Popular Science Monthly/Volume 11/May 1877/Literary Notices
|←Editor's Table|| Popular Science Monthly Volume 11 May 1877 (1877)
As we sit down to write a notice of this interesting volume, we are startled by the painful intelligence of the sudden death of its distinguished author. Mr. Bagehot was in the prime of life and the full vigor of his powers, as attested by the recent fertility of his pen and the sustained character of his intellectual work. His position as a writer was quite unique in the literature of our time. Strongly attracted to the study of public affairs, and devoting himself specially in his weekly journal to the consideration of economical and commercial subjects, he always dealt with them in a broad, philosophical spirit, and wrote upon them in a style of peculiar literary excellence, for which he was quite unsurpassed among contemporary writers upon these topics. Besides his contributions to the reviews, embracing close discussions of government policy and commercial economies, and his admirable biographical sketches, Mr. Bagehot is chiefly known by his volumes on "Physics and Politics," "Lombard Street," and "The English Constitution." This is his most important work, and that by which he will be best known in the future. The book on "Lombard Street" is a special study of the money question, but the "Physics and Politics," which was reproduced in French under the happier title of "The Development of Nations," and "The English Constitution," are of a wider interest, as they treat, in a scientific spirit, of social questions and phenomena that concern alike people of all countries. Those who have read the "Physics and Politics" will find "The English Constitution" treated by the same method; the principles there developed being applied to English constitutional history and the structure of English social life. We cannot, perhaps, give a better account of this work than by quoting the preface to the new American edition:
"'The English Constitution,' by Walter Bagehot, has already attracted some attention in this country, but it is a work that deserves to be much more widely and familiarly known. Its title, however, is so little suggestive of its real character, and is so certain to repel and mislead American readers, that, in bringing out a new and cheaper edition of it, at this time, some prefatory words may be useful for the correction of erroneous impressions.
"It is well known that the term 'Constitution,' in its political sense, has very different significations in England and in this country. With us it means a written instrument, decreed at a certain time to be the supreme law of the land. Hence when a book appears upon the American Constitution, if not a history of its adoption, it will probably be a commentary upon its meanings; that is, some kind of a law-treatise, dealing with the technical interpretations of a legal instrument. The English, on the contrary, have no such written document. By the national Constitution they mean their actual social and political order—the whole body of laws, usages, and precedents, which have been inherited from former generations, and by which the practice of government is regulated. A work upon the English Constitution, therefore, brings us naturally to the direct consideration of the structure and practical working of English political institutions and social life.
"The American Constitution was framed by a convention; the English Constitution is a growth of centuries. Books written upon the two Constitutions are, therefore, likely to differ, much as a manual of carpentry differs from a hand-book of physiology; the former belonging rather to the province of constructive art, and the latter to that of natural science. While in the study of the American Constitution we are occupied with the 'intentions of the framers,' the 'rules of construction,' and the lore of lawyers, to get at the sense of a printed tract, the study of the English Constitution introduces us more directly to facts and phenomena, or the laws of political activity, social change, and national growth. These objects of inquiry obviously lend themselves to the scientific method of treatment, which aims to trace out the working of natural causes and inherent principles, and hence has interest for all 'students of political philosophy. Mr. Bagehot's work is written virtually, if not formally, from this point of view; it is pervaded by the scientific spirit, without taking on the technical forms of scientific exposition.
"With the author's inclination and capacity to regard public questions in their scientific aspects, many readers are already familiar through his suggestive volume entitled 'Physics and Politics.' 'The English Constitution' is a work of the same quality, and treats its subjects very much with reference to the principles of human nature and the natural laws of human society. It is a free disquisition on Englishexperience; an acute, critical, and dispassionate discussion of English institutions, designed to show how they operate, and to point out their defects and advantages. The writer is not so much a partisan or an advocate as a cool, philosophical inquirer, with large knowledge, clear insight, independent opinions, and great freedom from the bias of what he terms that 'territorial sectarianism called patriotism.' His criticism of the faults of the English system is searching and trenchant, and his appreciation of its benefits and usefulness is cordial, discriminating, and wise. He discusses old traditions and modern innovations, aristocratic privileges and democratic tendencies, with an absence of prejudice that comes from a predominant scientific temper of mind. Taking up in succession the Cabinet, the Monarchy, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons, he considers them in what may be called their dynamical interactions, and in relation to the habits, traditions, culture, and character, of the English people. The book, indeed, is full of instructive episodes, and sagacious reflections on the springs of action in human nature, the exercise of power by individuals or political bodies, the adaptation of institutions to the qualities and circumstances of the different classes who live under them, and numerous points of political philosophy, which are applicable everywhere, and have an interest for all students of political and social affairs.
