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had been refused to him by Bishop Stillingfeet, in consequence of his being an infidel, which he was at no pains to conceal. This, as appears on the authority of Dr. Maskelyne, was well known to Sir Isaac Newton, who, however, we are told, never permitted immorality and impiety to pass unreproved;' and when Halley ventured to throw out any thing disrespectful to religion, invariably checked him, saying, I have studied these things you have not.'*
Halley, however, had no desire to break with Flamsteed, who now stood so high in the opinion of the learned of his day; but it soon appeared that a quarrel between them was unavoidable.•Last time I saw him, says Flamsteed, (Letter 68,) many words passed betwixt us; he complained of my unkindness highly, and asked loudly what he must do to gain my friendship; I answered roundly, he must become a just, serious, and virtuous man, and then I should be his friend immediately. In another letter (No. 99) Flamsteed says, “I have many proofs by me of his (Halley's) falsehood and lies, but I would not be the man that would tell the world that so good a mathematician, my countryman and acquaintance, was so ill a man; and if he force me not to it, I shall be the last that shall publish his faults.
Meantime Flamsteed's opinion of Halley, freely, as above stated, communicated to Newton, occasioned no interruption to their correspondence,-witness a series of letters from October, 1694, to September, 1695, (No. 16 to No. 34 inclusive,) in which Flamsteed explains the progress he had made in his Catalogue, and particularly in his observations on the moon's motions, with the view of assisting Newton in the lunar theory: they contain also long and friendly discussions on the difficult question of refraction, so important in all astronomical observations, in aid of which correct tables were required ;--and in February, 1694, Newton paid Flamsteed a visit at the Obser
1694, Saturday, September 1st. Mr. Newton came to visit me. Esteeming him an obliged friend, I showed him about one hundred and fifty places of the moon, derived from my observations and tables by myself and servants hired at my own expense; with the differences or errors, in three synopses written on large sheets of paper, in order to correct the theory of her motions. On his earnest request I lent them to him, and allowed him to take copies of them (as I did not doubt but that by their help he would be able to correct the lunar theory), upon these two conditions however: 1°. That he should not impart or communicate them to any body without my consent; for the places of the moon deduced from the observations (I told him) were
* Brewster's Life of Sir Isaac Newton, p. 339. VOL. LV. Xo, cix.
got with the help of a small catalogue of fixed stars made from observations taken with the sextant only, and rectified to the beginning of the year 1686 ; whereby I found their places were not so correct as they ought to be; and that when the stars were rectified by the new instrument, I would calculate the moon's places anew, and then should be ready to impart them both to him and to the public. 2o. That he should not in the first manner impart the result of what he derived from them to anybody but myself; for, since I saved him all the labour of calculating the moon's place both from the observations and tables, it was not just that he should give the result of my pains (the correction of the theory I had furnished with numbers) to any other but myself. All this he approved ; and by a letter of his confessed. Nevertheless he imparted what he derived from them, both to Dr. Gregory and Mr. Halley, contra datam fidem. The first of these conditions I was not much concerned whether he kept or not; but he has, I believe, kept it. The latter (which was the most material) he has forgot or broke; through the insinuation, I fear, of some persons that were little his friends till they saw what friends he had in the Government; and I presume will be less so, when they see them laid aside.'-- Autobiography, pp. 61, 62.
The correspondence still continued, Flamsteed complaining continually of head-aches which incapacitated him for exertion --and that Newton, though well informed of his illness, ceased not to importune him for more observations. Newton had a high opinion of Flamsteed, on whom, indeed, he relied for the completion of the lunar theory. This opinion is strongly expressed in his letter (No. 26), of which the following is an extract:
• As for your observations, you know I cannot communicate them to any body, and much less publish them, without your consent. But if I should perfect the moon's theory, and you should think fit to give me leave to publish your observations with it, you may rest assured that I should make a faithful and honourable acknowledgment of their author, with a just character of their exactness above any others yet extant. In the former edition of my book, you may remember that you communicated some things to me, and I hope the acknowledgments I made of your communications were to your satisfaction; and you may be assured I shall not be less just to you for the future. For all the world knows that I make no observations myself, and therefore I must of necessity acknowledge their author; and if I do not make a handsome acknowledgment, they will reckon me an ungrateful clown.'—pp. 151, 152.
