It was from tutors, no doubt, that Henry Cavendish received his early general education. We know that the tutor to one of his first cousins was paid one hundred pounds a year,2 and we assume that a comparable investment was made in Henry’s education. With respect to his further education, his father had a choice of a “public” and a private school. Since he himself had gone to a public school, he might be expected to have sent his son to one, especially since that was increasingly the practice among the aristocracy, who regarded public schools as the proper training ground for “public life.” Most of the English peerage was educated at one of two public schools, either Eton, which is where Lord Charles had gone, or Westminster, which acquired a reputation as a “nursery of statesmen.” Perhaps his sons, Henry and Frederick, did not look to him like future statesmen, or perhaps he did not have good memories of his own schooling, though we note that on at least one occasion, he returned to Eton to attend the public exercises. Or, more likely, he belonged to a trend in eighteenth-century England of fathers taking greater interest in their children, one indication of which was their selection of private schools, whose masters served as surrogate fathers. Whatever his reasoning, he sent his sons to a private school.3
There were a good many private schools to choose from, most of them conveniently located in the suburbs of London.4 The school selected by Charles Cavendish was one of the so-called “academies,” Hackney Academy, which emphasized modern subjects (Fig. 6.1). It was the largest of the academies, with an enrollment of about one hundred. Founded around 1685, it was also the oldest, and the most fashionable, academy in eighteenth-century England.5
Located two miles northeast of London, the village of Hackney was best known as a place where rich Londoners had their country seats. Between London and Hackney the traffic was so heavy that “hackney” became the general word for coaches of the type used there. With its magnificent playing fields and clean air, Hackney Academy enjoyed a reputation for healthy living, and like other private schools it was thought to answer the standard complaints about the public schools, their rampant sexuality.6 The school to which Charles Cavendish sent his sons was seen as respectable, up-to-date, healthy, and safe.
There was another consideration, too; Hackney attracted students of a certain kind, not day students from the lower middle class or the crafts, as some academies did, but strictly boarding students, who came from the upper middle and upper classes, in particular, from wealthy Whig families. Ten years before Charles Cavendish entered Henry at Hackney, the hardheaded Lord Hardwicke
Hackney Academy was run by the Newcomes, a family of teachers, Anglican clergy, and Cambridge graduates with an interest in science. Henry Newcome
Normally students were admitted to Hackney at age seven, but Henry Cavendish did not enter until he was eleven. He began with the advanced course, instructed in subjects that would apply to his later studies and work: mathematics, natural sciences, French, and Latin. At the usual leaving age, Henry, like the other Cavendishes and like most of the other students at Hackney, proceeded directly to the university, which in his case was Cambridge.
From the fourteenth century to the time Henry Cavendish entered Cambridge, twenty Cavendishes had graduated from the University.13 The first duke of Devonshire to get a university education was Charles Cavendish’s brother William
The chancellor of the University was the duke of Newcastle, a minister of state, and a distant relative of our Cavendishes. When the master of Peterhouse died, Newcastle lobbied hard for Edmund Keene
The attendance at the University when Henry Cavendish entered was small and declining, but the proportion of students
Fellow commoners were occasionally older men who simply liked university life, but most of them were young men of independent means, often sons of country gentleman and commercial magnates if not of nobility. Accounting for just over ten percent of the student population in the eighteenth century, they were a conspicuous minority, inclined to fine dress, sometimes accompanied by their own servants, and in any case able to afford to pay poor students to wait on them. They were admitted to the fellows’ table, common room, and cellar, where they could smoke clay pipes and drink Spanish and French wine, in which respects they were equivalent to fellows of the college. They were usually excused from performing the college exercises required of humbler undergraduates and of attending lectures by the college tutors.19 From what we know of Cavendish’s later habits, the extravagances of some of the other fellow commoners did not happen to be his, but his privileges were the same as theirs, including freedom to spend most of his time as he wished. The advantages of rank were significant and obvious in the University, reinforcing the generally accepted notion of hierarchy in the society of Cavendish’s time.20
