(ELECTRICITY). LOUIS, Antoine. ~ Lettre à M. l’abbé Nollet sur l’électricité. ‘Londres’ [?Paris], chez Jean Neaulne, 1749.
pp. 45, . Woodcut arms to title.
[bound with:] ― Lettre de M. Louis, associé de l’Académie royale de chirurgerie, à M. l’abbé Nollet, de l’Académie royale des sciences, et de la Societé Royale de Londres. [n.p.] 1749, pp. 19, , bound without 2 final blanks), woodcut ornament to head of text.
2 works bound together, the second, on smaller paper, carefully inlaid to larger leaves to match the first. Contemporary sprinkled sheep, spine gilt with long morocco label, arms of Antoine-René de Voyer d’Argenson, marquis de Paulmy at foot, red silk marker.
First editions of two rare polemical pamphlets by the surgeon and physiologist Antoine Louis directed against the works of electrical pioneer Jean-Antoine Nollet. Both men were part of the electrical debates and experiments of the 1740s, but Nollet had evidently criticised Louis’ use of electrical charge in experiments on paralytics. Louis responds angrily in these two pamphlets pointing out inconsistencies in Nollet’s interpretations of electrical experiments in his Essai sur l’electricité des corps. Nollet had himself pursued electrical experiments on human subjects in 1746, using Musschenbroek’s Leyden jars to pass an electrical charge through 180 royal guardsmen and 200 Carthusian monks for the edification of Louis XV.
Antoine Louis (1723-1792) was a major contributor on surgical subjects to Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopédie and is remembered as the inventor of the apparatus which later took the name of the ‘Guillotine’ (formerly called a ‘Louisette’ after its first inventor).
The two pamphlets were bound together (the second being carefully inlaid to unify the formats of both pieces) for the celebrated library of René de Voyer d’Argenson, marquis de Paulmy (1722-1787). He was the dedicatee of the Encyclopédie and his collection came to form the core of the Bibliothèque nationale’s Arsenal collection. II. Gartrell, Electricity, 314.