Punch,  53 (1867), 129.

"Did Newton Discover Gravity?"

Isaac Newton Bacon


Letter, Spoof


Gravity, Theory, Discovery, Heroism, Museums, Morality, Mathematics, Physics, Controversy

    Following the appearance of 'an article in an Evening Journal' headed 'Did Newton Discover Gravity?', the author assumes 'gravity' to mean seriousness. Laments, accordingly, that if Newton did discover gravity, then he is no longer proud of his forenames (which have been a family tradition since a 'collateral ancestor' met the natural philosopher). Adds that the revelation will also make him regret his reverence for the statues of the philosopher in the South Kensington Museum and for the anecdotes about Newton's life. Wonders why Newton was not content with 'his Principia, and his Fluxions, and Knighthood, and his Royal Society, and Mastership of the Mint without being the cause' of everything that is 'disagreeable, and synonymous with gravity'. Imagines the 'cheery world' that must have existed 'before this much over-rated Mathematician [...] patented this disastrous discovery'. Denies that Newton deserves the numerous acts of celebration accorded him, such as statues, and suggests that we should instead celebrate those who raise spirits, such as the 'inventors of pantomimes'. Reveals his knowledge of the alleged unpublished letters between Newton and Blaise Pascal which suggest that Pascal inspired Newton to construct his theory of gravitation, and was thus the true discoverer of gravity. Believes that the responsibility for 'bringing misery' on the human species lies not with Newton but with others, including Pascal and Burton 1621.

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