In the absence of accounts of Cavendish at Cambridge, we fall back on the usual life of Peterhouse undergraduates to give some idea of his. Their service was spare, they dined off pewter, and their diet was monotonous. If the fare remained as it had been in the previous century, they ate mutton five times a week and drank ale and beer, which was brewed at a profit by the college butler. Service was adapted to rank: for fellows and fellow commoners, the butler set four tablecloths, and for the rest, pensioners and sizers, he set two.21 Prayers were given at six in the morning and again at six at night, supper was at eight, and the college closed at ten. During the day, students could attend college lectures, meet with their tutors, study in their rooms, or seek diversion, for which they had a range of options that included sports, games, and music. College rooms could be chilly, dark, and dreary for everyone. In the year Cavendish arrived, it was ruled that a fire was to be made in the combination room from noon to two o’clock. When students ventured outside of the college, they found themselves in a very small town, Cambridge, with shops that made money off them by selling wine, candles, menswear, books on law and medicine, and pens, pencils, and paper. Coffee houses enjoyed a brisk business, different ones frequented by fellows and by students, where for the price of a coffee they could smoke, read journals, and visit for hours. Fellow commoners usually had extra money, which helped or hindered their progress depending on how they used it.22
When Cavendish arrived, Peterhouse had between thirty and forty students, not all of them in residence. During the years he was there, 1749 through 1752, over fifty students
The fraction of eminent British scientists
Very few eminent British men of science
The poet Thomas Gray
If fellow commoners wanted to leave with a degree they had to fulfill the requirements, though in form only.31 Because a degree was unlikely to make a difference in their lives, fellow commoners usually left without one, as Henry Cavendish did on 23 February 1753. The suggestion has been made that he objected to the religious tests, which were stringent,32 but if that was his reason for not graduating, he left no record of it, then or later. The most likely reason he left without the degree was that he did not consider taking one but simply followed tradition, as did most of the thirteen fellow commoners at Peterhouse during Cavendish’s stay, only five of whom took degrees, three of which were Masters of Arts only.33
The examination that Cavendish did not take was then on its way to becoming the renowned Cambridge
With the emphasis on mathematics at Cambridge, there were naturally some very able mathematics teachers, such as John Lawson
Whereas we think that Charles Cavendish learned mathematics by private lessons from mathematicians who were Newton’s associates, Henry Cavendish learned his at Cambridge
In the introduction, we discussed Charles and Henry Cavendish in relation to two revolutions, one political and one scientific. The education that Henry received at the University of Cambridge was related to both. One consequence of the political Revolution of 1688–89 was a change in the Church of England, with Cambridge becoming a stronghold of low-Church latitudinarians and Whigs, who were sympathetic to the Revolution and to Newtonian natural philosophy for the support it gave to the argument from design for the existence of a Creator.41 Newton’s main influence in Cambridge was exerted through his physical theories, the route to which was his mathematics, then the dominant study in the University.42 Cavendish was indoctrinated in a mathematical and scientific orthodoxy originating in the Scientific Revolution in an institution that favored the poliitical settlement of the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89
Cavendish was not the only major English experimentalist of the second half of the eighteenth century who was exposed to Newtonian philosophy at Cambridge—in addition to Delaval there was the chemist William Hyde Wollaston
We have only one record of Cavendish’s thinking while he was at the University. Frederick, prince of Wales, after holding court in opposition to his father, George II, for nearly fifteen years, died while still waiting for his chance. In the meantime, he had wanted to become chancellor of Cambridge University in 1748, but his father opposed him, and the University took the safe course. As if to compensate Frederick for what it had denied him in life, the University honored his memory by publishing a deluxe edition of academic exercises in 1751 (Oxford did the same). Written in Latin, the laments met the standards of the day, which were not particularly high, inspiring Horace Walpole to make a play on words: “We have been overwhelmed with lamentable Cambridge and Oxford dirges on the Prince’s death.”43 Henry Cavendish contributed a poem
As the University was dominated by its colleges, so its teaching was dominated by the many tutors in the colleges. The much smaller number of university professors tend to be discounted in historical accounts of Cambridge
The education Cavendish received in Cambridge
In the Principia Newton laid down the laws of matter and motion and the law of universal gravitation, from which he deduced the motions of the planets, comets, moon, and tides. The sweeping deductive power of the Principia was the basis of its appeal:48 the laws of motion were presumed to contain all of the relations between matter, motion, and force in the sense that all of the theorems of geometry are contained in the axioms of that subject. Other forces besides gravitation were known to exist, but they had not yet been experimentally determined and mathematically described. The “whole burden of philosophy,” Newton wrote in the Principia, was to observe the motions of bodies and from them to deduce the forces acting and then to deduce from these forces the other phenomena of nature.49 Cavendish’s electrical researches exemplified this objective.
