Popular Science Monthly/Volume 14/January 1879/Literary Notices
|←Editor's Table||Popular Science Monthly Volume 14 January 1879 (1879)
On a subject of profound interest throughout Christendom, and upon which there is great discordance of opinion, coupled with intense feeling, Mr. Chadwick has produced an independent and instructive work, which is at the same time both reverent and rational.
The more liberal and catholic spirit of modern inquiry is undoubtedly due to the influence of science, which reaches far beyond the field of physical experiment. The attacks upon the Bible by the skeptics of the last century were made in the spirit of the age, which was polemical and disputatious, as it had been from the middle ages. Discussion was filled with the irritations, acerbities, bitterness, and the rancors of personal controversy. The Bible was argued over much like a party at the bar of our courts by the lawyers, one of whom wishes to set him free and the other to get him hanged. The Bible was attacked, as it was defended, and in spirit the skeptics were as much theologians as their opponents. But science has very much changed all this, and what was long an exasperating controversy is now becoming a quiet and rational investigation. While in the disputatious era it was maintained, on the one side, that the Bible is an exceptional and supernatural book—the plenary inspiration of God, and all its parts perfect and infallible—on the other hand, it was asserted to be a fabrication and an imposture. We have now pretty much passed out of that phase, and entered into the phase of calm and critical inquiry as to the origin and history of the various books which appeared at different times, and were at length collected to form the Christian Scriptures. The inquiry should be candid and dispassionate, but conducted with inexorable reference simply to the establishment of truth.
Much has been done in recent years, by scholars of various countries, to throw light on the historic origin of the Biblical books, and Mr. Chadwick has done the public an invaluable service in presenting, in a compendious form, the main results of this most interesting research. Of his treatment of the subject the author says:
"My object is to condense into a single volume, modest in size and cost, the principal results of the best historical and scientific criticism of the separate books of the Bible, and of their mutual relations. I am not aware of any other volume which has made exactly this attempt, and it is high time that somebody should make it. The truth of these results, if truth it be, is scattered up and down through scores of volumes, which few public libraries, even in our great cities, have upon their shelves, and which it would cost the individual reader hundreds of dollars to procure. Nevertheless, I shall be disappointed if one effect of these lectures is not to impel the reader to procure for himself some of the books which I have found most helpful and inspiring. Much, however, that has been written is not only costly and inaccessible, but is so laboriously and minutely critical in its form as to repel the average reader. I dare not hope that my own treatment will be entertaining, but for busy men and women I trust it will have some advantage over that of the great Biblical scholars in that it is at once compact and comprehensive."
Mr. Chadwick's volume consists of eight lectures, which were first delivered to his own people in Brooklyn—four on the Old Testament, one on the Apocrypha, and three on the New Testament. The first is on the Prophets, and is preceded by a brief history of the Old Testament canon. The arrangement of the lectures is intended to be simply chronological, and the prophets are considered first because it was evidently Mr. Chadwick's idea that, with some inconsiderable exceptions, we have in the prophets the earliest writers of the Old Testament. The Histories are next considered, because these are believed to have been written, for the most part, before the "Law."
The "Psalms and other writings" come last, as being written after the "Law." The Prophets are first taken in the order of our common version, and the date and authorship and character of each discussed. An inquiry is instituted as to the nature of prophetism, and reasons are assigned for the belief that the early prophets were not monotheists; the writing prophets of the eighth century b. c. being probably the first monotheists.
In his lecture on the Histories Mr. Chadwick finds them not to be histories in the ordinary sense of the word, but didactic compositions. In his lecture on the Pentateuch Mr. Chadwick considers it as a stratified series. The oldest or bottom layer, richest in narration, is a prophetic one, dating from the eighth century before Christ. The next layer he designates as priestly prophetic, and which includes the whole of Deuteronomy. Its date is fixed at 621 b. c. The next and topmost layer is altogether priestly, and includes all of Leviticus, a good deal of Numbers, and much besides. This upper stratum is what critics call the Book of Origins, and its date is the crucial question of Old Testament criticism. And Mr. Chadwick, following Kuenen, assigns it to the fifth century b. c., and 800 years after the time of Moses. By this mode of treatment he apprehends the entire history of Israel as an evolution from a simple to a complex worship, from the spontaneity of prophetism to fixity and formalism, from fetichism and Nature-worship up through monolatry to monotheism.
