Saturday, June 16, 2007

a small mystery of research

I'm reading the Diary of Robert Hooke. He was one of the prime movers of the scientific revolution during the latter part of the seventeenth century and a man of strong likes and dislikes. The Diary is not a literary exercise, like Samuel Pepys', but a terse, compressed, aid to memory.

Hooke was extremely active, making daily visits to places of work, to the homes of acquaintances and business contacts, to booksellers, to merchants, and to coffee houses. This busy-ness is well-summarized by Lotte Mulligan{fn1}. As example of it, I've copied a week's worth of entries at the bottom of this post.

These days I'm doing research on one of his acquaintances, a man who, like himself, was a Fellow of the Royal Society. On Feb 25, 1673, Hooke wrote of this man that he "reviled the Royal Society scandalously for not subscribing his proposals about Barnardinus Caldus."{fn2} This was an uncharacteristic outburst. I've seen no other like it in my research and I immediately began to seek out information about the incident. It took most of a morning to gather enough for some preliminary findings.{fn3}

First, it seems the person rendered by Hooke as Barnardinus Caldus was referred to by my man as Bernardinus Baldus (in a letter to John Beale, Aug 20, 1672; Rigaud, vol. 1, p.200).

More searching revealed that Bernardinus Baldus was more commonly called Bernardino Baldi (or Bernadino Baldi), an all-around Renaissance fellow (1553-1617) There's much to learn about him - see the Galileo Project entry for a summary.

In his letter to Beale, my man says "As to the Manilius, the ingenious Ed. Sherburne, Esq. Clerk of his Majesty's Ordnance, hath made an excellent English poem of it, with modern additions; and it is now printing. He was willing to have disbursed £20 for a copy of Bernardinus Baldus his three voll. of the lives of mathematicians, who died but in 1617; the heirs are covetous, and demand 900 pistoles, to the destruction of a design like Stanley's."{fn4} There's much to say about this statement. The gist is that my man wanted to achieve the publication, in English, of a manuscript of Baldi's, a multi-volume work on the lives of mathematicians. The phrase 'design like Stanley's' links Baldi's project to Thomas Stanley's The history of philosophy, a set of biographies of the famous philosophers of antiquity (1655).

The reference to Manilius is to a draft of Edward Sherburne's book The sphere of Marcus Manilius which would be published a couple of years later. In it, Sherburne gives a biographical listing of astronomers and their works. He also issues a warning about the loss of manuscripts from ancient times to his day and warns specifically about the possible loss of the Baldi manuscripts, referred to as "... those of the learned Bernardinus Baldus, Abbot of Guastalla, mentioned at the End of his Comment on Aristotle's Mechanicks, amongst which are two Volums of the Lives of Mathematicians, whereof Bartholinus in his Preface to the Edition of the Optick Fragments of Heliodorus Larissaeus, Printed at Paris 1657. gives an honourable Elogium." (p.117)

I conclude from all this that my man asked the Royal Society to fund the acquisition and publication of the Baldi work and the RS refused. His scandalous revilement of the Royal Society reveals his passion for advancing mathematics in particular and science in general through "intelligence" (the acquisition and sharing of information about the work being done by mathematicians) and encouragement (a parallel effort to get published as much of this work as possible). Sherburne, who knew my man well, tells us more:
We should be injurious to him, if we did not farther inlarge, by telling the World how much it is obliged for his Pains in exciting the Learned to publish their Works, and in acting the Part of an Ingenious Obstetrix at the Press, in correcting and in drawing of Schemes; So that he hath been Instrumental in furnishing the World with the many learned Mathematical Books here lately published (for which, his chief Reward hitherto hath been to obtain from the Learned the Title of Mersennus Anglicanus) and many more may be expected, if moderate Encouragements towards Printing such Works, and Leisure for such an Affair be not impeded through the necessary Avocations for a livelyhood, and though it be besides my Design, yet I cannot but digress in giving him and others like minded (which are very rare to be found) their due commendations, in promoting the laudable Design of getting Learned Men to impart their Labours to be Printed; and exciting others to encourage the same, as being of singular Use and advantage to the Republick of Learning; through the want whereof many Learned Mens Works of much worth have been lost, suppressed or long delayed.{fn5}


Here is a sheet from the original diary of Robert Hooke:


Here are two transcribed pages for the middle of June in 1675; click to enlarge to full size.

{source: Diary of Robert Hooke, ed. Henry W Robinson and Walter Adams (London, 1935) - fair-use reproduction.}

The text reads:


