ROWNING (John)

, an ingenious English mathematician and philosopher, was fellow of Magdalen College, Cambridge, and afterwards Rector of Anderby in Lincolnshire, in the gift of that society. He was a constant attendant at the meetings of the Spalding Society, and was a man of a great philosophical habit and turn of mind, though of a cheerful and companionable disposition. He had a good genius for mechanical contrivances in particular. In 1738 he printed at Cambridge, in 8vo, A Compendious System of Natural Philosophy, in 2 vols 8vo; a very ingenious work, which has gone through several editions. He had also two pieces inserted in the Philosophical Transactions, viz, 1. A Description of a Barometer wherein the Scale of Variation may be increased at pleasure; vol. 38, pa. 39. And 2. Direction for making a Machine for finding the Roots of Equations universally, with the Manner of using it; vol. 60, pa. 240.—Mr. Rowning died at his lodgings in Carey-street near Lincoln's-Inn Fields, the latter end of November 1771, at 72 years of age.

Though a very ingenious and pleasant man, he had but an unpromising and forbidding appearance: he was tall, stooping in the shoulders, and of a sallow downlooking countenance.

ROYAL Oak, Robur Carolinum, in Astronomy, one of the new southern constellations, the stars of | which, according to Sharp's catalogue, annexed to the Britannic, are 12.

Royal Society of England, is an academy or body of persons, supposed to be eminent for their learning, instituted by king Charles the IId, for promoting natural knowledge.

This once illustrious body originated from an assembly of ingenious men, residing in London, who, being inquisitive into natural knowledge, and the new and experimental philosophy, agreed, about the year 1645, to meet weekly on a certain day, to discourse upon such subjects. These meetings, it is said, were suggested by Mr. Theodore Haak, a native of the Palatinate in Germany; and they were held sometimes at Dr. Goddard's lodgings in Wood-street, sometimes at a convenient place in Cheapside, and sometimes in or near Gresham College. This assembly seems to be that mentioned under the title of the Invisible, or Philosophical College, by Mr. Boyle, in some letters written in 1646 and 1647. About the years 1648 and 1649, the company which formed these meetings, began to be divided, some of the gentlemen removing to Oxford, as Dr. Wallis, and Dr. Goddard, where, in conjunction with other gentlemen, they held meetings also, and brought the study of natural and experimental philosophy into fashion there; meeting first in Dr. Petty's lodgings, afterwards at Dr. Wilkins's apartments in Wadham College, and, upon his removal, in the lodgings of Mr. Robert Boyle; while those gentlemen who remained in London continued their meetings as before. The greater part of the Oxford Society coming to London about the year 1659, they met once or twice a week in Term-time at Gresham College, till they were dispersed by the public distractions of that year, and the place of their meeting was made a quarter for soldiers. Upon the restoration, in 1660, their meetings were revived, and attended by many gentlemen, eminent for their character and learning.

They were at length noticed by the government, and the king granted them a charter, first the 15th of July 1662, then a more ample one the 22d of April 1663, and thirdly the 8th of April 1669; by which they were erected into a corporation, consisting of a president, council, and fellows, for promoting natural knowledge, and endued with various privileges and authorities.

Their manner of electing members is by ballotting; and two-thirds of the members present are necessary to carry the election in favour of the candidate. The council consists of 21 members, including the president, vice-president, treasurer, and two secretaries; ten of which go out annually, and ten new members are elected instead of them, all chosen on St. Andrew's day. They had formerly also two curators, whose business it was to perform experiments before the society.

Each member, at his admission, subscribes an engagement, that he will endeavour to promote the good of the society; from which he may be freed at any time, by signifying to the president that he desires to withdraw.

The charges are five guineas paid to the treasurer at admission; and one shilling per week, or 52s. per year, as long as the person continues a member; or, in lieu of the annual subscription, a composition of 25 guineas in one payment.

The ordinary meetings of the society, are once a week, from November till the end of Trinity term the next summer. At first, the meeting was from 3 o'clock till 6 afternoon. Afterwards, their meeting was from 6 till 7 in the evening, to allow more time for dinner, which continued for a long series of years, till the hour of meeting was removed, by the present president, to between 8 and 9 at night, that gentlemen of fashion, as was alleged, might have the opportunity of coming to attend the meetings after dinner.

Their design is to “make faithful records of all the “works of nature or art, which come within their “reach; so that the present, as well as after ages, “may be enabled to put a mark on errors which have “been strengthened by long prescription; to restore “truths that have been long neglected; to push those “already known to more various uses; to make the “way more passable to what remains unrevealed, “&c.”

To this purpose they have made a great number of experiments and observations on most of the works of nature; as eclipses, comets, planets, meteors, mines, plants, earthquakes, inundations, springs, damps, fires, tides, currents, the magnet, &e: their motto being Nullius in Verba. They have registered experiments, histories, relations, observations, &c, and reduced them into one common stock. They have, from time to time, published some of the most useful of these, under the title of Philosophical Transactions, &c. usually one volume each year, which were, till lately, very respectable, both for the extent or magnitude of them, and for the excellent quality of their contents. The rest, that are not printed, they lay up in their registers.

They have a good library of books, which has been formed, and continually augmenting, by numerous donations. They had also a museum of curiosities in nature, kept in one of the rooms of their own house in Crane Court Fleet-street, where they held their meetings, with the greatest reputation, for many years, keeping registers of the weather, and making other experiments; for all which purposes those apartments were well adapted. But, disposing of these apartments, in order to remove into those allotted them in Somerset Place, where having neither room nor convenience for such purposes, the museum was obliged to be disposed of, and their useful meteorological registers discontinued for many years.

Sir Godfrey Copley, bart. left 5 guineas to be given annually to the person who should write the best paper in the year, under the head of experimental philosophy, this reward, which is now changed to a gold medal, is the highest honour the society can bestow; and it is conferred on St. Andrew's day: but the communications of late years have been thought of so little importance, that the prize medal remains sometimes for years undisposed of.

Indeed this once very respectable society, now consisting of a great proportion of honorary members, who do not usually communicate papers; and many scientific members being discouraged from making their | usual communications, by what is deemed the present arbitrary government of the society; the annual volumes have in consequence become of much less importance, both in respect of their bulk and the quality of their contents.

Royal Society of Scotland. See Society.

RUDOLPHINE Tables, a set of astronomical tables that were published by the celebrated Kepler, and so called from the emperor Rudolph or Rudolphus.

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

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ROOT
ROTA
ROTATION
ROTONDO
ROUND
* ROWNING (John)
RULE
RUMB
RUSTIC
RUTHERFORD (Thomas, D. D.)