Like the Principia, Opticks begins with definitions and axioms or laws, but a glance at its pages reveals that it contains an orderly progression of experiments. It argues for a new understanding of light: the white light of the Sun is compounded of heterogeneous colored rays, which are original and immutable qualities of light, quantitatively distinguishable by their different degrees of bending, or refrangibility, upon passing through transparent substances. For the explanation of the bending and reflecting of light by bodies, Newton looked to the subject of his Principia, forces and motions
In the second edition of Opticks, Newton added several queries that give the fullest statement of his expectation for the mechanics of the interaction of light and ordinary bodies. To the third edition, he added a final set of queries on the ether presumed to fill space. Backed by Newton’s authority, the queries of the Opticks proved to be a source of new paths (and a few dead ends) for readers throughout much of the eighteenth century.
At whatever level Cavendish studied the Principia at Cambridge, in his later scientific work he revealed his command of the main subjects of that book, mechanics, mathematics, and mathematical astronomy. In addition, his manuscripts contain studies of dispersion, refraction, and lenses, which connect his work with Newton’s other treatise, Opticks
An ambitious man of wide interests and strong commitments, Whiston published his lectures in Cambridge on astronomy and on natural philosophy, the latter as the first extensive commentary on the Principia, and with the author’s approval he published Newton’s lectures on universal arithmetic, or algebra
While he was professor of mathematics, Whiston let the young scholar Nicholas Saunderson lecture to large audiences on the same material, Newton’s universal arithmetic and his Principia and Opticks. Blind virtually from birth, Saunderson
Upon Saunderson’s death, the ageing De Moivre
If Colson’s accomplishments as a mathematician were minor, his enthusiasm for fluxions and its inventor cannot be faulted. His praise in the annotated edition of Newton’s Method of Fluxions stands out among Newtonian panegyrics: Newton was the “greatest master in mathematical and philosophical knowledge, that ever appear’d in the world,” and his doctrine of fluxions was the “noblest effort that ever was made by the human mind.” Unlike Newton’s other mathematical writings, which were “accidental and occasional,” his Method was intended as a text for “novices and learners,” a goal with which the teacher Colson could identify. Colson made clear the distinction between textbook and original work, between a teacher like himself and an inventor like Newton. The teacher and textbook had their modest place: with their aid, the beginner could comprehend the work of the greatest thinker of all time. Colson’s edition was at once a textbook, an indoctrination in mathematical Newtonianism, and a polemic in defense of Newton.58
For the learner of fluxions
The Newtonian school at Cambridge began soon after Newton left the University for London. Richard Bentley
Bentley bore the expense of a new edition of Newton’s Principia
Cotes and Whiston gave experimental lectures in natural philosophy in the observatory at Trinity. When Whiston left Cambridge, Cotes continued the lectures by himself, and after Cotes’s death, Robert Smith continued them, and he also published Cotes’s lectures. Intended for a wide audience, Cotes’s Hydrostatical and Pneumatical Lectures, Smith said, could be read by persons knowing little mathematics “with as much ease and pleasure, as in reading a piece of history.” Unwilling to leave it at that, Smith added mathematical notes of his own.64 A second edition of Cotes’s lectures was published in Cambridge in 1747, two years before Cavendish entered the University.
In 1716, at age twenty-seven, Robert Smith succeeded Cotes as Plumian Professor in Cambridge, the position he held for the next forty-four years. He also succeeded Bentley as master of Trinity College, and like his predecessor he vigorously promoted science in Cambridge. To encourage the student Richard Watson
When Cavendish was a student, the most important Newtonian work by a Cambridge professor was Robert Smith’s
Because Smith presented optics as a system, he could not ignore the question of the nature of light
In discussing how we come by our ideas of things by sight, Smith considered the question the astronomer Samuel Molyneux
Many of the topics in Smith’s Opticks
Smith lived in the Enlightenment, a word which referred to a felt need for clarity. Like musicians of “delicate ear,” at performances Smith preferred to listen to a single string rather than to unisons, octaves, and multiple parts, in agreement with his preference for “distinctness and clearness, spirit and duration” over “beating and jarring” and “confused noise.” He quoted from his other book, System of Opticks, from Jurin’s account of what happens when a person comes out of a strong light into a closed room: at first the room appears dark, but in time the eye accommodates to the darkness and the room appears light. The discernment of clarity within a confusion of sound and the recovery of vision in darkness were analogous, symbolizing the natural philosopher’s quest for order and understanding. Musicians at first disliked Smith’s retuned organ despite its improved harmony, but musicians, like scientists, could be educated, Smith said, and in time they would no longer be able to stand the “course harmony” of organs tuned in the old way. Smith’s aesthetics was an aesthetics supported by mathematics, experiment, and theory.75
The study of harmonics underscored the value of theory in the science of music. In the ancient world musicians followed their ear rather than the “theories of philosophers,” Smith said; they arrived at temperament “before the reason of it was discovered, and the method and measure of it was reduced to regular theory.” To the moderns, the ear was no longer sufficient. Smith, an expert performer on the violin-cello, had a musical ear but he did not need one. In harmonics, he needed only scientific theory, as he explained: a person without a musical ear could tune an organ to any temperament and to “any desired degree of exactness, far beyond what the finest ear unassisted by theory can possibly attain to.” It was the same in optics as in music: Smith’s colleague the blind mathematician Saunderson taught Newton’s theory of colors.76