In the fourth lecture these principles are applied to the Psalms and other writings. In regard to the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, etc., the old interpretations are thoroughly traversed. The Song of Songs is characterized as a very noble poem, and the earliest complete book in the Old Testament, its date being about 800 b. c.
The Apocrypha is treated as the "missing link" between the New Testament and the Old. The apocryphal literature goes a great way, and shows how gradual was the evolution from Malachi to Jesus. The book of Enoch, which only the Abyssinian canon has retained, is further evidence of this, and is of the first importance. We are now already in the New Testament atmosphere, especially in that of the Apocalypse.
The sixth lecture, after a brief history of the formation of the New Testament, proceeds to consider the Epistles. Of the fourteen commonly ascribed to Paul only eight are found to be authentic—Romans, Galatians, and Corinthians, surely so; the others not so certainly. From Thessalonians and Philippians we have the evolution of Paul's ideal Christ from simple manhood to superangelic power and grace.
In the seventh lecture the Apocalypse is assigned to the year 69 b. c. The last lecture is on the Four Gospels, and Matthew is assigned to the year 100 a. d.; Luke to 115 a. d.; Mark to 120 a. d.; and John to 140 a. d.; these dates are, however, only approximate. A full chronological table, setting forth the dates of all the separate books of the Bible, is prefixed to the volume, in the shape of an analytical index.
This book represents a great amount of labor and research, and is executed in a manner highly creditable to the scholarship of the author. Though following the great authorities that have preceded him, he is not a servile follower but an independent student. The style of the work is spirited and attractive, and it is inspired with a moral earnestness and a reverent sincerity that will commend it to all unprejudiced and fair-minded readers.
We have here a timely and valuable manual upon a subject the practical importance of which is only equaled by its theoretical interest. A well-digested treatise on the art of cultivating animals through the control of genetic conditions has been long needed. Upon this point the author justly observes, "It is somewhat remarkable, in this book-making age, that there is no systematic work accessible to the student in which the known facts and principles of the art of improving and breeding domestic animals are presented, in convenient form, for study and reference, notwithstanding the importance of live-stock to the farmer, and the wonderful progress that has been made in its improvement since the time of Bakewell." The art of breeding was long pursued empirically, and was developed by numberless experiments from which rules were deduced that, though not rationally understood, were still sufficient to guide breeders in the improvement of stock. Modern biology has given greater precision to observations, has indicated new lines of experimental research, and has established various principles that are of controlling utility in practice. Much is still unsettled, and many questions remain in profound obscurity, yet there has been such a clearing up of old difficulties and such an extension of positive knowledge in this field that it is now necessary to deal with the subject from the scientific point of view. Dr. Miles's work is rich in the varied facts which constitute the foundation of the art, and which have been selected with careful judgment in regard to their authenticity, but in the classification and interpretation of his data the author follows the scientific method. Indeed, if a book were to be selected simply to illustrate the practical fruitfulness of modern scientific inquiry, in one of its most recent lines of exploration, we are inclined to think the present volume might well be chosen for the purpose. The book is so full of interesting and valuable information that we should like to transfer large portions of it to our columns; but, as this is impossible, we must content ourselves with quoting a few remarks from the author's preface, indicating the main features of his work:
"In a popular exposition of the principles of an art that is almost exclusively based upon the experience of practical men there is little opportunity for originality, aside from the classification and arrangement of facts, and the inferences, in some instances, that may be drawn from them in explaining the practices of the most successful breeders. It is believed that a systematic statement of what is already known in the practice of the art is of greater importance, at the present lime, than any new truths, as it must furnish the only consistent foundation for future progress and improvement. The numerous cases that have been collected to illustrate the various topics under discussion have been compiled, as far as possible, from original sources, and presented in their original form—preferences, in nearly all cases, being given to the works from which they are quoted. This feature of the work will be of interest to the student who wishes to study the subject in greater detail, as it will, to some extent, serve as an index to authorities that may be profitably consulted. In the limits of a popular work it is of course impossible to treat each topic exhaustively, and the attempt has been made to present only such an outline of the principles of the art as would be required in a text-book for students, or a work of reference for farmers."
