MORLAND, Samuel (1625-1695). The description and use of two arithmetick instruments. Together with a short treatise, explaining and demonstrating the ordinary operations of arithmetick. As likewise, a perpetual almanack, and several useful tables. London: Moses Pitt, 1673.
8o. Lacking the separate title to Morland's treatise on arithmetic as often. Frontispiece portrait; 6 engraved plates (or portions of plates), marked A-G and 1-6, pasted to blank versos of A2, A3, A4, A5, A6, and A7; 4 small folding engraved plates (marked A-D and 7, 9-11) pasted to blank versos of A8, B1, B2, and B3; folding table. Several engraved plates and tables in text. Contemporary calf (rebacked, corners repaired, new leather lettering-pieces); in quarter morocco slipcase.
FIRST EDITION of the first book on a calculator written in English, and the first separate work on the subject after Napier's Rabdologiae. There was little else in English on calculating instruments until Babbage. The work may also be considered the first comprehensive book in computer literature, as Pascal published nothing about his own machine except an eighteen-page pamphlet, now of the utmost rarity.
Morland matriculated at Magdalen College, Cambridge, in 1644, remaining there for nine years without taking a degree. He entered government service in 1653, when he was chosen to accompany a British diplomatic mission to the court of Sweden's Queen Christina. The Swedish queen was a noted patron of the sciences, and it was most likely at her court that Morland first became acquainted with the calculating machine of Pascal who had presented Christina with an example in 1649. After his return from Sweden Morland took part in another diplomatic mission to Italy; during this trip he spent some time in France, where he may have learned of the calculating machines of René Grillet. Morland was a Royalist, and during Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate (1649-58) served as a spy for the exiled Charles II. Upon Charles's restoration to the British throne, Morland was rewarded with several honors and a pension of #500 a year, with promises of more to come. The king never fulfilled these promises, however, and Morland's increasing financial embarrassments soon forced him to sell his pension at a discount. Thus in 1661, as Morland related in his autobiography," finding myself disappoynted of all preferment and of any real estate, I betook myself to the Mathematics and Experiments such as I found pleased the King's Fancy" (quoted in Dickinson 1970, 26).
Among his first efforts were the "two arithmetick instruments" that form the subject of Morland's Description. Morland was responsible for many other ingenious inventions, including his "Perpetual almanac" (which forms an addendum to the present book), the speaking-trumpet, and a mechanical device for raising water. His work obtained the interest and occasional financial support of King Charles II, who named Morland his "Master of Mechanicks" in 1681.
The collation of Morland's book is complex. The present copy most nearly matches the one at the Library Company of Philadelphia (NUC NSM 0048791); however, the collation for that copy, as stated in NUC, gives signature 2A as having eight leaves rather than ten. The collations of the Harvard and Huntington Library copies, as recorded in the RLIN online catalogue, omit signature F altogether and cite signature G as having only six leaves. The number of plates called for is also unclear in the collations we have seen; again, the present copy tallies with the Library Company's collation, which cites the frontispiece and ten engraved plates. The present copy lacks the cancellandum leaf F8 and the separate title (dated 1672) to Morland's Short Discourse Concerning the Antient, & Common Way of Numbring; this separate title may not be present in all copies. Wing M2777; M2781 (Short Discourse Concerning the Antient, & Common Way of Numbring). OOC 9.
[With:] DICKINSON, Henry Winram (1870-1952). Sir Samuel Morland, diplomat and inventor, 1625-1695. Cambridge, 1970. Original cloth, pictorial dust-jacket. OOC 10.