Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 January 2009
The growth of modern science has been accompanied by the growth of professionalization. We can unquestionably speak of professional science since the nineteenth century, although historians dispute about where, when and how much. It is much more problematic and anachronistic to do so of the late seventeenth century, despite the familiar view that the period saw the origin of modern experimental science. This paper explores the broad implications of that problem.
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15 Hooke's disastrous period as Secretary to the Society showed that this was not a viable promotion.
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27 Desmarest, Nicolas, ‘Discours historique et raisonné sur l'expériences de M. Hauskbée’, a preface to Hauksbee, F., Expériences physico-mechaniques sur differens sujets, traduit par M. de Brémond de l'Académie Royale des Sciences, 2 vols., Paris, 1754.Google Scholar
29 The first known contact between Hauksbee and either Newton or the Royal Society was his performance with his improved air-pump at the first meeting over which Newton presided, on 15 December 1703. He was ordered 5 guineas in July 1704. He then proposed, but was denied, more regular payment, and was told that ‘he would be gratified according to the proportion of his services’. See JB, 15/12/04, 55Google Scholar, and CM, 12/7/04, 126.Google Scholar
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32 DSB, s.v. ‘Hauksbee, Francis [1666–1713]’. For an earlier but more extensive discussion see Guerlac, , op. cit. (22).Google Scholar
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36 Linguistic criteria bring their own illumination to the history of early modern experiment. See Schmitt, C., ‘Experience and experiment: a comparison of Zabarella's view with Galileo's in De motu’, Studies in the Renaissance (1969), 16, 80–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
37 Hall, Boas, op. cit. (20)Google Scholar. I have relied upon her analysis for the very slack period, from the point of view of experiment, between 1688 and 1702.
38 Hall, Boas, op. cit. (20), 4–5Google Scholar, where she is refreshingly open about her criteria. My reservations have been shared by other reviewers, such as Dear, Peter in Isis (1993), 84, 148–9.Google Scholar
39 The work of the anatomy ‘curator’ James Douglas (see below) is a case in point. Douglas ‘showed’ both dissections and monstrosities, such as the skull of a mouthless puppy. See JB, 29/10/07, 164Google Scholar. I have not counted the latter as experimental work.
40 Westfall, , op. cit. (22), 634Google Scholar. See below for Richard Lower and Edward Tyson. For graphs of activity from 1660 to 1727, see Hall, Boas, op. cit. (20)Google Scholar. Each chronological chapter is accompanied by one. The following list of individuals is arranged chronologically according to periods of activity in the Society.
41 For Hooke's biography, see Espinasse, M., Robert Hooke, London, 1956Google Scholar. For more recent assessments see Hunter, and Schaffer, op. cit. (14)Google Scholar, and Pumfrey, , op. cit. (14).Google Scholar
45 According to the DNB, Papin ‘sought the more lucrative post of secretary, but Halley was elected in his stead’. I find no record of this in Birch, , op. cit. (21)Google Scholar, but it would confirm the use of such positions by would-be professional experimenters.
46 JB, 17/3/07–8, 179Google Scholar; JB, 14/4/08, 182Google Scholar; JB, 21/4/08, 184Google Scholar; JB, 18/5/09, 214Google Scholar; JB, 26/4/11, 278–80.Google Scholar
47 According to the DSB, Leibniz wrote to the Royal Society Council about Papin in February 1707/8.
48 JB, 14/4/08, 182Google Scholar. Newton referred discussion of Papin's payment to Council on 27/12/11. Unlike other projectors and instrument makers such as Kerridge and Fahrenheit, Papin was already a Fellow and did not need permission to attend meetings.
50 CM, 2/8/11, 192Google Scholar; CM, 4/1/11–12, 199Google Scholar. Unlike other ballots of the period, the result was not recorded nemine contradicente.
