An Attractively Illustrated Manuscript
Compendium of Mathematics and Navigation
NAVIGATION AND MATHEMATICS (spine title).([England, possibly Gosport, ca. 1795]). 371 x 264 mm (14 5/8 x 10 3/8"). 440 pp. Single column, approximately 29 lines per page, in an extremely neat, very legible cursive hand.
Probably contemporary marbled boards, recently and expertly rebacked to style, thick raised bands embellished with and flanked by decorative gilt, gilt spine panels with large central fleuron. VERY ATTRACTIVELY ILLUSTRATED THROUGHOUT with numerous diagrams (two of them full-page), five hand-colored maps (four of them full-page), and 16 large and attractive vignettes at the beginning of chapters depicting English cottages and farms, castle ruins, and ships at sea. Paper boards a little soiled and chafed, upper cover with paper rubbed away in a one-inch patch and in three smaller spots, but the binding very carefully restored, entirely solid, and especially pleasing. One leaf with straight vertical surface crack almost the length of the page near inner margin (with a reinforcing paper strip on blank verso mending it but also causing faint darkening from glue), another leaf with superficial four-inch cut of no consequence (probably from pen nib)--the text undisturbed in both cases--occasional very minor smudges or offsetting, other trivial imperfections, but IN FINE CONDITION INTERNALLY nevertheless, the leaves remarkably fresh, clean, and smooth.
This is a very attractively illustrated compendium of mathematical knowledge and navigational skills that would be necessary for an officer in the Royal Navy. It is quite similar to a manuscript in the special collections of the Nimitz Library at the U. S. Naval Academy, which was a textbook or teacher's manual from the Royal Accademy at Gosport, founded in 1791 by William Burney as a preparatory school for young gentlemen wishing to join the naval, military and diplomatic services. Burney, who had an M. A. in mathematics, edited the 1815 revision of Falconer's "Marine Dictionary" and authored two books on the British navy. Like other maritime manscripts of this sort, the volume covers arithmetic, geometry, plane trigonometry, geography, navigation (at nearly 100 pages, by far the longest section), spherics, spherical trigonometry, astronomy, latitude, longitude, and marine surveying. There is also a section entitled "Days Work," which is an account of a voyage aboard the HMS Resolution in June of 1795. Much of the text is transcribed from standard works of the day, including James Atkinson's "Epitome of the Art of Navigation," Charles Vyse's "The Tutor's Guide," and George Fisher's "Arithmetick." The plane charts were probably copied from Edward Wright's "Certaine Errors in Navigation." The maps include charts of the eastern North Atlantic from Iceland to West Africa, Palmerston Island (discovered by Cook in the South Pacific), and the peninsula of Kamchatka. There are also watercolor charts of small lakes for use in textbook examples. This is an extremely attractive volume: the text is in a fluid, elegant, regular hand, and both the maps and the pen and ink drawings are carefully done, being highlighted especially by subtle shading. Their subjects of the drawings veer between ships in full sail and the quiet life in the English countryside that the sailors have left behind. (ST11964)