Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/559

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THE ROYAL SOCIETY.

mechanical inventions; perhaps three such persons together were not to be found elsewhere in Europe for parts and ingenuity." Petty made fame and fortune by his inventions. Evelyn writes in 1655: "Came that renowned mathematician Mr. Oughtred to see me, I sending my coach to bring him to Wotton, being now very aged; Among other discourse he told me he thought water to be the philosopher's first matter, and that he was well perswaded of the possibility of their elixir; he believed the sun to be a material fire, the moone a continent, as appears by the late selenographers; he had strong apprehensions of some extraordinary event to happen in the following yeare, from the calculation of coincidence with the diluvian period; and added that it might possibly be to convert the Jewes by our Saviour's visible appearance or to judge the world." Such was the mixture of sense and nonsense which occupied the minds of superior men in the seventeenth century!

September 10, 1676, Evelyn mentions dining with the first astronomer royal, "Mr. Flamstead, the learned astrologer and mathematician, whom his Majesty had established in the New Observatorie in Greenwich Park furnished with the choicest instruments. An honest, sincere man."

Evelyn believed that diseased children had been healed by baptism, and that there were other well-attested modern miracles, and is careful to state that he planted the orchard at Sayes Court in the full of the moon; yet he was less credulous than many of his learned colleagues. In 1670 "a plaine, ordinary, silent working wench," whose arm three different times in July was powdered with red crosses arranged in a diamond-shaped figure, was brought to Sayes Court by friends who regarded this poor girl's malady as the result of a miracle, and wished the opinion on the case of an P. R. S. Evelyn was reminded of the "impostorious nunns" of Loudune, France, whom he had seen, and remembered that M. Monconys "was by no means satisfied with the stigmata of those nunns because they were so shy of letting him scrape the letters, which were Jesu, Maria, Joseph, as I thinke, observing they began to scale off with it, whereas this poor wench was willing to submit to any trial; so that I profess I know not what to think of it, nor dare I pronounce it anything supernatural." "Curing by the touch," animal magnetism, or hypnotism, was not unknown in London in the seventeenth century, and "Gretrex and Stroaker" is mentioned in the Transactions of the Royal Society.

The members of the Royal Society considered themselves "intolerable losers" when prevented from attending the profitable and desirable meetings at Gresham College. "I now and then," one complains, "get a baite at Philosophy; but it is so little and jejune, as I despair of satisfaction 'till I am againe restor'd to the