« НазадПродовжити »
to take that the fire pound piries of
Mint Office May
Fac simile go Autograph g SIR ISAAC NEWTON, A Copy of a letter in the possession of M? JOS: NEWTON.
falling into the error of appending that date, instead of 1700, to the official instruction. Evidently the Master passed his finger over the two figures, 1 and 6, ere the ink with which they were written was dry.
Perhaps Monsieur Chasles may be enabled to institute a comparison between the document now transcribed and those which were said to have been written by the same hand to Pascal ?*
It may not be improper to state that the order itself refers to a process of imprinting letters on the edges of coins, which first came into use in the time of the Commonwealth. The impression was given by passing the coin between two plates, one of which was fixed, and the other moveable, by means of a pinion and rack. The half of the legend was engraved on each of these plates, so that when the coin was carried by the moveable plate to the end of the fixed one, it became lettered as desired. The machine used in Newton's time was of this description, and had been invented by a Frenchman, Mons. Caistang.
Newton, who was born on the 25th of December, 1642 (0.S.), at Colsterworth, in Lincolnshire, lived in the reigns of six monarchs and of one Lord Protector. He held the office of Master of the Mint from 1699 to 1727, and therefore under four sovereigns, viz. : William III., Anne, George I., and George II. This statement is sufficient to demonstrate that the posts of Warden, and Master of the Mint, successively held by Newton, were no sinecures. On the accession of each monarch it became necessary to produce new coins of every denomination, and bearing his or her royal image and superscription. Those only who are intimately acquainted with the process of dieengraving, and minting generally, are cognizant of the anxiety and mental and physical labour involved in such changes. They add much to the cares of the responsible officers of the Mint, and demand extreme attention to minute details and minor points of manipulation on the part of subordinates, which is not required when such alterations are completed. For every reason, let us hope that a very long period may
* The French Academy of Sciences is now fully convinced, and freely admits that the Pascal and Newton letters are forgeries, whilst Sir David Brewster has furnished very strong evidence as to the perpetrator of them. From that evidence it seems clear tbat M. Pierre Desmaizeaux, who resided in England between the years 1692 and 1745, the year of his deatlı, was the author of the whole of the fictitious correspondence. It is known that at Desmaizeaux's death, 120 letters, said to be those of Newton, and 88 letters and notes of Leibnitz, were in the house in which he died. It is highly probable, says Sir David, that Desmaizeaux "spent the last five years of his life in the difficult work of composing the Pascal and Newton correspondence.” His family subsequently obtained £500 for the MSS. VOL. XII. —NO. V.