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that system which is now generally received with respect to the general properties of that, and indeed of all other elastic fluids. The soundness of his judgment rendered him superior to all the tinsel of false philosophy. He was as adverse to the jargon of Aristotle as to' the reveries of the alchemists, and defined that fashionable philosophy as "having in it more of words than of things, promising much, and performing little."His observations on colours were useful preliminaries to that beautiful system which was afterwards perfected by the genius of Newton. There was, in short, scarcely an interesting topic of natural philosophy which did not engage the attention of this indefatigable inquirer, and scarcely any which he did not improve. His tracts in defence of the Christian religion are not the least valuable of his writings; and, indeed, in every respect, his whole life war devoted to the glory of God, and the benefit and instruction of his fellow-creatures. He may with justice, be regarded as the father of modern philosophy,

After the name of Boyle we may mention that of sir Kenelme Digby

"Digby the great, the valiant, and the wise."

A man of a genius as active, and of acquirements as universal almost as those which are ascribed to the famous Pico, prince of Mirandola. His philosophy was not, however, the cool and temperate reasoning of Boyle, -It was mingled too much with imagination, and his superstitious zeal in favour of his "Sympathetic Powder,' which was to be a cure for almost all diseases, has fixed a blot on his character, which has rendered his philosophical publications less objects of general attention than they deserve.

Sir William Petty is chiefly known for his great and acknowledged skill in political arithmetic; yet even this was one of the least of his accomplishments. Prehaps no man, not excepting the late Dr. Franklin,

ever possessed a mind so happily adapted to practical and useful science; and, indeed, he was not only one of the most extraordinary men of his age, but that Britain ever produced. Like Like the man, whom, in modern times, he most resembled, Franklin, he was the son of a plain tradesman, and born at Rumsey in Hamp shire. At a very early age he displayed an uncommon genius for mechanics; but after his grammar education, and some subsequent instruction at the university of Caer in Normandy, he was appointed to a situation in the navy. But before he had arrived at the age of twenty, having saved about sixty pounds, upon the strength of this sum he set out to travel for his improvemeat; and after spending three years abroad, and maintaining all the time his younger brother, such was his great economy and industry, that he returned to England with ten pound more than he took with him. About this time he invented an instrument for double writing, by which the operator was enabled to produce an accurate copy of a manuscript, while in the act of writing the original. This instrument has since been more successively employed in the art of drawing and designing. After this, he removed to Oxford, and in 1649 was created a doctor of physic. He was soon after appointed physician to the army, and was also physician to three successive lord-lieutenants of Ireland. This profession, however, he afterwards abandoned, and, onthe division, of the forfeited estates in Irelani, was appointed to take the surveys, which he did with singular accuracy, and gained considerable property by his services on this occasion. After the restoration, he was in considerable favour with government; received the honour of knighthood, and was a member both in the English and Irish parliaments.-The object which most engaged his attention at this period was, how to improve the arts of ship-building and navigation; and he constructed a vessel to sail against wind and tide. To enumerate his various experiments and discoveries would occupy n.ore of the volume than we usually appropriate to this


division of our work. He was one of the founders and one of the most active members of the Royal Society; and yet, while so much of his time was devoted to science, his private business was more than most men would be able to conduct: it consisted in the management of a large estate, both in lands and buildings, in. working of mines, and a considerable trade in lead, iron, aud fish. His labours were crowned with extraordinary success. He died at the age of sixty-five, possessed of immense property, and was the founder of a noble family, in which genius as well as patriotism seems to be hereditary.

Among the philosophers of this age we may class most of those who have been already noticed as the founders of the Royal Society, particularly bishop Wilkins, and Mr. Hooke, the friend and assistant of the illustrious Boyle.

It may, perhaps, be information to those of the present day, who assume a rame, of the real import of which they are essentially ignorant, that these real philosophers were Christians. Their learning was united with its natural concomitant modesty. They did not apologise for vice and impiety, because they loved to practise them; they did not cavil at the scriptures, while ignorant of the very languages in which these scriptures were composed; or deny the God of Nature, while they were totally unacquainted with all Nature's operations. Their philosophy was not rhapsody and wild conjecture; it was the philosophy of fact and experiment. Their labours were directed to the welfare of society, and not to its undoing; they were the friends of religion, of order and good government, because they were the friends of virtue and of truth.

Sprat's History of the Royal Society; Birch's History of the same; Rapin's History of England; Biographia Brit.; Biographical Dict. &c. &c.




For the Year 1798.


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