Traditions & Culture of Collecting Articles by and about Collectors, Librarians, and Booksellers
The History of Bibliography of Science in England A. N. L. Munby
This lecture by A. N. L. Munby, Fellow and Librarian of King’s College, Cambridge, was delivered in Los Angeles on March 29 and in Berkeley on April 4, 1968. In Los Angeles it was presented as the Eighth Annual Zeitlin & Ver Brugge Lecture in Bibliography, a series sponsored by the UCLA Graduate School of Library Service and supported by Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Zeitlin. In Berkeley the lecture was presented in a parallel series, the John Howell Lectures in Bibliography, established at the UCB School of Librarianship by Mr. and Mrs. Warren R. Howell in honor of Mr. Howell’s father.
We are indebted to Mr. Munby for the lively scholarship that characterizes this publication, to Lawton and Alfred Kennedy for the design and printing, and to our donors not only for their generous financial contributions but also for their continuing interest in the bibliographical education of librarians.
RAYNARD C. SWANK, Dean School of Librarianship, Berkeley
ANDREW H. HORN, Dean Graduate School of Library Service, Los Angeles
The History and Bibliography of Science in England, the first phase, 1833-45
Interest in the history of science has grown so enormously during the last two generations that some of its modern practitioners may be forgiven for their apparent belief that, if they did not actually invent the subject themselves, at least their immediate predecessors did so. I am neither an historian nor a scientist; and I am well aware that in addressing you on this subject I am giving a number of hostages to fortune. My interests lie in tracing the development of trends in book collecting, in bibliographical techniques and in scholarly method. And, whereas we already have reasonably full accounts of collectors of incunabula, early English literature, illuminated manuscripts, autographs and music, no similar attempt has ever been made systematically to survey on a substantial scale those who collected early scientific books. Such a survey, already overdue, would be a, subject of great fascination. It would take one back into the seventeenth century, where it would be necessary to try to disentangle the antiquarian from the scientific interests of such men as Elias Ashmole. Some yardstick would have to be evolved by which one could differentiate between men who had a practical and an historical interest in science. One such test which occurred to me, but which I have not got round to applying, would be to examine the sale of catalogues of the libraries of the eighteenthcentury collectors and to look up the Newton entries. Most of them would contain the third or “best” edition of Newton’s Principia, 1726, a standard book without which no gentleman’s library was complete. Some collectors,’ however, thought it desirable to acquire, in addition to the standard text, the first edition of 1687. A list of these men might form a convenient starting point for investigation.
A lecturer, however, with an hour at his disposal must be realistic and ruthlessly selective. It is my intention today to concentrate on one brief period of a dozen years, to describe a handful of collections of early scientific books formed in England then, to relate them to the general background of learning at that time, to recount in some detail the foundation and demise of the first society formed to study early science and to bring to your notice a great, and in my view underrated, pioneer in the field of scientific bibliography.
My chosen period is 1833 to the mid ’forties. My terminal date is in a sense an artificial one, imposed by limitations of space. At the end of my period I have deliberately omitted any reference to the Ray and Sydenham Societies, in the publications of which, of course, many historical works in their respective fields were reprinted. I have also stopped short of any consideration of George Henry Lewes’s important A Biographical History of Philosophy, the first volume of which in its original form appeared in 1845.1E.G. Martin Folkes (1690-1754) P.R.S.
Two important points need making at the outset. At that time of intense intellectual activity educated men were interested in the history of everything; there is nothing mysterious about the sudden growth of the study of early science. Indeed, it would have been odd if it had escaped unstudied. My second point is a fundamental one. Many of the books of this period which I shall discuss are essentially different in kind from the objective and dispassionate histories of science with which we are familiar today. History-often carefully selected history-was a powerful polemical weapon in the hands of men seeking to reinforce their preconceived theories, especially in the fields of theology and philosophy. Whewell is perhaps the most obvious case in point of a writer whose historical narrative is almost peripheral to the exposition of his philosophical judgments. Baden Powell was more interested in theology than in history. Halliwell’s publications on the history of science were derived from an all-embracing antiquarianism rather than from any innate interest in science per se. This is an obvious point but to overlook it would be to misunderstand the whole spirit of the age.
First let us consider Newtonian studies in the eighteen-thirties. In 1831 Brewster’s little popular Life appeared in the Family Library, but his great Memoirs of the Life, Writings and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton were not to be completed and published until the ’fifties. In 1833 at the third meeting of the British Association, held at Cambridge, an event occurred which stimulated some controversy and discussion on the character of Newton. Francis Baily, the astronomer, laid on the table and expounded to members a collection of original letters addressed by Flamsteed to Abraham Sharp relating to the publication of Flamsteed’s Historia Coelestis.2British Association. Report of the Third Meeting, 1834, pp. 462-66. The British Association was in fact at the outset very little concerned with the history of science. Established to counteract the inertia of a comatose Royal Society it was in its early years largely forward-looking and busy reviewing “the present state and progress” of various branches of science. But some sciences have an element of history built in, and astronomy is-or was until very recently-one of them. Baily, an interesting figure, who made perilous travels in the wilder parts of America as a young man and who at the age of fifty-one had retired from the Stock Exchange with a fortune to devote himself entirely to astronomy, has several claims to fame.3See L.G.H. Horton-Smith, Francis Baily, the Astronomer, Newbury, 1938. Baily's MS. catalogue of his library is B.M. Add. MS. 19642. “Baily’s Beads” in the sun and the determination of the “British Standard Yard” are the best known. His interest in Flamsteed derived from his work on the revision of all previous catalogues of stars, and in the course of this he discovered the earlier astronomer’s papers in private hands. His Account of the Rev. John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal appeared in 1835 and is perhaps the first British life of a scientist in which are to be found the new standards of scholarship which were beginning to pervade historical writing. Baily, in his energetic search for manuscript materials both in private and institutional hands and in his meticulous listing and citation of these sources seems to me to fill a pioneer role. His book, with its supplement added in 1837, threw for the first time a flood of light on the personal relations of scientists in the seventeenth century. Baily quoted letters of Flamsteed which set out his own version of his celebrated quarrel with Newton over the latter’s use of Flamsteed’s calculations: and whereas Baily himself was judiciously neutral a writer of a notice of his book in the Quarterly Review4Vol. 55, Dec. 1835: the anonymous author was Sir John Barrow. used Flamsteed’s letters as a peg on which to hang a violently partisan attack on Newton’s integrity. As a loyal son of Newton’s college, William Whewell, tutor of Trinity, entered the lists in defence of its most distinguished alumnus. In a powerful riposte, Newton and Flamsteed, Remarks on an article in number CIX of the Quarterly Review, he pointed out the misunderstandings which led to the breach and vindicated Newton’s good faith; and Baily, in a further article in The Magazine of Popular Science,5Vol. 1, 1836, pp. 83-96. summed up. This concern of first-class minds to establish the exact cause of a long dead scientific controversy was typical of a new spirit which was abroad. The same spirit can be observed in the first bibliographical work of merit on Newton, by S. P. Rigaud,6Rigaud had also contributed to the Flamsteed-Newton controversy in an article “On Newton, Whiston, Halley, and Flamsteed,” Philosophical Magazine, 1836. Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford. His Historical Essay on the First Publication of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia, 1838, is, I believe, the earliest piece of historical bibliography of a kind which has had many later counterparts. The detailed account of the conception and composition, of the printing, publication and reception by the world and of the subsequent revision of a work of the highest genius is a worthy theme. Rigaud, like Baily, sought out the manuscript sources, David Gregory’s papers, the Macclesfield correspondence and the records of the Royal Society and showed an earnest desire to present the evidence, to weigh its import and to get things right, which earns him our admiration. We are indeed indebted to him even more for his two volumes of Correspondence of Scientific Men of the Seventeenth Century, including Letters of Barrow, Flamsteed, Wallis and Newton, printed from the originals in the collection of the…Earl of Macclesfield, which appeared posthumously in 1841, of the greater importance because accessibility to that rich archive on the history of science has been restricted even to our own times. It is to be regretted that the life of Halley on which Rigaud was working at his death in 1839 was not complete. This was the period when the documents and sources were being got into print for the first time, and it is interesting to speculate why it was the astronomers-Baily, Rigaud and others whom I shall mention later-who were so especially active in this respect. Worship of Newton and Galileo I suppose provides the clue.
