<1r>

Since \one of/ the most celebrated Historians {sic} that | who has yet appeared, doubted | made it a doubt whether {sic} it was worth while to write an account of the Roman Empire even when it was at the highest pitch of it's greatness | glory, it may perhaps be thought a vain & trifling attempt | trifling & insipid task | low & unaffecting employment to compile the life of a private man, spent in speculation, & in the exercise of those silent virtues which, however delightfull to the possessor, afford but little entertainment in the description, & are not so apt to strike a vulgar reader as the tumultuary scenes of pomp & action. But |But I beleive I may safely affirm that if he who {illeg} is the subject of this present discourse had flourished in the times {illeg} even by the difficulty discouraged of finding a parallel & why should not the mind of man be as well pleased| why should not the mind of man \wee/ be as well pleased <1v> in tracing the progress of Reason in one of our own species & in contemplating the heigth of knowledge it | that particle of Divinity is capable of attaining as in following a Conqueror \Hero/ throu a field of blood & confusion; And \Alexander himself who for so many ages has been in possession of the first place amongst them is valued himself more for the little knowledge he had learned from Aristotle than for all his extensive victories /conquests\; And it must be owned that/ \and {sic}/ a life wch was one continued series of labour, patience, humility, temperance, \meekness/ humanity \meekness/ benevolence \ficence/ & piety without any tincture of vice, exhibits an example \which is/ more universally beneficial, & wch is nearer the reach of the greatest part \bulk/ of mankind than the glory of Heroes \Conquerors/. |& imitable than the {illeg} atchievements of the warriour or the triumph the victorious triumphs of Hercules| Nor can it be thought un \less/ \un/becoming a rational \an intelligent/ being <2r> to consider the various revolutions | to inquire into the increase of Natural discoveries in the Coonwealth of Knowledge, to observe the period of one Hypothesis | System & the rise of another & to pay a due homage & reverence to those Great \immortal/ Deliverers who freed mankind from the bondage of Error & Ignorance.

Thou wee should go far back into past ages & look around the present \ages and even go far back into the past/, difficult would it be to find an instance of a more exalted Genius & Virtue, \of/ one who penetrated farther into the works of the divine Author of Nature or laid a more solid foundation for a lasting & Universal Empire in Philosophy than \did the great/ Sr Isaac Newton.

<2v>

This Philosopher \{illeg} extraordinary person/ who was to introduce a freedom of thinking & to teach men not to give up their reason implicitely to any Hypothesis \System/ howsoever dignified or established, came into the world in 1642 when a general | an uncommon spirit of Liberty was spread over \was gone forth in/ had taken possession of {illeg} the greatest part of this nation \our forefathers/ & upon that day of the year wch brought the greatest of {blessings} upon mankind & |without any publick institution on his account| will always be celebrated with the highest devotion by the Christian world \for having brought a Saviour to mankind/. |He was baptized in Costerworth church the 1s {sic} Ianry 1642 as appears by the Register of that church| His father died near three months before

