IN the early chapters of this work we have brought down the personal history of Newton to the year 1675, when he was permitted by the Crown to retain the Lucasian Chair without going into orders. At a future period of his life, he was urged by some of the highest dignitaries in the Church to enter its pale, but feeling that his opinions were not in accordance with its Articles, he invariably declined, assigning as a reason that he could do more good to religion as a layman.


During the first twenty years of his residence at Cambridge, from 1667 to 1687, when the Principia was published, he was wholly occupied with those profound researches, of which we have given a full account, and tradition has preserved but a few anecdotes of a life so quiet and unvaried. Having outlived almost all his companions at school and at college, it became difficult, even at the time of his death, to obtain authentic materials for an account of his early and middle life, and his successors in Trinity College have therefore not been able to discover the locality of his early apartments. The chamber which was allotted to him as a Fellow in October 1667, was called the "Spiritual Chamber," which Mr. Edleston conjectures may have been "the ground room next the chapel in the north-east corner of the great court," but, as he adds, "it does not follow that he actually dwelt there," as it might have been occupied by a tenant. The rooms in which Newton lived from the year 1682 till he left Cambridge, are in the north-east corner of the great court. They are on the first floor of the staircase, on the right hand, or to the north of the gateway or principal entrance to the College, the outward door fronting the staircase, and the rooms being to the right.[1] His laboratory, as Dr. Humphrey Newton tells us, was "on the left end of the garden, near the east end of the chapel," and his telescope, which, according to the same authority, was five feet long,[2] was placed at the head of the stairs going down into the garden looking towards the east.[3] <86> The east side of Newton's rooms has been altered within the last fifty years. The wooden room, which projects into the garden, as seen in Loggan's engraving, is supported on pillars forming an arcade, and Professor Sedgwick, who came up to college in 1804, recollects it in that state. The arcade is now replaced by a wooden wall and brick chimney. The drawing on the next page is a view of Newton's rooms copied from Loggan's Plate.

Mr. John Wickins, a Fellow of Trinity College, two years junior to Newton, was one of his earliest and most esteemed friends, a similar dislike to their disorderly companions having induced them to live together so early as 1665. Wickins continued to be Newton's chamber-fellow till he left college, and on the 4th April 1684, he was presented to the living of Stoke Edith, near Monmouth, by Paul Foley, Esq., afterwards Speaker of the House of Commons.[4] While Wickins retained his Fellowship, Newton drew for him his dividends and chamber rent, and when Newton himself quitted Trinity College, he left to his friend the whole furniture of his chamber, with a wooden pint flagon, and other articles, which were preserved in his family so recently as 1802.[5] Nicolas Wickins, the son of John, succeeded to the living at Stoke Edith; and having been requested by Professor Smith of Trinity College to furnish him with some particulars of Newton's college life, he addressed to him the following interesting letter: — [6]


"STOKE EDITH, Jan. 16th, 1727-8.

"DEAR SIR, — It was an unspeakable pleasure to me to see the hand of my old acquaintance; and I wish, in return, I could send something considerable to give you a pleasure relating to the great man you write about, but I am so unhappy as to find very little under Sir Isaac's own hand of what passed between him and my father.

"I guess from a small book I found among my father's papers, that he had a design to collect into one all that he had of Sir Isaac's writing, but he went no farther than transcribing three short letters he received from him, and a Common Place, of his part of which I find under Sir Isaac's own hand; the rest, with the original of these three letters, is lost. Besides these transcribed letters and the Common Place, I can meet with nothing but four or five letters under Sir Isaac's own hand, very short, and relating to dividends and chamber rent, which he was so kind as to receive for my father when at Monmouth, where he was most part of the time he continued Fellow. There being so little in these letters, I do not now send them, but wait for your commands; for whatever I can meet with of this worthy man, shall be at your service.

"My father's intimacy with him came by mere accident. My father's first chamber-fellow being very disagreeable to him, he retired one day into the walks, where he found Mr. Newton solitary and dejected. Upon entering into discourse, they found their cause of retirement the same, and thereupon agreed to shake off their present disorderly companions and chum together, which they did as soon as conveniently they could, and so continued as long as my father staid at college.

"I have heard my father often say that he has been a <89> witness of what the world has so often heard of Sir Isaac's forgetfulness of his food when intent upon his studies; and of his rising in a pleasant manner with the satisfaction of having found out some proposition without any concern for a seeming want of his night's sleep, which he was sensible he had lost thereby.

"He was turning grey, I think, at thirty, and when my father observed that to him as the effect of his deep attention of mind, he would jest with the experiments he made so often with quicksilver, as if from hence he took so soon that colour.

"He sometimes suspected himself to be inclining to a consumption, and the medicine he made use of was the Leucatello's Balsam,[7] which, when he had composed himself, he would now and then melt in quantity about a quarter of a pint, and so drink it.


" It is now eight years since my father's death, in which time many things my father used to relate of him are slipped out of my memory; but being mostly of such a nature as I have now mentioned, I suspect would be of no service could I recollect any more.

"But there is one thing, upon account of which not only my father, but myself also, shall always pay a peculiar regard to his memory, which was a charitable benefaction which has privately passed from him through my father's, and since his death through my own hands. We have been the dispensers of many dozens of bibles sent by him for poor people, and I have now many by me sent from him for the same purpose, which, as it shows the great regard he had for religion, I cannot but desire that by you it may be made public to the world.

"Dear Sir, my thoughts dwell with wonderful delight upon the memory of this great and good man, and therefore I have troubled you with so long a letter, which I now beg pardon for, and in hope of again hearing soon from you, conclude with my brother's hearty service and respects to you. I beg my humble service to all my old acquaintance, and am,

"Dear Sir, your much obliged humble servant,


"To Mr. Professor SMITH, at

Trinity College, Cambridge."

In the year 1683, Newton requested Mr. Walker, who was then schoolmaster at Grantham, to engage Mr. Humphrey Newton of that town as an assistant and amanuensis. Mr. Newton willingly accepted of the offer, and remained with Sir Isaac nearly five years, from the end of 1683 to 1689, that interesting period during which the Prin <91> cipiawas written and published. When Mr. Conduitt was in search of materials for the life of his relative, he naturally applied to Dr. Newton for information, and he obtained from him the two following letters, which throw much light on the "life and actions" of the great philosopher: —

"SIR, — Receiving yours, I return as perfect and faithful an account of my deceased friend's transactions, as possibly does at this time occur to my memory. Had I had the least thought of gratifying after this manner Sir Isaac's friends, I should have taken a much stricter view of his life and actions.