Because he approached music as an experimental philosopher, Smith confirmed his mathematical theory by practice. At his request, experiments were performed by the Cambridge organist and by the clockmaker John Harrison
Modifier of instruments, experimenter, and mathematical theorist, Robert Smith was the complete natural philosopher in the fields he worked in. Of persons teaching scientific subjects at Cambridge, with the possible exception of John Michell, Smith was closest to Cavendish in his interests and skills. We would like to think that Cavendish became acquainted with Smith at Cambridge, but that seems unlikely. They were not in the same college, and Smith probably did not lecture any longer, and in any case, by then he was ill, irascible, and reclusive.78 It is, however, virtually certain that Cavendish knew Smith through his books on optics and harmonics. We know that Charles Cavendish owned A System of Opticks, since he was one of its subscribers.79 As we will see later in this chapter, Henry Cavendish was probably drawn to music, in which case he would certainly have known about Smith’s Harmonics
The Plumian Professorship was designated for astronomy as well as for experimental philosophy; during the time Cavendish was at Cambridge, the astronomy half was taken over by a new professorship, which combined astronomy with mathematics. In 1750 the master of Pembroke Hall Roger Long
Long regarded astronomy as part of natural philosophy, the study of the bodies that comprise the universe. Newton’s Principia, he said, raised astronomy “at once, to a greater degree of perfection than could have been hoped for from the united labours of the most learned men, for many ages,” the accomplishment of “the amazing genius of one man—the immortal Newton!”82 Because the force of gravity was known but the forces of light, magnetism, and electricity were not, astronomy was far more advanced than the other parts of natural philosophy. Instrument makers, especially the British, supplied the observers who kept astronomy advancing after Newton. Long used mathematics sparingly, but he began his lectures with the subject of quantity, making clear what kind of science astronomy was. Because Charles Cavendish was a subscriber to Long’s Astronomy, Henry Cavendish is certain to have seen it, and he might have attended the lectures on which it was based. After Cambridge, he would acquire telescopes and make studies of comets’ orbits and other astronomical objects
In 1748, the year before Cavendish entered Cambridge, the future regius professor of divinity Thomas Rutherforth
The Woodwardian Professor of Geology Charles Mason
Before leaving the subject of Cambridge’s potential contribution to Cavendish’s scientific education, we need to look at textbooks in use there that were written by authors who were not Cambridge professors. After becoming Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, John Colson
Colson would have recognized a kindred spirit in Musschenbroek, who at the time of Colson’s translation was professor of mathematics and astronomy at the University of Leiden, and whose main publications were extensions of his lectures in ever larger books. His predecessor at Leiden had been Willem Jacob ’sGravesande
Leiden was probably a better place to learn natural philosophy than Cambridge
Leiden’s authors would have exposed Cavendish to points of view not found in English texts on natural philosophy. If in his time as a student in Cambridge, Cavendish read Musschenbroek’s text or ’sGravesande’s text he saw how vis viva could be incorporated in otherwise largely familiar presentations of natural philosophy. It was in this particular that Cavendish’s use of mechanics differed from that of his British colleagues.92
In broad outline, we have sketched the scientific tradition at Cambridge insofar as it was represented by the texts of its early and mid-eighteenth-century professors. When Cavendish entered the ranks of scientific researchers, he was familiar with mathematical methods and concepts of science within a certain Newtonian framework
If there was an early musical influence
Evidence of Henry Cavendish’s interest in music is sketchy. There is a mathematical study by him, “On Musical Intervals.”94 There is a reference to a musical event in Cavendish’s laboratory notes on chemistry: in 1782 he used his eudiometer, an instrument for measuring the “goodness” of air, to compare the good air of Hampstead, to which he had just moved, to the used “Air from Oratorio.”95 He began his lament on the death of the prince of Wales with music: “Melpomene [goddess of song], pour forth a gloomy anguish on our melodies/Let the flute breathe out faint wailings/And sing out a grievous tune in solemn funeral procession.” More significant, a grand pianoforte is listed in the auction catalog of the contents of his house at Clapham Common at the time of his death.96 Other than for servants, Cavendish was the only person who lived in the house, and the pianoforte would have been there only because he wanted it. According to a story, which on the face of it is unlikely but which may contain a core of truth, Cavendish came together with Michell
We suspect that Cavendish’s education included education in music. Given the limited evidence, in this discussion we proceed tentatively. The professional musician Charles Burney
The subscribers were young and of both sexes, including husbands and wives and persons with various family connections; two of them, George Manners
If Cavendish pursued an advanced education in music
John Walker to James Edward Smith, 16 Mar. 1810, ed. Smith (1832, 170–171). We assume that this John Walker was the physician who published on geography, natural history, and physiology, and was known for his promotion of vaccination. “Walker, John (1759–1830),” DNB 20:533.
