Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 1.djvu/253

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241
LITERARY NOTICES.

zealously condemns—he, too, is an object of reformatory solicitude. One thunders against the whole tribe of alcoholic stimulants, from ethereal wine to acrid whiskey, and never touches, tastes, or handles them—the pipe will do for him. Another counter-blasts tobacco—content with abundance of strong coffee. Another decries all these together, inspired by the stimulus of concentrated potions of tea. Still another ingests perhaps only vegetables and water, and fulminates from the pulpit or platform against all these gross material indulgences, yet is lifted into the seventh heaven of enjoyment by the stimulating incense of flattery and applause which comes up from admiring auditors, and without which life would be "flat, stale, and unprofitable." Others get from music, pictures, theatres, fashion, novels, newspapers, or travel, a quieter form of excitement, which, though often running into dissipation, is less harmful than ordinary narcotic stimulation. How far the ballroom, the political campaign, or the religious revival, may be the equivalent of a drinking spree, we will not pretend to say, but that they are all marked by a common character stimulation of pleasurable feeling carried to a pitch of excitement which ends in reaction more or less exhausting—is not to be denied.

As regards relief from the mischiefs of over-stimulation, alcoholic or otherwise, we have no reformatory nostrum to propose. And, when they are proposed, we shall do well to remember that the evil does not exist alone; it is part of the general imperfection of our nature, and the social state which accompanies it. Nor is it to be remedied alone; the evils that result from the craving for stimulants, and the gratification of it by dangerous drugs, will probably only be removed with the slow and general improvement of character and amelioration of social conditions. As soon as people know better their own nature and the true conditions of its unfolding, and begin to regard the subject with a more sacred respect, in proportion, we will venture to say, to the growth of a scientific conscience, will man become a higher law to himself, and the grosser vices of conduct may be expected gradually to disappear.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Corals and Coral Islands. By James D. Dana, LL. D. Dodd & Mead.

This book will be widely welcomed, not only for the interest of its matter and the elegance of its form, but because of the gratifying assurance it will afford to the numerous friends of its accomplished author that, although in shattered health, he still retains that wonderful power of versatile labor by which he has been distinguished in the world of science for the last 25 years. Prof. Dana went round the world, from 1838 to 1842, with the Wilkes Expedition, as geologist in the scientific corps. In this extended exploration, in addition to his geological work, he made a special and elaborate study of the zoophytes, and treated at length of corals, coral animals, and coral reefs. His reports upon these subjects were, of course, designed mainly for men of science, but in the present volume he has recast the statement, with the view to its more general usefulness. In his preface the author says: "The object in view, in the preparation of this work, has been to present a popular account of ‘corals and coral islands,’ without sacrifice of scientific precision, or, on the main topic, of fulness. Dry details and technicalities have been avoided as far as was compatible with this restriction; explanations in simple form have been freely added, and numerous illustrations introduced in order that the subject may have its natural attractiveness to both classes of readers." The object proposed has been very completely attained, and a volume produced which will be alike valuable to men of science and entertaining and instructive to general readers. Its illustrations are many and fine, and its manufacture is a credit to the publishers.

We have no room here to treat of the