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A portrait of Isaac Newton by Frank E. Manual

By Frank E. Manual

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Show thy selfe a man. Play and idleness, games, dancing, sport, thriftlessness are frowned upon. The better gamester the worse man. What else is it to dance but to play the foole? H ee doth nothing but play. Soe much monte soe much credit. H e is not able to pay. H e is reported to be a spendthrift. H e hath not where withall to by a halter to hang himselve. Pronouncements of distrust and wariness are numerous: / beware of him that hee hurt mee not. You ma\e a foole o f mee. You are a foole to believe him.

Tlie problem of precisely when Newton first became acquainted with the texts of his eminent predecessors still occupies historians of science; but attention might also be directed to works of scientific populari­ zation like those of W ilkins, from which students have always garnered their first notions of the ideas of a previous generation. In the Morgan notebook there are many passages copied out of W ilkins with slight emendations. Th e adolescent dream of a machine of per­ petual motion attracted W ilkins as it had Hartlib, and the young Newton felt the same fascination.

A feeling of difference from other boys in Newton’s early life is fairly well documented, and this would increase the dis­ tance between him and them. One of the stereotypes of his boyhood is his abstracted behavior, a subject of derision among the servants. In loneness a private world can be created from sources in the un­ 46 THE PREGNANCY OF HIS PARTS conscious—often at the expense of those capacities which allow for an easier coping with everyday reality. The inner visual imagination is alive and the secret language of number can take possession.

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