“To Improve upon Hints of Things”

Illustrating Isaac Newton

In: Nuncius
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Oxford

Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):

€25.00$30.00

When Isaac Newton died in 1727 he left a rich legacy in terms of draft manuscripts, encompassing a variety of topics: natural philosophy, mathematics, alchemy, theology, and chronology, as well as papers relating to his career at the Mint. One thing that immediately strikes us is the textuality of Newton’s legacy: images are sparse. Regarding his scholarly endeavours we witness the same practice. Newton’s extensive drafts on theology and chronology do not contain a single illustration or map. Today we have all of Newton’s draft manuscripts as witnesses of his working methods, as well as access to a significant number of books from his own library. Drawing parallels between Newton’s reading practices and his natural philosophical and scholarly work, this paper seeks to understand Newton’s recondite writing and publishing politics.

  • 2

    See Patricia Fara, Newton: The Making of Genius (London, Basingstoke and Oxford: Macmillan, 2002); David Boyd Hancock, William Stukeley: Science, Religion, and Archaeology in Eighteenth-century England (Martlesham: Boydell & Brewer, 2002), p. 3; Rob Iliffe, “ ‘Is he like other men?’ The Meaning of the Principia and the Author as Idol,” in Literature, Culture and Society in the Stuart Restoration, edited by Gerard Maclean (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 159–178.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3

    Newton to Locke, 16 September 1693, in H.W. Turnbull (ed.), The Correspondence of Isaac Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959–1977), Vol. III, p. 280. See also https://corpusnewtonicum.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/why-you-endeavoured-to-embroil-me-with-woemen/ (accessed 3 December 2015).

  • 6

    See Sarah Dry, The Newton Papers: The Strange and True Odyssey of Isaac Newton’s Manuscripts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) for a full account of the history of Newton’s manuscripts.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11

    Memoranda by David Gregory, 5, 6, 7 May 1694, in Turnbull, Correspondence, Vol. III (cit. note 3), p. 338.

  • 21

    Isaac Newton, “A Letter of Mr. Isaac Newton […] containing his New Theory about Light and Colors,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 19 February 1671/72, No. 80:3075–3087, pp. 3075–3076; Newton Project: NATP00006 (normalized, accessed 1 September 2015).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 24

    Cornelis J. Schilt, “ ‘Tired with this subject …’: Isaac Newton on Publishing and the Ideal Natural Philosopher,” in The Silences of Science, edited by Felicity Mellor (Farnham: Ashgate, 2016), forthcoming.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 26

    Newton to Oldenburg, 7 December 1675, in Turnbull, Correspondence, Vol. I (cit. note 3), pp. 362–386.

  • 28

    Ibid., pp. 435–436.

  • 30

    Ibid., p. 369.

  • 41

    Jed Z. Buchwald and Mordechai Feingold, Newton and the Origin of Civilization (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), p. 195; Keynes Ms. 146 f. 15r (King’s College Library, Cambridge); NCL Ms. 361.1.B4 f. 105r (New College Library, Oxford) mentions 29 kings and hence was written after the death of Queen Anne in 1714.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 42

    Isaac Newton, “Remarks upon the Observations Made upon a Chronological Index of Sir Isaac Newton, Translated into French by the Observator, and Publish’d at Paris,” Philosophical Transactions, 1724–1725, 33:315–321, p. 320. See also Frank Manuel, Isaac Newton: Historian (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963), p. 17; NCL Ms. 361.3 f. 252v (New College Library, Oxford).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 47

    Zachary Pearce to Dr. Hunt, 10 August 1754, printed in Anonymous, The Lives of Dr. Edward Pocock, Vol. 1 (London: 1816), pp. 430–438, quotes taken from p. 431; see also Buchwald and Feingold, Origin of Civilization (cit. note 41), pp. 307–308.

  • 49

    John Harrison, The Library of Isaac Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), p. 113.

  • 55

    Zachary Pearce to Dr. Hunt, 10 August 1754, printed in Anonymous, The Lives of Dr. Edward Pocock (cit. note 47), pp. 430–438, quotes taken from pp. 431–432; see also Buchwald and Feingold, Newton and the Origin of Civilization (cit. note 41), pp. 307–308.

  • 56

    Ibid., p. 432.

  • 62

    Ibid., pp. 67–68.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 128 73 2
Full Text Views 224 7 0
PDF Downloads 15 8 0