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society are excellent compendiums of knowledge; but the general fault of their scientific treatises has been, that they are too technical and abstruse for the working-classes, and are, in point of fact, purchased and read chiefly by those in better stations of life. Another series of works of a higher cast, entitled 'The Library of Entertaining Knowledge,' in four-shilling volumes, has also emanated from this society, as well as a very valuable and extensive series of maps and charts, forming a complete atlas. A collection of portraits, with biographical memoirs, and an improved description of almanac, published yearly, have formed part of the society's operations. Their labours have on the whole been beneficial; and though the demand for cheap literature was rapidly extending, the steady impulse and encouragement given to it by a society possessing ample funds and large influence, must have tended materially to accelerate its progress. It was obvious, however, that the field was not wholly occupied, but that large masses, both in the rural and manufacturing districts, were unable either to purchase or understand many of the treatises of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Under this impression, the publishers of the present work commenced, in February 1832, their weekly periodical, Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, consisting of original papers on subjects of ordinary life, science, and literature, and containing in each number a quantity of matter equal to that in a number of the society's works, and sold at one-fourth of the price. The result of this extraordinary cheapness was a circulation soon exceeding fifty thousand weekly, and which has now risen to about ninety thousand. The Penny Magazine, a respectable periodical, and the Penny Cyclopædia, were afterwards commenced by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, and attained each a very great circulation. There are numerous other labourers in the same field of humble usefulness; and it is scarcely possible to enter a cottage or workshop without meeting with some of these publications-cheering the leisure moments of the peasant or mechanic, and, by withdrawing him from the operation of the grosser senses, elevating him in the scale of rational beings.
WRITERS ON SCIENCE.
The age has been highly distinguished by a series of scientific writers whose works, being of a popular description, may be said to enter into the circle of general literature. At the head of this class may be placed SIR JOHN HERSCHEL, whose Discourse on Natural Philosophy is perhaps the most perfect work of its kind ever published. SIR DAVID BREWSTER also presents a remarkable union of scientific accomplishments with the grace and spirit of a firstrate litterateur. His Letters on Natural Magic, Life of Newton, History of Optics, and various contributions to the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews, are equally noted for literary elegance as for profound knowledge. A high place in this walk is due to MR CHARLES BABBAGE, author of the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures; a Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, &c. The latter work is a most ingenious attempt to bring mathematics into the range of sciences which afford proof of divine design in the constitution of the world, and contains, besides, many original and striking thoughts. The works on geology, by DR BUCKLAND, MR MURCHISON, MR CHARLES LYELL, SIR HENRY DELABECHE, and DR MANTELL, are all valuable contributions to the library of modern science.
united with great powers of expression, than the REV. WILLIAM WHEWELL, master of Trinity college, Cambridge. The History of the Inductive Sciences, three volumes, 1837, and the Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, founded upon their History, two volumes, 1840, are amongst the few books of the age which realise to our minds the self-devoting zeal and life-long application of the world's earlier students. Mr Whewell was also the author of that member of the series of Bridgewater Treatises in which astronomy and general physics were brought to the illustration of natural theology. Another modern writer of unusually varied attainments was the late DR JOHN MACCULLOCH, author of a work on the Western Islands of Scotland; a valuable geological one, presenting a classification of rocks; and a posthumous treatise, in three volumes, on the Attributes of the Deity.
The almost infant science of Ethnography has received a powerful illustration from the industrious labours of DR PRITCHARD, whose Inquiries into the Physical History of Man is a book standing almost alone in our literature. It tends to show the accidental nature of the distinctions of colour and figure amongst races of men, and to establish the unity of the human species. Dr Pritchard's work on the Celts is also one of considerable value, particularly for the light it throws on the history of language.
The Architecture of the Heavens, by PROFESSOR NICHOL of Glasgow, has deservedly attained great popularity as a beautiful exposition of the sublime observations of Sir William Herschel and others respecting the objects beyond the range of the solar system, and of the hypothesis of the nebular cosmogony. It has been followed by a volume of equally eloquent disquisition, under the title of Contemplations on the Solar System. The principles of Natural Philosophy have been illustrated with great success in the language of common life, in the Elements of Physics by DR NEIL ARNOTT.
The various departments of knowledge connected with medicine have been illustrated by several writers of the highest talent, from whom it is almost invidious to single out the few names which we have room to notice. In physiology, the works of BOSTOCK, LAWRENCE, MAYO, ELLIOTSON, ROGET, FLETCHER, and CARPENTER, stand deservedly high, while the popular treatises of DR COMBE are remarkable for their extensive usefulness, due to their singularly lucid and practical character. The Curiosities of Medical Experience by DR MILLINGEN, the treatises of SIR JAMES CLARK on Climate and Consumption, the various tracts of SIR HENRY HALFORD, DR SOUTHWOOD SMITH'S Philosophy of Health, and DR COPELAND's Dictionary of Practical Medicine, are but a meagre selection from a great range of medical works of talent calculated for general reading.