Newton continues very urgent with Flamsteed for more observations on the moon; the illness of the latter continues also and at length he receives from Sir Isaac on the 9th of July, 1695, a very flippant and saucy letter (No. 31), on the back of which, among several notations by Flamsteed, is the following:- 1
was ill all this summer, and could not furnish him as I had done formerly. He mistook my illness for design, and wrote this hasty, artificial, unkind, arrogant letter; answered it July 13, and sent him the lunar observations,'&c.
We are now approaching the most distressing part of the narrative, In the spring of 1696 Newton was made Warden, and soon after Master of the Mint. About this time Dr. Wallis, having understood that Flamsteed had written a paper ‘on the parallax of the earth's annual orb,' requested a copy of it for insertion in a volume of his mathematical tracts; Flamsteed readily complied ; and in this paper there happened to be a paragraph alluding to his having furnished Newton with one hundred and tifty computed places of the moon, Newton, on being told this, through the officiousness of Dr. Gregory, was exceedingly indignant, and addressed to Flamsteed the following extraordinary letter:
• Sir,-Upon hearing occasionally that you had sent a letter to Dr. Wallis about the parallax of the fixed stars to be printed, and that you had mentioned therein with respect to the theory of the moon, I was concerned to be publicly brought upon the stage about what, perhaps, will never be fitted for the public, and thereby the world put into an expectation of what, perhaps, they are never like to have. I do not love to be printed upon every occasion, much less to be dunned and teased by foreigners about mathematical things, or to be thought by our own people to be trifting away my time about them, when I should be about the King's business. And, therefore, I desired Dr. Gregory to write to Dr. Wallis against printing that clause which related to that theory, and mentioned me about it. You may let the world know, if you please, how well you are stored with observations of all sorts, and what calculations you have made towards rectifying the theories of the heavenly motions. But there may be cases wherein your friends should not be published without their leave; and therefore I hope you will so order the matter that I may not, on this occasion, be brought upon the stage. I am your humble servant,
•Is. Newton.'—p. 166. The occasion certainly did not justify this epistle, so unworthy of the transcendent genius, and so unlike to the usual suavity, of Newton. He had, no doubt, been instigated by his two satellites, Halley and Gregory, in the hope probably of being the means to dissolve the friendship which still existed between him and Flamsteed; but still one cannot well understand how Newton could have been induced to take fire at such a paragraph, obviously written without the slightest intention to give offence; more especially as both Gregory and Halley had all along been fully acquainted with the assistance derived from Flamsteed, and Newton bimself made no kind of secret of it; as is expressed in a note of Flam steed's, "'Tis as impossible for Mr. Newton to hide what he has received from the Observatory, as to cover St. Paul's with a Scotch bonnet.'
Sir David Brewster, by the way, in his · Life of Newton,' makes Flamsteed to be the writer of this extraordinary letter, and not only so, but also makes Flamsteed criticise it though his own, and concludes with an opinion, that it is quite • characteristic of Flamsteed's manner.' When Sir David penned this he must have been little acquainted with • Flamsteed's manner, nor was he more so with Flamsteed's feelings and conduct, when he accused him of receiving Sir Isaac Newton's requests as if they were idle intrusions, in which the interests of science were but slightly considered.' Mr. Baily's volume will no doubt induce this eminent writer to expunge the rash page in which he has thus sported with the memory of a great and good man.*
We may here step a little out of the narrative to observe not only how very little the merits of Flamsteed, the coadjutor of Newton, have been made known, but that the little which has been published is chiefly confined to · Biographical Dictionaries,' and his character grossly misrepresented therein.t Roger North, in his · Life of the Lord Keeper,' says, that a good benefice falling void, not far from the Observatory, in the gift of the Great Seal, his lordship gave it to Mr. Flamsteed, which set him at ease in his fortunes. .... But plenty and pains seldom dwell together; for, as one enters, the other gives way; and, in this instance, a good living, pensions, &c., spoiled a good cosmographer and astronomer; for very little is left of Mr. Flamsteed's sedulous and judicious applications that way. If Roger North had uttered this sentence after the publication we are reviewing, we should have said he was guilty of a gross falsehood, which would equally apply if he knew, when he wrote it, that the living of Burstow in Surrey, was given to Flamsteed in 1684, ten years prior to his long correspondence with Newton. Had he
* Brewster's Life of Newton, p. 243. We have heard, and would willingly believe, that it is the author's intention to expand this interesting work, and give it a form worthy of more permanent estimation than can be aspired to by a contribution to a popular miscellany such as the Family Library.'