The present work is an attempt to grapple with the profoundest problems of philosophy by determining the nature and limits of genuine knowledge, and to determine the relations and interdependences of its several parts. The author claims for his book nothing of novelty in its design, but alleges, as a reason for undertaking it, that "the recent rapid developments of science, both mental and physical, with their widely-diversified results, seem to invite a fresh endeavor in this direction, as they furnish new facilities and helps for prosecuting it." As might be expected from the point of view here taken, modern scientific and philosophical ideas are brought under review and estimated, the result being, as we gather from the writer, that fundamental questions of speculative inquiry have not been much disturbed by modern research. In his last chapter on "Cosmogony" the author takes up the doctrine of evolution, which he says is philosophically "mere hypothesis," "irreconcilable with facts claimed to be ascertained by science," "repugnant to reason," and "as a theory of causal agency in the cosmos is a failure."
A book of multifarious speculations, theological, historical, moral, astronomical, and physical. The author says that it was originally written with no intention of publication, but he got so much comfort out of the contemplations it embodies that he was impelled to print it. He remarks, "With a hope that some one who will read these pages will find encouragement for a union in the great future with friends that have gone before, as well as for an acquaintance with the millions of happy spirits who have passed through the vale of sorrow to their final home, I submit this work to a generous public." Our attention has been especially called to the author's three chapters on "Solar Light and Heat," in which he differs from the ideas that men of science are in the habit of taking. The cause of solar heat he holds to be the refraction of light, and says: "The atmosphere that surrounds our earth is in the form of a concavo-convex lens. The aqueous vapor in the upper regions of the atmosphere is intensely cold, yet, acting on the rays of light like a cold-water lens, produces heat; and here is the secret of solar temperature on the earth, and the change in temperature is caused by the varying angles at which the solar rays strike the atmosphere. I repeat, it cannot be denied that refraction of the rays of light will produce heat. The heat at the focus of a 32-inch lens exceeds almost every kind and intensity of heat known to terrestrial chemistry. Again, it cannot be denied that the earth's atmosphere is a refracting medium, and that as such it is capable of producing heat from rays of light."
The book is printed on tinted paper, and contains a portrait of the author.
The author of this valuable report considers the subject of filtration under the three heads of "Artificial Filtration on the Large Scale," "Natural Filtration," and "Household Filtration." The two former sections will be read with interest by the civil and sanitary engineer; the last, that on "Household Filtration," directly concerns every family in the land. Too often the quality of water supplied to the inhabitants of our cities is truly described as in the following reply to a letter of inquiry: "When the river is clear we have clear water; when the river is muddy we have muddy water." Such a state of things necessitates the use of domestic filters, many different forms of which are described and criticised by Dr. Nichols.
The problem here considered is one that is every day arising for solution—how to modernize and beautify an old house. In a series of chapters which take the form of familiar letters the author first describes the original form of an old mansion; then details the changes in its internal arrangement and in its exterior, necessitated by the requirements of modern life and of modem culture; finally, he tells us how these changes have been made. Nor does Mr. Mason restrict himself to the consideration of the purely architectural aspects of the problem, for the old mansion had to be transformed not only in itself, but also in its fittings and furniture. There is room for difference of opinion as to the desirability of such transformations, and most persons would perhaps think it the better way to pull down and build anew; but, if regard for an old house interferes to prevent its demolition, our author's plan of transforming and modernizing it will deserve to be considered.
The first part of "Faust" forms Vol. IV. of Prof. Hart's series of "German Classics." The English student of German will derive from the editor's very brief grammatical and critical notes, and from his learned introduction, material aid in overcoming the difficulties of the text.
The medical student will here find precisely that measure of information in practical chemistry which is absolutely indispensable for him to possess. The author's object is in no wise to "cram" the student for examination-day, but to put him in possession of a few chemical principles, and to familiarize him with certain chemical processes, without which he cannot hope for success in his chosen profession.
Under this quaint title, Mr. Allen publishes the record of a year's experience and results in bee-keeping. Persons who may be thinking of engaging in that pursuit will doubtless learn much from this little book. Bee-keeping, by modern methods, the author informs us in the preface, is an art just as much as growing wheat or fruit or stock; the profits which may be gained from it are just as certain as the profits from any other branch of rural labor, and are much larger.
