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Carleton House
92 Malone Road
Belfast
BT9 5HP
Contact Peter Rowan
Telephone 02890 666448
Specialists Ireland, Irish History & Culture, Manuscripts, Maps, Literature, Economics, Sciences, History of Ideas, Travel, Rare Books in all fields (15th to 20th Centuries)
The item listed here are samples from the 2016 fair.
We will be launching the highlights of the 2017 fair on 1st May 2017.
P & B Rowan
Stand F02

"TAUGHT AND ENTHUSIASTIC WORK OF AN EAGER YOUNG MAN" - FIRST COMPLETE EDITION

NEWTON, Isaac

Lectiones Opticae, Annis MDCLXIX, MDLXX & MCCLXXI. In Scholis publicis habitae: Et nunc primum ex MSS. in lucem editae., London: Apud Duil Innys, Regiae Societatis Typographum 1729

first complete edition 4to. (iii)-xii, 152, [145]-[152], 153-291. [5 (addenda & corrigenda)]pp., 24 folding engraved plates, contemporary mottled calf, sides with a gilt rolled border, front board gilt lettered 'Belfast Society' at centre, very neatly and sympathetically refurbished and rebacked, new spine panelled by gilt decorated raised bands, panels richly tooled in gilt, one panel with a dark maroon morocco title label gilt, the original marbled endpapers reused, some scattered foxing (mainly marginal). An attractive copy.

Provenance
Old bookplate of the "Belfast Library - The Linen Hall" on endpaper (stamped "discarded") and the small old bookseller's ticket "Sold by M. Jellet, No. 1 Commercial Buildings, Belfast" on verso of front free endpaper.

Note
This is the first Latin and first complete edition of Newton’s Lucasian lectures on optics. Although an English edition (1728) preceded the Latin, this was the first to publish the complete lectures (including the second part on the phenomenon of colour based on his own experiments).
After his appointment in 1669 as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in Cambridge Newton, as required of him, lectured one a week for one of the three academic terms and deposited a manuscript version of each lecture in the University Library. "One who had known Newton well wrote 'that few went to hear him, & fewer that understood him, that oft times he did in a manner, for want of hearers read to the walls'" [Hall, p.46]. Newton intended to publish these 31 lectures but towards the end of 1671 changed his mind, apparently as a result of the hostile reception to his first optical paper delivered to the Royal Society (printed 1672 in Philosophical Transactions as 'New Theory of Light and Colours') and they then, despite preceding the Opticks by twenty years in composition, remained unpublished until after Newton's death.
"So far as I know no one has yet attempted a detailed comparison between the Opticks and the Optical Lectures (1729, or attempted to assess the degree of innovation introduced by Newton into the former work .. which was written in a less didactic, discursive style befitting the vernacular work. ... All historians are agreed that the lectures provided a rich source from which Newton could draw in preparing his first printed paper, and later in writing Opticks. .... There is a tight, precise, scientific quality about the lectures, written when much of the experimental work was still very fresh in Newton's mind, which the Opticks seems to lack, for all its greater readability and, on many points, greater clarity. It is not altogether our hindsight that presents the lectures to us as the taut and enthusiastic work of an eager young man, setting his experimental discoveries and new conceptions before his audience with as much vigour as the academic circumstances allowed, while Opticks reads like the emotion of discovery recollected in tranquility it is the book of a middle aged man who has pondered long and deeply on his topic and is not very unhappy to skate over certain difficult passages. ... Part of the interest of the optical lectures is that they allow us to reconstruct the Opticks that Newton might have written about 1670 or 1671" [Hall, p.48-9, 57-58].
"This valuable work contains many beautiful propositions and interesting and instructive experiments, which are not to be met with in any modern treatise on optics" [Brewster].
Vide: A. R. Hall All Was Light An Introduction to Newton's 'Opticks', Oxford (1995)
David Brewster Memoirs ... of Sir Isaac Newton, Edinburgh, (1855)

Edition
First complete edition