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AN INQUIRY

INTO THE NATURE OF THE
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SIMPLE BODIES OF CHEMISTRY.

BY

DAVID LOW, F.R.S.E.,

PROFESSOR OF AGRICULTURE IN THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGI.

Axiomata a particularibus rite et ordine abstracta nova particularia rursus
facile indicant et designant.- Novum ORGANUM.

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LONDON : LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, AND LONGMANS;

AND ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK, EDINBURGH.

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TO NEW YORK PUSLIC LIBRARY

1297574 ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

R 1924 L

PRINTED BY NEILL AND COMPANY, EDINBURGH.

PREFACE.

WHILE there is no department of physical science in which so large a collection of facts has been made as in Chemistry, it must be admitted that, as yet, we have not been equally successful in the discovery of principles, and the establishment of laws. This is mainly to be ascribed to the real difficulties that attend inquiries into the nature of forces acting on the insensible particles of matter, but, perhaps, in part also, to certain prevalent opinions regarding the nature and relations of many of those bodies which form the subjects of observation and experiment.

A fundamental principle, long admitted into every system of Chemistry, is, that there is an extensive order of bodies from which all the others are derived, and which, having resisted the usual agents of decomposition, we are to regard as Elementary or Simple. I propose to shew, that we are not entitled to regard these bodies as elementary or simple, because we have been unable to overcome the affinities of their constituent parts; that they cannot be separated, as natural products, from the bodies which we know to be compound; and that all the phenomena of chemical actions may be equally explained, by assuming the existence of three simple bodies, or two, or one, as of any greater number.

In pursuing this train of investigation, I have treated of the bodies termed Simple in a somewhat more elementary

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