<3r>

or

He was born upon Christmas day in the year 1642 near 3 months after the death of his father, so that he is another instance of an {sic} remark \the {sic} observation/ wch has been \wch has been/ often made; that posthumous children frequently prove \most/ extraordinary persons, & does not add less weight to the observation than Cæsar or Nassau |nor will the remark be of less weight if with the names of Cear & Nassau that of Newton be hereafter cited upon this occasion|. That there may be no \room for/ contention hereafter about the place of the birth of this Homer of Philosophy let me take note that He was born at the Mannor house of his family at Wolstrope in the parish of Costerworth in the County of Linoln {sic} <3v> six miles South of Grantham in the great road from London to the North, it lies on the West side of the valley of the River Witham wch takes it's source \rises/ near it, it has a fine prospect Eastward, the air is very wholesome & the country about it beautifull. The Mannor is of a considerable extent thou the {illeg} lands are not {illeg} \&/ It \& It/ holds court leet & Court Baron, & by the copies of the Rolls appears to have been for many generations in the family of the Newtons who stile themselves in these rolls Lords of the Mannour of Mortimer in the parishes or precincts of Wolstrope & Costerworth in the soak of Grantham in the County of Lincoln. <4r> They came originally form Lancashire. Sr Isaac was descended from the elder branch of the family of Sr Iohn Newton Bartt The coon Ancestor to them both was Iohn Newton of Westby in the parish of Basingthorp in the County of Lincoln who|se| \|forefathers| ancestors came thither from Lancashire – he/ had four sons, Iohn Thomas Richard & William; Iohn the eldest who died in 1563 was Sr Isaac's Great Grandfather's Father, he bought the \an/ estate of Wolstrope of Michael Newton of Kirk stoke in the same County, & removed his children from Westby thither where they have \his posterity have/ continued ever since. William the youngest was |of| the Sr Iohn Newton's Great grandfather & went from Westby to Gunnerby in the same County, where he married the widow of Richard <4v> Hicson of that place. whose son by her first husband left his half brother Tho. Newton the son of William a very considerable estate in land, wch laid the foundation of those great possessions that are now so worthily enjoyed by that family, & to a great part of wch Sr Isaac Newton would have been heir at law if Sr Iohn Newton's father had died without children. Let no one imagine that I have \not/ dwelt so long on this article out of a vain & false notion that the advantage of birth can add any glory to Sr Isaac Newton < insertion from p 5 > {but I would not omitt} doing \ but to do/ /but I would not omitt doing\ justice to the honourable family who are of the same blood with him, & to whose name he has given a \dignity &/ lustre above the highest \proudest/ titles & a duration wch does not depend on a frail & precarious succession — < text from f 4v resumes > I can never allow any one to be base who is not so by his actions & am far from thinking that Sr Isaac \but he/ could |not never| have derived from the proudest <5r> he could never \not/ have derived from the proudest Pedigree that true dignity & nobility wch he acquired by his writings & virtue

Or

He himself would never allow any one to be base who was not so by his actions & could not haue derived from the proudest pedigree that tue dignity & nobility wch he acquired by his writings and virtues

<5v>

His Mother was Hannah the daughter of Iames Aiscough of Market Overton in the County of Rutland & of Margaret Blith of the family of the Bliths of Stranson in the County of Lincoln now extinct. The Aiscoughs were \a family wch was/ formerly of great consideration in those parts one of them | wch built great Painton steeple, a curious fabrick between Grantham & Colsterworth where was the old Roman city Causennis. Her mother was of the family \of the family one antient \antient/ family/ of the Bliths of Stranson in the County of Lincoln wch are now extinct wch was also a very antient so that she was on both sides of {sic} very \|fair| antient/ antient \fair/ & honourable extraction, but what was of much more consequence to her son, she was a woman of \such so/ extraordinary <6r> an understanding virtue & goodness that those who beleive the Tradux animæ & can think that a soul like Sr Isaac Newton's could proceed from any thing \be formed by any thing/ less than \the immediate operation/ {sic} Divine Creator might be apt to ascribe it to her — She continued a widow several years & employed her time in educating her son & distributing | dispensing around her little province the widow's mite of those Christian offices of humanity & benevolence wch in country retirements make a whole neighbourhood happy & from such hands are equally meritorious with |& at the same time that they cherish & warm all within the reach of their influence send up to heaven an odour of sweet smell & a sacrifice wch from such hands is as acceptable & well pleasing as| the Hecatombs of Princes. Upon the high character she bore |Her amiable character induced| Mr Barnabas Smith <6v> who was Rector of North Witham near Wolstrope & had lived unmarried till he was turned of fifty sent \to send/ a neighbour to make proposals to her; thou she had no reason to distrust her own strength & prudence she would not treat with him her self upon a concern in wch of all others passion generally bears so great a sway but referred him to her brother Aiscough the \who was/ Rector of Burton Cogles in Lincolnshire – Mr Smith besides his Rectory had near £500 pr. anm in land wch in those days was a plentiful estate so that Mr Aiscough soon signified his approbation of so advantageous <7r> a match but she would not give her consent till Mr Smith had previously settled \given/ some of his land upon \to/ her son Newton wch \&/ he readily \immediately/ complied with & Sr Isaac enjoyed as long as he lived; |settled an estate upon him \& his heirs/ exclusive of his own children. This is| a strong instance of the love she \& care Sr Isaac's mother/ had for her son by her first husband the reverse of wch is too often seen in widows upon such occasions. She lost her \second/ husband Smith in      & then returned to Wolstrope & lived there till |In| the year 1689 when her son by Mr Smith was taken ill at Stamford of a malignant feaver, & she went thither to attend him, he recovered but she out of her great tenderness changing beds with him caught his distemper <7v> & died. She left by Mr Smith one son & two daughters Benjamin Mary & Hannah – Benjamin married       Bishop

