Penn State

John C. Attig - Librarian, Penn State University Park

Book Title: The Works of Robert Boyle

Author: Michael Hunter and Edward B. Davis

Book Description:

In the course of my recent sabbatical project, I had occasion to work with Robert Boyle's General History of the Air (1692). In many ways, this is typical of Boyle's publications of his experiments: a miscellaneous collection of observations and experimental results, on topics ranging from gas pressure to meteorology. What makes this publication unique -- and of interest to me -- is the fact that it was compiled for publication by the philosopher John Locke. Part of my project was the creation of a guide to Locke's manuscripts. The manuscripts Locke used to compile the General History survive in his papers, a strange collection of documents in about a dozen different hands, ranging from fair copies to the 17th-century equivalent of the doogle on a napkin. The work done by the editors of this text for volume 12 of Boyle's Works was extremely helpful in creating my description of this chaotic manuscript. In addition, I was compiling information about where Locke was on specific dates during his life. The final item in the General History is Locke's weather observations from 1679 to 1683. The dates on which he recorded observations in London (and occasionally elsewhere) provide evidence for his whereabouts on those dates.


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