Online Encyclopedia

SIR

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 592 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
SIR ISAAC instant admission to the degree if only he would take the necessary oaths. Both the king and the monk were inexorable. The court and the university were thus placed in open collision. A menacing letter was despatched by Sunderland to shake the firmness of the university; but, though humble and respectful explanations were returned, the university showed no sign of compliance, nor even of a desire to suggest a compromise. In consequence the vice-chancellor and deputies from the senate were summoned to appear before the High Commission Court at Westminster. Newton was one of the eight deputies appointed by the senate for this purpose. The deputies, before starting for London, held a meeting to prepare their case for the court. A compromise which was put forward by one of them was stoutly and success-fully resisted by Newton, and on the 21st of April the deputation, with their case carefully prepared, appeared before the court. Lord Jeffreys presided at the board. The deputation appeared as a matter of course before the commissioners, and were dismissed. On the 27th of April they gave in their plea. On the 7th of May it was discussed, and feebly defended by the vice-chancellor. The deputies maintained that in the late reign several royal mandates had been withdrawn, and that no degree had ever been conferred without the oaths having been previously taken. Jeffreys spoke with his accustomed insolence to the vice-chancellor, silenced the other deputies when they offered to speak, and ordered them out of court. When recalled the deputies were reprimanded, and Pechell was deprived of his office as vice-chancellor, and of his emoluments as master of Magdalene. Newton returned to Trinity College to complete the Principia. While thus occupied he had an extensive correspondence with Halley, a very great part of which is extant. The following letter from Halley, dated London, July 5th, 1687, announcing the completion of the Principia, is of peculiar interest: " I have at length brought your book to an end, and hope it will please you. The last errata came just in time to be inserted. I will present from you the book you desire to the Royal Society, Mr Boyle, Mr Paget, Mr Flamsteed, and if there be any else in town that you design to gratify that way; and I have sent you to bestow on your friends in the University 20 copies, which I entreat you to accept. In the same parcel you will receive 4o more, which having no acquaintance in Cambridge, I must entreat you to put into the hands of one or more of your ablest booksellers to dispose of them. I intend the price of them, bound in calves' leather, and lettered, to be 9 shillings here. Those I send you I value in quires at 6 shillings, to take my money as they are sold, or at 5°h' for ready, or else at some short time; for I am satisfied there is no dealing in books without interesting the booksellers; and I am contented to let them go halves with me, rather than have your excellent work smothered by their combinations. I hope you will not repent you of the pains you have taken in so laudable a piece, so much to your own and the nation's credit, but rather, after you shall have a little diverted yourself with other studies, that you will resume those contemplations wherein you had so great success, and attempt the perfection of the lunar theory, which will be of prodigious use in navigation, as well as of profound and public speculation. . . . You' will receive a box from me on Thursday next by the waggon, that starts from town to-morrow." In 1692 and 1693 Newton seems to have had a serious illness, the nature of which has given rise to very considerable dispute. In a letter dated the 13th of September 1693, addressed to Samuel Pepys, he writes: " Some time after Mr Millington had delivered your message, he pressed me to see you the next time I went to London. I was averse, but upon his pressing consented, before I considered what I did, for I am extremely troubled at the embroilment I am in, and have neither ate nor slept well this twelvemonth, nor have my' former consistency of mind. I never designed to get any thing by your interest, nor by Icing James's favour, but am now sensible that I must withdraw from your acquaintance, and see neither you nor the rest of my friends any more, if I may but have them quietly. I beg your pardon for saying I would see you again, and rest your most humble and obedient servant." And in a letter written to John Locke in reply to one of his about the second edition of his book, and dated the 15th of October 1693, Newton wrote: " The last; winter, by sleeping too often by my fire, I got an ill habit of sleeping; and a distemper, which this summer has been epidemical, put me farther out of order, so that when I wrote to you, I had not slept an