Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/283

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269
LITERARY NOTICES.

of meteorology and astronomy are concerned, are bending their attention upon the as yet unsolved problems of terrestrial physics; and how very unlikely it is that any great laws should elude their keenest research and most vigilant observation, and yet reveal themselves to an individual of absolutely no scientific standing, and, so far as any one can judge, a mere sensation-monger. A sketch of the history of science, of the order in which its leading discoveries have been made, and of its present resources for the further prosecution of truth, could, we doubt not, be rendered interesting to boys and girls of average school age. The sketch would have to be boldly drawn, in few and simple and striking lines; but this might be done without any sacrifice of accuracy. In this way respect for science as science would be created; and the rising generation would be made not only to feel that it is a power in the world, but to understand what kind of a power it is, and what kind of men its ministers ought to be. The lesson would have moral implications, for the methods of science are simply the best methods of every-day life, methods of patience, of perseverance, of honesty, of reason. To know science as an embodied power, as a personality, so to speak, would be to know that which one would necessarily be the better for knowing, and to be furnished with an ideal of life which, if not complete at all points, would embrace very much that is essential to integrity of intellectual and moral character. Thus, too, would public opinion be steadied and the credulity that is still the reproach of our civilization be reduced within much narrower limits. If Mr. Wiggins should, without intending it, be the means of so drawing attention to our educational deficiencies on the scientific side as to lead to vigorous efforts at reform and improvement, we shall be able hereafter to recall his name with feelings of less unmitigated scorn than would otherwise certainly be his due.



LITERARY NOTICES.

Letters and Journal of W. Stanley Jevons. Edited by his Wife. London and New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 473. Price, §4.

It is a most enjoyable treat to get a clear insight into the personality of a man who has made himself in any way distinguished, and to realize how like he, whom we have had to regard at a distance and as a kind of abstraction of the cause he is associated with, is to other men, and how fully he is in sympathy with all that is human. The enjoyableness is complete if the man's life has been happy and free from reproach. Such is the case with Professor Jevons as he presents himself in his letters and journal, in which his wife, supplying only such connecting links as were necessary, has wisely decided to give an account of his life in his own words as much as possible. They present him as a man of ordinary susceptibilities, with no extravagant or particularly marked tendencies in any direction, heartily enjoying his family life and his friends, fond of his baths, relishing active sports, entering enthusiastically into the volunteering movement which absorbed English attention while the world was waiting upon Louis Napoleon's nod, showing the musical as his strongest æsthetical taste, and patiently and persistently pursuing the work with which he gave life to the driest statistics and made the most abstruse social and economical facts luminous. The letters are full of good points, and show throughout the keen observer of men, facts, and events, of which the writer says but little, but that little going to the heart of the matter. After a residence of five years in Australia, Mr. Jevons visited the United States in 1859, two years before the beginning of the war. At Washington he "scrambled over the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian Institution, Lafayette Square, with Mr. Sickles's residence," and saw nothing more of the least interest in the American capital. New York he found a great but not very amusing city, while he admired the extreme convenience of the American hotels. Pittsburg was an intolerably smoky manufacturing town, and the great American towns generally were described as "mere collections of great warehouses, shops, wharves,