New-York: Printed and sold by T. & J. Swords, 1807. Second American edition; the first appeared in 1798. 2 vols in 1, 8vo, contemporary calf, red morocco label, gilt lettering, xvii, , , 278; 144 pages. Engraved frontispiece in each volume, 21 additional plates. (The long folding plate on thin paper, “Section of the Strata to the Low Main Coal at St. Anthon’s Colliery” torn, with loss of the bottom portion and a portion of the remaining plate.). Closed tears to a few of the plates, with loss along at least one margin but with the images intact; some foxing and a little light staining; boards somewhat rubbed; in all, a good, sound copy. Item #18838
“Sylphs! your soft voices, whispering from the skies, / Bade from low earth the bold Montgolfier rise; / Outstretch’d his buoyant ball with airy spring, / And bore the Sage on levity of wing. . . .” From the grandfather of Charles Darwin, a handsome American edition of the first English work of popular science, an extensive work in heroic couplets (with ample explanatory matter) on both the progress of natural philosophy and the Linnean loves of plants. The prefatory verses to Darwin in this edition are signed E. H. Smith, New York. Extensively illustrated and fairly elaborate for an American illustrated book of the period; though the English editions included engravings executed by Blake, the illustrations here after Fuseli and the botanical plates would seem to be from the hands of American engravers, viz. G. Fairman for the frontispiece, “Flora attired by the Elements,” or P. Maverick for the striking “Fertilization of Egypt.” Such attributions to Blake when cataloging for sale the American editions of the Botanic Garden might well recall Darwin’s own lines on the parasitic dodders—”Two Harlot-Nymphs, the fair Cuscutas, please / With labour’d negligence, and studied ease; / In the meek garb of modest worth disguised, / The eye averted, and the smile chastised, / With sly approach they spread their dangerous charms. . . .” Ownership inscription of one Simon Gunn, and his purchase of the volume on Jan. 4, 1831, over a previous owner’s signature on two preliminary pages of text; somewhat later ink name at the head of the title page. American Imprints 12395.