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Siris: A Chain of Philosophical Reflexions and Inquiries Concerning the Virtues of Tar Water,

And divers other Subjects connected together and arising one from another.

Dublin: printed by Margt. Rhames, for R. Gunne, 1744 Stock Code: 135077
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Presentation copy

First edition, presentation copy with "From the Author" written in a contemporary hand on the front free endpaper, and from the library of the Bloomsbury Group member Lytton Strachey, with his bookplate to the front pastedown. Strachey's library contained various works by 18th-century philosophers, reflecting his own interest in philosophy and the intense philosophical discussions of his circle.

Berkeley was interested in the therapeutic properties of an infusion of tar in water, and the first part of the book is indeed on the subject, but he then "passes by imperceptible stages from physical to metaphysical arguments, until he is fairly launched upon a general discussion of Aristotelian and Platonic philosophy. The book is written with compelling lucidity and charm, and is one of Berkeley's major works, though his last substantial treatise. Siris was by far his most popular work by reason of its containing a supposed remedy for most human ills, the efficacy and cheapness of which was so convincingly urged by the author, confidence in it being strengthened by the fact that he had experimented first upon himself" (Keynes, Bibliography of George Berkeley, p. 116).

The book's popularity led to a series of editions in quick succession, but this was established as the true first by both Jessop and Keynes in their bibliographies of Berkeley.

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Octavo (200 x 122 mm). Contemporary calf, rebacked preserving the original spine, gilt to compartments with orange label lettered in gilt. Housed in a custom green cloth box, black morocco spine label lettered in gilt.


Ownership signatures of John Walter Moore to front pastedown dated August 1834, and of Robert Flamank to p. 3 dated 1856; neat early marginalia to p. 205, a few minor pencilled emendations. Label a little chipped some light marking to calf and rubbing at extremities, minor wear to tips, large chip to bottom fore edge of front free endpaper, contents lightly browned with sporadic foxing and very minor worming. A very good copy.


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