ALTHOUGH Sir Isaac had now attained to a very advanced age, he had for a long time enjoyed almost uninterrupted health. In 1722, however, when he had entered his eightieth year, he was seized with incontinence of urine, which, though at first ascribed to stone, and thought incurable, was owing merely to a weakness in the sphincter of the bladder. Dr. Mead advised him to give up the use of his carriage, neither to dine abroad, nor with large parties at home, and to limit his diet to a little butcher-meat and broth, vegetables, and fruit, of which he was always very fond. By these means he recovered slowly, though never perfectly, as the disease was always brought on by motion of any kind. In <378> July 1722, when he was corresponding with Varignon, who died in that year, he wrote to him that he was getting slowly well, and hoped soon to enjoy his usual health;[1] but there is reason to believe that the seeds of a more painful disease, of which this was only the herald, were lurking in his constitution, and would sooner or later come to maturity.

Thus warned of his slight tenure of life, he resolved to proceed with the third edition of the Principia, for which he had been long making preparation. The premature death of Mr. Cotes had deprived him of his valuable assistance, but he had the good fortune to obtain the services of Dr. Henry Pemberton, a young and accomplished physician, who had successfully cultivated mathematical learning, and who, from various causes, was particularly qualified for the task of editing so great a work. When Pemberton was studying medicine at Leyden under Boerhaave, a gentleman lent him the Principia, which was then extremely scarce. Having heard that it was a work of difficult comprehension, he was surprised at his own facility in mastering its problems, and in order to pursue the subject, he devoted himself to the study of the doctrine of fluxions, and of prime and ultimate ratios, as explained in the introduction to Newton's treatise, De Quadratura Curvarum. Soon after this he solved the problem with which Leibnitz had challenged the English mathematicians; and upon showing his solution to Dr. Keill, he was so pleased with the talent which it displayed, that he immediately introduced him to Sir Isaac.[2] Owing, as Dr. Wilson informs us, to "some ill offices done by a malevolent person who then had Sir Isaac's ear," the great <379> philosopher paid no attention to the young geometer, to whom he was hereafter to owe so many obligations. Pemberton was mortified with the cold reception he had experienced; but having the most ardent desire to become acquainted with so great a philosopher, he thought he would best accomplish his object by writing a Treatise, containing a popular account of Sir Isaac's discoveries. An unforeseen accident, however, gained for him his object by a less dilatory process. Signior Poleni, an Italian mathematician, had published in his tract De Castellis, an experiment which he considered as proving Leibnitz's assertion that the force of descending bodies is proportional to the square of the velocity, and not, as is commonly thought, to the simple velocity. Dr. Pemberton saw its insufficiency, and drew up a refutation of it, which he showed to his friend Dr. Mead. The Doctor immediately communicated it to Sir Isaac, who was so well pleased with it, that he called upon Pemberton at his lodgings, and shewed him a refutation of Poleni by himself, grounded on other principles.[3] In <380> this agreeable way Pemberton secured the friendship of Newton, and they often met together to converse on mathematical and philosophical subjects. Though Sir Isaac quickly discovered the capacity of his young friend, his modesty was so great, as Wilson informs us, that he solicited Dr. Mead to prevail on Pemberton to assist him in bringing out a new edition of the Principia[4]

Owing to the smallness of the impression of the second edition of that work, it seems to have been quickly sold, but having been reprinted at Amsterdam in 1713, the foreign demand for it was amply supplied. In Dr. Horsley's list of the MSS. at Hurtsbourne Park, he mentions a copy of "the second edition of the Principia, interlined with some written notes of Sir Isaac Newton," which is no doubt the work referred to in the memorandum which he left in the library of Christ's Church, Oxford, and which is mentioned by Professor Rigaud.[5] These notes, therefore, must have formed the new matter which was introduced into the third edition by Newton himself, and were probably copied from the volume which contains them, and transmitted to Dr. Pemberton to be inserted in the printed sheets of the second edition.

