Newton, Sir Isaac

, the most splendid genius that has yet adorned human nature, and by universal consent placed at the head of mathematics and of science, was born on Christmas-day, O. S. 1642, at Woolsthorpe, in the parish of Colsterworth, in the county of Lincoln. When | born he was so little, that his mother used to say he might have been put into a quart mug, and so unlikely to live, that two women who were sent to lady Pakenham’s, at North Witham, for something for him, did not expect to find him alive at their return. He was born near three months after the death of his father, who was descended from the eldest branch of the family of sir John Newton, bart. and was lord of the manor of Woolsthorpe. The family came originally from Newton, in the county of Lancaster, from which, probably, they took their name. His mother was Hannah Ayscough, of an ancient and honourable family in the county of Lincoln. She was married a second time to the rev. Barnabas Smith, rector of North Witham, a rich old bachelor, and had by him a son and two daughters. Previously, however, to her marriage, she settled some land upon Isaac. He went to two little day-schools at Skillington and Stoke till he was twelve years old, when he was sent to the great school at Grantham, under Mr. Stokes, who had the character of being a very good schoolmaster. While at Grantham he boarded in the house of Mr. Clark, an apothecary, whose brother was at that time usher of the school.

Here he soon gave proofs of a surprizing genius, and astonished his acquaintances by his mechanical contrivances. Instead of playing among other boys, he always busied himself in making curiosities, and models of wood of different kinds. For this purpose he got little saws, hatchets, hammers, and all sorts of tools, which he knew how to use with great dexterity. He even went so far as to make a wooden clock. A new windmill was set up about this time near Grantham in the way to Gunnerby. Young Newton’s imitating genius was excited, and by frequently prying into the fabric of it, as they were making it, he contrived to make a very perfect model, which was considered at least equal to the workmanship of the original, This sometimes he set upon the house-top where he lodged, and clothing it with sails, the wind readily turned it. He put a mouse into this machine, which he called his miller, and he contrived matters so that the mouse would turn round the mill whenever he thought proper. He used to joke too about the miller eating the corn that was put into the mill. Another of his contrivances was a water-clock, which he made out of a box that he begged from the Brother of his landlord’s wife. It was about four feet in height, and | of a proportional breadth. There was a dial-plate at top with figures for the hours. The index was turned by a piece of wood which either fell or rose by water dropping. This stood in the room where he lay, and he took care every morning to supply it with its proper quantity of water.

These fancies sometimes engrossed so much of his thoughts that he was apt to neglect his book, and dull boys were now and then put over him in his form. But this made him redouble his pains to overtake them, and such was his capacity that he could soon do it, and outstrip them when he pleased: and this was taken notice of by his master. He used himself to relate that he was very negligent at school, and very low in it till the boy above him gave him a kick which put him to great pain. Not content with having threshed his adversary, Isaac could not rest till he had got before him in the school, and from that time he continued rising until he was head-boy. Still, no disappointments of the above kind could induce him to lay aside his mechanical inventions; but during holidays, and every moment allotted to play, he employed himself in knocking and hammering in his lodging-room, pursuing the strong bent of his inclination, not only in things serious, but in ludicrous contrivances, calculated to please his school-fellows as well as himself; as, for example, paper kites, which he first introduced at Grantham, and of which he took pains to find out their proper proportion and figures, and the proper place for fixing the string to them. He made lanterns of paper crimpled, which he used to go to school by in winter mornings with a candle, and he tied them to the tails of his kites in a dark night, which at first frightened the country people exceedingly, who took his candles for comets. He was no less diligent in observing the motion of the sun, especially in the yard of the house where he lived, against the wall and roof, wherein he drove pegs, to mark the hours and half hours made by the shade. These, by some years’ observation, he made so exact that any body knew what o’clock it was by Isaac’s dial, as they usually called it.

His turn for drawing, which he acquired without any assistance, was equally remarkable with his mechanical inventions. He filled his whole room with pictures of his own making, copied partly from prints, and partly from the life. Among others were portraits of several of the | kings, of Dr. Donne, and of Mr. Stokes, his schoolmaster. He informed Mr. Conduitt, his nephew, that he had also a facility in making verses. This is the more remarkable, as he had been heard to express a contempt for poetry. Hence it is probable, that the following lines, which he wrote under the portrait of Charles I. were of his own composition. They were given by Dr. Stukely, from Mrs, Vincent, who repeated them from memory:

"A secret art my soul requires to try,

If prayers can give me what the wars deny.

Three crowns distinguished here in order do

Present their objects to my knowing view.

Earth’s crown, thus at my feet, I can disdain,

Which heavy is, and, at the best, but vain.

But now a crown of thorns I gladly greet:

Sharp is the crown, but not so sharp as sweet.

The crown of glory that I yonder see,

Is full of bliss, and of eternity."

If Newton wrote these lines, it must be remembered that they were written when he was only a boy at school.

