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The Encyclopædia Britannica

Nature volume 23, pages 119122 | Download Citation



THESE two volumes of the Encyclopædia Britannica fully sustain the high character of the earlier volumes. The articles dealing with branches of physical and natural science are conspicuous by their high quality and number. In geographical science this volume is particularly strong. Dr. Rae contributes an article on “Greece,” several specialists contribute the article on “Germany,” and General Strachey of the Indian Civil Service has produced a very striking and valuable essay on the “Himalayas.” Besides these there are shorter articles on “Greenland,” “Grisons,” “Guiana,” the “Hawaiian Islands,” and “Heligoland,” all worthy of attention and replete with information. In medical science we note particularly the articles on “Gout,” contributed by Dr. Affleck, and on “Heart Diseases” by Dr. G. W. Balfour. In the department of natural history the articles are almost exclusively on subjects of a specific or technical character; Prof. Newton writes on “Grouse,” and Mr. John Gibson on the “Hare” and the “Hippopotamus.” Prof. Church contributes brief articles on “Hemp” and “Guano,” and Dr. Trimen has a good descriptive paper on “Grasses.” The article “Herbarium,” contributed by Mr. E. M. Holmes, is a remarkably useful and practical handling of a subject on which most botanical writers have usually very little to say; and the summary of information as to the character of the principal herbaria in existence will be found acceptable for reference. The contributions to the physical sciences are numerous and of great interest. Dr. Ball's article on “Gravitation” is at once simple and masterly. The article on “Harmonic Analysis” by the late Prof. Clerk Maxwell is all too short, but admirable in its way. Amongst technical subjects we may single out the articles on “Gunpowder” and “Gun-cotton” by Major Wardell and Prof. Abel respectively, on “Heating” by Capt. D. Gallon, two long and very fully illustrated papers by Col. Maitland on “Gunmaking” and “Gunnery,” and one on “Harbours” by Mr. T. Stevenson, which is accompanied by several capital plates. Mr. J. Blyth contributes two valuable articles on the “Gyroscope” and on “Graduation.” From the latter we miss one or two points that might well have been added. There is no account of the dividing-machine employed by Messrs. Cooke and Sons of York in graduating the circles of the great Newall telescope; nor of the still more recent dividing engine constructed by the Waltham Watch Company. The biographical articles are numerous and excellent. Those on the two “Herschels” are from the pen of Prof. Pritchard. That on “Sir W. Hamilton” is contributed by Miss E. Hamilton. The biographical notice of “Sir W. Rowan Hamilton” is by Prof. Tait, than whom no one is more competent to write of the great mathematician; though somehow we miss in this thoughtful and appreciative article the peculiar characteristics of Prof. Tait's trenchant style. We propose to notice at greater length the important articles on “Geometry,” “Geology,” and “Heat.”

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