Unlike the bit about Salvador Dali’s career as an accounting wunderkind, the story of Newton’s dressing up in disguises to catch counterfeiters is not something we dragged from the tortured realms of our yelping fancy. Why the Royal Mint job? A popular theory is that, like Lagrange, he reached a point where he simply didn’t care about science anymore, and gave himself over willingly to religious and governmental work.
But think about it… This guy sits in his room, riding out The Plague while reinventing the universe. He finally releases his thoughts on optics and, after a few laudatory words, gets roundly and repeatedly dick-punched (verbally speaking) by a bunch of dicks interested in preserving their positions. Newton starts off writing very polite notes back, explaining and clarifying, but the letters don’t stop. The mockery doesn’t stop. He gets himself embroiled in intellectual pissing wars he doesn’t necessarily care about. So, he pulls away from the whole petty scene and goes some place where he can hide, do some good work, and at the very least not spend every moment of his day arguing with dumbwads.
The younger Newton is the stuff of epics and high school posters. The embittered elder one is funnier.
– DvL