"In the last year of King Charles II., Sir Isaac was pleased, through the mediation of Mr. Walker, (then schoolmaster at Grantham,) to send for me up to Cambridge, of whom I had the opportunity, as well as honour, to wait of for about five years.[8] In such time he wrote his Principia Mathematica, which stupendous work, by his order, I copied out before it went to the press. After the printing, Sir Isaac was pleased to send me with several of them in presents to some of the heads of Colleges, and others of his acquaintance, some of which (particularly Dr. Babington of Trinity) said that they might study seven years before they understood any thing of it. His carriage then was very meek, sedate, and humble, never seemingly angry, of profound thought, his countenance mild, pleasant, and comely. I cannot say I ever saw him laugh but once, which was at that passage which Dr. Stukely mentioned in his letter to your honour,[9] which <92> put me in mind of the Ephesian philosopher, who laughed only once in his lifetime, to see an ass eating thistles when plenty of grass was by. He always kept close to his studies, very rarely went a visiting, and had as few visitors, excepting two or three persons, Mr. Ellis,[10] Mr. Laughton of Trinity,[11] and Mr. Vigani,[12] a chemist, in whose company he took much delight and pleasure at an evening when he came to wait upon him. I never knew him to take any recreation or pastime either in riding out to take the air, walking, bowling, or any other exercise whatever, thinking all hours lost that was not spent in his studies, to which he kept so close that he seldom left his chamber except at term time, when he read in the schools as being Lucasianus Professor, where so few went to hear him, and fewer that understood him, that ofttimes he did in a manner, for want of hearers, read to the walls. Foreigners he received with a great deal of freedom, candour, and respect. When invited to a treat, which was very seldom, he used to return it very handsomely, and with much satisfaction to himself. So intent, so serious upon his studies, that he ate very sparingly, nay, ofttimes he has forgot to eat at all, so that, going into his chamber, I have found his mess untouched, of which, when I have reminded him, he would reply, — 'Have I!' and then making to the table, would eat a bit or two standing, for I cannot say I ever saw him sit at <93> table by himself.[13] At some seldom entertainments, the Masters of Colleges were chiefly his guests. He very rarely went to bed till two or three of the clock,[14] sometimes not till five or six lying about four or five hours, especially at spring and fall of the leaf, at which times he used to employ about six weeks in his elaboratory, the fire scarcely going out either night or day, he sitting up one night and I another, till he had finished his chemical experiments, in the performances of which he was the most accurate, strict, exact. What his aim might be I was not able to penetrate into, but his pains, his diligence at these set times made me think he aimed at something beyond the reach of human art and industry. I cannot say I ever saw him drink either wine, ale, or beer, excepting at meals, and then but very sparingly. He very rarely went to dine in the hall, except on some public days, and then if he has not been minded, would go very <94> carelessly, with shoes down at heels, stockings untied, surplice on, and his head scarcely combed.

"As for his Optics being burned, I knew nothing of it but as I had heard from others, that accident happening before he writ his Principia.[15] He was very curious in his garden, which was never out of order, in which he would at some seldome time take a short walk or two, not enduring to see a weed in it. On the left end of the garden was his elaboratory, near the east end of the chapel, where he at these set times employed himself in with a great deal of satisfaction and delight. Nothing extraordinary, as I can remember, happened in making his experiments; which, if there did, he was of so sedate and even temper, that I could not in the least discover it. He very seldom went to the chapel, that being the time he chiefly took his repose; and, as for the afternoon, his earnest and indefatigable studies retained him, so that he scarcely knew the house of prayer. Very frequently, on Sundays, he went to St. Mary's church, especially in the forenoon. I knew nothing of the writings[16] which your honour sent, only that it is his own hand, I am very certain of, believing he might write them at some leisure hours, before he set upon his more serious and weighty matters. Sir Isaac at that time had no pupils nor any chamber-fellow, for that, I would presume to think, would not have been agreeable to his studies. He was only <95> once disordered with pains at the stomach, which confined him for some days to his bed, which he bore with a great deal of patience and magnanimity, seemingly indifferent either to live or die. He seeing me much concerned at his illness, bid me not trouble myself; 'For if,' said he, 'I die, I shall leave you an estate,' which he then mentioned.

"Sir, this is what I can at present recollect, hoping it may in some measure satisfy your queries.

"My wife at this time is brought to bed of a son, whom I intend to nominate after my dear deceased friend. Would you please to honour me so far as to substitute Dr. Stewkely to stand as witness. I should take it as a very singular favour, and would very much oblige, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant,


"GRANTHAM, January 17, — 278"

After trying, for a month nearly, to recollect some other particulars respecting Newton, which he had been requested to do by Mr. Conduitt, he addressed to him the following letter: —

"SIR, — I return your honour a great many thanks for the favour you have done me in deputing Dr. Stewkley to stand in your stead as witness to my son. It is out of my sphere to make any grateful return, therefore doubt not but your goodness will in that point excuse my deficiency. I have bethought myself about Sir Isaac's life as much as possibly I can. About 6 weeks at spring, and 6 at the fall, the fire in the elaboratory scarcely went out, which was well furnished with chymical materials as bodyes, receivers, heads, crucibles, &c., which was made very little use of, <96> the crucibles excepted, in which he fused his metals; he would sometimes, tho' but very seldom, look into an old mouldy book which lay in his elaboratory, I think it was titled Agricola de Metallic, the transmuting of metals being his chief design, for which purpose antimony was a great ingredient. Near his elaboratory was his garden, which was kept in order by a gardiner. I scarcely ever saw him do anything as pruning, &c. at it himself. When he has sometimes taken a turn or two has made a sudden stand, turn'd himself about, ran up the stairs like another Archimedes, with an εὔρηκαevprjKa, fall to write on his desk standing, without giving himself the leisure to draw a chair to sit down on. At some seldom times when he designed to dine in the hall, would turn to the left hand and go out into the street, when making a stop when he found his mistake, would hastily turn back, and then sometimes instead of going into the hall, would return to his chamber again. When he read in the schools he usually staid about half an hour, when he had no auditors, he commonly returned in a 4th part of that time or less. Mr. Laughton who was then the library keeper of Trin. Coll. resorted much to his chamber; if he commenced Dr. afterwards I know not. His telescope, which was at that time, as near as I could guess, was near 5 foot long, which he placed at the head of the stairs going down into the garden, buting towards the east. What observations he might make I know not, but several of his observations about comets and the planets may be found scattered here and there in a book intitled The Elements of Astronomy, by Dr. David Gregory. He would with great acuteness answer a question, but would very seldom start one. Dr. Boerhaave (I think it is) Prof. Lips, in some of his writings, speaking of Sir Is.: That man, says he, comprehends as much as all man <97> kind besides. In his chamber he walked so very much that you might have thought him to be educated at Athens among the Aristotelian sect. His brick furnaces, pro re nata, he made and altered himself without troubling a bricklayer. He very seldom sat by the fire in his chamber excepting that long frosty winter,[17] which made him creep to it against his will. I can't say I ever saw him wear a night gown, but his wearing clothes that he put off at night, at night do I say, yea rather towards the morning, he put on again at his rising. He never slept in the daytime that I ever perceived; I believe he grudged the short time he spent in eating and sleeping. 'ΑυέΧου καì ἀπέΧου may well and truly be said of him, he always thinking with Bishop Saunderson, temperance to be the best physick. In a morning he seemed to be as much refreshed with his few hours' sleep as though he had taken a whole night's rest. He kept neither dog nor cat in his chamber, which made well for the old woman his bedmaker, she faring much the better for it, for in a morning she has sometimes found both dinner and supper scarcely tasted of, which the old woman has very pleasantly and mumpingly gone away with. As for his private prayers I can say nothing of them; I am apt to believe his intense studies deprived him of the better part. His behaviour was mild and meek, without anger, peevishness, or passion, so free from that, that you might take him for a stoick. I have seen a smal past-board box in his study set against the open window, no less as one might suppose than a 1000 guin. in it crowded edgeways, whether this was suspicion or carelessness I cannot say; perhaps to try the fidelity of those about him. In winter time he was a lover of apples, and <98> sometimes at a night would eat a small roasted quince. His thoughts were his books; tho' he had a large study seldom consulted with them. When he was about 30 years of age his grey hairs was very comely, and his smiling countenance made him so much the more graceful. He was very charitable, few went empty handed from him. Mr. Pilkinton, who lived at Market Overton, died in a mean condition, (though formerly he had a plentiful estate,) whose widow with 5 or 6 children Sir Is. maintained several years together. He comonly gave his poor relations, (for no family so rich but there is some poor among them), when they apply'd themselves to him, no less than 5 guineas, as they themselves have told me. He has given the porters many a shilling not for leting him (in ?) at the gates at unreasonable hours, for that he abhorred, never knowing him out of his chamber at such times. No way litigious, not given to law or vexatious suits, taking patience to be the best law, and a good conscience the best divinity. Says Seneca, somebody will demonstrate which way comets wander, why they go so far from the rest of the celestial bodies, how big, and what sort of bodies they are, which had he been contempory with Sir Is. he might have seen this prophecy of his fulfilled by the wonder of his age. Could your Honour pick somethings out of this indigested mass worthy to be inserted into the life of so great, so good, and so illustrious a person as Sir Isaac Newton! it would be of infinite satisfaction to him, Sir, who is your Honour's most humb. and most obedient servant,


