London: John Murray, 1827. FIRST EDITION. Original blue wrappers, rebacked; uncut. Item #5161
First edition. This is a valuable work for the history of science of the period. It includes Davy's lectures from 1820-26 during his term as president of the Royal Society. It also contains the presentations of the Royal and Copley Medals to the great names in science, including Herschel, Sabine, Arago, Barlow, Dalton, and others.
The publishing history of this work is of special interest. Charles Babbage accused Davy of extracting funds from the Royal Society to line his own pocket. Babbage's charges were answered by the author's brother, John Davy, in a letter to the editors of Philosophical Magazine: "Davy received 500 guineas for the copyright of the work from Murray, and only 850 copies were printed. The questionable financial arrangement was the purchase of 500 copies by the Royal Society . . . ‘Phil. Trans.' for 1827 (at the Royal Society Library) has been bound with the Discourses; a half dozen or so other copies that I have seen in scattered libraries do not have the Discourses so bound" (Fulmer).