Catalogue Entry: OTHE00099

Chapter IV

Author: David Brewster

Source: Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: 1855).

[Normalized Text] [Diplomatic Text]

[1] Letters to Collins from 1669 to September 27, 1670. — Macclesfield Correspondence , Vol. ii.

[2] This work was never finished. It was published by Horsley, under the title of Geometria Analytica, from three different MSS. — See Newtoni Opera, tom. i. pp. 391-518. A translation of it had been published by Colson in 1736.

[3] The communication is dated 13th April 1672, and is published in the Transactions, No. 82, p. 4059, April 22, 1672.

[4] Phil. Trans., No. 84, p. 4091, June 17, 1672.

[5] Phil. Trans., No. 85, p. 5012, July 15, 1672.

[6] Ibid., p. 5014.

[7] Ibid., p. 5018.

[8] Phil. Trans., No. 84, p. 4080, June 17, 1672. This paper is part of a letter to Oldenburg, dated July 6, 1672, from Stoake Park, Northamptonshire.

[9] Phil. Trans., No. 110, p. 217.

[10] Phil. Trans., No. 121, p. 503.

[11] Phil. Trans., No. 121, p. 503

[12] Ibid., No. 123, p. 556.

[13] A short time before the commencement of this controversy, Linus communicated to the Royal Society a paper entitled Optical Assertions concerning the Rainbow, which appeared in their Transactions, No. 117, p. 386. How such a paper could have been published by so learned a body seems very incomprehensible. Linus was celebrated as a dial-maker. Mr. Charles Ellis mentions one of his dials at Liege, in which the hours were distinguished by touch, and says that they were "the originals of those formerly in our Privy Gardens." — Phil. Trans., No. 283, 1703, vol. xv. p. 1418.

[14] This view of Descartes' theory and of Hooke's opinions, is given by Newton in his letter to Oldenburg, dated 21st December 1675. General Dict. vol. vii. p. 783, or Macclesfield Correspondence, vol. ii. p. 378.

[15] Newtoni Opera, tom. iv. pp. 322-342.

[16] Phil. Trans., vol. viii. No. 96, p. 6086, July 1693.

[17] Phil. Trans., No. 97, p. 6108.

[18] Letter to Oldenburg without a date, but probably in April 1673.

[19] It is curious to observe how little accurate knowledge of the great optical discoveries of the age was possessed by Leibnitz. In a letter addressed to Huygens, dated 8th September 1679, he says, — "I hear from Mr. de Mariotte that you are about to give us your Dioptrics, so long wished for. I have a great desire to know beforehand if you are satisfied with the ratio of refraction proposed by Descartes. I confess that I am neither wholly satisfied with it, nor with the explanation of Mr. Fermat, given in the third volume (Lett. 51) of Descartes' Letters." — Ch. Hugenii, Exercit. Math., tom. i. pp. 7, 8; lett. iv., Hag. Com. 1833. Huygens made no reply to this question, though he answered Leibnitz's letter on the 22d November. In replying to this letter, Leibnitz repeats the same question, confessing that he was neither satisfied with the ratio of Descartes, nor that of Fermat deduced from an opposite supposition. To this question he adds, — "I wish to know also if you believe that the irregularity of refraction, — for example, that which Mr. Newton has remarked, — ought to hurt telescopes considerably?" — Ibid., lett. vi. p. 17. An answer to this question was given by Huygens in a subsequent letter, for we find Leibnitz, in a letter dated 26th June 1680, expressing his satisfaction that Huygens had formed the same opinion of the "pretended demonstration of the laws of refraction given by Descartes." — Ibid., lett. viii. p. 20. No reply is made to the question about Newton's doctrine of the cause of the imperfection of refracting telescopes; but ten years afterwards, when Leibnitz had received from Huygens a copy of his Traité de la Lumière, we find the following curious passage in his letter to Leibnitz, dated 24th August 1690: — "I have said nothing respecting colours in my Traité de la Lumière, finding this subject very difficult, and particularly from the great number of different ways in which colours are produced. Mr. Newton promised something on the subject, and communicated to me some very fine experiments which he had collected. It seems that you have also thought on the subject, and apparently to some purpose." — Ibid., lett. xi. pp. 27, 28.

[20] This letter is dated November 18, 1676, and was written after receiving an account of the experiments of Lucas. — Macclesfield Correspondence , vol. ii. p. 405.

[21] Gentleman's Magazine, 1799, Supplement, pp. 1186 and 999.

[22] Correspondence, &c., pp. xlviii. xlix. note, 38.

[23] This appears from a memorandum on the back of Newton's letter to him.

[24] The admission-money to the Royal Society was £2, and the payments one shilling a week.

[25] In reference to an application from Francis Aston for a dispensation similar to that received by Newton, Dr. Barrow, then Master of Trinity, in declining to grant it, says, — "Indeed a Fellowship with us is now so poor, that I cannot think it worth holding by an ingenuous person upon terms liable to so much scruple." — Edleston's Correspondence, p. 1.

[26] In a volume of MSS. in the British Museum relating to the Royal Society, there is, as Mr. Weld informs us, a sheet containing the names of Fellows who will probably pay, and give yearly one entertainment to the society. Opposite the names of Dr. Grew, Hooke, and Newton, are the words, "No pay, but will contribute experiments." The date of this list, if it has any, is not mentioned. See Baily's Life of Flamsteed, p. 90, note, and Weld's Hist. of the Royal Society, vol. i. p. 250, note.

[27] We found two copies of this scheme, one of which is more complete than the other. The first paragraph of the copy given in the text is wanting in the less perfect copy, but in other respects they are nearly the same. There is no date upon either of the copies.

[28] Written by mistake Meteorology; but in the other copy it is Mineralogy.

[29] See especially the Quarterly Review, October 1830, vol. xliii. pp. 305-342; Edinburgh Review, January 1835, vol. lx. p. 363; Edinburgh Journal of Science, passim; North British Review, vol. iv. pp. 410-412; vol. vi. p. 506; vol. xiv. pp. 281-288; from the last of which articles some of the paragraphs in the text are transferred.

[30] Corresponding to the Académiciens Libres of the Academy of Sciences in Paris.

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