Fake news is today’s big thing, but it has always been around. When it comes to Isaac Newton, I could (and perhaps should) easily publish an entire volume of myth and gossip. From his assumed insanity in the early 1690s (about which I blogged earlier) to the ascribing of his religious writings to his dotage – while he spent his entire life studying and writing about Scripture.
But sometimes I comes across a gem, that is just too good not to share. Without much ado, from the December 1, 1798 issue of Rural Magazine:
It is said of Sir Isaac Newton, that he did once in his life go a wooing, and, as was to be expected, had the greatest attention and indulgence paid to the little peculiarities which so generally accompany great genius. Knowing he was fond of smoaking, the lady assiduously provided him with a pipe, and they were then seated, as if to open the business of Cupid.
Sir Isaac smoaked a few whiffs; seemed at a loss for something ; whiffed again ; and at last drew his chair nearer to the lady ; a pause of some minutes ensued ; Sir Isaac seemed still more uneasy ; oh! the timidity of some men, thought the lady ; when lo ! Sir Isaac had got hold of her hand. Now her palpitations begun; he will kiss it, no doubt, thought she, and then the matter is settled. Sir Isaac whiffed with redoubled fury, and drew the captive hand nearer his head ; already the expected salute had vibrated from the hand to the heart, when, pity the damsel, gentle reader ! Sir Isaac only raised the fair hand, to make the fore-finger what he much wanted – a tobacco stopper !