The New Chemistry. By J. P. Cooke, Professor of Chemistry in Harvard University. 326 pages. D. Appleton & Co. Price, $2.00.
It is well known that chemical science has been recently undergoing a great change in its theory of the constitution of bodies. The Lavoisierean chemistry, or the dual chemistry, by which all compounds were supposed to be simply paired, as metal with metalloid, acid with base, may be fairly said to have passed away. New ideas have been introduced which were but partially and reluctantly received at first, and were indeed sharply resisted by the masters of the old method, but which have at length forced their way and grown into a definite system. With the breaking up of the old method the old nomenclature has been shattered, and a new nomenclature has taken its place. In chemistry, therefore, the present is a time of transition and discomfort. What was long settled, and upon which we reposed in the confidence that it would never be disturbed, has proved an insecure result of imperfect knowledge, but which has served the important office of bringing us up to higher and more perfect views. There is a sadness in parting with old familiar ideas, as with old friends, but changes must come. In chemistry, the facts had outgrown the theories that expressed them. New facts were discovered for which the old system could find no place, and these accumulated until at length a new method of interpretation was attained, by which chemical philosophy has been placed upon a broader and it is hoped a more enduring basis. But, whatever may be its permanence, it is now fairly established, and so marked is its contrast with past theories, and so distinct are its features, that it has become fully recognized as "The New Chemistry."
The new chemistry has been fully adopted by various authors in their text-books, and partially adopted by others; but only with subdued satisfaction, as in the first cases students have been frightened by the formidable array of strange terms, definitions, and ideas, and in the latter case they have been confused by the intermixture of different systems. The great need, therefore, was for a new and compendious work that should be simply devoted to an explanation of the new system. Prof. Cooke, of Cambridge, has undertaken this task in the book before us, and most successfully and admirably has he accomplished it. He had already published a large collegiate textbook of "Chemical Philosophy," on the new method, which he has taught for years to the classes of Harvard University. But the demand was so urgent for a separate volume, that should present in a clear and popular manner the new aspects in which chemical facts and principles are now regarded, that he was induced to undertake it, in the interest of general education. He prepared his views first as a course of lectures, which were delivered at the Lowell Institute, in Boston. It was there shown that "The New Chemistry" may be made attractive to a general audience, as these lectures excited much interest, and were listened to with earnest attention throughout. After being thus tested, they were thoroughly revised by their author, and are now published, with illustrations, in a neat and convenient form. No book in the whole range of science was so greatly needed as this, and it is fortunate for the public that the want was supplied by such an able hand. Not only the chemical student, but all who are interested in this fascinating science, and all who are concerned with the advancement of scientific ideas, will find that this volume bridges over the gap between the old and the new, and will prove a most valuable introduction to the larger treatises which represent the present state of the science.
This is the first American volume contributed to the International Scientific Series, and, as it is unquestionably the best book in any language upon the subject, it will be sure to increase the already high reputation of these publications.
The International Review. Six Times a Year. January, 1874. 144 pages. Price, $5.00 a Year. A. S. Barnes & Co.
The first number of this periodical contains six articles as follows: I. Our Late Panic. II. Fires in American Cities, by