Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/718

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702
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

each word, and, to make its pedigree complete, it is traced through all the ascertained successive changes, in their order, which it has passed through in the several languages through which it has come down, as if by descent, to us. Thus, in the case of the word "canopy," it is shown, by the brief, clear notation which is adopted throughout the book, that the word is derived in English from the French, the French from the Italian, that from the Latin, and that from the Greek; and if the ultimate Aryan root can be deduced, that is indicated. This, Mr. Skeat believes, is the first attempt of this kind that has been made, except partially. Another notation, equally simple and plain, shows cognate forms and distinguishes them from descending forms. Many of the articles are quite full histories, and all are rich in suggestions to the thoughtful student. Mr. Skeat frankly confesses to a number of short-comings. The remark to be made about them is not so much that they exist, as that the author should take the pains to call attention to them. On review they appear generally to be such as must inevitably beset the student who has to undertake so large a subject alone, or such as every one who attempts to advance into so extensive a field, that has been heretofore so little or so unskillfully cultivated, must expect to be liable to.

Our Merchant Marine: How it Rose, Increased, became Great, Declined, and Decayed; with an Inquiry into the Conditions essential to its Resuscitation and Future Prosperity. By David A. Wells. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Pp. 219.

Professor Wells undertakes a diagnosis of the disease with which our merchant marine is afflicted, through the operation of which, from having once been our pride and boast, it has fallen in the course of a quarter of a century into a contemptible insignificance; or, to illustrate the subject by figures, from carrying in 1855 75·5 per cent of the imports and exports of the country, by steady diminutions to carrying only 16·2 per cent of them in 1881. The most direct cause of decay is found in our navigation laws, under which the privileges essential to the prosperity of an American merchant marine are confined to American-built vessels, and denied to all ships bought abroad. In connection with this cause others are operating which bear with peculiar hardship on American vessels and American ship-building enterprises, such as high duties on imported materials used in ship-building, and various local burdens, in the imposition of which a positive discrimination appears to be made against American vessels. Back of these causes and under some of them lies the fundamental cause, in the protective system, some of whose most positive advocates have avowed the belief that the policy of the country is to discourage commerce, and the provisions of which have been adjusted, whether designedly or not, in consistency with this belief. No one measure, the author concludes, "will arrest the decay of American shipping, bring back prosperity to our ocean carrying-trade, or revive the industry of ship-building in this country. The field of reform to be entered upon is a very large one; the number of details which are to be attended to are numerous; but reform, nevertheless, is both possible and practicable if the American people desire and will it." He then mentions the most essential measures of reform, the nature of which is indicated generally by the references we have made to the evils that demand a remedy.

Science Ladders—No. I. Forms of Land and Water. Pp. 67. No. III. Vegetable Life. Pp. 78. By N. D'Anvers, author of "Heroes of North African Discovery," etc. Both illustrated. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Trice, 50 cents each.

The author states that his design in planning the series of which these works are a part has been to teach the great laws of Nature in language simple enough for every child to read, and to awaken the powers of observation and reasoning by means of purely elementary descriptions. "The Forms of Land and Water" gives descriptions of the earth and its general features and phenomena. "Vegetable Life" is intended to teach the laws of the life and growth of plants and to serve as an introduction to elementary botany. The effort has not been a happy one. The style is childish instead of simple, and is calculated to lead to inexactness and confusion; pains are taken to give a knowledge