London: John Murray, 1851.
1st Edition. Hardcover. 8vo - over 7¾ - 9¾" tall. Very Good. Item #003833
8vo (221 x 140 mm). xvi, 231 ; , 376-391 ; , 2-11  pp., including half title and appendix of two reprints bound in by publisher, 1. The Eleventh Chapter of the History of The Royal Society, by C.R. Weld (London: Richard Clay, 1849) and Mr. Babbage Calculating Machine, by De Morgan (from: The Athenaeum, London, October 14, 1848); four pages of adverts by Babbage at end (undated). Original publisher's blindtooled green cloth, front board and spine lettered in gilt (binding weak, spine sunned with upper joint partially split at head, head of spine frayed, corners bumped), original yello endpaper, all pages uncut, a few pages crudely opened. The appendix smaller in size. Text with light even age-toning, half-title and advert pages with faint foxing, a few pencil marking in text. Provenance: William Parsons, 3. Earl of Rosse, Birr Castle (presented to him by the author and inscribed on half-title "To the Earl of Rosse K.P. & .. from the Author"); ticket of Remnant & Edmonds on rear pastedown. ----
RARE FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR. The Great Exhibition of 1851, held in the famous CrystaI Palace, was intended to showcase British arts and industry. "Babbage had been proposed to head the Industrial Commission for the Great Exhibition [...], but was rejected because of his early radicalism and his conflicts with the government over the Difference Engine. Resentful over this treatment, Babbage decided to publish a book on the Exhibition to set before the public the ideas that he otherwise would have presented to the Exhibition's governing committees. Babbage's Difference Engine, although certainly one of the engineering marvels of the nineteenth century, was not included in the Exhibition, and Babbage had to content himself with reprinting the account of the project published in Charles Weld's History of the Royal Society (1848)" (Norman).
"In this polemic, Babbage not only criticized the policies of the organizers of the exhibition but also broadened his censure to include the low estate to which science in Great Britain had fallen. To remedy the Exposition Committee's failure to recognize the importance and value of the Difference Engine, Babbage included a chapter on the machine and its history (pp. 173-188) in the main body of the text. In an appendix he provided a copy of a previously published (1849) pamphlet containing articles by Charles Weld and Augustus DeMorgan that present Babbage and his work on the Difference Engine in an objective and factual light. Within a few years, this work inspired a reply in defense of the British establishment written by Richard Sheepshanks, A letter to the Board of Visitors of the Greenwich Royal Observatory in reply to the calumnies of Mr. Babbage at their meeting in June 1853, and in his book entitled The Exposition of 1851 (London, 1854)" (Tomash).
References: Norman 95; Hook & Norman Origins of Cyberspace 67 ; Van Sinderen 1980, 61; Tomash & Williams B24; Honeyman 177. - Visit our website to see more images!
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