Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/771

This page has been validated.
751
LITERARY NOTICES.

art of printing, which confers the greatest benefit by multiplying the production of thought, for it conveys an analogous advantage by fixing and multiplying phenomena. But it does more than this. A new science has been called into being by photography, the Chemistry of Light; it has given new conclusions respecting the operations of the vibrating ether of light. It is true that these services, rendered by photography to art and science, are only appreciated by the few. Men of science have in great measure neglected this branch, after the first enthusiasm excited by Daguerre's invention had evaporated; it is only cursorily that physical and chemical matters are treated on in manuals of photography."

The interest of Dr. Vogel's volume is not at all confined to the treatment of that side of the subject which is important to practical operators. It will be equally appreciated by the multitudes of people who are buyers of photographs, and who not only desire to understand the processes by which they are produced, but to know what are the excellences and defects of photographic productions, and how they are to be intelligently criticised. We print a portion of one of Dr. Vogel's chapters upon this branch of the subject.

Scientific London. By Bernard H. Becker. New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1875, 340 pages. Price, $1.75.

Some one has cleverly pointed out the tendency of all Anglo-Saxons to organize themselves into committees with a president, a vice-president, two secretaries, and a treasurer, before they can do any work, great or small, or indeed before they feel ready to deliberate in concert. We are familar enough with this in America, and we are ready enough to laugh at the extreme to which it is carried; but our English brothers, and peculiarly our English scientific brothers, carry this even further than we do.

Witness the list of the meetings of the scientific bodies of London which are announced in Nature weekly. It is worth while to transcribe some of the most important names:

The Royal Society, the Royal Institution, the Society of Arts, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Chemical Society, the Department of Science and Art, the London Institution, the Birkbeck Institute, the Society of Telegraph Engineers, the Museum of Practical Geology, the British Association, the Statistical Society, the Royal Geographical Society—all the foregoing societies are spoken of in Mr. Becker's book, while there yet remain of the important societies—the Mathematical Society, the Society of Antiquaries, the Royal Astronomical Society, the Entomological, the Zoological, the Asiatic, the Meteorological, the Geological, the Linnæan, the Royal Microscopical, the Royal Horticultural, the Royal Botanic Societies, and quite a number of others, hardly less important—the Society of Biblical Archæology, and the Geologists' Association, for example.

This is a curious and a very instructive list. It shows that year by year the specialists in each branch feel obliged to bring themselves closer together in order to keep pace with the advances in their peculiar subject; and it illustrates well the great share which the scientific societies of England have in forwarding and promoting scientific work. There is undoubtedly a great deal of good done by this system, for each of the minor societies has in it several of the great men of the nation, whose influence is thus exerted, not only upon the Royal Society (of which they are, of course, members), but upon a host of younger and less celebrated men who are elevated by the contact.

The system has, too, an injurious effect which is equally apparent: the great men become "scientific popes" in the eyes of their associates, and the ignoring of every thing foreign—the "insularity"—of Englishmen, which has become a byword in ordinary matters, is specially fostered in science, where of all places it is most noxious.

Thus, to an Englishman, De la Rue is, and always will be, "the father of celestial photography," notwithstanding Draper and Bond: and it is so in many other cases. But, in spite of this, the great and small societies are a powerful and helpful force in England, and they contain a galaxy of distinguished names, which may well make any country proud.