Catalogue Entry: OTHE00086

Chapter XXV

Author: David Brewster

Source: Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: 1855).

[Normalized Text] [Diplomatic Text]


See Vol. I. APPENDIX, pp. 388, 389.


Jan. 18th and 19th 1671-2, Newtoni Opera, tom. iv. pp. 273, 274. I find records of experiments in Dec. 10-19, 1678, and also in 1679, 1680.




See pages 120 and 121 of this volume.


Between the 10th and 30th December 1692. See Journal des Savans, 1832, p. 332.


Entitled Experiments and Observations, Dec. 1692, April and June 1693.


Phil. Trans. for March and April 1701, p. 824.


This constant recurrence to the fatal attack of 1693, which is synonymous with the fire in the laboratory, in order to fix the date of Newton's writings and discoveries, is equally painful and unjust. The date of the fire itself is actually unknown.


These queries are Nos. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 31.


In his Appeal to all that doubt or disbelieve the truths of the Gospel, 3d edit. p. 314, Mr. Law had stated that Sir Isaac Newton borrowed his doctrine of attraction from Behmen's Teutonic Theosopher. A correspondent having expressed a desire to know "the foundation which Mr. Law had for such an assertion," a friend of Mr. Law's replied to this application, and quoted from a letter of Mr. Law's to himself the statement which we have given in the text. The correspondent, in a subsequent communication, expresses his disbelief that Sir Isaac could have betrayed such weakness. See Gentleman's Magazine, 1782, vol. lii. pp. 227, 329, and 575.


See page 96 of this volume.


By W. C., Lond. 1669, 8vo. "Composed by a most famous Englishman, styling himself Anonymus or Eurœneus Philaletha, who, by inspiration and reading, attained to the philosopher's stone at his age of twenty-three years. Anno Domini, 1645."


In addition to these works, Sir Isaac has left behind him, in his Note-books, and separate MSS., copious extracts from the writings of the alchemists of all ages, and a very large Index Chemicus and Supplementum Indicis Chemici, with minute references to the different subjects to which they relate.


In a letter dated January 2, 1717, and supposed to be written to the Abbé Conti. — Letters and Works, vol. ii. p. 130.


See p. 121 of this volume.


When Locke, as one of the executors of Boyle, was about to publish some of his works, Newton wished him to insert the second and third part of one of Boyle's recipes, (the first part of which was to obtain "a mercury that would grow hot with gold,") and which Boyle had communicated to him on condition that they should be published after his death. In making this request, Newton "desired that it might not be known that they came through his hands." And he adds, — "One of them seems to be a considerable experiment, and may prove of good use in medicine in analysing bodies. The other is only a knack. In dissuading you from too hasty a trial of this recipe, I have forborne to say anything against multiplication in general, because you seem persuaded of it, though there is one argument against it which I could never find an answer to, and which, if you will let me have your opinion about it, I will send you in my next." Letter to Locke, August 2, 1692. — King's Life of Locke, vol. i. pp. 410, 413.

Even at the beginning of the present century, some distinguished individuals thought favourably of alchemy. Professor Robison, in writing to James Watt, says, "The analysis of alkalis and alkaline earths will presently lead, I think, to the doctrine of a reciprocal convertibility of all things into all. . . . I expect to see alchymy revive, and be as universally studied as ever." Feb. 11, 1800. — Muirhead's Origin and Progress of the Mechanical Inventions of James Watt, vol. ii, pp. 271, 272. Lond. 1854.

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