From Left to Right :
781G Gassendi, 820G Descartes, 695G The Earl of Rochester, 154F Thomas Browne, 904F Pseudo Aristotle, 815G John Fisher.
781G Pierre Gassendi 1592-1655
Petri Gassendi Disquisitio metaphysica seu dubitationes et instantiae: adversus Renati Cartessi metaphysicam & responsa.
Amsterodami : Apud Iohannem Blaev ;1644 ON HOLD
Quarto *4, **4, A-Z4, Aa-Rr4 First Edition Bound in original full sheep skin with gilt spine and label.This is a nice clean copy. For many commentators, Gassendi’s empiricist theory of knowledge and objections to Descartes’s Meditations count as his paramount philosophical contributions. In his core epistemology, he offers the first modern model of knowledge from the senses to be integrated with a physiological account of perception. In his objections to Descartes, he rejects the clarity and distinctness criterion, seeks to undermine the reasoning behind the cogito, and assails the ontological argument. Each of these views represents a battle Gassendi has taken up against the Aristotelian tradition or the Cartesian stance; his thoroughgoing empiricism poses an alternative to both of these competing perspectives.One cornerstone of Gassendi’s anti-Aristotelianism is the suggestion that there is nothing necessary about the way the world is. God, he proposes, could have made the world work in any number of ways, and the contingent history and character of Creation means that there is nothing immutable about the essence of a material thing. (That a ‘substance’, in either the Aristotelian or Cartesian sense, might have an immutable essence, is a different matter, and insofar as Gassendi has such a notion (for example, with respect to space, time, matter, and void) he agrees that such things feature unchangeable sine qua non characteristics.) Moreover, Gassendi maintains, regardless of whether there are any essences and whether they might be mutable, there are none to which we have any epistemic access. The sole originating source of our knowledge is the information the senses provide, such that what we know is closely linked to what we can perceive. However, as Descartes notes, we can perceive only appearances. Gassendi draws from this point the very uncartesian lesson that appearances are all we can know about, too—thereby ruling out knowledge of unperceivable essences. One line of this reasoning can be found in his discussion of classical skeptical tropes concerning the relativity of evidence from the senses to individual experience—that honey tastes sweet to me, though bitter to you; and that fire seems hot to us, though not so to insects that live near fire (O III (DM) 388b; R 535). Since different people have distinct experiences, our knowledge of honey’s taste or fire’s heat differs from person to person and thus is not a reliable guide to invariable characteristics of, for example, the honey or fire. In cases like these we know a thing’s qualities only as we record them on a subjective basis. Such sensory information, based on experiences which vary intersubjectively, cannot yield judgments about a thing’s qualities which do not vary in that (or any other) way. Hence we lack knowledge of the thing’s essence, if indeed there is one. More broadly, from our principal source of ideas—the senses—we know only how things appear to us (O III (DM) 311b-312a; R 184). (If we are to have knowledge of an object’s essence, Gassendi proposes, such requires a “perfect interior examination” of that object, which is apparently not something we may gain from empirical study.)
820G Descartes Renati
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 typographia Blaviana, 1682 $ON HOLD
Three Quarto volumes 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 edited by Claude Clerselier, with portions translated by Johannes de Raei tanslated by Johannes de Raei Tít. en port. de la pars tertia: Renati Descartes Epistolae partim Latino sermone conscriptae partim è Gallico in Latinum versae : in quibus respondet ad plures difficultates ipsi propositas in dioptrica, geometria, variisque aliarum scientiarum subjectis Otegem, M. Bibliography Descartes, S. 647-651: A.J. Guibert, “Bibliographie des oeuvres de René Descartes publiées au XVIIe siècle”, Paris, 1976, p. 91-94
659G John. Earl of Rochester Wilmot 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 4600 Octavo 11 x 17.5 cm A8,a8, B-R8 Second edition. This copy is rebound in a full cald cambridge panneled style, with new endpapers. There is worming and damp staining yet is is a solid usable copy “During Rochester’s lifetime only a few of his writings were printed as broadsides or in miscellanies, but many of his works were known widely from manuscript copies, a considerable number of which seem to have existed. […] 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.
