Isaac Newton at the Worth Library.

The Edward Worth Library is a rare books collection, bequeathed to Dr. Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin, by one of its earliest Trustees, Dr. Edward Worth (1678-1733). Worth, a Dublin physician of the early eighteenth century, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1699. It is clear that he was deeply committed to the scientific endeavours of the Society and was interested in all things Newtonian. This online exhibition, which marks Dublin City of Science 2012, focuses not only on Worth’s collection of works by Isaac Newton himself, but also on his extensive collection of commentaries on the Principia, Opticks, Arithmetica Universalis and Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms by famous Newtonians.

Worth’s annotation marking Newton’s death on the
frontispiece portrait of his copy of the 1726 edition of the Principia.

This online exhibition, curated by Dr. Elizabethanne Boran, examines how Newton’s Principia and Opticks were incorporated into discussions by early eighteenth-century Newtonian physicians, mathematicians, astronomers and theologians (not necessarily mutually exclusive groups). It explores how the Principia (famously referred to by a young Cambridge student as the book no one was able to understand), was taught to young undergraduate students at the universities of Cambridge, Dublin, and Leiden, and at the increasingly popular experimental lecturing courses at London. It investigates Newton’s debates with Robert Hooke and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Newtonian debates within the Royal Society. Niccolò Guicciardini (2004) has suggested that scholars should think in terms of ‘Newtonianisms’ rather ‘Newtonianism’ and this is clearly visible from Worth’s collection which also demonstrates how the meaning of Newtonianism could change over time. This online exhibition is the fourth in a series of websites exploring the scientific and medical holdings of the Worth Library. For further details please contact our website: www.edwardworthlibrary.ie.

Sources

Guicciardini, Niccolò (2004), ‘Dot-Age: Newton’s Mathematical Legacy in the Eighteenth Century’ Early Science and Medicine 9, no. 3, Newtonianism: Mathematical and ‘Experimental’, pp 218-256.
Vermij, Rienk (2003), ‘The Formation of the Newtonian Philosophy: The Case of the Amsterdam Mathematical Amateurs’, The British Journal for the History of Science 36, no. 2, pp. 183-200.