Mary was married to Tho Pilkington of            whose         had upwards of

Hannah was married to Rob. Barton a younger brother of the Bartons at Brigstock \in Northamptonshire/ who had possessed a considerable estate there several hundred years & who \he/ was nearly related to the Earl of Rockingham <8r> Lord Griffin      Sr Ieffrey Palmer & many other honble families in that neighbourhood — Sr Isaac's half brother & sisters left \several/ children eight of wch were living at Sr Isaac's decease & inherited his personal esate —– The children by Mr Smith did not lessen the love of Sr Isaac's mother for him for thou she was an indulgent parent to them all & gave so fatal a proof of it in one instance Sr Isaac was always deservedly her favourite \distinguished/, & when she died had much the greatest share of her \real & personal/ estate wch was very considerable <8v> & together with his paternal inheritance enabled him not only to follow his studies & indulge his insatiable thirst of searching thoroughly into the the works of Nature & \by/ making experiments upon all the varieties of matter, but to exercise early that disposition of charity & liberality wch he gratified so abundantly in his latter days.

Since Plutarch that standing | immortal pattern | model of Biography complains of those who omitted to tell Posterity the names of the Mothers of Nicias Demosthenes Phormio Thrasibulus & Theramenes & highly coends <9r> Plato & Antisthenes for recording the names of the preceptor & Nurse of Alcibiades; I flatter my self I shall be excused for taking this notice of her who gave birth & education to one about whom in after times some perhaps may be as curious & inquisitive as Plutarch was about his countrymen & that the precept & practice | example of that excellent \great/ author will justify | countenance my descending on other occasions into particulars wch might seem minute & trivial if they were not supported | justified by such an authority & such a subject –

<9v>

Sr I. Newton told me he had often heard from his mother that when he was born he was so little they could haue put him into a quart pot & so unlikely to liue that two women who were sent to My Lady Packenham at North Witham for some thing for him sate down on a stile by the way & said to one another they need not make haste for the child would certainly be dead before they could get back He for some time wore a bolster <10r> round his neck to keep his head upon his shoulders – This weak & unpromising habit of body in his first infancy he had in coon with Descartes Father Paul Mr Pope & many other \of those superior mortals Inventors/ superior Genij, as if the extraordinary portion of spirits wch animates such forward souls overpowered & oppressed the tender | young matter & soft substance wch cloaths them —

