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DAVY, John

Memoirs of Sir Humphry Davy, Bart., foreign associate of the Institute of France, etc. by his brother, John Davy, M.D., F.R.S.   London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1839.

8vo. [iv], 475, [1] plus 4 pa With portrait and advertisements. Original cloth decorated in blind, small crack in upper front joint, still a fine copy with a letter written on blank verso of front free endpaper and ending on the verso of title. $550.00

The first of the collected works of Sir Humphry Davy, which eventually went into nine volumes. This is the only volume to have a memoir of his life by brother John.

The letter on the first blank is from Amelia Keir Moilliet (Abberley Hall, 1856) to her grandson concerning his great grandfather, the geologist, industrialist and inventor James Keir. She discusses, among other matters, her father's first meeting with Sir Humphry Davy. In essence, this letter leaves a legacy to her grandchildren. . . "may you and your brothers in inherit his (Keir) virtues, cherishing, while you are young, the same constancy of good purpose. . . ." Keir, a member of the Lunar Society, was held in very high esteem by the Society as well as the members thereof. She first refers to a note about him on page 78, in which Davy describes his first meeting with Keir at Hill Top, Staffordshire.

As his only child, Amelia writes of her father's early life when he would awake at four in the morning to study the classics, translate passages of ancient authors into English, etc. She tells her grandson how his papers were burnt at the publisher's (not true because his papers were really lost in a house fire). She describes her father's time in his Majesty's army, and how he preferred the study of geology and chemistry, which is referred to in Davy's book.

Both the Moillet family and the Keir family were descended from long lines of important and well-known individuals. One of Amelia's sons married the sister of Francis Galton, Darwin's cousin.


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