Popular Science Monthly/Volume 12/November 1877/Literary Notices
|←Editor's Table||Popular Science Monthly Volume 12 November 1877 (1877)
The Holy Roman Empire dates from the year 800 a. d, when a king of the Franks was crowned Emperor of the Romans by Leo III.; and it is on the inner nature of this empire, as the most signal instance of the fusion of Roman and Teutonic elements in modern civilization, that the author dwells, treating of the influence which it exercised over the minds of men, and the causes that gave it power; speaking less of events than of principles, and describing the empire, not as a state, but as an institution created by and embodying a wonderful system of ideas. The forms which the empire took, in the several stages of its growth, are briefly sketched. A glance is taken at the condition of the Roman world in the third and fourth centuries, in order to make clear out of what elements the imperial system was formed.
Expiring antiquity had bequeathed to the ages that followed two great ideas a—world-monarchy and a world-religion. The Roman dominion, giving to many nations a common speech and law, broke down the differences of race and nationality—when foreigner and enemy were synonymous terms—and made citizens of them irrespective of their religious beliefs, which were purely local and national. For these, Christianity substituted the belief in one God, and the doctrine of the unity of God enforced the unity of man; and there was thus formed a community of the faithful—a holy empire—designed to gather all men into its bosom. Thus the Holy Roman Church and the Holy Roman Empire were one and the same thing in two aspects. As divine and eternal, its head was the pope, to whom souls were intrusted; as human and temporal, the emperor, commissioned to rule over men's bodies and acts.
Chapters are devoted to the subjects "Imperial Titles and Pretensions;" "Changes in the Germanic Constitution;" "The Empire as an International Power;" "The City of Rome in the Middle Ages;" "Effects of the Renaissance and Reformation on the Empire;" its last phases and end in 1806 by the abdication of Francis II., 1,006 years after Leo the pope had crowned the Frankish king. A supplementary chapter is added on "The New Germanic Empire," and an appendix of notes on "Imperial Titles and Ceremonies." To the whole is prefixed a "Chronological Table of Emperors and Popes," and "Dates of Important Events in the History of the Empire."
The treatment and style of the work are judicial and scholarly, and the book will doubtless be a standard one on the subjects of which it speaks. It has been remarkably well received on all sides, having already passed through seven editions.
Ten years ago, Dr. Maudsley issued a large, well-elaborated volume under the title of "The Physiology and Pathology of Mind." It was well received, and a second edition was called for, which has been now for some time out of print. After several years' further study of the subject, and availing himself of the great activity of investigation in this branch during the last decade, Dr. Maudsley has revised his work, and so extended it that it became desirable to make it into two volumes instead of one. That which was the first part now appears as a separate volume, confined to the physiology of mind; and will be followed by its sequel, or companion-work, as a separate treatise on mental pathology. It is an excellent thing on every account to divide the original work in this way, for, although the subjects are most intimately connected, they can be just as well studied together now as before, while there will unquestionably be many who will care chiefly for but one of the volumes. That now issued has an interest for all students of the philosophy of mind, while the one following will more directly concern the medical profession. "The Physiology of Mind" by Dr. Maudsley is a very engaging volume to read, as it is a fresh and vigorous statement of the doctrines of a growing scientific school on a subject of transcendent moment, and, besides many new facts and important views brought out in the text, is enriched by instructive notes and quotations from authoritative writers upon physiology and psychology, and by illustrative cases which add materially to the interest of the book. We have room for but one of these, showing the manner in which the loss of one sense is followed by an extension or increase of function of those which remain:
No library of mental philosophy will be complete without this book, and no liberal student of the subject can refrain from giving it his serious and critical attention.
The above book contains the result of the author's observation and study on the subject of lightning-protection during an eighteen years' experience in the telegraph business. After an introductory course of experiment with artificial lightning, and an explanation of the principal known facts relating to the electricity of the earth and atmosphere, the author proceeds to show that few of the lightning-rods or conductors now erected can be relied upon for an easy passage of heavy lightning-discharges, and goes on to prove that the metal roof and rain-pipes of a building can be made a better protection at a reduced expense. Explicit directions then follow for the protection of buildings of every description, ships, oil-tanks, steam-boilers, bridges, telegraph-poles, etc.
Prof. Leeds does not assume to present a complete lithology of the Adirondack region, but limits himself to giving an outline of the work already done in that field: a description of the rocks so far collected by himself; analyses of some of the more important typical rocks and minerals; results of microscopic study of rock-sections; and, finally, inferences drawn from these premises.
This Annual Report of the Natural History Association of Wisconsin shows a gratifying increase in the number of members, and in the specimens contained in the various cabinets of natural history. The association embraces a section for zoölogy, one each for botany, mineralogy, geology, and ethnology, and the cabinets of each of these sections received during the year a large number of additional specimens. The list of active members embraces over 200 names.