682F Anne, Countess of Winchilsea Finch 1661-1720
The Spleen, A Pindarique Ode. By a Lady. Together with A Prospect of Death: A Pindarique Essay.
London: Printed and Sold by H. Hills, in Black-fryars, near the Water-side, 1709 $1,800
Octavo 7 x 4.25 inches A8. 16 pp. First separate edition. This copy bound in full modern vellum, it is quite a lovely copy. .
“The physical disability and psychological perturbations of melancholy were well known to one of the foremost women poets of the eighteenth century, Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea. As a victim of the malady, her description of its effects were firsthand and specific, with none of the generalities born of vague knowledge […] Lady Winchilsea begins her best-known poem on the subject, ‘The Spleen’ (1701), by describing the malady as ‘Proteus to abus’d Mankind.’ No one can find the cause of the affliction, she writes, nor can one ‘fix thee to remain in one continued Shape.’ By speaking of melancholy in these terms, Lady Winchilsea is echoing the sentiments of contemporary physicians who frequently compared the disease to Proteus, the shape-changing god of the sea, because its manifestations were always changing, continuously shifting from one part of the body to another, while constantly mimicking other diseases. Underlying its various forms, however, was the notion expounded by the Countess and contemporary physicians alike that melancholy was a mixed malady of body and mind, causing the sufferer physical pain and the psychological disorders of anxiety, grief, and fear without cause.” (Melancholy in Anne Finch and Elizabeth Carter, by John F. Sena)“‘Spleen’ is for Finch both triumph and failure. It is only once the spleen has affected the speaker that she describes her poetry as fallen, decayed failure. But, at the same time, the spleen allows her to assert that she does not wish to be a genteel woman artist, one who makes safe, insipid domestic arts or uncritically draws the monarch’s ‘undistinguish’d Face.’ ‘The Spleen’ returns to the overlap of political religious, and emotional failure in its closing lines with a description of Richard Lower, a physician to Charles II who supported the Whigs in the Popish Plot, sinking beneath the weight of the spleen.” (English Women’s Poetry, 1649-1714, by Carol Barash) Foxon F141; ESTC 006421564.
145F Thomas Browne 1605-1682
Religio Medici. The sixth edition, corrected and amended. With Annnotations Never before published, upon all the obscure passages therein. Also Observations by sir Kenelm Digby, Newly added.
London: Printed by Tho. Milbourn For Andrew Crook, 1659 $1,600
Octavo 6 x 3.75 inches A,A-T8, A-E8. Fifth/sixth edition. This copy is bound in later smooth calf, gilt ruled edges, all edges gilt. gilt spine with a red. leather label.recently expertly rebacked. Hand marbled end sheets, gilt dentelles, quite a nice copy.
It is far from clear that Thomas Browne ever considered publishing Religio Medici, his first and most influential work. Written during his medical apprenticeship in the mid-1630s, this essay on the religion of a doctor was (in typical fashion) circulated in multiple manuscripts among friends for seven years until 1642, when Andrew Crooke, an enterprising publisher of controversialist writing, obtained it and printed it anonymously, without the author’s permission or knowledge. What Browne would later describe as “a private exercise directed to myself” was an immediate commercial success, and Crooke quickly brought out a second edition. Browne, meanwhile, had wind of a work about to be published by the colourful savant Sir Kenelm Digby, apparently responding to Browne’s essay. He immediately set about revising the pirated text for authorised publication in 1643. Together with Digby’s Observations upon Religio Medici, the 1643 edition, now with Browne’s name on it, established his reputation in English and Continental writing.