"There is much in Mr. Bagehot's volume that bears very suggestively upon the state of things in this country. His comparison, in various points, of the working of cabinet government with that of presidential government raises questions regarding our own system which are forced into greater prominence by every decade of our national experience. But the book should be read by Americans not only for the interesting information it contains, and the brilliant light it throws upon the internal polity of a great nation from which we have derived so much of our own institutions, but because it will exert a widening and liberalizing influence upon the minds of our people, who are too apt to look upon all other governments with a kind of bigoted contempt. Our intense politics, chiefly occupied with selfish and sordid interests, and bitter personal rivalries, tend to exclude from this sphere of thought everything like science, or the large and liberal study of political principles. Narrow views lead to a depreciation of everything foreign that differs from our own system and practice. A distinguished professor in one of our leading colleges remarked that, when the students come up in their last year to acquire some notions of political science, their want of information relating to everything beyond the limits of their own country—their ignorance of any thing like comparative politics—is to the last degree discreditable. Such narrowness is only to be corrected by travel and extended observation, or by cultivating those studies and reading those books that will give clear and just conceptions of the policy of other leading nations. Mr. Bagehot's analysis of the English Constitution will be helpful to this end; and we doubt if there is any other volume so useful to our countrymen to peruse before visiting England. It will enable Americans to understand many things that at first perplex and disgust them in an old historic country, where all that most impresses the mind is so different from what we are accustomed to here.
"It remains further to say that Mr. Bagehot's work has a charming readableness that would not be suspected from its title or subject. It is written with an easy liveliness, a vivacious wit, and a felicity of style, that place it high in the scale of literary excellence.
"The studies of character of Brougham and Peel, that are appended to the present edition, and have not before appeared in this country, will be read with avidity, as they not only serve to throw additional light upon the modern politics of England, but give us an interesting insight into the intellectual life of two of the most conspicuous men who have figured in public affairs during the past generation."
The sixth volume of Spencer's "Synthetic Philosophy" is now before us. This great work was entered upon with many doubts as to its merits if executed, and many more as to whether it would ever get done at all. It has, however, moved slowly forward for the last fifteen years, against obstacles, both internal and external, which would have ordinarily brought such an enterprise to a stand long ago. The author's imperfect health has been a serious and constant impediment; the expensiveness of the undertaking has greatly imperiled its continuance; and the carelessness, stupidity, and downright perversity of reviewers, or those who undertook to interpret the system to the public, have been little calculated to inspirit the author in the progress of his work. Instead of welcoming with sympathy and intelligent encouragement a great effort like this to effect a higher unity of the different departments of knowledge, which modern science has begun to make possible, Mr. Spencer has been treated rather as if he had committed some grave offense against the interests of mankind. We have still large classes who look upon science with jealousy, and especially resent any effort to make it the basis of philosophy, or to develop it into a comprehensive and authoritative body of thought; and these classes have opposed and vilified from the commencement Spencer's work without scruple or reserve. It is gratifying to note that this unworthy feeling is giving way in many quarters, and is replaced by a growing disposition to do justice to his views; but in other quarters the old tactics of depreciation and misrepresentation are still pursued. We refer to the latest example. Our readers will remember that a year or two since the British Quarterly Review opened its columns to a very unmanly and vindictive assault upon Spencer, which had no excuse even under the largest license of decent reviewing. That there was some animus in the writer's mind quite apart from the fair and legitimate purpose of such work, was obvious enough at the time; but, if there could have been any doubt about it, that doubt is dispelled by the recent course of this Quarterly. In its January issue it contained another elaborate article professing to be a review of Spencer's "Sociology;" but the reader will hardly credit the statement that this work was not even referred to in the article. It was nothing less than an attack upon the old "Social Statics," a book published twenty-six years ago, and having in its preface to the later reprints an explicit warning to all readers that it does not contain a true representation of Mr. Spencer's present views. The course of the Quarterly was all the more outrageous, when it is remembered that Mr. Spencer had stated in this preface that the subject discussed in "Social Statics" would be reconsidered and placed upon a broader basis in the "System of Philosophy" upon which he has been at work since 1860. The writer in the Review added, in a note at the end of his article, that at the time it went to press the volume of Spencer's "Principles of Sociology" was not yet published—a false statement, as it had been issued in quarterly parts during the past two years by Williams & Norgate, of London, the publishers of "Social Statics" and all the volumes of the "Philosophy." Though we may not expect in British Quarterly Reviewers any very high sense of honor, there is a barefaced recklessness in this proceeding which well illustrates the sort of treatment that Herbert Spencer has been receiving ever since he published the first volume of his "Philosophy" in 1862.