From the facts considered in this essay by Prof. Kirkwood, it appears to follow that—1. The solar system has not existed over twenty or thirty million years; 2. That our solar system is more advanced in its physical history than the larger component of the double star Alpha Centauri; 3. That 61 Cygni has reached a greater degree of condensation than the sun; and, 4. The companion of Sirius has reached a greater state of maturity than the sun, while the contrary seems to be true in regard to the principal star.
We have here the fruit of the author's long-continued studies of the haunts and habits of the Rocky Mountain locust, as published from time to time in the "Entomological Reports of Missouri" and in sundry periodicals. The subject of the book is one that possesses a lively interest for farmers over a wide area of our Western States and Territories. Prof. Riley's object in publishing in a separate volume all the information he has been able to acquire with regard to the Rocky Mountain locust is a practical one—namely, to acquaint the farmer with the means of counteracting this plague—hence he, as far as possible, avoids technicalities, and writes in a style easily intelligible to the popular mind.
This very convenient volume represents an enormous expenditure of labor in collecting statistical information in regard to "almost everything of interest to man." The matter is gathered in every instance from the most authentic sources, and is presented to the reader in the smallest possible compass. The work is one of permanent value. It is full of useful information for men in every walk of life, as the farmer, the mechanic, the merchant, the publicist, the schoolmaster, the man of letters, etc.
It was in this volume that publication was first made to the outside world of the so-called "Blue-Laws" of Connecticut. Of these laws the author says that they were "never suffered to be printed." He does not profess to do more than to give "a sketch" of some of them, so as to exhibit the spirit which pervades the whole. What that spirit was can be seen from a few of the prohibitions of the code, for instance: "No one shall run on the Sabbath-day, or walk in his garden or elsewhere, except reverently to and from meeting. No woman shall kiss her child on the Sabbath or fasting-day. No one shall read common-prayer, keep Christmas or Saints-days, make minced pies, dance, play cards, or play on any instrument of music, except the drum, trumpet, and Jew's-harp. No food or lodging shall be afforded to a Quaker, Adamite, or other heretic." The authenticity of these laws has been called in question, and recently Mr. J. H. Trumbull published a work designed to show that the "False Blue-Laws" were invented by Dr. Peters. The object of the editor in republishing the work is to make the public acquainted with the side of the question opposed to that of Mr. Trumbull, and to confirm, as far as possible, by contemporary testimony, the truthfulness of Dr. Peters's summary of the Puritanic legislation of Connecticut and New Haven. But, quite apart from this question, the work is one of real value, and well worthy the honor of republication.
The author of this little treatise, after defining weight and measure, devotes a chapter to "Ancient Standards of Weight and Measure," in which it is shown that accurate standards were totally unknown to the ancients, and in particular that the standards of ancient Egypt were not based on the earth's dimensions. The history of English standard units of weights and measures is then given with considerable minuteness; next follows a chapter on the metric system; finally, there is a on "Weighing and Measuring Instruments, and their Scientific Use."
This book is not, as might be inferred from its title, a scripture which would be acceptable to the followers of Comte, nor would it answer as a foundation on which to build any creed. It is one of a class—compilations of moral, religious, and ethical teachings from various sources, with comments and extensions by the compiler, and bearing the impress of his ideas, which in the case of M. Michelet are quite peculiar. It is rather more reverent and refined than John Stewart's "Bible of Nature," but it is an equally great misuse of words to call it a Bible.
The literature and art of India, Persia, and Greece, "the three hearths of light," and of Egypt, "the monument of death," have inspired the greater part of the work. Of course, it is erotic; the commentary on the "Song of Songs," though rather free, presents that drama in a wonderfully bold and vivid way; and Chapters VI., VII., and VIII., which treat of woman, are marked by the unhealthy exaltation which appears in all of Michelet's later works, seeming, as the writer of the biographical sketch says, "to have been written under the influence of an uninterrupted honey-moon."
It aims to be epigrammatic, abounds in italics and exclamation-points, and offers a rich field for phrase-hunters. It is among these and rather sentimental transcendentalists that the book will find its readers.
These so-called essays are papers ostensibly on physiological subjects, but are really written to puff a lot of preparations sold by the author, who styles himself the "originator of the food-cure system." They are written in the style which characterizes that class of literature—various diseases are described, embellished with sensational horrors, which may be avoided and cured by the use of the food-remedies. While Pavy, Frankland, and other able investigators, are becoming more and more wary in their statements as to the way in which food is assimilated, and are beginning to question positions that have heretofore been generally accepted, Dr. Blanchard dogmatically asserts his ability to furnish specific material which shall go directly to the defective spot in the system, and set about the work of repairing the wasted tissues and disorganized nerve and brain cells without delay.