The printing of the new edition seems to have commenced either in the very end of 1723, or at the beginning of 1724, and was not finished till the month of February 1726. The letters which passed between Newton and Pemberton during the progress of the work, had they been preserved, would have been interesting in many respects, <381> and have completed the history of the Principia. Dr. Pemberton informs us that "he was very frequently with him, and as they lived at some distance, a great number of letters passed between them on that account."[6] The letters of Newton, however, have unfortunately been lost, but the greatest part, if not the whole, of those of Pemberton have been preserved.[7] The date of the earliest of these, which relates to a criticism on the last two lines of the sixty-third page, is February 11, 1723-4, but it was preceded by five letters without dates, so that the printing of the work must have commenced in December 1723, or in January 1724. The Preface bears the date of January 1725-6, but there is a long letter from Pemberton dated February 9, 1725-6, in which he points out the necessity of some changes in the 23d and 24th Propositions of the first Book, and proposes to cancel two leaves, which together with other two cancels, would require the reprinting of a whole sheet. The letters of Pemberton contain numerous suggestions for the improvement of the work, and with one or two exceptions they seem to have been implicitly adopted by Newton. He never alters a single word without permission, and when the changes which he suggests are of importance, he enters into full explanations of the grounds upon which they are proposed. I am disposed to think that Newton addressed comparatively few letters to Pemberton during the printing of the work. Their correspondence was carried on through the printing-office, and it is probable that Newton wrote his answers principally upon the proof-sheets, accepting or <382> modifying the alterations proposed by his friend. There is only one reference in the letters to a personal interview. On another occasion Newton leaves a new corollary with Mr. Innys the bookseller, and in none of Pemberton's letters does he acknowledge the receipt of any letter on the subject of Newton's additions or his own suggestions. Sir Isaac was at no period of his life fond of writing letters; and least of all in his old age. He wrote scrolls of almost every letter he composed, and we are persuaded that among Pemberton's papers which have been lost, there were very few of the letters of Newton.

Among the more interesting changes made in the third edition are the changes in the celebrated Scholium on Fluxions, and in the new Scholium on the Motion of the Moon's Nodes in Prop. 33 of the Third Book. Newton, as we have already seen, has been greatly blamed by foreign writers for the omission of the paragraph about Leibnitz, which he had inserted in the two first editions of his work. Montucla[8] has ventured to insinuate that it was left out by Pemberton without Newton's consent; but Dr. Wilson, Pemberton's friend, bears witness that the new Scholium "was entirely composed by Sir Isaac, and printed from his own handwriting." As no reference whatever is made to it in Pemberton's letters, it is probable that there was no difference of opinion about the propriety of the change, and that Pemberton saw no grounds for proposing any alteration upon the new form which had been given to the Scholium.[9]

Between the publication of the second and third edition, Mr. Machin, Professor of Astronomy in Gresham <383> College, communicated a new demonstration of the motion of the moon's nodes. When it was sent to Pemberton for insertion, he informs Newton that he had himself invented a similar demonstration, and had mentioned it in his letter to Dr. Wilson on certain inventions of Cotes.[10] Sir Isaac, therefore, drew up, in conformity with these facts, the Scholium we have mentioned, and added to it the two propositions of Machin, as they had been first sent to him.

In February or March 1726, the third edition of the Principia was published, with a new preface by the author, dated January 12, 1725-26, in which he mentions the more important additions which he had made, and states that Dr. Henry Pemberton,[11] "vir harum rerum peritissimus,"[12] superintended the edition.[13]


Had Sir Isaac enjoyed his usual health, he would no doubt have made greater additions to the Principia, but, notwithstanding the precautions which he observed, he experienced a return of his former complaint; and, in August 1724, he passed, without any pain, a stone about the size of a pea, which came away in two pieces, the one at the distance of some days from the other. After some months of tolerably good health, he was seized in January 1725, with a violent cough and inflammation of the lungs, and, in consequence of this attack, he was prevailed upon to take up his residence at Kensington,[14] where his health experienced a decided improvement. In February 1725, he was attacked in both his feet with a fit of the gout, of which he had received a slight warning a few years before, and the effect of this new complaint was to produce a beneficial change in his general health. On Sunday the 7th of March, when his head was clearer and his memory stronger than Mr. Conduitt had known it to be for some time, he entered into a long conversation on various topics in astronomy of a speculative nature, which Mr. Conduitt, who knew little of the subject, has, we think, very imperfectly reported.[15]

Although his health was greatly improved, yet his <385> indisposition was sufficiently severe to unfit him for the discharge of his duties at the Mint; and as his old deputy was confined with the dropsy, he was desirous, in the winter of 1725, of resigning in favour of Mr. Conduitt. Difficulties, however, seem to have been experienced in making this arrangement, but all the duties of the office were so satisfactorily performed by Mr. Conduitt, that during the last year of his life Sir Isaac hardly ever went to the Mint.

