Isaac Newton: Neliti Face of Science 005

Neliti’s 5th Face of Science is the father of modern physics who found truth in simplicity. A man whose fascination with everyday occurrences arrived at simple formulas to describe the motion of anything he saw. Isaac Newton: discoverer of the three laws of motion, calculus, and much more.

Neliti Faces of Science celebrates the lives and impact of the world’s greatest scientists – those whose thinking redefined the depth of human knowledge. Every month a new scientist is chosen, a 3D model is created of their face, and their lives are celebrated on the Neliti homepage, here in the Breakthrough blog, and in the Neliti Faces of Science NFT collection.

Neliti’s 5th Face of Science is the father of modern physics who found truth in simplicity. A man whose fascination with everyday occurrences arrived at simple formulas to describe the motion of anything he saw. Isaac Newton: discoverer of the three laws of motion, calculus, and much more.

Rendition of Isaac Newton by Lukas Kutschera

A brilliant mind will push the frontiers of knowledge to arrive at simple, life-changing truths.   

Isaac Newton, considered one of the world’s greatest scientists and mathematicians, and revered as the father of modern physics, was fascinated by everyday occurrences, and arrived at simple formulas to describe the motion of anything he saw. In fact, he is probably the first person who explained Nature with a few mathematical equations, instead of just words. As he so aptly said, “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”

Indeed, Isaac Newton altered the way the world understood the universe. The famous anecdote about the apple falling has endured through time to fascinate succeeding generations on the depths of his intelligence. A colleague, William Stukeley, who wrote one of Newton’s early biographies, was walking in the family garden with Newton, in the late 1660s, discussing gravity. The story goes that Newton pointed to an apple hanging from a branch of an apple tree nearby, and wondered why an apple, when it is released from the branch, should always fall to the ground, rather than fall sideways or upward. His explanation was that the earth attracts the apple with a yet-unknown force.

Newton named this force “gravity” after the Latin word “gravitas” meaning “weight”. He understood that every object in the Universe attracts every other object in the Universe.

Martin Rees, a former president of Britain’s Royal Society said of Newton, “He showed the force that makes the apple fall and that holds us on the ground, is the same as the force that keeps the moon and planets in their orbits.”

Rendition of Isaac Newton by 3D artist Lukas Kutschera

Newton’s birth and early life

Isaac Newton was born two or three months prematurely, into a Puritan family in a manor house in Woolsthorpe, a small village in Lincolnshire, England, on January 4, 1643, almost a year after Galileo’s death.

Newton’s arrival on earth took place three months after his well-to-do but illiterate father, also named Isaac Newton, died in October 1642. Moreover, it was also a chaotic and turbulent time in England which was bleeding in the throes of a civil war, while the plague was a constant threat.

According to his mother, Newton had been a tiny baby who could fit inside a quart mug; he had not been expected to survive the day. But he showed the world he was made of sterner stuff.

When Newton was three years old, his mother, Hannah Ayscough, married Barnabas Smith, the minister of a church in a nearby village and relocated to her new husband’s home, leaving Newton behind with her parents. Newton, thus, nursed a deep bitterness toward his mother and stepfather for abandoning him.

Left with his maternal grandparents, Newton learned to read and write from his grandmother. However, there was little love lost between him and his grandfather, James Ayscough, who did not treat Newton well, and left him nothing his will when Newton turned ten.

Feeling unwanted by his family, Newton had an unhappy childhood. As a nineteen-year-old, when he was reflecting upon his sins, he listed, “Threatening my father and mother Smith to burn them and the house over them.”

However, seven years later, in 1653, Barnabas Smith died and Hannah returned home with three children, Benjamin, Mary and Hannah, she had from her second marriage. Later in life, Newton would leave most of his property to the three of them.

Schooling and new interests: Newton appeared different from regular boys

When his mother was away, Newton was educated in day schools in villages close by. But, after her return, he was sent away to the well-established free grammar school of King Edward VI, in the industrial market town of Grantham, in Lincolnshire.

He was boarded at the home of an apothecary, Mr. William Clarke, whose wife and Newton’s mother were friends. The Clarke family treated him kindly and were a positive influence in his life. In fact, it was at the Clarke’s household that Newton became interested in chemistry. They encouraged him to conduct chemical experiments, build mechanical models, from windmills to clocks to toys. He even invented a fancy system of sundials that was accurate to the minute. They energised him to draw birds, beasts, ships and mathematical constructions with which he covered the walls of his room.