The readers of The Popular Science Monthly will hardly need to be told that the volume now published is the first of three which are intended to work out systematically the principles of the science of society. We have often explained the relation of these works to the philosophical volumes that have preceded them, and to the "Descriptive Sociology," which gives a comprehensive account of different types of the social state; and we have published various articles, from advance-sheets of the work itself, illustrating the quality and scope of the discussion contained in the volume before us. The work differs widely and profoundly from any that has ever appeared professing to deal with the subject of social science, and it is gratifying to see at last some cordial recognition of its great originality, value, and importance, from the leading critics of the English press. This is all the more satisfactory, that Mr. Spencer has conquered it against the steady pressure of a powerful and long-sustained antagonism. Having commented freely upon the work, and given illustrations of it, in the course of its publication, we prefer now to furnish our readers with the view taken of the completed volume by an influential London journal. The following is the notice that appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette:
"Those who have followed the development of Mr. Spencer's 'System' will have no difficulty in understanding the position held in it by the present volume. 'Hitherto he has been occupied in setting forth the laws of organic evolution, the 'Principles of Biology' having dealt with the physical aspect of that process, the 'Principles of Psychology' with its mental aspects. Both these works treat of the individual life of the organism; but when organisms come into relation to each other, form societies, and produce results which could not be achieved except by coördinated action, we are confronted by a new set of phenomena. We are in presence of what Mr. Spencer calls super-organic evolution. The task of sociology—it is now, we fear, too late to protest against the use of one of the most disagreeable words ever coined—is to interpret these new facts, to classify them, and to render intelligible the passage from one stage of progress to another. Among bees, wasps, and ants, we find the first indications of coöperation, associated with a certain degree of division of labor; and some of the higher types of vertebrata, such as rooks, combine in a still more marked manner. These instances of coordinated action are, however, of slight moment compared with the phenomena presented by human societies; it is, therefore, with the latter alone that sociology is concerned.
"The subject is so vast and complicated that it is difficult to treat of it without being either dull or superficial. Mr. Spencer, as those who know his writings would expect, escapes both dangers. As in his previous expositions, he confines himself to a few large principles; and these are so clearly expressed, so systematically arranged, and supported by so immense an array of proofs and illustrations, that readers wholly unaccustomed to philosophical inquiry may follow his argument with interest. Not even a German professor could have undertaken to bring together without help the enormous mass of materials which are here utilized. Mr. Spencer has had excellent assistance in collecting facts, and he has woven them with the skill of a master into a consistent and suggestive theory.
