'Making a mousetrap on Thy day'
The many sins of 19-year-old Isaac Newton
Welcome to the third issue of the Lists of Note newsletter: each Sunday, a fascinating list from history. If you haven’t already, sign up.
Sir Isaac Newton is undoubtedly one of the most influential scientists in human history. In 1668, he built the world’s first successful reflecting telescope; then, in 1687, he published Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, a hugely important book in which he laid out the laws of motion and universal gravitation. In 1964, three hundred years before he made his mark on the world, a page in one of his notebooks, penned cryptically in 1662, was finally decoded; on it, addressed to God, was a list of sins 19-year-old Newton had committed.
Before Whitsunday 1662
Using the word (God) openly
Eating an apple at Thy house
Making a feather while on Thy day
Denying that I made it.
Making a mousetrap on Thy day
Contriving of the chimes on Thy day
Squirting water on Thy day
Making pies on Sunday night
Swimming in a kimnel on Thy day
Putting a pin in Iohn Keys hat on Thy day to pick him
Carelessly hearing and committing many sermons
Refusing to go to the close at my mothers command
Threatning my father and mother Smith to burne them and the house over them
Wishing death and hoping it to some
Having uncleane thoughts words and actions and dreamese
Stealing cherry cobs from Eduard Storer
Denying that I did so
Denying a crossbow to my mother and grandmother though I knew of it
Setting my heart on money learning pleasure more than Thee
A breaking again of my covenant renued in the Lords Supper
Punching my sister
Robbing my mothers box of plums and sugar
Calling Dorothy Rose a jade
Glutiny in my sickness
Peevishness with my mother
With my sister
Falling out with the servants
Divers commissions of alle my duties
Idle discourse on Thy day and at other times
Not turning nearer to Thee for my affections
Not living according to my belief
Not loving Thee for Thy self
Not loving Thee for Thy goodness to us
Not desiring Thy ordinances
Not long [longing] for Thee in [illeg]
Fearing man above Thee
Using unlawful means to bring us out of distresses
Caring for worldly things more than God
Not craving a blessing from God on our honest endeavors.
Beating Arthur Storer.
Peevishness at Master Clarks for a piece of bread and butter.
Striving to cheat with a brass halfe crowne.
Twisting a cord on Sunday morning
Reading the history of the Christian champions on Sunday
Since Whitsunday 1662
Using Wilfords towel to spare my own
Negligence at the chapel.
Sermons at Saint Marys (4)
Lying about a louse
Denying my chamberfellow of the knowledge of him that took him for a sot.
Neglecting to pray (3)
Helping Pettit to make his water watch at 12 of the clock on Saturday night
The above list is one of 125 that feature in the Lists of Note book. It’s now out of print, but I’m selling the last remaining copies of its gorgeous special edition here.