OLDENBURG (Henry)

, who wrote his name sometimes Grubendol, reversing the letters, was a learned German gentleman, and born in the Duchy of Bremen in the Lower Saxony, about the year 1626, being descended from the counts of Aldenburg in Westphalia; whence his name. During the long English parliament in the time of Charles the 1st, he came to England as consul for his countrymen; in which capacity he remained at London in Cromwell's administration. But being discharged of that employment, he was engaged as tutor to thelord Henry Obryan, an Irish nobleman, whom he attended to the university of Oxford; and in 1656 he entered himself a student in that university, chiefly to have the benefit of consulting the Bodleian library. He was afterwards appointed tutor to lord William Cavendish, and became intimately acquainted with Milton the poet. During his residence at Oxford, he became also acquainted with the members of that society there, which gave birth to the Royal Society; and upon the foundation of this latter, he was elected a member of it: and when the Society found it necessary to have two secretaries, he was chosen assistant to Dr. Wilkins. He applied himself with extraordinary diligence to the duties of this office, and began the publication of the Philosophical Transactions with No. 1, in 1664. In order to discharge this task with more credit to himself and the Society, he held a correspondence with more than seventy learned persons, and others, upon a great variety of subjects, in different parts of the world. This fatigue would have been insupportable, had he not, as he told Dr. Lister, managed it so as to make one letter answer another; and that, to be always fresh, he never read a letter before he was ready immediately to answer it: so that the multitude of his letters did not clog him, nor ever lie upon his hands. Among others, he was a constant correspondent of Mr. Robert Boyle, and he translated many of that ingenious gentleman's works into Latin.

About the year 1674 he was drawn into a dispute with Mr. Hook, who complained, that the secretary had not done him justice, in the History of the Transactions, with respect to the invention of the spiral spring for pocket watches; the contest was carried on with some warmth on both sides, but was at length terminated to the honour of Mr. Oldenburg; for, pursuant to an open representation of the affair to the Royal Society, the council thought fit to declare, in behalf of their secretary, that they knew nothing of Mr. Hook having printed a book intitled Lampas, &c; but that the publisher of the Transactions had conducted himself faithfully and honestly in managing the intelligence of the Royal Society, and given no just cause for such reflections.

Mr. Oldenburg continued to publish the Transactions as before, to No. 136, June 25, 1677; after which the publication was discontinued till the January following; when they were again resumed by his successor in the secretary's office, Mr. Nehemiah Grew, who carried them on till the end of February 1678. Mr. Oldenburg died at his house at Charlton, between Greenwich and Woolwich, in Kent, August 1678, and was interred there, being 52 years of age.

He published, besides what hasbeen already mentioned, 20 tracts, chiefly on theological and political subjects; in which he principally aimed at reconciling difserences, and promoting peace.

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Entry taken from A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, by Charles Hutton, 1796.

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ODD
OFFING
OFFSETS
OFFWARD
OGEE
* OLDENBURG (Henry)
OLYMPIAD
OMBROMETER
OMPHALOPTER
OPACITY
OPAKE