Mrs. Vincent was neice to the wife of sir Isaac’s landlord at Grantham, and lived with him in the same house. According to her account, he very seldom joined with his school-fellows in their boyish amusements, but chose rather to be at home, even among the girls, and would frequently make little tables, cupboards, and other utensils, for her and her play-fellows to set their babies and trinkets in. She mentioned likewise a cart, which he made with four wheels, in which he would sit, and by turning a windlass about, make it carry him round the house wherever he pleased. He is said to have contracted an attachment to Mrs. Vincent, whose maiden name was Storey, and would have married her, but being himself a fellow of a college, with hardly any other income, and she having little or no fortune of her own, he judged it imprudent to enter into any matrimonial connection. But he continued to visit her as long as he lived, after her marriage, and repeatedly supplied her with money when she wanted it.

During all this time the mother of sir Isaac lived at North Witham, with her second husband; but, upon his death, she returned to Woolsthorpe, and in order to save expences as much as she could, she recalled her son from school, in order to make him serviceable at Woolsthorpe, in managing th farm and country business. Here he was employed in superintending the tillage, grazing, and | harvest; and he was frequently sent on Saturdays to Grantham market, with com and other commodities to sell, and to carry home what necessaries were proper to he bought at a market town for a family; but, on account of his youth, his mother used to send a trusty old servant along with him, to put him in the way of business. Their inn was at the Saracen’s head, in West-gate, where, as soon as they had put up their horses, Isaac generally left the man to manage the marketing, and, retiring to Mr. Clark’s garret, where he used to lodge, entertained himself with a parcel of old books till it was time to go home again; or else he would stop by the way, between home and Grantham, and lie under a hedge studying, till the man went to town and did the business, and called upon him in his way back. When at home, if his mother ordered him into the fields to look after the sheep, the corn, or upon any other rural employment, it went on very heavily under his management. His chief delight was to sit under a tree with a book in his hands, or to busy himself with his knife in cutting wood for models of somewhat or other that struck his fancy, or he would get to a stream and make mill-wheels. This conduct of her son induced his mother to send him to Grantham school again for nine months; and then to Trinity college, Cambridge, where he was admitted June 3, 1660, and where he was soon noticed by Dr. Isaac Barrow, who perceived his talents, and contracted a great friendship for him. The progress of his studies here was of no common kind. He always informed himself beforehand of the books which his tutor intended to read, and when he came to the lectures he found he knew more of them than his tutor himself. The first books which he read for that purpose were Saunderson’s Logic, and Kepler’s Optics. A desire to know whether there was any thing in judicial astrology, first put him upon studying mathematics. He discovered the emptiness of that study as soon as he erected a figure; for which purpose he made use of two or three problems in Euclid, which he turned to by means of an index. He did not then read the rest, looking upon it as a book containing only plain and obvious things. This neglect of the ancient mathematicians, we are told by Dr. Pemberton, he afterwards regretted. The modern books which he read gave his mind, as he conceived, a wrong bias, vitiated his taste, and prevented him from attaining that elegance of demonstration which he | admired in the ancients. The first mathematical book that he read was Des Cartes’s Geometry, and he made himself master of it by dint of genius and application, without going through the usual steps, or having the assistance of any person. His next book was the “Arithmetic of Infinites,” by Dr. Wallis. On these books he wrote comments as he read them, and reaped a rich harvest of discoveries, or more properly, indeed, made almost all his mathematical discoveries as he proceeded in their perusal.

In 1664 he bought a prism, as appears by some of his own accounts of expences at Cambridge, to try some experiments upon Des Cartes’s doctrine of colours, and soon satisfied himself that that philosopher’s hypothesis was destitute of foundation; and the further prosecution of the subject satisfied him respecting the real nature of light and colours. He soon after drew up an account of his doctrine, which was published in the Philosophical Transactions, and unfortunately gave origin to a controversy between him and some foreign opticians, which produced an unhappy effect on his mind, and prevented him from publishing his mathematical discoveries, as he had originally intended. He communicated them, however, to Dr. Barrow, who sent an account of them to Collins and Oldenburg, and by that means they came to be known to the members of the royal society. He laid the foundation of all his discoveries before he was twenty-four years of age.

In contemplating his genius, it becomes a doubt which of these endowments had the greatest share, sagacity, penetration, strength, or diligence; and, after all, the mark that seems most to distinguish it is, that he himself made the justest estimation of it, declaring, that, if he had done the world any service, it was due to nothing but industry and patient thought; that he kept the subject under consideration constantly before him, and waited till the first dawning opened gradually, by little and little, into a full and clear light.*