Religio Medici has been described as spiritual autobiography, but it has in fact only occasional resemblance to the true seventeenth-century exponents of the form like Lucy Hutchinson and John Aubrey. Although Browne’s subject is his own beliefs, the essay is better understood as a manifesto (a very modest and retiring one, it is true), a proclamation of tolerant Anglicanism in a period of repressive Laudian intervention and rising sectarian dissent. He uses his own history of theological discovery and devotional meditation to propose a generous conception of religious practice and belief. This generosity was received with mixed enthusiasm in some quarters: the book was placed on the Vatican’s Index Expurgatorius in 1645 (where it apparently remained until the mid-twentieth-century), while the most vocal English critics suspected Browne of Papistry and atheism; the Quakers, on the other hand, invited him to become a member of their church.Religio Medici is divided into two unequal parts, each comprising short numbered considerations of a large variety of doctrinal and devotional questions. It is impossible to give a categorical label to the range of discussion to be found in Religio Medici, but among its most important topics are the contention and reconciliation of faith and reason (especially aptly discussed by the scientifically-trained Browne), the absolute credit of Scripture on points of faith and the human condition after the fall of man, and the consequent responsibilities of the Christian. Within these great matters, Browne has room to tell of his own early flirtation with various minor heresies, and of his attitudes toward church-music, sex, and medicine. The overall effect is the portrait of a particular personality and background, a deliberating and open mind tenaciously investigating the conditions of faith, equivocal in some points, absolute in others. It is the work of a young, and to a large extent untried, man (although its vocal youthfulness is consciously disguised), and it displays, along with its prodigious learning and mature phrasing, the inexperienced optimism of youth. The structure of thought suggests a sensibility in process, a Montaigne-like fluidity and latitude of conclusion within which he can establish the philosophical registers of significance. For example, he believes absolutely in the last judgement, but he doubts the literal likelihood of “any such judicial proceeding or calling to the bar as, indeed, the Scriptures seem to imply”; he approves of any sort of music, including that of the tavern, as long as it puts him in mind of his Maker, and he therefore “distrust[s] the symmetry of those heads which declaim against all church music.” “I would not perish upon a ceremony, politic point, or indifferency,” he concludes, as if specifically remonstrating with those intransigents on both sides whose quarrel had initiated the violence which began in 1642 as Religio Medici appeared. Indeed, the sometimes casual-seeming ebb and flow of proposition and consideration, almost none of which is emphatic enough to preclude debate, is itself an enactment of the moderation and more relaxed postures he advocates, postures which if adopted more widely might forestall the threatened chaos of civil war, disestablishment and social disruption.Coleridge described Religio Medici as “a portrait of man in his best clothes”. If best clothes may be taken to be fine apparel, Browne’s meaning has been occluded by its astonishing expressive grace in the past four centuries. Always recognised as among the finest prose monuments in the language, its style – full of extended periods, easy qualifications, and memorable aphorisms – was widely imitated from the start; moreover, the simplistic notion of a professional framework for the discussion of personal philosophy issued in a spate of mostly undistinguished religio tracts – Religio Clerici, Religio Bibliopolae, Religio Jurisprudentis, Religio Militis, and so on. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the essay was often regarded as a source of fine remarks rendered in stunningly majestic phrases which were subject to extensive quotation but rarely to analysis. For example, “I love to lose myself in a mystery and pursue my reason to an O altitudo”; and “there is a nobility without heraldry, a natural dignity whereby one man is ranked with another, another filed before him, according to the quality of his desert, and the pre-eminence of his good parts.”Because he presents himself in Religio Medici as anything but an antagonist in the wars of religion of his own time, the essay attracted, until recently, far less rigorous scholarly and critical attention than it deserved, as if its cool eirenic message was somehow ignoble and thus licensed critical negligence. Even its most vociferous admirers – among them Johnson, Coleridge, and Emerson – allowed themselves to revel in the doctor’s
delightful formulations and mannerisms without deeply considering their basis in thought and belief. Thus, Religio Medici (together with several other works) has never been out of print, and yet it has never been truly in the centre of critical enquiry. Although this is not likely to change, recent work has attended with welcome precision to its relationship with the developing Montaignean essay format, with meditational practice, and with the rise of modern prose style.Despite the absence of biographical evidence about Browne’s life between 1630 and 1640, and whatever his tolerationist pronouncements in Religio Medici , there is good reason to think that Browne held well-developed political views about the mid-century constitutional and ecclesiastical crisis engulfing England. This is partly indicated by the prefatory letter to the reader which Browne appended to the 1643 edition, a piece of writing contemporary with the year’s events rather than with the essay’s origin. Moreover, his home city, Norwich, was a Parliamentary stronghold which nevertheless harboured – as all the major metropolises did – a significant number of staunch Royalists and political moderates, to which latter group Browne almost certainly belonged. Religio Medici, written and published in the midst of the turmoil, must therefore be read first and foremost as a political tract, an oblique one to be sure, but one whose pacifism, leniency, and common sense are probably more truly representative of the tenor of thought among the great English “silent majority” than many of its more tendentious contemporaries.Claire Preston, University of Cambridge 16 June 2003 Wing B-5174; Keynes 8.
