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    Partridge's Astrological Reform
    and The Whipper Whipp'd

    John Partridge. Defectio Geniturarum: Being an Essay Toward the Reviving and Proving the True Old Principles of Astrology, hitherto neglected, Or, at leastwise, not Observed or Understood. In four parts. The First shewing the Ground and Cause of Error. The Second contains an Examination of those Nativities Printed by Morinus. The Third considers those done by Argol. And, the Fourth those Printed by Mr. Gadbury, in his Collection. Wherein Many things relating to this Science are Handled and Discoursed: but the principal End and Design of the Book is to prove the Power and sole Use of the hileg, in Cases of Life and Death. [issued with:] Flagitiosus Mercurius Flagellatus: or The Whipper Whipp'd: Being an Answer to a Scurrilous Invective Written by George Parker in his Almanack for MDCXCVII. London: for Benj(amin) Tooke, 1697. First Edition. Quarto. Two parts in one volume. A4, a-b4, B-2Z4, *-2*4, 3*2. [24], 360; 20 pages. Text genitures. Modern antique morocco in blind panel design, banded spine, title gilt; holograph owner's name "Joannis Reynodi, 1698/9" and one later one on title page, numerous early marginalia and some genitures in pen and later (nineteenth century) pencil notes; three leaves of nineteenth century notes added at end on astrology and weather; old reinforcements to inner gutter of opening leaves, title page re-set, some foxing and toning, a few old stains; last leaves dampstained at inner margin, upper corner of last leaf chipped-off with minor loss to head-line; some softening of fore-margins at end, a few minor marginal worm holes, else in very good condition. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
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    John Partridge, (1644-1715), astrologer and almanac writer.

    "In the main, however, Partridge's energies in this decade were devoted to astrological battles. He was the acknowledged leader of a programme to reform astrology, which he viewed as corrupted (also a Whig and Republican theme), and which he intended to restore to its former glory by 'Reviving the True and Ancient Method laid down for our Direction by the Great Ptolemy.' He announced his aim in Opus Reformatum (1693). For Partridge and his principal ally, John Whalley, Ptolemy had provided something very like the equivalent of the Whigs' 'Ancient Constitution' for astrologers.

    "This reform project recognized the disrepair and sinking estate of astrology in England since 1660. It placed the blame on the popular, magical, and ostensibly decadent practices of 'Magick-Mongers, Sigil-Merchants, Charm-Broakers, &c.' (John Partridge, Defectio Geniturarum, 1697, BV). The remedy, according to Partridge, was a reform of astrology along strictly rational lines, as 'no otherways than as a Branch of Natural Philosophy' (Opus Reformatum, 1693, viii) - not in the sense adhered to by the Royal Society, but rather using principles of 'Motion, Rays, and Influence' (ibid.) formulated in the Aristotelian tradition, mathematically adumbrated, and resulting in precise (and indeed, testable) predictions...

    "Partridge's next book was duly entitled Defectio Geniturarum (1697), 'Being an Essay toward the Reviving and Proving the True Old Principles of Astrology.' It attacked Gadbury as an 'ignorant Reformer'  along with his data, his methods of interpretation, his colleague George Parker, the innovations of Kepler, and the heliocentric astrology with which several of the Baconian reformers had experimented. Instead Partridge offered a narrowly internal, puritanically pure, and thoroughly traditional astrology, rational and naturalistic in the Aristotelian sense. There is no mistaking his sense of urgency: 'never did Astrology stand in need of a speedy Reformation more than at this time . Astrology is now like a dead Carkass' (Defectio Geniturarum, B2R).

    Partridge continued the dispute with an attack on Parker in Flagitiosis Mercurius Flagellatus (1697), in which he accused Parker of wife-beating, adding that he 'whipped her too the heliocentric way' (page 28). Parker returned the favour, asserting (for example) in his almanac for 1706 that Partridge's real family name was Hewson, and calling him 'a Junior Hewson' (Mayhew, 41), clearly a reference to Colonel John Hewson (died 1662), a particularly ruthless soldier and judge under Cromwell, also originally a cobbler, who was still remembered in the early eighteenth century. (But not, it seems, by a later biographer of Partridge, Bishop Thomas Percy of Dromore, writing in The Tatler in 1786, who took Parker's reference literally.)

    "Partridge's programme to rescue astrology was a failure. The sharp decline in respect for that subject was due to political developments and broad social changes, especially since about 1660, which were quite out of the control of any individual astrologers and any merely internal reform. His Ptolemaic astrology was taken into the early nineteenth century by John Worsdale, with equal rigour but equal lack of general acceptance." -  Oxford DNB.

    Wing P617 & 618, ESTC r26179. Cantamessa 3337. Gardner, Astrologica, 914.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    5th Wednesday
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