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FOSTER, Samuel (d. 1652), edited by John Twysden (1607–88)

Miscellanies: or, mathematical lucubrations , of Mr. Samuel Foster, sometime publike professor of astronomie in Gresham Colledge in London. Published, and many of them translated into English, by the care and industry of John Twysden. C.L.M.D. The catalogue of them shall be declared in the following page

London: printed, by R. & W. Leybourn, 1659
Folio: π26; A–H2, χH2; 2A–F4, 3A–E2, 4A–B2; 5A–F2, 6A–I2, 7A–D2; 8A–D2, E1; 9A–C4, D1, 10A–E4, (a)–(b)4; 11A–G2; 12A–B2, χ1, 171 leaves, various pagings (see below), some text in Latin and English on facing pages or parallel columns, general title in Latin on π1 and in English on π2, dated titlepages on first leaf of signature series 1, 2, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, numerous woodcut headpieces, initials, and diagrams in the text, four engravings printed in the text in signature sequences 4 and 9.
11 engraved plates (for details see the Contents below).
Condition: 305 x 200mm. Rusthole in blank margin of π2; minor foxing and a few leaves browned; a good large and fresh copy with some untrimmed lower edges.
Binding: Contemporary calf, the sides with double gilt filet borders and 3 concentric panels with central diamond panel, each panel with contrasting acid mottling and staining, spine in 7 compartments with raised bands, morocco lettering piece in second compartme
Provenance: Earls of Macclesfield with South Library bookplate and embossed stamp on first three leaves, sale at Sotheby’s, London, 4 November 2004, lot 808. A four page MS with diagrams ‘To compute the Geocentric Appearance of the five Satellites of Saturn’ for the year 1736 is laid in.
First (only) edition, with an unrecorded leaf of ‘Errata additionalia’.
Bibliography: Wing F1634; ESTC R28397 (incorrect page count) and R23351 (calling for only 10 plates); Lalande p. 246; Houzeau and Lancaster 3403; Grassi p. 262; Grove-Hills p. 20; Taylor 254, 255.