52 Hunt performed experiments, for example, on gunpowder (JB, 15/3/03–4, 67Google Scholar), sulphur (JB, 28/2/04–5, 97Google Scholar), a pike (JB, 7/11/06, 114Google Scholar), magnetism (JB, 19/12/05, 116Google Scholar; JB, 10/4/06, 128Google Scholar) and on temperature (JB, 12/1/08–9, 203Google Scholar). For Hunt's earlier assistance to Lister, see Pumfrey, , op. cit. (14), 35–6.Google Scholar
54 For Halley, see Pumfrey, , op. cit. (14), 15–16Google Scholar and Ronan, C. A., Edmond Halley: Genius in Eclipse, London, 1975, 63–75Google Scholar. Halley's only ‘experimental’ contribution after 1692 was an observation of the variation, reported in JB, 3/7/05, 110.Google Scholar
55 The most convenient summary of Hauksbee's life remains Guerlac's entry in DSB.
57 CM, 24/8/13, 212Google Scholar. This is the last reference under Newton's presidency, until he re-emerged as housekeeper. He came recommended ‘by divers members of the Society’, but not by Newton, whose favourite was one Thomas Overton, nor by Desaguliers, who backed Thomas Glover. See CM, 4/4/23, 267.Google Scholar
58 Following Hauksbee the elder's last performance on 29 January 1713, experiments ceased. When on 21 May 1713 d'Aumont's arrival was announced just before the meeting commenced ‘Mr Hauksbee was ordered to prepare some particular Experiments for his Entertainment’ (JB, 21/5/13, 483Google Scholar). It was thought proper to defer the usual reading of papers for a Newtonian display, and the duke ‘was entertained with severall experiments of the production of light by friction, or elasticity, of the mutuall Attraction of the Parts of Matter, of the curve caused by the Rising of a Fluid between glass planes, etc.’ Sloane stalled by showing curiosities in the repository, and contributed an ‘experiment of the Stone called Oculus Mundi’. Whilst the attendance of ‘Mr [George] Berkeley, a clergyman’ did not provoke experimentation, the return of d'Aumont panicked them into a repertoire of air-pump experiments, presumably again by Hauksbee junior. See JB, 11/6/13, 492.Google Scholar
59 For details of the selection process see the fascinating CM, 4/4/23, 267Google Scholar. Each candidate was ‘examined in the following particulars’ of handwriting, languages ‘skill in Natural Knowledge or History’, librarianship, and ‘the sufficiency of the Security they were able to give for their Trust’. Hauksbee offered £400–500 against any misdemeanour. This was a sensitive matter because Alban Thomas had absconded leaving debts. The Society considered legal proceedings (CM, 30/11/23, 275Google Scholar; CM, 12/3/24–5, 276Google Scholar), but was ultimately benevolent (CM, 3/11/26, 297–8Google Scholar). As with Halley's election to the Clerkship, the conditions imposed on the housekeeper were ungentlemanly and incompatible with Fellowship, but manifestly compatible with the performance of experimental work.
60 Note that this is not the same as Hooke's Curatorship by Office. Desaguliers was paid according to his efforts. Newton generally preferred payments to be ‘esteemed as a gratuity and not [to] be drawn into a president [sic]’. See CM, 5/11/19, 251Google Scholar: CM, 12/12/16, 257.Google Scholar
62 CM, 17/11/26, 299Google Scholar. Desaguliers also introduced his co-projectors William Vream and Henry Beighton. See JB, 4/4/23, 267, 269Google Scholar, and Stewart, , op. cit. (2), 225.Google Scholar
63 This was initially a monetary payment only. A medal was also awarded from 1736, which Desaguliers won. The first person other than Desaguliers to receive the £5 was Gray, Stephen in 1731 and 1732Google Scholar. See Hall, Boas, op. cit. (20), 130–1.Google Scholar
65 I have not studied Gray's work after 1730, and my account relies upon those of Heilbron, , op. cit. (18) and op. cit. (21)Google Scholar, and his entry in DSB, s.v. ‘Gray, Stephen’.