Henry Cavendish’s aunt Rachel Cavendish married Sir William Morgan of Tredgar. They had two sons, William and Edward, born a few years before Henry Cavendish, and one of these “Master Morgans” had a tutor who received one hundred pounds per annum. This is according to Charles Cavendish in an account for his widowed sister, undated , Devon. Coll., 167.1.
Of the peers about the same age as Charles Cavendish, 46 attended Eton and 31 Westminster; of those about the age of Henry Cavendish, 53 attended Eton and 78 Westminster. From John Cannon (1984, 40, 43–44). H.C. Maxwell Lyte (1911, 287). Randolph Trumbach (1978, 292).
Trumbach (1978, 265).
Nicolas Hans (1951, 63–66, 70).
William Thornton (1784, 481). Daniel Lysons (1795, 450–451). Trumbach (1978, 266).
Hans (1951, 72, 243–244).
Thomas Birch Diary, BL Add Mss 4478C. Frequent entries beginning in 1740.
25 Nov. 1742, Certificates, Royal Society 1:260. The other signers were James Jurin, Benjamin Hoadley, John Ward, and Thomas Walker. Newcome was elected on 24 Feb. 1743.
William Watson (1748a, 62). Newcome reported the earthquake felt by persons at his house in Hackney. Newcome (1750); read 29 Mar. 1750.
10 Jan. 1760, JB, Royal Society 23:711.
Minutes of Council, Royal Society 5.
John and J.A. Venn (1922, vol. 1).
George Wilson (1851, 17).
6 June 1747, 17 May 1751, 18 and 22 February 1752, Thomas Birch Diary, BL Add Mss 4478C.
D.A. Winstanley (1935, 193). Winstanley says that at midcentury, Peterhouse was “much patronized” by the aristocracy, but it should be noted that of peers born in 1711–40, Henry Cavendish’s period, only 3 went to Peterhouse. By contrast, 9 went to Clare College, 8 to King’s College, 7 to Trinity College, and 6 to St. John’s College. In attendance at Cambridge in 1740–59, while Henry Cavendish was there, out of 27 peers’ sons, again only 3 were at Peterhouse. Cannon (1984, 48–51).
Cannon (1984, 45).
Thomas Alfred Walker (1935, 76–78). Edmund Carter (1753, 5, 29).
Winstanley (1935, 198). Walker (1935, 78). Cannon (1984, 58).
Cannon (1984, 54–55).
Walker (1935, 79–80).
The numbers given here are based on Thomas Alfred Walker (1912). They are less precise but more accurate than those given in our Cavendish (1996).
Hans estimates that the proportion of Oxford and Cambridge graduates among eminent British men of science dropped from sixty-seven percent in the seventeenth century to twenty percent at the end of the eighteenth century. His figures are based on rather arbitrary definitions, but the large percentage of scientific practitioners in Henry Cavendish’s time who were not Oxford or Cambridge graduates is significant. Hans (1951, 34).
On Maseres: William Ludlam (1785, 7).
Certificates, Royal Society 3:65 (Francis Wollaston’s announced candidacy, 3 Jan. 1769) and 3:104 (Francis Maseres’s announced candidacy, 31 Jan. 1771).
Hans (1951, 34).
The name was given to Delaval by his friend Thomas Gray. Robert Ketton-Cremer (1955, 142–143). Two years older than Cavendish, Delaval became a fellow of Pembroke. “Delaval, Edward Hussey,” DNB, 1st ed. 5:766–767.
Winstanley (1935, 256–261). Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, 31 Oct. 1734, in Walpole (1937–1983, vol. 13, pt. 1, 58–59).
