New York; Philadelphia: T. & J. Swords (Volume 1); T. Dobson (Volume 2, parts I and II), 1796; 1797. Three volumes. 8vo. xxxii, 434; xxiv, 486; [iv], 539 pp. FIRST AMERICAN EDITION. Complete with all half-titles and blanks. With 6 colored plates in Volume 1. Contemporary calf, spine labels; text toned due to paper stock. Overall an excellent copy. Item #17295
First American editions of Erasmus Darwin’s important hypothesis on evolution, which included discussion of how competition and sexual selection could cause change in species, an idea on which his grandson Charles must certainly have drawn. Darwin’s focus here is the functioning of the body and he includes significant sections on anatomy and physiology, as well as psychology. He was an early advocate of the inheritance of acquired characteristics, similar to what Lamarck later developed. “The Zoonomia contains a system of pathology and a treatise on generation. Darwin believed that ‘one and the same kind of living filaments is and has been the cause of life’” (Garrison & Morton).
Darwin (1731-1802), grandfather of Charles Darwin, was a remarkable polymath that worked as a physician, naturalists, medical botanist, and inventor.