A portrait of Isaac Newton by Frank E. Manual

A portrait of Isaac Newton by Frank E. Manual

By Frank E. Manual

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Sample text

But even though he denatured the myths, depriving them of some of their emotional quality by transforming them into political history and chronology, he was not impervious to their original imagery. For a man denied sexual experience, the reading of cruel, erotic myths of the gods might serve a purpose that was only secondarily related to historical research. ^® A quick inclina­ tion to relate this to bloody fantasies should be checked by the realization that crimson was also the color of royalty and the aris­ tocratic status to which this yeoman’s son always aspired.

John W ilkins, who had left Oxford for Cambridge, had shielded many royalists and was “heart­ ily honored and loved” by men of both parties,® with the Restoration he was evicted from the College because his marriage to Oliver Cromwell’s widowed sister made him too conspicuous a figure to be overlooked. He was replaced for eighteen months in 1660-1661 by Dr. Henry Fem e, who in 1643 had taken refuge with the Royalists in Oxford after having published a manifesto, Resolving of Con­ science. In the exercise of his functions he showed moderation, and helped to ease the transition to the new regime during Newton’s first year as an undergraduate by obtaining the confirmation of elections to fellowships that had taken place under the Common­ wealth.

H e who has time and tranquillity can by reading this book live again the wonderful events which the great Newton experienced in his young days. Nature to him was an open book, whose letters he could read without effort. The conceptions which he used to reduce the material of experience to order seemed to flow spontaneously from experience itself, from the beautiful experi­ ments which he ranged in order like playthings and describes with an affectionate wealth of detail. In one person he com­ bined the experimenter, the theorist, the mechanic and, not least, the artist in exposition.

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