DALTON, John (1766-1844)
Meteorological Observations and Essays
London: for W. Richardson, 1793. 8vo. xvi, 208pp. Includes list of subscribers. Uncut.
Publisher's pink paper boards
Provenance: William Fothergill (presentation inscription by the author); Franz Sondheimer (bookplate)
First edition, first issue of the foundation of modern meteorology: presentation copy inscribed by the author.
In his first published work, Dalton includes a series of essays and observations on barometric pressure, storm patterns, temperature, evaporation, the aurora borealis, and other meteorological phenomena. His book "contained not only a record of his unremitting observations but also inferences of the causes of the meteorological phenomena so exposed. These reflections, which inevitably concerned the relation between air, water, and water vapour, played an important part in the evolution of his future theories. The book began with a description of the instruments needed for observation. There followed a series of typical observations and essays on their interpretation. Then a more interesting section on the aurora showed Dalton's breadth of experience with many instruments, even including work with a new design of theodolite. The final section interpreted the findings of the earlier sections, offering theories and speculations, including one of great ingenuity-proposing that the aurora is of electrical or magnetic origin" (Dictionary of National Biography).