With an incredible thirst for knowledge, Newton found comfort in books, especially those on mechanics and technology, but literature and poetry left him cold.

Mr. Stokes, the headmaster at King’s School, found Newton gentle and teachable, although he did not exhibit any unusual abilities. Besides, Mr. Stokes was so successful in building Newton’s Latin skills that subsequently, Newton was able to communicate as fluently in Latin as in English.

After four years in school, at the age of sixteen, his mother called him back home to manage the farm. But it did not take her long to realize that it was a mistake to get Newton to do farm work. He did not want to look after the sheep or cattle, and instead, he could be found reading a book or carving a stick with his jack-knife.

Growing up, Newton was not seen as a regular child who indulged in boyish games, or got into mischief with other boys.  Mr. William Clarke’s stepdaughter, Ms. Storey, who had the opportunity to know him more intimately than anyone else, said the “always a sober, silent, thinking lad, and was never known scarce to play with the boys abroad, at their silly amusements…” In fact, after school, he chose to be at home, even in female company, most often making little tables, cupboards and various utensils for the girls to keep their trinkets.

Moreover, Newton’s premature birth and ensuing fragility may have resulted in his not being masculine in physique. However, he had spirit and resolution, and refused to be bullied or cow down to bullies. In one incident, an older boy kicked him brutally in the stomach. Newton challenged him to a fight and beat him until he could not fight anymore.

Nonetheless, his strategy to beat the bullies was to be better than them academically. He worked hard and rose from being an ordinary student to one who excelled and became the school’s top student.

Rescued by the headmaster

Headmaster Stokes, who already knew Newton did not have the disposition to be a farmer, begged Hannah to allow him to return to Grantham.

In the end, Newton did go back to Grantham in the fall of 1660 to prepare himself for college. A year later, on June 5, 1661, as a 19-year-old, he entered Cambridge University but failed, initially, to be seen as an outstanding student. Yet, it was a remarkable undergraduate career, but it passed unrecognized because Newton studied the new philosophy and the new mathematics by himself, without formal instruction, and made them his own creations. The progress of his studies was known only to himself as he recorded it only in his notebooks.

Newton worked mostly under the direction of Isaac Barrow, the newly appointed Lucasian professor, who also taught him natural philosophy and optics. Newton also studied a series of lectures on light and carefully read Kepler’s book on Optics. The Optics is probably a significant reason why he was interested in  telescopes and the properties of light.

Newton received his Bachelor Degree from Cambridge in April1665.

It was also in 1665 that the bubonic plague closed down the university. A traveler to a small village in Derbyshire had arrived with a flea-infested box of laundry which led to the plague sweeping across England, closing the doors of Cambridge University, compelling Newton to return to his home in Woolsthorpe, and forcing him to stay there for the next two years, allowing him plenty of time to reflect on what he had learned so far.

He described his years on hiatus as “the prime of my age for invention.”

The bubonic plague leads to Newton’s “years of wonder”

Discovery of Gravitation, invention of Calculus, discovery of the colour spectrum in light

The bad situation of the pandemic was compensated for, as it was during this break that Newton was inspired by the falling apple, to direct his thought processes to eventually lead to his law of universal gravitation.

Newton’s Three Laws of Motion

The falling of the apple led to Newton developing his Three Laws of Motion:

  • Newton’s Law of Inertia stated that every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.
  • Newton’s Law of Acceleration stated that force is equal to the change in momentum (mV) per change in time. For a constant mass, force equals mass times acceleration [expressed in the famous equation F = ma].
  • Newton’s Law of Action and Reaction stated that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Newton focused his mind on mathematics too, during this hiatus, consequently changing the world by inventing Calculus in 1665, which he called “the science of fluents and fluxions.” He was only 24 when he achieved this vital breakthrough in the history of math. Nevertheless, today it is believed that Calculus was independently discovered by both Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, another great mathematician during Newton’s time.  

Calculus is used in physics, chemistry, biology, economics, pure mathematics, and all branches of engineering. Still a critical component of science, Newton made one of the most significant breakthroughs in mathematical history through the invention and use of Calculus.

