The different editions of the Descriptio and Constructio, as well as the reception of logarithms on the continent of Europe, and especially by Kepler, whose admiration of the invention almost equalled that of Briggs, belong to the history of logarithms (q.v.).
It may, however, be mentioned here that an English translation of the Constructio of 1619 was published by W.
The full title was: Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Constructio; Et eorum ad naturales ipsorum numeros habitudines; una cum A ppendice, de alia edque praestantiore Logarithmorum specie condendd.
Accesserunt Opera Posthuma: Primb, Mirifici ipsius canonis constructio, & Logarithmorum ad naturales ipsorum numeros habitudines.
After Napier's death his manuscripts and notes came into the possession of his second son by his second marriage, Robert, who edited the Constructio; and Colonel Milliken Napier, Robert's lineal male representative, was still in the possession of many of these private papers at the close of the 18th century.
Cos z (A+B) sine (A+B) They were first published after his death in the Constructio among the formulae in spherical trigonometry, which were the results of his latest work.
The decimal point is, however, used systematically in the Constructio (1619), there being perhaps two hundred decimal points altogether in the book.
The decimal point is defined on p. 6 of the Constructio in the words: "In numeris periodo sic in se distinctis, quicquid post periodum notatur fractio est, cujus denominator est Unitas cum tot cyphris post se, quot sunt figurae post periodum.
Macdonald's translation of the Canonis Constructio (1889) is complete and valuable.
This liber posthumus was the Constructio referred to later in this article.
It is important to notice that in the Constructio logarithms are called artificial numbers; and Robert Napier states that the work was composed several years (aliquot annos) before Napier had invented the name logarithm.
The Constructio therefore may have been written a good many years previous to the publication of the Descriptio in 1614.
The " liber posthumus " was the Constructio (1619), in the preface to which Robert Napier states that he has added an appendix relating to another and more excellent species of logarithms, referred to by the inventor himself in the Rabdologia, and in which the logarithm of unity is o.
Briggs assisted Robert Napier in the editing of the " posthumous work," the Constructio, and in the account he gives of the alteration of the logarithms in the Arithmetica of 1624 he seems to have been more anxious that justice should be done to Napier than to himself; while on the other hand Napier received Briggs most hospitably and refers to him as " amico mihi longe charissimo."
This letter was written two years after Napier's death (of which Kepler was unaware), and in the same year as that in which the Constructio was published.
In the same year (1620) Napier's Descriptio (1614) and Constructio (1619) were reprinted by Bartholomew Vincent at Lyons and issued together.5 Napier calculated no logarithms of numbers, and, as already stated, the logarithms invented by him were not to base e.
.," which contains reprints of Napier's Descriptio of 1614, Kepler's writings on logarithms (1624-1625), &c. In 1889 a translation of Napier's Constructio of 1619 was published by Walter Rae Macdonald.
A facsimile reproduction of Bartholomew Vincent's Lyons edition (1620) of the Constructio was issued in 1895 by A.
An account of the processes by which Napier constructed his table was given in the Constructio Canonis of 1619.