Others besides Rigaud were active in this field at Oxford. The Ashmolean Society had been founded in 1828 “for the purpose of promoting in the University a taste for Natural History, Experimental Philosophy, and Antiquarian and other branches of research,” but it tended to antiquarian studies more than to science and its early publications contain very little on the history of science. The original committee however embraced several eminent scientists, among them Dean Buckland, the geologist, and the Rev. Baden Powell, Savilian Professor of Geometry, later the Hammer of the Tractarians. Powell is to be numbered among the many eminent and able men of the period who devoted part of their talents to the cause of popular education; and he contributed to the Cabinet Cyclopaedia series in 1834 a good short history of science for the “general reader.” In his introduction he felt obliged to explain and to justify his novel subject.
“The history of science,” he wrote, “is hardly ever a matter of popular interest or attention. The common impression has ever been unfavourable to physical science. Those who cultivate it have been regarded as a set of men isolated, as it were, from the rest of the world, and immersed in occupations with which the body of mankind feel no sympathy. Their speculations are imagined to be little applicable to any useful purpose, and often of doubtful or even dangerous tendency. Hence, the pursuits of science have not uncommonly been regarded with suspicion, dislike or ridicule. And, upon the whole it will not be a matter of surprise, that to trace their progress in different ages should have been so little recognised as a legitimate portion of the historian’s province. An attempt therefore to supply this deficiency is certainly needed.”
Powell’s Historical View of Natural Philosophy was not the result of profound original research but of wide reading of the secondary sources. Two other men of high standing wrote popular treatments of the subject which, had they not been contributed and lost in larger works, would be better known today. In the fourth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica John Playfair, Professor of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh, joined with Dugald Stewart and Sir James Mackintosh in contributing one of several preliminary dissertations, which were reprinted in subsequent editions of the Encyclopedia throughout the century. Playfair’s “Progress of mathematical and physical science since the revival of letters in Europe” was extolled by his contemporaries and is probably the best short general history of science written during the first half of the century. The Dictionary of National Biography, in reference to Playfair’s classic of geology, Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth, singles out for special praise his purity of diction, simplicity of style and clearness of explanation. These qualities will strike any reader of his contribution to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but he was also a master of prose in the grand manner-in the best sense-and I commend the peroration on the genius of Leibnitz and Newton with which his historical essay ends.
The other work is more specialised and more obscurely concealed. The Encyclopaedia Metropolitana, 1829, contains an historical article on Arithmetic by George Peacock, Fellow of Trinity College and later Dean of Ely, which evoked enthusiastic praise from that greater expert in the subject Augustus De Morgan, to whom we shall shortly refer: and in so far as this essay preceded De Morgan’s work we must give him credit for sign-posting a territory hitherto unmapped in England. Peacock was a man of exceptional ability. He learned his mathematics from Adam Sedgwick; in his examinations he was Second Wrangler, being beaten by the future Sir John Herschel 7Herschel, author of the influential Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy, published in 1830 as the opening volume of Lardner’s “Cabinet Cyclopaedia,” was yet another astronomer whose interests embraced the historical approach to his subject.; he reformed the teaching of mathematics in Cambridge and with Herschel and Babbage founded an Analytical Society, with the object of “leaving the world a better place than they found it.” He beat the great Whewell himself in a contested election to the Lowndean Professorship of Mathematics, a post which, it is sad to report, he treated as a sinecure, giving almost no lectures. In this deficiency, however, he was by no means unique.
Peacock was an early collector of a fine library of science and mathematics which has been dispersed almost without trace. The auction catalogue is of absolute rarity; the only copy I have traced is in Cambridge University Library. Sold by Charles Wisbey of Trinity Street, Cambridge, on 7 December, 1858, the collection formed 324 lots. It was miserably catalogued, many composite volumes of early tracts being bundled up together with their contents unspecified. Peacock’s first edition of Newton’s Principia was not even accorded the dignity of a single lot, but was sold with another work. Close reading of the catalogue however reveals that Peacock owned a number of mathematical incunabula and a good series of sixteenth-century books, including such rarities as Dionis Gray’s Storehouse of Brevitis in Arithmetique, 1577 of which there is no copy in Cambridge to this day: and his runs of important later authors, Euler for example, were obviously exceptional.
The preeminence of the Cambridge Colleges of Trinity and St. John’s in the field of mathematics and astronomy at this period brings me to the consideration of the two works which are still read today by students and which are beginning to take their place as an examination text in courses on the history and philosophy of science, William Whewell’s History and Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences. Whewell was the dominant-not to say the most domineering-figure of his generation at Cambridge, his capacious intellect matched by his giant frame. “What a man was lost when they made you a parson,” a prize-fighter once remarked to him. “Science is his forte and omniscience his foible,” was Sydney Smith’s summing up of a man whose ability to talk and write upon almost any subject was the occasion of a good deal of satirical comment.
“If you through the regions of space should have travelled
And of nebular films the remotest unravelled
You’ll find as you tread on the bounds of infinity
That God’s greatest work is-the Master of Trinity.”
Thus wrote Sir Francis Doyle on Whewell’s book, The Plurality of Worlds.
No generalisation is applicable to Whewell. Leslie Stephen, who described him as “a critic rather than an original investigator in science,” was forced at once to qualify this statement by noting that his work on the theory of the tides was original investigation of a high order. The whole cast of Whewell’s mind was philosophical, and indeed the promotion of interest in philosophy was one of the permanent marks heleft on Cambridge. He revelled in ethical speculation and in the classification of facts and ideas; and he was concerned in the invention of scientific nomenclature in the fields of both geology and electricity. In a sense his History of the Inductive Sciences, 1837, the fruit of his exceptional powers of assimilating information on a universal scale, with its bias towards the recording of the evolution and dissemination of theories, was a by-product of his later work, The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, 1840. Whewell rightly claimed originality for his approach: “the work,” he wrote during its composition, “would be historiographised in a new and philosophical manner.” I am not a philosopher and I am unqualified to evaluate the remark which an expert in this field once made to me-that “Whewell raped history in the interest of his philosophical theories.” It is however apparent that the greater part of Whewell’s History lies outside the scope of this lecture. To say this is by no means to belittle it, but my concern today is with the researches of those whose aim it was patiently to establish and to record with appropriate documentation the facts of scientific history.
Such a man was Augustus De Morgan, who entered Trinity College in 1823 and was 4th Wrangler in 1827, having been taught both by Whewell and Peacock. At the age of twentytwo he was elected the first Professor of Mathematics at the new University of London, a chair which he twice resigned (and to which he was once re-elected) on matters of conscience. For, although he described himself as an “unattached Christian,” De Morgan found that his religious faith lay outside the bounds of the Established Church. Throughout his life he was much concerned with the Astronomical Society; and he also shared with many of his contemporaries their passionate concern for popular education, contributing no less than eight hundred and fifty articles to the Penny Cyclopaedia.