It is said that when he had any mathematical problems or solutions in his mind, he would never quit the subject on any account. And his servant has said, when he has been getting up in a morning, he has sometimes begun to dress, and with one leg in his breeches, sat down again on the bed, where he has remained for hours before he has got his clothes on: and that dinner has been often three hours ready for him before he could be brought to table. Upon this head several little anecdotes are related among which is the following: doctor Stukely coming in accidentally one day, when Newton’s dinner was left for him upon the table, covered up, as usual, to keep it warm till he could find it convenient to come to table;


the doctor lifting the cover, found under it a chicken, which he presently ate, putting the bones in the dish, and replacing the cover. Some time after, Newton came into the room, and after the usual compliments sat down to his dinner; but, on taking up the cover, and seeing only the bones of the fowl left, he observed, with some little surprise, “I thought I had not dined, but I now find that I have.”—Of the mildness of his temper, the following instance has been given. Sir Isaac had a favourite little dog, which he called Diamond. Being one day called out of his study into the next room, Diamond was left behind. When sir Isaac returned, having been absent but a few minutes, he had the mortifica­ tion to find that Diamond having overset a lighted candle among some papers, the nearly finished labour of many years was in flames, and almost consumed to ashes. This loss, as sir Isaac was then very far advanced in years, was irretrievable; yet, without once striking the dog, he only rebuked him with this exclamation, “Oh Diamond! Diamond thuo little knowest the mischief thou hast done!” He was indeed of so meek and gentle a disposition, and so great a lover of peace, that he would rather have chosen to remain in obscurity, than to have the calm of life ruffled by those storms and disputes, which genius and learning always draw upon those that are the most eminent for them.

And hence no doubt arose that unusual | kind of horror which he had for all disputes a steady unbroken attention, free from those frequent recoilings inseparably incident to others, was his peculiar felicity; he knew it, and he knew the value of it. No wonder then that controversy was looked on as his bane, when some objections, hastily made to his discoveries concerning light and colours, induced him to lay aside the design he had of publishing his optic lectures; we find him reflecting on that dispute, into which he was unavoidably drawn thereby, in these terms: “I blamed my own imprudence for parting with so real a blessing as my quiet to run after a shadow.” It is true, this shadow, as Fontenelle observes, did not escape him afterwards, nor did it cost him that quiet which he so much valued, but proved as much a real happiness to him as his quiet itself; yet this was a happiness of his own making; he took a resolution, from these disputes, not to publish any more about that theory, till he had put it above the reach of controversy, by the exactest experiments, and the strictest demonstrations; and, accordingly, it has never been called in question since.

In 1665, when he retired to his ownestate on account of the plague, the idea of his system of gravitation first occurred to him in consequence of seeing an apple fall from a tree. This remarkable apple-tree is still remaining, and is usually shown to strangers as a curiosity. At that time, not being in possession of any accurate measure of the earth’s surface, he estimated the force of gravity erroneously, and found, in consequence, that it was not capable alone of retaining the moon in her orbit. This | induced him to dismiss his hypothesis at that time as erroneous. But afterwards, when Picard had measured a degree of the earth’s surface with tolerable accuracy, he was enabled to make a more precise estimate, and found that the force of gravity exactly accounted for the moon’s motion in her orbit. He applied his doctrine to the planets and the whole solar system, and found it to account, in a satisfactory manner, for the whole phenomena of the motions of these bodies.

In 1664 he took his bachelor’s degree, and in 1667 he was elected fellow of Trinity college. The following year he took his master’s degree, and in 1669 Dr. Barrow resigned his mathematical professorship to him. In 1671 he was elected fellow of the royal society. It has been asserted that at this time he was so poor that he was obliged to apply to the society for a dispensation from the usual contribution df a shilling a week, which all the fellows of the society regularly paid. But this, in the opinion of his excellent biographer, whom we principally follow, seems doubtful. Bis estates, for he had two, were worth about 80l. a year, which, added to his fellowship and professorship, mast have been sufficient for such a trifling expence. He had indeed his mother and her family to support, but when we consider the expence of living at this time, Mr. Newton, with about 200^ a year, his probable income, could not be reckoned a poor man. In 1675 he had a dispensation from king Charles II. to retain his fellowship without taking orders. In 1687 he was chosen one of the delegates to represent the university of Cambridge, before the high commission court, to answer far their refusing to admit father Francis master of arts upon king James’s mandamus, without his taking the oaths prescribed by the statutes; and was greatly instrumental in persuading his colleagues to persist in the maintenance of their rights and privileges. So strenuous indeed was the defence which he made, that James, infatuated as he was at this time, thought proper to drop his pretensions. In 1688 he was chosen by the university of Cambridge, member of the convention parliament, and was again chosen in 1701. In 1696, the earl of Halifax, at that time Mr. Montague, and chancellor of the exchequer, who was a great patron of the learned, wrote to him that he had prevailed on the king to make him warden of the mint, a place worth five or six hundred pounds a year, and which Mr. | Montague stated would not require more attendance than he could spare. In this office he did signal service in the great re-coinage which took place soon after, and is said to have saved the nation 80,000l. In 1699 he was made master and worker of the mint, in which situation he continued until his death, and behaved himself with an universal character of integrity and disinterestedness. He had frequent opportunities of employing his skill in mathematics and chemistry, particularly in his “Table of Assay of Foreign Coins,” which is printed at the end of Dr. Arbuthnot’s book of coins.

In 1701 he made Mr. Whiston his deputy professor of mathematics at Cambridge; and gave him all the salary from that time, though he did not absolutely resign the professorship till 1703, in which year he was chosen president of the royal society, and continued to fill that honourable situation till the time of his death. On April 16, 1705, he was knighted by queen Anne, at Trinity college lodge, Cambridge.