Among the last duties which he discharged with his pen, and one distinguished, too, by his usual liberality, was that of obtaining for Colin Maclaurin[16] the situation of assistant and successor to Mr. James Gregory, Professor of Mathematics in the University of Edinburgh. Mr. Maclaurin, who then filled the chair of Mathematics in Aberdeen, having applied to Sir Isaac for a testimonial of his qualifications, received the following answer, "with allowance to show it to the patrons of the University:" — "I am very glad to hear that you have a prospect of being joined to Mr. James Gregory in the Professorship of the Mathematics at Edinburgh, not only because you are my friend, but principally because of your abilities, you being acquainted as well with the new improvements of mathematics as with the former state of those sciences. I heartily wish you good success, and shall be very glad of hearing of your being elected. — I am, with all sincerity, your faithful friend and most humble servant."

To this letter Maclaurin returned the following answer: —

"HONOURED SIR, — I am much obliged to you for your <386> kind letter that Mr. Hadley transmitted to me. It has been of use to me. However, the provost or mayor of the town has thought fit to consult yourself directly on that subject, because I made some scruples to make your letter, that was addressed to me, public. I flatter myself you will, as soon as your convenience will allow, give an answer to his letter, that the want of it may not obstruct the affair.

"I have lately had a dispute with a gentleman here, who attacked your Prop. 36, lib. ii. of the Principia, and is supposed to be a pretty good mathematician. 'Tis about the pressure upon the circellus PQ (Prop. 36, lib. ii. Cor. 7, 8, 9, 10.) He finds by a calcul of his, that the pressure upon PQ is to the cylinder on the base PQ of the height 12GH, as 2AB2 to AB2+EF2=PQ2, whereas you make that proportion as 2EF2 to 2EF2-PQ2 in Cor. 10.

"I can demonstrate, (and he allows it,) that when CD and EF are equal, the pressure on PQ is to the cylinder on PQ of the height 12GH as 2EF2 to 2EF2-PQ2. But he objects, that though the proportion must be allowed in that case, yet it cannot be general, and that it ought to vary with AB, though AB does not enter into your proportion. Cor. 10, Prop. 36.

"I have answered this, and have shewed, that when AB is very great, the pressure on PQ should be the weight of the whole cylinder above PQ, according to him, because the ratio of 2AB2 to AB2+EF2-PQ2, in that case is a ratio of 2AB2 to AB2, or of 2 to 1. And this I think absurd, since, by the very idea of the cataract, PQ cannot bear the whole cylinder above it.

"But I trouble you no farther. I am more and more satisfied that your book will triumph over all that oppose it, and that as it has met with resistance from the pre <387> judices and humours of men, it will prevail the longer. — I am, with much gratitude, and the greatest respect, honoured Sir, your most obliged, most humble servant,


"EDINBURGH, Oct. 25, 1725."

In consequence of this letter, Sir Isaac returned the following answer to the Lord Provost, of which I have found two copies slightly different and more complete than the one printed in Maclaurin's Life.

"MY LORD, — I received the honour of your letter, and am glad to understand that Mr. Maclaurin is in good repute amongst you for his skill in mathematics, for I think he deserves it very well. And, to satisfy you that I do not flatter him, and also to encourage him to accept of the place of assisting Mr. Gregory, in order to succeed him, I am ready (if you please to give me leave) to contribute twenty pounds per annum towards a provision for him, till Mr. Gregory's place become void, if I live so long, and I will pay it to his order in London.[17] When your letter arrived at London I was absent from hence, which made it the later before I received it, otherwise I might have returned an answer a little sooner. — I am, my Lord, your Lordship's most humble and most obedient servant,


"To his Lordship the

Provost of EDINBURGH,

in … Scotland."