hour a night for a fortnight together, and for five days togethernot a wink. I remember I wrote to you, but what I said of your book I remember not. If you please to send me a transcript of that passage, I will give you an account of it if I can." The loss of sleep to a person of Newton's temperament, whose mind was never at rest, and at times so wholly engrossed in his scientific pursuits that he even neglected to take food, must necessarily have led to a very great deal of nervous excitability. It is not astonishing that rumours got abroad that there was a danger of his mind giving way, or, according to a report which was believed at the time, that it had actually done so. Pepys must have heard such rumours, as in a letter to his friend Milling-ton, the tutor of Magdalene College at Cambridge, dated the 26th of September 1693, he wrote: " I must acknowledge myself not at the ease I would be glad to be at in reference to excellent Mr Newton; concerning whom (methinks) your answer labours under the same kind of restraint which (to tell you the truth) my asking did. For I was loth at first dash to tell you that I had lately received a letter from him so surprising to me for the inconsistency of every part of it, as to be put into great disorder by it, from the concernment I have for him, lest it should arise from that which of all mankind I should least dread from him and most lament for—I mean a discomposure in head, or mind, or both. Let me, therefore, beg you, Sir, having now told you the true ground of the trouble I lately gave you, to let me know the very truth of the matter, as far at least as comes within your knowledge." On the 3oth of September 1693 Millington wrote to Pepys that he had been to look for Newton some time before, but that " he was out of town, and since," he says, " I have not seen him, till upon the 28th I met him at Huntingdon, where, upon his own accord, and before I had time to ask him any question, he told me that he had writt to you a very odd letter, at which he was much concerned; added, that it was in a distemper that much seized his head,' and that kept him awake for above five nights together, which upon occasion he desired I would represent to you, and beg your pardon, he being very much ashamed he should be so rude to a person for whom he hath so great an honour. He is now very well, and though I fear he is under some small degree of melancholy, yet I think there is no reason to suspect it hath at all touched his understanding, and I hope never will; and so I am sure all ought to wish that love learning or the honour of our nation, which it is a sign how much it is looked after, when such a person as Mr Newton lyes so neglected by those in power. The illness of Newton was very much exaggerated by foreign contemporary writers. In a manuscript journal of Huygens is to be found an entry: " 29 Maj. 1694.—Narravit mihi D. Colm Scotus virum celeberrimum ac summum geometram Is. Neutonum in phrenesin incidisse abhinc anno et sex mensibus. An ex nimia studii assiduilate, an dolore infortunii, quod incendio laboratorium chymicum et scripta quaedam amiserat ? Cum ad Archiepiscopum Cantabrigiensem venisset, ea locutum, quae alienationem mentis indicarent. Deinde ab amicis curam ejus susceptam, domoque clauso remedia volenti nolenti adhibita, quibus jam sanitatem recuperavit ut jam rursus librum suum Principiorum Philosophiae Mathematicorum intelligere incipiat." Huygens, in a letter dated the 8th of June 1694, wrote to Leibnitz, " I do not know if you are acquainted with the accident which has happened to the good Mr Newton, namely, that he has had an attack of phrenitis, which lasted eighteen months, and of which they say his friends have cured him by means of remedies, and keeping him shut up." To which Leibnitz, in a letter dated the 22nd of June, replied, " I am very glad that I received information of the cure of Mr Newton at the same time that I first heard of his illness, which doubtless must have been very alarming." The active part which Newton had taken in defending the legal privileges of the university against the encroachments of the crown had probably at least equal weight with his scientific reputation when his friends chose him as a candidate for a seat in parliament as one of the representatives of the university. The other candidates were Sir Robert Sawyer and Mr Finch. Sir Robert stood at the head of the poll with 125 votes, Newton next with 122 and Mr Finch was last with 117 votes. Newton retained his seat only about a year, from January 1689 till the dissolution of the Convention Parliament in February 169o. During this time Newton does not appear to have taken part in any of the debates in the House; but he was not neglectful of his duties as a member. On the 30th of April 1689 he movedfor leave to bring in a bill to settle the charters and privileges of the university of Cambridge, just as Sir Thomas Clarges