Returning to Primitive “Purity and Shortness” in the Royal Society

Thomas Sprat wrote in his “History of Royal Society of London,” text that “they have exacted from all their members a close, naked, natural way of speaking,” they being the royal society. What this means is that the members had a vernacular that was mostly understood by “wits or scholars,” and in a society that wants to share their knowledge–not boast–they ought to have the power of sharing a common tongue. The Royal Society is known for their history of great scientific and historical power with big name scientists such as Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and in more recent time, Stephen Hawking.

The primary objective of this organization is to “work to to support excellence in science, building a home and future for science in the United Kingdom.” In reading Sprat’s work, his version of the history of this society, it seems as though the times have not altered this primary goal. He states: “The Society has reduced its principal observations… to be nakedly transmitted to the next generation of men, and so from them to their successors.” The main goals expressed in both the website for the Royal Society and in Sprat’s text both coincide nicely together, in that, they want to continue their legacy, or their passion for science onto others and build that foundation.

The main argument made by Sprat is that the members of the society ought to learn how to do so in a clean, concise fashion. He argues that the writers should “return back to the primitive purity and shortness, when men delivered so many things, almost in equal number of words.” Meaning that he wished they could go back to the basic fundamental of scientific writing: short, educational, and quality works (not quantity). By looking at the website, I’m sure he would be content with how the Royal Society has turned out; the layout is clean, concise, and doesn’t scare the reader away with any fancy, unfamiliar jargon.

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

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