Sr Isaac went to two little day schools at Killingworth & Stoke till he was 12 years old & then was sent to the Great school at Grantham where he boarded with Mr Clark an Apothecary – The school had then about 80 scholars & was under the care of Mr Stokes who was excellently <10v> well qualified for such a province not only by his learning but by the {sweetne} a benevolent heart & so \as so/ \{sic}/ large a \a porti/ share of natural affection that he looked \wch made him that he looked/ /wch made him look\ upon his scholars as {part of} his own family & took \take/ a pleasure in \made all/ /take a pleasure in all\ the wearisome offices of that laborious \painfull/ function \a labour of love/ Sr Isaac was placed in the lowermost form of all & continued very negligent till (as he often told me) an odd \the following/ accident reclaimed him. When he was the last in the lowermost class but one the boy next above him as they were going to school gave him a kick in his belly wch put him to a great deal of pain, as soon <11r> as the school was over he challenged the boy to fight & they went out together into the church yard, the schoolmaster's son came to them & whilst they were fighting |&| clapped one on the back & winked at the other to encourage them both – Thô Sr Isaac was not so lusty as his antagonist he had so much more spirit & resolution that he beat him till he declared he would fight no more upon wch the Schoolmaster's son bad him use him like a Coward & r rub his nose against the wall & accordingly he pulled him along by the ears & did so \thrust his face against the side of the church/ – Not content with this bodily victory <11v> he could not rest till he had got above him in the school & thou before he never minded his book (as you may beleive said he by my being the last in the form) he from that time began to follow it \study/ with great application, he had several contests with his adversary, got his place & lost it & then retrieved it again till at length he not only kept his ground over him but continued rising till he was the first in the school. This is a very particular instance of the truth of that old maxim Vexatio dat intellectum, <12r> Wee must be irritated & stirred before wee can feel or know our own strength \of Soul as wel as Body/ – Resentment {first} \first/ rouzed this great spirit & Emulation that inward spring wch pushes boys forward \operates/ with so much more violence than the faint impulse of tame instruction not only urged this young Athlete \the School boy/ to give an early omen of his future triumphs by \to gain/ a compleat victory in this humble scene but was the first occasion of his exerting & improving those powers \& faculties/ wch afterwards upon <12v> a higher Theater carried the Philosopher beyond all that had gone before him & far out of the reach of any competitour – He soon made himself master of his pen & not only wrote variety of fine hands some samples of wch are still in being | the family but made was very expert at | made a good proficiency in drawing wch he learned as he did every thing else by dint of his own inclination & by of observing Nature the wall of the chamber where he lay not many years ago was still full of figures of birds beasts men & ships well designed & several persons still remember <13r> many of his drawings some from copies pictures & some from the life particularly the heads of King Charles the 1st Dr Donne & his worthy schoolmaster Mr Stokes. His natural curiosity & inquisitive temper put him upon observing the composition of the medicines & the whole business of the shop where he liued wch gave his mind the first turn to Chymistry & an early inclination to that mistress wch he courted afterwards with so much success & \wch jilts so many but/ \which/ proued so convenient handmaid to him in his other great designs –

If euer he entred into the <13v> usual sports of his companions it was with a farther view than the meer mechanical part of them & \even/ when he played \it was/ he played philosophically, \& he exercised his mind at the same time with his body/, the following instance of wch he often told himself – on the day of the great storm when Oliuer Cromwell died at wch time he was entered into his sixteenth year he jumped first with the wind & then against it & measuring his leap both ways & afterwards comparing it with his leap in a calm he by a sort of rule of three computed the vis of the storm |& the effect it had on his jump|

<14r>

but his strongest inclination was to mechanicks \but this turn \of mind/ appeared much more eminently in his strong propensity & inclination to mechanicks/ \wch was his favourite {illeg} amusement/ – Mrs Vincent who was daughter in law to Mr Clark where Sr Isaac boarded & lived in the same house with him several years, says he was always spent most of his time \when/ out of school in making knick knacks & models in wood of several kinds for wch purpose he had got little saws hatchets haers & a whole shop full of tools wch he used with great dexterity, that he would often make little tables & cupboards & other utensils for her & her playfellows to sett their babies & trinkets upon, nor <14v> was he less usefull to his school fellows making lanthorns for them of crimpled paper & kites & was very \particularly/ exact in settling their proportions & finding out the proper places where the strings were to be fastened – Mrs Vincent remembers particularly a cart he made with 4 wheels in wch he would sit & by turning a windlass or capstern about make it carry him wither he pleased. I find by a letter of Abbé Conti as well as by the Eloge of Leibnitz that he in his latter days spent a great deal of his time in contriving such machines without bringing \any of/ them to perfection

