Library: British Library, London

Manuscript: Sloane MS 4039

Folio: f. 128

Microfilm: The History of Science and Technology Series One: The Papers of Sir Hans Sloane, 1660-1753 From the British Library, London Part 1: Science & Society, 1660-1773 Reel 2 Sloane Mss. 4038, 4039 98460

Language: English

Letter Categories:
Royal Society

Letter Subject:

Date of letter (as written): May 14, 1703 (Unknown)

Standardised date: 1703-05-14

Letter Origin (as written): Gresh. Coll.

Letter Destination (as written):

John Woodward

Sir Hans Sloane

Others Mentioned:
Maurice Emmett

Letter written about self or others: N/A

Single or Multiple Sufferers: N/A

Patients Mentioned in Letter:
No Patients Attached to this Letter


[fol. 128] Mr. Emmet acquainted me yesterday you directed him to tell me from you that I traduced the Royal Society at ye last meeting of ye Council. I look ye Message at first for a piece of meer Pleasantry: but when he told me ye was serious I could not but be greatly surprizd at it. I had much Reason to be so, whether I regarded you or my Self. As to you, I take you for my Friend: I can do no other if I understand me descriptions you wer use to me n Me serse Mey are understood by other Men. At least this I can very safely say, I was alwaiys your Friend, bore a real Respect for you, & was ever ready & disposed, however small my Abilityes have been, to demean myself in such manner towards you as to defend your Friendship. Now, if we are in Friendship, according to all ye Rules and Measures that I ever heard of your sending me such a Message by a third Hand could not but be very surpriseing to me. Nor was it Ceh[?] so when I came to reflect upon my Self I can say most Sincerily I have ever had a real & very great Respect for the Royal Society & the Design for w(ic)h was mishandled. I know no Design in ye World more worthy: nor any body of neu that have prosecuted it wm ye happyneh & Succes that the Society hath done. As these are honestly my thoughts so they are what on all fit Occasions I have freely expressed. Particularly I did so at ye very Meeting you mention: & all I said was tending wholly your way. I was spoke wth intention to second some Motions ye mere made relating to Tryalls of Experiments, making of Observations wch I take to be ye true Way of preserving ye Honour & pursuing ye Design of ye Society: & twas meerly on that Account I spoke what I did. I had more Regard to ye Company I had the Honor to be in that not [pg 2] not to weigh what I said: & I persuade my self yw have no Reason to think have not Steadiness & Courage to abide by what I did say after I had weighed it. But that ye may se how serious I am in the Thine, I tell again ye upon examination of my own Mind I can aver wth a real. In boring intended no Reflection upon any Man whatsoever, nor had any other Aim than meerly what I have mentioned. And I intended also to deliver this in such Expressions, & in such Manner, that all present should take this for my Design as thusly was; in wch I succeeded so far that both Mr. Emmet himself & two or three more of ye Council, Mat, without ye least mention of ye Occasion, Saying one Word of you, I have consulted in My Affair, all declare that I understood that only to be my design, & that my expression to their capable of no other Construction. So that I must freely own to you the meaning of your Method is really like to be wholly a Secret to will yw shall do me ye Favour to explain it. I am Sr. your very humble Servant Woodward

Other Notes:
Woodward was a physician, natural historian and antiquary who expounded a theory of the earth in which fossils were creatures destroyed by the biblical flood. This embroiled him in a controversy in which he was opposed by John Ray, Edward Llwyd, Martin Lister, and Tancred Robinson (J. M. Levine, "Woodward, John (1665/1668-1728)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 17 June 2011]).