The introductory paragraph of the book An Introduction to Mathematics, written for general audience by the great British mathematician Alfred North Whitehead goes like this:
Chapter 1: THE ABSTRACT NATURE OP MATHEMATICS
The study of mathematics is apt to commence in disappointment. The important applications of the science, the theoretical interest of its ideas, and the logical rigour of its methods, all generate the expectation of a speedy introduction to processes of interest. We are told that by its aid the stars are weighed and the billions of molecules in a drop of water are counted. Yet, like the ghost of Hamlet's father, this science eludes the efforts of our mental weapons to grasp it - "'Tis here, 'tis there, 'tis gone" - and what we do see does not suggest the same excuse for illusiveness as sufficed for the ghost, that it is too noble for our gross methods. "A show of violence," if ever excusable, may surely be "offered" to the trivial results which occupy the pages of some elementary mathematical treatises.
I am completely at sea trying to understand the last line, starting with "A show of violence"..
Is he referring to The Tragedy of Hamlet (which I haven't read or know much about) or is a "show of violence" used as an expression or a metaphor?