Professor Harrington has performed an acceptable service in giving us the story of Sir William Logan's life, so full of interest in connection with the development and conduct of the Geological Survey of Canada, of which Logan was the first director and zealous supporter, from the date of his appointment to this service in 1842, until his death in 1875.
Born of Scotch parents in Montreal, in 1798, and educated under a Scotch master, in 1814 he was sent with his brother Hart to the High School of Edinburgh, then in the zenith of its reputation. In 1816 Logan became a student in the university, but his university life closed with his first year, and he then went to London to take a place in the commercial house of his uncle, Mr. Hart Logan, where he remained for about ten years. The letters of Logan, to his brother chiefly, during this period are full of genial humor, and picture the writer like a mirror, showing up the sweetness and manly spirit of a most charming character. Those of us who knew Sir William only in later life, when he had espoused Science as his only mistress, gain a new view of the man as he unconsciously betrays his loving nature in these genuine letters.
His geological life began when in 1831, at the age of thirty-three, by a change in his occupation he was placed in charge of a copper-smelting and coal-mining enterprise in Wales, where his uncle had embarked in a smelting process on the waste slags of Swansea. His duties here led him to renew and extend his acquaintance with scientific pursuits. In 1840 he revisited Canada and renewed the associations of his early life. The first mention of his survey of Canada grew out of a conversation Logan had in 1841 with the late Dr. William B. Rogers, whom he met in Philadelphia. The subject had been brought forward by Dr. Rae, in 1832, by a petition to the Provincial Legislature, but repeated solicitations for money for this purpose failed to gain the attention of the Government until 1841, when £1,500 was secured for the purposes of a survey. The strong support of Mr. Logan by De la Beche, Murchison, Sedgwick, Buckland, and others, left no question but that Logan was the best person to place in charge of this important work. His appointment was confirmed in 1843, and he entered immediately with the utmost zeal and devotion upon the duties of his office. It is impossible to read his letters and journals at this time without a strong conviction of his rare talent and skill in meeting and overcoming difficulties which to a less bold and determined explorer would have appeared insurmountable. Professor Harrington's narrative sets forth clearly the successive steps of the work and its organization. Space forbids us to follow these interesting details. The whole volume sparkles with the good humor and bright remarks scattered in Logan's journal and letters, making it a volume of unusual interest both for the general and the scientific reader. In his Canadian work he was ably aided by Alexander Murray, for many years his principal geological assistant; Billings, his able paleontologist; Hunt, his chemist and co-worker in structural geology for about a quarter of a century; and later Hartley, a young geologist of uncommon promise, too soon removed by death, not to mention others of merit.
The experience of that celebrated railroad-contractor, Thomas Brassey, Sr., with large numbers of workmen of various nationalities, and in various localities in Europe, forms the nucleus of this book. The greater part, however, consists of the results of inquiries into the labor question by the author, his son. Strikes and trades-unions are the first subjects discussed, and then follows a chapter, largely made up of illustrations and statistics, in which it is shown that the rate of wages is regulated, not by the fiats of trades-unions, but by demand and supply. The distinction between the rate of wages and the cost of labor is next pointed out, and abundantly illustrated. A comparison in respect to efficiency of the laborers of several European