"Feb. 14,17278, GRANTHAM."

After Newton had completed his optical researches, and brought to a close his controversy with the Dutch <99> philosophers, he was called upon to direct his attention to a less congenial subject. His friend. Dr. Thomas Burnet, who had been Senior Proctor when Newton took his degree in 1668, and who, as we shall presently see, set him the noble example of resisting arbitrary power, had printed, in 1680, his Theoria Telluris Sacra,[18] an eloquent physico-theological romance, which not only received the warm approbation of the King, but was applauded by the poets, and, to a certain extent, adopted even by Newton. Abandoning, as some of the fathers had done, the hexaemeron, or six days of Moses, as a physical reality, and having no knowledge of geological phenomena, he gives loose reins to his imagination, combining passages of Scripture with those of ancient authors, and presumptuously describing the future catastrophes to which the earth is to be exposed. Previous to its publication, Burnet presented a copy of his book to Newton, and requested his opinion of the theory which it expounded. In a letter dated 24th December 1680, Newton sent him "some exceptions to particular passages," which elicited explanations from their author, and led him to propose new questions of a theological as well as of a scientific nature. To this letter of Burnet's, which was of great length, and dated January 13, 1680-81, Newton replied in one nearly as long,[19] and possessing a very considerable degree of interest. He treats of the formation of the earth, and the other planets, out of a general chaos, — of the figure <100> assumed by the earth, — of the length of the primitive days, — of the formation of hills and seas, — and of the creation of the two ruling lights as the result of the clearing up of the atmosphere. He considers the account of the creation in Genesis as adapted to the judgment of the vulgar. "Had Moses," he says, "described the processes of creation as distinctly as they were in themselves, he would have made the narrative tedious and confused amongst the vulgar, and become a philosopher more than a prophet." After referring to several "causes of meteors, such as the breaking out of vapours from below, before the earth was well hardened, the settling and shrinking of the whole globe after the upper regions or surface began to be hard," Newton closes his letter with an apology for its being tedious, which, he says, "he has the more reason to do, as he has not set down any thing he has well considered, or will undertake to defend."[20]

The primitive condition of the earth, and its preparation for man, was a subject of general speculation at the close of the seventeenth century. Leibnitz, like his great rival, attempted to explain the formation of the earth, and of the different substances which composed it; and he had the advantage of possessing some knowledge of geological phenomena. The earth he regarded as having been originally a burning mass, whose temperature gradually diminished till the vapours were condensed into a universal ocean which covered the highest mountains, and gradually flowed into vacuities and subterranean cavities, produced by the consolidation of the earth's crust. He regarded fossils as the real remains of plants and animals which had been buried in the strata; and, in speculating on the formation of mineral substances, he <101> speaks of crystals as the geometry of inanimate nature."[21]

While Newton was thus speculating on geology, we find him in communication with Flamsteed, through their mutual friend, Mr. Crompton of Cambridge, on the subject of the comet of 1680, and, in so far as we are informed by the two letters of Newton, published in the General Dictionary, we have, in a preceding chapter,[22] given an account of the object and results of their correspondence. Since that chapter was printed, however, we have obtained the originals and draughts of these letters, and of other three, which passed between Newton and Flamsteed on the same subject.[23] In an unpublished memorandum, dated the Observatory, December 15, 1680, Flamsteed mentions that he had not seen the comet before sunrise in November, but that it was seen by Cuthbert; and that by what he learned from others, he concluded, that having passed the sun, it would appear in December after sunset. He accordingly discovered it on the Friday before the 11th of December; and, in another memorandum, dated January 3d, he sends to his correspondent (Crompton probably) the observation he has made. He tells him that the tail, which was 35° long., is a little curved and best defined on the left hand, and he asks his opinion <102> on a conjecture, that the comet may be "a consuming substance, much decayed, and the fuel spent which nourished its blaze." In the first of these unpublished letters addressed to Crompton,[24]Flamsteed transmits, for Newton's information, the observations made by Gallet at Rome, which Cassini had sent to Halley, others made at Rome by Maria Antonio Cellio, sent also by Halley from Paris, and an observation made at Canterbury by one Hill,[25] an artificer, with an instrument four feet radius; and, from a comparison of these, he proves, in opposition to the opinions of Newton and Cassini, that there were not two comets.[26] We have already seen[27] that Newton at one time believed that comets moved in straight lines. This opinion seems to have been adopted from Flamsteed, who says, in the continuation of his letter, "By this indented figure Mr. Newton will see that the comet ran up towards the sun nearly in a straight line, and returned from him in a like one, for the places of these lines, however altered, will not remove far from where I have designed them, except he will suppose the acceleration of its motion in its progress, and retardation in its return, to be much different from what I have made it, which also I am apt to think he will find not likely." He then proceeds to give the following views respecting comets, and the structure of the sun: —

"Hence it should seem that the comet was attracted and repelled by the sun, as I imagined and proposed in <103> my last letter. Mr. Newton brings an experiment of a red-hot magnet not attracting iron, or a cold magnet, or red-hot iron, against which I have this to assume, that the attraction of the sun may be of a different nature, and that I even suppose the sun to be not like a mass of red-hot iron, but a solid globe of gross matter, encompassed with a spirituous liquid, which, by its violent motion, striking the particles of the air, causes the heat we feel from him sometimes so intolerable; for, if I remember right, I have read in the journals of travellers, that when they have travelled over high mountains in hot countries, they have found the heat far less than in the valleys, and that the substance of the sun is terrestial matter, his light but liquid menstruum encompassing him, the phenomena of the spots I think will prove. Admit this, and it will still follow that he may attract the comet and swell it, as the observations evidence he did. Mr. Halley thinks the comet to be a body that has lost its principle of gravitation, and yet I perceive would have it attracted by the sun, which I cannot assent to, for then I see no reason why its mass should not dissipate, and the atoms composing it separate themselves and scatter over the wide æther."

