Epitaph to Sir Isaac Newton
Epitaphs from The Life Of Pope by Samuel Johnson

Intended for Sir Isaac Newton, in Westminster Abbey.

ISAACUS NEWTONIUS:
Quem Immortalem
Testantur, Tempus, Natura, Coelum:
Mortalem
Hoc marmor fatetur.
Nature, and Nature's laws, lay hid in night:
God said, Let Newton be! And all was light.

On this epitaph, short as it is, the faults seem not to be very few. Why part should be Latin and part English it is not easy to discover. In the Latin the opposition of immortalis and mortalis is a mere sound, or a mere quibble; he is not immortal in any sense contrary to that in which he is mortal. In the verses the thought is obvious, and the words night and light are too nearly allied.

« NEXT » « Epitaphs » « Life of Pope » « Johnson's Works » « Library » « Home »