While at the university, he spent the greatest part of his time in his closet, and when he was tired with the severer studies of philosophy, his relief and amusement was going to some other study, as history, chronology, divinity, chemistry; all which he examined with the greatest attention, as appears by the many papers which he left behind him on those subjects. After his coming to London ,*


His London residence was chiefly at a house at the corner of Long’s court, in St. Martin’s street, Leicesterfields, on the roof of which he built a small observatory. This was afterwards occupied for many years by the late venerable Dr. Burney.

all the time he could spare from his business, and from the civilities of life, in which he was scrupulously exact and complaisant, was employed in the same way; and he was hardly ever alone without a pen in his hand, and a book before him: and in all the studies which he undertook, he had a perseverance and patience equal to his sagacity and invention. His niece, afterwards married to Mr. Conduitt, who succeeded him as master of the mint, lived with him about twenty years during his residence in London. He always lived in a very handsome, generous manner, though without ostentation or vanity always hospitable, and, upon proper occasions, he gave splendid entertainments. He was generous and charitable without bounds; and he used to say that they who gave away | nothing till they died, never gave. This, perhaps, was one reason why he never made a will. Scarcely any man of his circumstances ever gave away so much during his own life-time, in alms, in encouraging ingenuity and learning, and to his relations nor, upon all occasions, showed a greater contempt of his own money, or a more scrupulous frugality of that which belonged to the public, or to any society he was entrusted for. He refused pensions and additional employments that were offered him; he was: highly honoured and respected in all reigns, and under all administrations, even by those whom he opposed y for in every situation he shewed an inflexible attachment to the cause of liberty, and to the constitution of Great Britain. George II. and queen Caroline shewed him particular marks of their favour and esteem, and often conversed with him for hours together. The queen in particular, used to take delight in his company, and was accustomed to congratulate herself that she lived in the same country, and at the same time, with so illustrious a person. Yet, notwithstanding the extraordinary honours that were paid him, he had so humble an opinion of himself, that he had no relish for the applause which he received. In Spence’s “Anecdotes” we are told, that when Ramsay was one day complimenting him on his discoveries in philosophy, he answered, “Alas! I am only like a child picking up pebbles on the shore of the great ocean of truth.” He was so little vain and desirous of glory from any of his works, that he would have let others run away with the credit of those inventions which have done so much honour to human nature, if his friends and countrymen had not been more jealous than he was of his own glory, and the honour of his country. He was exceedingly courteous and affable, even to the lowest, and never despised any man for want of capacity: but always expressed freely his resentment against immorality or impiety. He not only shewed a great and constant regard to religion in general, as well by an exemplary life, as in all his writings, but was also a firm believer in revealed religion, with one exception, an important one indeed, that his sentiments on the doctrine of the Trinity by no means coincided with what are generally held. He left many papers behind him on religious subjects, which Dr. Horsley, who examined them, declined publishing, probably on account of the opinions which we have just hinted. Sir Isaac had such a mildness of | temper that a melancholy story would often draw tears from him, and he was exceedingly shocked at any act of cruelty to man or beast; mercy to both being the topic that he loved to dwell upon. An innate modesty and simplicity showed itself in all his actions and expressions. His whole life was one continued series of labour, patiejrce, charity, generosity, temperance, piety, goodness, and every other virtue, without a mixture of any known vice whatsoever.

Fontenelle, after detailing these circumstances, observes, that “he was not distinguished from other men by any singularity, either natural or affected;” and Dr. Johnson considered it as an eminent instance of Newton’s superiority to the rest of mankind, “that he was able to separate knowledge from those weaknesses by which knowledge is generally disgraced: that he was able to excel in science and wisdom, without purchasing them by the neglect of little things: and that he stood alone merely because he had left the rest of mankind behind him, not because he deviated from the beaten track.

He was blessed with a very happy and vigorous constitution he was of a middle stature, and rather plump in his latter years: he had a very lively and piercing eye.:*


This bishop Atterbury denies. “The œil fort vif, et fort perçant, which Fontenelle gives him, did not belong to him, at least for twenty years past, about which time I first came acquainted with him. Indeed, in the whole air of his face and make, there was no thing of that penetrating sagacity which appears in his composures. He had something rather languid in his look and manner, which did not raise any great expectation in those who did not know him.” Atterbury’s Correspondence, vol. II, p. 329.

a comely and gracious aspect, and a fine head of hair, as white as silver, without any baldness. To the time of his last illness he had the bloom and colour of a young man. He never wore spectacles, nor lost more than one tooth till the day of his death. About five years before his death, he was troubled with an incontinence of urine, and sometimes with a stillicidium, both of which continued to afflict him, more or less, according to the motion to which he was exposed. On this account he sold his chariot, and went always in a chair: and he gave up dining abroad, or with much company at home. He eat little flesh, and lived chiefly upon broth, vegetables, and fruit, of which he always eat heartily. In August, 1724, he voided, without any pain, a stone about the size of a pea, which came away in two pieces: one some days after the other. In January 1725, he had a violent cough and inflammation of the | lungs, upon which he was persuaded, with considerable difficulty, to take a house in Kensington, where he had, in his eighty-fourth year, a fit of the gout, for the second time, having had a slight attack of it some years before. This fit left him in better health than he had enjoyed for several years. In the winter of 1725, he wanted to resign his situation as master of the mint to his nephew, Mr Conduitt, hut this gentleman would not permit his resignation, but offered to conduct the whole business in his place, and for about a year before his death sir Isaac hardly ever went to the Mint, trusting entirely to the management of his nephew.