In the conclusion of this long letter, Flamsteed answers very fully the queries of Newton respecting the state through which the tail of the comet passed every day, and the alterations he observed in its head; and he sends him the observations made by Cellio, and by himself at Greenwich, from Dec. 12, 1680, to Feb. 5, 1681.

In Newton's published reply to this letter,[28] he endeavours to reconcile the various observations with his idea of two comets, and transmits some of his own, made <104> with a three-feet perspective, having a great magnifying power; but he takes no notice whatever of Flamsteed's speculations on the sun, and on the action of heated magnets. I found, however, the original scroll of the letter, which is quite different from the one actually sent, and which contains, on a separate sheet, a long discussion of Flamsteed's hypothesis, which possesses considerable interest.'[29] The other letters of Flamsteed were addressed to Newton while he was writing and printing the Principia, and contain many instructive details. They complete the interesting correspondence, a part of which had been long ago published in the General Dictionary.[30]

When Newton was engaged in writing the second and third book of the Principia, an event occurred at Cambridge which drew him from his seclusion, and placed him in a noble position on the theatre of public life. Desirous of re-establishing the Catholic religion in its former supremacy, James II. had begun to tamper with the rights and privileges of his Protestant subjects, and to sap the foundations of the Established Church. He had in 1686, and in open violation of the laws, conferred the Deanery of Christchurch, an office of the highest dignity in Oxford, upon John Massey, a person who had no other qualification than that of being a member of the Church of Rome; and boasting of this exercise of power, he told the Pope's nuncio, that "what he had done at Oxford would very soon be done at Cambridge."


Before making this attempt, however, he tried his apprentice hand upon an inferior institution, which was more likely to comply with a royal demand. He sent a mandamus to the Masters and Governors of the Charterhouse, requiring them to admit as a pensioner into the hospital under their care, an old Catholic gentleman of the name of Popham. The Board of Governors, before whom this mandate was laid, consisted of the Lord Chancellor Jeffrys, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Winchester, the Earl of Danby, the Earl of Rochester, the Earl of Mulgrave, and Mr. Thomas Burnet, the Master. By the rule of election, in giving their votes, the Master, as the humblest of the electors, speaks first. In the exercise of this privilege, Mr. Burnet, a clergyman of high character, stated to the Board, that the mandate to elect a Catholic was contrary both to the will of the founder and an Act of Parliament. "What is that to the purpose?" said one of the Governors. "It is very much to the purpose, I think," replied a voice feeble with age,[31] "an Act of Parliament is, in my judgment, no light thing." A vote was then taken, which stood thus: —

Thomas Burnet, Master.Chancellor Jeffrys.
Archbishop of Canterbury.Earl of Rochester.
Bishop of Winchester. Earl of Mulgrave.
Earl of Danby." "

On the rejection of the royal candidate, Jeffrys decamped in a rage, and being followed by others of the minority, a quorum was not left to make a formal reply to the royal mandate.[32]


This defeat of the king might have induced him to pause in his threatened attack upon the University of Cambridge. He had supposed, however, that the heads of colleges, and the other members of the senate, would submit more readily to his power than the Peers and Bishops who governed the Charterhouse, and he accordingly issued a mandate in February 1687, directing that Father Alban Francis, a Benedictine monk, should be admitted a Master of Arts without taking the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. Upon receiving the mandamus. Dr. Pechel, Master of Magdalen College, who was then Vice-chancellor, sent a messenger to the Duke of Albemarle the Chancellor, to request him to get the mandamus recalled; and the registrary and bedells waited upon Francis to offer him instant admission, if he took the necessary oaths. The king and the monk were equally inexorable. The Chancellor was received coldly and ungraciously; and Francis, after refusing to subscribe the oaths, took horse and hastened to the palace to make known his disappointment.

Thus placed in open collision, the Court and the University used every means to support their cause. The royal commands had hitherto been obeyed; and when foreign princes or their ambassadors visited the Universities, the honour of a degree was invariably conferred upon them: Even the ambassador of the Emperor of Morocco, though a Mahometan, had received this distinction. On the part of the University the difference between honorary degrees to foreigners, and ordinary degrees to residents, was strongly urged. As every Master of Arts has a vote in the Senate, a majority in that court might be obtained by the admission of Catholic priests, and the Protestant character of the University overturned. Influenced by <107> views like these, and fortified by charters and statutes, and by the best legal opinions, the Senate unanimously refused to obey the king. A menacing letter from Sunderland was despatched to shake the firmness of the University; but though humble and respectful explanations were sent in reply, no hope of compliance was breathed, and no compromise proffered to the Crown. In consequence of these proceedings, the Vice-chancellor and deputies from the senate were summoned before the new High Commission at Westminster on the 21st of April.

The deputation appointed by the senate consisted of Mr. Newton, Mr. Stanhope, the Chancellor of Ely, and other six deputies; but before they went to London, they held a previous meeting, in order to prepare their explanations and defence for the Court. "Some feeble or false men," as Burnet calls them, "had proposed to grant the degree on the condition that it should not be drawn into a precedent, and this contemptible proposal had recommended itself to the Chancellor of Ely." He accordingly produced a paper, which he hoped the other deputies would sign, and in which this measure was presented in the most plausible form. A disposition to approve of it was manifested by the other deputies; but Newton seeing the character of the compromise, rose from his chair, took two or three turns round the room, and addressing the University bedell, then standing at the fire, said to him, "this is giving up the question." "So it is," replied the bedell, "why didn't you go and speak to it ?" Upon which Newton went to the table, expressed his opinion, and proposed that the paper should be shown to counsel. This suggestion was adopted. The paper was submitted "to Mr. Finch, afterwards solicitor to Lord <108> Guernsey," and when he had given the same opinion as Newton, the Chancellor of Ely and the rest of the deputies concurred.[33]

On the 21st of April the Council-chamber was filled with a large assemblage. Jeffrys presided at the board, and the Earl of Mulgrave, the sceptic and the hypocrite, sat there, a worthy companion to the judge. The deputation appeared as a matter of form before the Commissioners, and were dismissed. On the 27th of April they gave in their plea. On the 7th of May it was discussed and feebly defended by their incompetent Vice-chancellor. The deputies maintained, that in the late reign several royal mandates had been withdrawn, and that no degree had ever been conferred without the oaths of supremacy and obedience being taken. Jeffrys let loose his insolence against the timid Vice-chancellor, silenced the other deputies when they offered to speak, and without a hearing ordered them out of Court. When recalled the deputies were reprimanded. Pechel was deprived of his office as Vice-chancellor, and of his emoluments as Master of Magdalen College, and the following words closed the address of Jeffrys: — "Therefore I shall say to you what the Scripture says, and rather because most of you are divines, 'Go your way and sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto you.'"[34]

Under this rebuke, and in front of such a judge, the vilest and most ferocious that ever sat upon the judgment <109> seat, stood the immortal author of the Principia, who had risen from the invention of its problems to defend the religion which he professed, and the University which he loved and adorned. The mandate which he resisted — a diploma to a monk — was in one sense an abuse of trivial magnitude, unworthy of the intellectual sacrifice which it occasioned; but the spark is no measure of the conflagration which it kindles, and the arm of a Titan may be required to crush what the touch of an infant might have destroyed.

