The History of the Heavens, considered according to the Notions of the Poets and Philosophers, compared with the Doctrines of Moses. Translated from the French … by J. B. de Freval, Esq. …

London: Printed [by Samuel Richardson] for J. Osborn … and sold by C. Rivington, C. Davis, T. Longman, T. Astley, S. Austin [and eight others in London, one in Bath]. 1740.

Two vols. in one, 8vo., pp. [4], x, [2], 288, [8]; [2], 312, [8], with a frontispiece to each volume and twenty-three other leaves of plates depicting inscriptions and carvings on ancient monuments, all mounted in accordance with the instructions to the binder: ‘The Bookbinder is desir’d to paste the Cuts (which are the original [12mo.] ones, engraven at Paris), upon an Octavo Leaf, the Size of this Work’; a fine copy in contemporary mottled calf, somewhat rubbed, spine gilt, red morocco label; the Macclesfield copy.


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First edition in English of Histoire du ciel consideré selon les idées des poëts, des philosophes, et de Moïse (Paris, 1739).

Noël-Antoine Pluche, a controversial professor of rhetoric at Rheims, became tutor in physics to, among others, the Earl of Stafford’s son. His most famous work, Spectacle de la nature (1732), was immensely popular but brought him ridicule in Voltaire’s Candide for its philosophical optimism. Here, he attempts to make modern science conform with the teachings of Genesis. ‘La première partie est presque une mythologie complète, fondée sur des idées neuves, mais simples et ingénieuses; la seconde partie est l’histoire des idées philosophiques sur la formation du monde’ (Nouvelle bibliographie générale); there is an extended discussion of ‘The world of Newton’ (II, 189-224).

The translator, John Baptist de Freval was a friend of Samuel Richardson; his letter in praise of ‘the high-meriting tho’ low-descended’ Pamela prefaced Richardson’s novel, which was in the press at the same time as this work.

Sale 266; Wallis, Newton and Newtoniana, 403.287.

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