A discussion of interesting books from my current stock A site


Horace. Horatius Flaccus, Quintus (65-8 B.C.)

Opera cu[m] quibusdam Annotat[i]o[n]ib[us]. Imaginibusq[ue] pulcherrimis aptisq[ue] ad Odarum conce[n]tus & sente[n]tias.


Strasbourg: Johann Reinhard, called Grüninger, 12 March, 1498

Folio: 298 x 222 mm. Collation: [*]6, A-V6, X-Z6, AA-II6, KK-LL8; [**]6

FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF HORACE and the first edition of the poet’s works to be printed in Germany. The text was edited by the poet laureate Jacob Locher, called Philomusus. The woodcuts were executed by the artist of the Grüninger Terence (November 1, 1496).

2614_7Bound in 19th c. half calf and marbled boards. Illustrated with more than 160 detailed woodcuts. This is an excellent copy with large margins. A contemporary 15th or 16th c. artist has painted five of the large woodcuts with subtlety and a sophisticated use of color and shadow: 1. title page portrait of the author crowned with a laurel wreath; 2. Horace and his patron, Maecenas; 3. Julius Caesar being slain by Brutus and Cassius; 4. Virgil sailing in a ship; and 5. two pairs of lovers discoursing in a landscape. From the libraries of Georg (Franz Burkhard) Kloss (1787-1854), with his bookplate; Arthur Atherley, with his bookplate; and Etienne Reymond, with his bookplate . The German physician, philologist and Freemason George Kloss (1787-1854) was an early student of bibliographer and a collector of early books and manuscripts. This book was Lot 2046 in Kloss’ sale at Sotheby’s, May 1835.)

This copy is partially rubricated and is annotated, in Latin, throughout in at least two 2614_6contemporary hands. The early annotations are intact, having been spared by the binder’s knife, and consist of metrical notations, citations from other authors, and comments. There are also two glosses in Greek (leaves S6v and FF1r) as well as an apparent note in German (leaf FF6). An added manuscript index for the “Epistolae” is bound after the final text leaf. The readers have also made corrections and a few notable additions (e.g. “Cunnus CXXIX 3”) to the main index of words.

The annotators cite more than twenty authors, both ancient and contemporary, as well as the Bible. Among the ancient authors cited are Aesop, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, Aulus Gellius, Cicero, Ovid, Diodorus Siculus, Juvenal, Lactantius, Pliny, Plutarch, St. Jerome, Seneca, and Virgil. The contemporary and near-contemporary authors cited include: Michael Marullus, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, Mantuan, Antonio Mancinelli (commentary on Juvenal), Badius Ascensius (“Sylvae”), Publio Fausto Andrelini, and Erasmus (“Adagia”).

2614_4The most frequently cited authors are Juvenal (13 citations) and Badius Ascensius (12 citations from the “Sylvae”). One reader also shows a fashionable interest in the “Adagia” of Erasmus. He identifies 23 separate adages in the course of the text and mentions Erasmus’ work by name at least three times. He also makes a reference to an epistle of Publio Fausto Andrelini of Forli (1460-1518) that might be the letter that Erasmus asked Andrelini to write as a preface to the “Adagia”.

 Goff H 461; BMC I, 112; Polain 1989; Proctor 485; Walsh 182; Fairfax Murray (German) 205; Rosenwald Collection 188; Dibdin, Bibl. Spenceriana II, 87-95.

For Grüninger, his illustrated books, and Locher’s edition of Horace, see Mark Morford, Johann Grüninger of Strasbourg in “Syntagmatia: Essays on Neo-Latin Literature in Honour of Monique Mund-Dopchie and Gilbert Tournoy (Humanistica Lovaniensia, XXVI) 2009

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Travels In divers Parts Edward Browne

887G Edward, M.D. Browne 1644-1708

A Brief Account Of Some of Europe, Viz. Hungaria, Servia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Thessaly, } { Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, and Friuli. Through a great part of Germany, And The Low-Countries. Through Marca Trevisana, and Lombardy on both sides the Po. With some Observations on the Gold, Silver, Copper, Quick-silver Mines, and the Baths and Mineral Waters in those Parts. As Also, The Description of many Antiquities, Habits, Fortifications and Remarkable Places. The Second Edition with many Additions. By Edward Brown, M.D.



London: Printed for Benj. Tooke, at the Sign of the Ship in St. Paul’s Church-yard, 1685 $2,650

Folio 12 X 7 1/2 inches.  A2, B-Z4, Aa-Ff4, Gg2. Second edition. First folio edition.

Travels In divers Parts This work contains eight full paged engravings, eight text dsc_0142illustrations, and eight folding engravings, for a total of twenty-four fascinating images. It is bound in Beautiful full contemporary calf  with the spine gilt in compartments with red morocco label, a little soiled and browned, mostly to text, slight 380329557_2worming to upper outer corner, small hole to O3 with loss of a couple of letters, plate opposite p.147 defective with loss to upper edge, Feltrinelli copy with bookplate.

Originally published in 1673 as: A brief account of some travels in Hungaria, Servia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Thessaly, Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, and Friuli.

