Rare First Edition of Mathematical Collections and Translations, which includes the first translation in English of Galileo's System of the World" (Dialogo)

  • Mathematical Collections and Translations.
  • Mathematical Collections and Translations.
  • Mathematical Collections and Translations.

Mathematical Collections and Translations.


Item Number: 73025

London: William Leybourn, 1661.

First edition of Thomas Salusbury’s Mathematical Collections and Translations. Salusbury compiled and translated important writings by Archimedes, Descartes, Galileo, Kepler, Tartaglia, Torricelli into English for the first time, greatly influencing the English-speaking world. This volume contains the first English translation of Galileo’s 1632 The Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo). Also  included is Galileo’s 1615 letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany, published in 1636 as Nov-antiqua sanctissimorum patrum et probatorum theologorum doctrina, which asserted the independence of science from religious authority. This short but important Epistle to the Grand Dutchesse Mother concerning the Authority of Holy Scripture in Philosophical Controversies (known today as the Letter to Christina), was only the second work of Galileo’s to be published in England. It preceded the Latin edition, published in London by Thomas Dicas, by two years and remained the only vernacular translation for two centuries. Apart from the two works by Galileo, Salusbury included other translations from Italian and Latin in this volume of his Collections, such as Johannes Kepler’s and Didacus a Stunica’s “Reconcilings of Scripture Texts,” and Foscarinus’ Epistle to Father Fantonus reconciling the Authority of Scripture. Folio, bound in full calf, with 4 engraved plates. Lacking the half-title, contents leaf, fly-title to The System of the World, and the errata leaf found at the end of the first part in some copies. 2 parts in one volume. In very good condition with the contents showing some light browning in the upper margins. First editions are exceptionally rare.



Galileo's 1632 The Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems proved the validity of the Copernican heliocentric theory. Galileo originally referred to the work as his Dialogue on the Ebb and Flow of the Sea, but after the manuscript went to the Inquisition for approval, he was ordered to remove all mention of tides from the title and to change the preface because granting approval to such a title would look like approval of his theory of the tides using the motion of the Earth as proof. Although the work is presented formally as a consideration of both systems (as it needed to be in order to be published at all), there is no question that the Copernican side gets the better of the argument. He set up his dialogue as a discussion between a proponent of Copernicus' model of the solar system/universe (Salviati), a follower of Ptolemy and Aristotle (Simplicio - likely also a play on words, implying simple-minded), and a neutral intelligent layman (Sagredo), who becomes convinced of the correctness of the Copernican view as the discussions continue over four days. Galileo's obvious deception didn't go unnoticed and as a result he was tried for heresy in 1633. The book was banned and placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum by the Church (and not removed until 1822.) The importance of Galileo's work is that it contributed to the liberation of science and inquiry from the suppression of Church domination. This liberation of thought allowed for the progressive discoveries in the age of reason and ultimately the development of our modern world. "The Dialogo was designed both as an appeal to the great public and an escape from silence. In the form of an opening discussion between friends - intellectually speaking, a radical, a conservative, and an agnostic - it is a masterly polemic for the new science. It displays all the great discoveries in the heavens which the ancients had ignored; it inveighs against the sterility, willfulness, and ignorance of those who defend their systems; it revels in the simplicity of Copernican thought and, above all, it teaches that the movement of the earth makes sense in philosophy, that is, in physics. Astronomy and the science of motion, rightly understood, says Galileo, are hand in glove. There is no need to fear that the earth's rotation will cause it to fly to pieces. So Galileo picked up one thread that led straight to Newton. The Dialogo, far more than any other work, made the heliocentric system a commonplace. Every fear of Galileo's enemies was justified; only their attempts to stifle thought were vain." (Printing and the Mind of Man, 128, citing 1632 Italian edition)

Ask a Question