[Darwin, Erasmus], THE BOTANIC GARDEN; A POEM IN TWO PARTS. PART I. CONTAINING THE ECONOMY OF VEGETATION. PART II. THE LOVES OF THE PLANTS WITH PHILOSOPHICAL NOTES. London: Printed for J. Johnson, St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1791 | 1789,1st ed./1st ed. Full leather re-backed hardcover w/gilt titling on burgundy label, 4to (10.5 x 8.125"), good + / n.a., Pt. I: xii, 214pp, 126pp, ; Pt. II: vii, [1errata], 184pp. Re-backed speckled calf in period style with five raise bands and original burgundy morocco spine label lain down, a small puncture hole to rear board and final 30 leaves of the text-block, some transference from plates, somewhat frequent damp-staining to the head of the gutter area not affecting all pages, sporadic foxing, staining and soiling - text, however, is largely clean and reasonably bright. Both title pages and frontis are present, as well as all 9 additional plates in Vol. 1 (5 of which were drawn by William Blake). Volume II is possibly lacking two plates in that 9 are sometimes called for and only 7, in addition to the frontis, are present. Thus of 18 plates in both volumes 16 would be present not including the two frontis. A list of the present plates is available upon request. Which two plates are missing in Vol. II (if they are missing) is unknown at this time.
Darwin's first major literary work, and the chief source of his fame during his lifetime. "The Botanic Garden, an annotated scientific poem in Augustan couplets, appeared in two parts, of which the second, The Loves of the Plants (1789), was published before the first, The Economy of Vegetation (1791). Darwin decided to publish the second part of the work first because it was better suited 'to entertain and charm.' The first part of the work is more ambitious than the second, covering all natural philosophy, and embodying many of the researches and inventions of Wedgwood, Watt, Boulton, and others. The design of the totality was, Darwin wrote, 'To enlist Imagination under the banner of Science . . . to induce the ingenious to cultivate the knowledge of botany . . . and recommending to their attention the immortal works of the celebrated Swedish naturalist-Linnaeus'" (Dictionary of Scientific Biography). The Botanic Garden is also important for the five plates in Vol. I engraved by William Blake: four engravings of the Portland vase, and the "Fertilization of Egypt," after a design by Fuseli.
An earth shaker this one - quite the distinctive book indeed - and a valid tangible artifact of Captured Tyme!