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**  A second window aside called by the Players page for Robert Hooke, entitled
“The Absent Presence of Robert Hooke”  **

First Published:  May 2012
Revised (substantive):  5 July 2021

W I T H   C O M P L E T E   T E X T   O F   A L L

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F O R   C A L L I N G   P A G E

#1 (of 10)

“the greatest mechanick this day in the world” — Aubrey was a good judge of Hooke’s engineering genius, having been himself mechanically-inclined from childhood. In his autobiography, Aubrey relates (sliding from the 1st to the 3rd person): “When a boy, bred at Eston, an eremiticall solitude. Was very curious; his greatest delight to be continually with the artificers that came there (e.g. joyners, carpenters, coupers, masons), and understood their trades.” Aubrey was, like Hooke, precocious, and “of an inventive and philosophicall head” even as a child: “At 8, I was a kind of engineer; and I fell then to drawing, beginning first with plaine outlines, e.g. in draughts of curtaines. Then at 9 (crossed herein by father and school-master), to colours, having no body to instruct me; copied pictures in the parlour in a table booke ... I drew and painted Bates’s [The Mysteryes of Nature and Art].  ¶  I was wont (I remember) much to lament with my selfe that I lived not in a city, e.g. Bristoll, where I might have accesse to watchmakers, locksmiths, etc....” (Aubrey, Brief Lives i. 35–6, transcribed and ed. by Andrew Clark) ::

#2 (of 10)

“Speculative Science” — By this, Sprat meant the various strains of Scholasticism that still dominated many of the arts & sciences, and most especially, the type of Aristotelian philosophy taught at university. ::

#3 (of 10)

“I have heretofore produced some such Nuntii” — Among the instruments invented by Hooke for completing ocean research: a marine barometer, diving bells with air for divers, underwater spectacles, and mechanical aids for taking samples from the sea and sea-bed, and for measuring underwater pressure and temperature, such as a sounding instrument (“Dr. Hook has invented a manner of Sounding the Depth of the deepest Sea, without any Line; only by a wooden Globe, lighter than Water ...”), a water sampler, and a water-poise for measuring the density of liquids.
  Francis Bacon earlier referred to the human imagination as “an agent or nuncius” (i.e., a messenger), networking between sense and the understanding, and between the understanding and reason and the will and affections (Thorpe, The Aesthetic Theory of Thomas Hobbes 74), so Hooke’s use of this term for his underwater research instruments would have carried this connotation, too. ::

#4 (of 10)

“Religio Medici, by Sir Thomas Browne” — John Aubrey was profoundly affected by the unauthorized publication of Browne’s Religio Medici, as were many of his contemporaries. Browne’s pirated MS. was incorrectly copied (at least 8 times) and twice published, full of errors and without attribution, in 1642, by the bookseller Andrew Crooke, before the first authorized, but still corrupted, edition appeared in 1643. Numerous editions followed, and Religio Medici continues to be reprinted today.
  Browne’s religious meditation on his own beliefs and temperament, on the problems of biblical interpretation, and on the relation between reason and faith — including his famous account of the human being as “that great and true Amphibium” inhabiting the dual worlds of sense and reason — was written about 1635, and was never intended for the press. Given the author’s extraordinary mind, the book’s subject matter, and Browne’s luxuriant English prose, the printed Religio Medici proved both relevant and controversial in an age of politico-religious upheaval, bringing its author unwelcome fame. Aubrey recorded the unforgettable experience of encountering Browne’s remarkable voice for the first time: “1642, Religio Medici printed, which first opened my understanding, which I carryed to Eaton, with Sir K. D. [i.e., Sir Kenelm Digby’s Observations on Religio Medici, pub. in 1643].” ::

#5 (of 10)

“the legendary master-craftsman, Prometheus” — A good example of 17th-century use of the Promethean archetype, with its mixed message concerning human advances in the arts & sciences, is found in Richard Tomlinson’s English translation of Dispensatorium Medicum, by Jean de Renou. Tomlinson (b. 1634/5) was a London apothecary, and in 1657 he associated Prometheus with the controversial activities of the iatrochemists known as Paracelsians, who pioneered the modern practice of chemotherapy.
  Using his translator’s preface to defend the medical profession from its critics, Tomlinson blamed the Swiss physician and alchemist, Philippus Aureolus Paracelsus (1493–1541), aka Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, and his followers for fostering the public perception of medicine as one of the “collapsed Arts” (d3r).
  “Neither have the Paracelsian Order (as so many Promethei that would fetch Fire from Heaven) the least share in these Contumelacies,” wrote Tomlinson, noting how “Galen and Hippocrates (who were the first that ever writ of Physick to any purpose)” are “censured by them, for immethodical and obscure, terming their Medicines obsolete, and their Precepts confused, and for the most part rejected by them, calling them Mountebanks, Empericks, Imposters, Infants, Idiots, Sophisters, and such like, not worthy the name of Physicians, who were not versed in the knowledge of such Remedies as they had, boasting that he himself could make a man live 160 years by his Alexipharmacums, Panacea’s, Mumia’s, Unguentum Armarium, and such Magnetical Cures; Lampas vitae & mortis, Balneum Dianae, Balsamum, Electrum, Magico-Physicum, Amulets, Martiala. What will not he (who stiles himself Theophrastus, Hariolum, Bombastum, Hohanhein) and his Disciples effect? He proclaims himself to be Primus Medicorum, and did more famous Cures than all Physicians in Europe, vapouring that a drop of his Preparations should go further than an ounce of theirs.” (A Medicinal Dispensatory ... Composed by the Illustrious Renodæus, Chief Physician to the Monarch of France; and now Englished and Revised, by Richard Tomlinson of London, Apothecary ..., 1657, b4r::

