« AnteriorContinuar »
Edleston, has enabled me to make a more advantageous use of these valuable materials. Dr. Monk, Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, had “often expressed in private a wish and request that some one of the many accomplished Newtonians who are resident in that society would favour the world by publishing the whole collection,” 1 and I have no doubt that it was from this public expression of it, in his able and interesting Life of Dr. Bentley, that the Master and Seniors of Trinity College resolved to publish the correspondence. This valuable work, edited by Mr. Edleston, Fellow of Trinity, is a most important contribution to the History of Mathematical and Physical Science. The admirable synopsis which it contains of Newton's life —the learned and able annotations illustrative of his history ; and the explanatory notes on the letters themselves, throw much light on the subjects to which they refer, and have been of essential service to me in the composition of this work. But in addition to the obligations which I owe to Mr. Edleston, in common with every friend of science, I have to acknowledge others of a more personal kind. During the printing of the second volume, which he has had the kindness to peruse, I have received from him much new and important information, and availed myself of his judicious criticisms and useful suggestions. To Professor De Morgan, to whom the public owes a brief but interesting biographical sketch of Newton, and who has carefully investigated various points in the Fluxionary controversy, I have been indebted for much information, and for his kind revision of the sketch I had given of the early history of the Infinitesimal Calculus. On a few questions in the life of Newton, and the history of his discoveries, my opinion differs somewhat from his ; but I have been able to confirm, from the documents in my possession, many of his views on important points which he was the first to investigate and to publish. From my late amiable and distinguished friend Professor Rigaud of Oxford, too early cut off in his scientific career, I obtained valuable aid whenever I encountered difficulties or required information. His “ Historical Essay on the Principia,” which he generously offered to withhold from the public, till I had finished the present work, is a most important contribution to the history of Newton's discoveries, and I am glad to be able to complete the correspondence between Newton and Halley, which Mr. Rigaud was the first to publish in its genuine state. The Rev. Jeffry Ekins, Rector of Sampford, whose family, from their connexion with N ewton, have been long in possession of several of his theological manuscripts and letters, has obligingly sent me copies of many of them, and has otherwise favoured me with much use
* Life of Bentley, p. 180.
ful information. To Lord Brougham, Sir John Lubbock, Mr. Cutts Barton, and other friends, I have to return my best thanks for the assistance they have given me. In concluding this Preface, I can hardly avoid referring to Sir Isaac Newton's religious opinions. In the chapter which relates to them I have touched lightly, and unwillingly, on a subject so tender ; and in publishing the most interesting of the manuscripts in which these opinions are recorded, I have done little more than submit them to the judgment of the reader. Though adverse to my own, and I believe to the opinions of those to whom his memory is dearest, I did not feel myself justified, had I been so disposed, to conceal from the public that which they have long suspected, and must have sooner or later known. What the gifted mind of Newton believed to be truth, I dare not pronounce to be error. By the great Teacher alone can truth be taught, and it is only at his tribunal that a decision will be given on those questions, often of words, which have kept at