Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2012 Issue

Robert Scott, M.D. - a chance encounter

Chronology1

Is this the preface to Clockwork Orange?

A book on eBay recently caught my attention, a Poughkeepsie imprint and an early one – A Regular Series of Chronology from the Creation of the World, to the Year 5813, ending with the Autumnal Equinox, A.D. 1810, exhibiting, in fourteen tables, the principal events recorded in the old and new Testaments, and many in profane history - by Robert Scott, M.D.  It seemed unusual in many respects.

The title page illustrated in the eBay auction listing had, to my eye, a Pennsylvania Dutch look.  The type was large and bold and altogether different from the small and conservative typefaces routinely found in early Hudson Valley printing., the size too out of keeping with Poughkeepsie common practice; 11.25” wide by 9” high.  Most Poughkeepsie printed books were small.

The subject too seemed outside the mainstream.  Dr. Scott sought to reconcile science and the bible by creating charts that dated biblical events on the western Gregorian calendar in use since 1582.  In his calculation the year 1810 was the 5,813th year since the creation of the world, an interesting idea and an example of the fresh, if defective, thinking overwhelming traditional Christian thought in that era.  Within fifty years Darwin would establish evolution as irreconcilable with history as expressed in the Bible.  With or without Darwin the portents of change hung heavy and in Rhinebeck, New York Dr. Scott, believing the Bible to be the revealed word and therefore fully reconcilable with all events historic, completed his rebuttal to the gathering skeptics and the increasingly certain scientific mob.  He would square the accounts.

Christianity had been a heaving throb of subjugation and revolt for almost as many years as the faith had existed, controversies and politics jostling with underlying political structures from its first days.  With the fomenting of Protestant reformation in the early 16th century the Catholic Church then saw a substantial portion of its flock join the reformed movement that later lead, in North America, to the great awakenings and the development of evangelical Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Baptist and new Methodist churches.

Mr. Scott, born in England in 1760 according to the date on his tombstone and hailing from Lincolnshire, came to America in 1794 sailing from London, August 21 and arriving in New York October 10th.  He brought with him the belief that Joseph Priestly’s reconciliation of religion and science was valid.  In an account he later wrote he explained his decision to leave England:

“My reasons were first for the sake of religious liberty, not being able to take the oaths that required of those who dissented from the Episcopal Church; and second for the sake of civil liberty.”  A reference to him in Hasbrouck‘s History of Dutchess County [1909] further elaborates, “He was a man of fine talents and his superior education enabled him to become a very successful teacher.  In 1796 he opened a school in Rhinebeck, and enrolled the children of some of the best families in NYC, among them being Henry Stokes, President of the Manhattan Life Insurance Co., and Robert Colgate, president of the Atlantic White Lead Works.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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