Bennett, Samuel

A New Explanation of the Ebbing and Flowing of the Sea, upon the Principles of Gravitation

  • First and only edition of this rare early American work purporting to explain the tides in a way that “will confirm, in a most remarkable manner, the general doctrine of gravitation, as established by Sir Isaac Newton” (p. viii). In the first half of the book the author lays out the Newtonian understanding of gravitation, then goes on to assert his own theories about gravitation and the tides, writing that, “I hope I have stated the thing fairly, because, as I presently mean to begin to knock it all down again, I wish very much to show first, that I know what I am about, at least, what it is that I undertake”. Bennett’s background is unclear, but he seems to have been a reasonably well-educated lay person with a strong interest in science circumscribed by limited ability and/or access to higher learning, as evidence by his open grappling with the theory of gravitation: “It does not seem to me to be a sound doctrine. How can a body be said to fall, which does not approach that towards which it is falling?” A very interesting work from the perspective of early American public interest in science, and rare, with only one copy appearing in WorldCat, at the British Library.

  • New York: for the author by Gould and Van Pelt, 1816.

    Octavo. Recently quarter black morocco, title to spine gilt, marbled sides, light brown endpapers. Folding plate at rear. Dulling and some small spots to the title page, folding plate dulled and abraded and creased a little at the edge with no loss of the content, occasional spotting to contents with a slightly larger splash to page 34. Very good condition.





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