Obrázky na stránke

maker, the shoemaker makes shoes for the star-gazer. We thought, as we stood in that little airy nest, looking at our humble friend, and thinking of the great philosopher, how Providence binds all ranks together by ties of inter-dependence, and how wrong it is for the hand to say to the foot, “ I have no need of thee." A glass cupola probably crowned the observatory in Newton's time, and evidently there was a window in each of the four walls. So here he looked out on the London of nearly a century-and-a-half ago, hardly less crowded and smoky about the neighbourhood than now. Overhead, where Newton turned his eyes with most interest, we know it was just the same-the same beautiful stars shining out on a cold winter's night, the same planets sailing along the same blue ocean, the same moon throwing its light over the same blue fields. What observations, keen and searching-what calculations, intricate and profound — what speculations, farreaching and sublime-must there have been, when one of the most gifted of mortals from that spot looked out upon the heavens, and in thought went forth on voyages of discovery into the most distant regions of the universe. At the calm, still hour of midnight-Sirius watching over the city of sleepers-Jupiter carrying his brilliant lamp along his ancient pathway-every one of the luminaries in the place appointed by Him who calleth them all by their names—there stands the silvery-headed man with his reflecting telescope, occupied with thoughts which we common mortals in vain endeavour to conjecture.

We must journey now further westward, as far as Kensington, then a place of great repute for invalids, and also distinguished by the residence of the monarch George I., at the old palace there. Newton was well known at court. On one occasion, the king, when congratulated upon reigning over two kingdoms, replied :-“Rather congratulate me on having such a subject in one as Newton, and such a subject in the other as Leibnitz.” And Caroline, wife of the Prince of Wales, afterwards George II., loved to converse with the man who filled Europe with his fame. Declining health and the infirmities of years led Newton, in 1725, to seek an abode at Kensington, “It was Sunday night," says his nephew, Mr. Conduit, “the 7th March, 1724-5: at Kensington, with Sir Isaac Newton, in his lodgings, just after he was come out of a fit of the gout, which he had had in both of his feet for the first time, in the 83rd year of his age; he was better after it, and had his health clearer, and memory stronger, than I had known him then for some years.” A year after, we have another notice.“ April 15th, 1726 : I passed the whole day with Sir Isaac Newton at his lodgings, Orbell’s-buildings, Kensington, which was the last time I saw him. He told me that he was born on Christmas day, 1642." The house still remains, occupying a retired corner in the old suburbs, with new squares and terraces springing up all around it. It is situated in Bullingham-place; and retaining still its mansion-like aspect, with a large quiet garden and tall shady trees, it carries us back to the last days of Sir Isaac; and looking in through the gate, we picture the feeble man of 84, in his garden chair, sitting on the grass-plot on a sunny afternoon, musing on subjects more sacred than the stars; for Newton was not a mere philosopher, but also a student of revelation. In that house he died, on Monday the 20th March, having on the previous Saturday been able to read the newspaper, and hold a long discourse with Dr. Mead.*

One more visit, and we complete our pilgrimages to spots where we meet the shade of the great Sir Isaac. In the Jerusalem Chamber, at Westminster, where the scene of the polemical assembly convened there in 1644 flits before us, we behold the coffin of our philosopher placed in state, and then see it borne away- -dukes and nobles counting it an honour to support the pall -to its last earthly resting-place under the pavement of the Abbey. There, shades of the departed thickly throng around us : crowds of the illustrious meet us in those venerable aisles: but no one is more illustrious than he whom we now leave among them. We may apply to him, with a little alteration, the beautiful words employed, with another reference, by a favourite author in describing Westminster Abbey. “Well may the world cherish his renown; for it has been purchased, not by deeds of violence and blood, but by diligent dispensation of knowledge. Well may posterity be grateful to his memory; for he has left it an inheritance, not of empty names and sounding actions, but whole treasuries of science, bright gems of speculation, and golden views of wisdom."

* There is another old-fashioned dwelling in Kensington connected with Sir Isaac Newton, called Woolsthorpe House, from the place of his birth; but upon making inquiries we find no evidence of Newton having lived there; and that mistaken idea, prevalent in the neighbourhood, seems to have originated in the fact of the estate having once belonged to the great philosopher.