"In social evolution there are two factors: extrinsic and intrinsic. The former include all those outward influences, such as climate, surface, flora, and fauna, which determine human action; by the latter are meant the qualities of the units that make up society. Mr. Spencer devotes only one chapter to the extrinsic factors; but this suffices to indicate how many favorable conditions are necessary to the formation of a society, and how rarely these conditions occur. As regards the internal factors, it clearly would not be enough to present the peculiarities of the civilized man, who inherits acquired tendencies and is to a large extent moulded by the society into which he is born; we must go back to the time at which physical forces were not controlled by intelligence, and when men lived together only in loosely-formed groups. All the world knows how Rousseau represented to himself the primitive man, and there are still, perhaps, people who affect to talk enthusiastically of the 'noble savage.' If we compare this sentimental conception with the picture drawn by Mr. Spencer, we are furnished with a tolerably accurate measure of the advance which has been made in the methods of investigating such subjects. The philosopher of to-day is not less fond of theory than his predecessor of the eighteenth century, but in his hands theory is never divorced from fact; it is incessantly brought to the test of reality, and in reality finds its only true starting-point. Hence, while Rousseau's idea could give rise only to a great many futile regrets and aspirations, Mr. Spencer's is the basis of a thoroughly scientific description of the long course through which mankind have passed from the simplest to the most complex forms of life. The primitive man is regarded in three different aspects: physical, emotional, intellectual. He is shown to have been, on the average, smaller than men now are, with limbs inferior both in size and structure, and a larger alimentary system, 'adapted to a very irregular supply of food, mostly inferior in quality, dirty, and uncooked.' Arriving early at maturity, he disliked change, and constitutional callousness made him insensible of evils which at a later stage become intolerable. The emotional characteristics of the savage are a 'wavering and inconstant disposition,' leading to an 'explosive, chaotic, incalculable behavior, which makes combined action very difficult,' extreme improvidence, selfishness modified only by a desire of admiration and by 'such fellow-feeling as results from that instinctive love of the helpless which he possesses in common with the inferior animals.' Intellectually the uncivilized man is on a level with the children of civilized parents. The perceptive faculties are keen, the reflective scarcely at all developed; like children, he has a strong mimetic tendency; he cannot concentrate attention on anything higher than simple facts; he has few general ideas, and being without any conception of natural order, he is incapable of rational curiosity or surprise. The question is sometimes asked, 'Why, if the human species has been so long in existence as the doctrine of evolution implies, did so many ages elapse before civilization arose?' No one who attentively considers these characteristics of the savage, and takes into account the outward difficulties with which he has to contend, will be surprised that man so long remained a slave to circumstances. The astonishing thing is, that any primitive tribes ever lighted upon the happy combination of conditions which enabled them to grow into progressive communities.
"In order to understand the institutions of civilized and semi-civilized societies, we must not satisfy ourselves with a general description of the faculties of the primitive man—we must investigate the ideas suggested to him by his experience. The chapters devoted to these are by far the most original and valuable in the present volume. It is common to judge savage conceptions by a reference to our more advanced knowlédge, in the light of which they, of course, excite only surprise or amusement. Mr. Spencer, guided by the statements and hints of travelers, puts himself as much as possible in the position of primitive men, and looks at the world with their eyes; and the consequence is, that he succeeds in proving almost that their ideas were not only natural, but the sole ideas to which the evidence within their reach could have conducted them. One of the earliest of their theories is that of a second self. This arises, in the first instance, from dreams, the experiences of which the savage regards as real. He has no notion corresponding to that of mind; hence, when he dreams that he has been hunting or engaged in deadly conflict with an enemy, he never doubts on awaking that the incidents actually took place. Others testify that he has not moved; but this only shows that there must be a double which is capable of going away and having adventures of its own. He is untroubled by incongruities that would perplex a more developed intelligence, for the facts seem to him beyond question, and he is familiar with many changes in Nature—the appearance and disappearance of clouds, the blowing of the wind, the waxing and waning of the moon—not at all less mysterious. His idea is confirmed by occasional instances of somnambulism; and the phenomena of swoon, apoplexy, and other forms of insensibility, are most readily explained by assuming that the body has been temporarily deserted by its ghost. In death the other self, which is upbraided before its departure by the friends of the dying man, says farewell; but it continues to exist, sometimes in its old haunts, sometimes in the neighboring