† It is of the least possible importance what the French say of any Englishman of eminence. The following may serve as specimens of pure invention :- Les disputes de Flamsteed avec M. Newton, qui avoit trowé plusieurs de ses Observations peu justes, ayant élé portées devant l'Académie des Sciences de Paris, cette savante société jugea en favcur de M. Newton, et ce jugement arrêta la suite de l'impression de l'ouvrage !!'Dictionnaire de Moreri. Art. Flamsteed. In another French dictionary, La Biographie Universelle, is the following passage, equally false with the preceding. After stating that the public were urgent for Flamsteed's Observations, is added, On en désirait vivement la publication; mais dans le caractère de Flansteed, ce désir était une raison pour qu'il ne fît pas ce qu'on attendait de lui. Le gouvernement d'Angleterre fut obligé d'user d'autorité; et chargea Halley de suppléer à ce que l'auteur ne voulait pas faire.'
courted an idle life, he would have made Burstow his place of retirement, whereas it is a remarkable fact that, throughout the whole of the thirty-six years during which he held that living, we find him there only for a month or two in four different years, and five letters only dated from thence are scattered among the 150, or more, written at the Observatory.
But to return to our narrative. On the receipt of Newton's letter, Flamsteed wrote to Dr. Wallis to desire him 'to alter the offensive innocent paragraph,' and at the same time replied as follows to Sir Isaac :
*I did not think I could have disobliged you, by letting the world know that the King's Observatory had furnished you with 150 places of the moon, derived from observations here made, and compared with tables, in order to correct her theory: since (not to seem to boast) I said nothing of what more it has furnished you freely with. .... I thought not it could be any diminution to you, since you pretend not to be an observer yourself. I thought it might give some people a better notion of what was doing here, than had been impressed upon them by others, whom God forgive. .... I wonder that hints should drop from your pen, as if you looked on my business as trifling; you thought it not so, surely, when you resided at Cambridge: its property is not altered : I think it has produced something considerable already, and may do more, if I can but procure help to work up the observations I have under my hands, which it was one of the designs of my Letter to Dr. Wallis to move for. I doubt not but it will be of some use to our ingenious travellers and sailors; and other persons that come after me will think their time as little misspent in these studies, as those did that have gone before me. The works of the Eternal Providence I hope will be a little better understood, through your labours and mine, than they were formerly. Think me not proud for this expression; I look on pride as the worst of sins : humility as the greatest virtue. This makes me excuse small faults in all mankind, bear great injuries without resentment, and resolve to maintain a real friendship with ingenious men: to assist them what lies in my power, without the regard of any interest, but that of doing good by obliging them.'p. 169.
After this, as appears from a letter dated May, 1700, he had met Newton several times, at the last of which Sir Isaac admitted fairly that he had employed no observed places of the comets, por of the moon, but what Flamsteed had given him; but, an allusion being made to the printing of the latter's book of tables, Flamsteed says,
• At this he started, and asked me, “What tables ?” and “if I would publish any for the moon?” My answer was, that she was in his hands, and if he would finish her, I would lend him my assistance; if not, I would fall upon her myself when I had leisure, and I doubted not of good success; but that the tables I intended were such as I