 While Newton was taking a break on his family’s farm during the pandemic and separated from his habitual activities, he distracted himself by delving into the nature of colour.

One day as golden sunshine poured into his room, Newton drew the shades in his room and drilled a hole in his window shutter, so only a single beam of sunlight entered the room. He then placed a glass prism upon the sunbeam and was enthralled by the dazzling rainbow-coloured band of light that formed through the prism. He described this phenomenon as “the colour’d Image of the Sun.”

Until Newton’s experiment, the popular belief was that light was pure white and that colours came into being when matter came into contact with sunlight. However, Newton demonstrated that light is, in fact, a blending of primary colours, which can be separated or blended at will to create new colours, which he called the “inflexion of light.” 

Pre-Newton theories considered white light as a given, and attempted to explain how colours are created. But Newton surmised that colours are a primary product that can be used to explain white light. In fact, at this time, when little was known about the properties of light, some people thought the eye created light, or collected it. Through curiosity, Newton acted as his own guinea pig, using a blunt needle known as “a bodkin” to probe his eye.

Even after his exciting discovery of the rainbow colours of white light, Newton delayed publishing his “New Theory of Light and Colours” until 1672, when the Royal Society published it in the Philosophical Transactions. This theory is now considered the foundation of modern optics.

However, following the theory’s initial publication, several scientists attacked the theory and Newton’s methodology. The attack was most acrimonious with Robert Hooke, an English physicist famed for the Law of Elasticity

Newton builds world’s first reflecting telescope

Just as light separates into different colours when its passes through a prism, Newton realized the same process happens with a lens too. And when different colours pass at different speeds through optical material, there will automatically be chromatic aberration or blurred images with noticeable coloured edges in red, green, blue, yellow, purple, or magenta, particularly in high-contrast situations.

In order to eliminate chromatic aberration, Newton decided to build a different type of telescope. Instead of a lens to focus starlight, he used a mirror, experimenting with different metals and polishing methods to build his first reflecting telescope in 1668, a distinct milestone in the history of telescopes. It was later referred to as “the Newtonian Telescope.”

Although Newton was not the only astronomer to envisage building a telescope with a mirror, he was the first person in the world to build a reflecting telescope that worked. He proudly presented his invention to his colleagues in England’s Royal Society in January 1672. The Royal Society of London is one of the most prestigious of organizations involved in  promoting science.

Even today, reflecting telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope, are the anchor of astronomy, enabling sharper and more accurate images.

To solve the problem, Newton designed a telescope that used mirrors rather than just glass lenses, which allowed the new apparatus to focus all the colours on a single point—resulting in a crisper, more accurate image.

Newton’s return to Cambridge University

With these theories tucked under his belt, Newton returned to Cambridge when the plague ended in 166.

Six months after his return, he was made a Fellow, and awarded a Master Degree.

Two years later, on October 29, 1669, as a 26-year-old, he was appointed the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, becoming the second person to hold the professorship, which was an illustrious chair of science, named after its distinguished founder, Henry Lucas.  Consequently, eminent mathematical physicists had been its occupants.

Newton’s appointment happened because of Professor Isaac Barrow who identified Newton’s outstanding capabilities.  For instance, when Newton sent Barrow a paper titled, “On analysis by equations with an infinite number of terms, ” Barrow described his study as ‘a work of unparalleled genius,” and retired from his position to award the place to Newton.

Nevertheless, Newton was hardly a model teacher, for he had little interest in teaching or in his students. Most of the time, his students kept away from his lectures, which suited Newton fine, for he was able to pursue his own research, which was all that mattered to him.

He remained a mathematics professor and also served Cambridge in other capacities until 1696.

Principia Mathematica, the book that swept Newton to fame

Newton published his findings in a book called Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) popularly known as the Principia. His most influential writing, it was published in sections from 1667-1686.

In the Principia, Newton brought together experimental induction and mathematical deduction to create a scientific method for modern times.

Newton’s work was significantly influenced by Renaissance mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus, German astronomer Johannes Kepler and Italian astronomer Galileo. He combined the essence of their finding to create his publication, Principia Mathematica.

