In addition to his many renowned contributions to mathematics, physics and
astronomy, such as the discovery of the law of universal gravitation, the
invention of calculus, the construction of the first reflecting telescope, and
the first analysis of white light, Sir Isaac Newton devoted many years of his
life to chemistry, alchemy and metallurgy. For 250 years after his death, his
manuscripts and books lay in a large chest into which he placed them in 1696
when he became Master of the Mint. They remained untouched until 1872 when
Newton's heirs donated his papers to Cambridge University. After the University
Library accessioned those items of scientific interest, they returned to the
family all personal items, including the alchemical manuscripts. In 1936 these
"personal papers" were dispersed at auction. This manuscript, a commentary on
Johann de MonteSnyder's Tractatus de medicina universali (1678),
testifies to the depth to which Newton pursued studies in alchemy.
