Robert Boyle (1627–91) was, at least by reputation, the greatest scientist in the period between the condemnation of Galileo and the triumph of Newton. A founder member of the Royal Society, he did a great deal to win respect for the new experimental science and the mechanical philosophy. His early experiments with a vacuum pump (published in 1660) became famous as a refutation of Aristotelian physics (which denied the possibility of a vacuum), and led to the formulation of Boyle’s Law relating the volume and pressure of gases. These achievements were accompanied by a commitment to religion that was even more important to him than science. He was much concerned with the propagation of the Gospel in foreign lands and foreign languages (including Gaelic), and paid for a translation of Grotius’s De veritate into Arabic (surely a futile undertaking if ever there was one). At his death Boyle left a bequest to fund an annual series of lectures defending the truths of religion against atheism. He clearly hoped that scientific methods would provide indisputable confirmation for religious truths: the existence of life after death, for example, was to be confirmed by investigation of the mysterious drummer of Tedworth, a poltergeist.
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
'Sabotage became so prevalent that bankers even created their own terms – ‘asymmetric information’, ‘lack of financial literacy’, ‘the principal-agent dilemma’ – to describe how they might turn a dime from customers’ gullibility or ignorance.'
'Unlike much that was extracted from India, these paintings were not plunder, and those who created them were properly remunerated and often received due credit.'
@PParkerWriting on 'Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company'.
‘"I feel", Lowell told Hardwick ... "as if I were pulled apart and thinning into mist, or rather being torn apart and still preferring that state to making a decision."'
Richard Davenport-Hines on the letters of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick.