<1r>

I was on Sunday night the 7th March 17245 at Kensington with Sir Isaac Newton in his lodgings just after he was come out of a fit of the gout which he had had in both his feet for the first time in his 83d year, he was better after it & his head clearer & memory stronger than I had known him for some time he then repeated to me by way of discourse very distinctly tho rather in answer to my queries than in one continued narration what he had often hinted to me before viz. that it was his conjecture (he would affirm nothing) that there was a sort of revolution in the heavenly bodies that the vapours & light emitted by the sun which had their sediment as water & other matter had gathered themselves by degrees into a body & attracted more matter from the planets & at last made a secondary planett (viz. one of those that go round another planet) & then by gathering to them & attracting more matter became a primary planet, & then by increasing still became a comet which after certain revolutions by coming nearer & nearer the sun had all its volatile parts condensed & became a matter fit to recruit & replenish the sun (which must waste by the constant heat & light it emitted) as a fagot would this fire if put into it (wee were sitting by a wood fire) & that that would probably be the effect of the comet in 1680 sooner or later for by the observations made upon it it appeared before it came near the sun with a tail of only 2 or 3 degrees long but by the heat it contracted by going so near the sun seemed to have a tail of 30 or 40 degrees when it went from it, that he could not say when this comet would drop into the sun it might perhaps have 5 or 6 revolutions more first, but whenever it did it would so much increase the heat of the sun that this earth would be burnt & no animals in this earth could live, that he took the 3 phænomena seen by Hipparchus, Tycho Brahe, & Kepler’s disciples to have been of this kind for he could not otherwise account for an extraordinary light as those were appearing all at once among the fixt stars (all which he took to be suns enlightening other planets as our sun does ours) as big as Mercury or Venus seems to us & gradually diminishing for 16 months & then sinking to nothing. He seemed to doubt wether there were not intelligent beings superior to us who superintended these revolutions of the heavenly bodies by the direction of the supreme being — He seemed to be very clearly of opinion that the inhabitants of this earth were of a short date & alledged as one reason for that opinion that all arts as letters long ships printing – needle &c were discovered within the memory of History which could not <1v> have happened if the world had been eternal & that there were visible marks of men upon it which could not be effected by a flood only, when I asked him how this earth could have been repeopled if ever it had undergone the same fate it was threatned with hereafter by the Comet of 1680, he answered that required the power of a creator — He said he took all the planets viz. the sun & moon & other planets to be composed of the same matter with this earth – viz. earth water stones &c– but variously concocted – I asked him why he would not publish his conjectures as conjectures & instanced that Kepler had communicated his & though he had not gone near so far as he, yet his guesses were so just & happy that they had been proved & demonstrated by him his answer was I do not deal in conjectures, but upon my talking to him about the 4 observations that had been made of the Comet in 1680 at 574 years distance & asking him the particular times he opened his principia which lay by on the table & shewed me there the particular periods viz. 1st the Iulium sydereus – in the time of Iustinian – in 1106. & 1680 part of the principia. & I observing that he said there of that comet incidet in corpus solis, & in the next paragraph adds stellæ fixæ refici possunt &c told him I thought he owned there what wee had been talking about – viz. that the Comet would drop into the sun, & that fixed stars were recruited & replenished by Comets when they Dropt into them, & consequently the sun would be recruited too & asked him, why he would not own as freely what he thought of the sun as well as what he thought of the fixed stars – he said that concerned us more, & laughing added he had said enough for people to know his meaning ––

Thursday morning –

Dear Sir

I paid in to the Bank for your account yesterday £1091 – I beg the favour of you to send me 100 guineas by Frank Child when he comes this way & to remitt four thousand Dollars by this night’s post to Messrs Bowman Eyre & Co for the use of

Dear Sir

Your most obliged humble servant

Iohn Conduitt

© 2018 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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