It has fared with the learned men of our nation, much as it has done with those who have distinguished themselves in arms, the success of both has been very extraordinary & though the writings of the one will always speak for themselves & the actions of the others have been of too great consequence to be entirely forgot little care has been taken to deliver down to posterity any advantageous account of the authors. The Muses have not strung their harps for our Sages or Heroes & the relations the most likely to last are such as have been given by their competitors – <2> Many of a neighbouring nation unwilling to trust others with so dear a deposite |  pretious a charge as the care of their fame have been themselves the trumpeters of their actions often in their own life times & officers of the lowest rank, though little known elsewhere make a figure in their own memoirs Whilst there is no account to be found of the unparallelled actions of the great Duke of Marlborough but in the Annals of Boyer and the Histoire Militaire of Louis the 14th wee know little or nothing of the Carthaginians except from their rivals the Romans but the fate which there attended the conquered has fallen upon England victorious —

Nor has France been less carefull of their learned men, a succession of the brightest wits have been entertained to perpetuate the memoirs of every member of their Society <3> & that pen which has now been the delight of Europe for half a century has given such a lustre

finds or makes them

what {A} said of poetry may be said of him that wee admire him more than his Heroes

delivers down with so much advantage as will give posterity a much greater Idea – Whilst even Harvey Boyle live only in their works – & Newton only as belonging to them & not as an Englishman —

Spratt began durst praise no body – a false modesty

As Tacitus wrote the life of Agricola because he married his daughter — I – having the like pretence of affinity – wanting a genius knowledge – haue excited others – they dictate – only my hand – Whatever is wrong is mine – Whatever otherwise theirs —

Folkes – Iones – Machin – &c –

endeavour to embellish to heighten to raise — follow example of Spratt – Sir Hans told often endeavoured to prevail a continuance who frightened no body write on same subject with Cesar {which} imitation of his beauties degenerate into a vicious {esteem}


Sir Hans Sloane told me that the History of the Royal Society was writt in 1677, that he had often pressed several to continue it but in vain –

The first sketch which was intended as a sample & to encourage others to continue it was writt with so much perfection that no one durst attempt to tread on the same ground to follow him as Cesar intended his Commentaries only as materials for others to enlarge upon but no man was so hardy as to write on the same subject with Cesar, Dr Swift says the History of the Royal Society is the best book in the English tongue

Spratt wrote his History just when Sir I had laid the foundations of all his discoveries – It has been said the Society has not answered the great expectations raised by that book – Sir I. has exceeded them – Happy if there had been such an Historian as {illeg} it to {illeg} to have described it when accomplished —

© 2022 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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