Charles Stuart and Chapel Cox.
They had “to keep the statutory two acts and opponencies and to sit for the Senate House Examination,” though in reality they were exempted from the examination and allowed to “huddle” the acts by parroting a few set sentences in Latin. Winstanley (1935, 199).
Wilson (1851, 17, 181). There was no religious test at matriculation, but to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, the candidates had to “sign the 36th Canon, the Articles, and the Liturgy of the Church of England.”
Walker (1912, 292–306).
John Green, Academic, 1750, 23, quoted in Christopher Wordsworth (1968, 73).
“Lawson, John,” DNB, 1st ed. 11:736–737.
John Nichols, ed. (1817–1858, 6:737). Gibbons attributed the decline of Rome to Christianity.
“Postlethwaite, Thomas,” DNB, 1st ed. 42:204–205.
5 Mar. 1767 and 30 June 1768, Minute Book of the Royal Society Club, Royal Society 5. Henry Boult Cay is under his father John Cay’s entry in the Dictionary of National Biography.
Walker (1935, 95; 1912, 73, 119).
Daniel Waterland (1740), reported in Wordsworth (1968, 78–81, 248–249, 330–337).
John Gascoigne (1989, 145, 147).
W.W. Rouse Ball (1889, 68, 74–76).
Horace Walpole to Horace Mann, 18 June 1751, in Walpole (1937–1983, vol. 20, pt. 4, 260–261).
Henry Cavendish (1751).
Heberden quoted in Wordsworth (1968, 66–67). Gascoigne (1989, 175).
The editors of the three editions of Newton’s Principia, were Halley in 1687, Roger Cotes in 1713, and Henry Pemberton in 1726. In 1729 an English translation was brought out by Andrew Motte, a later edition of which is Sir Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy and His System of the World, Newton (1962). I.B. Cohen (1971, vii, 7).
The editions in his lifetime were: in 1704 in English; in 1706 in Latin; and in 1717/18 in English again. Isaac Newton (1952). I.B. Cohen (1974, 59).
C. Truesdell (1960, 6).
Newton (1962, 1:xvii–xviii).
Newton (1952, 82).
Newton (1952, 339). Query 3.
Ibid. Query 5.
William Whiston (1749, 37, 43; 1737); A New Theory of the Earth…, 5th ed. (London, 1737). Jacques Roger (1976).
Whiston published his astronomical lectures in 1707 in Latin; translated in 1715, they appeared as Astronomical Lectures, Read in the Publick Schools of Cambridge…. These lectures include “attraction” and Newton’s theory of the moon; they are an astronomical preparation for Newton’s philosophy, which Whiston promised to give next term. In 1710 he published his lectures on natural philosophy, which were translated in 1716, Sir Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Philosophy More Easily Demonstrated. Maureen Farrell (1981, 200). Rouse Ball (1889, 83–85, 94–95). “Whiston, William,” DNB, 1st ed. 21:10–14. D.T. Whiteside, in Newton (1967, 1:xvi).
Rouse Ball (1889, 86, 88). “Saunderson or Sanderson, Nicholas,” DNB, 1st ed. 17:821–822. Roger Cotes to William Jones, 25 Nov. 1711, and Nicholas Saunderson to William Jones, 4 Feb. 1714/13, in Rigaud (1965, 1:261; 265). Nicolas Saunderson (1756, ix–x, 79, 81), and Advertisement. “Saunderson or Sanderson, Nicholas,” DNB, 1st ed. 17:821–822. Like Newton’s lectures, Saunderson’s consisted of a set of examples, as recalled by the Cambridge astronomer William Ludlam, who knew them firsthand. Ludlam had been one of Saunderson’s pupils, who read sections of Newton’s Principia. William Ludlam (1785, 6).
Quotation about De Moivre’s age and infirmity from William Cole’s diary, quoted in “Colson, John,” DNB, 1st ed. 4:801–802, on 801. From 1709 until he was named Lucasian Professor, John Colson taught at Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School in Rochester. R.V. and P.J. Wallis (1986, 29).
In 1738 Colson translated from the French a theoretical paper by Alexis Clairaut on the figure of the planets for the Philosophical Transactions. Before that, he published two mathematical papers of his own on algebra and another on spherical maps in the same journal. One of the papers on algebra was translated into Latin and appended to the 1732 Leiden edition of Newton’s Arithmetica Universalis. “Colson, John,” DNB, 1st ed. 4:801–802. Rouse Ball (1889, 100–101). Whiteside in Newton (1967, 1:xv; 8; 8:xxiii).