woods, sometimes in the country whence the tribe originally came. It may even return to the body, and with a view to this contingency the latter is often carefully protected, and in many instances there are elaborate processes for arresting decay; if revival is dreaded, an exactly opposite course is pursued. In the earliest stages of development the ghost is a copy of the body, and may, like it, die; but tribes a little more advanced attenuate its substance until at length it is completely etherealized. It then has an enduring existence, and side by side with the world of the living is the more populous world of the dead. Ghosts continue to act as ordinary men, and are provided with food, weapons, canoes, horses, dogs. They are the cause of every unusual occurrence, and, entering bodies which they find temporarily vacant, occasion epilepsy and convulsions, delirium and insanity, disease and death. Every involuntary act, like sneezing or yawning, is due to them; and the necessity of controlling them gives rise to the class of exorcists and sorcerers. If friendly, they inspire the possessed, whose words are accepted as a revelation of higher wisdom. They are, of course, regarded with intense awe, and worship of them is, according to Mr. Spencer, the first manifestation of the religious sentiment. He goes much further than this, and finds in ancestor-worship the origin of all worship whatever. Idols are simply rude images of the dead, which ghosts are in some mysterious way believed to inhabit; hence food is given to them, and the family respectfully waits—that is, fasts—until they have eaten internally. A fetich is any object in which a ghost is supposed to dwell; and no object strikes the senses in a strange manner without having its peculiarity attributed to ghostly presence. This view of the fetich is not in accordance with current ideas; but it is confirmed by the fact that in cases in which the ghost-theory has not been evolved there is no fetich-worship, whereas the latter abounds where the former exists. But animals, plants, natural objects and forces, are also worshiped: how can these be in any way connected with ancestor-worship? Mr. Spencer applies his principle with unfaltering confidence even to these phenomena. Serpent-worship is the most general of all forms of animal-worship; it originates in the haunting of houses by certain kinds of snakes believed to be possessed by the ghosts of departed ancestors, who thus enter their old homes. In India the cobra is a common intruder in houses, and it is everywhere sculptured as a god; the Egyptian asp affords an instance equally remarkable. Bats and owls, which haunt caves and other burying-places, are also taken for metamorphosed ancestors. Some striking peculiarity will often secure for a man the name of an animal whose character his resembles. Unaccountable as it seems to us, the savage who hears his ancestor talked of as 'The Tiger' concludes that he is descended from one of those creatures; so that the tiger naturally becomes an object of reverence. The like is true of all animals, insignificant and strong alike, the names of which are applied to savages either in ridicule or respect by their neighbors. In this misapprehension of the meaning of words Mr. Spencer likewise finds the chief explanation of Nature-worship and plant-worship. A man is called Cotton or Tobacco, the Dawn, the Sea, the Moon, or the Sun. His descendants, taking the word literally, do not hesitate to regard the natural power or plant, whichever it may be, as their ancestor, and present it with the usual offerings. To civilized men this seems almost incredible; but it must be remembered that to the savage nothing seems impossible, because he has not attained to the idea of regular sequence in the world. And his language is so imperfect that he has no means of distinguishing after a certain interval between the literal and metaphorical application of words. With respect to anthropomorphic deities, Mr. Spencer argues that they are ancestors whose qualities are idealized and expanded.
"Ancestor-worship has never before been turned to such advantage in the interpretation of so many facts; and the ease with which the theory works gives it a certain charm. We see no reason, however, why Mr. Spencer should exclude every other cause in the production of early mythologies. The influences he has defined may all act as he describes; but they do not necessarily exhaust the sources of the religion of savages. He is as nearly angry as it is possible for so calm a thinker to be with 'the mythologists,' who represent uncivilized man as mistaking the names given to the forces and objects of Nature for the names of living beings. But surely this is not more strange than the process he himself has expounded, since in both cases the savage ends by finding in the outward world qualities which exist only in his own imagination. If he is unreasoning enough to suppose that the sun is his ancestor because his grandfather was so called, we need feel no surprise at his regarding the sun as alive merely on account of the effects it daily produces; and so of the moon, the dawn, or the wind. Mr. Spencer will not admit that the savage has any tendency to ascribe life to what is inanimate; but children constantly do so, and he insists that children and savages have a strong intellectual resemblance. We are not arguing for the theory which has been so persistently, if not always judiciously, advocated by Mr. Max Müller and Mr. Cox; we only say that within certain limits it may also be true. Religious phenomena are so complicated that it is improbable we shall be able to explain them by the modifications of any single principle.
