London: J. Tonson, 1728. First Edition. Hardcover. 1st edition of his posthumously published account (edited just before he died in 1727) on the rise and fall of various ancient kingdoms from 1125 B. C. to 331 B. C. (“History repeats itself, and history never repeats itself, are about equally true” –Trevelyan). Contemporary full calf, rebacked, corners worn, light marginal stains to the first 20%, else very good, and complete with the 3 fold–out plates detailing the layout of Solomon’s Temple. Very good. Item #476
This book was a deviation for the otherwise stately physicist, who in his final days opted for this slow ride to the last stop on the crazy train. Not since Ptolemy VIII’s 145 and 126 B. C. purgings of Alexandria’s intellectuals and the initial decay of the city’s library (long before its 48 B. C. partial burning), has such a guardian of science rattled a stick in a bucket so loudly, and been so wrong, about so much, with so little humility. Newton’s book is interlaced with insupportable chronology, mythological figures presented as historical, and theological claims beyond reason, and Newton clung to all of it with the tenacity of the itsy bitsy spider. I’ve tried to find it charming over the years but now fear I must desist from the experiment in despair. And I don’t understand why he wrote it, but such concerns fall into the general category of; why question the intentions of a road crossing chicken? And yet, I can’t resist the opening. So, why did the chicken cross the road? Hemingway–To die in the rain, alone.
After that ripping of Newton, let me throw him some bright. He is the 4th pillar of astronomy’s celestial mechanics. Here it is simply. Copernicus theorized it, Galileo saw it, Kepler proved it mathematically, and Newton explained it.
Here’s my harangue on this copy’s provenance. Ex–Airedale College Library (bookplate) with no sign of deaccession, but Airedale closed in 1888, the year of Jack the Ripper. Coincidence? I think not. Airedale was supplanted by Yorkshire United Independent College, and they merged into The Lancashire Independent College in 1958 to become Northern College, and if Northern wants to chase after our copy, under the haughty lunacy that it was stolen from them, I’ll defend my clear title until I win, or throw the book away in vindictiveness.
Book pricing is not only more inefficient than we suppose, it is more inefficient than we can suppose, so failed collectors often find the wrong copy of the right book, or the right copy of the wrong book, sort of the way golf balls find water. But our copy is right on both reckonings, and that should be more reassuring than hearing that the high school homecoming queen was rejected for a prom date.