Newton’s Principia turned out to be an all-encompassing account of physics which began with definitions of mass, force and motion, including mathematical explanations of these principles, moving to details on planetary and lunar motion and the ocean tides among other topics.

University of London mathematician Robert Wilson said, “Newton’s Principia made him famous—few people read it, and even fewer understood it, but everyone knew that it was a great work, rather like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity over two hundred years later.”

One person, in particular, was furious when Newton’s The Principia was published, and that was physicist Robert Hooke, as he was one of the prominent scientists who were promoting the idea that planets were drawn to the sun. However, Newton was the first person to provide extensive mathematical proof for this idea.

Even so, Hooke was convinced that the Principia could have never come to be without his explanations about the attraction between celestial bodies. Consequently, he felt he should rightfully be given credit for his influence on Newton’s thinking. But Newton ignored it all, relegating Hooke’s influence to a cursory mention of Hooke in the 3rd volume of Principia.

The Principia was Newton’s last serious scientific investigation.

Newton in politics

As a firm opponent of the attempt by King James II to make the universities into Catholic institutions, Newton was elected Member of Parliament for the University of Cambridge to the Convention Parliament of 1689, and sat again in 1701-1702.  He is said to have contributed very little in parliament, reportedly speaking only once, that too, to request for closing a window because it was cold.

However, while he was in London, Newton connected with a number of high-profile figures, including King William III and philosopher John Locke.

Newton’s mother’s passing and his mental breakdowns

When Newton’s mother fell very sick with a malignant fever in 1689, believed to be typhoid fever, he nursed her with a lot of care and skill. But she passed away. She was only 56.

Meanwhile, Newton’s irregular hours, his continuous labor on The Principia, his restlessness as he looked for a new position culminated in Newton’s having a nervous breakdown in 1693. Following five nights of sleeping ‘not a wink’, he seemed to lose his hold on all reality and was convince his close friends were conspiring against him.

He had two nervous breakdowns that have been attributed also to his being poisoned by metals, specifically from mercury and also from lead, which he used often in his alchemical experiments.

Following his nervous breakdown in 1693, recovery from which took 18 months, Newton retired from research.

It was around this time that the British government reached out to consult him on economics and currency.

Newton rescues Britain’s currency

On March 19, 1696, on the recommendation of Charles Montague, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Newton was appointed Warden at the Royal Mint, which was responsible for producing England’s currency.

This government position brought Newton more wealth, prestige and influence than any of his academic work. So, Newton left Cambridge, his home for many years, and permanently moved to London, to live with his niece, Catherine Barton, who was the mistress of Lord Halifax, a high-ranking government official.

The mint was located in the Tower of London.

The Royal Mint had just begun recoinage when the British government reached out for Newton’s skillful thinking and undaunted action in a situation of extensive counterfeiting. Moreover, there was an imminent financial crisis in Britain, with at least one in ten coins in circulation believed to be forged.

Newton began his task with a vengeance. He took the notorious counterfeiters head-on, rooting them out, investigating, bringing them to justice, sending at least 29 of them to the gallows. He also recalled all English coins in circulation, got them melted down, and recoined better-quality coins with counterfeit-resistant design. He is believed to have used his mathematical knowledge for this, and saved Britain three million pounds in today’s value.

 Newton’s plan of action was bold, as the entire country did not have currency for one whole year.

Working 18-hour days, Newton reorganized the Royal Mints, making it an efficient, quality institution resistant to forgers. He ensured new coinage for Queen Anne’s coronation in 1702, and supervised the massive responsibility of aligning Scottish with the English, after the Union of England and Scotland in 1707.

Within three years he completed the project with great success. Setting high standards when corruption was rife, led to his promotion in 1699, as Master of the Mint, for which Lord Halifax had been instrumental. Newton was Master of the Mint until his death

Newton, as Master of the Mint, also inadvertently initiated the Gold Standard. He removed the British currency pound sterling’s ties to silver and instead, linked its value to gold. He redefined the value of the currency to make twenty-one shillings and six pence equal to one gold guinea.

Mint historian Sir John Craig described Newton’s administrative capabilities as “a good judge and handler of men”, endowed with “magnetism which in many engendered an extraordinary regard and respect.” Economist John Maynard Keynes called him “one of the greatest and most efficient of our civil servants”. The Royal Mint characterized him as “an honest and respected man who cared for his reputation.”

