That the export of Scottish engineers and engineering teachers to Japan in the 1870s aided that country's astonishingly rapid process of modernization from a feudal to a capitalist, industrialized society will not occasion surprise or dissent. As the Japan weekly mail editorialized in 1878: In no direction has Japan symbolised her advance towards assimilation of the civilisation of the Western world more emphatically than in that of applied science.
During the decades following the publication of Darwin's Origin of species in 1859, religious belief in England and in particular the Church of England experienced some of the most intense criticism in its history. The early 1860s saw the appearance of Lyell's Evidence of the antiquity of man , Tylor's research on the early history of mankind , Renan's Vie de Jésus , Pius IX's encyclical, Quanta cura, and the accompanying Syllabus errarum, John Henry Newman's Apologia , and Swinburne's notorious (...) Atalanta in Calydon ; it was in this period also that Arthur Stanley was appointed Dean of Westminster, and that Bills were introduced in Parliament to amend or repeal the ‘Test Acts’ as they affected universities. They were the years that witnessed Lyell present the case for geology at the British Association at Bath , the first meeting of the X-Club , and the award of the Royal Society's Copley Medal to Charles Darwin. These were the years in which, as Owen Chadwick has put it, ‘the controversy between “science” and “religion” took fire’. (shrink)
The Cavendish Society, which lasted from 1846 to 1872, was one of a large number of Victorian subscription printing clubs which published translations, re-issued historical works or commissioned original books which were too specialized for commercial publication. The Society's book production was limited, being principally devoted to a translation of L. Gmelin, Handbook of chemistry. Reasons for its limited success are sought in the institutionalization of chemistry during the 1840s and in a divergence of interests between academic and practising chemists.
Through his Romanticism, aesthetics, ‘religiosity’, the escapism which he offered urban readers, and the appeal that his search for unification, order, association, and simplicity had during a period of growing cultural fragmentation, Humboldt's translated writings asserted their magic on Regency and early Victorian lay and scientific minds.
Contemporary correspondence is invoked to provide further information concerning the decision of the Cavendish Society to publish an English translation of Gmelin's Handbuch der Chemie in 1846, and the opposition this provoked.