Popular Science Monthly/Volume 2/January 1873/Literary Notices
The name of Faraday has been a familiar one to all of us for many years. As students, it was in our class-books, occurring on page after page, with others nearly as familiar; and it is almost ludicrous to remember the notion we had, as boys, of the men whose works were before us. Their names were the only realities to us; their real existence was a vague concession to authority; the possibility of knowing any thing of their true life and character was too remote to be considered.
Their work was before us, and the hand that did it unknown. Liebig was a myth, Regnault a shadow, the double-headed Dulong et Petit a visionary Cerberus who barked at error. Afterward we began to know more of them as lecturers, or by their portraits, and, to some of us, Herschel, Faraday, Tyndall, are as real as our friends. And how delightful it was, this making friends of our shadowy acquaintances; how grateful we were to Arago for his long series of éloges of great men! The curious steel portrait of Laplace prefixed to the French editions of his "Système du Monde" told us much of him, but how much more we knew from Arago's anecdote of this towering genius, who could and did pronounce an opinion on the probable duration of the solar system; how one day he, sitting in his study, was timidly approached by Madame de Laplace, with the request that he might "intrust" to her "the key of the sugar." He, a "peer of France; Grand-officer of the Legion of Honor; one of the forty of the French Academy; of the Academy of Sciences; member of the Bureau of Longitude of France; of the Royal Societies of London and Gottingen; of the Academies of Science of Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Prussia, the Low Countries, Italy," etc., he with the "key of the sugar!"
So, we first began to know Faraday as a man, through a steel engraving of him published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge; and the promise in his youthful, tender face we may read fulfilled in the books before us. Prof. Tyndall's book contains two engravings of Faraday, with the fire of his young face subdued to a peaceful light; and, if this volume should pass to a second edition, it would add to its value as an exponent of Faraday's inner life, to include in it a copy of one of his early portraits. Its title is "Faraday as a Discoverer," but in spite of its title we cannot but know of the sweetness and light of his character; as if, indeed, it were impossible to conceive of his place as a philosopher, without knowing somewhat of the man.
His "Life and Letters," by Dr. Bence Jones, gives best a conception of his development as a man and as a scientist, for it is shown by his own hand. And yet these tributes of his three friends must be read to understand him; and, in reading these, you cannot fail to be struck with one thing, which is in itself a key to his character.
Dr. Gladstone proposes to treat of his "life and noble character" so as to be appreciated by those who "cannot follow his scientific researches," and yet one gathers from this life his scientific methods and a knowledge of his principal results: De la Rive and Tyndall mean to speak chiefly of his work, and yet they must turn aside to tell of his loveliness of disposition. The truth is that, in his life, science was not a thing apart; he lived in it; his house and his laboratory joined, and his thoughts knew no difference as to place.
In reading these books you are not struck with the wonderful facts of his life; that he should be born a smith's son, and die a member of seventy-three scientific bodies; it requires an effort to remember this, for from the first you feel, with De la Rive, that he had that condition which exists but rarely, "c'est le génie." e.s.h.
Quarterly German Magazine. (Berlin, 1872, Carl Habel.) This appears to be intended for English readers, but a slight acquaintance with German will be found of great use for whoever wishes to find out what the writers are driving at. Not having seen the original German of the two papers which make up the second number of this serial, we are not prepared to say whether they contain any thing novel or interesting about the matters they treat of. On the whole, it were better to convey scientific instruction to English-speaking people in the English language.
The Appendix to the "Proceedings" contains two very brief notices of the life and labors of the late John F. Frazer, LL. D., Professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry, and editor of the Journal of the Franklin Institute. The new Department of Science, established in the university, allows the student to make his choice of a professional training between the following four courses: Chemistry and Mineralogy; Geology and Mining; Civil Engineering; and Mechanical Engineering.
This useful work, now in its fourth edition, is intended as a guide for the teacher of natural science, the lapidary, jeweller, and amateur. It is, in the best sense of the term, a popular treatise, explaining the chemical constitution and properties, and the geological character, of all the substances known as gems, in such a manner as to be understood by the untechnical student. The first part, which treats of mineralogy in general, is based on Nichols's "Elements," and treats of the forms, physical and chemical properties, and classification, of minerals. The second part treats of gems in general, their composition and geographical distribution, and describes the various ways of grinding, polishing, and setting them, as also the methods of producing gems artificially. The third and last part is devoted to the consideration of the various species of gems, in the order of their commercial value. The Appendix contains a full chronological list of works on gems, which will be of great service to the student who desires to form an acquaintance with the literature of this branch of mineralogy.
Annual Report of the Board of Health, to the General Assembly of Louisiana. New Orleans, 1872.
Proceedings of the Agassiz Institute, Sacramento, Cal. With the Constitution and By-Laws. Sacramento, 1872.
Fourth Annual Report of the Secretary of State, of the State of Michigan, relating to the Registry and Return of Births, Marriages, and Deaths. For the Year 1860. Lansing, Mich., 1872.
Popular Address on Organic Reform, delivered before the Illinois State Medical Society, at Rock Island, for the Session of 1872. By A. L. McArthur, M. D. Chicago, 1872.
New Theory of the Origin of Species. By B. G. Ferris. New Haven, 1872.
On a Method of detecting the Phases of Vibration in the Air surrounding a Sounding Body. By Alfred M. Mayer, Ph. D.