“Edward Browne, physician, was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Browne of Norwich. […] He graduated M.B. from Cambridge in 1663, and returned to Norwich. A journal of this period of his life is extant, and gives an amusing picture of his diversions and occupations, and of life in Norwich. Browne often went to dances at the duke’s palace, admired the gems preserved there, and learnt to play ombre from the duke’s brother. He dissected nearly every day, sometimes a dog, sometimes a monkey, a calf’s leg, a turkey’s heart. He studied botany, read medicine and literature and theology in his father’s library, and saw at least one patient. [Browne then departed for dsc_0148London where he attended Dr. Terne’s lectures (Browne’s notes are extant in the British Museum) and married Dr. Terne’s daughter.] He went to Italy and came home through France, and it is by his description of this and of several subsequent journeys that he is best known. In 1668 he sailed to Rotterdam from Yarmouth and went to Leyden, Amsterdam, and Utrecht, visiting museums, libraries, and churches, attending lectures, and conversing with the learned. He went on to Antwerp, and ended his journey at Cologne on 10 Oct. 1668. His next journey was to Vienna, where he made friends with the imperial librarian Lambecius, and enjoyed many excursions and much learned conversation. He seems to have studied Greek colloquially, and brought back letters from a learned Greek in his own tongue to Dr. Pearson, the bishop of Chester, and to Dr. Barrow, the master of Trinity. From Vienna Browne made three long journeys, one to the mines of Hungary, one into Thessaly, and one into Styria and Carinthia. Wherever he went he observed all objects natural and historical, as well as everything bearing on his profession. He sketched in a stiff manner, and some of his drawings are preserved. At Buda he came into the oriental world, and at Larissa he saw the Grand Seigneur. Here he studied Greek remains, and followed in imagination the practice of Hippocrates. He returned to England in 1669, but made one more tour in 1673 in company with Sir Joseph Williamson, Sir Leoline Jenkins, and Lord Peterborough. He visited Cologne, Aix-la-Chapelle, Liège, Louvain, Ghent, Bruges, and other towns of the Low Countries, and saw all that was to be seen. […] In 1685 a collection of all of his travels [was published] in one folio volume.” (DNB) (This Book)

Wing B-5111; Term Catalogue II 143. Goldsmiths’ 2575dsc_0150







Horace and Allegory

Horace, Odes 1.14, is a notoriously difficult poem to interpret. It is universally agreed that it is an allegory, but there is no consensus as to what it is an allegory of, and this points up the problems of allegorical writing and reading in general. First, the poem, in Latin and in English: O navis, referent in…

via On the Difficulties of Allegory — The Calvinist International

The Seven Wonders of the World!

De Septem Orbis Spectaculis

Philo byzantius. De Septem orbis spectaculis, Leonis Allatii opera nunc primum graece et latine prodit, cum notis.

We are all familiar with the phrase “The Seven Wonders of the World” , it is even easy to bring up images of them in our minds,but can you name the seven popularly accepted ones, do they still exist,where are they?

In 1640,Leo Allatius(1586-1669), a Librarian  at the Vatican Library published and translated a Manuscript of De Septem Orbis

 The Seven Wonders of the World by Michael Ashley (Glasgow: Fontana Paperbacks, 1980)


At this time Allatius attributes the text to Philon of Bizantium. Philon of Byzantium (Φίλων ὁ Βυζάντιος)  i known as “the Paradoxographer”{ not to be confused with Philo Mechanicus}, Our Phylon is now dated probably the 4th-5th century A.D, which thickens our stew, once the two Phylons were considered one and were dated at  ca. 280 BC – ca. 220 BC. which is much more convenient, as I will explain.    

After I bought this Wonderful book, I looked in my usual places for Biographies and assessments of the text, Sandys,EB,CE,OIE… the usual suspects, none of these were gratifying, So I searched on  Amazon and found Michael Ashley’s book.  In his book on the subject, there are some really good insights and a nice chronological explanation of how the text of Phylon fits in the history and dissemination of the “Seven Wonders” . What I found most useful are the charts and I will use them here.   But first Allatius.

Leo Allatius, portrait in the Collegio Greco of Rome, Italy.


The main source of our knowledge of Allatius is the incomplete life by Stephanus Gradi, Leonis Allatii vita, published by Cardinal Mai, in Nova Bibliotheca Patrum. A complete enumeration of his works is contained in E. Legrand, Bibliographie hellenique du X VII eme siecle (Paris, 1895, iii. 435-471).  Leonis Allatii Hellas (Athens, 1872), are inaccurate and untrustworthy. For a special account of his share in the foundation of the Vatican Library, see Curzio Mazzi, Leone Allacci e la Palatina di Heidelberg (Bologna, 1893).

