chapter  VI
47 Pages


The occasion for writing his book, which he entitled Hypomnemata M a t h e m a t i c a (mathematical traditions), was the course of instruction Stevin gave to the prince. The scope of the two great volumes is to treat of mathematics, and only Part II. of the second volume deals with book-keeping. The second volume was written in Latin by Stevin himself and published in 1605;2 the first volume did not appear till three years later. It had been composed in Dutch and was given for translation to Willebrord Snell, professor of mathematics at Leyden.3 Stevin gives his treatise on book-keeping the high-sounding designation D e Apologistica Principum Ratocinio I t a l i c o , which may be rendered: Account - keeping for Princes after the Italian manner. The work is dedicated to Maximilian Bethune, Duke of Sully, who ranks with Colbert as a reorganiser of the finances of France. The author argues that double-entry should be applied to public accounts, for, says he, "merchants are better informed than princes of the state of their affairs and are less defrauded by those in their employment." As an introduction to his proposed reform of public accounts he then gives an exposition of ordinary mercantile bookkeeping, which he fully explains and illustrates. The ex-


amples of journal and ledger are in many ways excellent. The journal-entries are systematically grouped, and wherever practicable only the totals are shown in the ledger. For instance, as an opening entry we find "Sundry Assets" made debtor to capital, and capital made creditor to "Sundry Liabilities." The wording of the entry is as follows:—

Di versa nomina debet per sortem me Theodori Rosae 2667£, 9s. 8d. Cum enim dicto die opum mearum statum et aestimationem instituissem, inventi sunt in parata pecunia, mercibus, et creditis: primo Cassa in parata pecunia 880£, &c.