When the Divine Master had "created the heaven and the earth," He said, "let there be light: and there was light." Then man was made, who by the genius given him promulgated "the fine arts." But, as" in the beginning," the things pertaining to "the heaven and the earth" needed light, to give them life, and vigor, and vim, and snap, and growth, so "the fine arts" needed photography to infuse the elements named into them more thoroughly than they had ever possessed them up to the time of the birth of the greatest of arts, forty years ago or more, at whose shrine we are the favored devotees. And we all know that they use it and are familiar with what it has done for them, and how they do lean upon it for courage and help.
Is it worth while, then, to take up time and space with a lengthy" introduction" to what follows, when every household is already so familiar with the workings of photography, that it is only a question of a little time when the camera and the lens will be as much a part of home-diversion and enjoyment as the printing-press and the scroll-saw now are, and ten times as pleasure-giving and refining in its influence?
Yes, photography is already popular among the masses, full of advantages to them, and dearly beloved because of its undenied truthfulness, and the knowledge and happiness which it brings into the family. It is a willing helper and an indispensable one in almost every direction. It lifts its searching eye to the heavens and brings the wonders of the planets to our drawing-rooms; it sends up its sensitive messengers away above the clouds and they gather revelations which mystify and confuse the senses; it creeps back into antiquity and reveals the histories of the periods long before the Saviour came; it takes up the bit with electricity, speeds alongside and compels it to share its mysteries; it grapples with the invisible musicians of the air and wrestles from them a record of their own sweetness; it goes hand-in-hand with the microscope, and helps it fill the world with wondrous revelations; it has driven the old-time lecturer from the platform, and serves as the right-hand helper of the modern one, by illustrating his topic through the lan-torn; it dives down into the sea and comes up smiling with a rich revelation of what lies beneath; it throws hot coals upon the heads of the "fine-art" devotees who fain would crush it, by giving them reproductions in size, color, and feeling of the drawings of the old masters; in book and magazine illustration it has wrought a revolution; it cheers the emigrant on his way, it helps hold the memories of the dead dear ones ever fresh, and it comforts the sorrowing in all lands -the rich and the poor; it delves down into the bowels of the earth and brings up the glittering likeness of the stalactite and the grim stories of the catacombs; it is a household necessity and a public comfort. And yet, important, helpful, unassuming, enterprising, useful, indispensable as it is, photography claims to no perfectionism. It is a g-r-e-a-t sinner, and yet it grows and grows - never grown - on it grows.
The great Alexanders of science and discovery need not weep because there are no more conquests to make. Photography not only opens up a wide field yet for research - because its necessities are still great - but it offers a large enough tract free of all incumbrances to satisfy the wildest enthusiast. Oh, come!
What more can be said for it now, unless it be that ye who will read the instructions embodied in the lessons which follow, may live to see many of the terms and processes therein given rendered obsolete by "future improvements"? No one will dare say that we yet have even an approach to "the process of the future"
Take up Hunt's Researches on Light (1854) and you will read of the "solar phosphoir" and the "dentiodides" and the "epipolized light"; descriptions of the "cyanotype," the "callotype," the "aurotype," and the "agarics"; the wise words of Becquerel and Bockman and Sir J. Herschel and Niepce and Davy and Daguerre and Talbot and a host of others. These are all gone with the past. Photographies with its list of wise ones comes in now, and it is proposed to leave it with you; for after all, an "introduction" will be of no service perhaps, since, when appeal was made to Mr. Hunt's "introduction" to see what he had to say of our art as it was twenty-seven years ago, it was found that in a copy which had been through all the stages of use and abuse, and at last turned up in, and was rescued from, a second-hand book-store in London, the leaves of the "intro. duction" had never been cut! One appeal then. Give Photographies a chance on its introduction at least, if you go no further.