Between 1831 and 1857 he wrote twenty-five papers, a great many of them bibliographical, for the Companion to the [British] Almanac, an annual publication. The total obscurity of this series of essays deserves illumination and I think that a group of them would repay the trouble of collecting them together in a reprint. Even in his twenties De Morgan displays a profound knowledge of the by-ways of his subject. In 1836, for example, he published an article on “Old Arguments against the Motion of the Earth.” This was mainly a translation of an anti-Copernican dialogue of Thomas Fienus in his Disputatio an coelum moveatur et terra quiescat, first printed in 1619, but reprinted in London as late as 1670, and thereby providing a basis for De Morgan’s discussion of seventeenthcentury scientists who still clung to a pre-Copernican conception of the universe. His 1837 article was on a larger scale, “Notices of English Mathematical and Astronomical Writers between the Norman Conquest and the year 1600,” much concerned, of course, with writers such as Recorde, Dee, Leonard and Thomas Digges, and the demonstration that the first of these was a Copernican. De Morgan had complete mastery of the earlier writers in his field, best seen in his article contributed to the Companion of 1843, “References for the History of the Mathematical Sciences,” twenty-five pages, in minute type, of packed bibliographical information. I would like to draw attention to two other articles in this series, “On the Earliest Printed Almanacs” (1846), a long account of a subject never treated on this scale before, and, particularly, “On the Difficulty of Correct Description of Books” (1852), an essay which grapples with bibliographical problems hitherto unrecognised and indeed not seriously tackled by anyone else until another three decades had elapsed.
De Morgan’s valuable series of essays and reviews on Newton were collected after his death by P.E.B. Jourdain.8Essays on the Life and Work of Newton, Chicago and London, 1914: his manuscript notebook relating to Newton and his works is University of London, De Morgan ms. XXI. They were written in the ’forties and ’fifties and they deal dispassionately and fairly with several awkward aspects which other writers of the period, especially Brewster, tended to gloss over, notably Newton’s theological views and the controversy with Leibnitz over the invention of the infinitesimal calculus.
De Morgan’s best known work today (in the bibliographical field) is of course his Arithmetical Books from the Invention of Printing to the Present Time, published in 1847, with an obliged dedication to Peacock. Its scale is immense: the index runs to 1580 entries. It is one of the earliest, and still one of the best, of the class of work now called a catalogue raisonnee. The notes, based on total familiarity with the subject-matter of each work, are testimony to the extraordinary range of its author’s learning. To librarians in my audience I wish especially to draw attention to a short passage in the preface. Some of us from time to time are compelled to justify to a slightly skeptical Library Committee or Governing Body the acquisition of some book, the immediate relevance of which is not apparent. Their doubts may perhaps be assuaged by the following quotation:
“The most worthless book of a bygone day,” De Morgan wrote, “is a record worthy of preservation. Like a telescopic star, its obscurity may render it unavailable for most purposes; but it serves, in hands which know how to use it, to determine the places of more important bodies.”
Only in the physical descriptions of books cited is De Morgan’s great work disappointing. De Morgan was of course, familiar with the techniques evolved in his time in Germany by Hain and others for the precise description of books. Indeed in a very interesting article in The Dublin Review for September 1846 he reviewed Hain’s Repertorium in conjunction with Panizzi’s Catalogue of the Scientific Books in the Library of the Royal Society, 1839, yet another manifestation of our subject’s growth in this remarkable period. The review is long and discursive. Having remarked that booksellers who have any interest in scientific books could be numbered on the fingers of one hand and collectors on the other hand, De Morgan goes on to give some account of the progress of scientific bibliography since the seventeenth century. The reall purpose of the review however was to support Panizzi in his stand against the pressure from “literary men” to simplify, and thus to hasten, the cataloguing of books in the British Museum. In this Homeric quarrel, which must not concern us here, De Morgan stood four-square with the professional librarians in their determination not to lower their standard of elaboration and accuracy and in 1850 he reiterated this view in evidence to the Royal Commission on the British Museum. Panizzi’s gratitude is recorded in a letter inserted in a volume of De Morgan’s tracts preserved in the library of the University of London.
For in that institution may be studied today one of the best surviving collections of early scientific books formed at this date. After De Morgan’s death in 1871 the collection, numbering about three thousand volumes, was bought by Lord Overstone for presentation to the University: and, although the collection was not kept together as an entity, in the printed catalogue of London University Library, published in 1876, De Morgan’s books are separately identified. They are sharply slanted in the direction of astronomy, mathematics, navigation, surveying and allied subjects. The sections of Euclid, Copernicus, Oughtred, Joseph Moxon and Newton are impressive in the extreme. Alchemy and other forms of science are very thinly represented: there are for example no works at all by Hermes Trismegistus, Ashmole or Vaughan. Nevertheless within his chosen limitations, De Morgan’s books must be regarded as one of the major surviving collections formed before the present century.
It was well-known, and even influential, in De Morgan’s lifetime. Lord Crawford, one of the greatest collectors of the latter half of the century, used it as a model for the building up of the similar collection which he formed for presentation to the Royal Observatory at Edinburgh. Crawford bought Charles Babbage’s library as a foundation and then, in his own words, “using very largely the De Morgan books for making my Desiderata lists, finally I got that Department of the Library, Mathematical and Physical Science, up to a high level, second only I think to the Imperial Library of Pulcowa Observatory in Russia.” But we must return to the eighteen-thirties, with which this lecture is really concerned.
In Cambridge this awakening interest in the history of science found an astonishing supporter at undergraduate level. James Orchard Halliwell, son of a prosperous Lancashire businessman, matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, on 13 November, 1837 at the age of seventeen and a half. Already for two years he had collected books and manuscripts, and while still a schoolboy had contributed to The Parthenon a series of biographies of mathematicians. He was one of the prodigies who appear from time to time to dazzle those of us whose lives are spent in the education of the young. Precociously infallible, omniscient and urbane, they exasperate their contemporaries and amaze and occasionally delight their seniors. Their learning is more often than not extra-curricular: and the lingering doubt remains in their tutors’ minds that there must be a catch somewhere. In Halliwell’s case of course there was.
In April, 1838 Halliwell migrated to Jesus College where he had better prospects of academic advancement and a Fellowship. His time however was devoted to research on abstruse subjects in the libraries of Cambridge rather than to preparing himself for submission to the Tripos examiners. In 1837 he had contributed three articles to the Magazine of Popular Science entitled “A Brief Sketch of early English Scientific Literature from the Invention of Printing to the end of the Sixteenth Century.” In 1838 his first separate publication appeared, an account of Charles the Second’s Master of Mechanics, Sir Samuel Morland, to which he appended for good measure “A Treatise on the Numeration of Algorism, from a MS of the 14th. Century.” The said manuscript was in his own collection and from his annotation it is apparent that he had already worked on the collections at the British Museum and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, as well as his own two Colleges. The same year saw the appearance of an edition of Sacro-Bosco’s De Arte Numerandi and two further tracts on early mathematical subjects were published in 1839. These activities quickly brought him to the notice of Whewell and Sedgwick in Cambridge and of Baden Powell and Rigaud in Oxford, and the first three were among his sponsors when he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society before his nineteenth birthday. The Council of the Society at once took advantage of the learning and energy of their youthful member by accepting his offer to catalogue the manuscripts in their library. Halliwell’s catalogue of the miscellaneous manuscripts, together with a description of the Society’s manuscript letters by W. E. Shuckard, appeared in print in 1840.
