As concerns the real Newtonians, they are in the same case as the old Prussians in October, 1806. The latter believed that they were winning tactically, when they had long since been conquered strategically. When once their eyes are opened they will be startled to find me already in Naumburg and Leipzig, while they are still creeping along near Weimar and Blankenheim.
The more Newton is revered, the less do people style themselves Newtonians; this word supposes that there are anti-Newtonians in England. Maybe we still have a few Cartesians in France; that is solely because Descartes' system is a tissue of erroneous and ridiculous imaginings. It is likewise with the small number of truths of fact which are well established.
In the appearances of magnetism all trace of matter is lost, and of the phaenomena of gravitation, which not a few among the most illustrious Newtonians have declared no otherwise comprehensible than as an immediate spiritual influence, there remains nothing but its law, the execution of which on a vast scale is the mechanism of the heavenly motions.
Peripatetic, when the learned had, with Descartes, renounced the philosophy of Aristotle, it became Cartesian, when they were Newtonians. Such is the too general custom of bodies, engaged in instruction, who make no discoveries.
But in Dublin, all this while, there was a little David practising his youthful strength upon the intellectual lions and bears of Trinity College. This was George Berkeley, who was destined to give the same kind of development to the idealistic side of Descartes' philosophy, that the Freethinkers had given to its sceptical side, and the Newtonians to its mechanical side.
What the Newtonians mean when they say that the air has the property of absorbing other colors, and of repelling blue alone, I cannot at all understand, nor do I see what use or pleasure is to be derived from a doctrine in which all thought stands still, and all sound observation completely vanishes."
James Reddie came under Professor De Morgan's criticism. Mr. Reddie was something more than well-meaning. He was earnestly desirous of advancing the interests of science, as well as of defending religion from what he mistakenly supposed to be the dangerous teachings of the Newtonians.
By virtue of this quality, purple served from antiquity for the vesture of those who have reached the highest stage of human development for their time. This characteristic of the middle colours of the two spectra was expressed by Goethe when he called green 'real totality', and peach-blossom 'ideal totality'. From this standpoint Goethe was able to smile at the Newtonians.