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in the school for some time, as usher, residing much at home, and being at he was, by his) brother's interest, re- church moved to Queen's College, Cambridge, Parcus cultor deorum et infrequens. where he entered as a sizer.
His retirement, however, was deFew persons ever came better pre- voted to scientific, theological, or litepared to the university, or with talents rary labours, calculated to augment his more likely to make a conspicuous high character, and eventually benefit figure. Besides his natural assiduity the world. and most excellent faculties, he had At Cambridge, Mr. Milner became the advantage of having been assisted acquainted with that patron of opby a person, that had gone through the pressed humanity, William Wilberuniversity before him, and that person force, esq. This gentleman, though he also a brother; likely, therefore, to be had, from his earliest years the ada more sedulous instructor than any vantage of a strict education (he had other person.
been one of the first scholars of Mr. · While an usher at Hull, Isaac Milner Joseph M.) yet his devotional sentihad made a considerable progress in ments received confirmation from the classical attainments. His mathema. clear reasonings and able deductions of tical knowledge shone with extraordi. Mr. Isaac. Soon after the commencenary lustre, where, on the occurrence ment of this acquaintance, the parties, of any difficulty in algebra or decimals, in company with Mr. Pitt, went on a &c. Joseph would send to him for an continental tour; but they had not explanation; which, though the elder proceeded far, before some political brother could make out himself, yet the changes in this country called them readiness of Isaac saved him the time back. A friendship, however, was then and trouble. In algebra, therefore, and cemented between them, which was not Euclid, he possessed, even before he likely soon to be dissolved. went to the university, a senior optime's Soon after Mr. Milner's return from knowledge. Another collateral cause the continent, which was in 1789, he of his success was the circumstance of was chosen President of the College, to his spending the vacations at his bro- which as a student, he had done so ther's school, in his original employ- much credit. Previous to his election, ment of usher. By these means, he was this venerable asylum of Erasmus had enabled to add considerably, every year, greatly decreased in reputation, but it to his earlier, and to his Cainbridge began then to re-assume its ancient acquirements. All the time of his being consequence, by the repletion of its an under-graduate was spent in inde- numbers, &c. It was always the Prefatigable study. Confident in his abili. sident's wish that Queen's should not ties, he had fixed his eye upon the first be behind any college, in the means of honours of the place, and he had good instruction; he, therefore, introduced sense, perseverance, and a fund of intel- men of the best abilities from the other lectual ability sufficient to ensure their colleges among the fellows, who ever attainment. In 1774, he became senior found in him a steady friend and patron. wrangler, with the honourable distinc- The interior management of the coltion of incomparabilis, and gained also lege was also much improved, by the the first mathematical prize.
correction of many abuses sanctioned This struggle for academical distinc- by long prescription. Ad deterius is tion, though crowned with success, was the tendency of every institution, unless not attended with that charm, which is this salutary interference of authority necessary to render even success plea- occasionally takes place. Few, however, sant. Intense study had secretly laid like Milner, had fortitude enough to the foundation of a nervous disorder, support the obloquy which innovation, which occasionally oppressed him. The however laudable, is apt to produce. equal distribution of calm contentment At the time he was under-graduate, it seems not less true than philosophical; was the custom for sizers to wait on the and, perhaps, the painless days and un- fellows, to dine after they had done, broken slumbers of the peasant may and submit to other degrading circumform a counterpoise to the most splendid stances. These servile distinctions, with rewards of science and literature.