Connoisseurs of undergraduate effrontery-and I am one-will find much to relish in Halliwell’s teen-age publications. The title of one of his earliest pamphlets for example, A Few Hints to Novices in Manuscript Literature, somehow suggests that the author is more than nineteen. With total self-confidence at the same age he printed a sharp attack on the publishing programme of the newly-formed Camden Society,’ complaining that members had been betrayed by the admission to the Society’s list of so popular a book as W.J.Thoms’ Anecdotes and Traditions illustrative of Early English History and Literature. “Continuation of this policy,” wrote the undergraduate severely to the President, Lord Francis Egerton, “would lead to a series of half-Pickwickian pseudo-antiquarian publications.” Not all Halliwell’s seniors retained their equanimity in the face of their youthful critic’s strictures as he himself pointed out.
“I am perfectly aware,” he wrote, “that many Members of the [Camden] Society will be but ill-disposed to pay attention to the suggestion of a boy under nineteen, as an honourable and learned Member of your Society, with more truth than kindly feeling, lately taunted me, when in the purest innocence, and certainly with the best intention, I ventured to point out a most egregious and nepial10A word unknown to lexicographers, pretentiously derived from nhpios, a child. error in one of his recent publications.”
It is, however, with Halliwell’s connections with the study of early science that we are concerned today. A few finer collections of books in this field may have been formed earlier and many since, but I can state without fear of contradiction that no more remarkable collection of this kind has ever been made by an undergraduate: and, although it was dispensed before the collector’s twenty-first birthday, by a series of happy accidents we have available a printed description of the books and no less than three printed lists of the manuscripts.
At Cambridge Halliwell fell in with a group of undergraduates considerably his superiors in rank and fortune, and, even if he had not spent large sums on books, his finances would obviously have been embarrassed. As early as 1839 he was contemplating the sale of his scientific manuscripts and in that year he printed an eight-page catalogue of them. He distributed copies to several collectors and institutions, including the British Museum, in the catalogue of which it is misleadingly dated (1841?). 11A Catalogue of Scientific Manuscripts in the Possession of J. 0. Halliwell, Esq. The British Museum copy is headed in ins. “[Not published] British Museum from Mr. Halliwell.” The great rarity of this remarkable catalogue is my justification for attaching a reprint of it as an appendix to this lecture.
At the age of nineteen Halliwell owned one hundred and thirty-six scientific manuscripts, mostly mathematical, astronomical and alchemical. No less than twenty-six were mediaeval, dating from the eleventh century onwards. Our admiration for this juvenile feat of accession must be tempered by the hindsight through which we now know that at least eleven of these were stolen by Halliwell from the library of Trinity College, Cambridge.12See D. A. Winstanley, “Halliwell Phillipps and Trinity College Library,” The Library, March 1948, pp. 250-282 and W. H. Bond, “Henry Hallam, The Times Newspaper and the Halliwell Case,” The Library, June 1963, pp. 133-140. Probably the most interesting of the Halliwell manuscripts-and so far as we know honestly acquired-was No. 119 in his catalogue, the so-called Codex Holbrookianus, autograph astronomical works by John Holbrook, Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, who died in 1437. Among a mass of later material of interest, Halliwell owned the papers of the astronomer James Ferguson (1710-1776), an autograph treatise on spherical trigonometry by John Collins, the seventeenth-century mathematician, twenty-four volumes of the scientific papers of William Hyde Wollaston, autograph mathematical papers of Charles Hutton, and, among a series of original letters, examples in the hands of Gassendi and Flamsteed.
Among the collectors to whom Halliwell sent this catalogue was Sir Thomas Phillipps, with whom he had already corresponded over his tract on Sir Samuel Morland and on whose behalf he had examined several monastic cartularies in Cambridge libraries. On 9 October, 1839 Halliwell wrote urgently to Phillipps offering him the whole collection for £250, less, he said, than they had cost him. I have already printed this correspondence in my Phillipps Studies13Chapter IV of Vol. 2, 1952, is devoted to Halliwell’s relations with Phillipps. and will not repeat it here, except to record that Phillipps, who was in his own chronic state of insolvency, declined to purchase, but sympathetically invited the young man to come and stay with him at Middle Hill, an invitation which Halliwell refused at that time. “I am so overcome with anxiety and deep labyrinths,” he replied on 11 October, “that I should be miserable myself and perhaps infuse some trifling portion into others.…Now I think of nothing but a way of escape from the Shylock money-lenders-of the City of London.”
Phillipps however reprinted Halliwell’s catalogue in a work, which he had begun in 1833 at his own private press, occasional lists of manuscripts in private hands under the general title Catalogus Manuscriptorum in Bibliothecis Anglice, Cambriae, Scotia et Hibernia. The three folio sheets (43-45) containing Halliwell’s catalogue are of the greatest rarity, having been rigorously suppressed by Phillipps when the tainted source of some of the collection was disclosed to the world. In fact the only copy I have ever seen is the Baronet’s own, on which he has written in his bold hand, “This Halliwell is said to have stolen some of these manuscripts out of Trinity College Library, and from a letter which was sent to me I have no doubt of it. Thos. Phillipps.”
Having failed to sell his manuscripts privately Halliwell in the following year consigned them to the auction room. Divided into one hundred and sixty-two lots they were catalogued for sale by Sotheby on 27 June, 1840. Sir Frederic Madden, Keeper of Manuscripts at the British Museum, records in his journal how when he viewed the sale he was “much struck at the mutilated appearance of many of the vellum MSS. and of the singularity of several tracts being bound separately, which had evidently formed originally one volume.” He gave a few commissions on the Museum’s behalf to the London bookseller, Thomas Rodd, but Rodd reported that “no sale had taken place, in consequence of there being no bidders.” The cancellation of a sale was not unknown at this period. It must be remembered that most of the manuscripts had been bought from booksellers in the previous two or three years by a probably rather tiresome undergraduate customer and it occasions little surprise to me that the trade did not flock to support this dispersal of highly unfashionable material. At the end of June and again in July Halliwell tried to sell the collection privately to the Museum, but Madden thought his price too high and in the outcome the collector sold them, except for Codex Holbrookianus, to Thomas Rodd for £50. Madden was given first refusal of any of them and in August 1840 bought thirty-three for the Museum at a price of £35/12/-. The Holbrook manuscript, of which Halliwell privately printed a description in 1840, was also sold to Rodd later, and on Madden’s advice the Trustees at the Museum approved its purchase for £16/16/-. on 9 January 1841. The largest surviving section of Halliwell’s collection therefore is comprised in B.M.Egerton MSS 821-852 and 889. We shall have something to say a little later on the embarrassments to which this accession gave rise.
