A Short Treatise of Magneticall Bodies and Motions

London, Printed by Nicholas Okes, 1613.

£9,750

FIRST EDITION FIRST ISSUE. 8vo. pp. [xiv], 157, [i]. (without first and last blanks). Roman letter, some Italic. Engraved architectural title with scientific instruments, Jupiter with its moons, and an elephant above, by Renold Elstrack, engraved portrait of the author with contemporary hand-colouring, 21 engravings in text (one with two maps showing New England, Virginia and Terra Australis), another with volvelle intact, floriated woodcut initials and headpieces, printer’s woodcut device on verso of last leaf X3. Light age yellowing, title trimmed at outer and lower margin, closed clean tear in Q2, margins cut close at head sometimes affecting headline, A good copy in recent crushed tan morocco antique, covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, gilt in compartments with red morocco label. Faded pencil ex libris of Susanna Small [?] 1742 on fly.

Rare first edition, first issue, of this important work on magnetism, one of the first works in English to support the Copernican theory, by one of the fathers of English magnetism. “Ridley, for five years the Tsar of Russia’s physician, was influenced to write this treatise in response to reading William Gilbert’s classic De magnete, 1600. In it he “gives directions for carrying out experiments on the loadstone, magnet, and terrella. He includes numerous engravings and descriptions of his improved instruments for determining the declination of the magnetic needle and for making use of the inclinatory needle for finding position at sea. Among the illustrations is a perspective of the southern hemisphere showing a continent denoted as ‘Terra Australis’” ODNB. Ridley’s work not only repeated Gilbert’s theories on magnetism in English but took them to their logical conclusion as regards the movement of the earth.

“Gilbert did not openly endorse the annual motion of the earth, although it is a possible inference left open to the reader. He also argued that magnetism is the soul of the earth … , an animistic emphasis quietly retired by his later followers, including Godwin. Gilbert’s noisiest English adherent was the physician Mark Ridley (1560c – 1624), whose ‘A Short Treatise of Magneticall Bodies and Motions’ 1613 furnished the reader with Gilbert summarised in English, but with his cosmographical consequences now front-loaded. Ridley claimed to have worked with Gilbert, but his publication greatly angered the cleric William Barlow .. who replied with his Magneticall Advertisements (1617), a work that had apparently circulated in manuscript for some time. The controversy centred on Gilbert’s cosmology, which Ridley treated as both licit and integral, but which which Barlow protested was heretical and an unnecessary appendix to Gilbert’s orthodox first five Books” William Poole, notes to ‘The man in the Moone’. Ridley then published his Magnetical Animadversions in reply to Barlow in which he ridiculed the later for his anti-Copernican stance. The work is abundantly illustrated and is here complete with the rather fragile volvelle, which is often missing. A rare and influential work, and interesting evidence of female interest in scientific scholarship in the first half of the C18.

STC 21045. ESTC S101594. Sabin, 71297. Mottelay Bibliography of Electricity and Magnetism 97. Wheeler Gift 86. Alden 613/110. Honey VI 2649 (£2400, 1980).

L1957

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