Practical Paper Making


    THE book before us is not without value. The chapters devoted to paper-making proper, that is, to the mechanical details of the art, contain a great deal of useful information; and although “experience” must be classed as of the “incommunicables,” the notes and observations of an experienced man serve to concentrate the attention of the less experienced upon those points, the mastery of which constitutes technical skill. Technological handbooks, however, ought in our opinion to possess the higher educational value belonging only to those which preserve the perspective of the subject of which they treat. A book, like a lecture, must be diagrammatic to be effective educationally; and in this sense it must be an artistic production. We do not by any means imply that a certain level of literary style must be attained and maintained. In the “literature” of the industrial and physical sciences we must be content, it would seem, with the irreducible minimum of “Queen's English.” What we do imply is the infusion of personality, in the clear grasp of principles, and in the consequent development of the subject-matter according to its natural perspective. Judged from this stand-point, “Practical Paper Making” must be labelled “found wanting”. If we apply to the art or industry the crude criterion of money values, we find that in the production of paper the proportion of costs, for raw materials, and their chemical treatment, are in this, in comparison with many other industries, unusually high; this being “practically” interpreted, means that chemistry is of first importance in the mill. The author makes an oblique confession of his convictions in this direction in his opening sentence: “As the chemical and physical characteristics of the materials. … determine to a marked degree the qualities of the finished product, a thorough grasp of these characteristics is indispensable to all who aim at the production of the best possible results with the minimum of cost. “We are quickly reminded, however, of the adage,” red dawning shepherd's warning,” as the author plunges at once from the sunshine of first principles into a much less promising treatment of practical matters, opening with the following remarkable sentence:—

    Practical Paper Making.

    By George Clapperton. (London: Crosby Lockwood and Son, 1894.)

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