Description

    "...it is likely enough, that there may be a means invented of journeying to the moon..."

    John Wilkins. The Mathematical and Philosophical Works of the Right Reverend John Wilkins. London: Printed for J. Nicholson [etc.], 1708.

    First edition. Octavo. viii, [6], 274, [10], 90, [8], 184 pages. With engraved frontispiece portrait, additional engraved pictorial title, and numerous intertextual illustrations.

    Contemporary English paneled calf with gilt morocco lettering label. Some very minor browning and a couple of short joint splits, but overall a lovely copy of this book; very clean, complete and in its original binding. Housed in a cloth clamshell case with morocco gilt lettering label.

    The collected works of the founder of the Royal Society and an early defender of the heliocentric view of the planets.


    More Information:

    The first two pieces are fifth editions of Wilkins's earliest books (first published in 1638 & 1640 respectively). Here he predicts that "there may be a means invented of journeying to the Moon. I do seriously and upon good grounds affirm it possible to make a Flying-Chariot. besides the strange discoveries that it might occasion in this other world, it would also be of inconceivable advantage for traveling, above any other conveyance that is now in use; And he argues that 'the Copernican Hypothesis is exactly agreeable to Common Appearances," and that heliocentrism is perfectly consistent with everything in the Bible. Then comes a third edition of Mercury, or the Secret and Swift Messenger (1641), dealing with cryptography. It is a curious mix of Wilkins's encyclopedic knowledge of early writers and his interest in contemporary methods of secret communication. Next, the fifth edition (the first was in 1648) of Mathematical magick, divided into two parts headed "Archimedes, or Mechanical Powers" and "Daedalus, or Mechanical Motions." Among much else Wilkins discusses "the possibility of framing an Ark for submarine navigations," and various perpetual motion machines. Last is an abstract for Wilkins's best know work Essay towards a Real Character, and a Philosophical Language, a work that has largely to be rewritten because most of the manuscripts were lost in the great London fire.

     

    Provenance: an inscription in pencil of the front free endpaper reads; "The books was sent to me by Mr. Fisher- in 1773 - He was afterwards a Canon of Windsor - & in 1803, Bishop of Exeter'. This would be John Fisher FRS (1748-1825), later Bishop of Salisbury, and one of the leading patrons of John Constable.



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