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, 1727, he went to town, in order to attend a meeting of the Royal Society. Next day Mr. Conduitt paid him a visit, and found him apparently in better health than he had enjoyed for several years. Sir Isaac was sensible of it himself, and told his nephew, smiling, that he had slept the Sunday before from eleven at night till eight in the morning, without waking. But his fatigue in attending the Society, and in paying and receiving visits, brought his old complaint violently upon him .*


Dr. Pearce, afterwards bp. of Rochester, had an interview with sir Isaac a few days before his death,when he read to the doctor a part of his Chronology for near an hour. Happening to speak of some fact, he could not recollect the name of the king in whose reign it happened, and therefore complained of his memory beginning to fail him; but he added immediately, that it was in such a year of such an olympiad, naming them both very exactly. Dr. Pearce very justly considered the mention of such chronological dates, as a greater proof of his memory not failing him, than the naming of the king would have been. Newton’s Chronology, edit. 1770, p. 10, where this account was first published, in contradiction of a report that our great philosopher’s faculties had failed him some time before his death. It is highly proper that such a report should be contradicted; but some decay of faculties in a man whose mind had been on the stretch for seventy years, would ready not have been wonderful.

Dr. Mead and Mr. Cheselden were carried out to Kensington to see him, by Mr. Conduitt. They immediately pronounced his disease to be the stone in the bladder, and gave no hopes of his recovery. The stone was probably removed from the place where it lay quiet, by the great motion and fatigue of his last journey to London, From this time he had violent fits of pain, with scarcely any intermission: and though the drops of sweat ran down his face with anguish, he never complained, nor cried out, nor shewed the least sign of peevishness or impatience; and, during the short intervals from that violent torture, would smile and talk with his usual cheerfulness. On Wednesday | March 15 he was somewhat better, and fallacious hopes were entertained of his recovery. On Saturday March 1$ he read the newspapers, and held a pretty long conversation with Dr. Mead, and had all his senses perfect but that evening at six, and all Sunday, he was insensible, and died on Monday March 20, 1727, between one and two o’clock in the morning; having reached the age of eighty-four years and a few months, and retained all hi? senses and faculties to the end of his life, strong, vigorouf, and lively. He continued writing and studying many hours every day, till the period of his last illness. Although he had lived with great splendour and liberality, and had originally but a small property, be accumulated 32,000l. of personal estate which was divided between his four nephews and nieces of half-blood .*

It appears that these nephews and nieces bestowed certain sums in charity, as they thought would do credit to their uncle; particularly we find 20l. given by them to the poor of Woolsthorpe and Colsterworth, in Lincolnshire. Sir Isaac had contributed about two years before his death to the erection of a gallery in Colsterworth church. See his correspondence on the subject in —Gent. Mag. vol. LIX. p. 775. In the same vol. p. 1076, is his pedigree, written by himself; and on the plate opposite p 798, is a facsimile of his and Mr. Conduitt’s writing.

The land which he had of his father and mother descended to his hir of the whole blood, John Newton, whose great grand-father was sir Isaac’s uncle.

Sir Isaac was remarkably liberal to all his relations, particularly to his mother’s family by Mr. Smith, giving to one 500l. to another an estate of 4000l. or thereabouts, to make up a loss occasioned by the imprudent marriage of one of them, and to prevent a lawsuit among themselves. This was done many years before his death. He had a half-sister, who had a daughter, to whom he gave the best of educations. This was “the famous witty Miss Barton,” who married Mr. Conduitt; sir Isaac bought an estate of 70l. or 80l. a-year, and gave it to their daughter Miss Conduitt, then very young, who was afterwards married to the eldest son of lord Lymington, from whom the present earl of Portsmouth is descended. He was equally kind to his mother’s relations, the Ayscoughs, some of whom had been imprudent, and needed his help. To one he gave 800l. to another 200l. and many other sums, and frequently became security for them. He is said never to have sold the copies of any of his works, but gave them freely to the booksellers. Mr. Seward appears therefore to | have been greatly mistaken in imputing a desire of gain to sir Isaac because he had some concern in the SouthSea bubble, and lost, according to his niece’s report, 20,000l. Even this loss made no alteration in his liberality, and in point of fact, it appears that the greatest instances of his kindness to his relations and friends occurred after the year 1720. The John Newton above mentioned, who inherited his real estate, died in 1737, at the age of thirty. He is said to have been illiterate and intemperate. With him the family of Newton became extinct.

