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A Budget of Paradoxes, Volume I by De Morgan

In the manner of the artificial numbers of logarithms


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A treatise on the sublime science of heliography, satisfactorily demonstrating our great orb of light, the sun, to be absolutely no other than a body of ice! Overturning all the received systems of the universe hitherto extant; proving the celebrated and indefatigable Sir Isaac Newton, in his theory of the solar system, to be as far distant from the truth, as many of the heathen authors of Greece and Rome. By Charles Palmer,[499] Gent. London, 1798, 8vo.

Mr. Palmer burned some tobacco with a burning glass, saw that a lens of ice would do as well, and then says:

"If we admit that the sun could be removed, and a terrestrial body of ice placed in its stead, it would produce the same effect. The sun is a crystaline body receiving the radiance of God, and operates on this earth in a similar manner as the light of the sun does when applied to a convex mirror or glass."

Nov. 10, 1801. The Rev. Thomas Cormouls,[500] minister of Tettenhall, addressed a letter to Sir Wm. Herschel, from which I extract the following:

"Here it may be asked, then, how came the doctrines of Newton to solve all astronomic Phenomina, and all problems concerning the same, both _a parte ante_ and _a parte post_.[501] It is

answered that he certainly wrought the principles he made use of into strickt analogy with the real Phenomina of the heavens, and that the rules and results arizing from them {226} agree with them and resolve accurately all questions concerning them. Though they are not fact and true, or nature, but analogous to it, in the manner of the artificial numbers of logarithms, sines, &c. A very important question arises here, Did Newton mean to impose upon the world? By no means: he received and used the doctrines reddy formed; he did a little extend and contract his principles when wanted, and commit a few oversights of consequences. But when he was very much advanced in life, he suspected the fundamental nullity of them: but I have from a certain anecdote strong ground to believe that he knew it before his decease and intended to have retracted his error. But, however, somebody did deceive, if not wilfully, negligently at least. That was a man to whom the world has great obligations too. It was no less a philosopher than Galileo."

That Newton wanted to retract before his death, is a notion not uncommon among paradoxers. Nevertheless, there is no retraction in the third edition of the _Principia_, published when Newton was eighty-four years old! The moral of the above is, that a gentleman who prefers instructing William Herschel to learning how to spell, may find a proper niche in a proper place, for warning to others. It seems that gravitation is not truth, but only the logarithm of it.


The mathematical and philosophical works of the Right Rev. John Wilkins[502].... In two volumes. London, 1802, 8vo.

This work, or at least part of the edition--all for aught I know--is printed on wood; that is, on paper made from wood-pulp. It has a rough surface; and when held before a candle is of very unequal transparency. There is in it a reprint of the works on the earth and moon. The discourse on the possibility of going to the moon, in this and the edition of 1640, is incorporated: but from the account in the {227} life prefixed,

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