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from even the knowledge of a priori theory which might lead to prepossessions inimical to the impartial conduct of experiment, save, one must suppose, in so far as hypothesis is absolutely necessary to the first stages. He liked to interrogate nature, following very closely of his own impulse the design of Bacon. But the excellent work in science that resulted was rather due to an untiring persistence than to great gifts of intellect. He had hardly a disinterested love of knowledge; he valued it as it "had a tendency to use." And the advance he made on his time in clearness of thought concerning things in general is not that of one whose mental endowment was extraordinary. He was immersed in his pursuit of experiment, only leaving it in obedience to the calls which his birth and reputation as a savant made on his society, calls which he regretted and endeavoured to avoid. It is a reasonable supposition that if he had lived in our time he would have given his results to the world in the roughest of rough notes, for others to make books of. But having had the training of a student of the humanities, and living when to be learned meant a more diverse, a less specialised culture than the wider data of learning make possible now, and when printing was a graver undertaking than it seems with us, he gave of necessity some form and literary completeness to his publications. We find in them still the note of impatience of form: he had not time to be brief. There is scarcely a trace in him of the first quality of an artist in prose, rejection. Now and again a well-turned phrase strikes the reader, but, given a certain condition of language, the phrase is found to be that which would have occurred at once to a certain order of intellect. Happily for Boyle the English of his time was comparatively free from the more vulgar sort of stereotyped phrase; had still a full and sonorous tone. But from the greater masters of sonorous English, Boyle was as far removed as from the clear-cut simplicity and directness of Swift. His style is not involved, and is not affected; it is merely rarified and verbose. In his religious writings the same thing is noticeable as in his scientific. Here again he was deeply interested in his subject, a sincerely pious man applying his best powers, or trying so to do, to the subject he deemed of first importance. And here again he is essentially impatient of form; his sincerity gave him an infrequent warmth of phrase, the general and vague nature of his reflections an occasional rotundity, but again the average is jejune. One may often
collect very clearly the points of a writer by a comparison with a parodist. Swift was not likely to be a greatly indulgent parodist. But if a reader turn from an hour or two of Boyle's Occasional Reflexions to the immortal Meditation upon a Broomstick, he will see that Swift, neatly burlesquing the nature of his original's thoughts, is unable to compass his lack of directness and pungency. When Boyle turned to a lighter theme, he was still verbose, though there is a certain charm and demureness which recall the accounts we have of the kindly and pleasant nature of the man. It is said that he tried to correct his diffuseness, but we may surmise that he tried to mitigate its inconvenience rather than to correct its deficiency of form. In fine, his attainments as a scholar, while they impelled him to attempt a literary form for his thoughts and discoveries, were not strong enough in the balance of his mind to compel the sacrifices necessary to an artistic result.
G. S. STREET
THE VALUE OF NATURAL PHILOSOPHY
THE natural philosophy wont to be taught in schools, being little other than a system of the opinions of Aristotle and some few other writers, is not, I confess, Pyrophilus, very difficult to be learned; as being attainable by the perusal of a few of the more current authors. But, Pyrophilus, that experimental philosophy which you will find treated of in the following essays is a study, if duly prosecuted, so difficult, so changeable, and so toilsome that I think it requisite, before I propose any particular subjects to your inquiries, to possess you with a just value of true and solid physiology; and to convince you that, by endeavouring to addict you to it, I invite you not to misspend your time or trouble on a science unable to merit and requite it. In order, Pyrophilus, to the giving you this satisfaction, give me leave to mind you that it was a saying of Pythagoras, worthy so celebrated a philosopher, that there are two things which most ennoble man, and make him resemble the gods; to know the truth, and to do good. For, Pyrophilus, that diviner part of man, the soul, which alone is capable of wearing the glorious image of its author, being endowed with two chief faculties, the understanding and the will, the former is blest and perfectionated by knowledge, and the latter's loveliest and most improving property is goodness. A due reflection upon this excellent sentence of him to whom philosophers owe that modest name, should, methinks, Pyrophilus, very much endear to us the study of natural philosophy. For there is no human science that does more gratify and enrich the understanding with variety of choice and acceptable truths; nor scarce any, that does more enable a willing mind to exercise a goodness beneficial to others.
