On Sailors’ education

Scotti, Marcello Eusebio (1742-1800).

Catechismo Nautico o vero de’ particolari doveri della gente marittima. Tratti principalmente dalla S. Bibbia, e dalle massime fondamentali della Religione... Parte prima. Doveri in generale di tutti gli abitatori delle Città marittime. Naples, Di Simone, 1788.

Scotti, Marcello Eusebio (1742-1800) Catechismo Nautico o vero de’ particolari doveri della gente marittima. Tratti principalmente dalla S. Bibbia, e dalle massime fondamentali della Religione... Parte prima. Doveri in generale di tutti gli abitatori delle Città marittime. Di Simone, 1788.

8° (182x110 mm). XLIV, 281, [3] pages. Complete with the last blank leaf. Contemporary vellum, over pasteboards. Smooth spine, title and imprint on double morocco lettering-piece. Covers and spine somewhat worn and rubbed. A good, genuine copy; some staining and foxing due to the quality of the paper.

Extremely rare first edition of this catechism written – as signalled by its title, Nautical Catechism – for the education of seamen. The work was originally conceived in three parts, but only the first part, containing the Doveri in generale di tutti gli abitatori delle Città marittime, was published. The second and the third parts were lost – as were all Scotti's papers – during the raid of his house in Procida.

Scotti was born in Naples, into a family originally from the island of Procida. He received his early education at the Chinese College. The abilities he demonstrated in his studies, even at a very early age, were quickly recognized by his teachers who deemed him worthy of becoming their colleague. He chose a religious path to more easily devote himself to his studies. In 1779 he was called to the Academy of Science and Letters in Naples and was later sent to preach in Ischia, Aversa, and Procida. His fame as a preacher grew rapidly, but he was soon accused of spreading 'dangerous' principles of faith. No longer allowed to preach from the pulpit, Scotti undertook the writing of his Nautical Catechism.

The text focuses on the duties of seamen, insisting on the importance of being educated in navigation and commerce, practicing the duties of hospitality, assisting with shipwrecks, and taking care of the education of their wives and daughters, who were so exposed to the dangers of seduction during the long absences of their husbands and fathers. Of particular interest, for the surprisingly liberal views of the author, are the chapters on women's rights and duties.

Originally intended only for the education of sailors on the island of Procida, the work had a broader diffusion and ended up reaching the fishermen of Santa Lucia and the coral divers of Torre del Greco as well.

R. Salvemini, “Introduzione” to M. E. Scotti, Catechismo nautico, Procida 2001; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 259.

$ 2.500
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