66 I am grateful to Simon Schaffer for this suggestion.
68 Hunter, , op. cit. (20), 1989, 261–78, quotation from 276Google Scholar. This account relies substantially on Hunter's thorough study.
69 CM, 2/7/07, 144Google Scholar, when Hauksbee also received £40 ‘for his last years waiting upon the Society’. See also The Record of the Royal Society of London for the Promotion of Natural Knowledge, 4th edn, London, 1940, 30.Google Scholar
70 I have been unable to determine his dates. They are missing from the otherwise full index of Hall, Boas, op. cit. (20).Google Scholar
75 For Papin, see DSB, s.v. ‘Papin, Denis’; for Desaguliers' decline see Stewart, L., ‘Public lectures and private patronage’, Isis (1986), 77, 47–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
76 For Fahrenheit see CM, 7/5/24, 279Google Scholar. ‘[Fahrenheit's] constant attendance upon the Society seemed to require some sort of acknowledgement’ which was 10 guineas. Fahrenheit was another who arrived as an unknown, was ‘given leave’ to attend meetings because he was not a Fellow, and provided experimental entertainment, as recorded in JB, 5/3/23–4, 443′Google Scholar; JB, 26/3/24, 454Google Scholar; JB, 2/4/24, 457Google Scholar; JB, 23/4/24, 467Google Scholar and JB, 30/4/24, 470Google Scholar. Having performed thermometric experiments and demonstrated instruments, Fahrenheit was proposed for a Fellowship by Desaguliers at the meeting of 26 March 1724 and subsequently elected.
77 See Pumfrey, , op. cit. (14), 7 and 38Google Scholar n26 and CM, 17/11/26 for Hooke's and Desaguliers' rebukes.
78 Though this is not to deny that they did experiment privately, and occasionally publicly. This is discussed below.
83 One might speculate, in this regard, whether Newton, for example, thought of Hauksbee as an apprentice natural philosopher, when he directed him in the design of instruments and experiments.
87 Locke variously described the lower orders as ‘destined to labour and given up to the service of their bellies’, and who, in religion, ‘cannot know and therefore must believe’. See Macpherson, , op. cit. (13), 223.Google Scholar
89 The Society's minutes frequently record the direction of experimenters by the virtuoso philosopher. See, for example, JB, 18/2/13–14, 546Google Scholar, where the airy Desaguliers was ‘desired to wait on the President and take his directions’.
90 Sprat, T., A History of the Royal Society, London, 1667 (reprint edn, London, 1959), 391–2, 404.Google Scholar
92 It would, however, be instructive to re-examine the distribution of private experimental work. We need to determine the extent to which gentlemen acted as philosophical overseers of operators, whose contributions become invisible in the public reports.
93 JB, 10/6/14, 574Google Scholar; JB, 21/7/15, 78Google Scholar. Such experiments were accompanied with references to the principles which they demonstrated. In the following paper in this issue Schaffer suggests that these particular experiments related to claims for perpetual motion machines (see Schaffer, S., ‘The show that never ends: displays of perpetual motion in the early eighteenth century’, BJHS (1995), 28, 157–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar).
96 A water engineer called Kerridge, who is not mentioned in Stewart, , op. cit. (2)Google Scholar, made three entreaties to the Society. First he asked for recommendations, which Fellows considered giving, but as individuals and not as from the Society as a whole. He returned to offer his services, without result, and then appeared two years later pleading his ‘necessitous condition’. He was informed that the Society did not deal with such petitions. JB, 3/7/12, 412Google Scholar; JB, 30/10/12, 425Google Scholar; JB, 22/4/14, 562.Google Scholar
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100 Pumfrey, , op. cit. (14), 8–10Google Scholar. The evidence of Hauksbee's and Desaguliers' employment and reward shows that the system was adhered to in the eighteenth century.
101 Newton did not pay them ‘by results’ (in Heilbron's understandably loose words), but according to the model of service.