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After this separation, ‘ our Admiral,’ says SLOANE, ‘ pretended he wanted water and must make the best of his way for England, without staying to convoy us home, which accordingly he did.’ The voyage, nevertheless, was made in safety.
They learned very little of what had happened at home, until they had arrived within a few leagues of Plymouth. Then SLOANE himself went out, in an armed boat, with the intention of picking up such news as could be gathered from any fishermen who might be met with near the coast. The first fishing vessel they hailed did her best to run away, but was caught in the pursuit. To the question, ‘ How is the King?’ the master’s reply was, ‘What King do you mean? King WILLIAM is well at Whitehall. King JAMES is in France.’
SLOANE landed at Plymouth on the 29th of May, with large collections in all branches of natural history, and with improved prospects of fortune.’ The Duchess of ALBEMARLE behaved to him with great liberality, and for some years to come he continued to be her domestic physician, and lived,for the most part, in one or other of her houses as his usual place of residence. In 1690 much of his correspondence bears date from the Duchess’ seat at New Hall, in Essex. In 1692 we find him frequently at Albemarle House, in Clerkenwell. He had also made, whilst in the West Indies, a lucky investment in the shape of a large purchase of Peruvian Bark. 'It was already a lucrative article of commerce, and the provident importer had excellent professional opportunities of adding to its commercial value by making its intrinsic merits more widely known in England.
The botanists, more especially, were delighted with the large accessions to previous knowledge which SLOANE had brought back with him. ‘then I first saw,’ said John
RAY, ‘ his stock of dried plants collected in Jamaica, and in some of the Caribbee Islands, I was much astonished at the number of the capillary kind, not thinking there had been so many to be found in both the Indies.’
The collector, himself, had presently his surprise in the matter, but it was of a less agreeable kind. ‘ My collection,’ he says, ‘ of dried samples of some very strange plants excited the curiosity of people who loved things of that nature to see them, and who were welcome, until I observed some so very curious as to desire to carry part of them privately home, and injure what they left. This made me upon my guard.’
On the 30th of November, 1693, SLOANE was elected to the Secretaryship of the Royal Society. A year afterwards he was made Physician to Christ Hospital. It is eminently to his honour that from his first entrance into this office— which he held for thirty-six years—he applied the whole of its emoluments for the advantage and advancement of deserving boys who were receiving their education there. For that particular appointment he was himself none the richer,. save in contentment and good works.
In 1696 he made his first appearance as an author by the publication of his Calaloyus Plantarum gaze in insular Jamaica sponle proveniuut, vel vulyo colum‘ur, cum earuna’cm synom'mis at locis natalibus : Adjectz's aliz's gui6uszlam glue in insulz's .Madez'ra, Barbadoes, Nevis, et Sancli C/zrz'slop/wri nascmzz‘ur. He had already seen far too much of the world to marvel that his book soon brought him censure as well as praise. By Leonard PLUKENET, a botanist of great acquirements and ability, many portions of the Jamaica Catalogue were attacked, sometimes on well-grounded 0bjeetions; more often upon exceptions rather captions than just, and with that bitterness of expression which is the
unfailing finger-post of envy. PLU Kannr’s strictures were published in his Almayeslz' Botanicz' 11!antz'ssa.* SLOANE made no rash haste to answer his critic. \Vhere the censure bore correction of real error or oversight, he carefully profited by it. \Vhere it was the mere cloak of‘malice, he awaited without complaint the appropriate time for dealing, both with censure and censor, which would. be sure to come when he should give to the world the ripened results of the voyage of 1687 .
A passage in Dr. SLOANE’S correspondence with Dr. CHARLETT, of Cambridge, written in the same year with the publication of the Jamaica Catalogue, shows that even whilst he was still almost at the threshold of his London life, he was able steadily to enlarge his museum. At that early date, CHARLETT, who had seen it during a visit to London, calls it already ‘ a noble collection of all natural curiositiesfi The collector, when he landed its first fruits at Plymouth, had yet before him—such was to be his un
* As, for example, under the words ‘Lapathum;’ Poannacai Malabararum; ‘ Ricinus ;’ ‘ Salts," and several others. See Almagesti Botanici Mantissa, pp. 113; 14-3; 161; 165, &c.