"In several very interesting chapters Mr. Spencer uses the analogy between societies and organic bodies to illustrate the truth that 'social evolution forms a part of evolution at large.' He then passes to the domestic relations, in connection with which he discusses the many different forms of marriage and of marriage-ceremonies. To persons who believe that man has an intuitive perception of right and wrong in the relations of the sexes there could be no more suggestive study than that of exogamy and endogamy, promiscuity, polyandry, polygyny, and monogamy. Mr. Spencer does not so much argue against the intuitive theory as oppose to it the process by which, as a matter of fact, our present moral conceptions have been produced. This is, indeed, the characteristic of the whole work. Its method is throughout constructive; but for that reason it is much more effective in destroying popular doctrines regarding the origin and growth of many vital ideas than any amount of merely negative argument."
In this elaborate volume we have the detailed story of the telegraph, in a form suitable both for the instruction of general readers and for the guidance of those practically engaged in the art. The illustrations are copious and well executed, and all the curious complications of telegraphic mechanism, and the mysterious ways of electricity that are made available to the great end of the rapid transmission of intelligence, are described clearly and fully by the author. Mr. Prescott has been at great pains to bring forward the valuable contributions of foreign nations, especially the Germans, who have done more in telegraphy than they have had credit for, and his work may be commended for its comprehensiveness as well as that thoroughness of treatment which is indispensable to a first-class manual upon the subject.
For entering into physics through the experimental gateway, and by the use of simple apparatus, electricity has special advantages. Its experiments are simple, the effects distinct and striking, and the theoretical pathway to principles not difficult to follow, and well suited to exercise the reasoning powers. Dr. Tyndall has therefore done a most valuable service to science-teaching by preparing this little manual, which is admirably fitted to lay the foundation of an actual and thorough knowledge of the science. His experiments are ingeniously simple, and at the same time telling—each one carrying the pupil along a step further in his progress. The text is clear, pointed, compressed, and attractive, as Prof. Tyndall knows so well how to make it. But it is almost superfluous to call the attention of our readers to the excellences of this little work, as several portions of the earlier English edition have been already published in the pages of this Monthly.
This volume opens with a very pleasant and appreciative sketch of Mr. Wright by his friend Charles Eliot Norton, from which we gather that he was a gentleman of admirable personal traits which strongly attracted all who knew him. The book is made up of his literary remains, consisting of nearly a score of articles, contributed chiefly to the pages of the North American Review and to the Nation for the last fifteen years. They evince the strength of an able and independent thinker; but the style in which they are written is somewhat heavy. They are predominantly critical and controversial, as the author does not seem to have arrived at any constructive or systematic views of his own. He highly appreciated Mr. Darwin, and championed him against the criticisms of Prof. St. George Mivart, doing the work so well that it was thought important to republish it in London. There are many things in the articles of Mr. Wright that are well worth preserving, and his friends could in no way have better honored his memory than by collecting and publishing them in the elegant and substantial form which Mr. Holt has given to the volume. It should be mentioned that two of the papers, a fragment on "Cause and Effect," and the beginning of the article on Lewes's "Problems of Life and Mind," are published in this collection for the first time.
