The history of the Royal-Society of London for the improving of natural knowledge by Tho. Sprat.
Sprat, Thomas, 1635-1713., Cowley, Abraham, 1618-1667. To the Royal Society.


LOngitudinis Sientiam Nauticam vix unquam de Coe∣lo expectandam suprà asseruimus: siqua tamen ejusmodi aliquando futura est; non aliud Fundamentum, quam Lunarium motuum praecisam cognitionem, habitu∣ra videtur. Horum autem restitutionem a Parallaxi in∣choandam solertissime monuit Keplerus. Parallaxeus ve∣rò indagandae, & a Lunae latitudine (cui semper ferè complicatur) distinguendae optima (si non sola) Me∣thodus est; quae, in regionibus longe dissitis & sub eodem Meridiano positis, altitudinum. Lunae Meridianarum, per singulas orbitae partes, simul observatarum series inni∣titur: inde enim, Polorum elevatione solum praecognitâ, sertissima innotescit Globi Lunaris à Terrestri distantia. Page  189 Proponimus itaque nos Africae Promontorium Cap. Bonae Spei, vel in Oceano Atlantico Sanctae Helenae Insulam, cum locis in Europá iis respondentibus, Satellitum ope, docuimus, determinandis, in quibus istiusmodi observa∣tiones commodissime instituantur.

Upon the Reading of these last Directions, Mr. Rook the Author of them being dead, I cannot forbear saying something of that excellent Man, which his incomparable Modesty would not have per∣mitted me to write, if he had been living. He was in∣deed a man of a profound judgment, a vast comprehen∣sion, prodigious memory, solid experience. His skill in the Mathematicks was reverenc'd, by all the lovers of those studies: and his perfection in many other sorts of Learning, deserves no less admiration. But above all, his Knowledge had a right influence, on the temper of his mind, which had all the humility, good∣ness, calmness, strength, and sincerity of a sound, and unaffected Philosopher. This is spoken not of one, who liv'd long ago, in praising of whom, it were easie to feign, and to exceed the Truth, where no mans me∣mory could confute me: But of one, who is lately dead, who has many of his acquaintance still living, that are able to confirm this testimony, and to joyn with me, in delivering down his name to posterity, with this just character of his Virtues. He dy'd in the year sixty two, shortly after the establishment of the Royal Society, whose Institution he had zealously pro∣moted. And it was a deplorable accident in his Death, that he deceas'd the very night, which he had for some years expected, wherein to finish his accu∣rate Observations on the Satellites of Iupiter: how∣ever this Treasure will not be lost, for the Society has Page  190 referr'd it to some of the best Astronomers of Europe, to bring his beginnings to conclusion.

*To many of these Queries they have already re∣ceiv'd good returns, and satisfaction: and more such Accounts are daily expected from all coasts. Besides these, there have been several great and profitable Attempts, relating to the good of mankind, or the English Nation, propounded to them, by many publick Bodies, and private persons: which they have again recommended, to be examin'd apart, by divers of their own number, and by other men of ability and integri∣ty, who have accepted of their Recommendations of this kind, the Principal, that I find recorded in their Registers, are these.

They have propounded the composing a Catalogue of all Trades, Works, and Manufactures, wherein men are emploi'd, in order to the collecting each of their Histories: by taking notice of all the Physical Re∣ceipts, or Secrets, the Instruments, Tools, and Engines, the Manual operations or sleights, the cheats, and ill practices, the goodness, baseness, and different value of Materials, and whatever else belongs to the opera∣tions of all Trades.

They have recommended the making a Catalogue, of all the kinds of natural things to be found in Eng∣land. This is already in a very good forwardness. And for its better completing, many Expedients for the preserving, drying, and embalming of all living Creatures have been prosecuted.

They have suggested the making a perfect Survey, Map, and Tables of all the fix'd Stars within the Zo∣diac, both visible to the naked eye, and discoverable by a six foot Telescope, with a large aperture; towards Page  191 the observing the apparent places of the Planets, with a Telescope both by Sea and Land. This has been approv'd, and begun, several of the Fellows having their portions of the Heavens allotted to them.

They have recommended the advancing of the Manufacture of Tapistry: the improving of Silk ma∣king: the propagating of Saffron: the melting of Lead-Oar with Pit-coal: the making Iron with Sea-coal: the using of the Dust of Black Lead instead of Oyl in Clocks: the making Trials on English Earths, to see if they will not yield so fine a substance as Chi∣na, for the perfecting of the Potters Art.

They have propounded, and undertaken the compa∣ring of several Soyls, and Clays, for the better making of Bricks, and Tiles: the way of turning Water into Earth: the observing of the growth of Pibbles in Waters: the making exact Experiments in the large Florentine Loadstone: the consideration of the Bo∣nonian Stone: the examining of the nature of Petri∣fying Springs: the using an Vmbrella Anchor, to stay a Ship in a storm: the way of finding the Longitude of places by the Moon: the observation of the Tides about Lundy, the Southwest of Ireland, the Bermoo∣das, and divers parts of Scotland; and in other Seas and Rivers where the ebbing and flowing is found to be irregular.

They have started, and begun to practise the pro∣pagation of Potatoes; the planting of Verjuyce Grapes in England; the Chymical examination of French, and English Wines; the gradual observation of the growth of Plants, from the first spot of life; the in∣creasing of Timber, and the planting of Fruit Trees; which they have done by spreading the Plants into many parts of the Nation, and by publishing a Page  192 large Account of the best wayes of their cultiva∣vation.

They have propounded, and attempted with great effect, the making Experiments with Tobacco oyl; the Anatomizing of all amphibious Creatures, and examining their Lungs; the observing the manner of the Circulation of the blood in Fishes; the wayes of transporting Fish from one place to another for Breed; the collecting Observations on the Plague; the examining of all the several wayes to breed Bees; the altering the taste of the Flesh of Animals, by al∣tering their food; the probability of making Wine out of Sugar-canes: Which last I will set down as one Example.