MOLYNEUX, William.

Sciothericum telescopicum;


Sciothericum telescopicum;
or, A new contrivance of adapting a telescope to an horizontal dial for observing the moment of time by day or night. Useful in all astronomical observations, and for regulating and adjusting curious pendulum-watches and other time-keepers, with proper tables requisite thereto. [Bound with] TWYSDEN, John. The use of the general planisphere, called the analemma, in the resolution of some of the chief and most useful problems of astronomy
Dublin, Andrew Crook and Samuel Helsham at the Printing-House on Ormond-Key, to be sold by W. Norman in Dame-street, and S. Helsham and El. Dobson booksellers in Castle-street, 1686; [and] London, Philip Lea, 1700.

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First edition of the first work; second [?] edition, not listed in ESTC, of second work.

Born in Dublin, William Molyneux (1656–1698), experimental philosopher and constitutional writer, has a claim to be considered the founder of modern science in Ireland. In October 1683 he set himself the task of forming a society in Dublin on the design of the Royal Society. As first secretary and treasurer he conducted correspondence and exchanged minutes with the Royal Society and its sister society at Oxford. He took an active part in the proceedings of the society, elucidating discoveries, demonstrating experiments and instruments, discussing books, showing curious objects, undertaking the calculation of solar and lunar eclipses, and recording weather data.

In the summer of 1685 Molyneux visited his brother Sir Thomas Molyneux, then a graduate medical student at Leiden, and they undertook a three-month tour of the Netherlands and the Rhineland, ending up in Paris. They visited Christiaan Huygens at The Hague, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek at Delft, and Jean-Dominique Cassini at Paris. In September Molyneux spent two or three weeks in London and was invited to Greenwich by Flamsteed. He also took the opportunity to commission an instrument maker, Richard Whitehead, to make a combined dial and telescope. Although the instrument never performed well, Molyneux demonstrated it to the Dublin society, claiming it had improved the art of dialling by application of telescopic sights, and in 1686 he published the present book describing it.

John Twysden (1607–1688), physician, had a keen interest in mathematics. Twysden’s first work, in collaboration with Edmund Wingate, was published in London in 1654: it was an edition of Samuel Foster’s Elliptical, or Azimuthal Horologiography. In 1659 he published the residue of Foster’s papers, with some mathematical essays of his own, in a folio volume entitled Miscellanea, sive, Lucubrationes mathematicae. After many years work on behalf of the Royal College of Physicians, Twysden continued his mathematical studies, and first published the present work in 1685 (ESTC 15 copies). At the end of this work are two short works: John Palmer, The Planetary Instrument, or the description and use of the theories of the planets, 6pp., and Samuel Foster, The description and use of the noturnal, 8pp and table.


First and second editions. Small 4to., 1st work: [12], 54, [38] pp., folding plate showing the author’s invention with 18 leaves. of tables (ending on N2), ‘Finis’ printed at the foot of N2 verso. ‘Tables of the suns right ascension in time to every ten minutes of the ecliptick’. (H4r) ‘Tables of æquation of natural days’. (M1r), and ‘Calculation of hours and minutes for an horizontal-dial. Dublin lat 53⁰. 20”. (M3r) each have divisional title page. With press-figure ‘[*]’ on leaf L4v. 2nd work: [8], 22, [4], 6, 8pp., cancel title (A-D4 A-B4), 4 folding plates, followed by two leaves ‘Tabula Ascensium Obliqu-arum’, no D4 (possibly an advertisement leaf), B± at end blank, some light damp-staining, contemporary panelled calf, joints and corners worn.

Provenance: C.St J.H. Daniel (his stamp to endpapers and invoice for £250 from Francis Edwards dated 16th October, 1970); the C.E. Kenney copy sold by Sotheby’s May 1967 and purchased by Francis Edwards.


I. Wing M 2406A.


Stock ID: 89464