<15r>

|2. Vide other side (1)| < insertion from f 15v > |(1)| He was very diligent in observing the shadow of the sun in the yard of the house where he boarded & used to drive pegs against the walls & roof to mark the hours & half hours by the shade wch by degrees he made so exact that every body \the family/ knew what a clock it was by\generally consulted/ Isaac's dial as it was coonly called – I cannot help observing here that even to the time of his death <16r> he retained this custom of making constant observations in the rooms he cheifly used where the shade of the sun fell, & I have often known him both at Kensington & in S{sic} Martin's street when any one asked what a clock it was tell immediately by looking where the shadow of the sun touched as exactly as he could have done by his watch. For within doors he made a water clock out of an old box, it was 4 feet high & of a proportionable breadth, it had a dial plate at the top with figures of the hours, the index was turned <16v> by a piece of wood wch either fell or rose by the dropping of the water, this stood always in the room where he lay & he took care every morning to supply it with it's proper quantity of water, it was left in the house long after Sr Isaac went to the University & is still talked off at Grantham — I find in a little paper book wch he used when at school a rule for making such a Clepsydra & the proportions that are to be observed *

< text from f 15r resumes > < insertion from f 17r >

* Gassendus takes notice in his {sic} short History of Astronomy before the \preface to his/ life of Tycho Brahe that accord the \very/ first steps & advances made towards it \Astronomy/ by the Chaldæans & Ægyptians were the measuring the motions of the heavenly bodies by the droppings of water & the shadow of the Sun; & \&/ Sr Isaac \So that Sr Isaac by a natural instinct/ fell in his childhood upon those rude \the same rude/ methods wch were taken by the first inventors in the infancy of that science, \he/ began where the art it self did, but soon made a much swifter progress & \having/ by the discoveries of a few years contributed more towards bringing it nearer perfection than \had been done by/ the united labours of thousands of centuries before him |Vide (2) being the second leaf of folio (8)|

< text from f 15r resumes >

A new windmill happening to be sett up near Grantham Sr Isaac's imitating spirit was soon excited, & by frequently prying into the fabric of it as they \whilst the workmen/ were about it he made such a model as was allowed to be as clean & curious a piece of workmanship as the original, he would some times sett it upon the top of the house where he lodged & cloth it with sail cloth so that the wind would readily take it & he had contrived the inside in such a manner that he could make a mouse turn it; sometimes by tying a string to the tail of the mouse & pulling it the mouse would go forward by way of resistance in a \sort of/ turnspit wheel & so make the Mill go, sometimes & at other times he would put a little corn <15v> above the wheel wch | & the Mouse would turn \the wheel/ by endeavouring to get at the corn; he called the Mouse his Miller & would often joke upon his eating up the corn \go to 2d leaf of folio (Symbol (crescent with convex side facing down) in text#/

<18r>

|#|Thus \early/ did this Father of experimental Philosophy make even his {sic} \his/ sports & amusements of his childhood subservient to that great design, early \betimes/ accustom & habituate his nerves & muscles to correspond & keep pace with his imagination, & form form a pliableness & activity in his material powers | corporeal organs at the same time that he unfolded & inlarged the faculties of his soul — \* Vide The Author/

< insertion from f 19r >

* The Author of that excellent work the History of the Royal Society observes that when Plato enjoined his scholars to begin with Geometry he designed they should handle material things & grow familiar with visible objects before they entred on the retired speculations of more abstracted sciences; a lesson wch Sr Isaac by a natural instinct put very soon in practice, he began to form \train up & prepare/ his mind for intellectual discoveries by making handicraft tools mechanicks & {illeg} \material/ substances \matter/ the imployment | subject & \\sensible/ subject of his first studies &/ |&| observations {of his} childhood, & from marking the shadow of the sun on a wall & poizing a paper Kite in the air & contriving little mills & clocks; raised \at length/ his thoughts to measure the heavens & weigh the Sun & planets as it were in a balance & unlock & disclose all the secret springs & wonderfull mechanism of the vast fabrick of nature.