Deprived of their vice-chancellor, the University chose for his successor John Balderston, Master of Emanuel College, "a man of much spirit," who promised to his constituents at his election, that while he held office neither religion nor the rights of the body should, through his means, be invaded.[35] Thus unanimously and nobly defended, Protestantism was now firmly established, the rights of the University protected, and the Court taught a lesson by which it had not the wisdom to profit.[36] The University of Oxford, however, drew instruction from the wisdom of its younger sister, and in the noble stand which, in the case of Magdalen College,[37] she made against a similar abuse of power, she triumphed over the tyrant that assailed her, and contributed to his fall.

Under their Protestant constitution, the Universities of England have risen to a distinguished place among the literary and scientific institutions of Europe; and though <110> attempts have been recently made in Oxford to tamper with the national faith, we trust that the new system of government which Parliament has provided, will protect her youth against religious innovation, and obtain for them a course of instruction in which science as well as literature shall be taught.

In our Scottish Universities, once favoured by the Sovereign, and honoured by distinguished names, we would desire to see some approximation, in character and endowment, to our English Institutions. Although the Scottish Commissioners provided, in the Treaty of Union, for the maintenance of their Colleges, their endowments have been permitted to decay — their rights and privileges, protected by ancient charters, have been invaded by the Crown — incompetent Professors, the creatures of political subserviency, have, by royal and private patronage, been appointed to their most important chairs; and the sons of the nobility and gentry of the land have been driven to complete their education in the schools and universities of England.

From the precincts of the High Court of Commission, Newton returned to Trinity College to complete the Principia, and in the course of six weeks, in the month of June 1687, this great work was given to the public.[38]

At the time when Flamsteed was supplying Newton with observations for the Principia, Halley was carrying on that interesting correspondence, of which we have published all the letters that had at that time been found.[39] I have been so fortunate, however, as to discover all the <111> letters of Halley which were wanting, and which add greatly to the value of the collection.[40] The last of them possesses a peculiar interest, from being the one in which Halley announces to Newton the completion of the Principia, and gives him notice of the copies of the work which he despatched to Cambridge: —

"LONDON, July 5, 1687.

"HONOURED SIR, — I have at length brought your book to an end, and hope it will please you. The last errata came just in time to be inserted. I will present from you the book you desire to the Royal Society, Mr. Boyle, Mr. Paget, Mr. Flamsteed, and if there be any else in town that you design to gratify that way; and I have sent you to bestow on your friends in the University 20 copies, which I entreat you to accept. In the same parcel you will receive 40 more, which having no acquaintance in Cambridge, I must entreat you to put into the hands of one or more of your ablest booksellers to dispose of them. I intend the price of them, bound in calves' leather, and lettered, to be 9 shillings here. Those I send you I value in quires at 6 shillings, to take my money as they are sold, or at 5sh. for ready, or else at some short time; for I am satisfied there is no dealing in books without interesting the booksellers; and I am contented to let them go halves with me, rather than have your excellent work smothered by their combinations. I hope you will not repent you of the pains you have taken in so laudable a piece, so much to your own and the nation's credit, but rather, after you shall have a little diverted yourself with other studies, that you will resume those contemplations wherein you had so great success, and attempt the perfection of the lunar theory, which will be <112> of prodigious use in navigation, as well as of profound and public speculation. Sir, I shall be glad to hear that you have received the books, and to know what farther presents you would wish in town, which shall be accordingly done. You will receive a box from me on Thursday next by the waggon, that starts from town to-morrow. I am your most obliged humble servant,


"To Mr. Isaac Newton,

In Trinity Colledg. Cambridg. — These."

The active and influential part which Newton had taken in defending the privileges of the University, more than his high scientific attainments, not yet sufficiently appreciated even at Cambridge, induced his friends to bring him forv/ard as a candidate for a seat in the Convention Parliament. The other candidates were Sir Robert Sawyer and Mr. Finch. Newton was elected by a majority of five over Mr. Finch,[41] and he sat in Parliament from January 1689 till its dissolution in February 1690.

Thus launched into public life from the seclusion of a college, and residing in London away from his books and instruments, Newton abandoned for a time his scientific researches, devoting himself, when free from parliamentary duty, to theological studies, and looking forward to some higher station in the University, or some permanent appointment from the Government. As a member of the Legislature at an eventful epoch in the history of England, <113> he conducted himself with firmness and moderation, maintaining the principles of civil and religious liberty,[42] and exhibiting a capacity for business which could scarcely have been expected from a philosopher who had mixed so little with society. During the thirteen months that he sat in the House of Commons, he seems to have taken no share in the debates or in the business of the House. On the 30th April 1689, he moved for leave to bring in a bill to settle the charters and privileges of the University of Cambridge, and Sir Thomas Clarges did the same for Oxford, yet neither of them seems to have made any speech on the occasion. But though a silent he was an active member, and it appears from his letters to Dr. Covel,[43] the Vice-chancellor, that he had an onerous duty to perform to his constituents as well as to the Government. The friends of James were still numerous at Cambridge. Disturbances had broken out at the end of the year, and so "many scholars were in arms, "that the Vice-chancellor was obliged to address the heads of Colleges on the subject. Considering the effect of these disturbances "as very dangerous to the University, as well as destructive to all good manners, he conceived that the best course to reduce them would be to convene the students in some place of the College next morning, if they returned, and gravely but calmly advise them to all civil behaviour, believing all severity at this juncture might rather tend to exasperate them more, and bring the unruly people's fury upon us all."[44]


Some of the members of the University, who had lately sworn allegiance to the exiled king, had some difficulty in vowing fidelity to his successor, and it required more sagacity to deal with conscientious scruples than with positive discontent. On the 12th of February, the day after King William and Queen Mary were proclaimed at Whitehall, Newton intimated to the Vice-chancellor that he would soon receive an order to proclaim them at Cambridge. He enclosed a form of the proclamation, and "heartily" expresses "the wish that the University would so compose themselves as to perform the solemnity with a reasonable decorum; because I take it to be their interest to set the best face upon things they can, after the example of the London Divines." He advises Dr. Covel to grant no degrees till he is authorized to administer the new oaths, and when they are administered, to administer them in English.

