London: Printed for the Author, by Fry and Couchman, 1788. First edition, inscribed on the title page by Young: “Saml. Mather’s 1788 / from the author.”. Two engraved plates. Slight foxing, plates more extensively foxed. Endpapers and edges of last few leaves slightly toned. Contemporary ink inscription on title-page. A very good, clean copy. Recently rebound in period style tree calf by Philip Dusel with red morocco spine label lettered in gilt. Octavo. . xxiii, [1, errata], 336 pp. Item #16408
Little is known about Robert Young, including his dates, except that he was a social reformer and founder of the Philanthropic Society in 1788. The present work is one of two treatises that Young wrote on Newtonian philosophy, including An Examination of the Third and Fourth Definitions of the First Book of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia and of the Three Axioms or Laws of Motion (1787). In his preface, he writes, “…the following essay is intended to support, extend, and improve the Newtonian system. On the contrary, improvements imply imperfection, and imperfection error. The physical parts of the Newtonian system are allowed, by its most learned and judicious friends, to want those traces of the great matter that distinguish the mathematical principles….
In reforming these…I think, far from opposing Sir Isaac, I am an humble coadjutor in his labours, by investigating, anew, those difficult points, in respect to which he candidly acknowledged his defects, and called upon the new exertions of his readers to supply them…Those, rather, may be called his friends, who, by expunging what is erroneously in his works, leave that which remains more perfect; and by supplying the defects of his system, transmit it more complete to future times, a more glorious monument to his fame” (preface, pp. iii-v). Babson 129. ESTC lists seven copies only.