Traité du nivellement par M. Picard, de l’Academie Royale des Sciences, avec une relation de quelques nivellements faits par ordre du Roy. Et un abbregé de la mesure de la terre du même auteur. Mis en lumière par les soins de M. De La Hire, de l’Academie Royale des Sciences, & Professeur Royal en Mathematique.
Paris, Estienne Michallet 1684.
12mo. (12) + 204 + pp 241-8 + (2)pp (complete thus), 3 engr plates. Contemporary mottled calf, gilt spine, the spine slightly chipped at head and foot.
First edition of a book of some merit in the scientific literature of its date, printing a treatise on levelling, a necessary part of land surveying, written by the scientist and astronomer Jean Picard (1620-1682) as a by-product of his researches into the measurement of the circumference of the earth. Picard had devised a new kind of instrument for obtaining reliable measurements of levels, and De La Hire, who edited the treatise for publication after Picard’s death, supplies descriptions and illustrations both of Picard’s level and of alternative instruments designed by Huygens, Romer and himself, making the book of general utility to its readers. He also prints a narrative by Picard of his successful use of his instrument to calculate what needed to be done to bring water from neighbouring rivers to the palace and park of Versailles in the 1670s, an operation in which Louis XIV took a keen personal interest.