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A chapter on street nuisances - Babbage, Charles - 1864. [1195168]
John Murray, London 1864 - The Origins of Babbage's Reputation for IrrascibilityBabbage, Charles. A chapter on street nuisances. Extracted from "Passages from the life of a philosopher." London: John Murray, 1864. Modern quarter calf, marbled boards. Light browning, occasional foxing. 32pp. 207 x 123 mm. Second edition. Toward the end of his life, Babbage began conducting his celebrated battle with street musicians-"Organs, brass bands, fiddlers, harps, Punch [and Judy shows], pantomime, monkeys, military, dancing and musical, athletes, ladies and gentlemen walking on stilts" (quoted in Hyman 1982, 247)-whose invasion of his once-quiet neighborhood was seriously disturbing his peace. Unable and unwilling to abandon his home of nearly forty years and his extensive workshops housed nearby, Babbage fought back against the street performers in every way possible, having several of them arrested, attacking them in print, and helping to get an act passed in Parliament "for the better regulation of Street Music within the Metropolitan Police District." This final public crusade of Babbage's life made him the butt of ridicule, and left him with a reputation for eccentricity and irascibility that persisted for over a century after his death. This reputation turns out to have been at least partly undeserved, however. In 1983 Babbage's autopsy report was rediscovered among some family papers; it shows Babbage to have suffered from a form of arterial disease that is now known to cause degeneration of the inner ear, resulting in a hearing disorder. This might have been the source of Babbage's acute sensitivity to noise and intolerance of discordant disturbances (Swade 2000, 213-14).Although the "Chapter" is advertised as an extract from Babbage's Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (see no. 84), both the first and second editions were published in advance of the book. These two editions appeared under the imprint of John Murray, who was also planning to publish the Passages, until his objection to a slightly off-color anecdote in the book caused him to pull out at the last minute. A third edition of the "Chapter" was issued by Longman, the eventual publisher of the Passages. Van Sinderen 1980, no. 76. Extremely rare! When we last checked OCLC cited two copies of the third edition and no copies of the first or second edition. Origins of Cyberspace 83. [Attributes: Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Jeremy Norman's historyofscience]
Last Found On: 2016-09-15           Check availability:      AbeBooks    


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