London: J. Johnson, 1791. Darwin, Erasmus (1731-1802). The botanic garden: A poem, in two parts . . . 4to. xii, 214, 126, ; , ix, 197 pp. General title-leaf misbound before title-leaf to Part II. 20 engraved plates, including 5 by William Blake (1757-1827); 2 of the plates are after drawings by John Henry Fuseli (1741-1825). London: J. Johnson, 1791. 275 x 207 mm. Half calf gilt, marbled boards in period style. Minor foxing and offsetting, small marginal stains on two or three plates not affecting the images, marginal tears in signature S and one plate repaired, but very good. First Edition of Part I; third edition of Part II, containing two more plates than the first edition of 1789. Darwin’s first major literary work, and the chief source of his fame during his lifetime. “The Botanic Garden, an annotated scientific poem in Augustan couplets, appeared in two parts, of which the second, The Loves of the Plants (1789), was published before the first, The Economy of Vegetation (1791). Darwin decided to publish the second part of the work first because it was better suited ‘to entertain and charm.’ The first part of the work is more ambitious than the second, covering all natural philosophy, and embodying many of the researches and inventions of Wedgwood, Watt, Boulton, and others. The design of the totality was, Darwin wrote, ‘To enlist Imagination under the banner of Science . . . to induce the ingenious to cultivate the knowledge of botany . . . and recommending to their attention the immortal works of the celebrated Swedish naturalist—Linnaeus’” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography). The Botanic Garden is also important for the five plates in Vol. I engraved by William Blake: four engravings of the Portland vase, and the “Fertilization of Egypt,” after a design by Fuseli. Keynes, Blake, 103. King-Hele, Erasmus Darwin, pp. 97-119. (Inventory #: 43999)
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