- Wednesday, June 9th.--Agreed with Hayward for floor and frame of scales. Saw Scarborough's Draught. At Bedlam, agreed about the sewer, tile window under gallery, oak door cases, etc. At Garaways. The news of the parliaments prorogation to the 13th of October. Message from Mr. Dubois. Mr. Piercehouses view in Love Lane.
- Thursday, June 10th. -- At View in Nicholas Lane 0G. from Dr. Bradford. At Bankes. At Guildhall, Oldfields and Dr. Chamberlane and Dutch. Spoke to Sir Th. Player he promised my money next week and appoiuted me to come to him. DH. A little meethlg. I reproved Oldenburg for not Registring Experiments. Brouncker took his part. At the Taverne. With Sir J. More at Coffee. He told me of Lingars Experiments. Signior a Drunken huff with Chace and Coyne. Sir J. More had tryd his watch and approved it.
- Friday, June llth. With Mr. Fitch to Mr. Mountacues. Alt agreed. To Sir Chr. Wrens. To Tompions. DH. Met Buckworth, Rider and Curler at 3 in Winchester Street. To Garaways. Davis and Hayward brought news from Curler of his huff and Oliver.
- Saturday, June l2th. -- Fitting Helioscope and watch at Physicians College. Left Deans watch with Tompion who mended balance. At Bloomsbury met Mallet. Left Cane at Coxes for ferrule. Saw his new house. At Sir Ch. Wrens. He promised me a chamber by the Park Stairs. DH. Slept. Haak. With Sir J. Cutler. Davis indeavoured to overreach me by measur &e 1/2. Sir J. Cutler at Blagrove, took Haywards papers for floor and seats. Drunk. promised to pay whatever I signed to be paid. -- At Garaways, Leak, Tompion. Tompion here all night. Much rain. Heard of Lingars Experiment without Morefields. At the Dean of Canterbury. Mrs. Cox spoke about will. Books a guift. I want one.
- Sunday, June 13th. -- Cloudy morn noe Eclipse to be seen. I took 1/2 3 of Gua. Guag. Wrought little. Boyld 2 pipkins of Hagiox. Went not out all day. Tompion here. Wrote this Account. One day this last week I revived my old contrivance for Pocket watch by cutting the Ballance in two and inserting the halfs joynd by two side pieces. See the figure. ~ Not alterable by any, they fitted the Deanes watch well. Much afeard of nose. Tompion. Resolved to proceed.
- Monday, June 14th, and Tuesday, June 15th.--[No entries.]
- Wednesday, June 16th. -- The morning overcast and blustering afternoon fair and mild. ~ 170. wind North. Received as a present from Coll. Richards 12 bottles of Port oport. Lent Tompion, Fosters Miscellanys and Streets Astronomy. Bought of Scot, Mons. Arcoud Nouvelles Elemens de Geometric. Sir J. Cutler signd and seald Haywards papers.
- Thursday, June 17th. -- At Mr. Montacues and at the ground with Mr. Russell and Montacue. Noe councell. Society Read Dr. Grew. Outlandish physitian. Oldenburg a Rascall. I propounded my theory about the digestion of liquors, about Putrefaction, about the parts of Liquors working one upon another, &c. Received from Brounker order for receiving from Chest. Received it from Collonel Richards. Received also Hay Grains his bowle of silver from him. Gave J. Clay 5 shill.
- Friday, June 18th. -- [No entry.]
- Saturday, June 19th. -- Sent Scarborough with Leake to measure Bloomsbery. Sir Th. Player promised money -- 3 days hence. Began to drink strong water and brandy.
- Sunday, June 20th. -- Grace and I drank Senna. It wrought well with me not with Grace. DH. Tompion here. At Garaways. Finished Montacue Draughts.
- Monday, June 21st. -- To the King met Mr. Montacue in the Park. Brouncker had Zulichems watch. To Leicester house, Scarborough and Chivers plot Of Ground. Mullet fals. Sir Chr. Wren faild. DH. At Dean Tillotsons Delivered Watch. (Noe Will.) Met Mr. Axe he promised Wednesday.
- Tuesday, June 22nd. -- All the morn at Mr. Montacue, Chace and T. Fitch. Lane and Fitch disappointed. J. Fitch cavilld. DH. At Sir Ch. Wren order to view spittlefields for Title, and to direct Observatory in Greenwick park for Sir J. More. He promisd money. Chess with Haak. Saw books at Faithornes of Webb about fortifications and Engines. Met Scowen and Shaw at Divill taverne. Thence to Kingsland till 11 at night. Dr. Tillotson out of Towne.
- Wednesday, June 23rd. -- At Sir J. Mores. Walkd with Aldworth. With Sir J. More to Faithornes. With Mr. Hoskins and Dr. }{all at Tompions. Borrowd of Dr. Ball Voyage al'Athens. DH. Disappointed Hoskins. Dancing Masters view 10sh. at Scots. At the Colledge.

Here is the citation for the manuscript in the Guildhall Library, London:
Author or Name Hooke, Robert, 1635-1703.
Title Diary kept from 10 March 1671/2 to 16 May 1683.
Notes The folio commencing 6 January 1672/3, and bound up after fo. 20 in this volume, should follow fo.8. At the back of the volume are miscellaneous notes including lists of books and papers (some belonging to the Royal Society) borrowed and lent by Hooke, 1666-81.
Most of the diary was published in 1935 as "The Diary of Robert Hooke 1672-1680" edited by Henry W Robinson and Walter Adams (a copy is held in the Printed Books Section at B/H 782). The publication includes entries from 1 August 1672 and the full manuscript is printed from 1 January 1673 to 31 December 1680.
Ms number Ms 01758
Bib Id 407692
fn1: Mulligan's description is on the sample first page; you don't need a Jstor subscription to view it.
fn2: 1673: Since it would be many years before Britain adopted the reformed, Gregorian, calendar, it was -- from January through March -- 1673 there and 1674 on the Continent. Explanation here.
fn3: My main search tools: Google Book Search, Dogpile metasearch, Early English Books Online, and the catalogs of the Library of Congress, Folger Library, and British Library.
fn4: Pistoles: Wikipedia says "Pistole is the French name given to a Spanish gold coin in use in 1537; it was a double escudo, the gold unit. The name was also given to the Louis d'Or of Louis XIII of France, and to other European gold coins of about the value of the Spanish coin. One pistole was worth approximately ten livres." Of livres, it says, "The livre was established by Charlemagne as a unit of account equal to one pound of silver. It was subdivided into 20 sous (also sols), each of 12 deniers. The word livre came from the Latin word libra, a Roman unit of weight. This division is also seen in the old English pound sterling, which was divided into 20 shillings, each divided into 12 pence."
fn5: We know that Sherburne knew my man well through internal evidence, their mutual association with the Royal Observatory, and a diary entry of Hooke that links them. Mersennus Anglicanus is a reference to Marin Mersenne, 1588-1648, a famous French mathematician who used meetings and correspondence to inform other mathematicians of each others' advances.

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