Boyle, Charles

, earl of Orrery, second son of Roger second earl of Orrery, by lady Mary Sackville, daughter to Richard earl of Dorset and Middlesex, was born in August 1676, at his father’s house in Chelsea; and at fifteen entered a nobleman of Christ-church, in Oxford, under the care of Dr. Francis Atterbury, afterwards bishop of Rochester, and Dr. Freind. Dr. Aldrich, the head of that society, observing his uncommon application, drew up for his use that compendium of logic which is now read at Christ-church, wherein he styles him “the great ornament of our college.” Having quitted the university, he was in 1700 chosen member for the town of Huntington. A petition being presented to the house of commons, complaining of the illegality of his election, he spoke in support of that election with great warmth; and this probably gave rise to his duel with Mr. Wortley, the other candidate, in which, though Mr. Boyle had the advantage, the wounds he received threw him into a dangerous fit of sickness that lasted for many months. On the death of his elder brother, he became fourth earl of Orrery; soon after, he had a regiment given him, and was elected a knight of the Thistle. In 1706 he married lady Elizabeth Cecil, daughter to the earl of Exeter. In 1709 he was promoted to the rank of major-general, and sworn of her majesty’s privy council. He was envoy extraordinary from the queen to the states of Flanders and Brabant, with an appointment of ten pounds a day, at a very critical juncture, namely, during the treaty of Utrecht. There, some in authority at Brussels, knowing they were soon to become the emperor’s subjects, and that his imperial majesty was not on good terms with the queen, shewed less respect to her minister than they had formerly done: upon which, Orrery, who considered their behaviour as an indignity to the crown of Great Britain, managed with so much resolution and dexterity, that, when they thought his power was declining, or rather that he had no power at all, he got every one of them turned out of his post, Her majesty, in the tenth year of her reign, raised him to the dignity of a British peer, under the title of lord Boyle, | baron of Marston, in Somersetshire. On the accession of king George I. he was made a lord of the bedchamber, and lord -lieutenant and custos rotulorum of the county of Somerset. His frequent voting against the ministers gave rise to a report that he was to be removed from all his posts; upon which he absented himself from the court: but his friends assuring him that they had ground to believe the king had a personal esteem for him, he wrote a letter to his majesty, signifying that though he looked upon his service as a high honour, yet, when he first entered into it, he did not conceive it was expected from him that he should vote against his conscience and his judgment; that he must confess it was his misfortune to differ widely in opinion from some of his majesty’s ministers; that if those gentlemen had represented this to his majesty as a crime not to be forgiven, and his majesty himself thought so, he was ready to resign those posts he enjoyed, from which he found he was already removed by a, common report, which was rather encouraged than contradicted by the ministers. The king going soon after to Hanover, lord Orrery’s regiment was taken from him; which his lordship looking upon as a mark of displeasure, resigned his post of lord of the bedchamber.

On the 28th of September 1722, he was committed close prisoner to the Tower, by warrant of a committee of the lords of the privy council, upon suspicion of high treason, and of being concerned in Layer’s plot. His confinement brought on such a dangerous fit of sickness, that, as Dr. Mead remonstrated to the council, unless he was immediately set at liberty, he would not answer for his life twenty-four hours: upon which, after six months imprisonment, he was admitted to bail. Upon the strictest inquiry, no sufficient ground for a prosecutiofi being found, he was, after passing through the usual forms, absolutely discharged. After this he constantly attended in his place in the house of peers, as he had done before, and though he never spoke in that assembly, his pen was frequently employed to draw up the protests entered in its journals. He died after a short indisposition, on the 21st of August, 1731. He had a good' relish for the writings of the ancients, and gave some productions of his own.

Lord Orford, in enumerating his works, attributes to him a translation of the life of Lysander from Plutarch, which he says is published in the English edition of that author; | but the life of Lysander in that edition is given to one Lemau, a Cambridge man. His first appearance as an author, was when Dr. Aldrich, dean of Christ- church, finding him to be a good Grecian, put him upon publishing a new edition of the epistles of Phalaris, which appeared in the beginning of 1695, under the title of “Phalaridis Agrigentinorum tyranni epistolae. Ex Mss. recensuit, versione, annotationibus, &. vita insuper auctoris donavit Car. Boyle, ex aede Christi, Oxon,” 8vo. In this edition he was supposed to have been assisted by Aldrich and Atterbury. The authenticity of these epistles being called in question by Dr. Bentley, Mr. Boyle wrote an answer, entitled “Dr. Bentley’s Dissertation on the epistles of Phalaris examined.” In laying the design of this work, in reviewing a good part of the rest, in transcribing the whole, and attending the press, half a year of Atterbu-ry’s life was employed, as he declares in his “Epistolary Correspondence,1783, vol. II. p. 22.*


See Bentley, and Atterbury. Pope gave Warburton the following account of this celebrated composition; he said, “that Boyle wrote only the narrative of what passed between him and the bookseller, which too was correeled for him; that Freind, the master of Westminster, and Atterbury, wrote the body of the criticisms; and that Dr. King of the Commons wrote the droll argument to prove Dr. Bentley was not the author of the Dissertation on Phalaris, and the Index. And a powerful cabal gave it a surprising run.
    Warburton’s Letters, 8vo. p. 11.

His lordship wrote a comedy, called “As you find it,” printed in the second volume of the works of Roger earl of Orrery. He was also author of a copy of verses to Dr. Garth, upon his Dispensary, and of a prologue to Mr. Southerne’s play, called “The Siege of Capua.

The instrument called the Orrery obtained his name from the following circumstance: Rowley, a mathematical instrument-maker, having got one from Mr. George Graham, the original inventor, to he sent abroad with some of his own instruments, he copied it, and made the first for the earl of Orrery; sir Richard Steele, who knew nothing of Mr. Graham’s machine, thinking to do justice to the first encourager, as well as to the inventor of such a curious instrument, called it an Orrery, and gave Rowley the praise due to Mr. Graham.1


Biog. Brit.—Ath. Ox. vol. II.—Swift’s Works.—Life by Biulgell.—Nichols’s Poems, vol. IV.—Nichols’s Atterbury.—Park’s Royal and Noble Authors.