Catalogue Entry: OTHE00087

Chapter XXVI

Author: David Brewster

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

[Normalized Text] [Diplomatic Text]


"Paulatim convalesco, et spero me salutem cito fruiturum."


See this volume, p. 60, and Macclesfield Correspondence, vol. ii. p. 424.


Pemberton's Paper, in the form of a letter to Dr. Mead, was published in the Philosophical Transactions for April and May, 1722, No. 371, p. 57. Sir Isaac's refutation was added in a postscript to the letter without his name, as having been given to the author "by an excellent and learned friend of his, to whom he had been pleased to shew the letter, in confirming Sir Isaac Newton's sentiment in relation to the resistance of fluids." As the subject excited much controversy, Sir Isaac's simple and intelligible view of it may be interesting to the reader. "Suppose," says he, "pieces of fine silk, or the like thin substance, extended in parallel planes, and fixed at small distances from each other. Suppose then a globe to strike perpendicularly against the outermost of the silks, and by breaking through them to lose part of its motion. If the pieces of silk be of equal strength, the same degree of force will be required to break each of them, but the time in which each piece of silk resists, will be so much shorter as the globe is swifter; and the loss of motion in the globe consequent upon its breaking through each silk, and surmounting the resistance thereof, will be proportional to the time in which the silk opposes itself to the globe's motion, insomuch that the globe, by the resistance of any one piece of silk, will lose so much of its motion as it is swifter. But, on the other hand, by how much swifter the globe moves, so many more of the silks it will break through in a given space of time; whence the number of the silks which oppose themselves to the motion of the globe in a given time being reciprocally proportional to the effect of <380> each silk upon the globe, the resistance made to the globe by these silks, or the loss of motion the globe undergoes by them in a given time, will be always the same." — Pp. 67, 68.


Dr. Wilson's Preface to Pemberton's Course of Chemistry. Lond. 1771.


Hist. Essay, p. 106. I did not find this volume among the papers in Hurtsbourne Park, when I examined them in 1836. It appears to have been in the hands of Dr. Horsley when he edited the works of Newton.


View of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy, Preface, p. 2.


These letters are twenty-three in number, with seven sheets of Queries, containing suggestions for the improvement of the work. Only seven of the letters have dates. The Rev. Mr. Jeffrey Ekins has kindly sent me a copy of a short one in his possession, but without a date.


Hist. des Mathématiques, vol. ii. p. 338. Paris, 1758. See also p. 29 of this volume, and APPENDIX, No. I.


See p. 32 of this volume, and APPENDIX, No. I.


Epistola ad Amicum de Cotesii inventis, curvarum ratione quœ cum Circulo et Hyperbola comparationem admittunt, pp. 6, 7, 4to. Lond. 1722. This letter is addressed Amico Suo J. W. Integerrimo Dilectissimoque, H. P. Salutem. See Dr. Wilson's Preface to Pemberton's Course of Chemistry, p. vi., for the history of this interesting volume. The Theorem of Cotes, rather prolixly demonstrated by Pemberton, was attacked with more success by Demoivre, and afterwards demonstrated directly by John Bernoulli. Opera, tom. iv. p. 68.


Dr. Pemberton was born in London in 1694. He took the degree of medicine at Leyden, and became acquainted with Newton in the way we have already mentioned. Immediately after Sir Isaac's death in 1727, he advertised a Translation of the Principia, with a Comment; but the publication of Motte's Translation in 1729 prevented him from proceeding with this work. He devoted himself, however, to the completion of his "View of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy," part of which was submitted to Newton before his death. In Dr. Mead's letter to Conduitt, already mentioned, be says, "Dr. Pemberton has also given part of his Book to the Knight, of which he read some part immediately, and kept the papers, and seemed very well pleased. You may depend upon his having the perusal of the whole of it if he will be pleased to take the trouble." Pemberton was chosen Professor of Physic in Gresham College, and gave lectures on chemistry, which were published after his death, by his friend Dr. Wilson. He died in 1771, at the age of 77. See Preface to his Course of Chemistry, and vol. i. p. 318, note.


I have found a copy of the Preface with the date of November 1725. It is shorter than the one printed, and does not contain the well-merited compliment to Dr. Pemberton, who, as his friend Dr. Wilson tells us, valued it more than the liberal present of 200 guineas which Newton gave him. Pemberton's Chemistry, Preface, p. xv.


Twelve fine paper copies were printed. There is one in the library of Trinity <384> College, one in that of Queen's College, which Newton had presented to J. F. Fauquier, one in the Royal Society library, presented by Martin Folkes in the name of the President, on the 31st March 1726, (Edleston's Correspondence, p. lxxix), and one in the Observatory at Oxford, which Newton had presented to Bradley. Mr. Rigaud says "that they were all originally bound with gilt leaves in red morocco, to a pattern which was much used for the Harleian Library." — Memoirs of Bradley, p. xi. Newton sent six copies of the work to Fontenelle, for the Academy of Sciences, for himself, and for the principal mathematicians in Paris.


According to Dr. Stukely, he lived at Orbell's Buildings. In Maude's Wensleydale he is said to have "died in lodgings in that agreeable part of Kensington called Orbell's now Pitt's Buildings."


This paper was published in the Appendix to my former Life of Newton, but as Sir Isaac has given his opinions on the same subjects more deliberately in his letters to Bentley and elsewhere, I have not thought it advisable to reprint it.


Notice of Maclaurin's Life, prefixed to his Account of Sir Isaac Newton's Discoveries, p. iv. Lond. 1748. I have not found a copy of this letter among Newton's papers.


In the first scroll of the letter there was inserted the following passage, "for I have a kindness also for Mr. Gregory upon his brother's account, and should be glad to have a hand in helping him to a coadjutor," but it was struck out.

