London: Printed for Thomas Bennet, 1694. Second edition, a satire of Descartes’ system of vortices by a Jesuit historian written as a cosmic voyage to the moon The first printing of the English translation was in 1692. The first edition, originally in French, was published in 1690. Thirteen woodcuts in text. Binding extremities a bit worn and scuffed, corners slightly rubbed. Small chip to rear board. Offsetting to margins of preliminary blanks and last few leaves. Various degrees of foxing and browning to leaves. A very good, tight copy. Contemporary paneled calf, recently rebacked in twentieth century tan polished calf, ruled in gilt with red morocco label. Octavo. , [2, errata and publisher’s ad], 298, [6, index] pp. Item #16495
Gabriel Daniel (1649-1728) entered the Society of Jesus in 1667 and was appointed the historiographer of France by Louis XIV. He wrote a pioneering work of French history, Histoire de France depuis l’etablissement de la monarchie française (1713). A Voyage to the World of Cartesius is a fictionalized travel narrative with elements of science fiction and philosophy. It is “aimed principally at the sharp Cartesian distinction between body and soul, relates in a satirical fashion the voyage of the dismembodied souls of the narrator Mersenne and of another old friend of Descartes in the upper spheres [of outer space]. On their way to visit Descartes in the Third Heaven, they meet the souls of other philosophers, among them Aristotle, and later on Voetius, who serves as Aristotle’s secretary. The latter suggests to them a treaty of accommodation and cessation of arms between the followers of Aristotle and the disciples of Descartes (clearly reflecting here the philosophical opinions of Gabriel Daniel himself). One of the articles of that treaty stipulates that the Cartesians will refer to Aristotle with more respect, whereas Aristotelians will refrain from calling Descartes ‘Enthusiast,’ ‘Madman,’ ‘Heretick,’ or ‘Atheist’ – all of these evidently labels commonly used by the opponents of Descartes at that time” (Michael Heyd, Be Sober and Reasonable: The Critique of Enthusiasm in the Seventeenth and the Early Eighteenth Centuries, p. 116).