A long-felt want is here supplied, viz., simple, practical formulæ for the determination of the relative proportions of the component parts of the steam-engine. Rankine appears to be the only author in English who has attempted to do this; but his treatment of the subject is so brief as to be obscure. The present work is therefore a very welcome contribution to the science of the steam-engine.
The fact that this handbook of flower painting has already passed through twelve editions in England speaks well for its popular character. Like all the volumes of the series of "Art Handbooks" to which it belongs, it is a model of tasteful book-making.
Mr. Sterne advocates governmental control of the railway lines. The cry that this is "centralization" does not frighten him, because "whether centralization is objectionable depends upon whether it is good or bad, and whether it supersedes a better or a worse system." And he quotes with approval the remarks made by Burke: "If I am not able to correct a system of oppression and tyranny that goes to the utter ruin of 30,000,000 of my fellow-creatures, but by some increase of the influence of the crown, I am ready here to declare that I, who have been active to reduce it, shall be as active and strenuous to restore it again. I am no lover of names; I contend for the substance of good and protecting government, let it come from what quarter it will."
Few books have fallen into our hands having a more distinguished paternity than this one. It contains six poems, not elsewhere published, from six of the leading American poets of the century, and its pages are embellished with thirty-six beautiful illustrations, by artists of scarcely inferior rank. Holmes contributes the introduction, "On the Threshold;" Bryant follows with a pleasant bit of Nature entitled "The Song Sparrow;" and Longfellow writes of what he is supposed to know most about, "The Poets." "June on the Merrimac," by Whittier, is a gem well worth the price of the book, and there follows Lowell on "The Fire-Fly," and Bayard Taylor on "The Lost Caryatid." The printer and binder have done their share of the work in befitting style, making the volume, taken altogether, one of the handsomest and most interesting holiday books we have seen.
Though this volume is numbered II., it is in fact the first of the series in the order of publication, and Vol. I. is yet to follow. The reason of this reversal of the logical sequence is that, while the matter belonging to Vol. II. is completed, that which of right belongs to Vol. I. has to await the completion of the survey. The volume, which, by-the-way, is highly creditable to Wisconsin lithography and typography, consists of four parts, viz.: Part I., containing the annual reports for 1873, 1874, and 1875, now first published. During the two former years, the survey was under the general direction of Dr. Increase A. Lapham, and during the last year under Dr. O. W. Wight. Part II. treats of the geology of Eastern Wisconsin, and is written by the geologist-in-chief, Mr. T. C. Chamberlin. Part III., by Roland D. Irving, treats of the geology of Central Wisconsin. Finally, Part IV., on the "Geology and Topography of the Lead-Region," is by Moses Strong. Accompanying the volume is a set of maps, fourteen in number. Numerous colored and plain lithographic plates and wood-engravings serve to embellish the volume and to illustrate the text.
The vast fund of information acquired by the Entomological Commission during the first year of its labors is in this report laid before the agricultural population of the States and Territories exposed to the locust-plague. The commissioners, Messrs. Riley, Packard, and Thomas, justly congratulate themselves on the success which has attended their efforts to determine certain cardinal points touching the origin and distribution of the Rocky Mountain locust—its breeding-grounds, geographical range, migrations, habits and natural history, the means of checking its ravages, etc. Much, indeed, has been done toward accomplishing the purpose for which the commission was appointed; but still more remains to be done, both in the way of research and, above all, in the way of applying on the large scale the remedies and devices for exterminating the locust which are here explained. "Further surveys need to be made of the permanent breeding-grounds in the Northwestern Territories; more facts are needed to perfect our knowledge of the migrations in this area; the coöperation of our Government with Canada is needed to work up the subject properly in the locust-region north of the United States boundary-line; and some other problems remain to be solved." This done, it is hoped that it will be "possible at least to greatly modify or lessen these invasions, and diminish the losses resulting therefrom, if not entirely prevent them."
The very title of the first of the above named publications will win for it the ear. nest attention of the public. The dangers from the color-blindness of railroad-men and pilots are obvious, and it is time that efficient measures should be taken to obviate them. The Massachusetts Board of Health is to be highly commended for having procured the publication of Dr. Jeffries's observations on this subject.