On the two days which preceeded the abandoned sale of Halliwell’s manuscripts, 25 and 26 June, 1840, Sotheby offered “a selected portion of the scientific, historical and miscellaneous library of James Orchard Halliwell, Esq., F.R.S., F.S.A., and English Correspondent of the French Historical Committee of Sciences.” This must qualify as one of the most disastrous sales ever held. Divided into 624 lots the entire collection realised £130. Many of the best books were bought by Augustus De Morgan who laid out rather more than £15. Even for that date and allowing for the paucity of collectors in the field, prices were phenomenally low, especially in the case of early English books. Let me cite a few mouth-watering examples: -
Baker’s Well-Spring of Sciences, 1655, fetched 6d; Boyle’s Observations on Cold, 1665, failed to get a bid but, when added to the following lot, the two combined realised 1s 6d; Cavalieri’s Nuova Prattica Astrologia, 1639, went as high as 3s 6d and for a very great rarity, the first edition of Cocker’s Arithmetic, 1678, Pickering had to pay 22s. A set of Memoires de l’Academie Royale des Sciences in eighty-nine volumes cost £4, the highest price for a single lot in the whole sale. William Barlowe’s Magnetical Advertisements, 1618, fetched 1s 6d and a volume containing two works, Bedwell’s Of the nature of Geometricall Numbers, 1664, and Digges’ Tectonicon, 1637, 3s 6d, both bought by De Morgan, who also secured Digges’ Pantometria, 1571, for 3s, Cyprian Lucar’s A treatise named Lucarsolace, 1590, for 119s, Recorde’s The Whetstone of Witte, 1557, bound with another work, for 7s, and several volumes containing half a dozen sixteenth- and seventeenth-century tracts by Napier, Digges, Dee and others at prices ranging from 16s downwards. At the higher levels for single works-above 10s.-Dee’s Euclid, 1570, cost 12s.; and for the standard library edition of Newton’s works, edited in five volumes by Bishop Horsley, £3 13s. 6d., was paid. If Halliwell had been collecting his early scientific books as an investment, it is small wonder that he was soon to switch his attention to Shakespeare quartos.
And yet, before we leave this remarkable young man and his brief but intense flirtation with our subject, he has one further claim to our attention today. It has been said that a subject comes of age when an academic chair is founded to further its study. Many years were to elapse before formal approval was given by a university to teaching and research in the history of science. There is however another landmark in the development of a subject, the formation of a society of persons with a common interest in sharing the fruits of research and publishing them to the world. The Historical Society of Science was founded in 1840. It has been the theme of a brief account in Isis14Vol. XVIII, 1932, pp. 127-132. by H.W.Dickinson, who related it to the great mass of learned societies which emerged in the ’forties. Dickinson’s sole source, however, on the Society itself was the list of members and rules attached to one of its two publications. Much more information is available in the unpublished papers of Halliwell in Edinburgh University Library and of Dawson Turner in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge: and, since the Society brought together-on paper at any rate-almost everyone interested in the history of science in England at the period, it is perhaps worthwhile to investigate its formation and its sadly swift demise in some detail.
The sole impetus for the foundation of the Society came from the energy and ambition of Halliwell. In March 1840 he printed and circulated a preliminary manifesto, a copy of which is preserved among Dawson Turner’s papers:- 15Trinity College, Cambridge: 0.14.2512.
The British Historical Society of Sciences
The great deficiency of printed materials illustrating the history of Science having long been complained of, it is proposed to establish a Society for the purpose of printing documents relative to that subject. Fixing the Annual Subscription from each Member at One Pound, it is hoped that a number of names will be obtained sufficient to encourage the further prosecution of this desirable project. March 6th, 1840.
Response was immediate and encouraging. Francis Baily accepted membership on 11 March 1840 and Michael Faraday enrolled on the same date, with a caveat about the financial implications of membership.
“I am much obliged by your letter. As to the Society I think its object excellent. I should be very glad to support it but am really limited by expense. The numbers to which I am able to belong is a serious draught on an income which from ill health I am obliged to diminish. If you think the annual expense will not go beyond a guinea I shall be happy to give you my name.…”16Edinburgh University Library: L.O.A. 100 / 29.
Augustus De Morgan also offered practical assistance and on 23 June 1840 reported that he had distributed twenty-five prospectuses and asked for more.“ Another key figure in securing members was Thomas Joseph Pettigrew (1791-1865), one of the long line of doctors noted for their scholarly and antiquarian interests which stretches from Mead to Osler and beyond. As Secretary of the Medical Society of London, Pettigrew had many professional links; he was a prominent member of the Society of Antiquaries and his History of Egyptian Mummies, 1834, had been widely acclaimed by the learned and commands the respect of Egyptologists to this day; but, even more important, he was Halliwell’s means of recruiting those noblemen whose names were important to add lustre to any list of membership of the period. As librarian to the Duke of Sussex it was doubtless Pettigrew who secured His Royal Highness’s acceptance of the Presidency: and the name of the Duke, who two years before had resigned the presidency of the Royal Society itself, would have influenced the other prominent figures who accepted vice-presidencies: -the Earl of Munster, F.R.S., eldest of the five illegitimate sons of William IV, Lord Holland, the Bishop of Durham (Edward Maltby, the Greek scholar), Sir Robert Inglis, politician, Sir George Staunton, the eminent authority on China and Sir Lancelot Shadwell, last Vice-Chancellor of England.17L.O.A. 160 / 5.
At the level of those who might serve the Society actively Halliwell had his disappointments. The Rev. Joseph Hunter, one of the foremost antiquaries of the day, declined the office of treasurer.
“On reflection,” he explained in a letter of 8 May, 1840, “I feel myself so ill qualified to discharge the duties of the office, having a great aversion to anything like money-accounts and a great repugnance to asking anyone for money however properly due, that I must beg you and the Society to excuse me & to accept such services as I may be able to render it in the humbler capacity as one of its Council. It strikes me that Professor De Morgan would be the proper man, could he be induced to undertake it.”18L.O.A. 7 / 32.
In the event however Halliwell himself retained the double role of secretary and treasurer. By 1841 the Society had one hundred and seventy-nine members including forty-five Fellows of the Royal Society, forty-eight Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries and thirty-four members of other prominent learned societies such as the Royal Astronomical and the Linnean. The list includes a number of those gentlemen whose name appeared in the membership of every society of the time, Beriah Botfield, for example, the book-collector whose library is today one of the glories of the great Elizabethan house, Longleat, Sir Thomas Phillipps, shortly to his bitter chagrin to become Halliwell’s father-in-law, Henry Hallam, the historian, and well-known antiquaries such as Charles Purton Cooper, John Gage Rokewode, Dawson Turner and his friend Hudson Gurney. Apart from these men, however, whose subscriptions would be relied upon in any learned cause, there were professional mathematicians and astronomers in encouraging numbers, such as Manuel Johnson of the Radcliffe Observatory, Robert Willis, Jacksonian Professor at Cambridge and Baden Powell, Savilian Professor at Oxford, the last two, together with De Morgan, members of the Council. Neither were there lacking several eminent amateur men of science, John Lee of Hartwell, the astronomer, and Admiral Smyth, founder of the Royal Geographical Society, nor one or two cultured men of business such as James Whatman, the paper manufacturer. The election of honorary foreign members was not neglected. Michel Chasles, the historian of geometry, sent his flattered acceptance to Halliwell on 24 April, 1841 and accompanied his formal letter with a four-page personal letter promising contributions and describing the research which he had in hand.19L.O.A. 9 / 25 and 9 / 42. In the same class was Guglielmo Libri, the eminent historian of mathematics in Italy, his reputation, like Halliwell’s own, shortly to be blasted by the revelation that he was a thief of valuable books. Only one class of member is notably unrepresented, public or university libraries. In France the Bibliotheque du Roi subscribed; in England only Birmingham Public Library, Lincoln Permanent Library and Montrose Antiquarian Society, and at that date these were subscription libraries and not public libraries as we know them today.