On the back of the two scrolls, which are written on the same page, are the following words: — "I reckon him well skilled in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, astronomy, and optics, which are the mathematical sciences proper for a university, and abundantly sufficient for a Professor."


Colin Maclaurin was born in February 1698. He studied mathematics under Dr. Robert Simson at Glasgow, and was in 1717 elected Professor of Mathematics in Maris'chal College, Aberdeen. In 1719 he became acquainted with Newton, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, to whose Transactions be contributed two papers. He gained the prize of the Academy of Sciences for 1724, on the Percussion of Bodies. In 1742 he published his Treatise on Fluxions, which was written in answer to Berkeley's Analyst. In 1745, he took an active part in defending Edinburgh against the approach of Prince Charles; and in superintending the execution of the works which he had designed, he caught the cold, of which he died on the 14th June 1746, in the forty-eighth year of his age. Mr. Conduitt had requested him as a friend to draw up an account of Newton's discoveries for the biography of him, in which he was engaged. Maclaurin sent the MS. of it to London, but in consequence of the death of Conduitt in 1737, the MS was returned, and it became the foundation of his admirable Account of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophical Discoveries, which was published after his death. Maclaurin was a man, like Newton, of undoubted piety, and an humble Christian. He died while dictating to his amanuensis the last chapter of his work in which he proves the wisdom, the power, the goodness, and the other attributes of the Deity.


The Abbé signed only the Journal Book.


Essais Historique sur Bolingbroke, compiled by General Grimoard in Lettres Historiques . . . de . . . Bolingbroke, vol. i. p. 155, Paris, 1808. Mr. Edleston, from whose work we have copied the anecdote in the text, gives the following "as the simple record in the Journal Book of Alari's visit:" "Mr. Mildmay had leave to be present, as also Mr. Peter Joseph Alari, a French gentleman." — Correspondence, &c., p. lxxxviii.


Born 1657, died 1747.


Initium Evangelii S. Johannis Apostoli ex antiquitate ecclesiastica restitutum, itidemque nova ratione illustratum, 8vo, 1726. It was published under the name of <390> L. M. Artemonius, because he had adopted the opinions of Artemon, a heretic of the third century, respecting our Saviour. The letters L M. signify Lucas Mellerius, the anagram of Samuel Crellius.


Thesaurus Epistolicus Lacrozianus, tom. i. p. 105. Edidit J. L. Uhlius, Lipsiæ, 1742-1746, three vols. 4to.


One dated May 10, 1726, sending £3 for repairing the floor of Colsterworth church, and the other dated February 4, 1727, on the assay of a piece of ore.


I have found a scroll of this letter without a date, and Fontenelle's answer to it, dated July 14, 1726.


This letter is dated August 11, 1726. Dr. Mead had received two letters of inquiry from Conduitt on the occasion, to which this was the answer.


Mr. Conduitt has left three different accounts of his illness. Some of the facts mentioned above are found only in one of them, apparently the one first written.


A Poem, sacred to the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton.


The London Gazette, April 4, 1727. No. 6569.


These were the three children of his half-brother Smith, the three children of his half-sister Pilkington, and the two daughters of his half-sister Barton, all of whom survived Sir Isaac. New Anecdotes of Sir Isaac Newton, by J. H., a Gentleman of his Mother's Family. See Annual Register, 1776, vol. xix. p. 25 of Characters. The author of this paper was James Hutton, Esq. of Pimlico. See Appendix, No. XXXI.


Qui genus humanum ingenio superavit, et omnes

Perstrinxit Stellas exortus ut Ethereus Sol. — Lucretius


[32] Turnor's Collection, & c., p.158. See APPENDIX, No. XXXII.


These were Robert and Newton Barton, and Mrs. Burr, the children of Colonel Barton. This branch of the family became extinct by the death of the Rev. John Barton. The present Charles Cutts Barton, Esq., is the heir-male of Geoffry Barton, a half-brother of Mr. Conduitt, and the great-grandson of the widow of Colonel Barton, by her marriage with Colonel Gardner, whose only daughter married the Rev. Cutts Barton, Dean of Bristol.


Mr. Conduitt's appointment to this office was announced in the Gazette immediately after the official notification of Sir Isaac's funeral. In a MS. entitled Memorandums touching Mr. John Conduitt, it is stated that he went to Westminster School on the 28th June 1691, — to Westminster College in June 1701, — and to Trinity College, Cambridge, in June 1705, where he continued till June 1707. On the 8th July he set out on his travels to Holland, Germany, &c., and returned in May 1710. Between 1710 and 1711 he went twice to Portugal, and in 1713 he visited Gibraltar, from which he returned in May 1717. On the 26th of August 1717, he was married to "Mrs. Katherine Barton" in Russell Court Chapel, as proved by the marriage certificate, now before me, written on vellum, signed by John Heylin, minister, (a fellow-student of Conduitt's at Trinity, and afterwards Prebend of Westminster,) and witnessed by Bernard Fletcher, Clark, and Anne Powell. He sat in Parliament for Whitchurch in the Parliaments which met March 17, 1715, October 9, 1722, and January 23, 1728. He was re-elected in 1717, after his appointment to the Mint. In 1734, when he was elected both for Southampton and Whitchurch, he had the same number of votes at Southampton as his competitor, Anthony Hanley, but as this gentleman was found not to be duly elected, Mr. Conduitt made his election for Southampton. He was born in 1688, and died on the 20th May 1737, in the forty-ninth year of his age. His widow, Mrs. Conduitt, erected in 1738 a handsome monument to his memory in Westminster Abbey. Mrs. Conduitt died on the 20th January 1739, in the fifty-ninth year of her age.

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