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of this judicial position is so inevitably involved in the functions of the historian (whatever be his subject), that he cannot justly be deemed presumptuous on that account. It is true, that the historian of the progress of science is required by his undertaking to judge of the merits of men, in reference to subjects which demand a far intenser and more methodical study than the historian of practical life gives to the actions of which he treats; and the general voice of mankind,-which may often serve as a guide, because it rarely errs widely or permanently in its estimate of those who are prominent in public life, is of little value when it speaks of things belonging to the region of exact science. But to balance these disadvantages, and to enable us to judge of the characters who must figure in our history, we may recollect that we have before us, not the record only of their actions, but the actions themselves; for the acts of a philosopher are his writings. We do not receive his exploits on tradition, but by sight; we do not read of him, we read him. And if I may speak of my own grounds of trust and encouragement in venturing on such a task, I knew that my life had been principally spent in those studies which were most requisite to enable

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me to understand what had thus been done; and I had been in habits of intercourse with several of the most eminent men of science of our time, both in our own and in other countries. Having thus lived with some of the great intellects of the past and the present, I had found myself capable of rejoicing in their beauties, of admiring their endowments, and, I trusted, also, of understanding their discoveries and views, their hopes and aims. I did not, therefore, turn aside from the responsibility which the character of the Historian of Science

imposed upon me. I have not even shrunk from it when it led me into the circle of those who are now alive, and among whom we move. For it seemed to me that to omit such portions of the history as I must have omitted to avoid thus speaking of my contemporaries, would have left my work mutilated and incomplete; and would have prevented its forming a platform on which we might stand and look forward into the future. I trusted, moreover, that my study of the philosophers of former times had enabled me to appreciate the discoveries of the present, and that I should be able to speak of persons now alive, with the same impartiality and in the same spirit as if they were already

PREFACE.

numbered with the great men of the past. Seeking encouragement in these reflections, and in the labour and thought which I was conscious of having bestowed upon my task, I have conducted my history from the earliest ages of the speculative world up to our own days.

To some persons it may appear that I am not justified in calling that a History of the Inductive Sciences, which contains an account of the progress of the physical sciences only. But it would have conveyed a false impression of my purpose, had I described my history in any manner which implied that the sciences which it embraces are partially selected or arbitrarily limited. Those of which the progress is exhibited in the present volumes, appear to me to form a connected and systematic body of knowledge. And if there be branches of knowledge which regard Morals, or Politics, or the Fine Arts, and which may properly be called Inductive (an opinion which I by no means gainsay); still it must be allowed, I think, that the processes of collecting general truths from assemblages of special facts, and of ascending from propositions of a limited to those of a larger generality, which the term Induction peculiarly implies, have hitherto been far more

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clearly exhibited in the physical sciences which form the subject of the present work, than in those hyperphysical sciences to which I have not extended my history. I will further add, that if I should be enabled hereafter to lay before the world a view of the Philosophy of Inductive Science in its general bearings, it will be requisite, in order to exhibit, in its due light the state of the philosophy of morals, or art, or any similar subject, to give a view of the steps by which it has reached its present position; and thus such a work will supply that which some may judge wanting to fill up the outline of this historical undertaking.

As will easily be supposed, I have borrowed largely from other writers, both of the histories of special sciences and of philosophy in general*. I have done this without scruple, since the novelty of my work was intended to consist, not in its supe

*Among these, I may mention as works to which I have peculiar obligations, Tennemann's Geschichte der Philosophie, Degerando's Histoire Comparée des Systèmes de Philosophie, Montucla's Histoire des Mathématiques, with Delambre's continuation of it, Delambre's Astronomie Ancienne, Astronomie du Moyen Age, Astronomie Moderne, and Astronomie du Dixhuitième Siécle; Bailly's Histoire d'Astronomie Ancienne, and Histoire d'Astronomie Moderne, Voiron's Histoire d'Astronomie

riority as a collection of facts, but in the point of view in which the facts were placed. I have, however, in all cases, given references to my authorities, and there are very few instances in which I have not verified the references of previous historians, and studied the original authors. According to the plan which I have pursued, the history of each science forms a whole in itself, divided into distinct but connected members, by the Epochs of its successive advances. If I have satisfied the competent judges in each science by my selection of such epochs, the scheme of the work must be of permanent value, however imperfect may be the execution of any of its portions.

With all these grounds of hope, it is still impossible not to see that such an undertaking is, in no small degree, arduous, and its event obscure. But all who venture upon such tasks must gather trust and encouragement from reflections like those

(published as a continuation of Bailly), Fischer's Geschichte der Physik, Gmelin's Geschichte der Chemie, Thomson's History of Chemistry, Sprengel's History of Medicine, his History of Botany, and in all branches of Natural History and Physiology, Cuvier's works, in their historical, as in all other portions, most. admirable and instructive,

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