By Frank E. Manual
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Additional info for A portrait of Isaac Newton
His experimental technique in studying colored circles between two contiguous glasses, 64 A MELANCHOLY COUNTENANCE for example, has dumbfounded commentators. He measured the circles with his naked eye, distinguishing fractions of a hundredth of an inch with unbelievable confidence. He made animated, hostile things of the circles and wrestled with them as if they were evil forces. ”^® The floating anxiety of the puritanical young man may have been reflected in his earliest scientific propositions.
In the last three decades of his life he would prove how wrong they were by becoming a powerful administrator both of the Royal Mint and of English science. Th e Conduitt papers do not add much to the Stukeley memoir on Newton’s boyhood, but the stories they preserve occasionally have a meaning that transcends the factual material they were intended to convey. Reminiscing to Conduitt, Newton idealized his mother and talked about her strong character; stressed his littleness in anec dotes connected with his birth in contrast with his later great estate; made his survival appear a marvel.
Sabbath-breaking, ego tistic ambition, and prohibited any expressions of violence and breach of control. Th e Bible was the guide to conduct. Whatever the virtuous characters in the Bible did was allowable and whatever the 54 A MELANCHOLY COUNTENANCE Bible failed to mention or specifically interdicted was not. A pro hibition against coveting was extended to cover all desires of the flesh, the admonition to honor father and mother made the most minor act of disobedience a religious transgression.
A portrait of Isaac Newton by Frank E. Manual