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of the home farm on his father's small estate. His incompetency for this kind of work, however, was soon apparent, and he was sent back to school to fulfil the destiny marked out for him. Admitted as a sizar to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1661, he became a Junior Fellow in 1667, and M.A. in 1668. In the following year he succeeded Dr. Baum in the Mathematical professorship. In 1672 he was admitted a Fellow of the Royal Society, and communicated to it his new theory of Light, which revolutionized the science of Optics. He was several times returned to Parliament as a member for the University which his genius adorned. In 1695 his great services were recognized by Government, who made him Warden of the Mint, and in 1703 by his scientific brethren, who elected him President of the Royal Society. In 1705 Queen Anne bestowed upon him the honour of knighthood. He lived into the last year of the reign of George I., dying on the 20th of March, 1727, scarcely three months before the King, at the venerable age of 84.

To the reign of Charles II. belong his two great discoveries, that of a new theory of Light, and that of the law of Gravitation ; but it was not until 1687 that he published the “ Philosophiæ Naturales Principia Mathematica,” in which he revealed the secret of the power that binds together the several parts of the universe. The results of his minute optical investigations were embodied in his elaborate treatise, published in 1704, “Optics : or, a Treatise of the Refractions, Inflections, and Colours of Light.” He was the author also of several profound mathematical works, and to his close study of the Hebrew prophets we owe his “Observations upon the Prophecies of Holy Writ, particularly the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John." His “ Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture” (1 John v. 7 and 1 Tim. iii. 16) testifies to the vigour and persistency of his Scriptural studies.

Newton made two important contributions to Chemistry, which constitute, as it were, the foundation-stones of its two great divisions. The first was pointing out a method of graduating thermometers, so that comparisons with each other might be possible in whatever part of the world observations with them were made. The second was by indicating the nature of chemical affinity, and showing that it consisted in an attraction by which the constituents of bodies were drawn towards each other and united; “ thus destroying the previous hypothesis of the hooks, and points, and rings, and wedges, by means of which the different constituents of bodies were conceived to be kept together.”

The last name we shall mention in our hasty retrospect is that of Sir Thomas Browne, the Norwich physician author of the “Religio Medici” (Religion of a Physician) 1642; “Pseudodoxia Epidemica ” (Epidemic False Doctrines), or“Inquiries into Vulgar and Common Errors," 1646; and “Hydriotaphia, or Urn Burial; a Discourse on the Symbolical Urns lately found in Norfolk,” 1658,to which is appended “The Garden of Cyrus; or, The Quincuncial Lozenge, or Network Plantations of the Ancients, artificially, naturally, and mystically considered." Browne, who obtained his doctor's degree at Leyden, settled as a medical practitioner at Norwich, and lived there a life of quiet usefulness and learned retirement. He was knighted in the reign of Charles II.

Few of our writers have more successfully embodied grave and earnest thought in language of singular richness and dignity. On all his works he impresses the seal of his own individuality, and we are thus brought acquainted with a fine nature and an inquiring intellect, which invariably aims at lofty objects, though sometimes led astray by a weakness for fanciful speculation. Coleridge happily describes him as “rich in various knowledge, exuberant in conceptions and conceits; contemplative, imaginative, often truly great and magnificent in his style and diction, though doubtless, too often big, stiff, and hyper-Latinistic. He is a quiet and sublime enthusiast, with a strong tinge of the fantast: the humorist constantly mingling with, and flashing across, the philosopher, as the darting colours in shot-silk play upon the main dye.” He belongs to the older school of writers, who had always something to say, and each of whom said it in his own manner-original, independent, self-reliant. He spake out of his fulness, and all his utterances were worth listening to because they were the utterances of a ripe and excellent genius, fed by observation, reflection, and study.

His characteristics are best appreciated from a careful study of the “ Religio Medici,” which has a remarkable psychological interest in the frankness of its self-revelations; but his other works also abound in evidence of the fulness and forcibleness of his intellectual gifts. They are sufficiently accessible, now-a-days, to any reader; but we cannot deny ourselves the pleasure of closing this chapter with a few quotations which shall illustrate the majestic beauty of his diction and the elevation of his thoughts.

As a commentary on the old text, Vanitas Vanitatum, VOL. II.



the following passage, with its subdued pathos and stately eloquence, is admirably impressive :

“Darkness and light divide the course of time, and oblivion shares with memory a great part even of our living beings; we slightly remember our felicities, and the smartest strokes of affliction have but short smart upon us. Sense endureth no extremities, and sorrows destroy us or themselves. To creep into stones are fables. Afflictions induce callosities; miseries are slippery, or fall like snow upon upon us, which, notwithstanding, is no unhappy stupidity. To be ignorant of evils to come, and forgetful of evils past, is a merciful provision in nature whereby we digest the mixture of our few and evil days; and our delivered senses not relapsing into cutting remembrances, our sorrows are not kept raw by the edge of repetitions. A great part of antiquity contented their hopes of subsisting with a transmigration of their souls—a good way to continue their memories, while, having the advantage of plural successions, they could not but act something remarkable in such variety of beings; and, enjoying the fame of their passed selves, make accumulation of glories unto their last durations. Others, rather than be lost in the uncomfortable night of nothing, were content to recede into the common being, and make one particle of the public soul of all things, which was no more than to return into their unknown and divine original again. Egyptian ingenuity was more unsatisfied, contriving their bodies in sweet consistencies to attend the return of their souls. But all was vanity, feeding the wind ; and folly. The Egyptian mummies which Cambyses or time hath spared, avarice now consumeth. Memory is become merchandise; Myzraim cures wounds, and Pharaoh is sold for balsams.”


A beautiful thought upon Light:

“Light, that makes things seen, makes some things invisible. Were it not for darkness, and the shadow of the earth, the noblest part of creation had remained unseen, and the stars of heaven as invisible as on the fourth day, when they were created above the horizon with the sun, and there was not an eye to behold them.

The greatest mystery of religion is expressed by adum. bration, and in the noblest part of Jewish types we find the cherubim shadowing the mercy-seat. Life itself is but the shadow of death, and souls departed but the shadows of the living. All things fall under this name. The sun itself is but the dark Simulacrum; and life but the shadow of God.”

Art and Nature “Nature is not at variance with art, nor Art with Nature —they being both the servants of His providence. Art is the perfection of Nature. Were the world now as it was the sixth day, there were yet a chaos. Nature hath made one world and Art another. In belief, all things are artificial, for Nature is the Art of God.”

Study of Nature :

“The world was made to be inhabited by beasts, but studied and contemplated by man; it is the debt of our reason we owe unto God, and the homage we pay for not being beasts; without this, the world is still as though it had not been, or as it was before the sixth day, when as yet there was not a creature that could conceive or say there was a world. The wisdom of God receives small honour from those vulgar heads that rudely stare about, and with a gross rusticity admire His works ; those highly magnify Him whose judicious inquiry into His acts,


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