BERKELEY, George. ~ Recherches sur les vertus de l’eau de goudron, où l’on joint des Réfléctions Philosophiques sur diverses autres sujets… Avec deux Lettres de l’Auteur… Amsterdam: Pierre Mortier, 1745.
8vo (164 × 91mm.), pp. xxiv, 343, . Woodcut ornaments. Contemporary calf, gilt panelled spine with flower tools, red morocco label. Small chip to head of spine. An excellent copy, clean and crisp in a nice contemporary binding.
FIRST EDITION IN FRENCH OF BERKELEY'S LAST WORK, Siris, a chain of philosophical reflections and enquiries concerning the virtues of tar-water (1744) and of his two letters on the subject to Thomas Prior.
At the time of its publication, Siris was the most popular of the author's many works. Berkeley had observed the use of tar-water among the native Americans and came to regard it as a panacaea in medicine, setting up an apparatus for its manufacture. "He recommends it not only in fevers, diseases of the lungs, cancers, scrofula, throat diseases, apoplexies, chronic disorders of all kinds, but also as a general drink for infants. It strengthens their bodies and sharpens their intellects. It is good for cattle... It is good for all climates, land and sea, for rich and poor, high and low livers, and he had himself drunk a gallon of it in a few hours" (DNB).
The Siris is, however, more than just a medical work and the consideration of tar-water led Berkeley into a lengthy chain of reflections on the principles of the universe and of divine providence.
Blake p. 43; Wellcome II, p. 149.