Sir Isaac Newton was buried with great magnificence, at the public expence. On March 28, he lay in state in the Jerusalem -chamber, and was buried from thence in WesN minster-abbey, near the entry into the choir. The spot is one of the most conspicuous in the abbey, and had been previously refused to different noblemen who had applied for it. The pall was supported by the lord high chancellor, the dukes of Montrose and Roxborough, and the earls of Pembroke, Sussex, and Macclesfield, being fellows of the Royal Society. The hon. sir Michael Newton, knight of the Bath, was chief mourner, and was followed by some other relations, and some eminent persons intimately acquainted with sir Isaac. The office was performed by the bishop of Rochester, Dr. Bradford, attended by the prebendaries and choir. A magnificent monument was afterwards erected to his memory, in the abbey, and, by the munificence of the late Dr. Robert Smith, master of Trinity college, the antichapel of that college contains an admirable full-length statue of sir Isaac, by Roubilliac. Medals also were struck to his memory, one by Croker of our mint; one by Dassier of Geneva; and another by Roettiers in France. The only portrait for which he ever sat was by Kneller, and is, if we mistake not, in the collection of the duke of Rutland.

The first life of this illustrious man which appeared was drawn up by Fontenelle, from materials furnished by sir Isaac’s nephew, and published in the memoirs of the French Academy. Why none of his countrymen executed such an undertaking we shall not inquire. This, however, is the life from which all succeeding biographers have extracted their materials, and it formed the ground-work of the long, but somewhat confused account, that has hitherto appeared in this dictionary. But, like almost all the eloges, published in the memoirs of the French Academy, | it seems better calculated to display the abilities, and answer the private views of FonteneUe, than to convey accurate information. Mr. Edmund Tumor has lately favoured the world with the original life of Newton, drawn tip by Mr. Conduitt, for the information of FonteneUe, and with a most interesting letter of Dr. Stukely on the same subject, from the Mss. in the possession of the earl of Portsmouth. But although Mr. Tumor’s “Collections for the Town and Soke of Grantham,” the work to which we allude, was published in 1806, Dr. Thomson was the first who availed himself of it, to enrich his valuable “History of the Royal Society.” In the preceding account, therefore, we have generally followed Dr. Thomson, who has unquestionably the merit of giving the public the most accurate and elegant account of the personal history of sir Isaac, a man, said Dr. Johnson, who, had he flourished in ancient Greece, would have been worshipped as a divinity.

Any investigation of his mathematical discoveries, or a laboured analysis of his philosophy, called, by way of distinction, the Newtonian, would be out of place in a work of this kind, and to be satisfactory would exceed all bounds. Dr. Keill said that if all philosophy and mathematics were considered as consisting of ten parts, nine of them would be found entirely of his discovery and invention. “Does Mr. Newton eat, drink, or sleep, like other men?” said the marquis de l’Hospital, one of the greatest mathematicians of the age, to the English who visited him. “I represent him to myself as a celestial genius entirely disengaged from matter.” Of his philosophy, properly so called, the great principle is the power of gravity: this had been hinted at by Kepler, but the glory of bringing it to a physical demonstration was reserved for Newton. It was first made public in 1686, but republished in 1713, with considerable improvements. Several other authors have since attempted to make it plainer, by setting aside many of the more sublime mathematical researches, and substituting either more obvious reasoning, or experiments, in lieu of them; particularly Whiston, in his “Prælect. Phys. Mathemat.;” S’Gravesande, in “Element, et Instit.” Dr. Pemberton, in his “View” and Maclaurin, in his excellent work, entitled “An Account of sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophical Discoveries.| Notwithstanding the great merit of this philosophy, and the universal reception it has met with at home, it gained ground at its first publication but slowly abroad, and Cartesianism, Huygenianism, and Leibnitzianism, maintained their ground, till the force of truth prevailed. It is now, bowever, held in the utmost veneration both at home and abroad. The philosophy itself is laid down principally in the third book of the Principia. The two preceding books are taken up in preparing the way for it, and laying down such principles of mathematics as have the nearest relation to philosophy: such are the laws and conditions of powers. And these, to render them less dry and geometrical, the author illustrates by scholia in philosophy, relating chiefly to the density and resistance of bodies, the motion of iight and sounds, a vacuum, &c. In the third book he proceeds to the philosophy itself; and from the same principles deduces the structure of the universe, and the powers of gravity, by which bodies tend towards the sun and planets; and from these powers, the motion of planets, and comets, the theory of the moon, and the tides. This book, which he calls “De Mundi Systemate,” he tells us was first written in the popular way; but considering, that such as are unacquainted with the said principles would not conceive the force of the consequences, nor be induced to lay aside their ancient prejudices, he afterwards digested the sum of that book into propositions, in the mathematical manner; so as it might only come to be read by such as had first considered the principles; not that it is necessary a man should master them all; many of them, even the firstrate mathematicians, would find a difficulty in getting over. It is enough to have read the definitions, laws of motion, and the three first sections of the first book: after which the author himself directs us to pass on to the book “De Systemate Mundi.

