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>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

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