There's a wonderful book that, in a humorous and scholarly way, traces the
saying back from Newton to Bernard:
Merton, Robert King
On the Shoulders of Giants: A Shandean Postscript (1965; new ed. 1985)
This same author, with Elinor Barber, wrote a second wonderful book, before
the above. After years sitting in a drawer it's finally in print:
The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity (Princeton UP, 2004). On
where "serendipity," the word, came from and how it has fared.
Quoting Jim West <jwest@...
> "We are dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. Thus we see more things
> than they did and farther than they did, not because our sight is sharper or
> our height greater, but because they lift us into the sky and raise us up by
> means of their gigantic stature" -- Bernard of Chartres, 12th Century.