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Daniell's “Physics”


AN important and welcome addition to the existing text-books of elementary physics has appeared. Since the days when Arnott's and Golding-Bird's manuals were in vogue, the number of text-books of physics which have appeared in this country is very small as compared with the vast number of excellent manuals for students which have been produced in Germany and France. Many of these are unique. Verdet's “Cours de Physique” stands alone; nothing like it has ever been produced in England. The text-book of Jamin and Bouty, now much enlarged, is also unique, and of semi-mathematical text-books is by far the best, though limited by the curious restriction that seems to cramp all French science,—ignorance of all scientific work that is done outside France. Jamin's smaller petit traité, though admirable, is too concise. Daguin's text-book is overloaded: those of Fernet, and of Boutan and D'Almeida unequal in balance, and too obviously cut to suit the narrow requirements of the baccalanréat. The same remark applies less strongly to Ganot's excellent “Physique.” Those of Moutier and Violle are yet incomplete. In Germany, Müller-Pouillet's “Lehrbuch,” recently overhauled and enlarged by Prof. Pfaundler of Innsprück, is a grand and substantial work for students. If it lacks the elegance of Jamin and Bouty, it makes up in solidity and catholicity of information. Its wealth of pictorial illustration is unapproached. Wüllner's “Lehrbuch” is heavy, and his “Compendium” is not what students want. Mousson's “Lehrbuch,” now greatly enlarged, is valuable as a work of reference, but might with benefit be pruned. In addition to these we might name hosts of others by Viktor von Lang, Jochmann, von Waltenhofen, Eisenlohr, Koppe, Emmsman, R. Waeber, Hessler-Pisko, Paul Reis, Krebs, Crüger, Sumpf, and others. Against this array what can be shown in Great Britain? The English translation of Ganot by Dr. Atkinson has long held sway; its indefatigable editor has long ago filled up the gaps of the original French work; but it has grown almost encyclopædic, and has never quite freed itself from Ganot's academically conservative way of treating physical problems. The lesser elementary Ganot is also excellent in its way,—as a purely introductory book. Besides the translated Ganot we have also the translated Deschanel; a work which, thanks to Prof. Everett, is vastly superior to the original French work, and has proved of great value as a text-book, by reason of the excellent cuts and the valuable mathematical editorial notes. Dr. Everett's lesser “Physics” is also good as a purely introductory work. In addition to these we may mention, though adapted for popular instruction rather than for students' reading, the two volumes of Guillemin on the “Forces of Nature,” edited by Mr, J. Norman Lockyer, which have done good work in their way. So far, not a single really English text-book; But, stop; there is one genuinely British and of very original merit, Prof. Balfour Stewart's “Elementary Lessons in Physics.” This comparatively small volume may be cited as the first conscientious attempt to rewrite: “Physics” from the modern standpoint, namely, on the basis of the doctrine of energy. In this respect it is infinitely ahead of the more ambitious adaptations from French authors, and will probably long keep its place as a text-book for elementary work. We do not forget Galbraith and Haughton's manuals, excellent—and sketchy—as they are; nor the re-edited Lardner volumes, which, in spite of the abilities of Messrs. Carey Foster and Lœwy, are very decidedly of the réchauffée order, and should be allowed an honourable burial. There are also C. Bird's handy “Notes,” and a volume by Dr. Aveling, of which, the less said the better. This strange poverty in modern text-books would be indeed remarkable were it not that it is more than compensated by the great abundance of splendid text-books on isolated branches of physics which have issued from the press of Great Britain during the past decade. Individual treatises on mechanics, optics, electricity, sound, and heat have to a considerable extent supplanted more general treatises on physics, with great advantage, in the long run, to the solidity of the reader's information. Nevertheless the text-book of physics has its place and its readers. Men who are reading for mathematics, for medicine, or for the army still require in many cases a something more than superficial acquaintance with physics. It is they who buy the Ganots, the Deschanels, and the Balfour Stewarts, and find them more or less adapted to their needs,

Text-Book of the Principles of Physics.

By Alfred Daniell., Lecturer on Physics in the School of Medicine, Edinburgh. (London: Macmillan and Co., 1884.)

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