ROOKE (Lawrence)

, an English astronomer and geometrician, was born at Deptford in Kent, 1623, and educated at Eton school. From hence he removed to King's College, Cambridge, in 1639. After taking the degree of master of arts in 1647, he retired into the country. But in the year 1650 he went to Oxford, and settled in Wadham College, that he might have the company of, and receive improvement from Dr. Wilkins, and Mr. Seth Ward the Astronomy Professor; and that he might also accompany Mr. Boyle in his chemical operations.

After the death of Mr. Foster, he was chosen Astronomy Professor in Gresham College, London, in the year 1652. He made some observations upon the comet at Oxford, which appeared in the month of December that year; which were printed by Mr. Seth Ward the year following. And, in 1655, Dr. Wallis publishing his treatise on Conic Sections, he dedicated that work to those two gentlemen.

In 1657, Mr. Rooke was permitted to exchange the astronomy professorship for that of geometry. This step might seem strange, as astronomy still continued to be his favourite study; but it was thought to have been from the convenience of the lodgings, which opened behind the reading hall, and therefore were proper for the reception of those gentlemen after the lec- tures, who in the year 1660 formed the Royal Society there.

Mr. Rooke having thus successively enjoyed those two places some years before the restoration in 1658, most of those gentlemen who had been accustomed to assemble with him at Oxford, coming to London, joined with other philosophical gentlemen, and usually met at Gresham College to hear Mr. Rooke's lectures, and afterwards withdrew into his apartment; till their meetings were interrupted by the quartering of soldiers in the college that year. And after the Royal Society came to be formed and settled into a regular body, Mr. Rooke was very zealous and serviceable in promoting that great and useful institution; though he did not live till it received its establishment by the Royal charter.

The Marquis of Dorchester, who was not only a patron of learning, but learned himself, used to entertain Mr. Rooke at his seat at Highgate after the restoration, and bring him every Wednesday in his coach to the Royal Society, which then met on that day of the week at Gresham College. But the last time Mr. Rooke was at Highgate, he walked from thence; and it being in the summer, he overheated himself, and taking cold after it, he was thrown into a fever, which cost him his life. He died at his apartments at Gresham College the 27th of June 1662, in the 40th year of his age.

One other very unfortunate circumstance attended his death, which was, that it happened the very night that he had for some years expected to finish his accurate observations on the satellites of Jupiter. When he found his illness prevented him from making that observation, Dr. Pope says, he sent to the Society his request, that some other person, properly qualified, might be appointed for that purpose; so intent was he to the last on making those curious and useful discoveries, in which he had been so long engaged.

Mr. Rooke made a nuncupatory will, leaving what he had to Dr. Ward, then lately made bishop of Exeter: whom he permitted to receive what was due upon bond, if the debtors offered payment willingly, otherwise he would not have the bonds put in suit: “for, said he, as I never was in law, nor had any contention with any man, in my life-time; neither would I be so after my death.”

Few persons have left behind them a more agreeable character than Mr. Rooke, from every person that was acquainted with him, or with his qualifications; and in nothing more than for his veracity: for what he asserted positively, might be fully relied on: but if his opinion was asked concerning any thing that was dubious, his usual answer was, “I have no opinion.” Mr. Hook has given this copious, though concise character of him: “I never was acquainted with any person who knew more, and spoke less, being indeed eminent for the knowledge and improvement of astronomy.” Dr. Wren and Dr. Seth Ward describe him, as a man of profound judgment, a vast comprehension, prodigious memory, and solid experience. His skill in the mathematics was reverenced by all the lovers of those studies, and his perfection in many other sorts of learning deserves no less admiration; but above all, as another writer characterizes him, his extensive know- | ledge had a right influence on the temper of his mind, which had all the humility, goodness, calmness, strength, and sincerity, of a sound and unaffected philosopher. These accounts give us his picture only in miniature; but his successor, Dr. Isaac Barrow, has drawn it in full proportion, in his oration at Gresham College; which is too long to be inserted in this place.

His writings were chiefly;

1. Observations on the Comet of Dec. 1652. This was printed by Dr. Seth Ward, in his Lectures on Comets, 4to, 1653.

2. Directions for Seamen going to the East and West Indies. Published in the Philosophical Transactions for Jan. 1665.

3. A. Method of Observing the Eclipses of the Moon &c. In the Philos. Trans. for Feb. 1666.

4. A Discourse concerning the Observations of the Eclipses of the Satellites of Jupiter. In the History of the Royal Society, pa. 183.

5. An Account of an Experiment made with Oil in a long Tube. Read to the Royal Soc. April 23, 1662 — By this experiment it was found, that the oil sunk when the sun shone out, and rose when he was clouded; the proportions of which are set down in the account.

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

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ROLLE (Michel)
* ROOKE (Lawrence)