30 April 2008
NEWTON, Isaac (1642-1727). Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica. Editio secunda, edited by Roger Cotes (1682-1716). Cambridge: [printed by Cornelius Crownfield at the University Press], 1713.
4° (238 x 185mm). Title with engraved device, folding engraved plate of the cometary orbit, woodcut diagrams in text. (Very occasional light marginal soiling.) Contemporary blind-panelled calf, gilt FFF stamp on spine (joints cracking, spine frayed at head and foot, corners rubbed). Provenance: Francis Ferrand Foljambe (binding).
Published twenty-six years after the first, the second edition of Newton's Principia was printed at the Cambridge University Press, which Richard Bentley had recently revived. Newton was, indeed, fortunate to have Cotes, the first Plumian professor of astronomy and experimental philosophy, as his editor, the appointment dating from May 1709. Although their relationship became strained as the task grew protracted, 'virtually all aspects of Newton's work were throroughly and painstakingly examined ... After Cotes had proposed to sign his name to a preface composed by Newton, he was authorized by Newton and Bentley to sign his own preface, a lengthy and important essay outlining his own version of Newton's method' (Domenico Meli, ODNB). A shorter author's preface and 'Scholium generale' were provided by Newton. Important additions were also made to the chapters on lunar theory and the theory of comets. Babson notes that 'Halley's verses were unwarrantably altered by Bentley, without the knowledge of Newton or Halley'. Between 700 and 750 copies printed. A CLEAN, CRISP COPY. Babson 12; Wallis 8.
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