Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/772

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

men of science, will now turn their attention to the butchers, the hunters, and the fashionable people who torture their horses in the broad day in the open streets, and at all hours, in the sight of everybody, by the use of bearing-reins and gag-bits.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Descriptive Sociology. By Herbert Spencer. Numbers Three and Four. Folio. Price, $4.00 per No. D. Appleton & Co.

To those who care only for politics on account of its gossip, personalities, and passing excitements, or who study it merely as an art for the attainment of their own selfish ends, these works need not be commended; but those who are interested in working out the principles of a science that underlies all politics will be glad to learn that the "Descriptive Sociology" of Herbert Spencer is making fair progress, the fourth number being now published. This work is not at all known even by the most intelligent portion of the American people. They talk much about society, speculating upon its origin, declaiming against its evils, and proposing endless nostrums for its relief and regeneration, but give no attention to the most serious, thorough, and successful effort yet made to elucidate the natural laws of social phenomena. If the value and importance of Spencer's "Descriptive Sociology" were at all understood, it would be found in every public library, in many private ones, and in all higher educational institutions. It is nothing less than a series of representations, almost pictorial in their clearness, of the constitution of human societies, of all forms, types, and grades, the world over. It gives the whole range of social facts that characterize each community in such an ingenious scheme of representation that they can be compared with extreme facility, and their elements considered either separately or as existing together; and either as advancing by themselves, or as moving on connectedly and under mutual influence. The industrial, economic, domestic, civil, military, aesthetic, moral, religious, and intellectual condition of each community, is given in a systematic way, which brings out the relations of these social factors; and the whole is carefully authenticated by copious and classified extracts from the best authorities by which the social facts in the several cases have been described. Without critical examination no one can form an idea of the enormous labor that has been expended upon these works, nor of their value to the students of social affairs. Nothing worthy the name of social science, that is, embracing wide inductions and comprehensive principles, can ever come from the examination of one example or form of society only; and, in the wide sweep of his inquiries, Mr. Spencer is the first to have given to the problem of social philosophy its full breadth of scientific basis.

In the first number of this general work Mr. Spencer gave us the social history of England. In the second number he gathered up and organized what is known of the social life of the extinct or decayed American civilizations. Number Three, now before us, is devoted to the lowest types of the social state—the Negritto races and the Malayo-Polynesian races. This was compiled and abstracted by Prof. David Duncan, a collaborator with Mr. Spencer in the execution of his enterprise. It represents the social life of the Fuegians, Andamans, Veddahs, Australians, Tasmanians, New Caledonians, New Guinea people, Fijians, Sandwich-Islanders, Tahitians, Tongans, Samoans, New-Zealanders, Dyaks, Javans, Sumatrans, and Malagasy. The environments, inorganic, organic, and sociological of these communities, and the physical, emotional, and intellectual characters of each people are given, and whatever is known or accessible regarding their social habits, peculiarities, and modes of life.

Number Four, which is just published, also elaborated by Prof Duncan, is devoted to the African races. He delineates the social aspects of the Bushmen, the Hottentots, the Damaras, the Bechuanas, the Caffirs, the East Africans, the Congo people, the Coast Negroes, the Inland Negroes, the Dahomans, the Ashantis, the Fulahs, and the Abyssinians.

We cannot republish these works in the Monthly, although in the number for April, 1874, we gave a sample of the tables that are used, and which necessitated the large folio form of publication. But those who