…of a fatherless boy,¹ so precariously brought into this world that as his mother lay on her birthing bed, it seemed unlikely so ill-conceived a child could live.²
But he did, and as his contemporaries bore witness, he would fashion miracles in their season. As proclaimed by one of those who spread the good news — that which in
Greek Old English we would call a gospel — “No closer to the gods can any mortal rise.”³
I’m talking about Isaac Newton of course.* You were thinking of someone else?
Happy Newtonmas everyone!**
(Footnotes below the jump.)
1: His father, also Isaac, died whilst Hanna Newton was pregnant with their son.
2: His nurse recalled that at birth, Isaac fit into a quart pot. So unsure was the family of his survival that he remained
unbaptized for three unchristened for one week.
3: From Edmund Halley’s prefatory ode printed in the first edition of The Principia.
*You can read a bit more on Newton in this post I wrote a couple of years ago over at Executed Today about his less well known life as a cop. But on t his, his birthday, it probably makes more sense to ponder this work, and recall that when “Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night/God said, Let Newton Be! and all was light.”
**This is always just a bit of a waffle. Isaac Newton’s Christmas birthday occurs in the Old-Style or Julian calendar still in use in England in 1641. But given the arbitrary nature of the assignment of 25 Dec. as Jesus’s birthday, I don’t see much point in trying to maintain calendrical purity here.
Image: William Blake, Isaac Newton, 1795