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Naturevolume 150pages700706 (1942) | Download Citation



IT is my task—my honourable and inspiring task—to say something of Isaac Newton as seen against the background of the science of his time. I shall try to display briefly the position as he found it and to resume in a small space his great achievements and the changes in outlook which they produced. In praising Newton I shall endeavour to do justice to his great forerunners and to the men of his time who pursued worthily the same great ends as he did, and who would have held the centre of the stage in any other age than that dominated by him. For Newton, like Shakespeare, did not stand as a lonely adventurer into new realms, though he travelled farther and straighter than the rest. Shakespeare was the supreme poet and playwright at a time when poetry and plays were part of the life of every cultivated man and occupied the attention of the brightest intellects. Newton was the supreme scientist in an age when the quantitative method of questioning Nature was abroad in the air. Each was the child of his time.


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