It is almost unnecessary to say, that Maclaurin was appointed to the chair in November 1726; but it is interesting to notice, that Newton's recommendation of him is engraven, in two words, on the tablet erected in memory of Maclaurin, and fixed upon the south wall of the Greyfriars' Church. When a youth at College, I have often gazed upon this simple monument, and pondered over the words, to be envied by every aspirant to scientific fame, — "NEWTONO SUADENTE."[18]

Notwithstanding his great age, and his imperfect health, Sir Isaac was able to attend the meeting of the Royal Society, and to receive with hospitality distinguished foreigners who were introduced to him. The Abbé Alari, the instructor of Louis XV., and the friend of Bolingbroke, spent two months in London in 1725. He paid a visit to Newton, of which the following flippant and apparently incorrect account has been given by a friend: — "He visited the University of Cambridge and the great Newton, who enjoyed, at that time, in the capital of England, the general esteem of Europe, and 50,000 livres <389> of salary as Master of the Mint. The Abbé having gone to his house at nine o'clock in the morning, Newton began by telling him that he was eighty-three years of age. There was in his chamber the portrait of his patron, Lord Halifax, and one of the Abbé Varignon, of whose geometrical writings he had a high opinion. 'Varignon,' he said, 'and Father Sebastien, the Carmelite, are those who have understood best my system of colours.' The conversation at last turned on ancient history, with which Newton was then occupied. The Abbé, who was deeply read in Greek and Latin authors, having made himself very agreeable, was asked to dinner. The repast was detestable. Newton was stingy, and gave his guests wines of Palma and Madeira, which he had received in presents. After dinner he took the Abbé to the Royal Society, of which he was the President, and made him sit at his right hand. The business began, and Newton fell asleep. When it was over, every body signed the register, and the Abbé among the rest.[19] Newton took him to his house, and kept him till nine o'clock in the evening."[20]

In the following year Newton received visits from Samuel Crell,[21] a distinguished German divine, who had embraced the opinions of Socinus, and was appointed minister of a Unitarian church on the frontiers of Poland. He came to England in 1726, for the purpose of printing the last of his works, which was published in that year.[22] <390> After his return to Amsterdam, where he resided during the rest of his life, he sent to his friend Lacroze, the celebrated orientalist, in a letter dated 17th July 1727, the following account of his visits to Newton, whose death a few months before had given a great interest to every thing associated with his name: — "I also conversed at different times with the illustrious Newton, who died in the month of March at the age of eighty-five. He read manuscript without spectacles, and without bringing it near his eyes. He still reasoned acutely as he was wont to do, and told me that his memory only had failed him. Gout and the stone occasionally troubled him at his very advanced age. A few weeks before his death he threw into the fire many manuscripts written in his own hand. He left, however, some to be printed, among which is one entitled Historia Dominationis Clericorum, as I was assured by his physician, the celebrated Dr. Mead. He was not only deeply versed in mathematics and philosophy, but likewise in theology and ecclesiastical history. He had also written, as he himself told me, a Commentary on the Apocalypse of St. John. Whether or not he burnt it, I did not learn. He expressed a wish to read my book, and he read it when it was printing, because it seemed to contain some things that were new."[23]

Having completed the new edition of his great work, Sir Isaac seems to have abstained from all intellectual labour during the latter half of 1726, with the exception of what is indicated by two letters to the Rev. Mr. Mason,[24] <391> and his letter to Fontenelle in June or July, accompanying the six copies of the Principia for the Academy of Sciences.[25] He had received much benefit from absolute rest and from the air of Kensington, but his friends found it very difficult to restrain him from going occasionally to town. In the month of August he complained of an affection of the rectum, which he thought was fistula, but Mr. Cheselden found upon examination that it was "nothing but a little relaxation of the inward coat of the gut;" and this opinion, as Dr. Mead wrote to Mr. Conduitt then in the country, "made his old friend very easy in the matter."[26]

When thus confined to the house, Sir Isaac amused himself with reading, but as Mr. Conduitt informs us, "the book which was commonly lying before him, and which he read oftenest at last, was a duodecimo bible." "I found," he adds, "his eyes bloodshot one morning, and he complained that something swam before them. When I asked him what he thought had occasioned the disorder, he said he believed that he had overstrained the optic nerves, for the morning or two last past he had waked before the sun was quite up, and had endeavoured to see what o'clock it was on his watch, by a very little light that came through the curtains and the shutter; upon which he left that off, and found out the hour by feeling with his hand, and his eyes soon recovered."