From the individual membership, however, there is one notable omission. The name is lacking of William Whewell, who knew Halliwell when he was at Trinity and who, as the author of the History of the Inductive Sciences, would seem to be an essential element of a society of this kind. The omission indeed led me at first to suppose that Whewell’s refusal to join might have been based on some personal reason, such as early knowledge of Halliwell’s thefts from Trinity in 1838; but the chronology will not fit. It was not until 1845 that the name of Halliwell was brought before the Governing Body of Trinity as the probable thief, although the Librarian had his own suspicions at an earlier date. Winstanley argued that Whewell knew nothing of the matter as late as January 1 844 when, as Master, Whewell with his Seniors permitted Halliwell to borrow a manuscript from the library on giving a bond for £50: and such letters from Whewell to Halliwell as survive bear out Winstanley’s contention. On 31 March 1839 Whewell wrote cordially acknowledging some “extracts respecting the tides.” On 12 June, 1840, in reply to Halliwell’s invitation to membership, he wrote:20L.O.A. 7 / 48.
“I fear I shall be of no use as a member of the Historical Society of Science, and as I wish as much as possible not to involve myself in additional societies, I must beg you to excuse my entering the one in question, though I admire your objects and wish you all success.”
“I was so far from feeling any dissatisfaction with your article in the Phil. Mag. that I read it with great pleasure. I was quite aware when I published my history that additional researches would supply additions and corrections to my general sketch.” Whewell’s refusal to join the Society is much more likely to have its origin in its pronounced antiquarian bias
So much for the membership. The rules of the Society, which were printed in its publications, differed in no way from those of a score of similar societies. It existed to print texts upon which no commercial publisher would risk his capital. Its aim was to recruit six hundred members, each of whom would contribute one pound a year, and all the income except for a minimum of necessary expenses should be devoted to its publishing programme. The administration was to be in the hands of a President, six Vice-Presidents and a Council of twelve.
The publications of the Society were only two in number. Thomas Wright, Halliwell’s senior at Trinity College and his lifelong friend, edited a volume of Popular Treatises on Science written during the Middle Ages in Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman and English, and Halliwell himself produced A Collection of Letters illustrative of the Progress of Science in England from the Reign of Queen Elizabeth to that of Charles the Second. Both volumes appeared in 1841, the former consisting of a tenth-century Anglo-Saxon manual of astronomy, an Anglo-Saxon bestiary and a fragment of scientific interest from a metrical collection of the Lives of the Saints. Some of the men of science and the amateur antiquaries who had joined the Society may well have found this initial volume rather forbidding fare.
In his preface to the latter publication Halliwell underlined the novelty of the subject, claiming with some exaggeration, that Augustus De Morgan and himself were the only authors who had published any accounts of early science in England, although he added that “it should be mentioned that Mr. Hunter discovered that John Field and John Dee adopted the Copernican system as early as 1556; and Professor De Morgan has shown that Robert Recorde was a convert to the heliocentric theory at nearly the same period. But these discoveries,” he continued, “seem to have attracted little attention from scientific men, either on account of that lamentable apathy towards matters of history which is too frequently characteristic of the lover of demonstration, or perhaps, let us hope, from a want of some general channel of communication, such as the Historical Society of Science now affords.” Halliwell printed, with a minimum of editorial comment, eighty-three letters from original manuscripts in the British Museum, the Bodleian, and the libraries of Lambeth Palace and Sion College, the most interesting of them derived from the correspondence of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, and of Sir Charles Cavendish. The work received a favourable notice in The Philosophical Magazine,21L.O.A. 7 / 48. the writer of which took the opportunity to publicise and to applaud the general aims of the Historical Society of Science. An ambitious list of projected publications was printed in Halliwell’s volume, fifteen items, ten of them mediaeval and doubtless most of these suggested by Joseph Wright. The remainder included a series of Elizabethan tide-tables by John Marshall, proposed by John Cressy Wright, proposals for mechanical inventions addressed to Queen Elizabeth by John Bourne, “Master of the Gravesend Barge,” a catalogue of John Dee’s manuscripts, and a description of the Merva, a mechanical instrument invented by Simon Sturtevant of Christ’s College, Cambridge. The last was proposed to Halliwell by William Henry Black on 23 June, 1840 in a letter of engaging frankness.
“You know better than anyone else,” he wrote, “the antipathy that I have to literary and scientific societies generally, by reason of the corruption, imbecility and humbug that commonly pervade them, and the rogues and asses which often get the uppermost hand in their management. It is not, therefore, from any want of respect to you, or disregard of the objects of your new Societies, that I cannot at once conclude upon becoming a Member: but because I have studiously avoided engaging myself in those connexions.”22Vol. XVIII, 1841, pp. 412-4.
After this somewhat unpromising preamble Black went on to offer what he called his “mite of co-operation.” He had, he said, for many years anxiously sought for materials to illustrate the life and works of Simon Sturtevant, “a gentleman, a scholar, and a most ingenious mechanist, contemporary with Lord Bacon, … the first person who applied pit coal to the smelting of iron and so saved the remaining timber of our forests.” Black would, he promised, prepare a volume on Sturtevant for publication, provided that he was given plenty of leisure to work up his notes.
All these signs of promise and activity, however, came to nothing. Halliwell’s early interest in the history of science was soon replaced by his passionate pursuit of Shakespearean scholarship which lasted for the rest of his life and on which his reputation with posterity is firmly based. His most active collaborator, Thomas Wright, had hardly any real scientific interests. His bent was literary and philological and his energies were absorbed in the recently formed Camden and Percy Societies. The well-being of societies usually depends on the devoted labours of a few officers and an active committee; and after an initial burst of activity this was lacking in the Historical Society of Science. In the Halliwell papers at Edinburgh its gradual disintegration can be traced. On 7 March 1841 Baden Powell wrote resigning from the Council. “The truth is,” he wrote, “I cannot think it consistent to be on the Council of a Society to which I am not a subscriber.”23Edinburgh University Library: L.O.A. 1 / 6. This touches the heart of the matter. Many of the eminent men who had lent their names had not apparently envisaged that their subscriptions were also needed. Baden Powell reverted to the subject in a letter of 24 July, 1842. “I feel confident,” he asserted, “that if I did join the Society in any way it was under an impression that I was not a subscriber as I have been obliged to decline subscribing to any institutions which I did not feel found to support as belonging strictly to science. At all costs I do not wish to continue any subscription.”24L.O.A. 34 / 46. A year later Robert Willis was writing in the same vein. “I do not know whether my name still remains on the List of the Council,” he wrote, “but if it do I must request you to withdraw it, as I find it impossible to work for you and greatly dislike mere sinecure exhibition of myself and wish to make room for really useful members of the Society.”25L.O.A. 16 / 49
Moreover, there were signs that Halliwell’s own interest in the Society was waning. In 1842 he founded a short-lived periodical entitled, The Archaeologist and Journal of Antiquarian Science. This was mainly devoted to reviews and in fact contained almost nothing relating to “Antiquarian Science,” but it is perhaps evidence that by this date he had ceased to regard the Society as the main platform from which research on the history of science was to be disseminated. And even if the Society had not already been withering away from inanition, it is likely that the confidence of its members in their secretary and treasurer was seriously undermined by the public scandal which engulfed Halliwell in 1844. In that year it became open knowledge that a number of the manuscripts, which he had sold in 1840 and which had subsequently passed into the British Museum, had been stolen from the library of Trinity College, Cambridge. Halliwell’s guilt in their abstraction was presumed in Cambridge and in Museum circles and the Trustees took the grave step of depriving him of his Reader’s Ticket. In 1845 he printed a pamphlet26L.O.A. 17/55 in his defence which in Sir Sidney Lee’s sour phrase in the Dictionary of National Biography “proved satisfactory to his friends,” and by implication to no one else. Not only however were these friends, in particular Thomas Wright, vociferous in his cause but Halliwell also had a piece of wholly undeserved good fortune. The lawyers acting for Trinity College in preparing an action quarrelled with the legal representatives of the British Museum. “When honest men fall out, rogues prosper,” wrote Winstanley in his judicial account of the whole affair, “and certainly the quarrel between the solicitors of the two parties was greatly to Halliwell’s advantage. It saved him from repeating his very unsatisfactory story in a court of law, and from being cross-examined upon it.” Notwithstanding the restoration, under duress, of Halliwell’s British Museum Reader’s Ticket, his reputation had received a most serious set-back: and it is against this background that Halliwell’s attempts to gather in subscriptions must be viewed. His embarrassments can be gauged from the kindly letter of Dawson Turner, the Yarmouth banker.