Colson’s comments in The Method of Fluxions and Infinite Series…. By the Inventor Sir Isaac Newton….To Which Is Subjoined, a Perpetual Comment … (1736, ix–xii, xx, 335–336).
Colson’s commentary was considerably shorter than the commentary by John Stewart, professor of mathematics in the University of Aberdeen, to a translation of two mathematical tracks by Newton; the two tracks occupy 54 pages of Stewart’s book, his commentary 497 pages plus introductory matter. Sir Isaac Newton’s Two Treatises: Of the Quadrature of Curves, and Analysis by Equations of an Infinite Number of Terms, Explained … (London, 1745).
Colson (1736, 1, 144, 335).
Rouse Ball (1889, 149, 155).
“Bentley, Richard,” DNB, 1st ed. 2:306–314, on 312. A. Rupert Hall (1976, 26–27). James Henry Monk (1833, 202–204). Whiston (1749, 133). Ronald Gowing (1983, 8, 14). Rouse Ball (1889, 89). The Plumian Professorship was endowed by Thomas Plume, archdeacon of Rochester, in 1704; Cotes was elected to the chair two years later.
Gowing (1983, 91–93).
“The Editor’s Preface” in Roger Cotes (1747). For his joint course of experiments with Cotes, Whiston gave half of the lectures, but he did not publish them. “Cotes,” DNB, 1st ed. 4:1029.
Cotes (1747, 5, 123, 187, 201–203).
“Smith, Robert,” DNB 1st ed. 18:517–519. Winstanley (1935, 150). R.W.T. Gunther (1937, 61). Rouse Ball (1889, 91). Monk (1833, 2:168). Robert Willis and John Willis Clark (1886, 600). Richard Watson (1818, 14). In 1758 Lyons dedicated to Smith his Treatise on Fluxions, which was used in teaching at Cambridge alongside texts on the subject by Newton, Saunderson, and others.
Robert Smith (1738).
Henry John Steffens (1977, 48, 50, 53); G.N. Cantor (1983, 33–34).
Smith (1738, 1:42–43), and “The Author’s Remarks upon the Whole,” at the end of the book, on 28–29.
Ibid., 25, 332.
James Jurin, “An Essay upon Distinct and Indistinct Vision,” appended to Smith’s Opticks (1738, 115–170).
Robert Smith (1759). First edition in 1749. “Smith,” DSB 12:477. “Smith,” DNB 18:519.
Donald A. Ferguson (1935, 272–278).
Smith (1759, v–vii).
Ibid., 171–172, 210.
Ibid., viii-ix, 33–35.
Ibid., ix–xiv. Edgar W. Morse (1975, 477).
“Smith,” DNB 18:518.
As the subtitle suggests—A Popular, a Mathematical, a Mechanical, and a Philosophical Treatise—Smith’s book contains material of interest to a wide variety of readers. The 340 subscribers included members of De Moivre’s mathematical circle such as Macclesfield, De Moivre, and Folkes (who subscribed for twelve copies); Cambridge mathematicians and physical scientists such as John Colson, Roger Long, Nicolas Saunderson, Charles Mason, John Rowning, and Richard Davies; Scottish professors of mathematics and physical science such as Colin Maclaurin, Robert Simpson, John Stewart, and Robert Dick; and London instrument makers such as George Graham, James Short, and Jonathan Sissons. Ten years before its publication, in 1728, Smith first advertised for subscribers, and if that was when Cavendish subscribed, it was just as he entered the Royal Society. He paid thirty shillings for each of the two volumes. Alice Nell Walters (1992, 7).
Wordsworth (1968, 249). “Dunthorne, Richard,” DNB, 1st ed. 6:235–236.
The first volume of Long’s Astronomy, In Five Books was published in Cambridge in 1742. The second volume did not appear until twenty-two years later, in 1764, for reasons of which, Long said, “it would be of no service to the public to be informed.” The reasons had in part to do with his interest in music, as a letter from Cambridge noted: “Dr. Long advances, but slowly, in his astronomical work; tho’ ye larger part of his 2d vol. is I believe printed. But he keeps amusing himself […] with alterations in musical instruments, of wch he is very fond.” J. Green to Thomas Birch, 29 Jan. 1760, BL Add Mss 4308, ff. 192–193. Only in 1784, after Long’s death, was the remaining part of the book published. Long (1742, 1764, 1784, 1:ix–x, and 2:iii, 637–638). “Long, Roger,” DNB, 1st ed. 12:109. Rouse Ball (1889, 105). Gunther (1937, 164–167). Ketton-Cremer (1955, 83–84). “Dunthorne, Richard,” DNB, 1st ed. 6:235–236.
