Plus Ultra: Or, the Progress and Advancement of Knowledge since the Days of Aristotle (1668)

By Joseph Glanvill | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

The seventeenth century was still well within that tradition which set self-knowledge against the folly of star-knowldege, moral theology above the vain curiosity of the naturalist.Attacks upon what seemed to some the foolish wisdom of the Royal Society therefore followed almost immediately upon the group's establishment, sounding with the voice of doom or with a merry conceited jest as they came from the Heraclitues or Democrituses of the age, from pious Meric Casubon or gay King Charles, who once "stayed an hour or two laughing at . . . Gresham College . . . for spending time only at weighing of ayre." 1 Such dangerous goadings, emanating from the pulpit and the court as well as from London coffee-house and tavern satirists, could not go unchallenged if the new society was to prosper in the public eye. In may, 1663, only a year after the group had received its officialy charter, its earliest President, Sir Robert Moray, wrote abroad that: "Nous fasions estat de faire publier dans peu de temps un petit Société."2 Moray refers to Thomas Sprat's official apologia, which finally appeared in 1667 as The History of the Royal Society. This book was produced under the close supervision of

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