The Sphere of Marcus Manilius: Made an English Poem, with Annotations and an Astronomical Appendix by Edward Sherburne, Esquire. Printed for Nathanael Brooke, London 1675.
Astrologiae Nova Methodus by Francisci Allaei, Arabis Christiani (1654). Three parts separately paginated and bound together in one folio volume.
The Philosophical Research Library has an impressive collection of early astrological works from the 16th and 17th centuries. Perhaps the most intriguing, and certainly the most scarce, is the first edition of Astrologaie Nova Methodus. The title pages of the first two parts cryptically attribute the author as Francisci Allaei / Arabis Christiani (Christian Arab). The third part is lacking a title page but identifies the Capuchin Friar Yves de Paris as its author. Scholars and rare book sellers have long speculated that the entire work was composed by him.
Part I of the Latin text explains the New Method of Astrology, while Part II contains observations on the Fate of the Universe. Part III is a commentary on the first two sections. The book is illustrated with 10 moveable volvelles predicting the destinies of rulers, religions, and empires. Volvelles are wheels constructed of paper or parchment. Here they are fastened to a leaf in such a way that they can spin independently and point to celestial bodies.
Part I Volvelles
Part II begins with a new title page: The Fate of the Universe observed by F. Alleus in 1654 and new pagination. Inserted inside our book is a handwritten translation of part of this selection by Manly P. Hall, along with a typed transcription of his notes.
The predictions were highly controversial and sometimes accurate—the most compelling is the forecast for calamity in England in 1666. That was the year of the Great Fire of London. Among the miscalculations was the prediction of the fall of Islam. Other prognostications could be construed to be somewhat accurate. For example, it was forecasted that France would become extremely prosperous by 1860 and that coincides with the annexation of Nice and Savoy. The predictions drew condemnation throughout Europe and it is rumored that first editions were burned in France. Subsequent editions were published omitting some of the offending volvelles.
Part III is written by the Capuchin Friar Yves de Paris. It consists of a commentary of the first two parts. In a stroke of irony, the British Parliament, unaware that Yves was the presumed author of the entire work, asked the respected theologian to examine the book for "irregularities of thought." The Friar gave the sections his approval.
Yves de Paris (1591-1678) studied law but abandoned this pursuit to join the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins in 1619. As part of his training for the priesthood, he studied St. Augustine, St. Aquinas, Bonaventure, and other spiritual and philosophical writers. He was also influenced by the Neoplatonism of Marsilo Ficino. Friar Yves is renowned for his philosophical and theological writings. His most famous works are Traité de l'indifference and Les Progrès de l'Amour divin.
Travels in the East of Nicholas II, Emperor of Russia, When Cesarewitch, 1890-1891
By Prince Esper Ukhtomsky; London, 1896.
A monumental resource consisting of 2 volumes over 15 inches high and containing nearly 500 wood engravings and numerous heliogravures. The book is a readable and beautifully written travelogue. It provides a glimpse into 19th century Russia and its relationship to the Eastern world.
In the fall of 1890, Tsar Alexander III wanted to launch the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway to tie eastern parts of his Empire closer to its core. He decided that his son, Nicholas, should be present at the ceremony in Vladivostok commemorating the beginning of its construction. Nicholas II and a large entourage embarked on a 10-month Grand Tour of Asia to complete his education and participate in a diplomatic mission of goodwill. At the end of the voyage, Nicholas would lay the first brick of the railroad. The trip was cut short in April 1891 when, while traveling through the city of Otsu, Japan, Nicholas was the victim of an assassination attempt. He was attacked in his open rickshaw by Tsuda Sanzo, a policeman who was escorting him. Sanzo’s sword left a scar on his face, but the wound was not life threatening. The quick action by Nicholas’s cousin, Prince George of Greece, saved his life.
Prince Esper Ukhtomsky was selected as a tutor to accompany the Cesarewitch (heir to the throne) and record the journey. Ukhtomsky was a poet, a journalist, a Buddhist, and passionate about Eastern culture. He amassed a large collection of Chinese and Tibetan art which is now on display in the State Historical museum.
The beautifully illustrated volumes feature ethnographic descriptions of each of the places they visited: Greece, Egypt, India, Indochina, Japan and Siberia. The two volume set took six years to complete and each chapter was approved by Nicholas II. It was first published in Russian in 1893 and later translated into English, French, German and Chinese.
“Nothing gives so much breath to the intellectual horizon, nothing has so much influence on character, as immediate living contact with the life of other lands; and what marvelous and attractive scenes awaited the Imperial traveller! All the past life of humanity is bound up with them. All that ever gave wings to the human spirit is preserved to the present day in their antique monuments, and discourses eloquently on the never ceasing victory of reason and artistic creation over impersonal and formless matter.”
Photos from the book courtesy of David Orr, UPR Artist-in-Residence
The Special Collections section of the Philosophical Research Library has over 1,200 items including rare or unique books, manuscripts, photographs and artifacts. The materials span a wide range of topics including Alchemy, Astrology, Comparative Religion, and Philosophy. Many of these items are fragile and access must be restricted. This segment of our website will showcase items from this collection.