As the eyes of observers of international affairs are now turned upon Russia, there will be an increasing interest in all that relates to the domestic and social structure of that powerful empire. It is very rare that, at such a crisis of curiosity, there appears a work so eminently suited to satisfy it as in the present issue of Mr. Wallace's volume. It is a book that would make a mark and a sensation at any time, but the circumstances will now make it "the book of the season." Its author for the past six years has occupied himself with studying the people, the resources, and the institutions of Russia by personal observation and careful inquiry, residing in various cities and villages in different parts of the country, most favorable to varied and enlarged familiarity with the facts of which he was in pursuit. Mr. Wallace's book is written in good style, with no ambition for mere effect, but in the direct, common-sense way of a writer who has much to say, and goes directly to the point. His descriptions are graphic, without being wearisome, and the treatment of his special topics, though often full, occupies the reader closely to the end. It is full of important information, much of which is fresh and novel, in regard to the condition of the country, its peasant-life, the village communities, the larger towns and mercantile classes, imperial administration and local self-government, land proprietorship, the nobility, education, religion, church and state, military characteristics, emancipation of the serfs, the law-courts, the railroad system, social classes, industrial resources, the features of the country, and lastly, in the thirty-fourth chapter, the Eastern question, and the problem of territorial expansion. All these important subjects Mr. Wallace has handled with skill, and with constant reference to the great liberalizing tendencies of the age which are displayed in Russia as well as other leading countries, and under remarkable and peculiar conditions. Prefixed to the volume are two colored maps of Russia, one showing the density and distribution of the population, the railway system, and the grade of cities in respect to the number of their inhabitants; the other exhibiting the distribution of the principal agricultural products. Any one who will familiarize himself a little with these maps, and then deliberately read the book, will probably get a great deal more knowledge than he could obtain by months of travel in the Russian Empire.
Our readers are not altogether unfamiliar with the matter contained in this "Report," for we have from time to time during the past year made selections from the monthly reports, especially of observations and experiments made by Mr. Glover and Mr. McMurtrie, respectively the botanist and the chemist of the department. These are repeated in the annual report, or, rather, they are bound up with it. The volume also contains papers on the forest-trees of the United States, varieties of fruits, alfalfa, the French mode of curing forage, hog-cholera, and several other subjects of interest to the agriculturist.
The series of handy volumes on applied science to which these two treatises belong needs no commendation from us. The works are of a severely practical nature, and their merits are well understood by the engineers and mechanicians to whom they are addressed.
Dr. Kellogg attempts in this little pamphlet to discuss the question of alcohol in "its physical, moral, and social effects," and yet he finds room for a long chapter of twenty-seven pages on "Wine and the Bible," in which he wrestles manfully with such contradictory texts as those which call wine "cruel venom of asps," and those which say that "it maketh the heart glad."
The title-page is itself a history of this remarkable work. To the student of the social sciences this pamphlet is a valuable contribution, giving as it does in tabulated details the lives of a family of large numbers, whose condition had become so fixedly criminal that harlotry, bastardy, and a career of law-breaking, ever gravitating prisonward, had become the inevitable heirship of the "Jukes," the word itself becoming a synonym of evil.
The above are from the "Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences," 1876; each has the common heading, "Early Migrations," and their author is Charles Wolcott Brooks. The pamphlets give evidence of large research, and are at least ingenious. The drift is toward the settlement of China from the American Continent, probably Peru. Is not the following statement made carelessly? "North American Indians have never been cannibals" ("Origin of the Chinese Race," p. 27). Do not the discoveries of the late Prof. Wyman, in the shell-heaps of Florida, speak to the contrary?
An interesting résumé of the year, in matters pertaining to the biological sciences, with, perhaps, a special attention to home work.
As a manual of dermatology for the medical practitioner this treatise will be found valuable and satisfactory. It is practical, thorough, and systematic, without claiming to be exhaustive, in the erudition of the subject, or the details of its historical literature. It presents the elements of the subject concisely, giving all the important facts in connection with each disease treated of. In classification Dr. Duhring follows the authority of the celebrated Prof. Hebra, of the University of Vienna, his former teacher, and to whom the present work is dedicated. A special and highly commendable feature of Dr. Duhring's work is the definition of the various skin-diseases, which he has made out from the standpoint of clinical observation with a view to its practical usefulness, and which consists mainly of succinct descriptions of characteristic lesions and symptoms, where the cases were not too complex and obscure to make clear definition possible. In the sections devoted to treatment, while the author makes due reference to all those methods that are favorably regarded by the profession, he has also brought distinctly forward those remedies and modes of treatment that he has found of greatest benefit in his own medical experience.