Allatius, was born on the island of Chios (then part of the Ottoman Empire and known as Sakız) in 1586.  He was taken by his maternal uncle Michael Nauridis to Italy to be educated at the age of nine, first in Calabria and then in Rome where he was admitted into the Greek college. A graduate of the Pontifical Greek College of St. Athanasius in Rome, he spent his career in Rome as teacher of Greek at the Greek college, devoting himself to the study of classics and theology. He found a patron in Pope Gregory XV. In 1622, after the capture of Heidelberg by Tilly, when the Protestant Elector of Bavaria Frederick V was supplanted by a Catholic one, the victorious elector Maximilian of Bavaria presented the  war booty (The Palatinate library composed of 196 cases containing about 3500 manuscripts) to Pope Gregory.  Allatius supervised its transport by a caravan of 200 mules across the Alps to Rome, where it was incorporated in the Vatican library.This took Allatius almost a year to process. The death of Gregory XV. just before his return deprived him of a fitting reward (Vatican Librarian); and he was even suspected of having appropriated or given away part of this charge. He was supported by the liberality of some of the cardinals, especially Francesco Barberini, who made him his private librarian (1638). Alexander VII. appointed him keeper of the Vatican library in 1661, and he lived the retired life of a scholar until his death. All but 39 of the Heidelberg manuscripts, which had been sent to Paris in 1797 and were returned to Heidelberg at the Peace of Paris in 1815, and a gift from Pope Pius VII of 852 others in 1816, remain in the Vatican Library to this day.

Allatius is perhaps best known today for his De Praeputio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Diatriba (A Discussion of the Foreskin of Our Lord Jesus Christ), a minor essay mentioned in Fabricius’s Bibliotheca Graeca (xiv. 17) as an unpublished work. According to an unconfirmed nineteenth-century source,its thesis – is that the rings of Saturn (then-recently observed by telescope) are the prepuce of Jesus. Makes one wonder about the conversations about Astronomy around the Vatican?

BUT! there is more (and we haven’t even come to the Wonders yet?) Allatius was trained as a physician. In 1645 he included the first methodical discussion of vampires, in De Graecorum hodie quorundam opinationibus (“On certain modern opinions among the Greeks)

By the seventeenth century most texts (that we know of today) by Byzatine authors were already printed yet because of Allatius’ access to the Vatican, and perhaps because it was after the ‘age of  wonder’

The classic seven wonders were:

Great Pyramid of Giza
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Colossus of Rhodes
Lighthouse of Alexandria
The only ancient world wonder that still exists is the Great Pyramid of Giza

The Seven Wonders were first defined as themata (Greek for ‘things to be seen’ which, in today’s common English, we would phrase as ‘must sees’) by Philo of Byzantium in 225 BCE, in his work On The Seven Wonders. Other writers on the Seven Wonders include Herodotus, Callimachus of Cyrene and Antipater of Sidon. Of the original seven, only the Great Pyramid exists today.

The Great Pyramid at Giza was constructed between 2584 and 2561 BCE for the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (known in Greek as `Cheops’) and was the tallest man-made structure in the world for almost 4,000 years. Excavations of the interior of the pyramid were only initiated in earnest in the late 18th and early 19th centuries CE and so the intricacies of the interior which so intrigue modern people were unknown to the ancient writers. It was the structure itself with its perfect symmetry and imposing height which impressed ancient visitors.


The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, if they existed as described, were built by Nebuchadnezzar II between 605-562 BCE as a gift to his wife. They are described by the ancient writer Diodorus Siculus as being self-watering planes of exotic flora and fauna reaching a height of over 75 feet (23 metres) through a series of climbing terraces. Diodorus wrote that Nebuchadnezzar’s wife, Amtis of Media, missed the mountains and flowers of her homeland and so the king commanded that a mountain be created for her in Babylon. The contoversy over whether the gardens existed comes from the fact that they are nowhere mentioned in Babylonian history and that Herodotus, `the Father of History’, makes no mention of them in his descriptions of Babylon. There are many other ancient facts, figures, and places Herodotus fails to mention, however, or has been shown to be wrong about. Diodorus, Philo, and the historian Strabo all claim the gardens existed. They were destroyed by an earthquake sometime after the 1st century CE.


The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was created by the great Greek sculptor Phidias (known as the finest sculptor of the ancient world in the 5th century BCE, he also worked on the Parthenon and the statue of Athena there in Athens). The statue depicted the god Zeus seated on his throne, his skin of ivory and robes of hammered gold, and was 40 feet (12 m) tall, designed to inspire awe in the worshippers who came to the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Not everyone was awestruck by the statue, however. Strabo reports, “Although the temple itself is very large, the sculptor is criticized for not having appreciated the correct proportions. He has shown Zeus seated, but with the head almost touching the ceiling, so that we have the impression that if Zeus moved to stand up he would unroof the temple” (Seven Wonders). The Temple at Olympia fell into ruin after the rise of Christianity and the ban on the Olympic Games as `pagan rites’. The statue was carried off to Constantinople where it was later destroyed, sometime in either the 5th or 6th centuries CE, by an earthquake.

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, a Greek colony in Asia Minor, took over 120 years to build and only one night to destroy. Completed in 550 BCE, the temple was 425 feet (about 129 m) high, 225 feet (almost 69 m) wide, supported by 127 60 foot (about 18 m) high columns. Sponsored by the wealthy King Croesus of Lydia, who spared no expense in anything he did (according to Herodotus, among others) the temple was so magnificent that every account of it is written with the same tone of awe and each agrees with the other that this was among the most amazing structures ever raised by humans. On July 21, 356 BCE a man named Herostratus set fire to the temple in order, as he said, to achieve lasting fame by forever being associated with the destruction of something so beautiful. The Ephesians decreed that his name should never be recorded nor remembered but Strabo set it down as a point of interest in the history of the temple. On the same night the temple burned, Alexander the Great was born and, later, offered to rebuild the ruined temple but the Ephesians refused his generosity. It was rebuilt on a less grand scale after Alexander’s death but was destroyed by the invasion of the Goths. Rebuilt again, it was finally destroyed utterly by a Christian mob lead by Saint John Chrysostom in 401 CE.


