Alchemy, magic and moralism in the thought of Robert Boyle

At some point during the last two years of his life, Robert Boyle dictated to his friend, Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, some notes on major events and themes in his career. Some of the information he divulged in these memoranda has become quite widely known because Burnet used it in the funeral sermon for Boyle that he delivered a month after his death, at St Martin's in the Fields on 7 January 1692. In addition, these notes were cited several times by Thomas Birch in the ‘Life of the Honourable Robert Boyle’ that he prefixed to his edition of Boyle's collected works of 1744: he there describes his source as ‘Mr. Boyle's memorandums of his own life, dictated by himself to Bishop Burnet’.2 What has hitherto been virtually overlooked is that the manuscript of these notes, which is in Burnet's hand, survives among the Birch Papers in the British Library: it is this document—and particularly a substantial component of it which was publicized by neither Burnet nor Birch—that forms the starting point for this paper.
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DOI 10.1017/s0007087400028065
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