“I am sorry to say I can in no wise consider myself as answerable for the £1. you mention as due to the Historical Society of Science,” he wrote to Halliwell on 3 October, 1846. “There must have been in this an utter mismanagement entirely shameful, and I would gladly subscribe to have it investigated. At the same time, wherever the fault may have been, neither I nor any other gentleman can wish that the burthen should rest upon you, and I therefore send you a Draft on the other side for the money.”27Statement in Answer to Reports which have been spread abroad against Mr. James Orchard Halliwell, 24 pp.
By no means every member was so sympathetic, for they had not, after all, received any publication since 1841. On 21 November, 1846 Halliwell distributed a sad little printed flysheet,28L.O.A. 24 / 45. announcing the Society’s demise.
“The affairs of this Society having been wound up, and all the debts paid on the 16th June last, the Treasurer takes the opportunity of circulating the following statement, for the satisfaction of the members of the Society; and at the same time begs to add that the vouchers and books will be readily shown to any member who may desire to examine them.
The number of members never exceeded 179 (a list is printed at the end of the first publication), and out of these the large proportion of seventy-six never paid any subscription at all; one hundred and three paid one year’s subscription, thirty-nine paid the second year’s subscription and two compounded. Owing to the ill success of the Society-for it was confidently expected that 500 at least would have joined the subscriptions received were wholly inadequate to defray the expenses of the first two publications; and the Treasurer (being legally liable) was compelled to satisfy all claims upon the Society at a personal loss of seventy-four pounds three shillings. This, however, has been reduced to £47 3s 0d., by the subscriptions hereafter mentioned.”
A balance-sheet follows showing disbursements of £236 14. 0., for printing, fees for transcribing and some other small expenses. Total subscriptions amounted to £162 11s, 0. Three generous gentlemen are named as having subscribed £27 between them towards defraying the loss incurred by the Treasurer-the Bishop of Durham, Thomas Joseph Pettigrew and James Heywood. In the eighteen-forties in England the time was demonstrably not yet ripe for the organised support of the History of Science.
Nevertheless the short period of which I have treated seems to me to represent the first great phase of the study of the subject in England. If, as I began by saying, some of the workers in the field were biassed and committed, others, such as Rigaud and De Morgan, had no axes to grind but were concerned patiently to assemble and to sift the sources and to discover the truth. During the latter half of the nineteenth century perhaps the energies of some potential historians of science were diverted into the great controversies which revolved around Science and Religion. The vast and worldwide expansion of the subject today has its origins in the activities of another generation of scholars in the period immediately following the First World War, and in this great movement Cambridge played a very minor role indeed. It was, however, my suspicion that sometimes less than due recognition has been accorded to the labours of a group of devoted research-workers a century earlier, which prompted me to address you on this subject today.
My thanks are due to Dr. R. M. Young for kindly reading a first draft of this lecture and making a number of valuable criticisms. I am also much indebted to Dr. S. R. Parks for examining on my behalf a group of Halliwell papers in the library of Edinburgh University and for putting in hand photocopies of certain letters for my use.
A Catalogue of Scientific Manuscripts in the Possession of J. O. Halliwell, Esq.
1. A Mathematical Common-place Book, by Dr. Morrell, A.D. 1713. 4to.
2. Planometria; or the Art of Measuring or Surveying of Land, plainly discovering the ground thereof to the meanest capacity. I2mo. xvij. cent.
3. A Mathematical Common-place Book, by Ferdinand Fairfax, 4to. xvij. cent.
4-6. Notes of Dr. Black's Lectures on Chemistry, 3 vols. 8vo.
7. Pomponius Mela de situ orbis. A quarto volume of the fifteenth century on paper.
8, 9. Tractatus de Mechanica auctore J. Eames, M.D., F. R. S. 8vo. 2 vols. 1776.
10. Pilot Book down the Thames to Ramsgate, by Daniel Glenny. Long 8vo.
11. Novus Tractatus de Astronomia. A quarto volume on paper of the fifteenth century, with a contemporary volvelle on the cover.
12. A Commentary on Euclid’s Elements, by Dr. Morrell. 4to.
13. Arithmetica practica et universalis, authore Johanne Jennings. 12mo. 1721.
14. A very curious Miscellany on Astrology of the beginning of the reign of Q. Elizabeth. 12mo.
15. Johannes de Sacro-Bosco de Algorismo; Algorismus de Minutiis (fractions); Tractatus de Astronomia. A quarto volume on paper of the 15th century.
16. A Treatise on the 12 Signs of the Zodiac; on the four Elements; Medical Notes. In old English, a quarto of the 15th century on vellum.
17. Traite d’Arithmetique. 4to. with curious drawings, of the 16th century.
18. Enchiridion Leonis Papa, and various other Tracts on Magic, 121110. In 1742 this volume was found in the possession of Jean Pierre Piedvois, who in consequence was sent to the Bicétre.
19. Compendium de Meteoris, per Laurent Tert, Soc. Jes. 12mo. Sec. xvij. With numerous drawings.
20. Tractatus de Mundo. 12mo. Sec. xvij.
21. Tables of Leases and Interest, with their grounds in four Tables of Fractions. 12mo. Sc. A.D. 1628.
22. The Spherics of Menelaus, in Arabic. 8vo.
23. The Treatise of Johannes de Sacro-Bosco on the Sphere, translated into English by W. Thomas. This book written for the use of the author’s pupil Prince Henry, son of James I., and has an original letter annexed. 4to.
24. Le monde suivant les Mèmoires les plus nouveauz, les plus Particuliers, et les plus fidéles, 1675; par Bridault. 8vo. Very neatly written, with numerous maps, in fine old blue morocco binding.
25. On the distances of the Planets, and other Astronomical matters. A 4to. volume on vellum of the 15th century in old English.
26. 27. 28. Mathematical papers, copies of Letters, and various matters by James Ferguson, F.R.S. The 3 vols. fol. bound in one.
29. Papers on Natural Philosophy, Geography, &c. and numerous original Letters, by De Lisle, 4to.
30. Commonplace book on natural Philosophy, Heraldry, &c. 121110. xvij. cent.
31. Euclis Elementa, fol. Venet. 1509. With copious MS. notes and additions in a contemporary Italian hand.
32. A treatise on Spherical Trigonometry, by John Collins, 1646. fol. Autograph.
33. De organo visus ejusque Fabrica. fol. Sc. c.1600. In an English hand.
34. Landini-Lectiones de Cometis. fol. Sec. xvj.
35. Miscellaneous fragments, including old verses on Cambridge and a paper on Equations in the Autograph of Brook Taylor. fol.