Queen Anne knights Newton

 In April 16, 1705, Queen Anne bestowed a knighthood on Newton for a lifetime of achievement. The extravagant ceremony was held at his beloved Trinity College. Newton was the first English man of science to be awarded this

The Royal Society

With the passing of Robert Hooke, Newton was elected president of the Royal Society in 1703.

However, as he carried out his duties, he seemed not to understand the concept of science as a collaborative venture. His ambition as well as his passionate defense of his own discoveries led him to various conflicts with other scientists.

His tenure at Royal Society has been described by many as tyrannical and autocratic, and he had absolute power over the lives and careers of young scientists making their way in the field.

Newton, the last magician

There seemed to be no end to the surprises Newton’s life unfolded.

Following a bidding at Sotheby’s auction house in London on July 13, 1936, a metal chest filled with mostly-unpublished, some nearly 300-year-old private, hand-written papers and lab books, was opened. In 1872, Cambridge University had gone through these papers, and scholars spent 16 years cataloging the contents. They selected a few, and returned mostly all of it to the owner, the Earl of Portsmouth.

Economist John Maynard Keynes, an admirer of Newton, heard of the auction too late, so began buying piecemeal. At first, he was seeking any document from Newton. Later, he honed in on one topic – Newton’s interest in alchemy. And, the more documents he got, the clearer it became that Newton’s interest in alchemy was practically his life work, and had been more intensely important to him than physics or math had ever been. Keynes’ conclusion was “This Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians.”

Newton’s interest in alchemy began as a diversion when he was boarded at the home of apothecary Willam Clarke. He found solace for his life’s miseries in books like Mysteries of Nature and Art, and was enthralled by their queer blend of philosophy and practical engineering.

He demonstrated his talents as a child by building gadgets like a water clock, also a lantern described in the book. He showed a streak of mischief by tying the lantern to a kite and flying it at night near his home. Newton recalled it as a spectacle “which wonderfully affrighted all the neighboring inhabitants.”

At Cambridge, Newton immersed himself in books by Robert Boyle, the alchemist, for understanding the practical and the theoretical aspects of alchemy.

Throughout his life, Newton wrote over a million words on the subject, hoping the ancient knowledge would better explain the nature of matter. He has also noted a recipe for the Philosophers’ Stone, a legendary substance that was supposed to turn base metals like iron and lead, into gold.

Newton’s nervous breakdown is also associated with the time of his work on alchemy.

However, scholars have been nervous to bring out this connection, as alchemy is generally dismissed as mystical pseudoscience. Yet, it has to be considered that, as the study of Chemistry was still in its infancy during Newton’s time, and chemical experiments that Newton did, he had to note down in vague terminology.

As science historian William Newman said, “Alchemists were the first to realize that compounds could be broken down into their constituent parts and then recombined. Newton then applied that to white light, which he deconstructed into constituent colours and then recombined.” He says Newton’s famous scientific discoveries are likely to be linked to his interest in alchemy.

Newton the devout Christian

Newton was a faithful Christian who professed to study the Bible daily. Anyhow, he wrote more on religion than he did on science.

He believed that through his scientific investigations, he was making known the Creator’s work and the underlying principles used to order the physical world. He also analyzed the Bible, positive that he shared a privileged relationship with God and looked for secret messages about how the universe was constructed and how it works.

Newton’s “unattractive personality”

Growing up, Newton was not seen as a regular child who indulged in boyish games, or got into mischief with other boys.  Mr. William Clarke’s stepdaughter, Ms. Storey, who had the opportunity to know him more intimately than anyone else, said the “always a sober, silent, thinking lad, and was never known scarce to play with the boys abroad, at their silly amusements…” In fact, after school, he chose to be at home, even in female company, most often making little tables, cupboards and various utensils for the girls to keep their trinkets.

As he grew older, Newton developed a domineering personality.

Yet, there were times of remorse, during which he wrote out lists of his “sins”, beginning when he was still a child.

He was quick to anger, and often violent when angry, lashing out with words and sometimes fists. He is said to have had suicidal thoughts as a college student at Cambridge.

The cycle of manic behavior and depression continued throughout life for him, and is said to have had roots in his unhappy childhood.