a recollection how repugnant they had This valetudinarian state of Mr. been to his former feelings, Mr. Milner Milner's health may account for some also abolished. peculiarities of his conduct;, such as. A short time after he became pre
sident of Qucen's, he took out his doc- the genuine stamp of genius, they protor's degree, and was presented, through cured him a very high reputation, and the interest of Mr. Wilberforce, with a fellowship in the Royal Society. They the deanery of Carlisle. It was his consist of communications to that recustom to visit this place regularly spectable body; the first is dated 16th every year, for a few months. Hull,. February, 1778, concerning the combefore the decease of his brother (formunication of motion, by impact and whom he entertained the most profound gravity. Another paper treats of the regard, though called, on account of limits of algebraical equations, and his methodistical tenets, his strange contains a general demonstration of brother,) was the favourite place of his Des Cartes' rule for finding the number residence. His lodgings were a com- of affirmative and negative roots: this plete work-shop, filled with various is dated February 26th. In the followkinds of chymical, carpenter's, smith's ing June, we find another communicaand turner's implements. He was ac- tion on the precession of the equinoxes. customed here to relax his mind from Dr. Milner frequently turned his the fatigues of study, by manual labour researches towards chemistry, and His lathe and appendages for turning, found therein a proper scene for the which were extremely curious, cost him adventurous expansion of his vast one hundred and forty guineas. He talents. The French are generally had also a very singular machine, thought to have availed themselves of partly of his own invention, which his discovery concerning the composiformed and polished at the same time, tion of nitre, so as to provide, without with the utmost possible exactness, foreign assistance, the vast consumpwatch-weels of every description: tion of that article, requisite in the
A celebrated moralist of the present manufacture of gunpowder. day maintains, that manual labour be- On the death of Dr. Waring, Dr. comes one great source of mental solace Milner, in 1798, was made Lucasian and felicity. It is evident that we professor of mathematics, to which is cannot bear, without injury, for any annexed a salary of 1001. a year. Thus long time, intense and uninterrupted we see, with no other advantages, but thought; it is equally clear, that, when those of ability, prudence and merit, a the mind, without any object of pur- person rising from an obscure rank in suit, is left to its own spontaneous sensi. life, and with all his other honorary bilities, it turns either to the future or distinctions, filling the chair of the the past; and, as our animal spirits are immortal Newton. Desert, crowned melancholy or gay, so is the prospect with success, must, to every generous before us. The state of sensibility, mind, afford a high degree of satisfac. exercising the mind, not according to tion; while it holds out encouragement the real existence of things, but from to that innate presentiment of genius their accidental impression is seldom which otherwise might lie dormant and long lived ; and, besides, it can yield stagnate in indigence and obscurity. little relief to a mind wearied with Although the earlier portion of Dr. deep thinking. Something is wanted Milner's life had been employed in for this purpose, which shall gently laborious and humble occupations, yet, exercise our faculties, on some corpo- untinctured with former habits, his real movement. Manual labour, re- manners and sentiments eminently disquiring dexterity enough to abstract played the refined taste of the scholar the mind from its trammels by its agi- and the gentleman; so, that the very tation of the whole frame, seems most disadvantages, under which he once likely to answer this end. Let it not, laboured, only the more enhance our therefore, be a matter of surprise, that admiration of his surprising abilities a man, of enlarged understanding, as and attainments. in the present instance, should stoop
Urit enim fulgore suo. for amusement, to the drudgery of On all points of enquiry connected mechanical employment. It is not with mechanical ingenuity, Mr. Isaac enough to call Uncle Toby's whims was an easy and satisfactory authority. inoffensive; they were really useful, Mr. Wallis. gunsmith, of Hull, had and our hobbies, whatever they may taken considerable pains to collect a' be, if founded in nature, are indis museum, into which he had introduced pensable to our tranquillity.
every prominent article and subject of The literary productions of Dr. Mil- mechanism. interesting from its novelty, ner are, alas! but few ; but, as they bear from the utility of its plan, or the va
rious nature of its composition. Mr. Mr. Isaac Milner, who was present, deBreslaw's collection was esteemed the veloped and copied the whole, in a few best and most valuable of the kind ever minutes, with so much perspicuity and seen in this, or perhaps in any other exactness, as to astonish even the ipgecountry. Once at Hull, in the exhibi- nious author of those performances. A tion of his deceptions, he had challenged bare inspection would suffice with Mr. all the company to explain or imitate Isaac to point out, or determine with some of his masterly maneuvres, when exactness, their merits and demerits.
THE BRITISH MUSEUM. Consisting of Original Papers, Letters, and curious MSS. in that National
LETTER from M. NICOLE, to the Secre- essential. If he does not restore these
tary of the Royal Society, concerning effects willingly, his royal highness of a Medal of SIR ISAAC NEWTON. Lorraine, Great Duke of Tuscany, will, (Translated from the French.)
upon being ask'd, oblige him to return
them. SIR, THE celebrated M. St. Urbain being
Moreover, if it be desired to have dead some time, there was found
further information of my capacity, 'tis among his eifeets the square die, on
but applying to people of judgement in which is engraved the portrait of the
this country and relying on their deci. illustrious sir Isaac Newton. Though
I should be highly pleased to be emthis piece was begun about eight years
ployed in transmitting to posterity, the since, yet it is far from being brought to perfection. Proposals were often made
great actions of so celebrated a person as to me for doing the Reverse, which I
sir Isaac Newton, and to express my
zeal for the English nation. I am not refused, upon no other account, but that I knew that Messrs. St. Urbain would
led by interest, and shall be very flexible
on this head. I expect a word of annever reward me for it. · You know without doubt that the
swer, and am, &c. gentlemen of the Royal Society have,
NICOLE, Engraver at Nancy.