A fascinating collection of shorter pieces by Foster, previously provided for his pupils in hand-written copies. It includes original work by the editor, John Twysden, and others. Taylor provides a good summary: ‘These miscellaneous pieces … included descriptions of [Foster’s] Planetary Instrument, Astroscopium and Geometrical Square, a catalogue of fixed stars, an account of some observations of eclipses by himself, John Palmer and John Twysden, a method of projecting the Celestial Sphere, an account of refractive dialling (the dial in a bowl of water) and some minor papers’.
Foster was born in Northamptonshire and was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (BA 1619, MA 1623). He succeeded Henry Gellibrand as professor of astronomy at Gresham College in 1636 but resigned eight months later, though he continued to reside at the College where his rooms became the meeting place for the group of natural philosophers who later formed the Royal Society. He made important contributions to the development of scientific instruments.
John Twysden (1607–88), a physician, was a friend of Samuel Foster’s brother Walter, from whom he obtained Foster’s papers. The whole art of reflex dialling in this volume describes a device of his own invention, a sundial that would reflect a spot of light onto the ceiling of a room, or any other surface. He collaborated with Edmund Wingate in publishing Samuel Foster's Elliptical, or Azimuthal Horologiography (1654), and edited the remainder of Foster’s papers for the present volume, providing translations of some of them (apologising that he has not had time to provide translations of all the Latin pieces into English and vice versa). He then goes on to a survey of the most notable English contributors to mathematical sciences still living. He gives first place to William Oughtred, ‘a Person of venerable grey haires’, followed by Wallis, Ward, Pell, Hobbes, Palmer and Blagrave; ‘Neither is our Printer Mr. Leybourn to be passed over without his due praise, who being delighted in the Mathematicks, hath written well of Surveying’; and finishes with Foster.
There are two dedications, a Latin one to Sir Henry Yelverton and an English one to his wife Susanna Longueville, Baroness Grey, Ruthin, Hastings, Washford and Valence. Twysden pays her a back-handed compliment, displaying a conventional attitude to women’s scientific interests and abilities: ‘Madam, although the subject of this Book be such as few Ladies spend much time in, yet my desire to expresse in some measure the respects I owe to your Noble Family, in which I have the honour to spend much of my time, hath made me praefix your name to it … The ensuing Treatises, I confesse, are wholly Mathematical, and may therefore be thought unfit for your Ladiships perusal, yet are they neither beyond the reach of your Sex, or your Self …’.
Taylor says the engravings are by the instrument maker Anthony Thompson whose advertisement at the end of the table of contents reads: ‘The Mathematical Instruments described in this Book, as all others, are neatly made, either in wood or brass by Mr. Anthony Thompson, at his house in Hosier-lane in London, where they are to be sold’ (❧1v).
This splendid copy from the Macclesfield Library was probably originally owned by John Collins (1625–1683) and it contains a leaf of ‘Errata Additionalia’ which I have not been able to find recorded in any other copy. It is not present in Cambridge University Library M.8.51, in a similar, though less elaborate binding which must have come from the same shop; nor in the Wellcome Library copy, in plain calf; nor Isaac Newton’s copy (now in the Royal Society Library but recorded by Harrison, 627, as unlocated).
Prelims: π2, general titles in Latin and English; ❧1, table of contents; ❧2, dedication to Sir Henry Yelverton in Latin; ❧3, Dedication to Lady Susanna Longueville in English; ❧4–6, Preface.
Stellae fixae: pp. 27 [1] including the titlepage on A1.
Astroscopium: pp. [4] [4], drop-head titles to the Latin and English texts on H1 and 2H1; full page plate of the instrument facing H1.
Of the Planetary Instruments. To what end they serve, and how they are to be used: pp. 48 including the titlepage, 2A1; 2 full page plates bound between pp. 24 and 25.
Observationes eclipsium: pp. 20, drop-head title on 3A1, text in Latin and English.
An easie way to calculate Tables of the Suns Horarie altit. for any latitude: which being communicated to me by Mr. John Palmer, of Ecton, who received it long since from Mr. Foster, I thought worthy to be here inserted: pp. 8, drop-head title on 4A1, text in Latin and English; engravings printed in the text on 4A1v and 4B1r.
Problemata geometrica varia: pp. 23 [1] (last page blank), including the titlepage on 5A1 with woodcut printer’s device; title in Latin only but text in Latin and English on facing pages; foldout plate bound after 5F2.
Certain mathematical problems, (Concerning Triangles as well Oblique as Rectangled), analytically resolved, and effected, by J. Twysden: pp. 36 including the titlepage on 6A1, text in Latin and English; 2 throwout plates at 6E1v and 6I2v.
Problemata quaedam succincta condendi canones sinuum, tangentium, & secantium: pp. 4, drop-head title on 7A1, in Latin only.
Demonstratio quadrantis horometrici: pp. 8, drop-head title on 8A1, in Latin only.
Epitome Aristarchi Samii De Magnitudinibus, & Distantii trium corporum, Solis, Lunae, & Terrae: pp. 4, drop-head title on 7D1, in Latin only.
Lemmata Archimedis, apud Graecos & Latinos iam pridem desiderata, e vetusto codice M.S. Arabico. à Johanne Gravio traducta; et nunc primum cum Arabum scholiis publicata. Revisa & pluribus mendis repurgata à Samuele Foster: pp. 17 [1] including the titlepage on 8A1, in Latin only; throwout plate at 8E1v.
The geometrical square: with the use thereof in plain and spherical trigonometrie. Chiefly intended for the more easie finding of the Hour and Azimuth. By Samuel Foster: pp. 26, including the titlepage with woodcut printer’s device on 9D1, in English only, engravings printed on 9A2v and C3v.
Of projection: pp. 40, drop-head title on 10A1, in English only; throwout plate at 10C3v and a full page plate at D4v.
Mr. Samuel Foster his precepts, concerning refracted dials: pp.16, drop-head title on (a)1, in English only.
The whole art of reflex dialling, shewing the way to draw all manner of dialls which shall shew the hour by a spot of light reflected from a glasse upon any ceiling, or other object whatsoever, without any respect had to the axis of the world, either projected or reflected. As also whether the glasse lie parallel to the horizon, or oblique unto it. Together with all necessary furniture belonging thereunto. All performed by an easie instrument fitted with lines to that purpose. By John Twysden: pp. [2] 9 6 including the titlepage on 11A1, drop-head title ‘A short treatise of fortifications. Written by J. T.’ on C2v; foldout engraved plate at A2r and throwout plate at D2v.
Appendix: pp. [1] 10, ‘The printer to the Reader’ on 11E1v, ‘The extract of a letter written by master Im. Halton, from Grayes-Inn, in May 1650’ starts on E2v and ‘An extract of a letter of a later date … by … Halton’ starts on G1v.
Aequations arising from a quantity divided into two unequal parts: and the second book of Euclides Elements, demonstrated by species by John Leeke: pp. 7, drop-head title on 12A1.
Errata to all parts on 12B2v.
Errata additionalia on χ1r, verso blank.
Literature: Hester Highton, ‘Samuel Foster’ in ODNB.
Keywords:     astronomy    scientific instruments