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    Re: Newton and Halley
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2007 Nov 20, 16:05 -0000

    Thanks to "Swordfish" for providing that quote from Bruce Bauer's "Sextant
    Handbook" (1986),  from the Royal Society Journal Book, as follows-.
    "Mr Newton shewed a new instrument contrived by him for observing the moon
    and starrs, the longitude at Sea, being the old instrument mended of some
    faults with which notwithstanding Mr. Halley (sic) had found the longitude
    better than the Seaman by other methods."
    That's really useful. Although I've ordered up Bauer from the Bodleian
    Library in Oxford, they are running out of shelf space, and that's one of
    the books they have relegated to a backup store (in distant Cheshire, would
    you believe?) It will be available on Friday.
    Bauer (1986)  the earliest date I have seen for that full quotation,
    including the mention of Halley.
    Elsewhere, I've seen only partial quotes, omitting Halley. For example
    Charles Cotter, in "The History of the Mariner's Sextant" (1983), writes
    only this-
    "The only notice that could be found in the minutes of the Royal Society ...
    indicate that Newton had exhibited, in 1699, an instrument to the Royal
    Society, which is described as "the old instrument mended of some faults".
    No hint of Halley there.
    Which causes Cotter to note, about the later appearance of Newton's note
    about it- "That Halley did not see the advantages of Newton's instrument
    appears strange". Clearly, Halley's involvement in the development of the
    instrument was quite unknown to Cotter.
    Cotter ascribes his source to be "The English Cyclopaedia", of 1861, vol 7
    page 498. I must take a look at that when I can. It may be the source of
    much misunderstanding. Eva Taylor takes a similar view to Cotter's, and her
    information may have come from the same source.
    Mike Daly added the following, to his posting 3927-
    Charles H. Cotter,  "The Mariner's Sextant and the Royal Society" Notes
    and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 33, No. 1 (Aug., 1978),
    p. 31:
    "There is no evidence, however, that Newton's instrument materialized,
    let alone that it was tested at sea."
    I'm not sure what view Mike is pushing here. Is he really trying to convince
    us, against all the evidence, that Newton's quadrant never even existed?
    Whether Mike Daly thinks that or not, that quotation undermines Cotter as
    any sort of witness, because by 1983, Cotter has dropped any such claim for
    its non-existence.
    Finally, I add an attachment which may give a bit of enlightenment about
    Cotter, though it concerns a different work altogether: his "History of
    Nautical Astronomy", of 1968. Although that book fulfils a really useful
    function, with all sorts of information you won't find elswhere (and I use
    it regularly) there are many, many, errors to be found. A few years ago, Jan
    Kalivoda and I unearthed several pages thereof, attached here as a .pdf. If
    you have that book, it's intended to be useful, to print out and tuck
    contact George Huxtable at george@huxtable.u-net.com
    or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.
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