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pointed chancellor of the exchequer. The current coin of the nation having been adulterated and debased, one of his earliest designs was to recoin it and restore it to its intrinsic value. This scheme, however, met with great opposition. It was characterized as a wild project, unsuitable to a period of war, as highly injurious to the interests of commerce, and as likely to sap the foundation of the government. But he had weighed the subject too deeply, and had intrenched himself behind opinions too impartial and too well-founded, to be driven from a measure which the best interests of his country seemed to require.
The persons whom Mr. Montague had consulted about the recoinage were Newton, Locke, and Halley, and in consequence of Mr. Overton, the warden of the mint, having been appointed a commissioner of customs, he embraced the opportunity which was thus offered of serving his friend and his country by recommending Newton to that important office. The notice of this appointment was conveyed in the following letter to Newton.
London, 19th March, 1695. “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 the 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. I desire that you will come up as soon as you can, and I will take care of your warrant in the mean time. Let me see you as soon as you come to town, that I may carry you to kiss the king's hand. I believe you may have a lodging near me.--I am, &c. CHARLES Montague."
In this new situation the mathematical and chymical knowledge of our author was of great service to the nation, and he became eminently useful in carrying on the recoinage, which was completed in the short space of two years. In the year 1699, he was promoted to the mastership of the mint,--an office which was worth twelve or fifteen hundred pounds per annum, and which he held during the remainder of his life. In this situation he wrote an official report on the Coinage, which has been published; and he drew up a table of Assays of Foreign Coins, which is printed at the end of Dr. Arbuthnot's Tables of Ancient Coins, Weights, and Measures, which appeared in 1727.
While our author filled the inferior office of warden of the mint, he retained his professorship at Cambridge ; but upon his promotion in 1699, he appointed Mr. Whiston to be his deputy, with all the emoluments of the office; and when he resigned the chair in 1703, he succeeded in getting him nominated his successor.
The appointment of Newton to the mastership of the mint must have been peculiarly gratifying to the Royal Society, and it was probably from a feel. ing of gratitude to Mr. Montague, as much as from a regard for his talents, that this able statesman was elected president of that learned body on the 30th November, 1695. This office he held for three years, and on the 30th January, 1697, Newton had the satisfaction of addressing to him his solution of the celebrated problems proposed by John Bernouilli.
This accomplished nobleman was created Earl of Halifax in 1700, and after the death of his first wife he conceived a strong attachment for Mrs. Catharine Barton, the widow of Colonel Barton, and the niece of Newton. This lady was young, gay, and beautiful, and though she did not escape the censures of her conteniporaries, she was regarded by those who knew her as a woman of strict honour and virtue.
We are not acquainted with the causes which prevented her union with the Earl of Halifax, but so great was the esteem and affection which he bore her, that in the will in which he left 1001. to Mr. Newton, he bequeathed to his niece a very large portion of his fortune. This distinguished statesman died in 1715, in the fifty-fourth year of his age. Himself a poet and an elegant writer, he was the liberal patron of genius, and he numbered among his intimate friends Congreve, Halley, Prior, Tickell, Steele, and Pope. His conduct to Newton will be for ever remembered in the annals of science. The sages of every nation and of every age will pronounce with affection the name of Charles Montague, and the persecuted science of England will continue to deplore that he was the first and the last English minister who honoured genius by his friendship and rewarded it by his patronage.
The elevation of Mr. Newton to the highest offices in the mint was followed by other marks of honour. The Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris having been empowered by a new charter granted in 1699, to admit a very small number of foreign associates, Newton was elected a member of that distinguished body. In the year 1701, on the assembling of a new parliament, he was re-elected one of the members for the University of Cambridge.* In 1703 he was chosen President of the Royal Society of London, and he was annually re-elected to this office during the remaining twenty-five years of his life. On the 16th of April, 1705, when Queen Anne was living at the royal residence of Newmarket, she went with Prince George of Denmark and the rest of the court to visit the University of Cambridge. After the meeting of the Regia Consilia, her majesty held a
* The candidates in 1701 were as follows: Mr. Henry Boyle, afterward Lord Carleton, 180) Both of Trinity Mr. Newton . . . . . . . . . 101 ) College. Mr. Hammond . . . . . . . . . . . 64
court at Trinity Lodge, the residence of Dr. Bentley, then master of Trinity; where the honour of knighthood was conferred upon Mr. Newton, Mr. John Ellis, the vice-chancellor, and Mr. James Montague, the university counsel.*
On the dissolution of the parliament, which took place in 1705, Sir Isaac was again a candidate for the representation of the University, but notwithstanding the recent expression of the royal favour, he lost his election by a very great majority.t This singular result was perhaps owing to the loss of that personal influence which his residence in the university could not fail to command, though it is more probable that the ministry preferred the candidates of a more obsequious character, and that the electors looked for advantages which Sir Isaac New. ton was not able to obtain for them.
Although the first edition of the Principia had been for some time sold off, and copies of it had become extremely rare, yet Sir Isaac's attention was so much occupied with his professional avocations that he could not find leisure for preparing a new edition. Dr. Bentley, who had repeatedly urged him to this task, at last succeeded, by engaging Roger Cotes, Plumian Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge, to superintend its publication at the university press. In June, 1709, Sir Isaac committed this important trust to his young friend; and about the middle of July he promised to send him in the course of a fortnight his own revised copy of the work. Business, however, seems to have intervened, and Mr. Cotes was obliged to remind Sir Isaac of his promise, which he did in the following letter :
* The banquet which was on this occasion given in the college hal to the royal visiter seems to have cost about 10001., and the university was obliged to borrow 5001., to defray the expense of it.-Monk's Life of Bentley, p. 143, 144. | The candidates in 1705 were as follows:
The Hon. Arthur Annesley 182
Hon. Dixie Windsor . 170
Cambridge, Aug. 18th, 1709. 6. The earnest desire I have to see a new edition of your Principia makes me somewhat impatient till we receive your copy of it, which you were pleased to promise me about the middle of last month you would send down in about a fortnight's time. I hope you will pardon me for this uneasiness, from which I cannot free myself, and for giving you this trouble to let you know it. I have been so much obliged by yourself and by your book, that (I desire you to believe me) I think myself bound in gratitude to take all the care I possibly can that it shall be correct.-Your obliged servant,
“ ROGER COTES. 66 For Sir Isaac Newton, at his house in Jermyn-street, near St. James's
This was the first letter of that celebrated correspondence, consisting of nearly three hundred letters, in which Sir Isaac and Mr. Cotes discussed the various improvements which were thought necessary in a new edition of the Principia. This valuable collection of letters is preserved in the library of Trinity College ; and we cannot refrain from repeating the wish expressed by Dr. Monk, “ that one of the many accomplished Newtonians who are resident in that society would favour the world by publishing the whole collection.”
When the work was at last printed, Mr. Cotes expressed a wish that Dr. Bentley should write the preface to it, but it was the opinion both of Sir Isaac and Dr. Bentley that the preface should come from the pen of Mr. Cotes himself. This he accordingly undertook; but previous to its execution he addressed the following letter to Dr. Bentley, in order to learn from Sir Isaac the particular view with which it should be written.