Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/645

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627
LITERARY NOTICES.

performance of functions, and therefore of highest import. These conformities would of course differ from those of-the Chinese, being based on more complex relations and wider knowledge of Nature, and hence more open to changes of detail; but their ethical ground is really the same. Thus the minute ritual of Chinese filial piety consists in routines of conduct which are recognized as beyond all question the best, and indeed the only, ways in which an ideal love and reverence can be fulfilled. It is sufficiently clear, from the spirit of these prescriptions, that this minuteness itself is simply an endeavor to inspire the whole of domestic life with real reverence and love."

After a broad sketch of the Chinese character and quality, Mr. Johnson passes to a study of the Chinese sages, their doctrines and influence, and the national beliefs on religious subjects, the development of Chinese Buddhism, missionary experiences, and closes his work by a presentation of the philosophy, metaphysics, arid anthropology, that prevail in China. We cannot here even attempt to give the author's conclusions upon many important topics which he considers, and will only say that while he evidently has great respect for much that is to be found in the institutions and ideas of this great division of the Oriental world, he is by no means an undiscriminating admirer of everything Chinese. Of course they are benighted heathen, and we send missionaries to instruct them in better religious ways. This attitude, however, is not altogether favorable to a just judgment of the Chinese character, and Mr. Johnson has done an excellent service in correcting our prejudices and giving us truer views of the faith and life of so large a portion of the human family.

A Hand-book of Descriptive Astronomy. By George F. Chambers, F. R. A. S., of the Inner Temple, Barrister-at-Law. New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 938. Price, $10.

This is in all respects a most excellent book on astronomy, clear, full, splendidly illustrated, carefully accurate, and in a high degree popular. The first edition was issued ten years ago, and a third being now called for, the author has thoroughly revised it and added two hundred pages of new matter, bringing it sharply up to the time. His reason for making the book is thus stated: "There is a lack of works in the English language which are at one and the same time attractive to the general reader, serviceable to the student, and handy, for purposes of reference, to the professional astronomer; in fact, of works which are popular without being vapid, and scientific without being unduly technical." In regard to the present edition Mr. Chambers says: "There is scarcely a single page which has not been to a greater or less extent dressed up, or in some way amended, with the object of making its statements more accurate in substance or intelligible in diction. The most important changes will be found in the chapters dealing with the sun, sidereal astronomy, and astronomical instruments. The descriptions of clusters and nebulæ have been made more numerous, and the lists of objects critically revised one by one actually at the telescope, so as to make that portion of the work more completely than formerly a vade mecum for the mere star-gazer, who is an astronomer simply in the respect that he is the owner of a telescope. Indeed, it has been chiefly with this idea in view that so much additional matter has been introduced into the chapters relating to astronomical instruments. The 'Practical Hints' and suggestions have been gathered from so many sources, and embody the collective wisdom and experience of so many men, that they cannot fail to deserve attention. I believe also that this volume now stands alone in its full description, so far as regards the wants of amateur observers, of the mounting and use of reflecting telescopes."

List of Elevations, principally in that Portion of the United States west of the Mississippi. By H. Gannett, M. E. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 164.

This fourth edition of the work named above embodies the results of its author's continued labors down to 1877. It contains profiles of nearly all the railroads in the region west of the Mississippi; elevations of many thousands of points; mean heights of the States and Territories; slopes of the principal streams in the West, etc. A map of the United States, in approximate