904F pseudo Aristotle Possibly by William Salmon 1644-1713
Aristotle’s master-piece: or the secrets of generation display’d in all the parts thereof; Containing 1. The Signs of Barrenness. 2. The way of getting a Boy or Girl. 3. Of the likeness of Children to Parents. 4. Of the Infusion of the Soul into the Infant. 5. Of monstrous Births and the Reasons thereof. 6. Of the benefit of Marriage to both Sexes. 7. The Prejudice of unequal Matches. 8. The discovery of Insufficiency. 9. The cause and cure of the Green-Sickness. 10 A Discourse of Virginity. 11. How a Midwise ought to be qualified. 12. Directions and Cantions to Midwives. 13. Of the Organs of Generation in Women. 14. The Fabrick of the Womb. 15 The use and action of the Genitals. 16. Signs of Conception, and whether of a Male or Female, 17. To discover false Conception. 18. Instructions for Women with Child. 19. For preventing Misoarriage 20. For Women in Childbed, 21. Of ordering new-born Infants; and many other very useful Particulars, To which is added, A word of Advice to both Sexes in the Act of Copulation, and the Pictures of several Monstrens Births. Very necessary for all midwives, nurses and young-married-women.
London : printed for W.B. and to be sold by most booksellers in London and Westminster, 1704. $ ON HOLD Duodecimo 134X85 cm A1-G12 H9 (lacking final three leaves) This copy is rebound in full sheep binding, This is a book which has expirenced heavy use.
Originally (first) published in 1684, this extremely popular work on generation and sexual reproduction was still being printed well into the 19th century. Despite it’s popularity or because of it it turns out that all early editions are rare, and there are very few pre 1741 editions in this country. English Short Title Catalog, T83424. Listing only one copy, of the 1704 at the University of Minnesota with the note “MATCHERS BEWARE! another issue without hyphen between “married “and “women”. Also, end of title reads…sexes in the act of copulation. Very necessary for all…” There is another 1704 edition at Ohio State listing 135 pages (this edn is 183) . This book has often been attributed to the popular medical writer William Salmon because a prefatory poem to the 2nd version (first published 1697) bears the initials “W.S.”. However, there is no evidence that Salmon had any role in the book’s composition 13 years earlier . The work was in fact assembled from Levinus Lemnius’s The Secret Miracles of Nature (1564) and Jakob Rüff’s midwifery manual De conceptu et generatione hominis (1554). The attribution to Aristotle is totally spurious and was probably a vain attempt to give the work some measure of respectability; but although it was effectively banned until the mid-twentieth century, the prohibition didn’t keep it from circulating: it was reprinted endlessly until the early twentieth century and became one of the most notorious and widely distributed sex books in the English language, right up to the 1960s. Such enduring popularity was partly due to the practical advice on pregnancy and the care of infants, and partly to its rather sensationalised descriptions of the sexual act and forms of monstrosity.
More than a Guide for the Delivery of children, this is a true HOW-TO book on conception, as you can see from the image excerpted below it is quite graphic even by standards three hundred years advanced.
“Aristotle’s Masterpiece was the most popular book about women’s bodies, sex, pregnancy, and childbirth in Britain and America from its first appearance in 1684 up to at least the 1870s. More than 250 editions are known, but all are very rare… It was sold furtively by country peddlers and in general stores and taverns; regular booksellers seldom advertised it, though they usually had it under the counter” (The Library Company of Philadeplphia, ‘Treasures’, online catalogue).
” Aristotle’s Masterpiece, a manual of sex and pregnancy, first saw the light of day about 1680. It is not, of course, the work of the ancient Greek philosopher, but its true authorship is unclear. Other works by the same or other hands were accreted to the original “Masterpiece” until by about 1735 the four parts here published made up the canon. Banned in Britain until the 1960’s, it nonetheless has had a long but mostly clandestine career as a quasi-pornographic book. Grubby copies were produced in back-street printers, sold in rubber-goods shops or Holywell Street, and passed from hand to hand until they disintegrated. Many young boys got their first inklings of sex from it. It was also sometimes given by their mothers to women about to get married; the effect it had on the mind of a virgin bride can only be conjectured. It has been read (or at any rate mentioned) by James Joyce, William Carleton, Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Burgess and many others, and probably has had more influence than is realized.”
There is a wonderful article by Fissell, Mary E. (2007). “Hairy Women and Naked Truths: Gender and the Politics of Knowledge in Aristotle’s Masterpiece”. The William and Mary Quarterly 60 (1): 43–74. JSTOR 3491495., available on Jstore follow the link.
“Although little-known today, Aristotle’s Masterpiece was the go-to book for generations of British and American readers, male and female, who wanted to know about sex and making babies. Long after medical theories about reproduction and childbirth had changed, the book continued to promise readers access to hidden secrets and titillating details, a promise whose luster seems to have remained bright until almost yesterday.”
Mary Fissell teaches the history of medicine at Johns Hopkins and edits the Bulletin of the History of Medicine. She writes about the ways that ordinary people in the past understood the natural world and their bodies. Vernacular Bodies (Oxford, 2004) explored how everyday ideas about making babies mediated large scale social changes. She is currently writing a cultural history of Aristotle’s Masterpiece.”
The publication history of the work is discussed in some detail in Roy Porter and Lesley Hall’s The Facts of Life (pp. 54-64) and Mary Fissell’s “Hairy Women and Naked Truths” (p. 47).
The Facts of Life
The Creation of Sexual Knowledge in Britain, 1650-1950
Roy Porter and Lesley Hall
Vernacular Bodies: The Politics of Reproduction in Early Modern England
Mary E. Fissell (2007-01-18) Paperback
815G John Fisher 1469-1535
Sacri sacerdotij defensio cõtra Lutherum, per Reuerendissimu Dominum, dominum Johannem Roffeñ. Episcopum, virum singulari eruditione omnifariam doctissimum, iam primum ab Archetypo euulgata. Cum tabula et repertorio tractatorum.
Colonie : Petri Quentel, 1525. $3,000
A8B4,a-G8. This copy is bound in modern full calf.
Octavo A8B4,a-G8. One of three eds. printed by Quentel in 1525. One of the others is in 4to (Kuczynski 821)–and the other, in 8vo, has title 1st line: “Sacri sacerdotij defensio” (Kuczynski 823)./ Ed. by “frater Johãnes Romberch” (leaf ). Marginal notes printed throughout./ Includes index, leaves A3–B1.
“Sacri sacerdotii defensio contra Lutherum” is a defense of the priesthood by arguments in favor of tradition against innovation and a divine sanction of the priesthood. Kuczynski, A. Thesaurus libellorum historiam Reformationis,; 822; BM STC German, 1465-1600,; p. 458; Pegg, M. Pamphlets in Swiss libraries,; 2493; VD-16,; F-1238; Adams,; F-547