Recueil d’Essais, ou précis des opinions, et des mémoires, du Vte de *** …

A Londres: De l’Imprimerie de T. Spilsbury & Fils. 1793.

[bound with:]

DESCRIPTION abrégée des Antiquités de la Ville de Nismes … Seconde Édition. A Nismes, chez C. Belle … 1786. [and:]

‘JOHNSON, J.’ (pseud.). A Guide for Gentlemen studying Medicine at the University of Edinburgh … London: Printed for G. G. J. and J. Robinson [etc.] … 1792. [and:]

GREGORY, James. Answer to Dr. James Hamilton, Junior … Edinburgh: 1793. [and:]

HAMILTON, James, junior. Reply to Dr. Gregory … Edinburgh: 1793.

5 works in one vol., 8vo, Receuil: pp. xxxvi, 152, with an engraved plate (gathering I foxed); Description: pp. [4], 52, with seven folding plates of woodcuts by Gritner; ‘Johnson’: pp. vii, [1], 74 (last leaf with old tear repaired; ESTC calls for a half-title but this is unlikely, as it would have to be a singleton); Gregory: pp. xxiv, 152 (inscribed to Sir William Forbes on the title-page); Hamilton: pp. 86; bound together in contemporary calf-backed boards with marbled sides; bookplate of Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, manuscript contents list.


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An interesting tract volume, containing the scarce collected thoughts of Charles Grant, vicomte de Vaux (a subscriber’s copy), a fine illustrated guide to Nîmes and the Pont du Gard, and three pamphlets relating to a controversy in the medical faculty in Edinburgh.

Grant (b. 1749) was scion of a French branch of an old Scottish family, and had been born in Mauritius, where his father spent twenty years. In the 1770s he invested heavily in privateers working against the British, and sustained heavy losses; he later petitioned, unsuccessfully, the US Congress for redress in the form of land. In 1790 he fled the French Revolution for England, where he published a number of works, including some proposals for a French loyalist colony in Canada, and a History of Mauritius (1801). The present Receuil d’Essais (and verse) is very miscellaneous, covering the ‘origin of things’, universal peace, politics, fire, advice for émigrés, his proposed Canadian colony, &c. The subscribers’ list at the end comprises mainly Scots, including Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo.

ESTC shows five copies: BL, NLS; Boston Public, NYPL, and Queen’s (Ontario). A second part, through with different printers and publishers, followed in 1794 (BL and NYPL only).

The obstetrician James Hamilton, junior, joined his father Alexander Hamilton’s practice at the age of twenty-one and eventual succeeded him in the chair of midwifery at Edinburgh University in 1800; a powerful and popular lecturer he nevertheless did not succeed in making midwifery a compulsory part of the curriculum until 1830. In 1792-3 both Hamilton and his father became embroiled in controversy after the publication of a pseudonymous Guide for Gentlemen studying Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, which highly praised the Hamiltons and denigrated their colleagues, notably Dr James Gregory (six copies in ESTC). Gregory alleged that Hamilton senior was actually the author, but when he was cleared by the Senate, Gregory turned his fire on the son. James Hamilton published some short letters in his defence early in 1793, to which Gregory gave a lengthy Answer to Dr. James Hamilton, Junior, laying out his reasons for believing ‘J. Johnson’ to be Hamilton; the present copy is a presentation copy to Sir William Forbes, as a man of influence in Edinburgh. Hamilton’s own point-by-point confutation appeared in his Reply to Dr. Gregory – a reply that angered Gregory so much he sought Hamilton out and thrashed him. Hamilton brought a suit and won damages of £100.

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BOTERO, Giovanni.

Della ragione di stato, libri dieci. Con tre libri delle cause della grandezza della città ... Di nuouo in questa impressione, mutati alcuni luoghi dall’istesso autore, & accresciuti di diuersi discorsi. Con due tauole ... Venice, Gioliti, 1598.

Aggiunte di Gio. Botero benese. Alla sua ragion di stato, nelle quali si tratta dell’eccellenze de gli antichi capitani, della neutralità, della riputatione, dell’agilità delle forze, della fortificatione. Con vna relatione del mare. Venice, Giovanni Battista Ciotti, 1598.

The second Gioliti edition of Botero’s neglected masterpiece in the history of economics, first published in 1589, bound with the first Venice edition of the Aggiunte. Of the first work, Schumpeter writes: ‘Divested of nonessentials, the “Malthusian” Principle of Population sprang fully developed from the brain of Botero in 1589: populations tend to increase, beyond any assignable limit, to the full extent made possible by human fecundity (the virtus generativa of the Latin translation); the means of subsistence, on the contrary, and the possibilities of increasing them (the virtus nutritiva) are definitely limited and therefore impose a limit on that increase, the only one there is; this limit asserts itself through want, which will induce people to refrain from marrying (Malthus’ negative check, prudential check, “moral restraint”) unless numbers are periodically reduced by wars, pestilence, and so on (Malthus’ positive check). This path-breaking performance – the only performance in the whole history of the theory of population to deserve any credit at all – came much before the time in which its message could have spread: it was practically lost in the populationist wave of the seventeenth century. But about two hundred years after Botero [1540–1617], Malthus really did no more than repeat it, except that he adopted particular mathematical laws for the operation of the virtus generativa and the virtus nutritiva: population was to increase “in geometric ratio or progression”’ (Schumpeter, History of Economic Analysis, pp. 254–5).

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