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numerous tracts of research, and doubtless conceive numerous splendid results, which human life would be short to follow or attain. Such a sense is more penurious of its hours than the miser of his gold: the gold may be accumulated, but the measured moments can neither be increased nor recalled. As most men live, it is true that an hour gained or lost would be but a little more or less of a useless commodity; while to one like Boyle it was truly more than wealth could compensate: some such sentiment suggested the aphorism of Bacon, ars longa, vita brevis. Mr Boyle, whose labours were the practical illustration of Bacon's philosophy, left also an illustrious example of the strictest economy of time. Zealous in the pursuit of important truths, he saw that, with his diminished energies, and diminishing days, it was necessary to cut off all superfluities, and avoid all uncalled-for waste of time and labour. With this view he ceased drawing up those formal communications to the Royal Society, which but interrupted the business of investigation, led to premature discussion, and broke in upon the settled frame of his thoughts. With much regret he resigned his office of governor to the corporation for propagating the gospel in New England. He published an advertisement declining the numerous visits to which his great celebrity exposed him; and put up a board to indicate the hours when he could receive those whom he could not, or would not, refuse to see. For these he set apart two mornings and two evenings in each week.
He availed himself of the leisure thus obtained, not only to prosecute his important investigations, but to repair the loss of many valuable papers, and to put the whole in a more convenient and systematic order.
In 1691, Mr Boyle's health, which had never been strong, began to give way to such an extent, that he concluded it full time to prepare for his end, and executed his last will. The rapid indications of a failure of the powers of life increased through the summer, and in October were so far advanced that no hope remained of any very decided restoration. His decline was considered to have been accelerated by his extreme concern about the illness of his dear sister, the lady Ranelagh, with whom he had ever lived on terms of the tenderest attachment. And as they had been united through life, they were not to be painfully disunited by the grave. Lady Ranelagh died on the 23d of December, 1691; and on the 30th of the same month, she was followed by her brother: a man who, if regard be had to the combination of high philosophic genius, moral worth, and genuine Christian goodness, has not been equalled, in any known instance, in succeeding generations. Holding a foremost place among the philosophers of that age, he was equally prominent, and still more deserving of veneration and honour as a Christian. With a spirit too wise to desire the adventitious honours which had been showered, with a liberal hand, on all the members of his family, and were pressed by royal favour on his acceptance—he refused to obscure with a title that name which continues to be the grace and ornament of the records of a family which has produced many persons of worth and public distinction.
He was, in a high degree, instrumental in the propagation of the
gospel: for this purpose his influence and fortune were used with energy and perseverance. He spent £700 upon the Irish translation of the Bible-of which he sent 500 copies into Ireland, and 200 into the highlands of Scotland. He also had printed, at his own expense, 3000 catechisms and prayer-books, for the highlands--of which the spiritual welfare had been deplorably neglected. He gave £300 for spreading the gospel in America.
We have already mentioned his foundation of a lecture for the defence of revealed religion, of which the object was thus expressed: “ To be ready to satisfy real scruples, and to answer such new objections and difficulties as might be stated, to which good answers had not been made,” &c. The fruits of this noble institution have been rich: such men as Bentley, Harris, Clarke, Whiston, and Butler, form a constellation of bright lights in the train of the noble founder; and, doubtless, far more illustrious has been the result which lies beyond the estimate of human praise—“the turning of many to righteousness;" for, considering that such minds are endowed by heaven, and such efforts commanded to man, we cannot suppose them to be ineffectually employed. But we may here pause to dwell on the characteristic sagacity which planned such a lecture. In any other department of knowledge it might be presumed that one full statement of an argument, of which all the facts are so long and so fully known as those of Christianity, might be enough to put an end to all doubts and further arguments in one way or another. But the natural aversion of irreligious minds to the gospel has the very peculiar, though obviously natural effect, of leading men to find arguments to satisfy themselves with a perfect ignorance of its nature, facts, and evidences. There is a dislike to be convinced, peculiar to this one great argument: and hence the fertility of human invention in devising such arguments as may shut out all chance of disturbing the illusions of scepticism; that is, all such arguments as are independent of the question itself, and are, therefore, without limit. A curious consequence of this is, that every generation has brought forth its own peculiar form of infidelity; some argument of which the absurdity has become too manifest to be relied upon, even by the sceptics of the next. This curious illustration of the real elementary principle of scepticism, seems to have been contemplated in Mr Boyle's foundation. · As a philosopher, there is now some difficulty in doing strict justice to Boyle. His writings have been superseded by the completion, or the far advance which has been made in those branches of natural philosophy to which he mainly applied his attention. But it will be enough to say, that all the most eminent inquirers in the same tracksuch as, for instance, Priestley-have spoken of him as the founder of the important science of pneumatics. The testimonies of foreign philosophers are also numerous and important. He was, in England, the first follower of Bacon; and, though the branches of science which he cultivated by no means claim so high a rank, yet he may be called the predecessor of Newton, and that illustrious host of mathematicians who cominenced and brought to perfection the noblest structure of knowledge that has been, or can be attained, by human powers. He must be viewed as the most eminent man in England, among those
who effected a great revolution in human knowledge; which was no less than a transition from the scholastic to the experimental schoolsfrom mere words to facts. Of this great change the beginnings are, doubtless, to be traced to previous generations and other countries; but it would lead to wide digression to say more here upon a topic which we shall have frequent occasions to notice more at large.
