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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)
P & B Rowan
Stand F02

"NO AUTHOR DID I EVER QUIT MORE INSTRUCTED" [Linnaeus]

BROWNE, Patrick

The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica. Containing I. An accurate Description of that Island, its Situation, and Soil; with a brief Account of its former and present State, Government, Revenues, Produce, and Trade. II. An history of the Natural Productions, including the various Sorts of native Fossils; Perfect and Imperfect Vegetables; Quadrupeds, Birds, Fishes, Reptiles, and Insects; with their Properties and Uses in Mechanics, Diet, and Physic. By Patrick Browne, M.D. Illustrated with Forty-Nine Copper Plates; in which the most Curious Productions are represented of their natural sizes, and delineated immediately from the Objects, by George Dionysius Ehret. There are now added complete Linnaean indexes, and a Large and Accurate Map of the Island., London: Sold by B. White and Son, at Horace’s Head, Fleet-Street 1789

second edition (a reissue of the first edition sheets of 1756 with a new title page, 6 preliminary leaves reset and an additional Linnean index) folio [6 (half-title, title & dedication)], [ii (list of subscribers)], [iii-iv (catalogue of authors)], v-viii, 503, [1 (blank)], [46 (additional indexes)]pp., 49 plates after Ehret with good hand colouring (probably, but not certainly, later), large folding map of Jamaica (dated 1774) also delicately hand-coloured, contemporary polished calf, double gilt fillet border on sides, very sympathetic old rebacking, spine panelled by raised band, panels richly tooled in gilt, russet morocco title label gilt, edges dyed red. A fine, fresh and very attractive copy.

Note
ESTC t89758 Goldsmiths' 13843
This "is now considered one of the most significant natural history books of the mid-eighteenth century, in some respects second only to the earliest works of Carl Linnaeus" [Nelson]
This 1789 edition is a reissue of the sheets of the 1756 first edition with a new title page and a new map.. The work was first issued in 1756 under the imprint "Printed for the author; and sold by T. Osborne, and J. Shipton". Part of the 1756 edition was printed by William Bowyer; his records show 738 copies printed on crown sized paper and 12 on demy sized paper; John Hart may also have printed part of the edition.
Browne (Woodstock, Claremorris, Co. Mayo (c.1720 – 1790), physician and botanist, the son a local gentleman, after a good local education was sent to live with a relative in Antigua but soon returned to Europe and studied medicine in Paris. After graduating MD in 1742 at the University of Rheims he moved to Leiden. After working as a physician in St Thomas's Hospital, London, he returned to the West Indies about 1746, eventually settling in Jamaica where until 1754 he practised as a physician. "While in Jamaica he gathered materials on the history and natural history of the island, and when he returned to London he brought with him a substantial collection of dried and pressed plants, preserved fishes and other zoological specimens" [Nelson].
Back in London Browne, a competent mathematician, published a map of Jamaica (1755) followed by The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica. The renowned botanical artist Georg Ehret, commissioned by Browne, drew typically detailed illustrations from Browne's specimens and a team of engravers prepared the plates. Browne secured subscribers for 168 copies (including multiple copies) and published the book himself in 1756. Browne's "reputation as a botanist stems from [this book] because in it he became the first English-speaking author to use Linnaeus's system of classifying plants in print. He coined Latin names for over a hundred genera, some of which are still accepted" [O.D.N.B.].
Linnaeus himself wrote to Browne from Sweden "I never coveted any Book, I know not by what instinct, with more ardour desire than yours .. [and having] obtained it I spent day and night reading it through, I read it over but never enough ... Good God how I was transported with desire of a book infinitly [sic] to be commended" and "you ough[t] to be honoured with a golden statue". Linnaeus also wrote to the English naturalist Peter Collinson that "No author did I ever quit more instructed". Linnaeus later purchased Browne's specimen collection and it survives in the Linnean Society collection.
After the publication Browne returned to the West Indies leaving the original drawings and the engraved copper plates in London, but the latter and possibly the former were destroyed in a fire. In 1770 Browne returned to Ireland and remained there for most of the rest of his life.
Evidently a batch of sheets of the 1756 printing survived and these were reissued in 1789 with a new title page, the first 6 leaves edited and reset, a new (and better) map and a new set of plates. Since the original copper plates had perished these new plates were copied from the illustrations in the 1756 edition and they are reversed and less meticulously engraved. Added in at the end were new indexes of Linnaean binomials of unknown authorship. Astonishingly Browne knew nothing of this reissue and only learned of it in 1790 when the naturalist Aylmer Bourke Lambert visited him in his Co. Mayo home.
"Browne's only other publication was a list of Linnaean binomials for Irish native birds and fishes (including marine mammals), though a number of his manuscripts survive in the Linnean Society, London, notably Fa[s]ciculus plantarum Hiberniae, two versions of a catalogue of Caribbean plants, an account of the vulcanology of Montserrat, and fragmentary medical notes, as well as his letters (1756–71) to Linnaeus. Ehret's original botanical drawings for the book on Jamaica also survive (London, Natural History Museum)" [O.D.N.B.].
Vide:
R. O., ‘The life of Patrick Browne, Esq. M.D. (author of History of Jamaica)’, Anthologia Hibernica, vol.1 (1793), p.2–5
E. C. Nelson, ‘Patrick Browne and the flowers of Mayo: a biographical essay’ in The flowers of Mayo: Dr Patrick Browne's Fasciculus plantarum Hiberniae, 1788, ed. E. C. Nelson (1995), 1–27 [incl. extensive footnotes and bibliography]
E. C. Nelson, ‘Patrick Browne's The civil and natural history of Jamaica (1756, 1789)’, Archives of Natural History, vol. 24 (1997), p.327–36.
£7,500