ENQVIRIES TOVCHING THE DIVERSITY OF LANGVAGES, AND RELIGIONS, THROUGH THE CHIEFE PARTS OF THE WORLD.(London: Printed by Iohn Norton, for Ioyce Norton and Richard Whitaker, 1635). 194 x 143 mm (7 5/8 x 5 5/8"). 12 p.l., 203 pp. Third or Fourth Edition (according to STC).
Sympathetic modern (probably 19th century) calf, covers panelled in blind, flat spine with vertical gilt titling. Historiated headpieces, foliated initials, device on title page. Front pastedown with bookplate of Isabel Somerset, Reigate Priory (see below). STC 3621. Spine leather a bit marked and scuffed, leather on covers slightly irregular in color, leaves with faint diagonal dampstain at lower right throughout (scarcely noticeable most of the time, but slightly darker on a half dozen preliminary leaves), otherwise quite an excellent copy, the binding solid, and the text clean, unusually fresh, and with comfortable margins.
A major early British work in the field of anthropology, the "Enquiries" of Brerewood (1565?-1613) examines the history and contemporary state of the relations of large cultural groups in the world, particularly in Europe, western Asia, and Northern Africa. Although Brerewood writes as a person most interested in the locations, beliefs, and practices of the various branches of the Christian religion, he actually takes on the formidable task of discussing the changing character and influence of languages, peoples, and religions down through history. In the course of his discussion, he examines the spread and decline of Greek and Latin, the concurrent rise of the Romance languages, and the nature of some other tongues, including Slavonic and Oriental. According to Hodgen ("Early Anthropology in the 16th and 17th Centuries"), Brerewood, in his "perceptive little book on the geographical distribution of languages and religions," was "probably the first man to apply mathematical analysis to cultural and religious phenomena, and this in conjunction with a similar treatment of the origin and diffusion of languages." An antiquary and the first professor of astronomy at Gresham College, Brerewood was reluctant to publish his works during his lifetime, so his nephew Robert saw the present item through the press (it was first published in 1614). It became a popular and influential work that was printed in English, French, and Latin at least 10 times during the 17th century. According to Salmon in his "Effort and Achievement in 17th Century British Linguistics," the book was even more important than the seminal works of Camden or Verstegan "in determining the direction which philological enquiries were to take in 17th century England." Lady Isabel Somerset (1851-1921), whose elegant bookplate graces our volume, was a prominent philanthropist and promoter of sobriety. Deeply religious, she espoused the cause of temperance, working tirelessly for the movement and participating with American Frances Willard in a speaking tour through England and Scotland. In 1895 Lady Somerset founded the Duxhurst Colony for women recovering from alcoholism, building cottages to house some 40 residents on a 180-acre estate near Reigate. Lady Isabel's residence at Reigate Priory is now a museum. (ST10996)