We shall, therefore, conclude this sketch of Boyle, by a mere enumeration of his scientific writings. They are as follow:
1. “ New Experiments, Physico-Mechanical, touching the Spring of the Air, and its Effects, 1660.” 2. “ Sceptical Chemist, 1662;" reprinted in 1679; with the addition of Divers Experiments. 3. “ Certain Physiological Essays and other Tracts, 1661." 4. “ Considerations touching the Usefulness of Experimental Philosophy, 1663." 5. “ Experiments and Considerations upon Colours, 1663.” 5. “New Experiments upon Cold, 1665.” 7. “ Hydrostatical Paradoxes, 1666.” 8. * Origin of Forms and Qualities, according to Corpuscular Philosophy, 1666.” 9. “ The Admirable Refractions of the Air, 1670.” 10. « The Origin and Virtue of Gems, 1672.” 11. “ The Relation between Flame and Air, 1672.” 12. “On the Strange Subtilty, Great Efficacy, &c., of Elluvia, 1673." 13. “ The Saltness of the Sea, Moisture of the Air, &c., 1664.” 14. “On the Hidden Qualities of the Air, 1674.” 15. “ The Excellence, &c., of the Mechanical Hypothesis, 1674.” 16. “Porosity of Bodies, 1684.” 17. “ Natural History of Mineral Waters, 1684.” 18. “Experimenta et Observationes Physicæ, 1691,” which was the last work published during his life. But two posthumous works afterwards were published, viz., ás Natural History of Air, 1692;” and “ Medicinal Experiments, 1718.”
The claim of Mr Greatrakes to our notice is very peculiar, and such as, considering the very justifiable prepossessions of the reasonable class of men against all pretensions to which the term of quackery has been, or can be applied-it will, perhaps, be in some degree hazardous to notice with the equitable spirit of philosophic indifference. The great celebrity which he obtained in his day is, perhaps, characteristic of that day. It extended from the hut of the Irish peasant to the court of England, and furnished matter for wonder and discussion to philosophers and universities. But we are happy to seize the occasion which is thus offered of discussing an important topic which stands in some need of sober and impartial comment.
On the incidents of the life of Greatrakes we shall consult the utmost brevity. He is himself the authority for his early history. He was born in 1628, and was the son of William Greatrakes, of Affanche, in the county of Waterford. His mother was a daughter of Sir E. Harris, knight, and a judge in the king's bench. He was educated at the free school of Lismore, and designed for the university; but this destination was frustrated by the great rebellion which broke out in his fourteenth year. He took refuge with his uncle, Mr E. Harris, who attended to the completion of his education with laudable diligence, and, as he says, “perfected him in humanity and divinity.”
At the restoration, Mr Greatrakes was made clerk of the peace for the county of Cork, and a magistrate, and discharged the duties of these offices so as to obtain the respect of the district.
In the midst of such avocations, he became suddenly seized with an impression that he was personally endowed with some healing virtue: this incident must be related in his own words:-“ About four years since I had an impulse which frequently suggested to me that there was bestowed on me the gift of curing the king's evil, which for the extraordinariness thereof, I thought fit to conceal for some time; but, at length, I told my wife; for whether sleeping or waking, I had this impulse; but her reply was, 'that it was an idle imagination. But, to prove the contrary, one William Maher, of the parish of Lismore, brought his son to my wife-who used to distribute medicines in charity to the neighbours--and my wife came and told me that I had now an opportunity of trying my impulse, for there was one at hand that had the evil grievously in the eyes, throat, and cheeks; whereupon I laid my hands on the places affected, and prayed to God, for Jesus' sake, to heal him, In a few days afterwards the father brought his son so changed that the eye was almost quite whole; and to be brief (to God's glory I speak it), within a month he was perfectly healed--and so continues.”
