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Then as the dewy morn restored the day,
“ What language can my injured passion frame,
leave no stain
Thus sigh'd the swain: at length, his o'erwatch'd eyes
THE HON. ROBERT BOYLE.*
HISTORIANS and political writers, both ancient and modern, have advanced it as an incontestable proposition; · That learning, and the liberal and polite arts, flourish in proportion to the freedom of civil societies. And
And upon this general maxim some have refined so far as to assert, “That they succeed better under republican, than under monarchical, governments.' The latter opinion, however, seems to have been founded upon the progress of human knowledge under the ancient commonwealths of Greece; for it by no means holds universally true in modern times. Nor, indeed, is the general maxim itself totally free from exceptions.
France furnishes a splendid instance to prove, that the sun of science may pervade the dense clouds of despotism, and shine forth for a season, even amidst the ravages of tyranny and the carnage of war. Part of the reign of Louis XIV. was the golden age of her arts and sciences.
* AUTHORITIES. Birch's Life of Boyle, prefixed to the edition of his Works, in 5 vols. fol.' 1744, Biographia Britannica, and Burnet's Funeral Sermon at his death,
The impolitic revocation of the Edict of Nantz in 1685 banished from her territories, with many thousands of ingenious and industrious mechanics and artists, some of the most eminent professors of polite literature, who could not submit to the intolerant spirit of Popery. And the English Revolution soon afterward, by which religious and civil liberty was fixed on a permanent basis, was the æra in this country of the revival of science, the progress of which had been previously interrupted by civil commotions, and by a royal conspiracy to overturn the free constitution of the realm.
Thenceforward to the present time, under the aus. pices of better sovereigns, the improvement of the understanding has been the delight of men of superior genius in the walks of private life. The result has been a plentiful harvest of eminent poets, philosophers, and divines. From this collection, though of a somewhat earlier date, ROBERT BOYLE must not be omitted: man superior to titles, and almost to praise; illustrious by birth, by learning, and by virtue.
The seventh son, and the fourteenth child, of Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, he was born at Lismore in the year 1627; and, though he was the only one of his father's sons who attained manhood with. out receiving a title, and also the only one who did not distinguish himself in public business, his life was not less useful to his country than that of the greatest statesman.
His father * committed him to the care of a plain country-nurse, with instructions to bring him up as
• Whose Life has been already recorded in these Volumes,
hardily as if he were her own. The vigorous constitution however, which this injunction procured for him, he subsequently lost by being treated with too great tenderness.
At the age of three years, he had the misfortune to lose his mother. This calamity, it appears from some Memoirs which he drew up of his more early days, he bitterly regretted, esteeming it a singular unhappiness never to have seen one of his parents so as to remember her; more especially, from the excellence of the character which she left behind her.
Another accident happened to him while at nurse, which occasioned him for a long time no inconsiderable trouble : by mimicking some children of his own age, he unfortunately learned to stutter; an infirmity of which, though no endeavours were spared, he could never be perfectly cured.
He returned home, when he was about seven years old; and soon afterward, in a journey to Dublin, he incurred a great risk of losing his life. In passing a brook swelled by sudden showers, his father's coach was carried away, and dashed to pieces : but one of the attendants succeeded in rescuing him from the torrent.
While at home, he was taught to write a very fair hand, and to speak French and Latin, by one of the Earl's chaplains, and a Frenchman who resided in the house. In 1635, his father wishing him to be educated at Eton under the care of his old friend Sir Henry Wotton, he set out, in company with Mr. Francis Boyle, his elder brother (afterward Lord Shannon) for Youghall; and thence, not without considerable danger of being taken by some Turkish pirates which at that time infested the Irish coast, crossed the sea to Bristol.
On his arrival at Eton, he was placed under Mr. Harrison, then master of the school, of whose kindness toward him he makes honourable mention in his Memoirs; observing, that “through his prudent management chiefly he acquired that relish for learning;' by which even in his youth he was so highly distinguished. He likewise remarks, that the accidental perusal of Quintus Curtius, the celebrated Latin writer of the Life of Alexander the Great, first made him in love with other than pedantic books.'
At Eton he remained between three and four years; after which his father carried him to his own seat at Stalbridge in Dorsetshire, and placed him for some time under the care of Mr. Douch, then rector of the parish and one of his chaplains.
In the autumn of 1638, the two brothers, Francis and Robert, were sent abroad upon their travels. Embarking at Rye they proceeded by Dieppe and Rouen to Paris, and thence through Lyons to Geneva, where they resumed their studies with the utmost assiduity. The latter in particular, during his stay at that place, renewed his acquaintance with the mathematics, the elements of which he had first acquired at Eton.
He was now approaching fourteen; and his temper being naturally grave, his thoughts were frequently turned to religious subjects, not indeed without some mixture of doubts and difficulties (as he himself acknowledges) about the certainty of the Christian Revelation ; doubts and difficulties however followed by the best of consequences, as they led