Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/557

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541
THE ROYAL SOCIETY.

sieur Roupel of "a small phial of Aurum potabile, with a letter showing the way of administering it and the stupendous cures it had done at Paris." But the bottle was empty when Evelyn received it, the potable gold having by some accident all run out. A drop of liquid gold was regarded as a sovereign remedy for every disease in France in the seventeenth century, as we may learn from Moliere's Physician in Spite of Himself, and was called the universal heal-all.

In June, 1705, Evelyn speaks of going to see Dr. Dickinson, the famous chemist, and having a conversation with him about the philosopher's elixir, which the doctor believed attainable, having seen projection himself by "one Mundanus, who sometimes came among the adepts, but was unknown as to his country and abode."

Ashmole, of museum fame, though rather a theoretical than practical alchemist, also had faith in potable gold as well as in other superstitions. He writes in his diary, April 11, 1668: "I took early in the morning a good dose of the elixir, and hung three spiders about my neck, and they drove my ague away."

He says that the alchemist, if he would succeed, must carry on his labors in secret, and not let any one know of his undertakings but his good angel and himself. Sir W. Petty told Pepys that he had left in his will sums of money to be given as prizes to persons who should make certain inventions, among others "to him that could invent proper characters to express to another the mixture of relishes and tastes. And says that to him that invents gold he gives nothing for the philosopher's stone; for (says he) they that find out that will be able to pay themselves!"

The Fellows of the Royal Society were much interested in anatomy, and sometimes witnessed dissections of men or animals. Pepys writes, July 3, 1668: "To an alehouse; met Mr. Pierce, the surgeon, and Dr. Clerke, Waldron, Turberville, my physician for the eyes, and Lowre to dissect severall eyes of sheep and oxen, with greate pleasure and to my greate information. But strange that this Turberville should be so greate a man, and yet to this day had seen no eyes dissected, or but once, but desired Dr. Lowre to give him the opportunity to see him dissect some." Turberville was a celebrated oculist, and was recommended to Pepys by that illustrious philosopher, Mr. Boyle.

The Royal Society were in the habit of inviting distinguished foreigners who visited London to attend their meetings. Evelyn writes, August 30, 1680: "I went to visite a French gentleman, one Monsieur Chardine, who, having ben thrice in the East Indies, Persia, and other remote countries, came hither in our returne ships from those parts, and it being reported that he was a very curious and knowing man, I was desir'd by the R. Society