did for Oxford at the same time, and he wrote a series of letters to Dr Lovel, the vice-chancellor of the university, on points which affected the interests of the university and its members. Some of the members of the university who had lately sworn allegiance to James had some difficulty in swearing allegiance to his successor. On the 12th of February 1689, the day of the coronation of William and Mary, Newton intimated to the vice-chancellor that he would soon receive an order to proclaim them at Cambridge. He enclosed a form of the proclamation, and expressed a hearty " wish that the university would so compose themselves as to perform the solemnity with a reasonable decorum." During his residence in London Newton had made the acquaintance of John Locke. Locke had taken a very great interest in the new theories of the Principia. He was one of a number of Newton's friends who began to be uneasy and dissatisfied at seeing the most eminent scientific man of his age left to depend upon the meagre emoluments of a college fellowship and a professorship. At one time Newton's friends had nearly succeeded in getting him appointed provost of King's College, Cambridge, but the college offered a successful resistance on the ground that the appointment would be illegal, as the statutes required that the provost should be in priest's orders. Charles Montague, who was afterwards earl of Halifax, was a fellow of Trinity College, and was a very intimate friend of Newton; and it was on his influence that Newton relied in the main for promotion to some post of honour and emolument. His hopes, however, were blighted by long delay. In one of his letters to Locke at the beginning of 1692, when Montague, Lord Monmouth and Locke were exerting themselves to obtain some appointment for him, Newton wrote that he was " fully convinced that Mr Montague, upon an old grudge which he thought had been worn out, was false to him." Newton was now in his fifty-fifth year, and whilst those of his own standing at the university had been appointed to high posts in church or state, he still remained without any mark of national gratitude. But this blot upon the English name was at last removed by Montague in 1694, when he was appointed chancellor of the exchequer. He had previously consulted Newton upon the subject of the recoinage, and on the opportunity occurring he appointed Newton to the post of warden of the mint. In a letter to Newton announcing the news, Montague writes: " I am very glad that at last I can give you a good proof of my friendship, and the esteem the king has of your merits. Mr Overton, the warden of the mint, is made one of the Commissioners of Customs, and the king has promised me to make Mr Newton warden of the mint. The office is the most proper for you. 'Tis the chief office in the mint: 'tis worth five or six hundred pounds per annum, and has not too much business to require more attendance than you can spare." This letter must have convinced Newton of the sincerity of Montague's good intentions towards him; we find them living as friends on the most intimate terms until Halifax's death in 1715. Newton's chemical and mathematical knowledge proved of great use in .carrying out the recoinage. This was completed in about two years. In 1697 Newton was appointed to the master-ship of the mint, a post worth between £1200 and £1500 per annum. While he held this office, Newton drew up a very extensive table of assays of foreign coins, and composed an official report on the coinage. Up to the time of the publication of the Principia in 1687 the method of fluxions which had been invented by Newton, and had been of great assistance to him in his mathematical investigations, was still, except to Newton and his friends, a secret. One of the most important rules of the method forms the second lemma of the second book of the Principia. Though this new and powerful method was of great help to Newton in his work, he did not exhibit it in the results. He was aware that the well-known geometrical methods of the ancients would clothe his new creations in a garb which would appear less strange and uncouth to those not familiar with the new method. The Principia gives no information on the subject of the notation adopted in the new calculus, and it was not until 1693 that it was communicated to the scientific world in the second volume of Dr Wallis's works. Newton's admirers in Holland had informed Dr Wallin that Newton's method of fluxions passed there under the name of Leibnitz's Calculus Differentialis. It was therefore thought necessary that an early opportunity should be taken of asserting Newton's claim to be the inventor of the method of fluxion, and this was the reason for this method first appearing in Wallis's works. A further account of the method was given in the first edition of Newton's Optics, which appeared in 1704. To this work were added two treatises, entitled