Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/384

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Scientific Literature.


Besides the individual works named in recent numbers of The Popular Science Monthly, the collected works, or dictionaries, of biography, particularly those treating specially of scientific men, contain valuable information of the lives and labors of the chemists. So far as known to the writer there is only one book devoted to chemists exclusively, and that one is so full of mistakes and so weak through its omissions of conspicuous men of all nationalities, especially Americans, that it could only be named for the purpose of condemning it. Suffice it to say the book is of German origin, yet it does not include all the honorary members of the German Chemical Society. The fact that it is of recent origin and is issued by a prominent publisher does but strengthen its weakness.

The most valuable of all biographical dictionaries dealing solely with men of science is also of German origin, and owing to its unwieldly title is usually designated by the words: 'Poggendorff's Dictionary.' The 'Biographischliterarisches Handwörterbuch zur Geschichte der exakten Wissenschaften,' begun in 1858 by J. C. Poggendorff, and continued to 1900 by Feddersen and von Oettingen, now comprises three large volumes, and another is promised; it is most comprehensive, including all nationalities, all epochs of history and all branches of exact science. Under the last heading, however, as interpreted by its originator, the dictionary does not include biology, so that with few exceptions, botanists and zoologists, as well as physicians, are omitted; otherwise for mathematicians, astronomers, geologists, physicists and chemists it is most valuable. This dictionary not only gives very brief outlines of the lives of those catalogued, but in addition, fairly full lists of their scientific publications both in independent books and in periodicals. To the historian, and the student of the literature of sciences within the categories named, these volumes are indispensable; together with 'Who's Who in America' they form a vade mecum with reference to the dead and the living actors in science. If a personal remark may be here permitted, the writer will venture to add that his copy of 'Poggendorff's Dictionary' has been enhanced in value by the insertion of more than six hundred engraved portraits of savants, each one adjoining the appropriate biography, thereby doubling the number of volumes and increasing the interest of the reader.

Several works are particularly admirable for the abundance of the portraits of scientists within their covers; among these may be mentioned the four volumes published in 1833-40 by the Philanthropic Society, 'Montyon et Franklin,' containing likenesses not easily found elsewhere, and Figuier's 'Vie des savants' in five volumes, containing many portraits and illustrations in which imagination has been of great assistance to the artist. Hofmann's 'Erinnerungen an vorangegangene Freunde' (three volumes, 1889) embraces sketches of the lives of chemists only, illustrated by portraits, which unfortunately are not well engraved, though the text is that of a master as well as a sympathetic friend appreciative of the scientific work of those he portrays. The biog-