The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was the tomb of the Persian Satrap Mauslos, built in 351 BCE. Mauslos chose Halicarnassus as his capital city, and he and his beloved wife Artemisia went to great lengths to create a city whose beauty would be unmatched in the world. Mauslos died in 353 BCE and Artemisia wished to create a final resting place worthy of such a great king. Artemisia died two years after Mauslos and her ashes were entombed with his in the mausoleum (Pliny the Elder records that the craftsmen continued work on the structure after her death, both as a tribute to their patroness and knowing the work would bring them lasting fame). The tomb was 135 feet (41 m) tall and ornately decorated with fine sculpture. It was destroyed by a series of earthquakes and lay in ruin for hundreds of years until, in 1494 CE, it was completely dismantled and used by the Knights of St. John of Malta in the building of their castle at Bodrum (where the ancient stones can still be seen today). It is from the tomb of Mauslos that the English word `mausoleum’ is derived.

The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the god Helios (the patron god of the island of Rhodes) constructed between 292 and 280 BCE. It stood over 110 feet (just over 33 m) high overlooking the harbor of Rhodes and, despite fanciful depictions to the contrary, stood with its legs together on a base (much like the Statue of Liberty in the harbor off New York City in the United States of America, which is modeled on the Colossus) and did not straddle the harbour. The statue was commissioned after the defeat of the invading army of Demetrius in 304 BCE. Demetrius left behind much of his siege equipment and weaponry and this was sold by the Rhodians for 300 talents (approximately 360 million U.S. dollars) which money they used to build the Colossus. The statue stood for only 56 years before it was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BCE. It lay in impressive ruin for over 800 years, according to Strabo, and was still a tourist attraction. Pliny the Elder claims that the fingers of the Colossus were larger than most statues of his day. According to the historian Theophanes the bronze ruins were eventually sold to “a Jewish merchant of Edessa” around 654 CE who carried them away on 900 camels to be melted down.


The Lighthouse at Alexandria, built on the island of Pharos, stood close to 440 feet (134 m) in height and was commissioned by Ptolemy I Soter. Construction was completed sometime around 280 BCE. The lighthouse was the third tallest human-made structure in the world (after the pyramids) and its light (a mirror which reflected the sun’s rays by day and a fire by night) could be seen as far as 35 miles out to sea. The structure rose from a square base to a middle octagonal section up to a circular top and those who saw it in its glory reported that words were inadequate to describe its beauty. The lighthouse was badly damaged in an earthquake in 956 CE, again in 1303 CE and 1323 CE and, by the year 1480 CE, it was gone. The Egyptian fort Quaitbey now stands on the site of the Pharos, built with some of the stones from the ruins of the lighthouse.


Athanasius Kircher:The Last Man Who Knew Everything

John J. Burns Library's Blog

Would you rather be knowledgeable on a variety of topics, or an expert on just one topic? Today’s emphasis on academic specialization supports the latter—we rarely encounter someone with multiple PhDs in unrelated fields. Rarely do we go beyond the question or suggest the obvious third option: what if we could be an expert in a range of disciplines?

Modern academic world, meet Athanasius Kircher.

Portrait of Athanasius Kircher Portrait of Athanasius Kircher, Mundus Subterraneus. Amstelodami : Apud Joannem Janssonium & Elizeum Weyerstraten anno MDCLXV. Jesuitica Collection.

Kircher, a Jesuit priest of the German Enlightenment, has been referred to as “The Last Man Who Knew Everything” for attempting to be a polymathic scholar. Kircher published nearly 40 works on a diverse range of subjects, from linguistics and Egyptology to geology and medicine. Despite his powerful resume, however, history has forgotten him for one simple reason: Kircher was wrong about almost everything.

Kircher dedicated his…

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First Edition of Descartes’ Letters 1682

“Thus, all Philosophy is like a tree, of which Metaphysics is the root, Physics the trunk, and all the other sciences the branches that grow out of this trunk, which are reduced to three principals, namely, Medicine, Mechanics, and Ethics. By the science of Morals, I understand the highest and most perfect which, presupposing an entire knowledge of the other sciences, is the last degree of wisdom.”



820G Descartes Renati (1596-1650)


Descartes Epistolæ, partim ab auctore latino sermone conscriptæ, partim ex gallico translatæ. In quibus omnis generis quæstiones philosophicæ tractantur, & explicantur plurimæ difficultates quæ in reliquis ejus operibus occurunt .

Amstelodami: ex typographic Blaviana, 1682                                      $ 2,800

Three Quarto volumes 8 X 6 1/4 inches   vol I :*4, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Bbb4/vol II :*2, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Ddd4, Eee-Fff2/vol III : *-**4, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Ggg4, Hhh2v. 1: *4, A-Z, Aa-ZZ, Aaa-Bbb4 ; v. 2: *2, A-Z, Aa-Zz, Aaa-Ddd4, Eee-Fff2 ; v. 3: *-**4, A-Z, Aa-Zz, Aaa-Ggg4, Hhh2 .

dsc_0039-1These copies are bound in modern full calf with gilt spine

First latin edition. The is edited by Claude Clerklier, with portions translated by Johannes de Raei .

