Pisgah-Sight of Palestine and the confines thereof. With the History of the Old and New Testament acted thereon.

FULLER Thomas (1650.)

£16500.00  [First Edition]



First Edition. Folio. [Binding: 363 x 240 mm]. Pagination erratic with gaps left for the maps and plates but roughly: [8], "434", [1]; 202, [18] pp. Etched title-page designed Francis Cleyn, folding engraved map of Galilee, Samaria and Palestine, engraved plate of the coats-of-arms of the sponsors of the plates [early state with 21 of the 26 banner staffs with names of which 20 have arms on the banners, and with arms on 3 of the 8 extra shields on the central mantle - some copies have up to 33 armorials in total], 17 engraved double-page maps of the Near East including individual maps of the lands of the twelve tribes, a plan of Jerusalem, three plans of the Temple of Solomon, and three plates of characters and costumes and weights and measures (old repair to a tear in the folding map; the map of Old Canaan misbound at p. 186/9 in Lib.4; vertical crease in the map of Menasseh). Small hole in leaves Aaa2-3 from a flaw touching a couple of letters and the rule border and a closed tear at the foot of Mmm1; two small wormholes in the lower margin of Books IV & V, otherwise a fine, clean copy.Mid-17th-century Parisian binding for John Evelyn of polished mottled calf, the covers tooled in gilt with an outer border and panel of a three-line fillet, in the centre the large gilt arms block of John Evelyn: within a wreath formed by a laurel branch and a palm frond: a griffin passant below a chief or, a martlet for difference (as a younger son); supported by a griffin, ducally gorged (sitting on its haunches with a shield between its knees - a characteristic French device), with the motto below: OMNIA EXPLORATA MELIORA RETINETE; spine divided into seven panels, the second lettered on a red morocco label "PALESTINE / FVLLER", the others with Evelyn's "IE" initials flanked by a laurel frond and a palm frond and scroll corners tools; nonpareil comb-marbled pastedowns; gilt edges (joints rubbed and partially repaired; some scuffs and areas of wear on the surface of the covers and at the edges). Modern cloth drop-back box.


[London]: by J.F. for John Williams,

Wing F2455.


The first two books of Fuller's great work consist of an historical/geographical description of the lands of the Tribes of Israel. The third book opens with a description of Jerusalem which is followed by a long discourse on Solomon's Temple and its successor Zeruabbabel's Temple. The fourth opens with a description of Mount Libanus and the lands of Moab, Ammon, Edom and the wilderness of Paran and continues with descriptions of the Tabernacle, Egypt, and the clothes, ornaments and idols of the Jews. The fifth book consists of objections answered and additions and ends with Ezekiel's visionary description of Canaan, including his detailed description of the Temple.


Like many displaced royalist clergymen Fuller turned to writing during the Commonwealth years. In 1648 the Earl of Carlisle appointed him perpetual curate or incumbent of Waltham Abbey, Essex. In The Appeale of Injured Innocence (1659), Fuller wrote that, "So soon as Gods goodness gave me a fixed habitation, I composed my Land of Canaan or Pisgah-Sight. This, though I confess it to be no part of Church-building, yet it is the clearing of the floore or Foundation thereof, by presenting the performances of Christ and his Apostles in Palestine. I perceive the Animadvertor hath a months mind to give me a Jeere, for my sallying into the Holy-Land, which I can bear the better, seeing (by Gods goodness) that my Book hath met with generall reception, likely to live when I am dead; so that friends of quality solicite me, to teach it the Latine-language." (p. 25). The "Animadvertor" was Dr Peter Heylyn whose Examen Historicum (1659) had criticised Fuller for his "recreation in the Holy Land" instead of working on his long-promised Church-History of Britain (1655).


The Prussian emigré polymath and "intelligencer" Samuel Hartlib (c. 1600-62) noted in his Ephemerides or diary for 1650 (Part 2 - February to May) that "Dr Fuller is writing a Geography of Canaan with curious cuts which cost him 2. hundred lb. The worke may bee called Speed's Canaan. Hee and [John] Lightfoot would make an excellent compound. The latter was purposing to write also upon it as hee hath done of Temple-service [The Temple as it Stood in the Dayes of Our Saviour, 1650], but then left it to Fuller who is no Antiquary but of stupendous witt and memory." (The Hartlib Papers, 28/1/52A, available online). The Hebraist and biblical scholar John Lightfoot (1602-75) had long been collecting notes on the geography of the Holy Land from his reading of the Talmudical writers. As John Strype explained in the biographical introduction to his posthumous edition of Lightfoot's Works (1684), he "intended to describe the Land of Israel in a way somewhat new indeed and untrodden, and, as he believed, unattempted: he means, out of the Writings of the Jews. ... The unhappy chance that finished the publishing of this elaborate piece of his, which he had brought to pretty good perfection, was the Edition of Doctor Fullers Pisgah Sight; Geat pity it was, that so good a Book should have done so much harm. For that Book handling the same matters, and preventing his, stopped his Resolution of letting his labours in that subject see the light. Though he went a way altogether different from Doctor Fuller, and so both might have shewn their faces together in the World, ..." (Vol. I, p. XII).


