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THE DECOMPOSITION OF THE FIXED
ALKALIES AND ALKALINE

EARTHS

BY
HUMPHRY DAVY

(1807-1808)

· EDINBURGH
THE ALEMBIC CLUB

CHICAGO
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS

1906

PREFACE.

THE present reprint contains the Bakerian Lecture

1 delivered by Davy before the Royal Society in 1807, and also part of a paper communicated by him to the same Society in the following year.

The former is the first published record of the experiments by which Davy proved the compound nature of the alkalies, and prepared the metals potassium and sodium. Fuller details as to the properties and reactions of the metals were given in subsequent papers.

The second paper above mentioned is, for the most part, a description of similar experiments carried out upon the earths and alkaline earths. At first Davy had some difficulty in getting satisfactory results with these, but ultimately he succeeded in preparing moderate quantities of amalgams c he alkaline-earth metals and of magnesium. Only 1 it section of the paper which describes these successful experiments is now reprinted.

H. M.

162387

THE BAKERIAN LECTURE, ON SOME

NEW PHENOMENA OF CHEMICAL
CHANGES PRODUCED BY ELECTRI-
CITY, PARTICULARLY THE DECOM-
POSITION OF THE FIXED ALKALIES,
AND THE EXHIBITION OF THE
NEW SUBSTANCES WHICH CONSTI-
TUTE THEIR BASES; AND ON THE
GENERAL NATURE OF ALKALINE
BODIES.*

Read Nov. 19, 1807.

I. Introduction. I N the Bakerian Lecture which I had the honour of T presenting to the Royal Society last year, I described a number of decompositions and chemical changes produced in substances of known composition by electricity, and I ventured to conclude from the general principles on which the phenomena were capable of being explained, that the new methods of investigation promised to lead to a more intimate knowledge than had hitherto been obtained, concerning the true elements of bodies.

This conjecture, then sanctioned only by strong analogies, I am now happy to be able to support by some conclusive facts. In the course of a laborious experimental application of the powers of electro-chemical analysis, to bodies which have appeared simple when

* [From “Philosophical Transactions” for 1808, vol. 98, pp. 1-44.)

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