In replying to this letter, Dr. Covel seems to have suggested some arguments that might be employed to remove the scruples of "the dissatisfied part of the University," and in order that he might "have a fuller argument for convincing them," Newton sends him his views upon the subject, as "he cannot do the University better service than by removing the scruples of as many as have sense enough to be convinced with reason." He then lays down three propositions, the illustrations of which will be found in the letter itself, which we cannot withhold from the reader.[45] Faith and allegiance, he says, are due to the king by the law of the land, and were it "more than what the law requires, we should swear ourselves <115> slaves, and the king absolute, whereas by the law we are freemen, notwithstanding these oaths." . . . "Allegiance and protection are always mutual, and therefore when King James ceased to protect us, we ceased to owe him allegiance by the law of the land. And when King William began to protect us, we began to owe him allegiance." . . . "If the dissatisfied party accuse the convention for making the Prince of Orange king, 'tis not my duty to judge those above me, and therefore I shall only say that if they have done ill, Quod fieri non debuit, factum valet. And those at Cambridge ought not to judge and censure their superiors, but to obey and honour them according to the law, and the doctrine of passive obedience."[46]

During his residence in London. Newton became acquainted early in 1689 with John Locke, whom he doubtless met at the weekly parties given by his friend Lord Pembroke, "for the purpose of conversation and discussion." Locke had taken a great interest, as we have already seen,[47] in the sublime truths demonstrated in the Principia, and lived on the most affectionate terms with its author till the time of his own death. In the summer of the same year, Newton had the gratification of becoming personally acquainted with Christian Huygens, one of the most illustrious of his contemporaries. At the meeting of the Royal Society on the 12th of June, each of them addressed the members, — Huygens on the subject of gravity, of which he knew little compared with Newton, and Newton on the subject of the double refraction <116> and polarisation of Iceland crystal, of which he knew little compared with Huygens.[48]

We have already mentioned that Newton and his friends were looking out for some public situation worthy of his acceptance. While living in London he no doubt experienced the unsuitableness of his income to the new position in which he was placed. He had made nothing by his writings; and with a generous disposition, to which frequent appeals were made by some of his less wealthy relatives, he must have felt unselfishly the bitterness of poverty, nor was that feeling diminished by the consideration that his academical contemporaries, whom he had outstripped in talent, were occupying the highest positions in the Church or at the Bar, or basking in the more genial sunshine of official ease.

The death of the Provost of King's College, Cambridge, gave his friends an opportunity, not wisely embraced, of showing their disposition to serve him. The King had issued a mandamus commanding the College to choose Mr. Upman, Fellow of Eton, but an outcry having been raised against him for having preached in favour of King James's Declaration of Indulgence, a new mandamus was issued in favour of Mr. Newton. The College, however, resisted his appointment, as it was required by the statutes that the Provost should be in priest's orders, and chosen from among the Fellows of the Society.[49] His appointment, therefore, would have been contrary to law; and when, on the 29th of August 1689, the case was heard before the King and Council, he was found to be disqualified for the office.[50] In consequence of this disappointment the friends of Newton were more solicitous <117> to serve him. The Parliament was dissolved on the 6th of February, and at the new election Newton was not returned.

On his way to Cambridge, he had spent some time, along with Locke, at Sir Francis and Lady Masham's at Ontes, and as he had then no occupation but that of the Lucasian Chair, a public provision for him must have been there a topic of discussion. Locke had interested in his favour Lord and Lady Monmouth, and in a letter to him, dated October 28, 1690, he requests Locke to thank them for their kind remembrance of him, and speaks of his obligations to them "whether their design succeeded or not." The office which they had in view was probably that of Comptroller of the Mint, for we find him in the following year thanking Locke "heartily for being so mindful of him, and ready to assist him with his interest," and asking him for the "scheme he has laid of managing the Comptroller's place of the Mint."[51]

In the same year an attempt was made to obtain for Newton the Mastership of the Charterhouse, but he disliked the project, and seems to have been inactive in the matter. Locke put him in mind of it, and drew from him the reply, "that he saw nothing in the situation worth making a bustle for. Besides a coach," he adds, "which I consider not, 'tis but £200 per annum, with a confinement to the London air, and to such a way of living as I am not in love with, neither do I think it advisable to enter into such a competition as that would be for a better place."[52] After these repeated failures, he seems to have thought that his friends were inactive, if not insincere; and he does not scruple to tell Locke "that he is fully convinced that Mr. Montague, upon an old grudge which <118> he thought had been worn out, was false to him, and that he had done with him, intending to sit still unless my Lord Monmouth was still his friend."[53] Though assured by Locke, in reply, that Lord Monmouth was still his friend, he expressed his happiness at the intelligence, and stated in his answer[54] that "his inclinations were to sit still," and that he intended not to give his Lordship and him any farther trouble.[55]

We do not envy the reader who peruses these simple details without a blush of shame for his country. That Locke, and Lord Monmouth, and Charles Montague, could not obtain an appointment for the author of the Principia, will hardly be believed in any country but our own. Had he been ambitious of honours, to which the philosophers of other lands have since his time attained, or had he aimed at those official positions to which merit has no claim in England, we might have felt a modified sympathy in his failure; but in aspiring only to the presidency of a college, to the mastership of a school, or to an inferior office in the Mint, and obtaining none of them, we participate in that depth of feeling which the language we have quoted so clearly indicates. The ingratitude of his country disturbed, as we shall see, the tranquillity of a mind sensitively organized, and intellectually overwrought. At the age of fifty, the high priest of science found himself the inmate of a college, and, but for the generous patronage of a friend, he would have died within its walls

While Newton was discharging his duties in Parlia <119> ment, he experienced a severe domestic affliction in the loss of his mother. The anxious and tender care with which she had watched over his helpless infancy, and reared to a vigorous manhood her only and sickly child, had produced, on his part, an attachment more than filial, while she had followed, with a mother's pride, the rising reputation of her son. In 1689, Benjamin Smith, the half-brother of Newton, had been seized, while at Stamford, with a malignant fever. His mother, who had hastened to attend his sick-bed, was taken ill with the same complaint, and Newton left his duties and his studies to watch at her couch. He sat up with her whole nights, administered with his own hands the necessary medicines, and prepared and dressed her blisters with all the dexterity of a practitioner. His skill, however, was unavailing. She sank under the disease, and her remains were carried to Colsterworth, and deposited in the north aisle of the church, where the family had generally been interred.

After the dissolution of the Convention Parliament, Newton had resumed his philosophical and mathematical studies. In July 1691, he drew up the directions to Dr. Bentley, to enable him to understand the Principia.[56] In introducing to Flamsteed Mr. David Gregory, whom he had recently recommended to the vacant chair of astronomy at Oxford, he mentions his anxiety to have his observations on Jupiter and Saturn for the next twelve or fifteen years, adding, "If you and I live not long enough, Mr. Gregory and Mr. Halley are young men;" and he expressed an anxiety to know "if in long telescopes the light of Jupiter's satellites, before they disappear, incline either to red or blue, or become more ruddy or <120> more pale than before."[57] One of his occupations at this time, was drawing up for Wallis his explanation of fluxions and fluents, in two problems, with illustrations, being the first account of the new calculus published by himself.[58] Wallis had requested him to give an explanation of the two methods, namely, of finding fluxions and fluents, which he concealed in transposed letters in his epistle to Oldenburg; and it was in obedience to this request that he sent him his account of fluxions. While Wallis's volume was in the press, Leibnitz had addressed a letter to Newton,[59], in which he mentioned his expectation of receiving from him something great on the subjects of tangents and quadratures; but especially, what he particularly wished, his method of reducing quadratures to the rectifications of curves. In consequence, however, of having mislaid this letter, Newton wrote to him the day after he found it,[60] apologizing for the delay, and transmitting the method he requested. He mentions to him also that he had sent to Wallis a brief explanation of his method of fluxions, which he had previously concealed, and expressed the hope that he had written nothing which would be displeasing to him. "But," he added, "if he found in it any thing worthy of reprehension, he hoped he would signify it to him in writing, as he valued friends more than mathematical inventions."

