London: J. Johnson. “THE FIRST OF DARWIN’S FOUR MAJOR WORKS, THE BOTANIC GARDEN” IS OFFERED HERE IN TWO HANDSOMELY BOUND VOLUMES (Dictionary of Scientific Biography, III, 578-579). Erasmus Darwin (1732-1802) was a remarkable polymath, working as a physician, naturalist, medical botanist, and inventor. He was also Charles Darwin’s grandfather.
The Botanic Garden is an annotated scientific poem in Augustan couplets. It appeared in two parts, of which the second, The Loves of the Plants (1789), was published before the first, The Economy of Vegetation (1791). “Darwin decided to publish the second part of the work first because it was better suited “to entertain and charm.” The first part of the work is more ambitious than the second, covering all natural philosophy, and embodying many of the researches and inventions of Wedgwood, Watt, Boulton, and others. The design of the totality was, Darwin wrote, ‘To enlist Imagination under the banner of Science… to induce the ingenious to cultivate the knowledge of botany… and recommending to their attention the immortal works of the celebrated Swedish naturalist—Linnaeus.’
“Darwin believed that prose was suited to abstract ideas, but chose to write poetry for its ability to conjure up visual images; he drew upon the Rosicrucian doctrine of Gnomes, Sylphs, Nymphs, and Salamanders, presiding over the four elements, in his personifications of all scientific, technological, and natural phenomena. Although William Cowper and other early critics greeted The Botanic Garden with praise” (ibid).
We offer Darwin’s Zoonomia; or, The Laws of Organic Life, Volumes I & II, 1794 & 1796 separately. Item #1464
CONDITION & DETAILS: J. Johnson, London. Complete. Two volumes. 4to. (12 x 9.5 inches; 30 x 24cm). Volume I: [xii], 214, , 1; Volume II: , [ix], 197 pp. 20 engraved plates, inclusive of five by William Blake and two 2 by John Henry Fuseli. Very handsomely rebound in full calf; blind-stamped on the front and rear boards. The spine is gilt-ruled with decorative devices in the compartments. Also a gilt-lettered black morocco spine label. New endpapers. Minor foxing and offsetting (see photos), otherwise clean and very bright throughout.