A Discovery of the Impostures of Witches and Astrologers.

BRINLEY John (1680)

£4500.00  [First Edition]

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First Edition. Small 8vo (84 x 141mm). [16], 127, [1]pp. A little browned and spotted in places, some marking to a few leaves, blank lower fore-corners of *1-2 torn away (not touching the text). Early 19th-century tree calf, spine ruled in gilt, paper spine label completed in manuscript (front joint crudely repaired but holding, a little rubbed in places).

London: for John Wright...and Sold by Edward Milward Book-Seller in Leitchfield,

Wing B4698. Rare. ESTC records copies at BL, Cambridge, Glasgow and National Library of Scotland; Folger, Huntington, Newberry, Trinity College and Yale. A re-issue was published in 1686 with a new title page cancelling A1-2 and quire *. The re-issue is also rare with only five copies recorded in ESTC. No copies recorded at auction on Rare Book Hub since 1956 save for a defective (title-page missing and supplied in manuscript) and "badly worn" copy at Bloomsbury in 2004.

Two works bound together on the falsity of astrology published over one-hundred years apart.

"Hence proceed those swarms of Fortune-Tellers, Geomancers, Diviners and Interpreters of Dreams, who possess the common people with apprehensions, that they know all their fate, the number of their days, the casualties of their life; and even their natural inclinations, and thoughts of their hearts: by this means cheating the poor innocent souls into the grossest superstitions imaginable" (A4, Preface).

An impassioned plea by John Brinley of Brockton, Staffordshire to his neighbours not to be seduced by "such men, who practice unlawful arts" and that many illnesses and unusual occurrences can  be ascribed to rational reasons. He notes that "there is nothing...more usual with the Common people, than to ascribe to Witchcraft, all Disasters, or Diseases whatever seeming strange to vulgar sense"(p.15). He lists a number of afflictions - such as hydrophobia (after the "biteing of a Mad-dog") and attempts a rational explanation. Brinley also sets out this reasons for believing that witches exist and offers examples of witchcraft and sorcery in the Bible, he also includes a description of "signs whereby one may discover whether a party be possest [possessed] or bewitched" (p.58). In the second part of this work (which begins with a separate title-page) Brinley turns his attention to the misdemeanours of astrologers, "superstitious fopperies and almost ridiculous"  (p.69) but which nevertheless serve to undermine scripture.

This copy has quire *1-4 which is not present in a number of copies, it is not present in the EBBO copy online [BL copy] or, according to ESTC, in the Folger or Huntington copy. Two of the leaves in this quire in the present copy have been torn at the corners which perhaps suggests they were intended to be cancelled. The quire contains two poems: a verse address by Brinley to the "general sort of readers" and a poem "The Astrologers" (signed W.W) which begins with the opening five lines of Jasper Mayne's commendatory verse on his friend William Cartwright.

[Bound after]:

BEAUMONT (George). Fixed Stars: or, an Analyzation and Refutation of Astrology...to which is added, many anecdotes, shewing the Folly, and the Mischievous Tendency of Fortune-Seeking, Fortune-Telling, and Almanack Predictions. Second Edition. Small. 8vo. 144pp. A little cropped in places (in order to make it fit into the volume), some marking browning. Norwich: printed bu C Berry...., 1814.

Provenance: James Whatman, 19th-century armorial bookplate on the front pastedown.


Stock Code: 221556

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