While Newton was corresponding with Locke in 1692, the process of Boyle for "multiplying gold," by combining a certain red earth with mercury, became the subject of <121> discussion. Mr. Boyle having "left the inspection of his papers" to Locke, Dr. Dickison, and Dr. Cox, Mr. Locke became acquainted with the particulars of the process we have referred to. Boyle had, before his death, communicated this process both to Locke and Newton, and procured some of the red earth for his friends. Having received some of this earth from Locke, Newton tells him, that, though he has "no inclination to prosecute the process," yet, as he had "a mind to prosecute it," he would "be glad to assist him," though "he feared he had lost the first and third of the process out of his pocket." He goes on to thank Locke for "what he communicated to him out of his own notes about it," and adds, in a postscript, that "when the hot weather is over, he intends to try the beginning (that is the first of the three parts of the recipe), though the success seems improbable."[61]

In Locke's answer of the 26th July,[62] he sends to Newton a transcript of two of Boyle's papers, as he knew he wished it; and, it is obvious from their letters, that both of them were desirous of "multiplying gold." In Newton's very interesting reply[63] to this communication, he "dissuades Locke against incurring any expense by a too hasty trial of the recipe." He says, that several chemists were engaged in trying the process, and that Mr. Boyle, in communicating it to himself, "had reserved a part of it from my knowledge, though I knew more of it than he has told me." This mystery on the part of Boyle is very remarkable. In "offering his secret" to Newton and Locke, he imposed conditions upon them, while, in the case of Newton at least, he did not perform his own part in the arrange <122> ment. On another occasion, when he communicated two experiments in return for one, "he cumbered them," says Newton, "with such circumstances as startled me, and made me afraid of any more." It is a curious fact, as appears from this letter, that there was then a Company established in London to multiply gold by this recipe, which Newton "takes to be the thing for the sake of which Mr. Boyle procured the repeal of the Act of Parliament against multipliers." The pretended truths in alchemy were received by men like Boyle on the same kind of evidence as that by which the phrenology and clairvoyance of modern times have been supported. Although Boyle possessed the golden recipe for twenty years, yet Newton could not find that he had "either tried it himself, or got it tried successfully by any body else; for," he says, "when I spoke doubtingly about it, he confessed that he had not seen it tried, but added, that a certain gentleman was now about it, and it succeeded very well so far as he had gone, and that all the signs appeared, so that I needed not doubt of it."


Memorandum sent to me by the late Rev. Mr. Turner, and Edleston's Correspondence, &c., p. xlii.


This must have been a refracting telescope.


In the Memorandum by the late Rev. Mr. Turnor above mentioned, he says, "I have some recollection that Mr. Jones the tutor mentioned, in one of his lectures on optics, that the reflecting telescope belonging to Sir Isaac Newton was then <86> lodged in the observatory over the gateway; and I am inclined to think I once saw it, and that a finder was affixed to it."


Turner's Newtoniana, in the possession of the Royal Society.


Wickins, (Ds. Wickins), to whom Newton had frequently lent money, as we have stated in vol. i. p. 32, note, died on the 19th April 1719. See Gentleman's Magazine, April 1802.


We have given this and the two following letters verbatim, as possessing a higher degree of interest than any abstract of them that could be made.


The following method of making the Leucatello's Balsam I have found in Sir Isaac's own hand: "Put Venus turpentine one pound into a pint of the best damask rose-water; beat these together till it look white, then take four ounces of bees-wax, red sanders half an ounce, oil of olives of the best a pint, one ounce of oil of St. John's wort, and half a pint of sack. Set it (the sack) on the fire in a new pipkin, add to it the oil and wax, let it stand on a soft fire where it must not boil, but melt till it be scalding hot. Then take it off. When it is cold, take out the cake, and scrape off the dirt from the bottom. Take out the sack, wipe the pipkin, put in the cake again, set it on the fire, let them melt together, and then put in also the turpentine and sanders; let them not boil, but be well melted and mixed together; take it off and stir it now and then till it is cold. If you would have it to take inwardly, add to it when it is off from the fire, half an ounce of powder of scuchineal (cochineal) and a little natural balsam.

"For the measell, plague, or smallpox, a half an ounce in a little broth, take it warm, and sweat after it. And against poison and the biting of a mad dog; for the last you must dip lint and lay it upon the wound, besides taking it inwardly. There are other virtues of it; for wind, cholic, anoint the stomach, and so for bruises."

Mrs. Vincent told Dr. Stukely that Sir Isaac was a great Simpler. The Doctor says that "his breakfast was orange-peel boiled in water, which he drank as tea, sweetened with sugar, and with bread and butter. He thinks this dissolves phlegm." Lord Pembroke told the Doctor that when Newton "got a cold, he lay in bed till it was gone, though for two or three days' continuance, and thus came off the illness by perspiration."


Dr. Stukely says, that "Mr. Newton of this town was five years under Sir Isaac's tuition at Cambridge."


The passage alluded to in Dr. Stukely's letter was the following: — When Sir Isaac once laughed, "'twas upon occasion of asking a friend, to whom he had lent <92> Euclid to read, what progress he had made in that author, and how he liked him? He answered hy desiring to know what use and benefit in life that study would be to him. Upon which Sir Isaac was very merry." — Stukely's Letter to Dr. Mead.


Afterwards Sir John Ellis, Master of Caius.


See Charles Montague's letter to Newton in Chap. xix., and Monk's Life of Bentley, pp. 224, 226, 346, 360.


John Francis Vigani, a native of Verona, after having taught chemistry at Cambridge for twenty years, was invested by the University with the title of Professor of Chemistry. Dr. Bentley fitted up for him in Trinity College an old lumber <93> house, as an elegant chemical laboratory, in which he lectured for some years. — Monk's Life of Bentley, p. 159. His lectures still exist in manuscript in the University library.

Among the anecdotes collected by Conduitt, I find the following relative to this chemist. It is signed C. C., (Catherine Conduitt,) Sir Isaac's niece. "Upon Vigani's (with whom he was very intimate, and took great pleasure in discoursing with him on chemistry) telling him a loose story about a nun, he broke off all acquaintance with him." — C. C.


Dr. Stukely mentions some other anecdotes of Newton's absence: — "When he had friends to entertain, if he went into his study to fetch a bottle of wine, there was danger of his forgetting them. He would sometimes put on his surplice to go to St. Mary's church." When he was "going home to Colsterworth from Grantham, he once led his horse up Spittlegate Hill, at the town-end. When he designed to remount, his horse had slipped the bridle and gone away without his perceiving it, and he had only the bridle in his hand all the while." — Letter to Conduitt.

"Newton formerly would go the length of a street before he came to himself and saw that he was not dressed, and therefore had to hasten back to his house quite ashamed." — Krausen's Umständliche Bücher Historie, part i. p. 2. Leipsic, 1715. —


Dr. Stukeley informs us, "that he heard him say, that during the course of his most intense studies, he learned to go to bed at twelve, finding, by experience, that if he exceeded that hour but a little, it did him more harm in his health than a whole day's study."


