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THE JOURNAL DES SCAVANS AND THE PHILOSOPHI.
CAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY
BY ROGER PHILIP MOCUTCHEON
It has often been asserted that the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society were an English imitation of the famous French Journal des Scavans. Such a statement seems to be regarded as axiomatic by those who have written on learned journals from the time of Camusat, whose Histoire Critique des Journeaux appeared in 1734, to the present. Evidence for this assertion, however, is not so easy to discover.
It is certainly true that the Journal des Scavans, from its first number, which was dated January 5, 1665, was a widely influential journal. Its founder, M. Denis de Sallo, although modesty impelled him to place his valet's name on the title page, did initiate an entirely new form of periodical literature, and to him the later English journals of books were heavy debtors. It is also true that scientific articles appeared in the French periodical six weeks before the first number of the Philosophical Transactions, which bore the date of March 6, 1665. But something more than priority is required to establish the indebtedness of the Transactions to the French Journal.
Now the Journal des Scavans was primarily an abridgement of books. Before the appearance of the Transactions, the Journal had printed only four articles which may be called scientific. Two of these are " de la Comete,' one of the others is an Extrait, d'une Lettre Escrite de Londres, touchant la description d'un Navire de nouvelle fabrique," + and the last one is “ Extrait de deux lettres," one from London, and the other from the Hague, concerning pendulums. The Transactions, on the other hand,
.. one of the earliest imitations of the Journal des Scavans was the English Philosophical Transactions," writes Abbie L. Sharmon, in "English journals of books 1682-1749,” manuscript thesis, University of Chicago, 1906.
* Vd. Dupuy's Memoire Historique sur le Journal des Scavans, Table Generale, x, 604.
• In no. 4 and no. 5.
were made up at first entirely of papers read before the Society, or of contributions, and were never given over principally to summaries of books. The contents of the first number of the Transactions will show this difference: “1. An Accompt of the Improvement of Optick Glasses. 2. Observations made in England on a
. dark Spot in one of the Belts of Jupiter. 3. Experimental History of Cold. 4. A Monstrous Calf. 5. Lead Ore in Germany, used for Essays. 6. Hungarian Balm. 7. Pendulum Watches at Sea." One book was summarized in number 2, but the custom was not established for some time.
With an organization like the Royal Society, which had its material for publication ready in hand, and with an energetic secretary like Oldenburgh, it is conceivable that the Transactions might result without any indebtedness whatever to a foreign jour. nal. Furthermore, it would be difficult to prove that the scientific articles published in the Journal could possibly have produced English imitation in the early numbers of the Transactions, as much of the material for the Transactions had been prepared two years previous to publication. It would seem especially difficult to establish indebtedness in this case, when the differences between the two periodicals are so wide, and their resemblances are so unessential.
M. de Sallo himself had not exactly claimed that the Transactions imitated the Journal; in his brief mention of the first appearance of the English publication, after speaking of the universal approval his Journal had met, as translations in Italy and Germany indicated, he wrote: “Mais on a fait plus en Angleterre. Car comme la belle Philosophie y fleurit plus qu'en aucun autre lieu du monde; on a pris le soin d'y faire un Journal en Anglois sous le titre de Philosophical Transactions, pour faire scavoir a tout le monde ce qui se decouvre de nouveau dans la Philosophie.”? He closes by promising to reprint extracts, as “on a enfin trouve un Interprete Anglois.”
Neither did Oldenburgh acknowledge any debt to the French for the plan of his journal. Rather, he considered the Journal des Scavans as a fellow worker in the same field, not as a predecessor, after the French editor had profited by the English ex
•C. S. Duncan, The new science and English literature, p. 11.
ample and had begun to print more scientific articles. “The Ingenious French have drawn the same yoke with us," he wrote, "in publishing their Journal des Scavans." 8
Not only is the indebtedness of the English periodical hard to establish, but a comparison of the two papers for the first year of their joint existence actually shows that the French journal was much the greater borrower. In the Transactions for February, 1666, is printed a notice of Redi's Vipers, “according to the account, given of it in the French Journal des Scavans," and this is the only direct borrowing which the English made. In the same period the French Journal printed no less than eight extracts from the Transactions. A similar proportion obtains throughout the years immediately following. In fact, the French Journal modified its form essentially after the appearance of the Transactions, devoting much more space to scientific contributions than in the months before March, 1665.
Wake Forest College.
& Preface to the Transactions, vol. IV, p. 898.
. In the issues for January 11, February 1, February 8, March 3, March 15, and March 22. “It is a curious and remarkable fact, that almost all the Philosophical papers in the early numbers of the Journal des Scavans, first published on the 5th of January, 1665, are translations of the papers in the Philosophical Transactions," wrote Wild, in History of the Royal Society, I, 180, note.
RICHARD ROBINSON'S EUPOLEMIA (1603).
By GEORGE MCGILL VOGT
Mr. D. Nichol Smith, in his article on “Authors and Patrons in Shakespeare's England” (1916: ii, 183), says of the Eupolemia that it is "the only Elizabethan document that gives a direct statement of literary earnings."1 Curiously, this document has never appeared in print in its entirety; in fact, it was hardly known, except to a few bibliographers, until Mr. R. B. McKerrow, in the Gentleman's Magazine for April 1906 (pp. 277-284), called attention to its importance and printed what comes to about two and a half pages of the manuscript (of which there are in all eighteen pages). Hazlitt is misleading (Hand Book, 1867: 516) when he says, “ The Eupolemia (A translation from the Latin) was printed in 1578.”. Lowndes (Bibl’s. Man., 1864: iv, 2111) gives us a clue to what Hazlitt probably meant (if he meant any book in particular, which he himself had seen and handled) in his notice of “ Eupolema, A Dyall of Dayly Contemplacione . . . 1578
.” A Dyall of dayly Contemplacion, a translation from the Latin by our Richard Robinson (of which there is a copy in the British Museum), did indeed come out in 1578; but this is not the Eupolemia or anything remotely like it, nor does the British Museum copy reveal why “ Eupolemia” should have been prefixed by one or two bibliographers to an already sufficient title (Graesse's -Tresor de Livres, 1865: iv, 141-notice of the book is the same as Lowndes').
For Richard Robinson himself the Dictionary of National Biography will suffice for the present purpose. He is to be distinguished from Richard Robinson the poet, who wrote the Reward of Wickedness. The Richard Robinson of the Eupolemia flourished 1576-1600, was a freeman of the Leathersellers' Company, and on
1 For other references to the MS., see: Camb. Hist. Eng. Lit., IV, 391, 545; Sheavyn, Phoebe, Literary Profession in Elizabethan Age, 1909: 73, 101; and Dict. Nat. Biog. I was first attracted to Robinson myself by his two translations of Arthurian matter (see below), which have proved of some interest in a study of the vogue of the Arthurian romances in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in England; which, it is hoped, will be completed at a not too distant date.
the title-pages of his books is sometimes distinguished as Citizen of London.” His literary flights did not carry him higher than compilation and translation. Personally it is evident that poor Robinson belonged to that large class of sad fellows who long to get on, but who have mistaken their calling. To any one who has struggled through the prose of his epistles dedicatory and even of his translations, it is clear that the Muse did not smile upon him. We cannot wonder if sometimes his dedicatees, notably on one occasion Elizabeth herself, refused to be held up for the customary “ benevolence.”
The manuscript is Royal 18 A. lxvi (British Museum). It consists, besides the Eupolemia, of two other works by Robinson, Archippus and Panoplia. The Eupolemia begins on folio 5 and extends to folio 13.