A portrait of Isaac Newton by Frank E. Manual

By Frank E. Manual

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Joseph Alleine, R u les fo r Self-Exam ination ew to n ’s first eighteen years were those of the Civil W ar, the Commonwealth, and the Protectorate. In 1649, when he had just N turned six, a king of England was beheaded. Lincolnshire was an active theater of operations, and a youthful notebook testifies to his awareness of the military presence and his familiarity with con­ temporary theological and political controversies. W e can only guess at the terrors that events of the war in the countryside, the frequent raids and requisitions, may have aroused in him and in his mother.

Newton abided by the moral values of his puritan world and its repression of instinctual desire. In him, puritan inhibitions were exaggerated with painful conse­ quences. Newton’s formal education at Grantham had concentrated al­ most exclusively on the Latin classics, as was customary, though there were also Greek and some Hebrew. W e have at least two of his books that bear a 1659 date and inscription—some indication that he owned them in Lincolnshire —a Pindar and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, standard texts in the grammar schools of the day.

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. You know what account to ma\c of him. You shall never m ake mee believe that taile. There is a pervasive loneliness— H o man understands mee —^and utter despondency: What will become of me. I will m ake an end. 1 cannot but weepe. I know not what to doe. 58 A MELANCHOLY COUNTENANCE In all these youthful scribblings there is an astonishing absence of positive feeling.

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