Thinking that he was fit for the journey, he went to London on Tuesday the 28th of February, to preside at a meeting of the Royal Society on the 2d of March, and on the following day Mr. Conduitt thought he had not seen <392> him better for many years. Sir Isaac himself was sensible of the change, and "told his nephew smiling, that he had slept the Sunday before from eleven at night till eight in the morning without waking." These feelings, however, were fallacious. He had undergone great fatigue in going to the Society, and in paying and receiving visits, and the consequence of this was a violent attack of his former complaint. He was taken ill on Friday the 3d March, and continued so after his return to Kensington on Saturday the 4th of March. For a whole week he had no medical advice; but the moment Mr. Conduitt heard of his illness, which was on Saturday the 11th March,[27] he sent for Dr. Mead and Mr. Cheselden, who pronounced the disease to be stone in the bladder, and held out no hopes of his recovery. "The stone had probably been moved from the place where it lay quiet by the great motion and fatigue of his last journey to London." From that time he experienced violent fits of pain with very brief intermissions, and though the drops of sweat ran down his face in these severe paroxysms, he never uttered a cry or a complaint, or displayed the least marks of peevishness or impatience, but during the short intervals of relief "would smile and talk with his usual cheerfulness." On Wednesday the 15th of March, he appeared to be somewhat better, and slight though groundless hopes were entertained of his recovery. On the morning of Saturday the 18th, he read the newspapers, and carried on a pretty long conversation with Dr. Mead. His senses and his faculties were still vigorous, but at six o'clock of the same evening, he became insensible, and continued in that state during the whole of Sunday and till Monday the 20th, when he expired with <393> out pain between one and two o'clock in the morning, in the eighty-fifth year of his age, —

. . . 'Tis done, the measure's full,

And I resign ray charge.


His body was removed from Kensington to London, and on Tuesday the 28th March it lay in the Jerusalem Chamber, and was thence conveyed to Westminster Abbey, where it was buried near the entrance into the choir on the left hand. The pall was supported by the Lord High Chancellor, the Dukes of Montrose and Roxburghe, and the Earls of Pembroke, Sussex, and Macclesfield, who were Fellows of the Royal Society. The Honourable Sir Michael Newton, Knight of the Bath, was chief mourner, and was followed by some other relations, and several eminent persons who were intimately acquainted with the deceased. The office was performed by the Bishop of Rochester, attended by the prebends and choir.[29]

Sensible of the high honour which they derived from their connexion with so distinguished a philosopher, the relations of Sir Isaac Newton, who inherited his personal estate,[30] agreed to devote £500 to the erection of a monument to his memory; and the Dean and Chapter of Westminster appropriated for it a place in the most conspicuous part of the Abbey, which had often been refused to the greatest of our nobility. This monument was erected in 1731. On the front of a sarcophagus resting on a pedestal, are sculptured in basso relievo youths bearing in <394> their hands the emblems of Sir Isaac's principal discoveries. One carries a prism, another a reflecting telescope, a third is weighing the sun and planets with a steelyard, a fourth is employed about a furnace, and two others are loaded with money newly coined. On the sarcophagus is placed the figure of Sir Isaac in a cumbent posture, with his elbow resting on several of his works. Two youths stand before him with a scroll, on which is drawn a remarkable diagram relative to the solar system, and above that is a converging series. Behind the sarcophagus is a pyramid, from the middle of which rises a globe in mezzo relievo, upon which several of the constellations are drawn, in order to show the path of the comet in 1681, whose period Sir Isaac had determined, and also the position of the solstitial colure mentioned by Hipparchus, and by means of which Sir Isaac had, in his Chronology, fixed the time of the Argonautic expedition. A figure of Astronomy as Queen of the Sciences sits weeping on the Globe with a sceptre in her hand, and a star surmounts the summit of the pyramid. The following epitaph is inscribed on the monument: —

Hic situs est

Isaacus Newton, Eques Auratus,

Qui animi vi prope divina,

Planetarum Motus, Figuras,

Cometarum semitas, Oceanique Æstus,

Sua Mathesi facem preferente,

Primus demonstravit.