ABNEY PARK is a place associated with melancholy thoughts in the minds of ever-growing numbers, within and around the great metropolis. They remember a mournful visit there, when the funeral procession went slowly winding up the cemetery paths— and hillock after hillock, and stone after stone, solemnly glided past the carriage window-and the little chapel was enteredand the last service was performed—and finally the sorrowing group was circled round the grave, to leave there, till the resurrection of the just, the ashes of the dead. Many a precious deposit has been laid within the chambers of earth and stone which hollow out the under-soil of that great burial ground, and names are celebrated there on slab and monument which time will not soon let die. A cenotaph monument and statue to the memory of the man whose history we are trying to note down, rises in Abney Park conspicuously above other mementoes of the departed, connecting the place with his honoured name, and exciting the visitor to recollections of his works and virtues. The figure of Watts, long since dead, is meant to remind us of his association with the place for so long a time when living.

A hundred and fifty years ago, on the site of Abney Park, there stood a mansion, which was the happy home of Sir Thomas Abney and his family. We have an indistinct remembrance of it, just before it was pulled down, as we happened to glance at it in our rambles through the quiet street of Stoke Newington, with its old brick front, its old brick wall, and its old iron gate, all redolent of the times of William III. and Queen Anne. There it was in all its prime during those eventful reigns—full of quaint and somewhat cumbrous furniture--and compassed about, in the garden portion of the territory, with noble trees and primly cut shrubs, and boxbordered beds of tulips and roses, and sundry old-fashioned flowers, cultured according to the most approved taste of Dutch gardening. Sir Thomas Abney was Lord Mayor of London in 1700; and we fancy we see his lordship with the appendages and satellites of his state, starting from Newington to the city to enter on his office, and, being a devout and pious man, resolving by God's help not to let the cares and pleasures of his new station draw him away from the exercises of faith and prayer; for it is stated that during his mayoralty he would suffer no engagement to interfere with the regular performance of family devotion. In the house of Sir Thomas, Isaac Watts found a home for nearly half the period of his long life, and hence our large allusion to the place and its worthy master. Not only so, but before Dr. Watts became the inmate of Sir Thomas Abney's mansion, he abode for a while under the roof of Sir John Hartopp, who also resided at Stoke Newington, and there he performed the office of tutor to the good knight's son.

The parish church has many monuments and memorials of the family, and among the rest this curious entry, relative to the wife of Sir John: “1711, Dame Elizabeth Hartopp was buried in woollen, the 26th day of November, according to an act of parliament made on that behalf: attested before Mr. Gostling, minor canon of St. Paul's, London.” And again, relative to another member of the family: "My lady Hartopp was buried in a velvet coffin, September 22, 1730, in the church.” The dame Elizabeth who was buried in woollen was the mother of the boy entrusted to the charge of Dr. Watts, and what is more important, she was daughter of General Fleetwood, who married Bridget, one of Oliver Cromwell's children.

Dame Hartopp has been sometimes regarded as the offspring of Bridget, and consequently as the Protector's granddaughter; and if that view of her lineage were correct, then the youth to whom Watts became tutor would be no other than a great grandson of the strong-willed man who, without a crown, swayed a sceptre over three old kingdoms. But Noble, in his “ Memoirs of the Protectoral House,” shows, as we think satisfactorily, that Elizabeth, who was married to Sir John Hartopp, was a daughter of Fleetwood by his first wife, Frances Smith. Still the Hartopps would be intimately connected with the Cromwells, the family traditions of the latter would be familiar to the former, and stories of Oliver and his son-in-law would often be told in the dining-hall and the gardens of Sir John at Newington.

Isaac Watts had begun to preach while living with the Hartopps. In his twenty-fourth year he delivered his first sermon. soon invited to assist Dr. Chauncey in Mark-lane, where the church assembled of which Sir John Hartopp was member. Afterwards, on the retirement of the old pastor, Watts was invited to undertake

He was

« PredošláPokračovať »