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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

While Marvell’s post-Restoration life and writings have been much scrutinized of late, his relation to the nascent scientific culture of the time—largely London-centred and symbolized by the newly founded Royal Society—has been largely overlooked. Important developments in what we (loosely) call science but contemporaries would have termed ‘natural’, ‘new’, or ‘experimental’ philosophy were happening on Marvell’s doorstep, yet the lack of scholarly curiosity about what he made of them is remarkable. The aim of this essay is accordingly to establish that Marvell’s writings were more deeply informed by the activities and findings of the Royal Society than previously thought. Indeed, as the case studies (the nature of effluvia, glassmaking, and comets and divination) will demonstrate, experimental philosophy was a major imaginative resource for him. Indeed, in many respects, there is not that much to choose between a dedicated practitioner of the new experimental philosophy like Boyle and an interested lay observer like Marvell.

Keywords: alchemy, comets, divination, effluvia, glass, Royal Society, science

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