36. A treatise on the twelve signs of the Zodiac. 4to. On vellum in old English of the 15th century.
37. On vellum. 14th century.
- Johannes de Sacro-Bosco de Sphaera.
- Exposition of difficult scientific words. Latin.
- Robertus Grostest de Ophoera. With curious Astronomical Paintings.
- De Compositione Chilindri et ejus Office.
- Variae Astronomicae.
- Ypocras de Contemptu Mundi.
38. 4to. On vellum. In old English of the 15th century.
- The Governale of Helth, by the Planets.
- Disposition of Thunders.
- Scheme of Ptolomey’s Astronomical System.
39. 4to. On vellum. In old English of the 15th century.
- The Wise Book of Philosophy and Astronomy.
- On Eclipses.
40. A very beautiful Astronomical Calendar of the 15th century, in its original cover. In a case.
- Description of the Tropics.
- Calendar, with tables of Eclipses &c.
- Table of Linear Measures.
- A Multiplication Table.
- Table of Ecclesiastical Computation.
- A treatise of the 12 signs.
- A PERFECT VOLVELLE, IN ITS ORIGINAL STATE. This is, as far as known, Unique.
41. 4to. on vellum. Fourteenth century.
- Varia Astronomica.
- De effectu Lume.
- Varae de signis Zodiaci, &c.
- Psisionomia Aristotelis.
- De Ciromancia.
- De Geometria et Trigonometria, cum figuris.
- Robertus Grosteste de Sphcera.
- Johannes de Sacro-Bosco de Sphaera.
- De horis Planetarum.
- Campani Novariensis Theoria Planetarum.
- Table Astronomicae Willielmi Reed.
- De Meteoris, et alia varia.
42. 4to. on vellum. Old English of the 15th century. An introduction to the study of Astronomy.
43. 4to. on paper. Written A.D. 1494.
- Tractatus Messahalah de Astrolabo. Cum figuris.
- Tractatus torquati Secundum M. Franeonem. Cum figuris.
- De signis Zodiaci.
An early edition (15th cent.) of Johannes de Sacro-Bosco on the sphere is bound with this MS.
44. 4to. on vellum. Old English of the 15th century.
- The wise treatise of Astronomy and Philosophy.
- On the Days of the Moon.
- Of the Nature of Woman.
- A Treatise on the Moon and the Seven Planets.
- On precious stones.
- Charms, &c.
- A Table to find Easter.
- Note on Numeration.
45. 4to. on vellum. Fifteenth century.
Ysagoge Alkabitii ad Scitam Juditiorum Astrorum. From the Celotti Collection.
46. 4to. on vellum. Fourteenth century.
- Alexandri de Villa Dei Carmen de Algorismo, cum comment.
- Receipts, Latin and English.
- Sphera Pictagori.
- Receipts for Tricks.
- Tractatus de Arithmetica, cum quaestionibus.
- Varia Astronomica.
47. 4to. on vellum. Thirteenth century. Johannis de Sacro-Bosco Tractatus de Sphaera.
48. 4to. on vellum. Thirteenth century. Tractatus de Arithmetica.
49. 4to. on paper. Fifteenth century. Verses on Alchemy, the Philosopher’s Stone, &c. with curious ink drawings.
50-73. Astronomical Papers and Calculations, by Dr. Wollaston. 24 vols. .Fol.
74. 4to. on vellum. Fifteenth century.
- Tractatus de Astronomia.
- Tabula Petri de Dacia.
- Varia Astronomica, cum tabulis et figuris.
- Di arte computatoria, et alia.
75. A folio volume of Mathematics, written in Mr. Abraham Sharp’s School at Little Horton.
76. A System of Natural Philosophy, with a Tract by Dr. Wallis on the Tides. 8vo. Written about A.D. 1700
77. A Translation of the heads of the first 20 volumes of transactions of the Harlem Society of Arts and Sciences in Holland. fol.
78. De Sectionibus conicis Tractatus Geometricus, auctore Hugone Hamilton, A.M. 4to. Lond. 1758. With manuscript notes by A. Robertson, Savilian Professor of Geometry, Oxford.
79. La Decouverte des Longitudes. 40. xviij. (,cut.
80. A course of Mathematics, by Edward Jeffreys. 4to. xviij. cent.
81. Professor Saunderson’s Lectures on Mechanics, Hydrostatics, Optics, the Tides, and Astronomy. 4to. With figures.
82, 83. Lectures on Natural Philosophy, by G. Houmes; and on As
tronomy, the Tides, Mechanics, and Sound, by Prof. Saunderson, with Dr. Smith’s Hydrostatical and Pneumatical Experiments. 2 vols. 4to. With figures.
84. A Book of Secrets in Natural Philosophy. Thick fol. xviij. cent.
85. Lectures on Natural Philosophy, 4to. xviij. cent.
86. Cambridge Lectures on Mathematics, 4to. xviij. cent.
87. Philosophia Naturalis dictata a Reverendo patre preville Societatis Jesus Sacerdote, A.D. 1737, Johannes Baptista de Bennouville. 4to.
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100. Quarto paper. Transcript from MSS. in Sion College.
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- Corrector Analyticus artis Posthumae Thomae Harriotti, per N. Tarporley.
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105. Quarto. on vellum. Of the eleventh century.
- Tractatus de Astronomia.
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107-109. Elemens des Mathematiques a I’usage de M. les Princes de Lorraine. 3 vols. 4to. xviij. cent.
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113. A Collection of Papers on Mathematics and their History, by Dr. Charles Hutton. Folio.
114. Professor Saunderson’s Lectures on Hydrostatics, the Tides, Astronomy, Optics, Sound and Mechanics. Together with various Miscellanies. Folio.
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This volume is in the autograph of John Holbrook, formerly Master of St. Peter’s College, Cambridge, and the first Cambridge Mathematician of his day. It contains his own transcript of the Cambridge Tables. It was given by Holbrook in the year 1426 to the College Library, and exchanged by the College with John Dee for printed books. The fate of Dee’s library is well known, and a list of the MSS. which he obtained from St. Peter’s College may be seen in a MS. in Corpus Christi College, Oxford, No. 19 1.
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- Algorismus de Integris et Minutiis.
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133. Fol. on vellum. Fourteenth century.
- Johannes de Sacro-Bosco de Arithmetica.
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134. Fol. paper. xviij. cent.
Pappi Alexandrini Collectionum Mathematicorum liber septimus, e nianuscripto codice Regio 2368 descriptus. Graece.
This transcript was made by Caperonier for Dr. Moor, and was for some time in Dr. Simson’s hands. See Trail’s Life of Simson, p. 179, and Philosophical Magazine, Aug. 1839.
- Six Autograph letters by F. Maseres on Mathematical subjects, A.D. 1791
- Autograph letter from Philip Lansberg on Astronomy, May 4th, 1593. Latin.
- Autograph letter from John Landen on his Residual Analysis, Dec. 1758
- Autograph Letter of Gassendi.
- Autograph Letter of Ricciolus, 15 Jul. 1665
- A Catalogue of Mathematical Books sold by Widow Page at the Anchor and Mariner at the lower end of Fish Street Hill, near London Bridge, 1674. Printed, single sheet.
- Long Autograph Letter (unpublished) from Flamstead to Hevilus, on Astronomy, with a drawing of the micrometer, March 28th, 1682.
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136. Fol. paper. Fifteenth century.
A treatise on Arithmetic in the old Venetian Dialect, with curious questions, &c.
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