Optice: sive de Reflexionibus, Refractionibus, Inflexionibus & Coloribus Lucis Libri Tres. Latine reddidit Samuel Clarke ... Accedunt Tractatus duo ... de Speciebus & Magnitudine Figurarum Curvilinearum, Latine scripti.

London, Sam. Smith and Benj. Walford, 1706.

4to, pp. [15]; 348, [1], [24], [1], [43, recte 47], with 19 folding engraved plates; three plates minimally shaved at head with partial loss to the heading of one plate; a very good, crisp copy in contemporary English panelled calf, rebacked, tips of corners restored; old French booksellers label on front paste-down.


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first latin edition, translated from the english edition of 1704 by samuel clarke, with the assistance of abraham de moivre.

Newton corrected the text for this edition and added seven new ‘queries’ containing speculations on the nature of matter and the propagating medium for light and energy.

‘The two mathematical treatises [De quadratura and Enumeratio] were retained and seven new queries were added, numbered from seventeen to twenty-three. This edition is known in two states. In query 20 Newton had written of space: ‘Annon spatium universuum, sensorium est entis incorporei, viventis, et intelligentis?” (Is not infinite space the sensorium of a Being incorporeal, living and intelligent?) (p. 315). It must have struck Newton that to call space the “sensorium of God”, without any qualification, was too bold a claim. Consequently, he chose to substitute for page 315 a cancel in which he spoke of infinite space (“spatio infinito”) as “ tanquam sensorio suo” (which is as it were his sensorium).

‘He failed, however, to modify the whole edition and copies with the missing tanquam have been found in the Babson collection, the Bodleian Library and the ULC. But worse, from Newton’s point of view, an uncancelled copy found its way to Leibniz, who lost no time in accusing Newton of claiming that space is an organ of God’ (Gjertsen, The Newton Handbook p. 413). Ours is a copy with the leaf in its corrected version.

Babson 137; Wallis 179.


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