[NEWTON, Sir Isaac]. VOLTAIRE, Franois Marie Arouet de (1694-1778). Elmens de la Philosophie de Neuton. Amsterdam: Jacques Desbordes, 1738.
8o (194 x 123 mm). Title printed in red and black with engraved vignette, engraved frontispiece portrait of Newton, portrait of Voltaire inserted facing frontispiece, 6 engraved plates, engraved folding table, numerous engravings and some woodcut diagrams in text. (Dampstain to lower left corners, occasional light foxing, printing flaw on T4 with loss of a few words). Contemporary speckled calf, gilt spine (joints starting, spine lacking label and with gilt rubbed, corners worn).
FIRST EDITION of this popularization of Newton's scientific and philosophical ideas. "Owing to Descartes' great influence and Newton's dispute with Leibnitz, the spread of his [Newton's] thought on the continent took about fifty years. One of his greatest champions in France was Voltaire, whose lmens de la Philosophie de Neuton, 1738, was widely read" (PMM). Voltaire "presented Newton as the discoverer of the true system of the world and the destroyer of the errors of Cartesianism" (Norman). Voltaire encountered Newton's ideas during the years 1725-28, which he spent in exile in England, and published this work, which was largely responsible for their spread on the continent, after he returned. The work is dedicated to his mistress, the Marquise du Chtelet, who provided the first French translation of Newton's Principia (see lot 75).
Two issues of this first edition are known, printed for two different publishers, Jacques Desbordes and Etienne Ledet, and containing minor textual variants. "Both versions contain only twenty-five chapters, as Voltaire did not supply either publisher with a complete manuscript" (Norman). A twenty-sixth chapter on fluxions was added to the second edition, published in Paris later that same year. Babson/Newton 120 (Ledet imprint); Bengesco 1870; Gray 155; Norman 2165; Wallis 155.