"THE TRACT ON ELECTRICITY WAS THE FIRST IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE": 1676 EXPERIMENTS BY ROBERT BOYLE, "THE GREATEST EXPERIMENTAL SCIENTIST OF THE 17TH CENTURY" (PMM)
BOYLE, Robert. Experiments, Notes, &c. about the Mechanical Origine or Production of divers particular Qualities: among which is Inserted a Discourse of the Imperfection of the Chymist's Doctrine of Qualities; together with some Reflections upon the Hypothesis of Alcali and Acidum. London: Printed by E. Flesher, for R. Davis, 1676. Small octavo, modern full marbled calf gilt, raised bands, red morocco spine label.
First edition (second issue as usual with canceled title page dated 1676 instead of 1675) of this collection of 11 pamphlets by the pioneering experimental scientist Robert Boyle, including the important first tract in English on electricity, which "brought the term into common usage," as well as papers on taste and smell that constituted "the first monographs to be devoted entirely to these subjects." Handsomely bound.
"This collection of 11 pamphlets contains Boyle's tracts on magnetism and electricity, in which he refuted the Aristotelian explanations of these phenomena (based on such insubstantial and philosophical concepts as 'substantial form' and 'real quality') in favor of experimentally demonstrable hypotheses based on the laws of mechanics. The tract on electricity was the first in the English language, and brought the term into common usage. Boyle's pamphlets on taste and smell were the first monographs to be devoted entirely to these subjects" (Norman). The pamphlets are on heat and cold, tastes, odors, the doctrine of qualities, alkali and acidum, volatility, fixtness, corrosiveness, precipitation, magnetism, and electricity. The pamphlets were printed separately, and then bound together with a general title page and introductory material. As a result, "this collection of 11 tracts is rare and often imperfect. Most copies have a cancel general title bearing the date 1676" (Fulton).
Boyle was the "best known English scientist of his day, and the greatest experimental scientist of the mid-17th century" (PMM 141). His famous experiments on the properties of air led to the discovery of the inverse ratio between air pressure and volume, still known as Boyle's Law. "There is little that Boyle did not touch; and almost every branch of modern science can trace phases of its origin in his writings" (Fulton, xi). Second issue, with canceled title page dated 1676 rather than 1675, as almost always. Bound with contents/errata leaf following title page. Norman 303 (second issue, as this copy). Wing B3977. Fulton, Boyle 124. Bookplate; owner ink signature to title page.
A handsome copy in fine condition.