“A History of the Earth and Animated Nature Volume One” By Oliver Goldsmith, and published by A Fullarton and Co.
Goldsmith himself actually goes into immense scientific detail with observations of all aspects of the earth, including some very detailed descriptions of the earth's species. It is, however, the hand-coloured illustrations of the many different animals that really knock me out with their beauty.
I love the way several variations of each animal have been included in each landscaped illustration, so they look like they are relating to each other. Because of this, there is a strong story book element to these illustrations, that hugely appeals to me, as I'm sure it would have to the readers of that day.
The text in part two is made up of a huge amount of information and history on each animal illustrated, with the size, markings and variations of each animal within each species, given in precise and painstaking detail.
It is divided into books called; Animals of the Deer Kind, Animals of the Dog Kind, Animals of the Weasel Kind, Animals of the Monkey Kind, and so on. Most are easily recognisable, but also included are the Shock dog, the Lion dog, the Turnspit, the Tumbler, the Glutton, the Quagga and the Dziggtai. I have never heard of these, but what utterly wonderful sounding names.
Part one covers a huge range of subjects on the earth; fossils, caves, earthquakes, volcanoes and mines, then it goes on to describe mountains, oceans, rivers, currents, air, winds and meteors. It includes the vast arena of astronomy, and the minuscule details of biology.
If you want an old school tour of the whole of our Universe, this is definitely it, complete with quirky metaphors and analogies that immediately immerse you straight into the eighteenth century.
Goldsmith was obviously a huge natural history enthusiast and expert, and wrote many other works of natural history. But he was also a novelist, playwright, poet and journalist. These days, he is best known for writing The Vicar of Wakefield in 1766, as well as his plays, The Good Natur'd Man and She Stoops to Conquer.
This edition is undated but was probably published in the mid-nineteenth century. The book was first published in 1774 in eight volumes, but this edition is comprised of two volumes, of which this is volume one, which covers the history of the earth and the natural history of quadrupeds. Volume two covers birds, fish, frogs, lizards and serpents, as well as insects.
The guide price for our copy of volume one is £74, which, with its copious and charming illustrations, is a tempting prospect for anyone, not just natural historians. I myself am seriously tempted, so be quick if you want to squirrel this away and make it yours!