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Experimental Researches in Electricity, Volume 1   By: (1791-1867)

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Fullerian Profesor of Chemistry in the Royal Institution. Corresponding Member, etc. of the Royal and Imperial Academies of Science of Paris, Petersburgh, Florence, Copenhagen, Berlin, Gottingen, Modena, Stockholm, Palermo, etc. etc.

In Two Volumes


Second Edition

Reprinted from the PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS of 1831 1838.

London: Richard and John Edward Taylor, Printers and Publishers to the University of London, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street



I have been induced by various circumstances to collect in One Volume the Fourteen Series of Experimental Researches in Electricity, which have appeared in the Philosophical Transactions during the last seven years: the chief reason has been the desire to supply at a moderate price the whole of these papers, with an Index, to those who may desire to have them.

The readers of the volume will, I hope, do me the justice to remember that it was not written as a whole , but in parts; the earlier portions rarely having any known relation at the time to those which might follow. If I had rewritten the work, I perhaps might have considerably varied the form, but should not have altered much of the real matter: it would not, however, then have been considered a faithful reprint or statement of the course and results of the whole investigation, which only I desired to supply.

I may be allowed to express my great satisfaction at finding, that the different parts, written at intervals during seven years, harmonize so well as they do. There would have been nothing particular in this, if the parts had related only to matters well ascertained before any of them were written: but as each professes to contain something of original discovery, or of correction of received views, it does surprise even my partiality, that they should have the degree of consistency and apparent general accuracy which they seem to me to present.

I have made some alterations in the text, but they have been altogether of a typographical or grammatical character; and even where greatest, have been intended to explain the sense, not to alter it. I have often added Notes at the bottom of the page, as to paragraphs 59, 360, 439, 521, 552, 555, 598, 657, 883, for the correction of errors, and also the purpose of illustration: but these are all distinguished from the Original Notes of the Researches by the date of Dec. 1838 .

The date of a scientific paper containing any pretensions to discovery is frequently a matter of serious importance, and it is a great misfortune that there are many most valuable communications, essential to the history and progress of science, with respect to which this point cannot now be ascertained. This arises from the circumstance of the papers having no dates attached to them individually, and of the journals in which they appear having such as are inaccurate, i.e. dates of a period earlier than that of publication. I may refer to the note at the end of the First Series, as an illustration of the kind of confusion thus produced. These circumstances have induced me to affix a date at the top of every other page, and I have thought myself justified in using that placed by the Secretary of the Royal Society on each paper as it was received. An author has no right, perhaps, to claim an earlier one, unless it has received confirmation by some public act or officer.

Before concluding these lines I would beg leave to make a reference or two; first, to my own Papers on Electro magnetic Rotations in the Quarterly Journal of Science, 1822. xii. 74. 186. 283. 416, and also to my Letter on Magneto electric Induction in the Annales de Chimie, li. p. 404. These might, as to the matter, very properly have appeared in this volume, but they would have interfered with it as a simple reprint of the "Experimental Researches" of the Philosophical Transactions.

Then I wish to refer, in relation to the Fourth Series on a new law of Electric Conduction, to Franklin's experiments on the non conduction of ice, which have been very properly separated and set forth by Professor Bache (Journal of the Franklin Institute, 1836... Continue reading book >>

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