8vo., pp. xvi, 100, with nine engraved plates of diagrams (four folding), and a subscribers’ list; slight damp stain to foot of Plate 3, else a very good copy in modern period-style calf; early ownership inscription of ‘Beck Quinton’; from the library of Eric Sexton, with his leather book label.
US $1757 €1509
First edition of an unusual, provincially-printed astronomical treatise, which aims to help the reader calculate the occurrence of eclipses ‘for any time past or to come’. In his preface, Hancock also describes the ‘manifold advantages’ brought by a knowledge of eclipses in fields as diverse as agriculture and ancient Chinese history. ‘What the vulgar mind is unexpectedly surprised with’, he declares proudly, ‘my readers will naturally look for and know must happen’. The book is dedicated to Samuel Parr, ‘the Whig Samuel Johnson’, who ordered eight copies. Other subscribers include Charles Hutton, mathematician and foreign secretary of the Royal Society; John, Joseph, and Richard Gurney, members of the great stenographic dynasty; and a number of Norwich luminaries, schoolmasters and mariners.
We have been unable to uncover much information about Blith Hancock. According to the title page he was a ‘teacher of the mathematicks’ and it is possible that he produced this work in an attempt to secure employment at Norwich grammar school where Parr was headmaster. Hancock is also known as the author of another scientific work, The Astronomy of Comets (1786). The Doctrine of Eclipses was noticed (unfavourably) in at least two contemporary journals. Smollett’s Literary Review remarked scathingly that ‘diffuse title pages, like the pompous handbills of a quack, are little to be relied upon’, before concluding that the book is ‘confused and obscure’, and that Hancock’s ‘calculations have nothing of either brevity or accuracy to recommend them’ (Vol. 58, 1784).
Scarce. ESTC records nine copies.
You may also be interested in...
‘FIRST OF THE ENGLISH POETS OF OUR AGE’ SPENSER, Edmund.
The Faerie Queen: The Shepheards Calendar: together with the other Works of England’s Arch-Poët, Edm. Spenser: collected into one Volume, and carefully corrected.
First collected edition, second issue, of the ‘first of the English poets of our age, as his poems prove, written under the smile of the Muses, and with a genius destined to live’ (William Camden). This volume contains all of Spenser’s poetical works including Prosopopoia or Mother Hubberds Tale, which was left out of the 1611 issue, because of its allegorical attack on Lord Burghley, the father of the (then living) Lord Treasurer Robert Cecil.
Miscellanies, viz. I. Day-Fatality. II. Local-Fatality. III. Ostenta. IV. Omens. V. Dreams. VI. Apparitions. VII. Voices. VIII. Impulses. IX. Knockings. X. Blows Invisible. XI. Prophesies. XII. Marvels. XIII. Magick. XIV. Transportation in the Air. XV. Visions in a Beril, or Glass. XVI. Converse with Angels and Spirits. XVII. Corps-Candles in Wales. XVIII. Oracles. XIX. Exstasie. XX. Glances of Love / Envy. XXI. Second-Sighted Persons …
First edition of Aubrey’s entertaining collection of folk history, superstitions, and gossip, the only book he completed. The topics he tackles in this work of ‘hermetick philosophy’ include ‘omens and prophecies, dreams and apparitions, day fatality and second sight, all of which he was concerned to explore and explain, verify or discredit’ (Oxford DNB). It is a work rich in curious information: there are charms to cure agues or the bite of a mad dog, spells to summon a vision of your future spouse on St Agnes’ Eve, and advice on the interpretation of dreams.