Tractatus duo de speciebus et magnitudine figurarum curvilinearum, the one bearing the title Tractatus de Quadratura Curvarum, and the other Enumeratio linearum tertii ordinis. The first contains an explanation of the doctrine of fluxions, and of its application to the quacrature of curves; the second, a classification of seventy-two curves of the third order, with an account of their properties. The reason for publishing these two tracts in his Optics, from the subsequent editions of which they were omitted, is thus stated in the advertisement: " In a letter written to M Leibnitz in the year 1679, and published by Dr Wallis, I mentioned a method by which I had found some general theorems about squaring curvilinear figures on comparing them with the conic sections, or other the simplest figures with which they might be compared. And some years ago I lent out a manuscript containing such theorems; and having since met with some things copied out of it, I have on this occasion made it public, pre-fixing to it an introduction, and joining a Scholium concerning that method. And I have joined with it another small traot concerning the curvilineal figures of the second kind, which was also written many years ago, and made known to some friends, who have solicited the, making it public." In 1707 William Whiston published the algebraical lectures which Newton had delivered at Cambridge, under the title of Arithmetica Universalis, sive de Composition et Resolutione Arithmetica Liber. We are not accurately informed how Whiston obtained possession of this work; but it is stated by one of the editors of the English edition " that Mr Whiston, thinking it a pity that so noble and useful a work should be doomed to a college confinement, obtained leave to make it public." It was soon afterwards translated into English by Raphson; and a second edition of it, with improvements by the author, was published at London in 1712, by Dr Machin, secretary to the Royal Society. With the view of stimulating mathematicians to write annotations on this admirable work, the celebrated 's Gravesande published a tract, entitled Specimen Commentarii in Arithmeticam Universalem; and Maclaurin's Algebra seems to have been drawn up in consequence of this appeal. Newton's solution of the celebrated problems proposed by John Bernoulli and Leibnitz deserves mention among his mathematical works. In June 1696 Bernoulli addressed a letter to the mathematicians of Europe challenging them to solve two problems-(1) to determine the brachistochrone between two given points not in the same vertical line, (2) to determine a curve such that, if a straight line drawn through a fixed point A meet it in two points Pr, P2, then APrm+AP2m will be constant. This challenge was first made in the Acta Lipsiensia for June 1696. Six months were allowed by Bernoulli for the solution of the problem, and in the event of none being sent to him he promised to publish his own. The six months elapsed without any solution being produced; but he received a letter from Leibnitz, stating that he had "cut the knot of the most beautiful of these problems," and requesting that the period for their solution should be extended to Christmas next; that the French and Italian mathematicians might have no reason to complain of the shortness of the period. Bernoulli adopted the suggestion, and publicly announced the prorogation for the information of those who might not see the Acta Lipsiensia. On the 29th of January 1696/7 Newton received from France two copies of the printed paper containing the problems,and on the following day he transmitted a solution of them to Montague, then president of the Royal Society. He announced that the curve required in the first problem must be a cycloid, and he gave a method of determining it. He solved also the second problem, and he showed that by the same method other curves might be found which shall cut off three or more segments having the like properties. Solutions were also obtained from Leibnitz and the Marquis de L'Hbpital; and, although that of Newton was anonymous, yet Bernoulli recognized the author in his disguise; " tanquam," says he, " ex ungue leonem." In 1699 Newton's position as a mathematician and natural philosopher was recognized by the French Academy of Sciences. In that year the Academy was remodelled, and eight foreign associates were created. Leibnitz, Domenico Guglielmini (1655-1710), Hartsoeker, and E. W. Tschirnhausen were appointed on the 4th of February, James Bernoulli and John Bernoulli on the 14th of February, and Newton and Olaus Roemer on the 21st of February. While Newton held the office of warden of the mint, he retained his chair of mathematics at Cambridge, and discharged the duties of the post, but shortly after he was promoted to be master of the mint he appointed Whiston his deputy with " the full profits of the place." Whiston began his astronomical lectures as