London: Printed for James Young ... sold by Charles Green, 1645. First Edition. 4to. 186 x 140 mm. a4, A-R, S2 = 74 ff., COMPLETE. Imprimatur leaf before title, woodcut headpieces. Rebound in 20th century half red morocco and marbled boards, spine gilt lettered with small raised bands, gilt ornamental tool in each compartment. Ink inscriptions in Latin on a1r, a2r and S2v slightly illegible due to rebinding, ink stain through first few leaves, light spotting throughout. With the bookplate of Charles W. Burr, M.D. on the front pastedown, 20th century English bookseller's description pasted just above Burr's bookplate (a different copy), the bookplate of I. G. Schorsch on the facing endleaf. Inscription along the top of the title-page almost cropped off. Good. Item #2958
PRESENTATION COPY of the first edition of an early English discussion of atomism. From the library of Charles W. Burr, M.D. (1861-1944), Professor of Mental Diseases at the University of Pennsylvania and the university's first Chair of Mental Diseases from 1901.
Burr was instrumental in the establishment of a Department of Psychiatry at the University in 1912, all the while continuously donating his collection of Aristotelian works, consisting of translations of Aristotle and works relating in some way to Aristotelian philosophy (as this one), to the university's rare book collection. Burr's interests in the history of medicine and Aristotle intersect in this copy, which includes a Latin inscription on a1r, written by William Watts (1590-1649), noting various physicians and philosophers who have made contributions on similar subject matter, including 13th-century Catalan physician Arnaldus de Villa Nova, the 16th-century Italian theologian and philosopher Jacopo Aconcio, and the 17th-century atomist Sebastien Basson.
Burr presented his personal library to the University of Pennsylvania in 1932, though not all of the books that he once owned are at Penn. Some have been sold at auction within the last few decades, including:
1. [Locke, John]. Huarte Navarro, Juan de Dios. Examen de Ingenios. The examination of mens wits. London, 1616. Sotheby's NY 1977 ($1300)
2. Dickens, Charles. The Life of Our Lord. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1934. 1st Am ed. Designed by D.B. Updike / The Merrymount Press. Freeman's 2015 (group lot of 3 Dickens titles)
3. Defoe, Daniel. History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell. London, 1720. 2nd ed. Likewise with bookplate of the Bibliotheque Schorsch. National Book Auctions, Ithaca, 2016
4. Spencer, John. Discourse Concerning Prodigies. London, 1664. National Book Auctions, Ithaca, 2016. Now with Dark Parks Books & Collectibles (Harbor City, CA)
5. Oldmixon, John. The British Empire in America. London, 1741. Sotheby's NY, 2018. Estimate: $3000 - $5000 (unsold)
6. Tannenbaum, Samuel A. Shakspere Forgeries in the Revels Accounts. New York, 1928. PBA Galleries, 2018. Estimate: $200 - $300 (unsold)
7. Joseph Glanvil. Saducismus Triumphatus: or, Full and Plain Evidence Concerning Witches and Apparitions. London, 1681. Private collection, California
Our copy also comes from the distinguished library of Irvin and Anita Schorsch (most bear the armorial bookplate of the Bibliotheque Schorsch) which was dispersed in 2016. The collectors were both sophisticated and eclectic (their so-called "farmhouse" in Meadowbrook, PA was described as a "mini Winterthur").
THE TEXT: Ross here restates Aristotelian arguments and refutes Digby's views on Gassendian and Cartesian atomism stated in his "Discourses of the nature of Bodies and of the reasonable Soule." Refutations and defenses of an Aristotelian and essentially medieval philosophy such as this one took the rise of atomism and material philosophy as an affront against God, the Church, and Scripture, as well as an attack on the idea of the immortality of the soul.
This copy is evidently a presentation from the author to Watts, chaplain to Prince Rupert and noted scholar and linguist who is most known for his translation of Augustine's "Confessions."