Occult & the Soul of a Vegetable

Bulstrode, Whitelocke. An essay of transmigration, In Defence of Pythagoras: or, a discourse of natural philosophy.

❧ London: Printed by E.H. for Tho. Basset, at the George in Fleet-street, 1692. In English. 176 × 114 mm (7 × 4.5 in.). 8vo. [56], 192 pp. With the half title. Good. Lacking the frontispiece portrait, but otherwise a sound copy. Bound in modern half calf over marbled papers; small bump on top edge of rear cover. Gilt tooled spine. Binding is a little tight in the middle of the text block, but all text is legible.

An essay on the spirit and its role in the generation of matter. Bulstrode (d. 1724) defends Pythagoras by distinguishing his concept of transmigration of the soul” from similar concepts. He begins by arguing against the concept of reincarnation that the author associates with Asia. The essay also covers a variety of concerns broadly he identifies as part of natural philosophy,” and touches on alchemical themes regarding the generation of metals, as well as plant and animal life.

Bulstrode’s concern with the generation and decomposition of life also reaches into agriculture, such as the extraction of the Spirit or Soul of a Vegetable in the form of Oil.” There are numerous references (and footnotes printed in the margins) to classical philosophy (Aristotle), Jewish theology (Maimonides), and Latin passages cited are all translated into English.

In his preface, Whitelock defends scientific study as a divine duty to both advance the Glory of God, and exalt and perfect our Mind.” He also lambasts the disregard for shorter or preliminary works and prioritization of long (though not always meaningful) works, criticizing the foolish, though customary Fancy, that unless a Book has Folio 500 at the End of it, it makes no Figure on a Shelf, but is like to dwindle into the contemptible Name of a Pamphlet.” Bulstrode Whitelocke was named, somewhat confusingly, after his father’s cousin, Whitelock Bulstrode, who was in the good graces of the Commonwealth government. Whitelock was a lawyer who studied at the Inner Temple and became a judge for Middlesex County. He also wrote a series of essays published the year of his death. His defense of Pythagoras, his most well-known work, was posthumously translated to Latin by Oswald Dyke and published in 1725.

At the time of cataloguing, no other copies for sale.

English short title catalogue R16493.


In stock

Stock Code: 1434B17 Collection: Catalogue:


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