Wickins's letter to Mr Professor Smith giving some account of Sir Isaac Newton particularly of sending bibles to be dispersed


Mr Professor Smith

at Trinity College

In {Hall}



Stoke Edith Ian: 16th 1727/8

Dear Sir

It was an unspeakable pleasure to me to see the Hand of my old Acquaintance, & I wish in return I could send something considerable, to give you a pleasure, relating to that Great Man you write about: But I am so unhappy as to find very little under Sir Isaac's own hand, of what past between Him & my Father.

I guess, by a small Book I find amongst my Fathers 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 the transcribing three short Letters he received from Him & a Common Place of His part of which I find under Sir Isaac's own hand, the rest together with the originals of those three Letters, is lost: Besides those transcribed Letters and the Common place, I can meet with nothing but four or five Letters under Sir Isaac's own hand very short, & relating to Dividends & 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 continu'd 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 meer Accident <3> My Fathers first Chamber-fellow being very disagreeable to him he retired one day into the walks, where he found Mr Newton solitary & dejected; Upon entering into discourse they found their cause of Retirement the same, & thereupon agreed to shake off their present disorderly Companions & Chum together, which they did assoon as conveniently they could & so continued as long as My Father staid at College.

I have heard my Father often say that he has been a Witness to what the World has so often heard of Sir Isaac's forgetfullness 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, or seeming want of his Nights 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 Quick Silver as if from thence he took so soon that Colour:

He sometime suspected Himself to be inclining to a Consumption, & the Medicine He made use of was the Lucatellus Balsam which when he had compos'd Himself, He would now & then melt in Quantity about a Quarter of a Pint & so drink it.

It is now Eight Years since my Fathers death in which time many things my Father used to relate of Him are sliped out of my Memory; but being mostly of such a Nature as what I have now <4> 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 did but my Self also shall always pay a peculiar Regard to His Memory; which was a Charitable Benefaction, which has privately pass'd from Him through My Fathers & since his Death through my own hands. We have been the Dispersers of many Dozens of Bibles sent by him for poor people, & I have now many by me sent from Him for the same purpose; which as it shews the great regard he had to Religion, I cannot but desire that by you it may be made publick to the World.

Dear Sir, my Thoughts dwell with wonderfull delight upon the Memory of this Great, & Good Man, and therefore I have troubled you with so long a Letter, which I now beg pardon for; and in hope of hearing again soon from you conclude, with my Brothers hearty Service & respect to you. I beg my humble Service to all My old Acquaintance & am

Dear Sir

Your much Obliged

humble Servant

Nic: Wickins

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Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

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