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with a set of carpenter's tools, and was continually occupied in making little knick-knacks, which were much prized by his companions for neatness and ingenuity. He was fond of drawing, and used to amuse himself by taking portraits of the scholars : but the most curious anecdote of his boyhood is one which describes him in the act of rudely determining the force of the. wind, by comparing how much farther he could leap with it than against it.
After passing through the course of study taught at Grantham, bis mother took him home, and proposed that, as his father had done, and the ancestors of his family before him for nearly three centuries, so he too should live upon his estate, which was then valued at about 1202. a-year, and cultivate it himself. To this plan he acceded, but, in all probability, with very little ardour; for we are told, that having occasion to go to a neighbouring market soon after he became a farmer, he left his business undone, and for awhile could no where be found. At last some one happened to go into a hayloft, and there young Newton was discovered, abstracted in a mathematical problem, which he was working on the wall. This accident determined his friends that he was fit for something higher than sowing and reaping, and accordingly, a: the suggestion of a maternal uncle, who was a clergymarı in the vicinity, he was sent to Trinity Col. lege, Cambridge, in his eighteenth year.
Newton was now in his proper sphere, and the rapidity with which he developed the extraordinary powers of his mind, far exceeded the most sanguine expectations of his friends. From Euclid, whom ne comprehended with ease, but did not minutely analyze, he was impelled by the fashion of the day to investigate the pages of Des Cartes, and then tudied Kepler’s Optics, and Dr. Wallis's Arithmetica Infinitorum. Upon this latter work it has been conjectured that he already began to found the • New Method of Infinite Series and Fluxions, which originally appeared in Latin, but subsequently became better known by the translation of Mr. Colson, published in 1736. Taking up his degree of B. A. in 1664, he turned his thoughts to the improvement of telescopes. From the experiments which he was henceforward induced to make for this purpose, resulted his “New Theory of Light and Colours,' in which he proved that light was not, as Des Cartes supposed, homogeneous, but heterogeneous, being created by a union of rays differently refrangible. · He was still immersed in this subject, and the telescope, when the plague broke out, and compelled him to take refuge in the country, where he spent two years removed from all congenial associations, and severely devoted to his books. But it was comparatively of little moment where Newton happened to be placed, for his mind was always on the alert for discoveries. In this rustic retreat, an event, simple and fortuitous as it is possible to conceive, prompted him into a speculation upon which he founded the great law of gravitation, and established his theory of the universe. Sitting one day by himself in a garden, he saw an apple fall from a tree, and by this trivial circumstance was led to suppose, that as the power with which this and all bodies fall is uniform, and not sensibly diminished at the farthest distance from the centre of the earth to which we can rise, so it must be reasonable to conclude that the principle governed all matter. As an apple falls from a tree, thought the philosopher, so might it fall from the moon. Pursuing this line of observation, and comparing the periods of the various planets with their distances from the sun, he ascertained that if any power like gravity retained them in their courses, the strength of that power must decrease in a duplicate proportion to the distance of its action. Such, in the issue, was the foundation of his celebrated theory; but at the beginning he was not satisfied with his experiments, and for an interval laid aside the idea.
Returning to Cambridge, in 1667, he proceeded M. A. and soon after had his attention somewhat diverted from all his late enquiries by the friendly care of Dr. Barrow, who, in resigning the University Professorship of Mathematics during the year 1669, appointed Newton to be his successor. And here it may not prove uninteresting to observe that the intimacy between these two distinguished men commenced, as if by a sympathy of genius, almost at the first monient of Newton's entrance at Cambridge, and continued close and propitious as long as they were permitted to enjoy a common sphere of existence. After a little hesitation, Newton made his discoveries in Optics the subject of a course of lectures, during which he brought his doctrine of light and colours to a state so perfectly satisfactory, that he communicated
it to the Royal Society, of whiclı body he had for some time been a member. It was accordingly inserted in the volume of their Transactions which appeared in the month of February, 1672, but gave rise to a controversy so violent and so painful to the inventor, that he suppressed the publication of his lectures, which were at that very time in the press; abandoned the completion of his Infinite Series; and drew back his ambition to the construction of an improved telescope. There remains, however, a distinct publication to be mentioned, which he gave the world during the course of the same year. It was entitled • Bernardi Varenii, Geographia Generalis, in qua affectiones generales Telluris explicantur, aucta et illustrata ab I. Newton—The General Geography of Bernard Varenius, in which the general affections of the Earth are explained, augmented, and illustrated by I. Newton.'