Although people admired Isaac Newton’s discoveries, he was not much liked in the circles he moved. Rees from Royal Society said, “As a personality, Newton was unattractive—solitary and reclusive when young, vain and vindictive in his later years, when he tyrannized the Royal Society and vigorously sabotaged his rivals.”

Newton was regularly given into bouts of rage when he was criticized. When two scientists of his time, Robert Hooke and Gottfried Leibniz, were critical of his work, or competed with him for their claim on new ideas of gravity and calculus, Newton chased after them with personal vendettas.

However, an assistant of Newton named Humphrey Newton (no relative of his) describes him in a different light. “His carriage was then very meek, sedate and humble, never seemingly angry, of profound thought, his countenance mild, pleasant and comely. I cannot say I ever saw him laugh but once …”

Newton’s relationships and leisure pursuits

For all his brilliance and genius, Newton was known to be a man with few friends and little sense of humor, thus, making him a very lonely person.  Among his few close friends was Nicholas Fatio de Duiller, his student with whom he maintained an intense and warm correspondence. However, in 1693, the relationship broke and correspondence stopped.

Samuel Pepys an English diarist and naval administrator and John Locke, an English philosopher and physician were also close friends with Newton. However, in 1693, Newton sent them both wild, accusatory letters. Pepys was told Newton will not see him anymore. Both men were very concerned for Newton’s sanity.

Besides, romantic love seems to have eluded Newton throughout life, and he never had any women in his life. There is much information to show he had no romantic interest in either sex, and preferred to remain unattached and devoid of emotional baggage. He often wrote complaining of others who tried to match him up with eligible women.

Newton’s assistant said, “I never knew him to take any recreation or pastime in riding out to take the air, walking, bowling or any other exercise whatever…He rarely went to bed till two or three of the clock, sometimes not until five or six, lying about four or five hours.”

 Newton also had no love for literature or the fine arts. He is said to have attended only one opera, and that too, he left halfway through. Poetry was ‘a kind of ingenious nonsense’ and he dismissed sculpture as ‘stone dolls.’

However, despite his not enjoying music in an aesthetic sense, Newton has discussed music in various contexts for music’s underlying principles and the notion of cosmic harmony.

Titles and awards

Newton, famous for incredible discoveries, was offered prestigious positions in his life.

  • In 1671, he was invited to join the Royal Society of London, following his invention of the reflecting telescope and donating one to the Royal Society.
  • Subsequently, in 1703, he was elected President of the Royal Society.
  • He became a Member of Parliament for Cambridge University in 1689 and served as a politician for one year.
  • In 1696 he was made Warden of the Mint. Due to his hard work and dedication to the Mint, he was appointed Master of the Mint in 1699-1700 until his death.
  • In 1703 he was elected president of the Royal Society and was re-elected each year until his death.
  • In 1705 he was knighted by Queen Anne, and thereafter was known as Sir Isaac Newton.

Newton’s final years

Newton never married and had no children. So, his last years were spent with his niece Catherine Barton Conduitt and her husband.

At 81 years, he suffered from stone, gout and inflammation of the lungs. However, until then he was in relatively good health. He never wore spectacles and had all his teeth intact but one. He had abundant hair but he grayed early, at 30 years of age. Later, his hair became silver-white.

For the sake of his health, Newton moved to the village of Kensington in 1724, and the clean country air and the rest he got, was beneficial. However, he insisted on going up to London now and then. It is one of these visits that appeared to precipitate his death.

Newton, not knowing it was his last trip to London, went to preside at a Royal Society meeting on February 28, 1727. He returned to Kensington on March 4th and was taken ill upon reaching home. By March 15, he seemed to be recovering well, and on March 18, he had a clear mind, read the newspapers and spoke freely with his friends. By evening that day, he became unconscious and he passed away two days later, in the early hours of March 20.

Sir Isaac Newton was buried with great honor in Westminster Abbey, on March 28, 1727, attended by kings and nobles, and presided over by friend and colleague Alexander Pope, whose emotional and inspiring eulogy preceded the sprinkling of dirt on the tomb.

And so, the curtain fell on a complex life of a man who was not known to be humble. Yet, during his final days, his own perception of his life was incredibly humble.

“I do not know how I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy, playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself, in now and then finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

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