It is probably useless to expose the fallacies of this sort of trash; so long as people are content to remain in ignorance of hygienic rules, and ignore the laws of waste and supply, the platitudes of these venders will have readers, and their nostrums find sale:
In a recent notice of Commissioner Baird's Report on Food Fishes, we expressed a hope that a systematic list of the fishes of American waters, with descriptions, and an account of habitat, seasons, etc., would some time be made.
The papers included in the pamphlet before us are valuable contributions to such a work. Over the area indicated in the title the fishes have been catalogued and described with scientific accuracy, the localities, relative abundance, and common names, are given, while the synonyms of their nomenclature receive due attention. No attempt is made to give any account of the seasons, habits, or manner of breeding, which would be of most interest to the lay reader; but this would, perhaps, be too much to expect of the scientific worker attempting to cover so much ground.
The projectors of this periodical are of the opinion that the metallurgical industries have become sufficiently important to have a current literature of their own, and intend that this Review shall be a vehicle for discussions on purely scientific topics, which are too abstruse for newspapers, and are given to the public but slowly through the medium of books.
This first number gives promise that the publication will have an immediate and permanent value. It contains, among others, essays on the "Mechanical Treatment of Metals," by Prof. R. H. Thurston; "Studies of Elemental Iron, and its Modifications," by Prof. Henry Wurtz; "New Iron District of Ohio," by E. C. Pechin; and a miscellany of short articles of metallurgical interest. It is finely printed in large, clear type, on excellent paper, with ample margins, presenting a most creditable appearance.
Publishers' Trade List Annual (1877). New York: Publishers' 1 Weekly print. Price, $1.50.
Free-Thinking and Plain Speaking. By Leslie Stephen. New York: Putnam's Sons. Pp. 362. Price, $2.50.
Volumetric Analysis. By Dr. Emil Fleischer. London and New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 294. Price, $2.50.
Method of Least Squares. By M. Merriman. Same publishers. Pp. 207. Price, $2.50.
Egypt as it is. By J. C. McCoan. New York: Holt & Co. Pp. 226. With Map. Price, $3.75.
Engineering Construction. By J. E. Shields, C.E. New York: Van Nostrand. Pp. 138. Price, $1.50.
Guide to Ridge Hill Farms. Boston: Getchell Brothers print. Pp. 156.
The Complete Preacher. Also, The Metropolitan Pulpit. Monthly. New York: Religious Newspaper Agency. $2 per year.
Spiritual Sciences; Revelation of God; Christmas and New-Year's Day; Good Friday: Biblical Theology; Ascension-Day and Whitsuntide. All by "Kuklos." London /Published by John Harris, Kilburn Square.
Fur-bearing Animals. By Elliott Cones Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 318. With Plates.
Weather Reports for May, 1874. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 190.
The Hidatsa Indians. By W. Matthews. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 246.
Geological and Geographical Survey of Colorado and Adjacent Territory (1875). By F. V. Hayden. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 834. With Maps and Plates.
Contributions to North American Ethnology. By W. H. Dall and George Gibbs (Powell's Survey of the Territories). Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 861. With Plates.
The Geyser Basins of the Yellowstone Park. By I. B. Comstock. From the "Proceedings of the American Association." Pp. 8.
Results of Hypertrophied Tonsils. By A. W. Calhoun, M.D. Atlanta: Dickson print. Pp. 12.
Canadian Reciprocity. Pp. 16. Also, The Hard Times. Pp. 12. Philadelphia: American Iron and Steel Association.
Proceedings of the American Public Health Association. New York: Hurd & Houghton. Pp. 249. Price, $4.
Positivist Prayer. By J. Lonchampt. Goshen, N. Y.: Independent Republican print. Pp. 32.
Civilization and the Duration of Life. By C. T. Lewis. Cambridge: The Riverside Press. Pp. 11.
Anthropoidea. Pp. 8. Sketch of Cuvier. Pp. 8. Hunterian Oration. Pp. 7. By Dr. A. J. Howe, of Cincinnati.
Bulletin of the Survey of the Territories (Hayden's). Vol. III., No. 4. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 120.
Bulletin of the United States National Museum, Nos. 7, 8, and 9. Washington: Government Printing-Office.
Report of New York Meteorological Observatory (1876). New York: Brown print. Pp. 105. With Charts.
Organic Acids in Examination of Minerals. By H. C. Bolton. New York: Gregory Bros, print. Pp. 36. With Plate.
Fifteen-Cent Dinners. By Juliet Corson. New York: Published for gratuitous distribution. Pp. 39.
The Kindergarten Messenger. Vol. I., Nos. 9 and 10. Price, $1 per year.
Both's Method for treating Tubercular Consumption. New York: Cherouny & Kienle print. Pp. 20.