Radiorum Lucis dissimilitudines,

Colorumque inde nascentium proprietates,

Quas nemo antea vel suspicatus erat, pervestigavit.

Naturæ, Antiquitatis, S. Scripturæ,

Sedulus, sagax, fidus Interpres,

Dei Opt. Max. Majestatem philosophia asseruit,

Evangelii simplicitatem moribus expressit.

Sibi gratulentur Mortales, tale tantumque extitisse


Natus xxv. Decemb. MDCXLII. Obiit xx. Mar.



Of which the following is a literal translation: —

Here Lies

Sir Isaac Newton, Knight,

Who, by a vigour of mind almost supernatural,

First demonstrated

The motions and Figures of the Planets,

The Paths of the Comets, and the Tides of the Ocean.

He diligently investigated

The different refrangibilities of the Rays of Light,

And the properties of the Colours to which they give rise.

An Assiduous, Sagacious, and Faithful Interpreter

of Nature, Antiquity, and the Holy Scriptures,

He asserted in his Philosophy the Majesty of God,

And exhibited in his Conduct the simplicity of the Gospel.

Let Mortals rejoice

That there has existed such and so great


Born 25th Dec. 1642, Died 20th March 1727.

In the beginning of 1731, a medal was struck at the Tower in honour of Sir Isaac Newton. It had on one side the head of the philosopher, with the motto, Felix cognoscere causas, and on the reverse a figure representing the mathematics.

On the 4th July 1755, a magnificent full-length statue of Sir Isaac Newton, in white marble, was erected in the antechapel of Trinity College. He is represented standing on a pedestal in a loose gown, holding a prism, and looking upwards with an expression of deep and successful thought. On the pedestal is the inscription, —

Qui genus humanum ingenio superavit.[31]

This statue, an engraving of which, taken from a photograph by the Rev. W. Kingsley, forms the frontispiece to this volume, was executed by Roubilliac, and erected at the expense of Dr. Robert Smith, the author of the <396> Compleat System of Optics, and Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at Cambridge. The statue has been thus described by a modern poet: —

Hark where the organ full and clear,

With loud hosannahs charms the ear;

Behold, a prism within his hands,

Absorbed in thought great Newton stands;

Such was his brow, and looks serene,

His serious gait and musing mien,

When taught on eagle wings to fly,

He traced the wonders of the sky;

The chambers of the sun explored.

Where tints of thousand hues were stored.

Dr. Smith likewise bequeathed the sum of £500 for executing a painting on glass for the window at the south end of Trinity College, Cambridge. The subject represents the presentation of Sir Isaac Newton to his Majesty George III., who is seated under a canopy with a laurel chaplet in his hand, and attended by the British Minerva, apparently advising him to reward merit in the person of the great philosopher. Below the throne, the Lord Chancellor Bacon is, by an anachronism legitimate in art, proposing to register the reward about to be conferred upon Sir Isaac. The original drawing of this picture was executed by Cypriani, and cost one hundred guineas.

The personal estate of Sir Isaac Newton, which was worth about £32,000, was divided among his four nephews and four nieces of the half-blood, the grandchildren of his mother by the Rev. Mr. Smith. The family estates of Woolsthorpe and Sustern went to John Newton, the heir-at-law, whose great grandfather was Sir Isaac's uncle. This gentleman sold them in 1732 to Edmund Turnor, Esq. of Stoke Rocheford.[32] A short time before his death, Sir Isaac gave away an estate in the parish of <397> Baydon, in Wiltshire, to the sons and daughter of a brother of Mrs. Conduitt,[33] who, in consequence of their father dying before Sir Isaac, had no share in the personal estate; and he also gave an estate of the same value, which he bought at Kensington, to Catherine, the only daughter of Mr. Conduitt, who afterwards married Mr. Wallop. This lady was afterwards Viscountess Lymington, and the estate of Kensington descended to the Earl of Portsmouth, by whom it was sold. Sir Isaac was succeeded as Master and Worker in the Mint by his nephew, John Conduitt, Esq.[34]


"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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