“Claude Clerselier gathered these letters from the minutes their author had himself made and archived through his so many travels, showing there the very importance he had for them, like a dsc_0045custodian of his ideas, a file of his discoveries” (Jean-Robert Armogathe).

“During several years, from 1642 to the end of 1649, René Descartes (1596-1650) exchanged a regular correspondence with Princess Elisabeth, daughter of Frederick V, elector palatine and king of Bohemia. She was a very cultivated woman and especially keen about the mathematical sciences; she had read with deep interest and admiration his ‘Méditations métaphysiques’. […] This friendship was to last until Descartes’ death. He writes again from Sweden, praising the Queen Kristin (October 1649). It’s his last letter; Descartes died in February 1650. This correspondence is dsc_0043extremely interesting ; because, after questions from his interlocutor, Descartes finds himself amiable to rethink some problems and to give a clearer and more complete description than in his works; but mostly, this is the only direct document presenting him in his intimacy and, within it, the man and not only the philosopher anymore. We learn he had planned to write a Treatise on erudition; we also win interesting details about his life, entirely secluded and dedicated to studying and mostly to meditation, that he led in Holland, and about the few months he spent at the Queen of Sweden’s court.” (Dictionnaire des Œuvres, IV, 138-139).

These letters contain the author’s physical and mathematical correspondence with Hobbes, Fermat, Mersenne, Roberval, the Cambridge Platonist Henry More, and several others, with many mathematical papers of Fermat that did not appear in his Opera Varia.


For Descartes Philosophy was not a solitary or academic endeavor. His early  years adulthood was spent as a soldier, leaving the army in 1619. After a lacuna he turns up in 1625 in Paris, “his notes revealing that he was in contact with Father Marin Mersenne (1588–1648), a member of the Order of Minims. This relationship would prompt Descartes to make public his thoughts on natural philosophy (science). It is by way of Mersenne that Descartes’ work would find its way into the hands of some of the best minds living in Paris–for instance, Antoine Arnold (1612–1694), Pierre Gassed (1592–1655), and Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679). Already before any published work Descartes has made contact with his current intellectual community. Descartes seemed to travel to where he could find interest in his Ideas.

dsc_0044 Around 1635, at the University of Utrecht, Henries Reneri  began teaching “Cartesian” physics.  In 1636 Reneri acquired an official chair in Philosophy at the University of Utrecht, and continued to build a following of students interested in Cartesian science. Around March of 1636, at the age of forty, Descartes moved to Leiden to work out the publishing of the Discourse. And, in 1637 it is published. “The Discourse is important for many reasons. For instance, it tells us what Descartes himself seems to have thought of his early education, and in particular, his early exposure to mathematics. Roger Ariew suggests that these reflections are not so much those of the historical Descartes, as much as they are those of a persona Descartes adopts in telling the story of the Discourse (Ariew, pp. 58–63). Uncontested, dsc_0042however, is the view that the Discourse sketches out the metaphysical underpinnings of the Cartesian system. And, as a bonus, it has three works that are attached to it that are apparently added so as to exemplify the method of inquiry it develops (though admittedly it is unclear how the method is applied in these essays). The attached essays are the Optics, the Meteorology, and Le Geometrie (the Geometry). As was suggested earlier, the Optics and Meteorology were very likely versions of works originally intended for The World.” (Smith, Kurt, “Descartes’ Life and Works”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .)

Descartes relied more or as much as any of his contemporaries in epistolary communications to expound his theories, and he was quite successful in this dissemination . Both his Method and endeavor was truly MODERN.  In this collection of letters, Descartes not only do we see descartes’ thinking but how hard he worked to spread these ideas.


Bibliography Descartes, S. 647-651: A.J. Guibert, “Bibliographie des oeuvres de René Descartes publiées au XVIIe siècle”, Paris, 1976, p. 91-94



The Works of Ben Jonson

683G Benjamin Jonson ca. 1572-1637

The Works of Ben Jonson, which were formerly Printed in Two Volumes, are now Reprinted in One, to which is added a Comedy, called the New Inn, with Additions never before Published.

London: Printed by Thomas Hodgkin, for H. Herringman, E. Brewster, T. Bassett, R. Chiswell, M. Wotton, G. Conyers, 1692                                                 $7,500

Folio 14 1/2 x 9 inches A6, B-Ll4, Oo-Bbb4, Ccc2, Eee-Zzz4, Aaaa-Zzzz4, Aaaaa4, Bbbbb6. “Dr. Greg called attention to the fact that sheet Ccc of this volume is invariably discolored. Besides that sheet, in all copies examined, sheet Zz2-3 is likewise foxed.” (Pforzheimer) Notably, these sheets are printed on paper which has a watermark not found elsewhere in the volume. The foxing is most likely due to the inferior quality of the paper, since all offending sheets share the same watermark.

First complete collected edition. This copy is bound in contemporary calf with a gilt stamp of initals under a correnet which has been rebacked. It is a very large and clean copy.