Newton’s opinion of God is well expressed by Brucker: "God governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as the Lord of the universe. The Supreme Deity is an eternal, infinite, and absolutely perfect Being, omnipotent and omniscient: that is, his duration extends from eternity to eternity, and his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things which exist, or can be known. He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite he is not duration or space, but he endures, and is present; he endures for ever, and is present every | where. Since every portion of space is always, and every indivisible moment of duration is every where, certainly the Maker and Lord of all things cannot be never or nowhere. God is omnipresent not virtually only, but substantially, for power cannot subsist without substance. In him all things are contained and move, but without reciprocal affection: God is not affected by the motion of bodies, nor do bodies suffer resistance from the omnipresence of God.

It is universally allowed, that God exists necessarily; and by the same necessity he exists always and every where. Whence be is throughout similar, all eye, all ear, all brain, all arm, all power of perceiving, understanding, and acting but in a manner not at all human; in a manner not at all corporeal in a manner to us altogether unknown. As a blind man has no idea of colours, so we have no idea of the manner in which the Most Wise God perceives and understands all things. He is entirely without body and bodily form, and therefore can neither be seen, nor heard, nor touched; nor ought he to be worshipped under any corporeal representation. We have ideas of his attributes, but what the substance of anything is we are wholly ignorant. We see only the figures and colours of bodies; we hear only sounds; we touch only external superficies; we smell only odours; we taste onlysavours; of their internal substances we have no knowledge by any sense, or by any reflex act of the mind: much less have we any idea of the substance of God. We know him only by his properties and attributes, by the most wise and excellent structure of things, and by final causes; and we reverence and worship him on account of his dominion. A God without dominion, providence, and design, is nothing else but Fate and Nature.

While many learned mathematicians, and celebrated writers, have attempted to illustrate and explain different parts of the writings of Newton, some have ventured to call in question the ground of his philosophy. It has been objected, that attraction, the first principle in the Newtonian philosophy, is in reality one of those occult qualities which Newton professes to reject. But to this it is satisfactorily replied, that the power of gravity is not an unknown cause, since its existence is proved from the phaenooiena. The Newtonian philosophy does not require, that the cause of gravitation should be explained. It merely | assumes an incontrovertible fact, that bodies gravitate towards each other according to a known law, and, by the help of geometrical reasoning, deduces from this fact certain conclusions. Newton himself expressly asserts, that it is enough for him that gravity really exists, though its cause be not certainly known. In truth no words can be more explicit than those in which Newton disclaims all reliance upon hypothetical principles, or occult qualities, and makes experience the only foundation of his philosophy.

