Front Matter to The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (1728)
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- Notes on the Electronic Edition
To which is Prefix'd,
A Short Chronicle from the First Memory of Things in Europe, to the Conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great.
By Sir ISAAC NEWTON.
Printed for J. Tonson in the Strand, and J. Osborn and T. Longman in Pater-noster Row.
AS I could never hope to write any thing my self, worthy to be laid before YOUR MAJESTY; I think it a very great happiness, that it should be my lot to usher into the world, under Your Sacred Name, the last work of as great a Genius as any Age ever produced: an Offering of such value in its self, as to be in no danger of suffering from the meanness of the hand that presents it.
The impartial and universal encouragement which YOUR MAJESTY has always given to Arts and Sciences, entitles You to the best returns the learned world is able to make: And the many extraordinary Honours YOUR MAJESTY vouchsafed the Author of the following sheets, give You a just right to his Productions. These, above the rest, lay the most particular claim to Your Royal Protection; For the Chronology had never appeared in its present Form without YOUR MAJESTY's Influence; and the Short Chronicle, which precedes it, is entirely owing to the Commands with which You were pleased to honour him, out of your singular Care for the education of the Royal Issue, and earnest desire to form their minds betimes, and lead them early into the knowledge of Truth.
The Author has himself acquainted the Publick, that the following Treatise was the fruit of his vacant hours, and the relief he sometimes had recourse to, when tired with his other studies. What an Idea does it raise of His abilities, to find that a Work of such labour and learning, as would have been a sufficient employment and glory for the whole life of another, was to him diversion only, and amusement! The Subject is in its nature incapable of that demonstration upon which his other writings are founded, but his usual accuracy and judiciousness are here no less observable; And at the same time that he supports his suggestions, with all the authorities and proofs that the whole compass of Science can furnish, he offers them with the greatest caution; And by a Modesty, that was natural to Him and always accompanies such superior talents, sets a becoming example to others, not to be too presumptuous in matters so remote and dark. Tho' the Subject be only Chronology, yet, as the mind of the Author abounded with the most extensive variety of Knowledge, he frequently intersperses Observations of a different kind; and occasionally instills principles of Virtue and Humanity, which seem to have been always uppermost in his heart, and, as they were the Constant Rule of his actions, appear Remarkably in all his writings.<viii>
Here YOUR MAJESTY will see Astronomy, and a just Observation on the course of Nature, assisting other parts of Learning to illustrate Antiquity; and a Penetration and Sagacity peculiar to the great Author, dispelling that Mist, with which Fable and Error had darkened it; and will with pleasure contemplate the first dawnings of Your favourite Arts and Sciences, the noblest and most beneficial of which He alone carried farther in a few years, than all the most Learned who went before him, had been able to do in many Ages. Here too, MADAM, You will observe, that an Abhorrence of Idolatry and Persecution (the very essence and foundation of that Religion, which makes so bright a part of YOUR MAJESTY's character) was one of the earliest Laws of the Divine Legislator, the Morality of the first Ages, and the primitive Religion of both Jews and Christians; and, as the Author adds, ought to be the standing Religion of all Nations; it being for the honour of God, and good of Mankind. Nor will YOUR MAJESTY be displeased to find his sentiments so agreeable to Your own, whilst he condemns all oppression; and every kind of cruelty, even to brute beasts; and, with so much warmth, inculcates Mercy, Charity, and the indispensable duty of doing good, and promoting the general welfare of mankind: Those great ends, for which Government was first instituted, and to which alone it is administred in this happy Nation, under a KING, who distinguished himself early in opposition to the Tyranny which threatned Europe, and chuses to reign in the hearts of his subjects; Who, by his innate Benevolence, and Paternal Affection to his People, establishes and confirms all their Liberties; and, by his Valour and Magnanimity, guards and defends them.
That Sincerity and Openness of mind, which is the darling quality of this Nation, is become more conspicuous, by being placed upon the Throne; And we see, with Pride, OUR SOVEREIGN the most eminent for a Virtue, by which our country is so desirous to be distinguished. A Prince, whose views and heart are above all the mean arts of Disguise, is far out of the reach of any temptation to Introduce Blindness and Ignorance. And, as HIS MAJESTY is, by his incessant personal cares, dispensing Happiness at home, and Peace abroad; You, MADAM, lead us on by Your great Example to the most noble use of that Quiet and Ease, which we enjoy under His Administration, whilst all Your hours of leisure are employed in cultivating in Your Self That Learning, which You so warmly patronize in Others.<xii>
YOUR MAJESTY does not think the instructive Pursuit, an entertainment below Your exalted Station; and are Your Self a proof, that the abstruser parts of it are not beyond the reach of Your Sex. Nor does this Study end in barren speculation; It discovers itself in a steady attachment to true Religion; in Liberality, Beneficence, and all those amiable Virtues, which increase and heighten the Felicities of a Throne, at the same time that they bless All around it. Thus, MADAM, to enjoy, together with the highest state of publick Splendor and Dignity, all the retired Pleasures and domestick Blessings of private life; is the perfection of human Wisdom, as well as Happiness.<xiii>
The good Effects of this Love of knowledge, will not stop with the present Age; It will diffuse its Influence with advantage to late Posterity: And what may we not anticipate in our minds for the Generations to come under a Royal Progeny, so descended, so educated, and formed by such Patterns!
The glorious Prospect gives us abundant reason to hope, that Liberty and Learning will be perpetuated together; and that the bright Examples of Virtue and Wisdom, set in this Reign by the Royal Patrons of Both, will be transmitted with the Scepter to their Posterity, till this and the other Works of Sir ISAAC NEWTON shall be forgot, and Time it self be no more: Which is the most sincere and ardent wish of
May it please YOUR MAJESTY,
YOUR MAJESTY's most obedient and most dutiful subject and servant,
THO' The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms amended, was writ by the Author many years since; yet he lately revis'd it, and was actually preparing it for the Press at the time of his death. But The Short-Chronicle was never intended to be made public, and therefore was not so lately corrected by him. To this the Reader must impute it, if he shall find any places where the Short Chronicle does not accurately agree with the Dates assigned in the larger Piece. The Sixth Chapter was not copied out with the other Five, which makes it doubtful whether he intended to print it: but being found among his Papers, and evidently appearing to be a Continuation of the same Work, and (as such) abridg'd in the Short Chronicle; it was thought proper to be added.
Had the Great Author himself liv'd to publish this Work, there would have been no occasion for this Advertisement; But as it is, the Reader is desired to allow for such imperfections as are inseparable from Posthumous Pieces; and, in so great a number of proper names, to excuse some errors of the Press that have escaped. The following ones, 'tis hoped, are the most considerable: viz.
P. 34. l. 23. for Pelosiris, read Petosiris.
P. 64. l. 29. for Appion, read Appian.
P. 103. l. 20. for Crete, read Sicily.
P. 106. l. 1. for Alymnus, read Atymnus.
P. 138. l. 22. for Peleus, read Pelops.