The Mysteryes of Nature and Art: Conteined in foure severall Tretises, The first of water workes. The second of Fyer workes, The third of Drawing, Colouring, Painting, and Engraving, The fourth of divers Experiments, as wel serviceable as delightful: partly collected, and partly of the Authors Peculiar Practice, and Invention by J * B.
London, for Ralph Mab and are to be sold by Iohn Jackson and Francis Church at the Kings armes in Cheapside 1634
Four parts in one volume, quarto, contemporary calf, spine with five raised bands, contemporary red morocco label lettered gilt, 17.5 x 13.0 cm, 5 leaves + 198pp: the collation is (5 leaves) + 45pp + (1p) blank + (1 leaf) full page woodcut + (1) leaf title + (2pp) + 53-99pp + (1p) blank + (1 leaf) title + 103-112pp + (8) leaves including full page woodcuts + 121-142pp + (1 leaf) title + 149-192pp, additional woodcut leaf inserted between pp.14 and 15, including the fine engraved title [illustrating in compartments fireworks, the Circular glasse, various experiments including rarifying ayre by fire, how to make a light burne under water, and an artist] very slightly trimmed affecting a few letters and the date, the separate title pages to books two, three and four, all with the imprint Thomas Harper for Ralph Mab 1634 and large woodcuts, 14 full page woodcuts and 71 elaborate and charming woodcuts in the text, [of which two are slightly cropped on the outer margin on p.17 and p.82], woodcut initials, a few leaves lightly discoloured, contemporary ink stain in the upper margin of pp.175/176, an attractive copy of a remarkable book.
Rare. STC 1577. Wellcome, I, 714. Michael White, Isaac Newton. The Last Sorcerer. 1998 pp.20-21, 27.
FIRST EDITION OF THIS ENCYCLOPAEDIC TECHNICAL COMPENDIUM FROM WHICH ISAAC NEWTON AS A BOY DISCOVERED THE ELEMENTS OF EXPERIMENTATION AND PRACTICAL SKILLS.
“Isaac Newton discovered this book when he was about thirteen years of age. He was totally captivated by it and spent 2 1/2d on an exercise book into which he copied out long passages. Bate’s book, first published in 1634, was full of detailed instructions for making wonderful machines and devices, and it was from following these that the teenage Newton was able to design and build working mechanical models for which he gained something of a reputation as a schoolboy. Some 70 years later, Stukeley was able to find a few folk who still remembered Newton’s miraculous models – windmills that actually worked…perfectly functioning sundials; and paper lanterns with which he found his way to school on dark winter mornings”. Michael White.
John Bate’s encyclopaedic technical compendium is divided into four parts – water-works, fireworks, drawing and painting, and miscellaneous experiments. Little is known of the author, though the second edition carries a portrait. The first part on water-works describes various ingenious machines including of drawing water by Engines, the making of an Engin, whereby you mat draw water out of a deepe Well, experiments of motions by rarifying ayre by fire, an artificiall water-clock, an engine to force water to the top of a hill, a water-presser. The second part on fireworks [the woodcut on the title of the ‘green man’ garlanded in foliage and wielding a fire club who traditionally from medieval times led processions of fireworkers] begins with an introduction to the basic principles of the nature of elements in choosing ingredients for fireworks. He then gives directions and guidance on the composition of various kinds of fireworks including how to make rockets, serpents, rayning fire, fire boxes, Gironells or fire wheeles, flying Dragon, fire Drakes (a firework kite), Balloones, Crackers, Saucissons, fire-lances, rockets for the water, a Dolphin. The third part is devoted to Drawing, Limming, Colouring and Graving. It includes guidance on how to mix and create colours such as purple, crane colour, hayre colour motile greene, browne blew, brasse, azure, Lyon-tawny. Also advice to make good Inke and of painting in Oyle, as well as of Gravers and of Etching. The final book Of Extravagants includes bizarre ways to catch birds and fish, how to lay gold on glass, how to make a light burne under the water, to make yron as soft as lead, a cement as hard as stone, marbled paper, glue, work in glass, invisible ink, coral, saltpetre, and recipes for treating a wide range of ailments from a water for toothache, curing an ulcer, to a good powder for the gout.
There was an expanded second edition in 1635 and a further augmented but poorly printed edition in 1654