Article ID: CBB662505737

Humphry Davy’s Early Chemical Knowledge, Theory and Experiments: An Edition of His 1798 Manuscript, “An Essay on Heat and the Combinations of Light” from The Royal Institution of Cornwall, Courtney Library, MS DVY/2 (2019)


This paper publishes, for the first time, Humphry Davy’s June 1798 “An Essay on Heat and the Combinations of Light” written in Penzance. It is the manuscript that he sent to Thomas Beddoes which secured for him the position of Superintendent of the Medical Pneumatic Institution in Bristol while aged only nineteen. It is thus a crucial document that increases our understanding about how Davy made that move from Cornwall to Bristol, without which it is highly unlikely that he would have followed the spectacular career trajectory that he did. The “Essay” provides new insights into Davy’s very early chemical reading (especially the English translations of Antoine Fourcroy’s Elémens d’histoire naturelle et de chimie), the extent to which Davy read this (and other texts) in French, the chemical apparatus he used, the experiments he made and the development and retraction of his theory of phosoxyd (later phosoxygen).

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book Trevor Levere; Larry Stewart; Hugh Torrens; Joseph Wachelder; (2016)
The Enlightenment of Thomas Beddoes: Science, Medicine, and Reform (/isis/citation/CBB491062373/) unapi

Article Kenyon, T. K.; (2009)
Science and Celebrity: Humphry Davy's Rising Star (/isis/citation/CBB001021084/) unapi

Book Stock, John Edmonds; (2003)
Memoirs of Thomas Beddoes, M. D (/isis/citation/CBB000330959/) unapi

Article Fox, Robert; (2009)
The Many Worlds of Thomas Beddoes (/isis/citation/CBB000932257/) unapi

Article Pancaldi, Giuliano; (2009)
On Hybrid Objects and Their Trajectories: Beddoes, Davy and the Battery (/isis/citation/CBB000932259/) unapi

Article Golinski, Jan; (2012)
Humphry Davy: The Experimental Self (/isis/citation/CBB001231164/) unapi

Article William Lynch; (2015)
Thresholds of Change: Why Didn’t Green Chemistry Happen Sooner? (/isis/citation/CBB031301470/) unapi

Article Jay, Mike; (2009)
The Atmosphere of Heaven: The 1799 Nitrous Oxide Researches Reconsidered (/isis/citation/CBB000932262/) unapi

Article A.J. Wright; (2015)
What If Beddoes & Davy Had Attempted Surgical Anesthesia In 1799? (/isis/citation/CBB504065170/) unapi

Article Wolfgang Lefèvre; (2018)
The Méthode de nomenclature chimique (1787): A Document of Transition (/isis/citation/CBB097357446/) unapi

Article Akeroyd, F. Michael; (2008)
Mechanistic Explanation Versus Deductive-Nomological Explanation (/isis/citation/CBB000930617/) unapi

Article Frank A. J. L. James; Sharon Ruston; (2019)
New Studies on Humphry Davy: Introduction (/isis/citation/CBB704125685/) unapi

Article Andrew Lacey; (2019)
New Light on John Davy (/isis/citation/CBB433584959/) unapi

Article Lafont, Olivier; (2007)
Lavoisier et les radicaux: Radicaux (/isis/citation/CBB000933362/) unapi

Article Márcia H. M. Ferraz; Ana M. Alfonso-Goldfarb; (2015)
Chemistry and the Definition and Isolation of ‘Active Principles’ of Plants in the Late 18th and Early-19th Centuries (/isis/citation/CBB958147529/) unapi

Article Stewart, Larry; (2009)
His Majesty's Subjects: From Laboratory to Human Experiment in Pneumatic Chemistry (/isis/citation/CBB000932258/) unapi

Article Frank A. J. L. James; (2019)
Constructing Humphry Davy’s Biographical Image (/isis/citation/CBB430195677/) unapi

Article Miller, David Philip; Levere, Trevor H.; (2008)
“Inhale It and See?” The Collaboration between Thomas Beddoes and James Watt in Pneumatic Medicine (/isis/citation/CBB000774132/) unapi

Chapter Larry Stewart; (2016)
A Jacobin Cloven Foot (/isis/citation/CBB459360609/) unapi

Article William H. Brock; (2019)
David Marcus Knight (1936–2018): An Appreciation (/isis/citation/CBB332780065/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Stewart, Larry R.
Levere, Trevor H.
James, Frank A.J.L.
Stock, John Edmonds
Beddoes, Thomas
Miller, David Philip
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Technology's Stories
Foundations of Chemistry
Revue d'Histoire de la Pharmacie
Chemical Heritage
Human experimentation
Beddoes, Thomas
Davy, Humphry
Fourcroy, Antoine François de
Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent
Guyton de Morveau, Louis Bernard
Berthollet, Claude Louis
Time Periods
18th century
19th century
Early modern
20th century, late
Great Britain
United States
Bristol Pneumatic Institute
Royal Society of London
Académie Royale des Sciences (France)
Oxford University
University of Durham (United Kingdom)

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment