<1>

4. June. 1729

Sir

I fear you will be much surprized at my very long delay in answering your favour of September last which is {hardly} in, but for my waiting for the advice & opinion of Sir Isaac Newtons friends in relation to the monumental picture to his memory, & I assure you it is but very lately that I could fix upon any design & I hope that resolved upon will please you as much as it does every one here, it is as follows –

It is proposed to have the monument not in any Church because it is impossible to express all his natural discoveries in so li{ttle} a place but in the open air & by the seaside as some of those are which you haue already done – — & by an arm of the sea

On the left hand a stately Monument of the finest architecture with the proper symbols & attributes belonging to him which I furnished you so amply with already which I leave <2> entirely to you – I would have the rest of the picture in some measure resemble the school of Athens – Viz —

In one place a groupe of Philosophers looking on a scroll with a Mathematical figure upon the ground – at the head of these I would have Pythagoras Plato & Galileo looking with admiration & Descartes with a dejected countenance, as being concerned for the destruction of his system of Phylosophy – I would have Aristotle who it is said threw himself into the Euripus because he could not solve the nature of its tide looking upon the sea rolling to the shore & pointing with admiration to a scroll with a problem of Sir Isaac's upon it shewing the cause of the tides – I would have him near the other Philosophers because he belongs to them, & if it could be expressed he should in some measure triumph over Descartes who had overturned the aristotelian system upon the destruction of his by Sir I. N. The next groupe should be of Astronomers <3> & at the head of these I would place Hipparchus Ptolemy Copernicus Tycho Brahe Kepler & Ulug Beighi Kepler should be holding up in his hand a celestial globe which the others should be looking upon with admiration – You will find such a groupe in the picture of the school of Athens by Raphael which without doubt you have copies or prints of at Venice – The next groupe & which should be the least conspicuous should be a groupe of Geometers with Euclid Archimedes & Apollonius at the head of them looking with admiration upon a scroll upon the ground with geometrical problems upon it On the right hand of the picture should be the arch of a rainbow in the sky, & some persons looking upon it with their naked eye at the sky not at the rainbow & others through a reflecting Telescope at some distant object <4> behind the whole, there may be a beautiful landskip & lontananza –

You will perceive it is not designed to have any genij or poetical fantastical beings in these groupes so they are all left to be made use of as you shall think proper about the Monument, but it will be absolutely necessary to have the Philosophers Astronomers & Geometers I have placed at the head of the 3 groupes to be very particularly described for without that the whole beauty of the design will be lost – You can be at no difficulty to get the faces & habits of Pythagoras Plato Aristotle Euclid & Archimedes Ptolemy & Hipparchus & Apollonius because there are number of books with prints of them from old statues or intaglios in almost every library – Tycho Brahe was Knight of the Elephant & is always painted with a flat nose having as it is said been unfortunate in his amours but in the life of him & Copernicus writt by Gassendus you will see their pictures very well done & in Helvetius's Prodromus Astronomiæ <5> which is a book in all libraries you will find that of Galilæo & of Ulug Beighi an arabian Prince with short hair & mustachios hanging down, & Kepler who was Astronomer to an Emperour of Germany – As for Descartes who must be very particularly marked out you will find his picture before his own works & in Perrault's hommes illustres – As to the Mathematical problems & the particular figures of a Comet &c – upon the celestial globe I will have them done here afterwards & only desire you will have the scrolls & the shape of the globe painted – –

This you perceive will be a picture in character & only applicable to Sir I. Newton which is what will give it it's value with me, & I am perswaded you will forgive me if I tell you that it has been thought your other pictures though finely painted are defective in that respect – & I have <6> already seen two of them turned to a quite different design from what they were intended I mean those for the late Duke of Devonshire & Sir Cloudesley Shovel the first of which is turned into a Brutus & the other into a Roman Admiral by My Lord Bingley in whose possession they now are – The sketch you intended for Sir I. Newton may I hope very easily be applicable to any other great men & if not I shall willingly pay the charges of the little alterations that can be wanting but I can not think of having it on any account as a monumental picture to him, nor indeed can I ever be satisfied or pleased with any but one after the design I haue now sent you, if you will be so good as to superintend the execution of this I shall be much obliged to you, but it has been so thoroughly considered here by the best judges & is so much to my own fancy that though the ornaments & execution must be left to the painters I would not haue any material alterations made in the main design – <7>

I must likewise desire that the picture may be much broader than it is high, because I have no room in which I could possibly put one of the same heigth with those sent the Duke of Richmond I would have the heigth of those be the breadth of this & the breadth of those the heigth of this ––– I desire you to thank Mr Smith in my name for the care he took of the pictures by Canaletto & Cimeroli; & wish I could in return be any way seviceable to him here – I must beg the favour of you or Mr Smith to bespeak 3 pictures more of Canaletto they are for the Duke of Devonshire & for another friend I would have one of them four feet in width & two feet & four inches deep, & the other two three feet & eight inches wide & two feet & one inch deep – I shall be much obliged to you if you will overlook the doing of them & see they be thoroughly finished & the charge of them shall be faithfully repaid whenever it is drawn for – I have some thoughts of writing <8> Sir Isaac Newton's life my self. I wish I could furnish you with any materials relating to Earl Halifax's but I have none, his cheif glory besides that of being an able & honest statesman & a man of letters & encourager of learning was the great recoinage in the midst of an expensive war I am glad the Countess Borromeo is so well pleased with the picture I sent her, I wish it had been a better –– My wife desires you will giue her humblest services to Mrs Brown Mr Hill & Mr Breval are both abroad I beg the favour of hearing from you as soon as this reaches your hands & beg pardon for all the trouble I have given you & assure you any commands you may haue here shall be obeyed with pleasure by Sir

&c

4. Iune, 1729 –

Sent to West Garth
Sent another Copy by Mr Smith 4. Iune. 1730 & desired Mr S. to procure 3 pictures from Canaletto –

Memorandum sent a duplicate of this by Mr Brevel on the 7th of Ianuary 172730 & desired a Milan perspective of about 2 feet – by means of Countess Borromeo

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Professor Rob Iliffe
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Scott Mandelbrote,
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Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL - newtonproject@history.ox.ac.uk

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