London: Printed by M. Flesher, for Richard Davis, 1685.
1st Edition. Hardcover. Very Good. Item #003593
Two parts in one volume. 8vo (170 x 108 mm). , 123 , ; , 95  pp. Each part with separate title and pagination, first title with double-ruled border, including two final blank leaves L7-8 in first part. Signatures: A4 B-I8; A4 B-G8. Early 20th-century three-quarter calf and marbled boards, spine with 4 raised bands, gilt decorated and with gilt-lettered red morocco label, red-dyed edges (light rubbing of extremities). Text quite crisp and clean with only very little even browning and minor spotting in places, fore edge with ink stains just encroaching into margin of some leaves. A very good+ and wide margined copy. ----
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE (title-page printed without Boyle's name). "This oddly named tract, along with his earlier treatise on 'Cold' ([Fulton] 70), gives Boyle a place in the early history of thermodynamic concepts, and it is among the most important of his later writings. His previous works were possibly richer in the record of experiment, but his interpretations were less mature; and after 1685 his writings bore evidence of the decline of his health and powers. Having studied the air for many years, and the force it exerts when compressed, he was now led to reconsider the nature of the ultimate units of which air is composed. He first draws attention to the 'great effects' which can be propagated by the air (e.g. breaking of distant windows by cannon), and reiterates that any moving body, whether liquid, gaseous, or solid, evolves heat on encountering an impedi¬ment. Many passages indicate that he was thinking of a 'mechanical equivalent of heat' and that he regarded heat itself as probably due to small particles of matter in 'local motion'. He also asks himself, parenthetically, whether lodestones produce their influence through agitation of air particles, but he concluded in the negative on finding that iron filings are still affected when in a vacuum. There follows a remarkable passage which indicates how completely Boyle had anticipated the modern atomic theory (p. 39): I remember, that, to help some friends to conceive how such extreamly-minute particles as Magnetical effluvia, may, by pervading a hard and solid body, such as Iron, put its insensible Corpuscles into motion, and thereby range them in a new manner, I took filings of Steel or Iron freshly made, that the Magnetical virtue might not be diminished by any rust, and having laid them in a little heap upon a piece of paper held level, I applied to the lower side of the paper, just beneath the Heap, the pole of a vigorous Load-stone whose Emissions traversing the paper, and diffusing themselves through the incumbent metall, did in a trice manifestly alter the appearance of the Heap; and, though each of the filings might probably contain a multitude of such small Martiall Corpuscles as Steel may be divided into by Oil of Vitriol or Spirit of Salt; yet the Magnetical effluvia, immediately pervading our metalline heap, did so remove a good part of the filings that composed it, as to produce many erected aggregates, each of which consisted of several filings placed one above another, and appearing like little needles, or rather like the ends of needles broken off at some distance from the point. Later he says (p. 115), 'That there may be a considerable Commotion produced among the internal parts of bodies, by rubbing them even against soft bodies, I have divers times observed, by the sulphureous steams that I could smell, if, after having a little rubbed a lump of good Sulphur upon my Cloaths, I presently held it to my nose', and again (pp. 115-16), 'That Diamonds themselves will, by rubbing upon woollen cloath's be made Electrical, seems to argue, that even Their parts are set a moving.' The tract on the 'Salubrity of the Air' is of some medical interest for Boyle's observations on the causes of Plague (pp. 75-76) and for his conclusion that the bracing character of certain airs is due to the 'effluvia' emitted by subjacent subterraneal steams" (Fulton, pp. 107-8).
References: Wing B3948; Fulton, A bibliography of the Honourable Robert Boyle, 163.
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