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BLOCK Magnus Gabriel (1708)

£950.00 

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4to (190 x 135mm. ) [24], 148, [4]pp., folding woodcut plate of meteorite at p.74, some contemporary notes on title-page and in margins, modern half calf over marbled paper boards, red edges

Linköping: Tryckt Åhr

First edition.

Magnus Gabriel Block (1669-1722), a doctor of medicine from Harderwijk, and physician to Charles XII of Sweden, had studied at Uppsala and travelled widely in Europe, at one time being found in Florence at the court of Cosimo III. In 1702 he visited England. The work is a sceptical history of prophecy and prognostication, and includes not only such figures as Stoeffler, Lucas Gauricus, Petrus de Alliaco, Cardano and others, but also figures like Nostradamus and even Paracelsus (who was a considerable influence on Block) as well as false prophecies of various types, and there are various quotations from Lucretius in one of the sections, including the famous 'Tantum Religio potuit suadere malorum'). To some extent it is based on the Cambridge divine John Spencer's A Discourse concerning prodigies (1663).

On p.2 is the following reference to Jonathan Swift's famous anti-Partridge "Bickerstaff" Prediction for the Year 1708, giving an insight into its rapid circulation around Europe, although Swift's identity remained hidden: 'London 9 april 1708: 'Inclosed I send you the desired pamphlet published under the name of one Isak Bickerstaff ... writ by one M. Escourt a Player, for the diversion of the town ... he tells you, that Partridge the almanachmaker should dye the 29 march last, and I can assure you, he is now alive ...' Chapters 32, 35 and 36 are also concerned with Bickerstaff affair as an example of false prophecy - a testament to the rapid circulation of the affair around Europe which included German and Dutch translations.

This work was translated into German and published by Brumme at Stade (near Hamburg) in 1711, and a note in Latin on the title-page of this copy refers very precisely to this publication: 'germanice translatus a Staderio prodiit Stadii 1711. 8 maj.' Block published a number of works in Latin, Swedish and even one in Spanish. A further note on the title-page refers to William Ramsay's Vindication of astrology whose Lux veritatis or Christian judicial astrology vindicated was published in 1651

Rare. We have located 3 copies: in National Library of Sweden, British Library, Texas (Harry Ransom).

Provenance: Macclesfield North Library 57.I.5

Stock Code: 57726