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Westminster Abbey Tomb of Isaac Newton
Newton was buried in Westminster Abbey in April
1727. John Conduitt, the husband of his
niece, commissioned an elaborate memorial by William Kent and Michael
Rysbrack. This was placed against the north screen, a few feet from the
grave. It was completed in 1731 and described by The Gentleman's
Magazine on 22nd April:
On a Pedestal is placed a Sarcophagus (or Stone Coffin) upon the front of
which are Boys in Basso-relievo with instruments in their hands, denoting
his several discoveries, viz. one with a Prism on which principally his
admirable Book of Light and Colours is founded; another with a reflecting
Telescope, whose great Advantages are so well known; another Boy is
weighting the Sun and Planets with a Stillard, the Sun being near the Centre
on one side, and the Planets on the other, alluding to a celebrated
Proposition in his Principia; another is busy about a Furnace, and two
others (near him) are loaded with money as newly coined, intimating his
Office in the Mint.
Behind the Sarcophagus is a Pyramid; from the middle of it a Globe arises
in Mezzo Relievo, on which several of the Constellations are drawn, in order
to shew the path of the Comet in 1681, whose period he has with the greatest
Sagacity determin'd. And also the Position of the solstitical Colure
mention'd by Hypparchus, by which (in his Chronology) he has fixed the time
of the Argonautic Expedition - On the Globe sits the Figure of Astronomy
weeping, with a Sceptre in her Hand, (as Queen of the Sciences) and a Star
over the Head of the Pyramid.
The reviewer may not have been aware of that Newton's years spent at a furnace
were in the pursuit of the alchemical structure of matter.
Conduitt had succeeded Newton as Master of the Mint
and included detailed instructions about a reference to the Mint in his
letters to the artists.
The comet of 1680-1 was discussed in the Example for Proposition XLI of
Principia Book III, and had prompted Newton to apply his
gravitation to objects in the solar system other than planets.
Newton had used the supposed position of the equinoxes at the time of
Jason's voyage in the Argo to make a chronology of Greek history based on
astronomy rather than oral tradition.
Westminster Abbey has a
Newton and his monument including an illustration and the text of the
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