ALL this time Benjamin continues his diligent studies at the Philadelphia Library. No matter what his duties, he spends an hour or two there every day, roaming through volume after volume. The library is growing steadily both in the number and quality of its books. Every year Peter Collinson sends over from London a well-selected assortment, and sometimes adds a few volumes of his own as a gift.
It can be imagined that one day Ben takes down from a shelf a large, well-printed book known as Boyle's Lectures. Robert Boyle was an English naturalistic philosopher and writer on religious topics, born in 1627 and dying in 1691. His book is a hodge-podge of observations dealing with natural phenomena and accounts of homely experiments, mingled with long theological discussions. The latter are tedious and meaningless, but his scientific observations are sharp, practical, and entertainingly described. It is evident that the good brother writes his religious essays as a kind of self-imposed duty, but that his real zest is reserved for his experimentations.
It is on record that Ben dipped into this book when he was a half-grown boy in Boston, and though it made a certain impression upon him, it is unlikely that he was able to grasp its contents fully owing to his extreme youth. Now, however, the book reawakens all his dormant curiosity.