Bibliographic and Editorial Note.
Aristotle's Masterpiece, a manual of sex and pregnancy, first saw the light of day about 1684. It is not, of course, the work of the ancient Greek philosopher, but its true authorship is unclear: the name of William Salmon has been suggested. Whoever he was, he compiled the book from two previous works: (1) De Miraculis Occultis Naturae by Levinus Lemnius, Antwerp, 1564; this was translated and pubished in English as The Secret Miracles of Nature., Jo. Streater, London, 1658. Extracts from this were published as A Discourse of Generation, London, 1665. (2) De Conceptu et Generatione Hominis by Jacob Ruff, Geneva, 1554; English translation 1637. These are the source of the first two parts. The "Problems" and the discourse on physiognomy and palmistry were accreted to the original "Masterpiece" until by about 1735 the four parts here published made up the canon.
The text of this version of the Works of "Aristotle, the Famous
Philosopher" is taken from a copy described on the title page as
"London: Published by the Booksellers", and on the end-papers as
"Printed and published by J. Coker & Co., 208 Shoe Lane, London,
E.C.4.". Vilely printed on cheap wood-pulp paper, it is undated, but I
would estimate it between 1900 and 1925. The "Family Physician" which
is a 19th-century addition, has been omitted.
The illustrations are partly from this edition, and partly from another old edition provided by Tricia Moynihan.