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LIST OF ENGRAVINGS AND WOODCUTS.

VOL. I.

Frontispiece

PORTRAIT OF SIR ISAAC NEWTON,
THE HOUSE AT WOOLSTHORPE, THE BIRTHPLACE OF NEWTON,

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ENGRAVING FROM A CAST OF SIR ISAAC Newton's FACE, TAKEN AFTER

DEATH,

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ENGRAVING OF A Box BELONGING TO SIR GEORGE HAMILTON SEYMOUR,

G.C.B., WHICH WAS PRESENTED BY SIR ISAAC NEWTON TO THE

EARL OF ABERCORN,

418

MEMOIRS

OF THE

LIFE AND WRITINGS OF SIR ISAAC NEWTON.

CHAPTER I.

GREAT DISCOVERIES PREVIOUS TO THE BIRTH OF SIR ISAAC NEWTON

PRE-EMINENCE OF HIS REPUTATION THE INTEREST ATTACHED TO THE

STUDY OF HIS LIFE AND WRITINGSHIS BIRTH AND PARENTAGE-AN

ONLY AND POSTHUMOUS CHILD—NOTICE OF HIS DESCENT-INHERITS

THE SMALL PROPERTY OF WOOLSTHORPE-HIS MOTHER MARRIES AGAIN

IS SENT TO A DAY-SCHOOL-HIS EDUCATION AT GRANTHAM SCHOOL

HIS IDLE HABITS THERE-HIS LOVE OF MECHANICAL PURSUITS-HIS

WINDMILL, WATER-CLOCK, SELF-MOVING CARRIAGE, AND KITES-HIS

ATTACHMENT TO MISS STOREY-HIS LOVE OF DRAWING AND POETRY

--HIS UNFITNESS TO BE A FARMER—IIIS DIALS, WATER-WHEELS, AND

ANEMOMETER-LEAVES GRANTHAM SCHOOL-HIS COMMONPLACE BOOK

AND COLLEGE EXPENSES.

The seventeenth century has always been regarded as the most interesting and eventful period in the history of positive knowledge. The discoveries and speculations of a preceding age had prepared the way for some grand generalization of the phenomena of the material world; and sages of lofty intellect heralded the advent of that Master-mind by which it was to be accomplished. The establishment by Copernicus of the true Solar System, and of its independence of the sidereal universe, led to the investigation of those general laws with which Kepler laid the

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foundations of Physical Astronomy; while, in combination with these, the observations of Tycho, the telescopic discoveries of Galileo, and the speculations of Hooke and Borelli, contributed in no slight degree to the establishment of the theory of universal gravitation, by which Sir Isaac Newton has immortalized his name, and perpetuated the intellectual glory of his country.

A generalization of such vast extent, enabling us to «letermine the position and aspects of the planets during thousands of years that are past, and for thousands of years to come, could not but be regarded as an achievement of the liighest order ; and the name of Newton, therefore, has, by universal consent, been placed at the head of those great men who have been the benefactors and ornaments of their species. Imposing as are the attributes with which Time has invested the sages of antiquity-its poets and its philosophers; and dazzling as are the glories of its heroes and its lawgivers, their reputation pales in the presence of his; and the vanity of no presumptuous school, and the partiality of no rival nation, has ventured to question the ascendency of his genius. The philosopher, indeed, to whom posterity will probably assign the place next to Newton, has characterized his great work,--The Principles of Natural Philosophy, as pre-eminent above every other production of human genius, and has thus divested of extravagance the encomium of contemporary friendship.

Nec fas est propius mortali attingere Divos.

HALLEY.

So near the gods--man cannot nearer go. But while the history of such discoveries must, to the intellectual world, be a subject of exciting interest, the

· The Marquis La Place. See his Exposition du Système du Monde, Livre 5me, chap. vi. p. 336.

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biography of him who made them.---the details of his life, his studies and his opinions, cannot fail to arrest the attention, and influence the judgment of every cultivated mind. Though the path of such a man may have lain in the secluded vale of humble life, unmarked by those dramatic incidents which throw a lustre even round perishable names, yet the inquiring spirit will linger over the history of a mind so richly endowed,—will study its intellectual and moral phases, and will seek the shelter of its authority on those solemn questions which Reason has abandoned to Faith and Hope.

If we look for instruction from the opinions of ordinary men, and watch their conduct as an exemplar for our own, how interesting must it be to follow the most exalted genius through the labyrinth of common life,---to mark the steps by which he attained his lofty pre-eminence -to see how he performs the functions of the social and the domestic compact ;-how he wields his powers of invention and discovery ;-how he comports himself in the arena of intellectual strife; and in what sentiments, and with what aspirations, he leaves the world which he has adorned.

In each and all of these phases, the writings and the life of Sir Isaac Newton abound with the richest counsel. Here the philosopher will learn the art of patient observation by which alone he can acquire an immortal name; the moralist will trace the lineaments of a character exhibiting all the symmetry of which our imperfect nature is susceptible; and the Christian will contemplate with delight the High Priest of Science quitting the study of the material universe—the scene of his intellectual triumphs, to investigate with humility and reverence the mysteries of his faith.

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