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Edward Montagu, 1647-1688

Eldest son of Earl of Sandwich.

Confusingly, yet another Edward Montagu.

I have included this Edward because of his appearance in the following letter regarding his role in the establishment of scientific communication between England and Italy. Henry Oldenburg was the Secretary of the Royal Society, and as such his letters reflect the rise of modern science in the 1600's. (Someone once said to study the masters, not the commentators; the following is probably about as concise an explanation of science as you might hope to find; certainly a good summary of what these men thought they were doing).

This letter, written in Latin in 1667, was among the many translated by A. Rupert Hall and Marie Boas Hall in The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg:

Henry Oldenburg, Secretary of the Royal Society, sends many greetings to the very celebrated and learned philosopher Mr. Francisco Travagino.

Your letter dated 1 January 1666, famous Sir, addressed to the Royal Society from Venice, we safely received by the grace of the illustrious Montagu, though it came after no little delay, namely on 2 April 1667. How the accompanying letter to Sir Kenelm Digby, or its contents, might be delivered to him, who has now departed to join the heavenly host (as we hope), our earth-bound wit cannot tell. However that may be, the Royal Society thinks highly of your remarkable deference towards it, and instructed me to inform you of its great goodwill towards you and your endeavors. Indeed, nothing more pleasing to them could occur, than the news from my place on the globe that there are men who strive earnestly to promote science by reliance on observation and experiment and who, neither feigning nor formulating hypotheses of nature's actions, seek out the thing itself. And as they gather from the Synopsis you submitted that you are a follower of the experimental method of philosophy, and more especially because the opportunities for exploring nature's hidden byways are so vast, they congratulate you upon your undertakings and labors, praying for your happy success in them. They desire you to supply what you so kindly offer in your letter (namely, the communications of the schedule of your experiments) when you conveniently can. When the work upon which you are engaged shall be published it will assuredly furnish the Society with a further occasion for disclosing its judgment of yourself and your work. May the Society thrive through God's grace, and it will prosper under the divine will, safe from the darts of Mars and Vulcan, active in the perfection of its memoirs and its works for the public good. Stimulated by the zealous cooperation of many distinguished men the liberal arts will surely burst forth into new brilliance. Come then, Sir, let us wholeheartedly unite our minds and our studies; let us lay the foundations of philosophy more solidly, scrutinize the ancients, and open to the eyes of all things that are new, unheard-of, but nevertheless useful.

The History of our institution is in the press now, and will soon (if I am not much mistaken) see the light. Do you, Sir, have the goodness to impart whatever occurs in Venice or the rest of Italy that is out-of-the-way, philosophically speaking. I will gladly add whatever I can, in exchange, to deserve well of you. Grasp the nettle, and try my zeal for you. Farewell.

London, 15 May 1667

You could scarcely find any safer way of writing to us, than by which the packet I now acknowledge reached us. I think the noble Montagu will hardly refuse the continuation of his kindness.

The address, please, should be:
To Mr Oldenburg,
In the Pall Mall,

To the very Illustrious Philosopher
and Physician, Mr. Francisco
Travagino, in Venice

For those interested in spelling variations of the name, in the original the first sentence appears as follows:


"Litteras tuas, Vir Clarissime, Calendis Januarii 1666 ad Societatis Regiae Secretarium Venetiis datas, recte licet nonnihil tarde (quarto scilicet Nonas Aprilis 1667) Illustrissimi Montacuttii cura, accepimus."

The postscript appears as:


"Vix tutiori via a Te curari quicquam ad nos poterit, quam ea, qua fasciculum, cui nunc rescribo, huc transmisisti, Haud negabit, puto, generosissimus Montacutus hoc officium perenne facere."


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