Newton's deputy in January 1701. On the loth of December x701 Newton resigned his professorship, thereby at the same time resigning his fellowship at Trinity, which he had held with the Lucasian professorship since 1675 by virtue of the royal mandate. Whiston's claims to succeed Newton in the Lucasian chair were successfully supported by Newton himself. On the 26th of November 1701 Newton was again elected one of the representatives of the university in parliament, but he retained his seat only until the dissolution in the following July. Newton does not seem to have been a candidate at this election, but at the next dissolution in 1705 he was again a candidate for the representation of the university. He was warmly supported by the residents, but being a Whig in politics he was opposed by the non-residents, and beaten by a large majority. In the autumn of 1703 Lord Somers retired from the presidency of the Royal Society, and Newton on the 3oth of November 1703 was elected to succeed him. Newton was annually re-elected to tnis honourable post during the remainder of his life. He held the office in all twenty-five years, a period in which he has been exceeded by but one other president of the Royal Society, Sir Joseph Banks. As president Newton was brought into close connexion with Prince George of Denmark, the queen's husband, who had been elected a fellow of the Royal Society. The prince had offered, on Newton's recommendation, to be at the expense of printing Flamsteed's observations, and especially his catalogue of the stars. It was natural that the queen should form a high opinion of one whose merits had made such a deep impression on her husband. In April 1705, when the queen, the prince and the court were staying at the royal residence at Newmarket, they paid a visit to Cambridge, where they were the guests of Dr Bentley, the master of Trinity. Her Majesty went in state to the Regent House, where a congregation of the senate was held, and a number of honorary degrees conferred. After-wards the queen held a court at Trinity Lodge, where (16th of April 1705) she conferred the order of knighthood upon Sir Isaac Newton. As soon as the first edition of the Principia was published Newton began to prepare for a second edition. He was anxious' to improve the work by additions to the theory of the motion of the moon and the planets. Dr Edleston, in his preface to Newton's correspondence with Cotes, justly remarks: " If Flamsteed the Astronomer-Royal had cordially co-operated with him in the humble capacity of an observer in the way that Newton pointed out and requested of him . the lunar theory would, if its creator did not overrate his own powers, have been completely investigated, so far as he could do It, in the first few months of 1695, and a second edition of the Principia would probably have followed the execution of the task at no long interval." Newton, however, could not get the information he wanted from Flamsteed, and after the spring of 1696 his time was much occupied by his duties .at the mint. Rumours, however, of his work, and of a new edition, were heard from time to time. In February 1700 Leibnitz writes of Newton, " J'ai appris aussi (je ne Kai oil) qu'il donnera encore quelque chose sur le mouvement de la lune: et on m'a dit aussi qu'il y auraune nouvelle edition de ses principes de la nature." Dr Bentley, the master of Trinity College, had for a long time urged Newton to give his consent to the republication of the Principle. In the middle of 1708 Newton's consent was obtained, but it was not till the spring of 1709 that he was prevailed upon to entrust the superintendence of it to a young mathematician of great promise, Roger Cotes, fellow of Trinity College, who had been recently appointed the first Plumian professor of astronomy and experimental philosophy. On the 21st of May 1709, after having been that day with Newton, Bentley announced this arrangement to Cotes:—" Sir Isaac Newton," he said, " will be glad to see you in June, and then put into your hands one part of his book corrected for the press." About the middle of July Cotes went to London, in the expectation doubtless to bring down with him to Cambridge the corrected portion of the Principia. Although Cotes was impatient to begin his work, it was nearly the end of September before the corrected copy was put into his hands. During the printing of this edition a correspondence went on continuously between Newton and Cotes. On the 31st of March 1713, when the edition was nearly ready for publication, Newton wrote to Cotes: " I heare that Mr Bernoulli has sent a Paper of 40 pages to be published in the Acta Leipsica relating to what I have written upon the curve Lines described by Projectiles in resisting Mediums. And therein he partly makes Observations upon what I have written & partly improves it. To prevent being blamed by him or others for any disingenuity in not acknowledging