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TO THE SECOND EDITION.
The demand for a new edition of my History of the Inductive Sciences imposes upon me the welcome duty of correcting the mistakes and supplying some of the deficiencies of the former edition. In doing this, I have for the most part made only slight changes in the text, and such as were required to rectify absolutely erroneous assertions. I have not even altered the references to the time and circumstances which were present when I formerly wrote, but have reserved for Notes the notices of subsequent events, and the other additions which I thought necessary.
I have followed this plan, as the best, both for the reader and the subject.
Those who already know the work, if they wish again to refer to it, will naturally think of it such as it is, and not such as I might make it by writing it afresh. To attempt to incorporate with the former narrative of the progress of each science, a view of its most recent advance, would really be to write each portion of the history from a new point of view, and thus, to write a new work, not to publish a new edition.
I have, however, in Notes at the end of each Book, given an account of some of the most important recent advances in each subject, considered as an Inductive Science. I introduce this limitation, because it is my justification, as well in the present as in the former edition, for the omission of many topics which are of great interest, both in a practical and in a scientific view, but which are applications of discoveries already made, not steps towards discovery ;-deductive results of laws of nature, not inductions of such laws from observation. This was my reason for passing over such inventions as printing and porcelain, glass and gunpowder, steamboats and rail-roads, gas-lighting and chemical bleaching, in the former edition; this is my excuse for saying nothing now of photography, the electric telegraph, and other striking recent inventions. I have omitted, for like reasons, many remarkable inventions, still more directly bearing upon the progress of science, as Daniel's galvanic battery, and the very ingenious battery of Mr. Grove. Even implements of scientific research, if we are not able to bring into view the points to which they lead, cannot be put in their place in the history of science; just as in a history of a present war, those military operations of which the aim and effect are yet unknown, cannot be rightly narrated.
From this cause, it can hardly happen but that such a work as this must fail to give to some distinguished contemporary labourers in the field of science the pre-eminence and lustre which their activity and intelligence merit; because their labour is not yet crowned by its result. For such cases, my office is like writing the story of Columbus while he was still sailing westwards. So far as I have ventured to deal with lines of scientific research at present incomplete, what I have to offer is rather a discussion of principles than a narrative of facts; and accordingly, such discussions, on several points now in question, will be found in the Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences ;—sufficient, I hope, to show that I have stopped where I have, out of no want of sympathy with the ulterior progress of knowledge.
In correcting the errours of the work, I have availed myself of all the critiques of the former edition which have come under my notice, without regard to the spirit in which they were written, whether hostile or friendly. I have not noticed such criticism in any other way than by thus using it. A series of controversial Notes would have been of little value to the reader; and I trust my critics will be content without further acknowledgment of the assistance which I have derived from them. Those who wrote kindly will, I am sure, willingly bestow upon me this additional kindness; and if any have criticized me in another temper, I hope they will not be sorry to see that I have no wish to perpetuate our hostilities.
But it is only justice to the work to say that the errours which required correction were neither numerous (considering its extent,) nor fundamental. And there is one circumstance which gives me a hope that this essay may have some permanent value. The attempt to throw the histories of all the Sciences into Inductive Epochs, each Epoch having its Prelude and its Sequel, and thus to combine the persons and the events which fill these histories into intelligible groups, was, so far as I know, new. To these Epochs, as they are selected and presented in this work, I have seen no objection made; and it would seem, therefore, to be generally allowed that the Epochs here marked out, are the cardinal points of scientific history. Nor have I seen any complaint (with one exception, of slight importance, but fully noticed in this edition) that the principal figures
in each Epoch are not properly chosen. I have had, therefore, little to alter, either in the general outline or in the detail of the work.
The German translator of this History, the late Director of the Imperial Observatory at Vienna, M. Littrow, has added to his translation, besides other valuable notes, a biographical notice of each of the persons
mentioned in the work. But though these additions are very interesting, they did not belong to the plan of the work as I had conceived it, and would have greatly augmented its bulk. I have, therefore, with a few exceptions, omitted them.
I have not introduced any new branches of science into this edition, and on this account, among others, I have said nothing of the recent progress of Organic Chemistry. The discoveries which are alleged to have been made in that department will require to have many intermediate steps clearly marked and fairly established, before they can stand by the side of Historical Chemistry as examples of Inductive Science. Still less have I attempted to introduce any notice of recent steps in the sciences which I have more especially termed Organic, as Zoology and Physiology. I am aware that the study of the nervous system, for instance, has been prosecuted with highly interesting results. But I never