London: J. Osborn, etc. 1740. 2 vols. 8vo. [ii], x, [ii], 288, ; [ii], 312,  pp. FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH. Frontispiece to each volume plus 23 full-page plates in Volume I depicting inscriptions and carvings on ancient monuments. Contemporary polished calf, spine gilt in compartments with labels; a fine copy printed on thick paper, front board of Volume I a bit loose, fly-leaf detached. Item #14517
First edition in English of Histoire du ciel consideré selon les idées des poëts, des philosophes, et de Moïse (Paris, 1739), a rare and interesting treatise on the perception, both ancient and modern, of the universe, the creation, and the superiority of Moses’ cosmogony. In attempting to make modern science conform to Genesis, Pluche basically refutes the entire range of speculation on the origin of the world which conflicts with Mosaic cosmogony. In displaying the excellence of the physics of Moses, which supposedly conforms to the teachings of both history and experimental physics, he carefully explains his opposition theories proposed by those physicists which he termed “romans philosophiques.” He even includes an in-depth discussion of Newton’s work. The plates illustrate numerous Egyptian, Roman, and Greek mythological symbols. Many are signed by the popular Paris engraver, Jacques Phillippe Le Bas (1707-1783).
Pluche (1688-1761), a teacher of humanities and rhetoric, was the leading French popularizer of natural theology. A controversial professor of rhetoric at Rheims, he became tutor in physics to, among others, the Earl of Stafford’s son. His most famous work, Spectacle de la nature (1732), was immensely popular as a text on both the Continent and in England, but brought him ridicule in Voltaire’s Candide for its philosophical optimism.