Dissatisfied with the hypothetical grounds on which former philosophers, particularly Des Cartes, had raised the structure of natural philosophy, Newton adopted the manner of philosophising introduced by lord Bacon, and determined to raise a system of natural philosophy on the basis of experiment. He laid it down as a fundamental rule, that nothing is to be assumed as a principle, which is not established by observation and experience, and that no hypothesis is to be admitted into physics, except as a question, the truth of which is to be examined by its agreement with appearances. “Whatever,” says he, “is not deduced from phenomena, is to be called an hypothesis: and hypotheses, whether physical or metaphysical, whether of occult qualities or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy.” In this philosophy, propositions are drawn from phenomena, and are ‘ rendered general by induction. This plan of philosophising he pursued in two different methods, the Analytic and the 8301thetic; collecting from certain phenomena the forces of nature, and the more simple laws of these forces; and then proceeding, on the foundation of these, to establish the rest. In explaining, for example, the system of the world, he first proves, from experience, that the power of gravitation belongs to all bodies then, assuming this as an established principle, he demonstrates, by mathematical reasoning, that the earth and sun, and all the planets, mutually attract each other, and that the smallest parts of matter in each have their several attractive forces, which are as their quantities of matter, and which, at different distances, are inversely as the squares of their distances. In investigating the theorems of the “Principia,” Newton made use of his own analytical method of fluxions; but, in explaining his system, he has ’followed the synthetic method of the ancients, and demonstrated the theorems geometrically. | The following, we presume, is a correct list of the works of Newton, published before or after his death. 1. Several papers relating to his “Telescope,” and his “Theory of Light and Colours,” printed in the Philosophical Transactions, numbers 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85., 83, 96, 97, 110, 121, 123, 128; or vols. Vj, VII, VIII, IX, X, XL 2. “Optics, or a Treatise of the Reflections, Refractions, and Inflections, and the Colours of Light,1704, 4to; a Latin translation by Dr. Clarke, 1706, 4 to.; and a French translation by Pet. Coste, Amst. 1729, 2 vols. 12mo; beside several English editions in 8vo. 3. “Optical Lectures,1728, 8vo; also in several Letters to Mr. Oldenburg, secretary of the Royal Society. 4. “Lectiones Opticse,1729, 4to. 5. “Naturalis Philosophise Principia Mathematica,1687, 4to; a second edition in 17 13, with a Preface, by Roger Cotes; the third edition in 1726, under the direction of Dr. Pemberton; an English translation, by Motte, 1729, 2 vols. 8vo, printed in several editions of his works, in different nations, particularly an edition, with a large Commentary, by the two learned Jesuits, Le Seur and Jacquier, in 4 vols. 4to, in 1739, 1740, and 1742. 6. “A System of the World,” translated from the Latin original, 1727, 8vo this was at first intended to make the third book of his Principia; an English translation by Motte, 1729, 8vo. 7. Several Letters to Mr. Flamsteed, Dr. Halley, and Mr. Oldenburg, 8. “A Paper concerning the Longitude,” drawn up by order of the House of Commons, ibid. 9. “Abrege de Chronologic,” &c. 1726, under the direction of the abbe Conti, together with some observations upon it. 10. “Remarks upon the Observations made upon a Chronological Index of Sir I. Newton,” &c. Philos. Trans, vol. XXXIII. See also the same, vol. XXXIV and XXXV, by Dr. Halley. 11. “The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms amended,” &c. 1728, 4to. 12. “Arithmetica Universalis,” &c. under the inspection of Mr. Whiston, Cantab. 1707, 8vo. Printed, Dr. Hutton thinks, without the author’s consent, and even against his will: an offence which it seems was never forgiven. There are also English editions of the same, particularly one by Wilder, with a Commentary, in 1769, 2 vols. 8vo; and a Latin edition, with a Commentary, by Castilion, 2 vols. 4to, Amst. &c. 13. “Analysis per Quantitatum Series, Fluxiones, et Differentias, cum Enumeratione Linearum Tertii Ordinis,1711, 4to, under the inspection of W. | Jones, eaq. f. ft. S.; the last tract had been published before, together with another on the Quadrature of Curves, by the method of fluxions, under the title of “Tractatus duo de Speciebus & Magnitudine Figurarum Curvilinearum,” subjoined to the first edition of his Optics in 1704; and other letters in the Appendix to Dr. Gregory’s Catoptrics, &c. 1735, 8vo; under this head may be ranked “Newtoni Genesis Curvarum per Umbras,Leyden, 1740. 14. Several Letters relating to his Dispute with Leibnitz, upon his right to the invention of Fluxions printed in the “Commercium Epistolicum D. Johannis Collins & aliorum de Analyst Promota, jussu Societatis Regise editum,1712, 8vo. 15. Postscript and Letter of M. Leibnitz to the Abbe Conti, with Remarks, and a Letter of his own to that Abbe, 1717, 8vo. To which was added, Raphson’s History of Fluxions, as a Supplement. 16. “The Method of Fluxions, and Analysis by Infinite Series,” translated into English from the original Latin; to which is added, a Perpetual Commentary, by the translator Mr. John Colson, 1736, 4to. 17. “Several Miscellaneous Pieces, and Letters,” as follow L A Letter to Mr. Boyle upon the subject of the Philosopher’s Stone. Inserted in the General Dictionary, under the article Boyle, II. A Letter to Mr. Aston, containing directions for his travel?, ibid, under our author’s article; III. An English translation of a Latin Dissertation upon the Sacred Cubit of the Jews* Inserted among the miscellaneous works of Mr. John Greaves, vol. IL published by Dr. Thomas Birch, in 1737, 2 vols. 8vo. This Dissertation was found subjoined to a work of sir Isaac’s, not finished, entitled “Lexicon Propheticum;IV. Four Letters from sir Isaac Newton to Dr. Bentley, containing some arguments in proof of a Deity, 1756, 8vo, very acutely reviewed by Dr. Johnson in the Literary Magazine, and afterwards inserted in his works V. Two Letters to Mr. Clarke, &c. iSi “Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John,1733, 4to. 19. “I*. Newtoni Elementa Perspective Universalis,1746, 8vo. 20. “Tables for purchasing College Leases,1742, 12mo. 21. “Corollaries,” by Whiston. 22. A collection of several pieces of our author’s, under the following title, “Newtoni Is. Opuscula Mathematica Philos. & Philol. collegit J. Castilioneus,” Laus. 1744, 4to, 8 tomes. 23. “Two Treatises of the Quadrature^ Curves, and Analysis by Equations of an Infinite Number of Terms, | explained: translated by John Stewart, with a large Commentary,” 1745, 4to. 24. “Description of an Instrument for observing the Moon’s Distance from the Fixed Stars at Sea,” Philos. Trans, vol. XLII. 25. Newton also published “Barrow’s Optical Lectures,1699, 4to; and “Bern. Varenii Geographia,” &c. 1681, 8vo. 26. The whole works of Newton, published by Dr. Horsley, 1779, 4to, in 5 volumes.

Besides the above, he left a vast quantity of manuscripts and papers relative to chronology and church history, many of which are copies over and over again, often with little or no variation; the whole number being upwards of 4000 sheets in folio, or 8 reams of folio paper. Of these there have been published only the “Chronology,” and “Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John.1


Thomson’s History of the Royal Society.—Biog. Brit.—Gen. Dict.—Annual Register for 1776.—Brucker.