DE L'APPLICATION DE L'ELECTRICITE A la physique et a la médecine. A Amsterdam, Chez D. J. Changuion,
1788. 4to, pp. xii, 319,  blank; with appealing engraved title-page vignette, and four folding engraved plates; title-page a little soiled and browned, light foxing and browning throughout, small stain affecting fore edge of last couple of leaves, and of outer margin of plates; First edition of this detailed, rational and erudite dissertation on the applications of electricity to physics and medicine, written in response to a prize question posed by the Royal and Patriotic Society of Valence. A contemporary review in the Monthly Review of the same year provides a useful summation: ‘We are informed, in the preface, that this dissertation (originally written in Latin) was translated into French by the ingenious and learned Professor Van Swinden of Amsterdam, and that it is now published in this language at the desire of the Society for which it was written. The question, which gave occasion to it, was proposed in the following terms: Has artificial electricity, from its discovery to the present time, really contributed to the progress of physics? And has it, considered in a medical view, been of more service than prejudice to mankind? It can scarcely be supposed that such a question could admit of a negative; nor can we imagine that it was proposed as a matter of doubt. We must therefore conclude that this learned body wished to facilitate the study of electricity, by means of a general, historical, and critical, view of the several discoveries that have hitherto been made in this branch of physics, - of the meteorological theories to which they have given occasion, and of the various experiments in which electricity has been applied to the cure of diseases. If this was the intention of the Society, it is completely answered by the work before us; which contains a very ample amount of what has been done in these respects, by philosophical and medical electricians, interspersed with judicious observations on facts and opinions’ (Vol 80, p. 658).
The work is divided into two parts discussing the physical and the medical applications. The gradual progress of electrical knowledge from the earliest until 1787 is included, together with an examination of theories relating to the relationship of lightening and electricity, of a connection to phenomena such as the Aurora Borealis, and whether electricity influences the acceleration of vegetation. The second part investigates electricity in relation to the cure of disease and gives ‘a very large collection of cases, from various writers, in which it has been attended with success’ (ibid). The work of several contemporaries is discussed including that of Volta, Franklin, De Mairan and Sigaud de la Fond.
‘Although van Troostwijk worked in Amsterdam as a merchant most of his life (1770-1816), he became an important Dutch chemist who published thirty-five works on his experiments in chemistry and electricity between 1778 and 1818. Nothing is known of his education except that he was greatly influenced by M. van Marum, Director of Teyler’s Museum in Haarlem. A phlogonist until 1788, he was a founder of the Batavian Club, better known as the Society of Dutch Chemists (1791), which was instrumental in securing recognition in the Netherlands for Lavoisier’s discoveries’ (DSB). Cornelius Rudolphus Krayenhoff (1758-1840) was a fellow member, as were Jacob Rudolph Deiman (1743-1808), and in 1789 Deiman and Troostwijk became famous for their experiment by which they split water and hydrogen for the first time through electrolysis. Bierens de Haan, 3690; Mottelay, 385 (note); Kress, 6355; Wheeler gift 551; Ronalds 504.
Condition: in contemporary full mottled calf, with tooled gilt border, spine in compartments with raised bands, ruled and decorated in gilt with red morocco label, head and tail of spine chipped with loss and exposing head-bands, upper joint cracked, corners bumped and worn.