Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/554

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age was the home of Winstanley, who built the first Eddystone lighthouse. If you kicked aside an old shoe, flung purposely in your way, "up started a ghost before you. If you sat down in a certain chair, a couple of gigantic arms would immediately clasp you in." The house was a perfect knickknackatory, as the people of that day would have said. The instant you seated yourself in an arbor built in the garden near a canal you "were sent out afloat into the middle of the canal, whence you could not escape till this man of art and science wound you up to the arbor."

Evelyn gives an interesting account of the singular inventions of "that most obliging and universally curious" Bishop Wilkins, whose lodgings at Oxford he visited when the bishop was warden of Wadham College. Dr. Wilkins had contrived a talking statue, which was hollow, and connected with a tube through which a man a long distance off spoke the words which seemed to be uttered by the figure. With the assistance of that "prodigious young scholar, Mr. Christopher Wren," he had filled a gallery above his lodgings with a variety of shadows, dials, perspectives, and many other artificial, mathematical, and magical curiosities; a way-wiser, a thermometer, a monstrous magnet, conic and other sections, a balance on a demi-circle, marble curiously colored by Wren, and other scientific toys and instruments.

A favorite experiment in the seventeenth century was producing the apparition of a rose or other flower, and was called the process of the Palingenesis. "Having burnt a flower, by calcination, disengaged the salts from its ashes, deposited them in a glass vial, a chemical mixture acted on it, till, in the fermentation, they assumed a bluish and a spectral hue. The dust, thus excited by heat, shoots upwards into its primitive forms; by sympathy the parts unite, and while each is returning to its destined place, we see distinctly the stalks, the leaves, and the flower arise; it is the pale spectre of a flower coming slowly forth from its ashes. . . . This vegetable phœnix lies thus concealed in its cold ashes till the presence of heat produces this resurrection." When the ashes again cool it returns to death. "A corpse may give out its shadowy re-animation when not too deeply buried in the earth. Bodies corrupted in their graves have risen, particularly the murdered; for murderers are apt to bury their victims in a slight and hasty manner." Another scientific theory, as well as popular superstition, proved beyond peradventure by experiment!

Some members of the society were "impatient for romantic discoveries; miracles were required, some were hinted at, while others were promised." Of these wonders, Glanville, a man of acute and original intellect, who, though a firm believer in and defender of witchcraft, was yet somewhat skeptical in scientific