"IT PRESENTLY MADE SO QUICK AN EXPANSION OR EXPLOSION, THAT SOME OF IT FLEW OUT OF THE GLASS AND HIT AGAINST THE CEILING OF THE ROOM": BOYLE'S NEW EXPERIMENTS, TOUCHING THE RELATION BETWIXT FLAME AND AIR—AND ABOUT EXPLOSIONS, 1672 FIRST EDITION
BOYLE, Robert. Tracts… Containing New Experiments, Touching the Relation betwixt Flame and Air. And about Explosions. An Hydrostatical Discourse… To which is Annex't, an Hydrostatical Letter… New Experiments, of the Positive or Relative Levity of Bodies under Water. Of the Air' Spring on Bodies under Water. About the Differing Pressure of Heavy Solids and Fluids. London: Richard Davis, 1672. Small octavo, contemporary full dark brown calf neatly rebacked, raised bands, red morocco spine label. $3500.
First edition of Boyle's fascinating tracts on the relationship between flame and air, explorations of explosions, and responses to contemporary criticisms of his theories of hydrostatics, in contemporary calf.
"Important observations on respiration are scattered through nearly all of Boyle's works. He was impressed with the idea that life was a slow-burning flame, and he often pointed out the analogy between living processes and the burning of a candle. It was in the present tract, however, that he gave special attention to the theme, insisting upon the term flamma vitalis (pp. 105 et seq.). In many places he approached the modern theory of Oxidation" (Fulton, 70). Boyle's experiments with explosions are interesting: after mixing the "spirit of nitre" (aqua fortis or nitric acid) and alcohol, Boyle writes, "it presently made so quick an expansion or explosion, that some of it flew out of the Glass and hit against the ceiling of the room, (where I saw the mark of it,) and falling upon his face [of the man] that held the Glass, made him think that fire had fallen upon it, and made him run down the stairs like a mad man to quench the heat at the Pump. Wherefore bidding the Laborant proceed more warily, I ordered him to put into the Bolt-head but part of a spoonful of Spirit of Wine at a time…" (page 3-4 of the tract "New Experiments about Explosions").
The second half of the book consists of a reply to Henry More's criticism of Boyle's first and, in many ways most important scientific work, New Experiments Physico-Mechanical Touching the Spring and Weight of Air (1660, 1662), contained in More's Enchiridium metaphysicum (1671). After this "Hydrostatical Discourse" there is a "Hydrostatical Letter" in reply to George Sinclair's Hydrostaticks (Edinburgh, 1672) and reports of new experiments which Boyle had performed to prove his case against More. Collates as per Fulton, with signatures k-x bound in between signature ** and signature K. Text complete. Fulton 101. Wing B4060. Madan 2920. Norman 304. Engraved armorial bookplate affixed to blank verso of part title, page .
Some faint foxing, an excellent copy in nicely rebacked contemporary calf covers. Scarce.