Skin-diseases appear to undergo grave modifications in different geographical circumstances, so that well-executed treatises upon the subject in one country are liable to lose their accuracy when applied to other countries. On this point Dr. Duhring remarks: "I can but incidentally refer to the fact that disorders of the skin manifest more or less variation in type as they occur in one or in another part of the world. Having had some few years ago favorable opportunities for observing a large number of cutaneous affections in the various countries of Europe, and since then of studying these diseases in the United States, I can state that in many instances they differ materially in type as they are seen on the two continents. Without entering into this interesting subject, it may be remarked that the diseases met with here resemble more closely those of Great Britain than those of either France or Germany. A recognition of this fact must, I think, go far in accounting for the discrepancies which exist in the descriptions of certain diseases as given by trustworthy observers."
The exceedingly curious figures which abound in this volume give to it nearly all the value which it possesses. The book contains no less than 180 woodcut figures, together with 19 lithograph plates of full page size. With hardly a single exception, they are more or less plainly symbolical of sexuality in religion. The author has undoubtedly rendered a great service to students of that particular aspect of the religious idea, by bringing together so many interesting memorials of the wide diffusion of sex-worship. His own remarks and speculations, however, do not carry much weight.
We reproduce some of the things said by the London Examiner in reference to Arnott's "Physics," which, in its new form, is attracting much attention:
"It was in 1827 that Dr. Arnott took the world by storm. The publication, in that year, of the first volume of the 'Elements of Physics' was probably the greatest 'sensation' ever made by a scientific work, purely as an exposition. The first edition was sold in a few days; a second had to be followed by a third, a fourth, and a fifth, in as many years. If the author had devoted himself to keeping it up by the necessary improvements, it would have long continued to distance all competition in its own walk. It had an equal run in America, and was translated into nearly all the Continental languages. The popularity of the book was not due to any meretricious qualities. There was an extraordinary profusion of interesting examples, but these interfered less than in almost any other popular work with the understanding of the doctrines— in fact, were, as they ought to be, aids to the proper end of the teacher. The best proof of this was the number of individual minds that were stimulated to a scientific or intellectual career by the study of the work. The hearty testimony borne by Herschel and Whewell to the merits of the 'Physics,' scientific as well as expository, was incompatible with any infusion of claptrap.
"It would be easy to set forth the art, or rather the genius, of Arnott, in the composition of his book. He had great literary power, in the mere command of expression, and in the composition of his sentences, which are both lucid and flowing. Many scientific writers have had this much. But he had also a thorough and unfaltering perception of the intellectual capabilities of an average reader, and never for a moment presumed too much upon these. He labored, with no small success, to bring the doctrines of natural philosophy down to a level of mind that had never before been permeated by them; and, if any part of the subject was hopelessly intractable, he passed it by.
"Besides his amassed store of popular illustrations, stated in easy language, the work had the further charm of a species of sentiment or eloquence, often enough attempted in connection with science, but not often so well kept up. The author fully complied with Plato's condition of philosophical teaching—to exhibit the goodness of the divine plan of the Cosmos. His eloquent passages on this subject, together with his choicest illustrations of physical laws, were largely adopted into the common-school reading-books.
"The new editors have shown themselves aware of the backward state of the exposition in many parts, and have freely employed the power of excision and substitution. We should say, from a rough estimate, that a full half of the work is new. In the branches of Acoustics, Heat, Light, and Electricity, many additions were obviously necessary. In Mechanics, there has been more permanence, and Arnott's exposition is less interfered with; but it was essential to supplement his chapter on Motion and Force with a view of the doctrine of conservation of energy, which the author would have been delighted to handle in his own peculiar way, but scarcely touched upon even in his latest edition. However the work of revision may have been distributed among the three editors, they have been successful in bringing up the subjects to the most recent views, and in illustrating them by well-chosen examples and diagrams. The work is one likely to keep its place among treatises on a similar scale. Extending to nearly 900 pages, it comprises a tolerably full body of information in all the branches, while the reader has still the benefit of the expository genius and eloquence that charmed and astonished the world forty years ago, and has not yet been superseded."