Dr. Stukely says, that "he wrote a piece of chemistry, explaining the principles of that mysterious art upon experimental and mathematical proof, and he valued it much; but it was unluckily burned in his laboratory, which casually took fire. He would never undertake that work again, — a loss much to be regretted. Mr. Newton, of this town, tells me likewise, that several sheets of his Optics were burnt by a candle left in his room, but I suppose he could recover them again." Dr. Newton, as we see above, gives this only as a report.


I have not been able to discover what writings are here alluded to. They may have been his theological writings, such as his Irenicum, or, "Doctrines tending to Peace," which will be afterwards noticed.


This was the famous frost of 1683-4, which hegan early in December, and continued without intermission till the 5th of February.


"The Sacred Theory of the Earth, containing an account of the original of the Earth, and of all the general changes which it hath already undergone, or is to undergo, till the consummation of all things." The Latin edition was published in 4to in 1681, and at the King's request, it was translated into English, the first part, in folio, appearing in 1684, and the second in 1689.


The copy of this letter, which I have found along with the last of Burnet's, among the Portsmouth papers, is in Newton's own hand, but has no date or signature. The two first letters of the correspondence I have not met with.


As this letter is very interesting, I have given it in the APPENDIX, No. VI.


These views of Leibnitz are contained in his Protogœa, an Essay which he published in the Leipsic Journal for 1683. It was published separately at Göttingen by Scheidius in 1749. See the Acta Eruditorum, 1717.


"See vol. i. chap. xii. p. 301. One of these letters is addressed to Crompton, and the other to Flamsteed. This last letter is dated 1680 in place of 1681, in the General Dictionary, vol. vii. p. 791


I find among these papers a table showing the R. ascension, declination, and culmination of the comet, from December 16, 1680, to February 1, 1681, as made in Maryland, America, in west longitude 75°, and north latitude 38° 30′, by Mr. Arthur Storer, a nephew of Dr. Babington, at the river Patuxant, near Hunting Creek. See Newtoni Opera, tom. iii. p. 145; Principia, lib. iii. prop. xli.


March 7, 1681. This is the letter which I have said is not extant, in vol. i. p. 302, note 1.


I found half of Hill's letter to Flamsteed, dated Canterbury, Dec. 29, 1681, containing observations on the comet in Nov. 11, 1680, and Jan. 3, and Feb. 3, 1681.


Newton afterwards acknowledged, in the Principia, the correctness of Flamsteed's opinion.


See vol. i. p. 303, note.


April 16, 1681. General Dictionary, vol. vii. p. 791


This portion of the letter seems to have been intended to be sent to Flamsteed through Crompton. See APPENDIX, No. VII.


All the published letters except one are from Newton to Flamsteed; and this one from Flamsteed to Newton, dated Sept. 25, 1685, is very different from the one published, which must have been printed from a scroll, and greatly altered by Flamsteed. The unpublished letters, six in number, were written between December 1684 and October 1686.


Mr. Macaulay says, and no doubt on good authority, that this was the venerable Duke of Ormond. I have followed, in the list of governors present, a manuscript account of the meeting, which was sent to Sir Isaac Newton, and which contains the names of those who voted for and against the mandate.


See Macaulay's Hist. of England, vol. ii. pp. 293, 294.


This interesting anecdote I found in a manuscript of Mr. Conduitt, intended for insertion in his proposed Life of Newton.


"The Chancellor Jeffrys," says Mr. Edleston, "alluded twice to his having himself formerly been a member of the University. Until some other College can establish a claim to him, Trinity College is liable to the suspicion of having had him for an alumnus. A 'Georgius Jeffreys' was admitted pensioner there March 15th, 1661-2, under Mr. Hill, and he would therefore be a year junior to Newton:' — Correspondence, &c. p. lviii. note 90.


See Burnet's Hist. of his Times, vol. ii. p. 697, or 8vo edit. vol. iii. p. 149. — Macaulay's Hist. of England, vol. ii. p. 180.


Dr. Pechel was restored to his offices on the 24th of October 1688. "After the Revolution he starved himself to death, in consequence of having been rebuked by Archbishop Sancroft for drunkenness and other loose habits; and after four days' abstinence, would have eaten, but could not." — Note of Lord Dartmouth upon Burnet's Hist. vol. ii. p. 698, or vol. iii. 8vo, p. 150.


See Macaulay's Hist. &c. vol. ii. p. 287, &c.


When the late Duke of Somerset, as his Grace informed me, visited the Marquis de Laplace at Arcueil, he found him in his study dressed in a sort of uniform, prepared to go to the Senate. Having in his hand the first edition of the Principia, he said to the Duke, "This is the best book that was ever written."


See vol. i. p. 308, and APPENDIX, vol. i., No. VIII

[40] The other letters are given in vol. i., APPENDIX, No. XII., p.465.


The votes stood thus: —

Sir Robert Sawyer,125 Mr. Newton,122 Mr. Finch,117

In some of the voting papers he is called præclarus vir, and in others, doctissimus, integerrimus, venerabilis et reverendus. — Edleston Correspondence, &c., p. lix.


In referring to the publication of the Principia, Laplace remarks "that the principles of the social system were laid in the following year, and that Newton concurred in their establishment." — Système du Monde, p. 372. Edit. 1824.


Thirteen Letters from Sir Isaac Newton to Dr. Covel, printed in 1848 by Dawson Turner, Esq., from the originals in his possession.


Thirteen Letters, &c., pp. 9, 10.


See APPENDIX, No. VIII. In the library of Queen's College, Oxford, (cclxxxiv. fol. 143,) there is a paper entitled "Reasons given for the taking the oaths of allegiance to King William, by I. N." This is doubtless an extract from Newton's letter to Covel.


Newton appears not to haTe enjoyed good health during his residence in London. He was confined to his room for some days in the middle of March, and in May he was attacked by "a cold and bastard pleurisy." His address was "at Mr. More's house, in the broad century at the west end of Westminster Abbey."


See vol. i. pp. 339, 340.


See vol. i. p. 215.

[49] Cole's MSS., vol. xvi. folio 350.


Edleston's Correspondence, &c., p. lix. note 96.


June 30th, 1691.


Dec. 13, 1691.


Jan. 26, 1691-2.


Feb. 16, 1691-2.


In these letters, which are published in Lord King's Life of Locke, Edit. 1830, vol. i. pp. 400-414, there are interesting details about Newton's Historical account of two notable corruptions of Scripture, to which we shall return when we treat of his theological writings.


See vol. i., APPENDIX, p. 463.


Baily's Flamsteed, p. 129.


Wallisii Opera, vol. ii. pp. 391-396. This communication was contained in two letters, dated August 27, and September 17, 1692.


Dated 717 March 1693, published in Raphson's Fluxions, pp. 119, 120.


This letter is dated Cambridge, 1626 October 1693, and is published in Edleston's Correspondence, &c., Appendix, No. xxiv. p. 276.


This letter, of which there is only a fragment, is dated Cambridge, July 7, 1692, and is published in Edleston's Correspondence, &c., Appendix, No. xxiii. p. 275.


I have given this unpublished letter in the APPENDIX, No. IX.


August 2, 1692, published in King's Life of Locke, vol ii. pp. 410-414.

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