This course is designed to meet the wants of the lower classes in engineering schools; it will also be of service to those who wish to pursue this branch of study by themselves. The system here followed has been subjected for many years to the test of practical experience in the class of civil engineering in Bowdoin College.
Report of the Chief Signal-Officer for the Year 1877. With numerous Charts. Washington: Government Printing-Office. 1877. Pp. 570.
A Face illumined. By E. P. Roe. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co. Pp. 658. $1.50.
Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year 1877. Washington: Government Printing-Office. 1878. Pp. 500.
The Telegraph in America. By James D. Reid. With numerous Portraits. New York: Derby Brothers. 1878. Pp. 846. $6.
The Races of European Turkey. By Edson L. Clark. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co. 1878. Pp. 538. $3.
Daily Bulletin of Weather-Reports for January, February, and March, 1877. Washington: Government Printing-Office. 1878.
First Quarter Century of the Home Insurance Company New York: Printed by order of the Board 1878. Pp. 80.
Astronomy. By R. S. Ball. New York: Holt & Co. 1873. Pp. 167. 60 cents.
Science News. Published fortnightly by S. E. Cassino, Salem, Mass. Vol. I., No. 1. Pp. 16. $2 per annum.
Geological and Natural History Survey of Minnesota. Report for the Year 1877. Minneapolis: Johnson, Smith & Harrison. 1878. Pp. 225.
Third Annual Report of the Johns Hopkins University. Baltimore: Murphy print. 1878.
Annual Report on the Operations of the Department of the Interior for the Year ending June 30, 1878. Washington Government Printing-Office. Pp. 48.
An Essay on Free Trade. By Richard Hawley. New York: Putnam's Sons. 1878. Pp. 63. 25 cents.
Dissipation of Electricity in Gases. By Demetrieff Boboulieff. From the American Journal of Science and Arts. Pp. 13.
Report of the New York Association for improving the Condition of the Poor. Pp. 64.
Laws affecting Tenement and Lodging Houses in New York and Brooklyn. Printed by the Association. Pp. 11
Constituents of Climate, with Special Reference to Florida. By F. D. Lenie M. D. Louisville, Kentucky: Richmond and Louisville Medical Journal print. Pp. 56.
On the Genealogy of Plants. By Lester F. Ward. Pp. 378.
Report of the Survey of the Northern and Northwestern Lakes and the Mississippi River, in Charge of C. B. Comstock and M. H. Adams. Washington: Government Printing-Office. From Report of Chief of Engineers. 1877. Pp. 100.
Catalogue of the Iron Age Library. New York: David Williams. Pp. 50.
General Vaccination throughout the Country. By Elisha Harris. Pp. 16. Records of Deaths and Causes of Death, Same author Pp. 16. From Papers of the American Public Health Association. Cambridge: Riverside press. 1877.
Art Anatomy. By A. J. Howe, M.D. Pp. 23.
Note on Cladocera. By Edward A. Birge, Ph. D. With Plates. Pp. 34.
A Collection from the Ancient Cemetery at the Bay of Chacota, Peru. By John H. Blake. Printed at the Salem press. Pp. 304.
The Halifax Fishery Award. By Alexander Bliss. Washington: Beresford print. 1878. Pp. 24.
American Jurassic Dinosaurs. By O. C. Marsh. With Plates. Reprinted from American Journal of Science. Pp. 6.
Evolution of Character. By J. I. D. Hinds. Nashville, Tennessee: Ligon & Co. print, Pp. 11.
Air and Moisture on Shipboard. By T. J. Turner, M. D. Pp. 16.
Chemical Constitution of the Atmosphere. By Albert R. Leeds, Ph. D. From Annals of New York Academy of Sciences. Pp. 27.
Eradication of Syphilis and Crime By George F. French, M. D. Portland, Maine: Berry print. Pp. 8.
Conservation of Force. By Thos. H Musick. Mexico, Missouri: Union print. 1878. Pp. 56.
The Amateur's Handbook of Practical Information for the Workshop and Laboratory. New York: The Industrial Publication Co. 1878. Pp. 44. 10 cents.
Natural Succession of the Dicotyledons. By Lester F. Ward. From the American Naturalist. Pp. 11.