Excerpt from A New and Complete Treatise on the Arts of Tanning, Currying, and Leather-Dressing: Comprising All the Discoveries and Improvements Made in France, Great Britain, and the United States
The art of tanning has for a long time consisted of a series of empirical operations, notwithstanding the fact that there is no art which is so dependent upon certain fixed principles, and on which chemistry exerts so great an influence. The processes followed in manufactories, in the past, have varied according to their localities; and have been transmitted from father to son, as heirlooms which they have had great scruples in abandoning or even touching. All new innovations were viewed with scorn, and rejected, even without experiment. When a workman had succeeded in producing good work, he believed he had attained the ne plus ultra of his art, and he would have believed he was unworthy of this title, if he could have been persuaded that he had yet many things to learn.
Prejudice and routine are, nearly always, the faithful associates of ignorance and pride, principally with those who, accustomed to manual occupations, look upon as useless, and even banish as dangerous, those theories which alone can transform an empirical art into a rational one. For a long time yet, industry will be thus hampered and the benefits of science disregarded, and it is only by degrees that it will verify the arts.
The closing years of the eighteenth century, and those of the nineteenth which have passed, have changed the ideas of manufacturers.
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