Bibl. Birch, 4435. since their first resolution, desired to have sir Isaac Newton's head on a bust, TWO LETTERS from SIR ISAAC NEWin the Roman manner, which has not TON to DR. BRIGGS, on Vision. been executed. Now, I am in a condi.
(From the Original.) tion to undertake such a work, and in SIR, order to convince you, be so good as to I have perused your very ingenious cast your eye on Dr. Freind's medal, Theory of Vision, in which (to be free which I made, though it bears the name with you as a friend should be) there of St. Urbain. I send you likewise the seems to be some things more solid reverse of a medal, which I am making and satisfactory, others more disputafor the Prince des Deux Ponts. Mon ble, but yet plausibly suggested, and sieur de St. Urbain had kept the design well deserving ye consideration of ye two years in his hands, and then it was ingenious. The more satisfactory I put into mine. The work is not yet take to be your assorting, yt we see finished, and consequently not perfect. with both eyes at once, yor speculation
If the honour be done me of entrust- about ye use of ye musculus obliquus ing me with the work in question, 'twill inferior, yor assigning every fibre in ye be necessary to send me a copy of the optick nerve of our eye to have its designs that were given to M. St. Ur- correspondent in yt of ye other, both bain, and which his son has taken with wch make all things appear to both him to Vienna ; and he might, by means eyes in one and ye same place, and of the ambassador of England, be com- yor solving hereby ye duplicity of ye pelled to return sir Isaac Newton's head object in distorted eyes and confuting in plaister, the medal, the two pun- ye childish opinion about ye splitting cheons, a print representing the monu. ye optick cone. This more disputable ment of this great man, another of the seems yor notion about every pair of seven planets (expressed) by children, fellow fibres being unisons to one anoand a third that represents the sphere ther, discords to ye rest, and this conof the heavens : all these pieces are sonance' making ye object seen with
two eyes appear but one for ye same And whether if those nerves were carereason that unison sounds seem but fully cut out of ye brain and outward one sound. I think to have sent you coat, and put into brine made as near what I fancy may be objected against as could be of the same specific gravity this notion, and so staid for time to with ye nerves, they would unbend, or write it down, but upon second thoughts exactly keep the same bent they had in I had rather reserve it for discourse at ye brain, may be worth considering; our next meeting, and therefore shall for though the strength of a single fibre add only my thanks for yor kind letter upon ye stretch be inconsiderably little, and present. Sir, I am,
yet altogether ought to have as much Your much obliged and strength to unbend ye nerve as would
Humble Servant, suffice by outward application of ye
Is. NEWTON. hand to bend a straight nerve of ye Trin. Coll. Cambridge, June 20,1682. same thickness, the dura mater being " For his honoured friend Dr.
taken off. Wm. Briggs, at his house in
Mr. Sheldrake further suggests wilSuffolk-street, London.”
lily,* that an object, whether the axis Bibl. Birch, 4237.
opticus be directed above it, under it, For his Hond. friend Dr. Wm. Briggs. or directly towards it, appears in all (From the Original.)
cases alike as to figure and colour, exSIR,
cepting that in ye 3d case 'tis distincter, Though I am of all men grown ye which proceeds not from ye frame of ye most shy setting pen to paper about any nerves, but from ye distinctness of ye thing that may lead into disputes, yet picture made in ye Retina in that case. yor friendship overcomes me so far as But in ye first case where ye vision is yt I shall set down my suspicions made by ye fibres above, and second about yor theory, yet on this condition, where 'tis made by those below, the that if I can write but plain enough to object appearing alike, he thinks it make you understand me, I may leave argues that the fibres above and below all to yor use without pressing it further are of ye same constitution and tension, on, for I design not to confute or con- or at least, if they be of a differing vince you, but only to present and sub- tension, that that tension has no effect mit my thoughts to yor consideration on ye mode of vision ; but I underand judgement.
