"FOREIGN MATHETMATICIANS HAVE, OF LATE, BEEN ABLE TO PUSH THEIR RESEARCHES FARTHER… THAN SIR ISAAC NEWTON AND HIS FOLLOWERS HERE": THOMAS SIMPSON'S MISCELLANEOUS TRACTS, 1757 FIRST EDITION
SIMPSON, Thomas. Miscellaneous Tracts on Some Curious, and Very Interesting Subjects in Mechanics, Physical-Astronomy, and Speculative Mathematics; Wherein, the Precession of the Equinox, the Nutation of the Earth's Axis, and the Motion of the Moon in Her Orbit, Are Determined. London: J. Nourse, 1757. Small quarto, period-style half calf-gilt, red morocco spine label, marbled boards. $3000.
First edition of this collection of Simpson's astronomical papers, including the first book appearance of Simpson's important paper on taking the average, prepared in order to improve the accuracy of astronomical observations, and referencing Newton in the Preface and several chapters, with three folding engraved plates.
"Simpson obtained a reputation as 'the ablest Analyst (if we regard the useful purposes of Analytical Science) that this country [Britain] can boast of' and as author of one of the two best treatises 'on the Fluxionary Calculus.' He was aware of the importance of Continental mathematicians… and the final paragraph of the preface to his last work, Miscellaneous Tracts (1757), was by nature of a testament. Having mentioned in the latter that he had 'chiefly adhereed to the analytic method of Investigation,' he warned tha 'by a diligent cultivation of the Modern Analysis… Foreign Mathematicians have, of late, been able to push their Researches farther, in many particulars, than Sir Isaac Newton and his Followers here, have done'" (DSB). "Simpson was a prolific writer. His most important works are the Doctrine and Application of Fluxions (1750), Mathematical Dissertations (1743), and Miscellaneous Tracts (1757)… The third is mainly concerned with physical astronomy—the precession of the equinoxes, the orbit of the comets, and the motion of the moon… Simpson's style is quite an exception in the panorama of British 18th-century mathematics. Unlike many of his countrymen, he leaned towards symbolical and abstract methods based on algebraical manipulations, and he looked with admiration to the analytical results achieved by continental mathematicians… It is an irony that Simpson is nowadays remembered for 'Simpson's rule' for obtaining the area under a curve, a result which he did not claim as his, and which was well known to Isaac Newton" (ODNB). The first three chapters of Miscellaneous Tracts deal with problems in astronomy; the fourth chapter is the first book appearance of Simpson's important paper on taking astronomical averages. The fifth and sixth chapters deal with problems in Fluxions and algebra with reference to Newton. The eighth chapter contains discussions of the third and ninth part of Newton's Principia, as they relate to mechanics and physical astronomy.
Occasional foxing, chiefly to first few and last few leaves (including plates, bound at rear).