Long (1742, 1764, 1784, 2:717–718).
Thomas Rutherforth (1748). “Rutherforth, Thomas,” DNB, 1st ed. 17:499–500. Rutherforth used his membership in the Royal Society to promote sales of his books. Thomas Rutherforth to Thomas Birch, 30 Jan. and 6 Feb. 1743/42, BL Add Mss 4317, ff. 305–306, 308.
Rutherforth (1748, 23).
Robert E. Schofield (1970, 97).
Wordsworth (1968, 345). Indicative of Mason’s range of interests are “hints” about melting iron and about a burning well in a letter he sent to the president of the Royal Society at about the time Cavendish was in Cambridge: Charles Mason to Martin Folkes, 22 Jan. 1747/46, Wellcome Institute, Martin Folkes Papers, Ms. 5403. Winstanley (1935, 168–169).
John Mickleburgh to Dean Moss in 1725, in John Nichols (1817–1858, 4:520). Wordsworth (1968, 188–189). L.J.M. Coleby (1952b, 167, 169–170).
John Colson translated Petrus van Musschenbroek, Elements of Natural Philosophy from the Latin in 1744; from the French he translated Jean Antoine Nollet, Lectures in Experimental Philosophy in 1748; from the Italian he translated Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Analytical Institutions in 1801. We have already discussed his translation from the Latin of Newton’s Method of Fluxions.
Musschenbroek (1744, 1:iii–v); Colson’s advertisement, xi, 6. The Leiden jar was discovered independently by the German experimenter E.G. von Kleist.
Edward G. Ruestow (1973, 7–8, 115–121, 135–139).
Struik (1974). Hall (1972). ’sGravesande (1747, 1:ix, xv). Musschenbroek (1744, 2:159).
Musschenbroek (1744, 1:80–82). Willem Jacob ’sGravesande (1741, 76).
Otto Erich Deutsch (1974, 91, 102). A.E. Gunther (1984, 62). Great Britain, Historical Manuscripts Commission (1920, 93, 227; 1923, 2:30).
Henry Cavendish, “On Musical Intervals,” Cavendish Mss VI(a), 28.
This entry is unclear as to Cavendish’s part. It begins with a comparison of “air caught by [the instrument maker Edward] Nairne in 2d gallery of Drury Lane playhouse Mar. 15, 1782 with air of Hampstead of Mar. 16.” It follows with “Air from Oratorio about the same time.” “Experiments on Air,” Cavendish Mss II, 5:189.
A Catalog of an Assortment of Modern Household Furniture […] the Genuine Property of a Professional Gentleman; Which Will Be Sold by Auction by Mr. Squibb, at His Great Room Saville Passage, Saville Row, on Wednesday, December 5, 1810, and Two Following Days, at Twelve O’Clock. Item 45 is a grand pianoforte, by Longman and Broderip, in a mahogany case.
“Michell, John,” DNB 1st ed. 13:333–334, on 333.
Charles Burney (1799, 186, 205).
Great Britain, Historical Manuscripts Commission (1913, 188–189).
He descended from an illegitimate branch of Henry Cavendish’s family. An English and Irish politician, he is best known as a parliamentary diarist. Peter D.G. Thomas (2004).
R.H. Nichols and F.A. Wray (1935, 247). Roger Fiske (1973, 284–286).
Brian Fothergill (1969, 29). Horace Walpole to George Montagu, 17 May 1763, in Lewis and Brown (1941, 69–74, on 73). Horace Walpole to William Cole, 5 Feb. 1780, in Lewis and Wallace (1937, 186–189, on 187).
Hamilton has helped us date the agreement between Giardini and the subscribers to his academy. By our reckoning, it was after Hamilton’s marriage in 1758 and before December 1759.
Joseph Banks to William Hamilton, 30 Nov. 1794, BL, Edgerton 2641, 155–156.
In Italy a private concert by dilettantes was called an “accademia,” which may have been Giardini’s meaning. This information is from a work of the time, Charles Burney (1771), quoted in Walpole (1954, 18:13, note 16a). Charles Burney (1789/1935, 1012–1014). Stanley Sadie (1988, 320).
Simon McVeigh (1993, 14, 197, 220).
Table of Contents
Part I: Lord Charles Cavendish
Part II: The Honorable Henry Cavendish
6 Education of Henry Cavendish
17 Last Years
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