< text from f 18r resumes >

\/ When Sr Isaac had been about 4 years at Grantham school his mother took him home <18v> to try if he would follow country affairs & the management of his own estate, & put him under the care & instruction of a trusty old servant. but he \Sr Isaac/ had tasted too deep of more engaging studies to relish or give any attention to |It has often been observed that there is a bent in Nature wch determines great minds to follow that course in wch they are most capable of excelling, & it is no wonder one so vigorous /active\ & aspiring as Sr Isaac's was not to be stopt | kept under or diverted from its proper object | higher nobler pursuits| |by| so low an employment – When any business called him to Grantham he would leave the servant to manage what was to be done & slip away to his old lodging, & entertain himself there with a book till it was time to return home & instead of overlooking the corn or cattle <21r> or any work that was going forward in the farm he would sit under a tree with a book or go to a running stream & make wheels in imitation of over & undershot mills, & dams & sluices & many other Hydrostatick experiments wch he would often be so intent upon as to forget his dinner. His Governour soon gave up all hopes of one who was so extravagantly idle as to neglect his meals & made frequent complaints of his pupil, but his old Master <21v> Mr Stokes who knew his talents pressed his mother not to bury so promis \such/ hopeful a genius \talents/ but to fit him for the university & upon hi Mr Aiscough joined in the same request | advice & upon their instances Sr Isaac was again sent to Grantham school for 3 quarters of a year —

His Genius now began to mount upwards apace & to shine out with more strength, he excelled particularly in making verses as he told me himself with some sort of pleasure <22r> which I took the more notice of because in his latter days he often expressed a contempt for Poetry nor is it a wonder that one who for so many years had accustomed | used his mind to reject all Hypotheses & admitt nothing but truth & demonstration should contract a distaste for those \the/ productions whose very essence is \of/ Fancy & Fiction — In every thing he undertook he |now| discovered an application equal to the pregnancy of his parts & exceeded the most sanguine expectations his Master had conceived of him <22v> There is a tradition at Grantham that when this {for good} this favourite disciple was to leave the school \him/ the good old man with the pride of a father sett put him in the most conspicuous place in the school & with tears in his eyes made a spech {sic} in his praise to encourage | excite the {sic} other {sic} \boys/ | his schoolfellows to follow his example, well might he have applied to him that passage in Virgil I Decus I nostrum –

Mr Aiscough had been \himself/ of Trinity College \in Cambridge/ & Dr Babington who was uncle to Mrs Vincent was <23r> then a senior fellow there wch determined Sr Isaac's mother to send him to that University & College where he was admitted the 5th of Iune, 1660 being then in the 18th year of his age –

Having now brought this promising Genius \him/ out of the shade & obscurity in to an open Horizon & a more spacious field \ex umbraticâ Palæstra in Solem et pulvere/; Let me, before he takes his rise | begins his flight & soars {to} those heights where so few {can} follow him. stop awhile to consider how far others had <23v> gone before him, what \lamps were hung out to light him thro those myriads of worlds wch he travelled over/ glimmering {sic} rays he had \were hung out/ to light him what ground \he had was given him δὸι που σω/ to stand upon whilst he turned the spheres & unravelled | laid open all the motions of the Universe, & where he had no guide, found no place to rest the soal of his foot upon but was carried | rapt upwards by a Divine Energy throu | into the boundless expanse of nature {th}e frame of wch it had {no}t from the beginning entred {in} to the heart of man <24r> to conceive \videlicit in pursuit of Comets/

Here followes an account of the State of Philosophy &c. \motion of Comets tides &c –/ before Sr Isaac's discoveries.

© 2019 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL - newtonproject@history.ox.ac.uk

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