London, South Kensington
30 April 2015
THE BLAIR CHARITABLE TRUST, REMOVED FROM BLAIR CASTLE, BLAIR ATHOLL, SCOTLAND
WRIGHT, Thomas (1711-1786). An original theory or new hypothesis of the universe, founded upon the laws of nature, and solving by mathematical principles the general phaenomena of the visible creation; and particularly the Via Lactea. London: H. Chapelle, 1750. 4° (275 x 220mm). Title page printed in red and black. 32 engraved plates, 2 folding, 8 in mezzotint, wood-engraved head- and tailpieces and initials. Contemporary sprinkled calf (extremities lightly rubbed). Provenance: James Murray, 2nd Duke of Atholl (1690-1764, bookplate dated 1737).
A FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION of this attempt at reconciling religion and science and establishing an understanding of the Milky Way. Wright, a teacher of navigation and a land surveyor by profession, hypothesized that a 'divine centre' of the universe co-incided with its gravitational centre. In turn, this allowed him to suggest that the Milky Way was a flattened ring of stars around this centre: 'this hypothesis caused Immanuel Kant, who did not realise that Wright's "center" was supernatural, to credit Wright with originating a disk-shaped model of the galaxy' (Norman). Norman 2265.
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