It is then stated that he proceeded to discover, and to display to the wonder of the whole surrounding country, a power of healing which was so great and so evident in its effects as to silence even the scepticism of physicians. And so great became his fame that crowds flocked around his dwelling, from all parts of the country, and filled his barns and out-houses with diseases of every kind. His fame soon spread to England, and he was invited over to cure lady Conway of an obstinate headache. In England, he was followed by multitudes: he failed to afford the desired relief to the lady Conway, but was successful in curing numbers of the poor people.
The practice of Mr Greatrakes was wholly gratuitous, and the power by which he effected his cures he attributed to a supernatural gift. In England, such pretensions soon led to public discussionin which two parties took opposite views, both in a very high degree worthy of being noticed, as examples of two unphilosophical modes of solution which derive considerable importance from the frequency with which they may be observed to recur in the history of human opinion - one party at once attributing the cures to some supernatural gift, the other resolving the difficulty by some conjectural cause. Of these, the first assumes that all the operations and powers which are termed natural, are so thoroughly known that anything which cannot be accounted for, or resolved into an effect of some known cause, must be called supernatural. The other, still more absurd, escapes the difficulty by assigning some known but inadequate cause, which amounts to no more than giving a name to a thing, and then explaining it by that name. Thus, while Mr Stubbe wrote a pamphlet, in which he described the healing power of Greatrakes as a gift bestowed by God,
and with curious inconsistency described the elementary operation of the supposed gift-his adversaries attributed it to the power of friction, neglecting to observe, that if friction had anything to do with the cures supposed, it must be as the means of setting in motion some other cause, without a knowledge of which nothing was explained.
Mr Boyle was appealed to, and he appears to have viewed the question with the temperate and impartial mind of a philosopher, which is to be neither hasty to affirm nor deny. He admitted the possibility of miraculous gifts, because he found no absolute reason to deny it: but, considering the description of the actual facts, he saw no reason to class them as miracles: he justly observed, and the observation is very important, that they were wholly dissimilar from the miracles related in Scripture. He did not deny that there might be some mechanical cause, or some healing virtue applicable by the touch of the hand, especially considering the known powers of the imagination. And he illustrated his reasoning by examples of cures performed by the immediate and direct effect of this influence.
As subsequent controversies have given very considerable importance to the principles involved in this question, we shall not leave it without making some general remarks; and in doing this we shall, to the utmost extent, avoid the slightest leaning to the controverted opinions of any class of persons. It may be unnecessary to mention, that the main form in which these considerations have been latterly involved, has been the great controversy concerning mesmerism; or as it has been recently termed, animal magnetism.
On the facts, concerning which these questions have arisen, we are no further acquainted than by hearsay. But as they are not authoritatively contradicted, their reality may for the present purpose be assumed. Both parties have, so far as we have had cognizance, joined issue on the facts, and are at variance upon the law. We only design to notice here, the errors in reason which they have committed—what may become of the question concerning mesmerism, is a matter of great comparative unimportance: it is our object to guard the integrity of reason which is so apt to suffer grievously in the heat of such disputes.
Against those who have been the assertors or practitioners of mesmerism, two objections are to be made, neither of which demand much comment,—that of imposture, and that of premature theorizing. On the first, we must be very brief: we have not personally had any experience of the facts commonly alleged; they have been affirmed on very strong authority, and submitted to every test of which they seem capable. Some of them appear to admit of no deception. And it ought to be observed that, among the most intelligent of their opponents admissions have been directly or indirectly made, which amount to the concession of all that can be contended for short of idle speculation. The other charge is, indeed, but too well warranted against both sides; it rests on that common infirmity of human reason, which has from the beginning of time loaded human knowledge with the encumbrance of idle speculations. The almost universal fallacy of assuming that every thing known is to be explained by the best conjecture that occurs. Accordingly, the magnetists have in their tracts upon the subject, so amply involved their very debatable facts in such idle reasonings as