my oversights or slips in the first edition, I believe it will not be amiss to print next after the old Praefatio ad Lectorem, the following account of this new Edition. " In hac secunda Principiorum Editione, multa sparsim emendantur & nonnulla adjiciuntur. In I.ibri primi Sect. ii. Inventio virium quibus corpora in Orbibus datis revolvi possint, facilior redditur et amplior. In Libri secundi Sect. vii. Theoria resistentiae fluidorum accuratius investigatur & novis experimentis confirmatur. In Libro tertio Theoria Lunae & Praecessio Aequinoctiorum ex Principiis suis plenius deducuntur, et Theoria Cometarum pluribus et accuratius computatis Orbium exemplis confirmatur. " 28 Mar. 1713. I. N.' " If you write any further Preface, I must not see it, for I find that I shall be examined about it. The cuts for vs Comet of 168o & 1681 are printed off and will be sent to Dr Bendy this week by the Carrier." Newton's desire to have no hand in writing the preface seems to have proceeded from a knowledge that Cotes was proposing to allude to the dispute about the invention of fluxions. At last, about midsummer 1713, was published the long and impatiently expected second edition of the Principia, and; on the 27th of July, Newton waited on the queen to present her with a copy of the new edition. In 1714 the question of finding the longitude at sea, which had been looked upon as an important one for several years, was brought into prominence by a petition presented to the House of Commons by a number of captains of Her Majesty's ships and merchant ships and of London merchants. The petition was referred to a committee of the House, who called witnesses. Newton appeared before them and gave evidence. He stated that for determining the longitude at sea there had been several projects, true in theory but difficult to execute. He mentioned four: (1) by a watch to keep time exactly, (2) by the eclipses of Jupiter's satellites, (3) by the place of the moon, (4) by a new method proposed by Mr Ditton. Newton criticized all the methods, pointing out their weak points, and it is due mainly to his evidence that the committee brought in the report which was accepted by the House, and shortly afterwards was converted into a Bill, passed both Houses, and received the royal assent. The report ran " that it is the opinion of this committee that a reward be settled by parliament upon such person or persons as shall discover a more certain and practicable method of ascertaining the longitude than any yet in practice; and the said reward be proportioned to the degree of exactness to which the said method shall reach." Sir Isaac Newton was a very popular visitor at the court of George I. The princess of Wales, afterwards Queen Caroline, wife of George II., took every opportunity of conversing with him. Having one day been told by Sir Isaac that he had composed a new system of chronology while he was still resident at Cambridge, she requested him to give her a copy. He accordingly drew up an abstract of the system from his papers, and sent it to the princess for her own private use; but he after-wards allowed a copy to be made for the Abbe Conti on the express understanding that it should not be communicated to any other person. The abbe, however, lent his copy to M Freret, an antiquary at Paris, who translated it, and endeavoured to refute it. The translation was printed under the title Abrege de chronologie de M le Chevallier Newton, fait par lui-meme et traduit sur le manuscrit anglais. Upon receiving a copy of this work, Sir Isaac Newton printed, in the Philosophical Trans-actions for 1725, a paper entitled " Remarks on the observations made on a Chronological Index of Sir Isaac Newton, translated into French by the observator, and published at Paris." In these remarks Sir Isaac charged the abbe with a breach of promise, and gave a triumphant answer to the objections which Freret had urged against his system. Father Souciet entered the field in defence of Frei-et; and in consequence of this controversy Sir Isaac was induced to prepare his larger work, which was published in 1728, after his death, and entitled The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms amended, to which is prefixed a short Chronicle from the First Memory of Kings in Europe to the Conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great. From an early period of his life Newton had paid great attention to theological studies, and it is well known that he had begun to study the subject of the prophecies before the year 169o. M Biot, with a view of showing that his theological writings were the productions of his dotage, has fixed their date between 1712 and 1719. That Newton's mind was even then quite clear and powerful is sufficiently proved by his ability to attack the most difficult mathematical problems with success. For it was in 1716 that Leibnitz, in a letter.to the Abbe Conti, proposed a problem