#6 (of 10)

“the mystic Pythagoras, a figure reverenced in 17th-century Europe and the Near East” — The philosophicoreligious symbolism surrounding Pythagoras had long been associated with an elite class. For example, when “the Wizard Earl” — Henry Percy (1564–1632), 9th earl of Northumberland — was installed a knight of the Garter on 23 April 1593, the dramatist George Peele (1556–1596) published a series of verses entitled The Honour of the Garter, dedicated to the new knight, in which the earl was linked with Trismegistus and Pythagoras, and apostrophised: “Renow[n]ed Lord, Northumberlands fayre flower / The Muses love, Patrone, and favoret, / That artizans and schollers doost embrace, / And clothest Mathesis in rich ornaments, / That admirable Mathematique skill, / Familiar with the starres and Zodiack. / (To whom the heaven lyes open as her booke) / By whose directions undeceiveable, / (Leaving our Schoolemens vulgar troden pathes) / And following the auncient reverend steps / Of Trismegistus and Pythagoras, / Through uncouth waies and unacessible, / Doost passe into the spacious pleasant fieldes / Of divine science and Phylosophie ....” (For such fulsome praise, the author was rewarded with a nominal gift of only £3.)
  The Percy family was one of the richest and most powerful feudal families of England, which enabled Henry to become one of the first absentee landlords. Changing social and economic conditions freed him from the traditional duties of an active agriculturalist, while the family lands continued to provide him with the money and leisure needed to subsidize an entire circle of savants. Members of the “Northumberland Circle” included such eminent scholars and mathematicians as Thomas Hariot, Robert Hues, and Walter Warner, as well as Robert Norton, John Donne, Sir Walter Ralegh, Nathanael Torporley, Thomas Allen, Nicholas Hill, etc.
  Percy’s primary interests were astronomy, optics, alchemy, and medicine, and while imprisoned in Martin Tower (the Tower of London), for his cousin’s involvement in the Guy Fawkes (papist) gunpowder treason plot of 5 November 1605, Northumberland “introduced what was almost a university atmosphere into the Tower.” (Winton, 276) ::

#7 (of 10)

“Mente Deos adiit, & quae Natura negavit / Visibus humanis, oculis ea Pectoris hausit” — From Book 15 of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In modern English prose: “with the eyes of the mind he gazed upon those things which nature has denied to human sight.” For a 17th-century verse translation with which Waller’s audience would have been familiar, see the first English trans. of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, by George Sandys: “Though farre from heaven, his mind’s divine ascent / Drew neere the Gods: what natures selfe denies / To humane Sight, he saw with his Soules eyes.” (Sandys, 1626, 306) Sandys’ Ovid was popular throughout the 17th century, and well into the next. E.g., Aubrey was a fan, noting in his autobiography that: “’Twas a wonderfull helpe to my phansie, my reading of Ovid’s Metamorphy in English by Sandys, which made me understand the Latin the better.” (Aubrey, Brief Lives i. 36, transcribed and ed. by Andrew Clark) ::

#8 (of 10)

“the kind of hagiography one expects from 17th-century writers paying homage to ‘the great Men’ of their age” — Compare, for example, Margaret Cavendish’s biography of her husband, which begins by parading his worth and dignities on the title-page: The Life of the Thrice Noble, High and Puissant Prince William Cavendishe ... (London, 1667). The duchess of Newcastle has been criticized more than once for “the somewhat tiresome ‘doormat’ attitude of wifely adoration towards the subject of her memoir which ‘Mad Margaret’ (as Pepys called her Grace of Newcastle) thought fitting when she took up her fatally facile pen to endow her idolised lord with all the virtues and all the graces and every talent under the sun.” (Beatrice Marshall, Memoirs of Lady Fanshawe, 1905, vi) ::

#9 (of 10)

“Aubrey’s ‘Life of Mr Thomas Hobbes of Malmesburie’” — An MS. precipitated by the death of Aubrey’s great friend Hobbes in December 1679, although Aubrey had been assembling material for it before that, having promised Hobbes that he would write his biography as early as 1667. ::

#10 (of 10)

“8o” — Common 17th-century abbreviation for octavo, a size of book traditionally produced by folding a standard printing sheet three times to form a section of eight leaves. Books with pages of this size were cheaper to produce, and appealed to a more popular audience. ::