1' Dr. Arthur Charlett’s long and intimate correspondence with Sir Hans Sloane began in this year (1696), and. continued without interruption until 1720. It has much interest, and fills MS. Sloane 4040, from f. 193 to f. 285. That with John Chamber-layne was of nearly equal duration, and is preserved in the same volume (11'. 100-167). The correspondence with James Bobart contains much valuable material for the history of botanical study in England, and is preserved in MS. Sloane, 4037 (ff. 158-185). It began in 1685, and was continued until Bobart’s death, in 1716. Still more curious is the correspondence with John Burnet (1722-1738), who was originally a. surgeon in the service of the East India Company, and afterwards Surgeon to the King of Spain. Burnet’s letters to Sloane, written from Madrid, contain valuable illustrations of Spanish society and manners as they were in the first half of the Eighteenth Century. This correspondence is in MS. Sloane, 4039.
usual length of days—almost sixty-four years of life. Not one of them, probably, passed without some valuable accession to his museum. And those sixty-four years were the adolescent and formative years of the study of the Physical Sciences in Britain. They were years, too, in the course of which there was to he a great development of British energy, both in foreign travel and in colonial enterprise. Very many were to run to and fro in the earth, so that knowledge might be largely increased. As a traveller, SLOANE' had already done his spell of work. But just as that was achieved, he was placed, by his election to the seeretaryship to the Royal Society, precisely in the position where he could most extensively profit by a wide correspondence with men of like scientific pursuits all over the world, and could exercise a watchful observation over the doings and the opportunities of explorers.
But the most immediate result of his secretaryship was the resumption of the suspended Philosophical Transactions. The interruption of a work which had already rendered yeoman service to Science, abroad as well as at home, had been caused by a combination of unfavourable circumstances. The death of its first and energetic editor, Henry OLDENBURG; some diminution in the Society’s income; and some personal disagreements at its Council board, seem all, in their measure, to have concurred to impede a publication, the continuance of which the best men in the Royal Society knew to be inseparable from the achievement of its true purposes. SLOANE bestirred himself with the steady vigour which had been born with him; impressed his friends into the service ; profited by the foreign connections he had formed ten years earlier at Paris, Bordeaux, and Montpelier, and so found new channels by which to
enrich the pages of the Transactions, as well as to extend their circulation.
He did it, of course, in his own way, and under the necessary influence of his habits and predispositions. One natural result of his labours, as secretary and as editor, was a frequent prominence of medical subjects, both at the meetings and in the subsequent selections for permanent record. If such a prominence might now and then give, or seem to give, fair ground of complaint to men whose thoughts were absorbed in the calculus of fluxions, or whose eyes were wont to search the heavens that they might learn the courses of the stars, it had at least the excuse that it tended to the elevation—in all senses of the word—0f a profession in the thorough education and the dignified status of which all the world have a deep interest.
If SLOANE, in his day, occasionally made scientific men somewhat more familiar with medical themes than they cared to be, he did very much to make medical men aware of the peculiar duty under which their profession laid them of becoming also men of true science. And in this way he exerted an influence upon medical knowledge, which was none the less pregnant with good and enduring results because it was in great measure an indirect influence. It was one of the minor, but memorable, results of the establishment of the Royal Society that it tended powerfully to lift medical practice out of the slough of quackery.
This frequent reading of medical papers during the Doctor’s seeretaryship could not fail to give an opening, now and again, for the wit of the seorner. A physician, in his daily practice, is constantly seeing the power of small things. He may well, at times, over estimate trifles. In the year 1700, Dr. SLOANE was made the subject of a satirical pamphlet which appeared under the title of ‘ Ne