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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index P > Matthew Prior Quotes

Matthew Prior
(21 Jul 1664 - 18 Sep 1721)

English poet and diplomat.

Science Quotes by Matthew Prior (5 quotes)

Circles to square and cubes to double
Would give a man excessive trouble.
The longitude uncertain roams,
In spite of Whiston and his bombs.
— Matthew Prior
In 'Alma', Canto III, in Samuel Johnson, The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper (1810), 203. The reference to longitude reflects the difficulty of its determination at sea, and the public interest in the attempts to win the prize instituted by the British government in 1714 for a successful way to find longitude at sea (eventually won by John Harrison's chronometer). In this poem, William Whiston (who succeeded Isaac Newton as Lucasian Professor at Cambridge) is being satirized for what many thought was a crack-brained scheme to find the longitude. This proposed, with Humphrey Ditton, the use of widely separated ships firing off shells programmed to explode at a set time, and calculation of distance between them made from the time-lag between the observed sounds of the explosions using the known speed of sound.
Science quotes on:  |  Bomb (18)  |  Circle (56)  |  Double (15)  |  Longitude (5)  |  Man (373)  |  Square (24)  |  Trouble (72)  |  William Whiston (2)

Forc’d by reflective Reason, I confess,
Human science is uncertain guess.
— Matthew Prior
From poem, 'Solomon', Collected in Samuel Johnson (ed.), The Works of the English Poets: Volume the Thirty-First: The Poems of Prior: Volume II (1760), 126.
Science quotes on:  |  Confess (15)  |  Forced (3)  |  Guess (48)  |  Human (550)  |  Hypothesis (252)  |  Reason (471)  |  Reflective (3)  |  Science (2067)  |  Uncertain (14)

Human science is an uncertain guess.
— Matthew Prior
'Solomon on the Vanity of the World, Book I, On Knowledge'. In Matthew Prior, John Mitford (Ed.), The Poetical Works of Matthew Prior (1854), Vol. 2, 118.
Science quotes on:  |  Guess (48)  |  Science (2067)

In arms and science tis the same
Our rival’s hurts create our fame.
— Matthew Prior
'Alma, or, The Progress of the Mind', in The Poetical Works of Matthew Prior (1779) Vol. 1, 358, Canto 1, line 196.
Science quotes on:  |  Arms (3)  |  Creation (242)  |  Fame (37)  |  Hurt (12)  |  Rival (10)  |  Science (2067)

You tell your doctor, that y’are ill
and what does he, but write a bill?
Of which you need not read one letter;
The worse the scrawl, the dose the better,
For if you knew but what you take,
Though you recover, he must break.
— Matthew Prior
In Alma Canto III. Collected in Poems on Several Occasions (1709), 262.
Science quotes on:  |  Better (192)  |  Bill (14)  |  Break (54)  |  Doctor (102)  |  Dose (13)  |  Letter (51)  |  Need (287)  |  Reading (52)  |  Recovery (18)  |  Scrawl (2)  |  Telling (23)  |  Worse (24)  |  Writing (81)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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