for solution for the purpose of feeling the pulse of the English analysts." The problem was to find the orthogonal trajectories of a series of curves represented by a single equation. Newton received this problem about 5 o'clock in the afternoon as he was returning from the mint, but, though he was fatigued with business, he solved the problem the same evening. One of the most remarkable of Sir Isaac's theological productions is his Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of the Scripture, in a letter to a friend. This friend was Locke, who received the letter in November 169o. Sir Isaac seems to have been then anxious for its publication; but, as the effect of his argument was to deprive the Trinitarians of two passages in favour of the Trinity, he became alarmed at the probable consequences of such a step. He therefore requested Locke, who was then going to Holland, to get it translated into French, and published on the continent. Being prevented from going to Holland, Locke copied the manuscript, and sent it, without Newton's name, to Le Clerc, who received it before the 11th of April 1691. On the loth of January 1692 Le Clerc announced to Locke his intention to publish the pamphlet in Latin; and, upon the intimation of this to Sir Isaac, he entreated him " to stop the translation and impression as soon as he could, for he designed to suppress them." This was accordingly done; but Le Clerc sent the manuscript to the library of the Remonstrants, and it was afterwards published at London in 1754, under the title of Two Letters from Sir Isaac Newton to M le Clerc. This edition is imperfect, and in many places erroneous. Dr Horsley therefore published a genuine one, which is in the form of a single letter to a friend, and was taken from a manuscript in Sir Isaac's own hand. Sir Isaac Newton left behind him in manuscript a work en-titled Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St John, which was published in London in 1733, in one volume 4to; another work, entitled Lexicon Propheticum, with a dissertation on the sacred cubit of the Jews, which was printed in 1737; and four letters addressed to Bentley, containing some arguments in proof of a Deity, which were published by Cumberland, a nephew of Bentley, in 1756. Sir Isaac also left a Church History complete, a History of the Creation, Paradoxical Questions regarding Athanasius, and many divinity tracts. Newton devoted much of his time to the study of chemistry; but the greater number of his experiments still remain in manuscript. His Tabula Quantitatum et Graduum Caloris contains a comparative scale of temperature from that of melting ice to that of a small kitchen fire. He wrote also another chemical paper De Natura Acidorum, which has been published by Dr Horsley. Sir Isaac spent much time in the study of the works of the alchemists. He had diligently studied the works of Jacob Boehme, and there were found amongst his manuscripts copious abstracts from them in his own handwriting. In the earlier part of his life he and his relation Dr Newton of Grantham had put up furnaces, and had wrought for several months in quest of the philosopher's tincture. Among the manuscripts in the possession of the earl of Portsmouth there are many sheets in Sir Isaac's hand of Flamsteed's Explication of Hieroglyphic Figures, and in another hand many sheets of William Yworth's Processus Mysterii Magni Philosophicus. In the last few years of his life Newton was troubled with incontinence of urine, which was supposed to be due to stone; but with care he kept the disease under control. In January 1725 he was seized with a violent cough and inflammation of the lungs, which induced him to reside at Kensington; and in the following month he had a severe attack of gout, which produced a decided improvement in his general health. His duties at the mint were discharged by John Conduitt, and he therefore seldom went from home. On the 28th of February 1727, feeling well, he went to London to preside at a meeting of the Royal Society; but the fatigue which attended this duty brought on a violent return of his former complaint, and he returned to Kensington on the 4th of March, when Dr Mead and Dr Chesselden pronounced his disease to be stone. He endured the sufferings of this complaint with wonderful patience. He seemed a little better on the 15th of March, and on the 18th he read the newspapers and conversed with Dr Mead; but at 6 o'clock in the evening he became insensible, and continued in that state till Monday the 2oth of March 1727, when he expired without pain between one and two o'clock in the morning. His body was removed to London, and on Tuesday the 28th of March it lay in state in the Jerusalem Chamber, and was thence conveyed to Westminster Abbey, where it was buried.
End of Article: SIR
[back]
SIQUIJOR
[next]
SIR ALEXANDER SETON (d. c. 136o)

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.