SOLVING ‘SUBLIME ASTRONOMICAL PROBLEMBS’

The Doctrine of Eclipses, both solar and lunar; containing short and easy Precepts for computing solar and lunar Eclipses … fully and carefully explained, from the latest Discoveries and Improvements; whereby any Person of a moderate Capacity may be able in a short Time to solve those grand and sublime astronomical Problembs [sic]…

Norwich: printed by J. Crouse, for the Author, and sold by M. Booth … 1782.

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.

£1350

Approximately:
US $1689€1566

Make an enquiry

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...

M’CLINTOCK, Francis Leopold.

The Voyage of the ‘Fox’ in the Arctic Seas. A Narrative of the Discovery of the Fate of Sir John Franklin and his Companions.

The final and conclusive Franklin search expedition, organised by Lady Jane Franklin and led by M’Clintock.

Read more

DEVOTIONAL EMBLEM BOOK WITH RUBENS TITLE-PAGE HAEFTEN, Benedictus van.

Regia via crucis.

First edition of an important counter-reformation devotional emblem book, with a title-page designed by Peter Paul Rubens. Haeften (1588-1648) was provost of the Benedictine abbey of Affligem, Belgium, and played an important role in the reform of the Benedictine order. The Regia via crucis was his most important work, running to over 40 editions, including translations into Dutch, French, Spanish and other languages. The work was intended ‘to provide the (Catholic) reader with a good understanding of the significance of the Stations of the Cross, to inspire imitation of Christ’s example, and thereby to become acquainted with the way to the Kingdom of God. The rather abstract spiritual journey that the human soul had to make towards this goal is made more concrete by the ... selection of such principal figures as the Virgins Anima – the personification of the human soul – and Staurophila – a Greek name that literally means the one who adores the cross. Their experiences in the imitation of Christ and the resulting lessons of life were nothing else but allegorical examples that were to lead every reader to the just and good. The engraved illustrations are very important in this regard as they support the meaning of the text in a simple and clear emblematic manner.’ (The illustration of books published by the Moretuses p. 118-9).

Read more