By this time Newton was engaged in an extensive correspondence with the best philosophical scholars of the age, both at home and abroad, amongst whom Leibnitz, perhaps, held the first rank. To him he was induced to communicate his invention of the Infinite Series, a civility which was most ungratefully returned. After making several observations respecting a Comet which appeared in 1680, he occupied himself in drawing up several propositions respecting the motion and orbit of the moon : these were afterwards embodied in the Philosophical Transactions for 1683. He now devoted himself exclusively to the composition of his Principles, which were sent from the press in 1687, under the title of Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica -The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. This was indeed a work mighty and profound, but one, at first, neither well received nor understood. It was an abstruse labour, requiring the deepest' study from the most scientific, and even now that it has been ably explained and in a manner amply paraphrased, is far from intelligible to ordinary understandings. The argumentation is by no means perspicuous and consecutive, the scholar is aided by nothing like that simple order which so much delights in Euclid; the Principia are not arranged according to the logical preciseness of definition, theorem, and corollary, but are to be comprehended and mastered by study, deep and long, patient comparison, and original application. To possess himself fully of the genius of Newton is an enterprise for which a man must bring
with him no mean talent of his own. Of the opinions which were provoked by such a mass of profound thought and immense penetration, one anecdote may supply an idea :—the Marquis de l'Hopital, himself a clever mathematician, is said, in speaking of the work, to have asked an Englishman~ Does Monsieur Newton eat, drink, and sleep, like other mortals ? To me he appears a celestial genius, entirely disengaged from matter.'
During the course of the same year, Newton availed himself of another source of popularity, by taking a forward part in the proceedings through which the University of Cambridge resisted the mandamus by which James the II. endeavoured to procure a degree of M. A. for the Benedictine Father Francis. He was soon after returned to the House of Commons for the University, and retained his seat until the Convention Parliament was dissolved. In 1696 he was patronised by Montague, afterwards Earl of Halifax, who procured for him the appointment of Warden in the Mint, of which establishment he rose to be Master in the course of three years. Upon first undertaking this new avocation he resigned his Professorship of Mathematics, in favour of the eccentric Whiston, and established himself in a house in Leicesterstreet, Leicester Fields, where the emoluments of his office, which amounted to 12001. a year, enabled him to live with ease and dignity. In 1702 he was elected President of the Royal Society, and during the course of the following year published his • Optics, a Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions, and Colours of Light.' This was his favourite work; he had allotted the occasional labours of no less than thirty years to verify the experiments upon which it was founded, and it was fully entitled to all the honours of his partiality : for in this science it has been justly remarked that he stands solitary and pre-eminent. In his · Fluxions,' which formed a compendium to the Treatise on Optics, and also in the principle of gravity by which he resolved the solar system, hints were borrowed, and facts adopted from others; but in dissecting the particles which compose a ray of light; in showing that they admitted of no farther distinction, and in discovering the peculiar refrangibility into which the particles thus separated diverged; he revealed all the mysteries in the science of light, and completed all the knowledge to be attained of its beauties. It is here observable that
Leibnitz, presuming on the modesty of Newton's disposition, and his known aversion to literary disputes, had the boldness to put in a claim for the merit of being the original inventor of the • Fluxions' just mentioned: but the usurpation was speedily resented, and now constitutes a most disgusting proof of ingratitude and illiberality. In deciding these rival pretensions, Fontenelle paid an elegant compliment to our countryman, “If," said he, • Newton was the first to make the discovery, and Leibnitz the first to publish it, the German only resembled Prometheus, who stole fire from heaven to communicate it to mortals.'
The profound labours by which Newton earned his fame have here been faintiy recapitulated, and the honours with which it was crowned are now to be noticed. Queen Anne distinguished him by particular notice, and gave him his knighthood in 1705 During the following reign favours more gracious awaited him for Caroline, Princess of Wales, having a taste for philosophica. pursuits, frequently courted his society, and used to make a boast of being born in the same age with him. It was to this princess that he communicated the manuscript of a chronological work, which he had composed for his private satisfaction, but did not intend to publish. Her Royal Highness, however, thinking highly of the performance, and being anxious to extend his reputation, permitted a copy to be taken, which was soon after surreptitiously printed in Paris, with the name of another author. The man who perpetrated this daring piracy was the Abbe Conti, and he had the confidence to justify his conduct, by pretending that some alterations which he introduced materially improved the volume. A literary dispute was excited by the circumstance, which raged with some passion, and though it greatly mortified Newton, established his right to the work.
From the time of his appointment in the Mint, Newton devoted himself so assiduously to the duties of his office, that philosophy became almost a secondary object with him. Fortunately, however, for the world, he seems to have fully developed every discovery that occurred to his penetrating imagination. His manner of living was regular, temperate, and frugal to a nicety; he enjoyed a capital state of health up to the period of his eightieth year, but at that date a urinal suppression began to