of circulation, and "one that did turn a piece of roasted mutton into pure blood, which was very rare"; and another, when the blood of a sheep was transfused into a man.

He would have liked to remind his Majesty of the plans for planting the royal forests with oaks and other trees; abating London smoke, and making artificial fuel, which had emanated from the society; of how they had promoted new physiological, surgical, medical, botanical, chemical, physical, astronomical, agricultural, horticultural, and sanitary methods and discoveries; patronized art. literature, architecture, and mechanical inventions, and were doing all in their power to "disperse," as Macaulay said of them, "the phantoms which had haunted the world for ages, and destroy the belief in witchcraft, astrology, and alchemy."

Yet, alas! Charles might have retorted that many of their leaders were either seeking the philosopher's stone and the elixir of life, endeavoring to fly in the air, to collect the feathers of the wing of a phoenix, or catch "the disjointed syllables of an old doting astrologer." The contents of their museums were often no more valuable than the toys in the baby-house, and amusing rather than useful or really curious. Yet with these playthings they expected to work wonders in science.

The distinguished Sir Samuel Morland, who was reputed to have invented the steam-engine, the speaking-trumpet, drum capstans for weighing heavy anchors, arithmetical wheels, quenchfires, a new kind of harp, valuable bridges, a machine for throwing water to a great height, and other useful things, prided himself on his coach, which contained a kitchen with a fireplace, pots, frying-pans, and a machine for roasting meat by clockwork.

Evelyn visited Sir Samuel when the inventor was very old and blind, and was shown his "invention of writing, which was very ingenious; also his wooden Kalender, which instructed him all by feeling, and other pretty and useful inventions of mills, pumps, etc. He has newly buried £200 worth of music-books six feet under ground, being, as he said, love-songs, and vanity. He plays himself psalms and religious hymns on the theorbo." Sir Samuel believed in spells and witchcraft, and hesitated to prosecute a lawsuit because he was firmly convinced that the defendant had used, or was capable of using, charms to gain the victory over him. One of the fantastic wonders of the