This academy is not an entire single building, but a continuation of several houses on both sides of a street, which, growing waste, was purchased, and applied to that use. I was received very kindly by the warden, and went for many days to the academy. Every room hath in it one or more projectors; and, I believe, I could not be in fewer than five hundred rooms.
The first man I saw was of a meagre aspect, with sooty hands and face, his hair and beard long, ragged and singed in several places. His clothes, shirt, and skin were all of the same colour. He had been eight years upon a project for extracting sun-beams out of cucumbers, which were to be put into vials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers. He told me, he did not doubt, in eight years more, he should be able to supply the governor's gardens with sunshine at a reasonable rate; but he complained that his stock was low, and entreated me to give him something as an encouragement to ingenuity, especially since this had been a very dear season for cucumbers. I made him a small present, for my lord had furnished me with money on purpose, because he knew their practice of begging from all who go to see them.
I saw another at work to calcine ice into gunpowder, who likewise shewed me a treatise he had written concerning the malleability of fire, which he intended to publish.
There was a most ingenious architect, who had contrived a new method for building houses, by beginning at the roof, and working downwards to the foundation, which he justified to me, by the like practice of those two prudent insects, the bee and the spider.