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The primitive origination of mankind, considered and examined according to the light of nature. Written by the Honourable Sir Matthew Hale Knight: late chief justice of His Majesties court of King's Bench
London: printed by William Godbid, for William Shrowsbery at the sign of the Bible in Duke-Lane, 1677. First Edition. Hardcover. First Edition of Hale's defense of the Mosaic account of the single origin of all peoples. Folio: [10],380pp, with portrait frontispiece (signed: F. H.. Van. Houe: sculp.), three tables, and two small woodcut diagrams in the text. A handsome presentation bound in contemporary mottled calf, spine divided into six richly gilt compartments by raised bands, red morocco lettering piece gilt, marbled fore-edge, plain period end papers. Nath. Cholmley's engraved armorial bookplate to front paste down (one of the Yorkshire Cholmleys; his name appears in various 18th-century records, including the manuscripts of the Earl of Dartmouth, the History of Whitby, where he is identified as lord of the manor of Whitby (1779), and in A Picture of Whitby and its environs, where he is credited with erecting the "elegant town-hall," in 1788). Bibliophile Hugh Selbourne's (1906-1973) discreet ownership stamp to blank verso of title page. An excellent copy, binding firm, contents clean and crisp, short worm trail to ton inside corner of preliminary leaves (not affecting text), few scattered rust spots, very occasional foxing, else an exceptionally bright, wide-margined copy. Wing H258. Garrison-Morton 215. Norman 965. Lowndes 973. Hale's "most celebrated religious treatise. . . . The Primitive Origination argues for the creation of the human race by an intelligent agent; its arguments touch on numerous topics, including the impossibility of an infinite succession, the character of time and space, the demographic tendencies of modern England and of ancient Israel, and the unlikelihood of spontaneous generation in anything more complex than a mouse." (ODNB) In the 17th century, when Hale wrote his treatise, it was almost universally accepted that humans had been created by a supernatural being using supernatural means. But alternative explanations did exist, the most prominent positing that the first humans arose through some form of spontaneous generation at multiple times and places. In response, Hale advanced his theory that the earth was not eternal, but rather had a spontaneous "beginning," and went on to defend the Mosaic account of the single origin of all peoples. An important precursor of Malthus, Hale "seems to have been the first to use the expression 'Geometrical Proportion' for the growth of a population from a single family. . . . He believed that in animals, especially insects, various natural calamities reduce the numbers to low levels intermittently, so maintaining a balance of nature." (Garrison-Morton) N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed.
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Last Found On: 2017-09-02           Check availability:      Biblio    

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