DIGBY, Sir Kenelm.

Two Treatises. In the one of which, the Nature of Bodies; in the other, the Nature of Man’s Soule; is looked into: in way of discovery, of the immortality of reasonable soules.

At Paris: Printed by Gilles Blaizot.1644

Large folio (41 x 27.6 cm.), pp. (xliv), 466. Without the final blank leaf Nnn4 (as usual). Woodcut ornament on title, woodcut head- and tailpieces. Faint dampstain in upper margin throughout, occasional very faint dampstain in lower margin, a few tiny wormholes in gathering A. Contemporary red morocco (ends of spine rubbed, corners a little worn, a few small repairs, some dark stains and small scratch marks on upper cover), gilt borders and panels on sides, spine richly and delicately gilt in compartments, inner gilt dentelles, endpapers replaced probably in the early 20th century, gilt edges, armorial bookplate. An impressive copy. Inscribed by Digby at the foot of the title-page “for my Lord Digby” (Digby’s cousin John Digby, earl of Bristol).

FIRST EDITION, presentation copy to a close relative (the book is dedicated to Digby’s son) on large paper, in contemporary red morocco. This introduction by Digby of Gassendian and Cartesian atomism into England provided Boyle and Newton with the foundations for their achievements in chemistry and physics. “Digby’s Two Treatises is a landmark work in several fields of early science. It is the first fully developed expression of atomism or corpuscular theory; the first important defence of Harvey on the circulation in English; a modern presentation of the nervous system predating Descartes; and a ground-breaking work in embryology. It also contains the first recorded patch-test for allergy; the fullest early account in English of teaching lip-reading; and material on conditioning anticipating Pavlov” (Rubin). Of the 38 chapters, Digby devotes six to light and colours, three to magnetism and three to generation and physiology. Wing D1448. Duveen pp. 171–172. Thorndike VII, pp. 498–502. Needham, History of embryology, pp. 102–107. Keynes, Bibliography of…Harvey, p. 121. Rubin, D., Sir Kenelm Digby F.R.S. 1603–1665. A bibliography based on the collection of K. Garth Huston, Sr., M.D. (1991) for Jeremy Norman & Co, pp. 12–15, expanding on the summary quoted above.


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