|Barbeau de la Bruyere. 1750. Mappemonde Historique. Detail. Collection: Bibliothèque municipale. Dijon (Fonds Ancien). Photo : Stephen Boyd Davis. Collection: Bibliothèque Municipale de Dijon (12990).|
Joseph Priestley, pioneer of chronographics, wrote in 1780 of his way of organising biblical history, ‘I venture to say that, by the help of such a mechanical contrivance as this, a person of a very moderate capacity, or critical skill, will have an advantage over a person of the greatest genius and comprehension of mind without it.’ Unfortunately, Jonathan Swift had written, entirely sarcastically, in 1726 about Gulliver’s encounter with a professor who possessed a machine with which ‘the most ignorant person at a reasonable charge, and with a little bodily labour, may write books in philosophy, poetry, politics, law, mathematics, and theology, without the least assistance from genius or study.’
I am hoping that the expertise of my audience in the history of actual time machines - clocks and related machines - will make up for my ignorance in that area.
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Priestley, J. (1780). A Harmony of the Evangelists in English.
Swift, J. (1726). Gulliver’s Travels. Part III, Ch. 5.