This edition, the last of the folio editions, of Ben Jonson’s works.  It is truly complete, containing all the masques; epigrams; plays; verse letters and panegyrics; sonnets; the English Grammar; Timber, or Discoveries; and the translation of Horace’s de Arte Poetica. The New Inne is included in this collected edition for the first time.

“Jonson’s life was tough and turbulent. After his father’s early death, Ben was adopted in infancy by a bricklayer and educated by the great classical scholar and antiquarian William Camden, before necessity drove him to enter the army. In Flanders, where the Dutch with English help were warring against the Spaniards, he fought single-handed with one of the enemy before the massed armies, and killed his man. Returning to England about 1595, he began to work as an actor and playwright but was drawn from one storm center to another. He killed a fellow actor in a duel, and escaped the gallows only by pleading ‘benefit of the clergy’ (i.e., by proving he could read and write, which entitled him to plead before a more lenient court). He was jailed for insulting the Scottish nation at a time when King James was newly arrived from Scotland. He took furious part in an intricate set of literary wars with his fellow playwrights. Having converted to Catholicism, he was the object of deep suspicion after the Gunpowder Plot of Guy Fawkes (1605), when the phobia against his religion reached its height. Yet he rode out all these troubles, growing mellower as he grew older, and in his latter years became the unofficial literary dictator of London, the king’s pensioned poet, a favorite around the court, and the good friend of men like Shakespeare, Donne, Francis Beaumont, John Selden, Francis Bacon, dukes, diplomats, and distinguished folk generally. In addition, he engaged the affection of younger men (poets like Robert Herrick, Thomas Carew, and Sir John Suckling, speculative thinkers like Lord Falkland and Sir Kenelm Digby), who delighted to christen themselves ‘sons of Ben.’ Sons of Ben provided the nucleus of the entire ‘Cavalier school’ of English poets.” (Norton Anthology of English Literature)

Wing J-1006; Pforzheimer 561.

Lucretius: On the Nature of Things!

Lucretius, has always made me feel hopeful and some how more connected to the universe and less to the subjective problems we perceive.

“Happy is he who has discovered the causes of things and has cast beneath his feet all fears, unavoidable fate, and the din of the devouring Underworld.”  VIRGIL

Lucretius London 1683

“In De Rerum Natura, Lucretius sought to clear the mental rubbish that obscures reality. He exposed flaws in common assumptions about gods. To begin with, he scoffed at the anthropocentric notion that gods created the earth for humans.”Gary Sloan

T.Lucretius Carus His Six Books Of Epicurean Philosophy, Done into English Verse, with Notes. The Third Edition. Demetri, Teq; Tigelli Discipulorum inter jubeo plorare Cathedras; i, Puer, atque meo citus hœc subscribe libello.

London: Printed for Thomas Sawbridge at the Three Flewer-de-luces in little Britain, and Anthony Stephens Bookseller near the Theatre in Oxford, 1683                                               $1,800
 Octavo, 7.25 x 4.75 inches.  Third edition. (π1), A4, b-e4, f2, A-E4, (a)-(g)4, h2.
  This copy is bound in original full calf its front joint is cracked at the foot, up to the second band, the rear joint is

Lucretius 1683 ,147F

beginning to crack at either end, but it is completely sound and still quite appealing. The leaves are very clean and fresh, with deep impressions of the type.

This translation was prepared by Thomas Creech (1659-1700).   The prefatory material contains commendatory poems by John Evelyn, NahaumTate, Thomas Otway, and Aphra Behn among others, many of which were added after the first edition.   Creech’s Lucretius first appeared in 1682, with certain portions of the text, notably those in the fourth book about the nature of love, left untranslated.In this edition they are present in translation.  Both Pope and Evelyn praised the translation, and Dibdin says that the editor’s erudition, research, and correctness in this excellent and scarce work are acknowledged by every critic.The influence of Lucretius can be seen in Pope’s ‘Essay on Man.’ Lucretius was also favorite reading of Shelley, Wordsworth, and Tennyson.

“Creech’s translation of Lucretius vied in popularity with Dryden’s Virgil and Pope’s Homer. The son of one of his friends is reported to have said that the translation was made in Creech’s daily walk round the parks in Oxford in sets of fifty lines, which he would afterwards write down in his chamber and correct at leisure. […] When Dryden published his translations from Theocritus, Lucretius, and Horace, he disclaimed in the preface any intention of robbing Creech ‘of any part of that commendation which he has so justly acquired,’ and referred to his predecessor’s ‘excellent annotations, which I have often reprinted in the last century, and was included in the edition of the British poets which was issued by Anderson.” (DNB)



Second best, or Second and Best?

This is very interesting!

Special Collections and Archives / Casgliadau Arbennig ac Archifau

In Latin, the word “secundus” can mean both “second” and “favourable.” Today, many book collectors focus on first editions, but our modern fixation with firsts is a relatively recent phenomenon. The entry on “The Chronological Obsession” in John Carter’s ABC for Book Collectors states that “the average 19th-century collector was as much interested in the finest looking or best-edited edition as in the first.” Second and subsequent editions often incorporate new information and new insights that make them textually superior to their predecessors. In this week’s blog post, we’ll examine some of the reasons you may want to look favourably on the second edition of Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

lyrical_ballads_2vols The second edition of Lyrical Ballads (London: T. N. Longman and O. Rees, 1800) from the Cardiff Rare Books Collection.

