11 DECEMBER 1909, Page 24

Lord Kelvin's Early - Horne. Edited by Elizabeth Thomson King. (Macmillan

and. Co. 8s. 6d. net.)—This book may be read with pleasure and profit as a supplement to Dr. Silvanus Thompson'a forthcoming regular biography of Lord Kelvin. It consists mainly of family records, letters, &c., collected by Lord Kelvin's sister, Mrs. Elizabeth King (his senior by six years), with the Resistance of her daughter, the editor. The first home was in Belfast, where William Thomson's father, James, was Professor of Mathematics in Belfast College. It was transferred to Glasgow in 1832, where the 'elder Thomson was appointed to the Chair of Mathematics. William was then eight years of age. Two years later he matricu- lated at the University along with his _elder brother James. He was, it is true, always precocious, but this is a very early date for .the commencement of, a University.career. Certainly there was a great lack of secondary schools in _the Scotland of that time, and the want is only now in the course Of being supplied. When there is such fine clay to be worked as was Lord Kelvin's the handling does not much matter. At seventeen he went up to Peterhouse, Cambridge, and graduated as Second Wrangler in 1841, to the no small disappointment of his family, which had confidently expected that he Would be Senior. He obtained, however, the First Smith's Prize, so that "honours were easy" between him and his rival. A few months afterwards he was made Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow. This last incident is a specimen of the very different world into which this book intro- duces us. The very term "natural philosophy" is obsolete. In the minor matters of life there is the same contrast between the new and old. Who could imagine that less than a century ago it VMS the etiquette for ladies to wear a false front of hair of a regulation colour ? Lord Kelvin's mother had golden hair ; she was per- suaded to hide it with one of the fronts, but, we are glad to see, could not put up with the disfigurement long. The volume is full of little traits, humorous or pathetic. They will scarcely bear quoting ; it would make them look insignificant; but the effect of the whole is very pleasing.