To manifest these truths more distinctly, Pyrophilus, and yet without exceeding that brevity my avocations and the bounds of an essay exact of me, I shall, among the numerous advantages accruing to men from the study of the book of nature, content
myself to instance only in a couple that relate more properly to the improving of men's understandings, and to mention a few of those many by which it increases their power.
The two great advantages which a real acquaintance with nature brings to our minds are, first, by instructing our understandings, and gratifying our curiosities; and next, by exciting and cherishing our devotion.
And for the first of these; since, as Aristotle teacheth, and was taught himself by common experience, all men are naturally desirous to know; that propensity cannot but be powerfully engaged to the works of nature, which, being incessantly present to our senses, do continually solicit our curiosities; of whose potent inclining us to the contemplation of nature's wonders, it is not, perhaps, the inconsiderablest instance, that, though the natural philosophy hitherto taught in most schools hath been so litigious in its theory, and so barren as to its productions, yet it hath found numbers of zealous and learned cultivators, whom sure nothing but men's inbred fondness for the object it converses with, and the end it pretends to, could so passionately devote to it.
And since that (as the same Aristotle, taught by his master Plato, well observes) admiration is the parent of philosophy, by engaging us to enquire into the causes of things at which we marvel, we cannot but be powerfully invited to the contemplation of nature, by living and conversing among wonders, some of which are obvious and conspicuous enough to amaze even ordinary beholders, and others admirable and abstruse enough to astonish the most inquisitive spectators.
The bare prospect of this magnificent fabric of the universe, furnished and adorned with such strange variety of curious and useful creatures, would suffice to transport us both with wonder and joy if their commonness did not hinder their operations. Of which truth Mr. Stepkins, the famous oculist, did not long since supply us with a memorable instance; for (as both himself and an illustrious person that was present at the cure, informed me) a maid of about eighteen years of age, having by a couple of cataracts that she brought with her into the world, lived absolutely blind from the moment of her birth, being brought to the free use of her eyes, was so ravished at the surprising spectacle of so many and various objects as presented themselves to her unacquainted sight, that almost everything she saw transported her with such admiration and delight that she was
in danger to lose the eyes of her mind by those of her body, and expound that mystical Arabian proverb which advises to shut the windows that the house may be light.
(From Usefulness of Natural Philosophy.)
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
IT is not that I think all the books that constitute the Bible of equal necessity or equal usefulness because they are of equal extraction, or that I esteem the Church would lose as much in the prophecy of Nahum as that of Isaiah, or in the book of Ruth as in the Epistle to the Romans or the gospel of John (as the fixed stars themselves, though of the same heaven, are not all of the same magnitude and lustre). But I esteem all the constituent books of Scripture necessary to the canon of it; as two eyes, two ears, and the rest of the members are all necessary to the body; without divers of which it may be, but not be so perfect, and which are all of great though not of equal usefulness. And perhaps it might, without, too, hyperbole, be said further, that as amongst the stars that shine in the firmament, though there be a disparity of greatness compared one to another, yet they are all of them lucid and celestial bodies, and the least of them far vaster than any thing on earth, so of the two Testaments that compose the Bible, though there may be some disparity in relation to themselves, yet they are both heavenly and instructive volumes, and inestimably out-valuing any the earth affords, or human pens ever traced. And I must add,
that as mineralists observe that rich mines are wont to lie hid in those grounds whose surface bears no fruit trees (too much maligned by the arsenical and resembling fumes), nor is well stored with useful plants or verdure (as if God would endear those ill-favoured lands by giving them great portions), so divers passages of Holy Writ, which appear barren and unpromising to our first survey, and hold not obviously forth instructions or promises, being by a sedulous artist searched into (and the original word épevvâv used in that text of Search the Scriptures does properly enough signify the searching for hid treasure) afford, out of their penetrated bowels, rich and precious mysteries of divinity.
(From Some Considerations touching the Style of the Holy Scriptures.)