Lyrical ballads was originally published in 1798. It consisted chiefly of poems by Wordsworth with four contributions by Coleridge, although…

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Who was The Earl of Rochester, John Wilmot…..?

I find it hard to pin down who Rochester was, maybe it is because he revealed of much contradictory emotion in his verse, or maybe it is his reputation of which so much is written about displays the uneasy relation between actions , feelings and expression. I highly recommend the Movie version of his life ,The Libertine (2004)

But there must be so much more, I read and (re)read some of his poems and wonder “How?” other poems fit easily into Restoration literature taken to its absurdist extreame.  Rochester was maybe never sure who he was himself, explaining his ‘inconstancy, his drinking, his syphilis, and is disguises…

“All I shall say for myself on this score is this, if I appear to any one like a counterfeit, even for the sake of that chiefly ought I to be construed a true man, [for] who is the counterfeit’s example, his original, and that which he employs his industry and pains to imitate and copy? Is it therefore my fault if the cheat by his wits and endeavours makes himself so like me, that consequently I cannot avoid resembling of him?”

-from Dr. Alexander Bendo’s advertisement of services (in the 1696 edition of Poems, page 138; see below)

All of these paradoxes keep me reading Rochester and finding New customers for his books , currently I have three editions of his works [1696,1705 and 1709. and a copy of Burnet’s “some Passages 1680]

Here is a link to the Poetry Foundations very good biography of him.



Love and Life: A Song


All my past life is mine no more,
         The flying hours are gone,
Like transitory dreams giv’n o’er,
Whose images are kept in store
         By memory alone.
The time that is to come is not;
         How can it then be mine?
The present moment’s all my lot;
And that, as fast as it is got,
         Phyllis, is only thine.
Then talk not of inconstancy,
         False hearts, and broken vows;
If I, by miracle, can be
This live-long minute true to thee,
         ’Tis all that Heav’n allows.

Rochester is generally considered to be the most considerable poet and the most learned among the Restoration wits. A few of his love songs have passionate intensity; many are bold and frankly erotic celebrations of the pleasures of the flesh. He is also one of the most original and powerful of English satirists. His “History of Insipids” (1676) is a devastating attack on the government of Charles II, and his “Maim’d Debauchee” has been described as “a masterpiece of heroic irony.” A Satyr Against Mankind(1675) anticipates Swift in its scathing denunciation of rationalism and optimism and in the contrast it draws between human perfidy and folly and the instinctive wisdom of the animal world.

In 1674 Rochester was appointed ranger of Woodstock Forest, where much of his later poetry was written. His health was declining, and his thoughts were turning to serious matters. His correspondence (dated 1679–80) with the Deist Charles Blount shows a keen interest in philosophy and religion, further stimulatedsc_0128d by his friendship with Gilbert Burnet, later bishop of Salisbury. Burnet recorded their religious discussions in Some Passages of the Life and Death of John, Earl of Rochester (1680).
(see a description below of a copy currently in my stock) In 1680 he became seriously ill and experienced a religious conversion, followed by a recantation of his past; he ordered “all his profane and lewd writings” burned.


735F     Wilmot, John. Earl of Rochester.     1647-1680

 Poems, (&c.) on several occasions: with Valentinian: a tragedy. Written by the right honourable John late earl of Rochester.

London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, 1696      $6,600

dsc_0132Octavo, 11 x 17.5 cm.  Second edition. A8,a8, B-R8

The spine has been rebacked with the original boards so the binding is tight and secure throughout, and bound with new endpapers. A previous owner has written his name several times throughout but this does not affect the text and indeed adds to the book. The pages are clean, if browned. The only flaw is wormholes to the pages’ top margins. These are predominantly from page 200 to the end but with other smaller worming present in the book. There has also been some bookworm damage to the rear board, and this has now been repaired. Needless to say, the worms are long since gone.

“During Rochester’s lifetime only a few of his writings were printed as broadsides or in miscellanies, [Later this week I’ll write about Miscellanies]  but many of his works were known widely from manuscript copies, a considerable number of which seem to have existed. ( I do wish I could come apon one of these!) […] In February of 1690/91, Jacob Tonson, the most reputable publisher of the day, produced a volume entitled ‘Poems On Several Occasions.’ The appearance of the author’s name and title on the title-page is significant. It may indicate that this edition was produced with the approval of the Earl’s family and friends, and it is possible that they may have intervened to prevent the publication of Saunders’s projected edition [license obtained from the Stationer’s Company by Saunders in November of 1690, no edition was ever produced]. Tonson’s edition is introduced by a laudatory preface written by Thomas Rymer which states that the book contains ‘such Pieces only, as may be receiv’d in a vertuous Court’ and is therefore to be regarded only as a selection of Rochester’s writings. Nevertheless it contains, in addition to twenty-three genuine poems which had appeared in the [pirated] Antwerp editions of 1680, sixteen others, including some of Rochester’s best lyrics. No spurious material seems to have been admitted to this collection, but there is a possibility that salacious passages may have been toned down to suit the taste of a ‘virtuous Court.’”