stand you are already made acquainted First then, it seems not necessary with his thoughts. that the bending of ye nerves in ye Tha. It may be further considered that the lanus opticus should cause a differing cause of an object's appearing one to tension of ye fibres; for those wch have both eyes is not its appearing of ye same ye further way about, will be apt by colour, form and bigness to both, but in nature to grow the longer. If ye arm of ye same situation or place. Distort our a tree he grown bent, it follows not that eyes and you will see ye same coincident ye fibres on ye elbow are more stretcht images of the object divide from one than those on the concave side, but that another, and one of them remove from they are longer. And if a straight arm ve other upwards, downwards or sideof a tree be bent by force for some time, ways, to a greater or less distance, acthe fibres on ye elbow which were at cording as ve distortion is ; and when first on ye stretch will by degrees grow the eves are let return to their natural longer and longer, till at length the arm posture, the two images advance tostand of its self in the bended figure it wards one another till they become was at first by force put into, that is coincident, and by that coincidence till ye fibres on ye elbow be grown as appear but one. If we would then much longer than ye rest, as they go know why they appear but one, we must further about, and so have but the same inquire why they appear in one and ye degree of tension with them. The
same place; and if we would know the observation is ordinary
cause of that, we must enquire why in codling hedges, fruit trees nailed up other cases they appear in divers places against a wall, &c. And ye younger variously situate and distant one from and more tender a tree is, the sooner another: for that wch can make their will it stand bent. How much more distance greater or less can make it 'therefore ought it to be so in that most none at all. Consider what's the cause tender substance of ye optick nerves wch grew bent from ye very beginning ?
of their being in the same attitude, not, and consequently the union of when one is directly to the right hand, visibles as well as audibles, which deve other to ye left, and what of their pends on the agreement of situation, as being in ye same coast or point of ye well as of colour or tone, must have compas, when one is directly over the some other cause. other; these two causes joined will But to leave this imaginary dispumake them in ye same attitude and tant, let us now consider what may the coast at once, that is, in ye same place. cause of ye various situations of things The cause of situations is therefore to to ye eyes. If when we look but with be enquired into. Now for finding out one eye, it be asked why objects appear this ye analogy will stand between ye thus and thus situated one to another, situation of sounds and the situations the answer would be, because they are of visible things, if we will compare really so situated among themselves, these two senses. But the situation of and make their coloured pictures in sounds depend not on their tones. I ye retina so situated one to another as can judge from whence an echo or other they are ; and those pictures transmit sound comes, tho’ I see not ye sounding motional pictures into ye sensorium in body, and this judgment depends not ye same situation, and by ye situation at all on ye tone. I judge it not from of those motional pictures one to anoeast because acute, from west because ther, the soul judges of ye situation of grave; but be the tone what it will, I all things without. In like manner judge it from hence or thence by some when we look with two eyes distorted other principle. And by that principle so as to see ye same object double, if it I am apt to think a blind man may be asked why those objects appear in distinguish unisons one from another, this or that situation and distance one when ye one is on his right hand, ve from another, the answer should be, other on his left. And were our ears because through ye two eyes are transas good and accurate at distinguishing mitted into ye sensorium two motional ye coasts of audibles, as our eyes are pictures, by whose situation and disdistinguishing the coasts of visibles, I tance there from one another, the soul conceive we should judge no two sounds judges she sees two things so situate the same for being unisons, unless they and distant. And if this be true, then came so exactly from the, same coast as the reason why when the distortion not to vary from one another a sensible ceases and ye eyes return to their napoint in situation to any side. Sup- tural posture, the doubled object grows pose then you had to do with one of so a single one, is, that the two, motional accurate an ear in distinguishing ye pictures in ye sensorium come together situation of sounds, how would you and become coincident. deal with him? Would you tell him but you will say how is this coinci. that you heard all unisons as but one dence made? I answer, what if I know sound ? He would tell you he had not? Perhaps in ye sensorium, after a better ear then so. He accounted no some such way as the Cartesians would sounds ye same weh differed in situa- have believed, or by some other way. tion; and if your eyes were no better Perhaps by ye mixing of ye marrow at ye situation of things than your ears, of ve nerves in their juncture before you would perhaps think all objects the they enter the brain, the fibres on ye same weh were of ye same colour. But right side of each eye going to ye right for his part, he found yt ye like tension side of ye heail, those on ye left side to of strings and other sounding bodies ye left. If you mention the experidid not make sounds one, but only of ment of ye nerve shrunck all ye way ye same tone; and therefore not allow. on one side ye hearl, that might be ing the supposition that it does make either by some unkind juyce aboundthem one, the inference from thence ing more on one side of ye head than on that the like tension of ye optick fibres ye other, or by ye shrinking of the made ye objects to ye two eyes appeare coate of ye nerves, whose fibres and one he did not think himself obliged to vessels for nourishment perhaps do not admit. As he found yt tones depended cross in ye juncture as ye fibres of ye on those tensions, so perhaps might marrow may do. And it is more procolours, but the situation of audibles bable yt ye stubborn coat being vitiated, depended not on those tensions, and or wanting due nourishment, shrunk therefore if the two senses hold analogy and made ye tender marrow yield to its with one another, that of visibles does capacity, then that ye tender marrow