The progress of ENCYCLOPEDIAS, or alphabetical digests of knowledge, is a remarkable feature in the literature of modern times. The first was the Cyclopædia of Ephraim Chambers, published in 1728, in two large folio volumes, of which five editions were published within eighteen years. As the work of one individual, the Cyclopædia of Chambers is highly honourable to his taste, industry, and knowledge. The proprietors of this work in 1776 engaged Dr Abraham Rees, a dissenting clergyman (1743-1825), to superintend a new and enlarged edition of it, which appeared in 1785, and was well received. They then agreed with the same gentleman to undertake a new and magnificent work of a Perhaps no writer of the present day has shown similar nature; and in 1802 the first volume of in his works a more extensive range of knowledge, | Rees's Cyclopædia was issued, with illustrations in
was found in the late Dr James Browne, a man of varied and extensive learning. New and valuable articles were contributed by Sir David Brewster, by Mr Galloway, Dr Traill, Dr Roget, Dr John Thomson, Mr Tytler, Professor Spalding, Mr Moir, &c. This great national work-for such it may justly be entitled-was completed in 1842, in twenty-one volumes.
a style of engraving never surpassed in this country. This splendid work extended to forty-five volumes. In 1751-54 appeared Barrow's New and Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, and in 1766 another Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, compiled by the Rev. H. Croker, Dr Thomas Williams, and Mr Samuel Clerk. The celebrated French Encyclopédie was published between the years 1751 and 1765. Among the various schemes of Goldsmith, In the interval between the different editions of was A Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, for the Encyclopædia Britannica, two other important which he wrote a prospectus (unfortunately lost), and works of the same kind were in progress. The to which the most eminent British writers were to be Edinburgh Encyclopædia, under the superintencontributors. The premature death of Goldsmith dence of Sir David Brewster, was commenced in frustrated this plan. In 1771 the Encyclopædia 1808, and completed in 1830, in eighteen quarto Britannica, edited by Mr William Smellie, was pub- volumes. The scientific department of the work, lished in four volumes quarto, presenting a novel under such an editor, could not fail to be rich and and important improvement upon its predecessors: valuable, and it is still highly prized. The Encyclo'it treated each science completely in a systematic pædia Metropolitana was begun in 1815, and preform, under its proper denomination; the technical sented this difference from its rivals, that it determs and subordinate heads being also explained parted from the alphabetical arrangement (certainly alphabetically, when anything more than a refer- the most convenient), and arranged its articles in ence to the general treatise was required.' The se- what the conductors considered their natural order. cond edition of this work, commenced in 1776, was Coleridge was one of the writers in this work; some enlarged to ten volumes, and embraced biography of its philological articles are ingenious. The Lonand history. The third edition, completed in 1797, don Encyclopædia, in twenty volunies royal 8vo., is amounted to eighteen volumes, and was enriched a useful compendium, and includes the whole of with valuable treatises on grammar and metaphysics, Johnson's Dictionary, with its citations. Lardner's by the Rev. Dr Gleig; with profound articles on Cyclopædia is a collection of different works on mythology, mysteries, and philology, by Dr Doig; natural philosophy, arts, and manufactures, history, and with an elaborate view of the philosophy of in- biography, &c. published in 131 small 8vo. volumes, duction and contributions in physical science, by issued monthly. The series embraces some valuable Professor Robison. Two supplementary volumes works: Sir James Mackintosh contributed part of a were afterwards added to this work. A fourth edi- popular history of England, Sir Walter Scott and tion was issued under the superintendence of Dr Mr Moore histories of Scotland and Ireland, and M. James Miller, and completed in 1810; it was en- Sismondi one of the Italian republics. Sir John riched with some admirable scientific treatises from Herschel wrote for it the Discourse on Natural the pen of Professor Wallace. Two other editions, Philosophy, already alluded to, and a treatise on merely nominal, of this Encyclopædia were published; Astronomy; and Sir David Brewster contributed and a supplement to the work was projected by the the history of Optics. In natural history and other late Mr Constable, and was placed under the charge departments this Cyclopædia is also valuable, but of Professor Macvey Napier. To this supplement Con- as a whole it is very defective. Popular Cyclostable attracted the greatest names both in Britain pædias, in one large volume each, have been puband France: it contained contributions from Dugald lished, condensing a large amount of information. Stewart, Playfair, Jameson, Leslie, Mackintosh, Dr Of these Mr M'Culloch is author of one on comThomas Thomson, Sir Walter Scott, Jeffrey, Ricar-merce, and another on geography; Dr Ure on arts do, Malthus, Mill, Professor Wallace, Dr Thomas and manufactures; Mr Brande on science, literature, Young, M. Biot, M. Arago, &c. The supplement and art; Mr Blaine on rural sports. There is also was completed in 1824, in six volumes. Six years a series of Cyclopædias on a larger scale, devoted to afterwards, when the property had fallen into the the various departments of medical science; namely, hands of Messrs Adani and Charles Black, a new the Cyclopædia of Practical Medicine, edited by edition of the whole was commenced, incorporating Drs Forbes, Tweedie, and Conolly; the Cyclopædia all the articles in the supplement, with such modifi- of Anatomy and Physiology, edited by Dr A. T. cations and additions as were necessary to adjust Thomson; and the Cyclopædia of Surgery, edited by them to the later views and information applicable Dr Costello; each being in four massive volumes, to their subjects. Mr Napier was chosen editor, and and composed of papers by the first men of the proan assistant in the work of revision and addition fession in the country.