“[Wilmot] is one of these English poets who deserve to be called ‘great’ as daring and original explorers of reality; his place is with such memorable spiritual adventurers as Marlowe, Blake, Byron, Wilfred Owen and D. H. Lawrence. Like Byron and Lawrence, he was denounced as licentious, because he was a devastating critic of conventional morality. Alone among the English poets of his day, he perceived the full significance of the intellectual and spiritual crisis of that age. His poetry expresses individual experience in a way that no other poetry does till the time of Blake. It makes us feel what it was like to live in a world which had been suddenly transformed by the scientists into a vast machine governed by mathematical laws, where God has become a remote first cause and man  an insignificant ‘reas’ning Engine.’ [See ‘A Satyr Against Mankind] In his time there was beginning the great Augustan attempt to found a new orthodoxy on the Cartesian-Newtonian world-picture, a civilized city of good taste, common sense and reason. Rochester’s achievement was to reject this new orthodoxy at the very outset. He made three attempts to solve the problem of man’s position in the new mathematical universe. The first was the adoption of the ideal of the purely aesthetic hero, the ‘Strephon’ of his lyrics and the brilliant and fascinating Dorimant of Etherege’s comedy. It was a purely selfish ideal of the ethical hero, the disillusioned and penetrating observer of the satires. This ideal was related to truth, but its relationship was purely negative. The third was the ideal of the religious hero, who bore a positive relation to truth. This was the hero who rejected the ‘Fools-Coat’ of the world and lived by an absolute passion for reality. In his short life Rochester may be said to have anticipated the Augustan Age and the Romantic Movement and passed beyond both. In the history of English thought his poetry is an event of the highest significance. Much of it remains alive in its own right in the twentieth century, because it is what D.H. Lawrence called ‘poetry of this immediate present, instant poetry … the soul and the mind and body surging at once, nothing left out.” (Quoted from Vivian de Sola Pinto’s edition of Wilmot’s Poems published by ‘The Muses Library’)

Wing 1757; Prinz XIV;Grolier’s Wither to Prior #987;  O’Donnell A 16  (Prologue), BB 4.1c.    

DSC_0013 2

756d     Burnet, Gilbert.   1643-1715


 Some Passages Of The Life and Death Of the Right Honourable John Earl of Rochester, Who died the 26th of July, 1680. Writen by his own Direction on his Death-Bed, By Gilbert Burnet, D.D.


London: Printed for Richard Chiswel, at the Rose and Crown in St. Pauls Church-Yard, 1680         $1,600   Octavo, 6.7 x 4.3 inches.  First edition, second issue without the errata on A8 verso. A-N8 (A1 and N8 blank). The portrait of the Earl of Rochester is bound opposite the title page. This copy is bound in contemporary full calf, blindstamped borders, with loss at the spine head. A previous owner’s ink and pencil notes to endpapers, and a previous owner has inked a simple design. The upper corner of the lower board is cracked.


John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester was known as a libertine and a poet, and often referred to as the “Rake of Rochester.” This work is the product of Rochester’s death-bed repentance, when he charged Burnet “not to spare him in anything which [he] thought might be of use to the Living.” Burnet, while obliged to mention the faults, added: “I have touched them as tenderly as the Occasion would bear: and I am sure with much more softness than he desired”. As Dr. Johnson wrote: “This is a work which the critic ought to read for its elegance, the philosopher for its arguments, and the saint for its piety.”

Wither to Prior 125; Wing B-5922.


1007E Wilmot, John. Earl of Rochester.    1647-1680


     Poems, On several occasions: with Valentinian: a tragedy. Written by the right honourable John late Earl of Rochester.


London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, 1705    $4,500


Octavo, 7.5 X 4.5 inches .  The third edition of the authentic works. A8, a8 B- R8  This copy is bounds in modern panneled calf,in a early eighteenth style. It has the lighter than usual age spotting through out  for this edition, a very nice copy.

Prinz XVII* ( an exact reperint of the 1691 XIII {the best collection }

Grolier’s Wither to Prior #988;  O’Donnell A 16  (Prologue), BB 4.1c.


349F  Rochester, John Wilmot, Earl of.    1647-1680


      The Works of the Right Honourable the Earls of Rochester, and Roscommon. With Some Memoirs of the Earl of Rochester’s Life, by Monsieur St. Evremont: In a Letter to the Dutchess of Mazarine. The Third Edition. To which is added, A Collection of Miscellany Poems. By the most Eminent Hands.      [bound with]                                                                                                                                                        Miscellaneous Works by the Right Honourable The Earl of Roscommon

London: Printed by E. Curll, at the Peacock without Temple-Bar, 1709    SOLD

Octavo, 7.6 x 4.75 inches.  Third edition. [π]2, c8, a-b8, A-D8, E6 (Leaves E7 and E8, and F1-5 [pages 76 to 90] have all been sliced out of this copy because of the licentious nature of the poems therein.), F6-8, G-L8; A-M8, N1. This copy lacks the portrait of Rochester. This copy is in good condition in contemporary boards.

The following poems were excised from this copy: “A Description of a Maidenhead,” “The Virgin’s Desire,” “The Perfect Enjoyment,” and “The Imperfect Enjoyment.”

ESTC T95392.


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