In order to defray the £200 cost of the engraved maps and plates Fuller solicited contributions from a wide range of aristocrats, gentlemen, and London merchants to each of whom a plate was dedicated with their engraved armorial (they were also added to the separate plate of combined armorials as contributions came in) - this is an early example of a form of subscription publication also followed with success by the dancing-master turned publisher John Ogilby and the herald and antiquary Sir William Dugdale - the going rate for a sponsor of a plate by Wenceslaus Hollar in one of Dugdale's works was in the region of £5.


At the beginning of the fifth book, in a section titled "Objections answered concerning this Description", Fuller answers, in the form of a dialogue between Philologus and Alathaeus, likely questions about the accuracy of his maps: "it seems not onely an ungentile harshness, but an unconscionable injustice, strictly to exact a reason for every Puntillo in a Map. Gally-slaves would be in a more freer condition then Geographers, if thus dealt with. As the Poets feign Atlas was wearied by bearing the weight of heaven, Mercator would be more tired by bearing the burden of his own Atlas, if questioned for the crookedness or straightness of every line in so vast a volume. A lawfull latitude herein hath been ever allowed. ..."


Entirely based on printed sources rather than actual travel, Fuller's great work is part of a pan-European interest in the structure of the Holy Land and in particular of the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, and the Temple of Solomon that reached a physical climax in Philip II's El Escurial: "This interest was variously devotional, historical or millenarian: the rebuilding of the Temple was a condition of the Millenium, the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth. Other questions it raised were architectural, since here was a divine design for a place of worship, as well as mathematical. ... Like the Ark, the fascination with the design of the Temple in this context stemmed from its divine origin. God was the designer and architect. He had spoken to Moses alone on Mount Sinai and instructed him in the building of the Tabernacle. Solomon had received the design of the Temple from his father David, whom God had told to name Solomon as the builder of his house. Ezekiel was in exile in Babylon when 'the hand of the Lord was upon me, and brought me thither. In the visions God brought he me into the land of Israel' (Ezekiel 40:1-2)." - Jim Bennett & Scott Mandelbrote, The Garden, the Ark, the Tower, the Temple 1998), p. 136.


Fuller ends his text on a millenarian note with two short chapters "Of the present obstructions of the calling of the Jews" ("Many are the obstacles both externall, and internall, which for the present obstruct the conversion of the Jews. First, our want of civil society with their nation. There must be first conversing with them, before there can be converting of them. ...")  and "How Christians ought to behave themselves, in order to the Jews conversion." ("Meantime it is the bounden duty of Christians, to their utmost to endevour, both by their pious examples, and faithfull prayers, the conversion of the Iews, having many motives to invite them thereunto."). The conversion of the Jews and the rebuilding of the Temple were preconditions for the second coming of Christ, hence Oliver Cromwell's interest in readmitting Jews to England, the belief that the native Americans were the descendants of Noah's son Shem and therefore of Jewish origins and crucial candidates for conversion and the search for remains of the original language of man spoken before Babel as far away as China and India.


Provenance: 1: Bound in Paris c. 1650 for the diarist, miscellaneous writer and virtuoso John Evelyn (1620-1706) during his second period of self-imposed exile in Paris (June 1649-Feb.1652) using armorial blocks and monograms designed by Abraham Bosse, the foremost French engraver of the day. With Evelyn's manuscript pressmarks "B 4" and "H.191." on the engraved title and "A.22." (deleted) and H.191" on the letterpress title, and "F.137" on the half-title and title. Later Wotton House shelf-marks on the endleaves "D 4:5" (deleted), "C P.23" (deleted) and "H 7. 9" and the modern Evelyn label, sold Christie, 30/11/1977, lot 596, £1200 + premium to Meijer Elte, bookseller, of The Hague, Netherlands. 2: Paola & Bertrand Lazard, with bookplate and a few neat pencil notes and corrections to the numbering in the text, sale, Paris, 28/4/2008, lot 206. 3: Private collection U.S.A.

Stock Code: 220437

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