He arranges a selection from his observations on the nebulae in such a way as to give great plausibility to his view of the gradual transmutation of nebulae into stars Herschel begins by showing us that there are regions in the heavens where a faint diffused nebulosity is all that can be detected by the telescope.
To such a policy of transmutation he was urged by two things.
Increasing attention was paid to the investigation of the properties of substances and of their effects on the human body, and chemistry profited by the fact that it passed into the hands of men who possessed the highest scientific culture of the time, Still, belief in the possibility of transmutation long remained orthodox, even among the most distinguished men of science.
In attempting to pronounce on the evidence with regard to Herschel's theory, we must at once admit that the transmutation of a nebula into a star has never been seen.
3 Neither Lamarck nor Robert Chambers (the now acknowledged author of Vestiges of Creation), though thorough evolutionists, rationally indicated any means whereby, to use the old phrase, " the transmutation of species " could be effected.
At one time this was regarded as a transmutation of iron into copper.
The evolution of mind (the positive pole) proceeds by 1 Kant calls the doctrine of the transmutation of species " a hazardous fancy of the reason."
The idea of transmutation, in the country of its origin, had a philosophical basis, and was linked up with the Greek theories of matter there current; thus, by supplying a central philosophical principle, it to some extent unified and focussed chemical effort, which previously, so far as it existed at all, had been expended on acquiring empirical acquaintance with a mass of disconnected technical processes.
But there is some evidence that, in accordance with the strong and constant tradition among the alchemists, the idea of transmutation did originate in Egypt with the Greeks of Alexandria.
Thus, in the treatise known as Physica et Mystica and falsely ascribed to Democritus (such false attributions are a constant feature of the literature of alchemy), various receipts are given for colouring and gilding metals, but the conception of transmutation does not occur.
But while there are thus some grounds for supposing that the idea of transmutation grew out of the practical receipts of Alexandrian Egypt, the alchemy which embraced it as a leading principle was also strongly affected by Eastern influences such as magic and astrology.
The fundamental theory of the transmutation of metals is to be found in the Greek alchemists, although in details it was modified and elaborated by the Arabs and the Latin alchemists.
Some alchemists honestly laboured to effect the transmutation and to discover the " philosopher's stone," and in many cases believed that they had achieved success, if we may rely upon writings assigned to them.
It is really not extraordinary that Isaac Hollandus was able to indicate the method of the preparation of the " philosopher's stone " from " adamic " or " virgin " earth, and its action when medicinally employed; that in the writings assigned to Roger Bacon, Raimon Lull, Basil Valentine and others are to be found the exact quantities of it to be used in transmutation; and that George Ripley, in the 15th century, had grounds for regarding its action as similar to that of a ferment.
The transmutation of Mill's induction of inductions into a postulate is an advance of which the psychological school of logicians have not been slow to make use.
In the introduction to his work Von der Weltseele, however, he argues in favour of the possibility of a transmutation of species in periods incommensurable with ours.
But the most eager search of Arabian chemistry was the transmutation of metals, and the elixir of immortal health: the reason and the fortunes of thousands were evaporated in the crucibles of alchemy, and the consummation of the great work was promoted by the worthy aid of mystery, fable and superstition."
The search for this essence subsequently resolved itself into the desire to effect the transmutation of metals, more especially the base metals, into silver and gold.
Cuvier was familiar with the speculations of the " Natur-philosophen," and with the doctrine of transmutation and filiation by which they endeavoured to account for existing animal forms. The noble aim of F.
Taking the renowned yao-pien-yao, or transmutation ware of China as a model, the Takatori potters endeavoured, by skilful mixing of coloring materials, to reproduce the wonderful effects of oxidization seen in the Chinese ware.
There remains, too, a wide domain in which the Chinese developed high skill, whereas the Japanese can scarcely be said to have entered it at all; namely, the domain of monochromes and polychromes, striking every note of color from the richest to the most delicate; the domain of truit and fiamb glazes, of yO-pien-yao (transmutation ware), and of egg-shell with incised or translucid decoration.
Though he lived in an atmosphere of alchemy, he derided the notion of the alkahest or universal solvent, and denounced the deceptions of the adepts who pretended to effect the transmutation of metals; but he believed mercury to be a constituent of all metals and heavy minerals, though he held there was no proof of the presence of "sulphur comburens."
The right of levying seigniorage, however, was sometimes waived by the king to encourage his subjects to bring gold and silver to the mint, and several instances are recorded in which the aid of alchemists was called in to effect the transmutation of baser metals into gold.
He himself was an alchemist; and believing the transmutation of metals to be a possibility, he carried out experiments in the hope of effecting it; and he was instrumental in obtaining the repeal, in 1689, of the statute of Henry IV.
The assumption explicitly made by General Walker that among the immigrants no influence was yet excited in restriction of population, is also not only gratuitous, but inherently weak; the European peasant who landed (where the great majority have stayed) in the eastern industrial states was thrown suddenly under the influence of the forces just referred to; forces possibly of stronger influence upon him than upon native classes, which are in general economically and socially more stable, On the whole, the better opinion is probably that of a later authority on the vital statistics of the country, Dr John Shaw Billings,i that though the characteristics of modern life doubtless influence the birth-rate somewhat, by raising the average age of marriage, lessening unions, and increasing divorce and prostitution, their great influence is through the transmutation into necessities of the luxuries of simpler times; not automatically, but in the direction of an increased resort to means for the prevention of child-bearing.