New York: J. Swords, 1804. 1st Edition. Beautifully bound 1804 copy of Erasmus Darwin’s The Temple of Nature. First published the year before, Darwin’s poem describes his belief that modern life arose from simple, minute organisma. “Darwin maps the progression of life from microorganisms to civilized society, tracing the origin of life to the forces of heat, repulsion, attraction, and contraction on brute matter, with organic forms arising in the sea, moving onto land, and ultimately evolving into humans. Reproduction, the theme of Canto II, is shown to facilitate evolution through the inheritance of acquired characteristics and the emergence of new traits in sexual reproduction” (Fine Editions).
Erasmus Darwin (1732-1802) was a remarkable polymath, working as a physician, naturalist, medical botanist, and inventor. He was also Charles Darwin’s grandfather. While not generally recognized, Erasmus Darwin had a theory of evolution that predated that of his grandson. He “struggled with the question of how one species could evolve into another… [writing] about what we now call competition and sexual selection: ‘The final course of this contest among males seems to be, that the strongest and most active animal should propagate the species which should be thus improved’” (Rice, Encyclopedia of Evolution, 113). Item #1485
CONDITION & DETAILS: New York: J. Swords. 8vo. (8.5 x 5.5 inches;213 x 138 mm). , (Poem) 136pp., (Spontaneous Vitality of Microscopic Animals) pp. 137-252, . Handsomely rebound in full calf; 5 gilt-tooled raised bands at the spine; gilt-tooled compartments; black morocco gilt-tooled spine label. Gilt-ruled boards. Marbled endpapers and text block. Bright and clean throughout. Fine condition.