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Enquiries touching the Diversity of Languages, and Religions through the cheife Parts of the World
London: Printed for John Bill, 1614. Small quarto, a few stains and slight scorch-mark to the spine, a little loose at the front hinge, but in excellent original condition; bound with another work (see below) in contemporary limp vellum; boxed. "The Inhabitants of that South continent, are Idolaters" First edition: containing a little noticed discussion of the Southern Continent and its likely inhabitants. Brerewood, Professor of Astronomy and scholar in many fields, explores the spread of ancient, eastern and modern languages, discusses the tongues in which the liturgy is celebrated, and identifies the parts of the world where Christians live, and the other parts where 'idolaters' flourish. Along the way there are digressions on the height of mountains, the depth of the sea, and the dimensions of whales and elephants. "Besides presenting the religions of the world and the areas dominated by them, Brerewood discusses the size and populations of little-known regions and even speculates on the size of the Great Southern Continent..." (James Ford Bell).Of great interest is the extended reference to "Beach", the supposed Australia of Marco Polo, the "southern continent not yet discovered". ("Beach" is an old corruption, perpetuated by Mercator, stemming from a misprint of "Locach" in the 1532 edition of Grynaeus): "But if the South or Antarctique continent, be so large, as I am verily perswaded it is (even no lesse, than that of the East before mentioned, which containeth Europe, Afrique, and Asia together) then will the Idolaters be found to surpasse all the other religions, in exceeding great proportion, for that the Inhabitants of that South continent, are Idolaters, there is no question at all (as I take it) to bee made, both because in the parts hitherto known, as namely in the region of Beach, over against Java, they were found to be so: And also, because they are knowne to be no other than Idolaters, that inhabite all those parts of the other continents, that neighbour most towards them..." (p. 119). This is followed by quite a long discussion of antipodal weights and other arguments about the Southern Continent.There are also a number of references to America, including reports on the religious practices encountered by Spanish and Portuguese explorers, a report of converts "above the Bay of California, of whom as yet, histories make so little report, that of their number I can make no estimate", and an attempt to prove that the indigenous Americans were descended from Tartar stock. This attractive volume, in its contemporary limp vellum binding in original condition, once belonged to Matthew Hutton (1639-1711; his signature is on the front endpaper) who like Brerewood was a graduate of Brasenose College, Oxford, and was a well-known antiquarian and the Rector of Aynhoe.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2015-01-22           Check availability:      Biblio    

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