Popular Science Monthly/Volume 16/February 1880/Literary Notices
|←Editor's Table||Popular Science Monthly Volume 16 February 1880 (1880)
This is the biography of a devout clergyman, who was at the same time a cordial and fearless friend of science. We call attention to some features of the work that illustrate this combination of traits.
The subject of it was born in Bermuda in 1829. He got the rudiments of a common education there, and came to New York at the age of eighteen. Having a thirst for study, and deciding to become a clergyman, he went to Amenia Seminary, and then to Trinity College at Hartford. After graduating there he taught a year at Racine College, Wisconsin, and then wound up his professional studies in the General Theological Seminary in New York. He was ordained by Bishop Potter as a clergyman of the Episcopal Church in 1857.
Mr. Perinchief’s pastoral experiences were varied. He had charge of several parishes, beginning to preach in Brooklyn; he afterward went to Bridgeport, then to York, Pennsylvania, from which he removed to Mount Holly, New Jersey, and finally returned to Bridgeport, where he died in 1877, at the age of forty-seven years.
Mr. Perinchief was during all his adult life an invalid and a great sufferer. Straitened in means, and fighting his way through the educational institutions, he was often subjected to great privations, living for long periods on bread and water, with insufficient clothing, which, with the customary overwork in such circumstances, permanently impaired his constitution. Besides this, he early met with a terrible accident which produced a lesion of the spine, that was ever afterward a source of much pain and prostration.
It is hardly possible that so intense and prolonged an experience of physical suffering could have been without its influence upon his mental life. Yet he was far from being the victim of his bad bodily conditions. His subjective experiences did not color or distort his view of the world. His manhood triumphed over the unhappy accidents of his lot, and the influence he exerted upon all around him was in a remarkable degree healthful, ennobling, and purifying. He had a large measure of that quality which is currently characterized as "personal magnetism," and all who knew him were brought under its influence, and quickened in their aspirations after a higher and more perfect life. He was a man of great spirituality and profound devotion, but this involved no weakness, and he did not waste himself in mere fervid emotion. His judgment was clear, his criticisms telling, and his views independent. Though in the Church heart and soul, he was not a blind partisan, but saw the evils that were near, and the good that was beyond. Liberal in his ideas and catholic in his sympathies, he was unsparing in his condemnation of the selfish worldliness that he encountered in his own sect, and cordially responsive to all the noble work of the age whether within or without the pale of ecclesiasticism.
There were a simplicity, modesty, and intense earnestness in this man's nature, such as are but rarely observed. Though gifted as a preacher and capable of brilliant mental work, he never courted popularity, nor sought conspicuous positions. Often solicited to enter the higher sphere of churchly recognition and influence, he steadily resisted these importunities, preferring obscurity, and quiet, unobtrusive labor among the common people that had not been spoiled by affluence. He was very radical in his convictions in regard to ministerial duty, as may be gathered from various passages of his correspondence. In a private letter written from Boston, in 1869, he speaks very plainly: "This morning I preached in an old wealthy and dead church. To preach to such a people is like preaching to a field of old stumps and about as hopeful. . . . I thank God that we are not rich, and that our lot is not, and has not been, cast with the rich. I tell you the rich can hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven, whether they be clergy or laity. . . . I feel that we are all relying too much on money—great stone churches, fine houses, large salaries, etc., which have brought the Church to the level of the world. I see the rich, full of pride, taken up with vanity, soul all gone, thinking their gain is godliness, no sympathy, no true riches of any kind."
Again he breaks out: "I am more and more convinced that a hired ministry is a great evil. To preach honestly under such circumstances almost kills me; to preach tenderly is almost Impossible. To take pay for preaching is base and unmanly; I feel it more and more every day. To be in the position of a divine teacher and not preach according to my conscience is impossible, and so, what with one thing and another, the difficulty of doing one's duty—the sense of begging or being a hireling—almost drives me out of the ministry. I ask myself: Is this all that eighteen hundred years can accomplish for man by the Church, and in the Church? Italy could not be worse off without her Church. How is it with the United States?"
In regard to science Mr. Perinchief was large-minded and sympathetic, although his acquisitions in this direction were of course slender. Neither his early education in the parish-school at Bermuda, nor his subsequent training at Amenia Trinity College and the New York Theological Seminary, could have been well adapted to inform him of the great truths of modem science, or to create any special interest in this line of study. But the instincts of his liberal intelligence were true to the spirit of improvement and progress, and, as his mind widened by observation and reflection, he saw clearly enough that science is to be the great renovating agency of modern times. In this relation his biographer remarks: "The scientists who wrote on evolution, as well as those who uttered striking thoughts in theology, literature, art, philosophy, or statesmanship, he devoured with equal gusto; and, discriminating between facts demonstrated to be true and those purely theoretical, he was always ready with a criticism or decided opinion on the merits of what he read. He accordingly saw nothing in science to cause alarm, but welcomed it as a grand agency of human amelioration, in emancipating men from superstition, and in making those great conquests of Nature that have been so powerful in elevating mankind from barbarism and carrying on the work of civilization. Nor could he understand how a deeper knowledge of the method and mysteries of Nature can have any other effect than to exalt and purify the conception that man forms of the Creator and Ruler of all things. His faith was not of a kind to be disturbed by any progress of knowledge. He therefore held all true men of science who dedicated themselves to the elucidation of the works of God as promoters of religion in its best and highest sense. He cheered on the labor of scientists, commending their single-minded and unswerving devotion to the pursuit of truth, not in any skeptical spirit, but as a simple dictate of Christian principle."
The illustrations of these sentiments, occurring in Mr. Perinchief's letters, are noteworthy. He was a careful reader of this magazine, and thus wrote concerning it to his friend Mr. John A. Graham, of New York: "I am exceedingly obliged to you for that copy of the 'Science Monthly'; I am much delighted with it. This is an enterprise I would very gladly see prosper in this country. It is very much needed, and I believe it will be sustained. It will help men who are now thinking along their own solitary lines; it will stimulate thought in those who have not thought before; it will gradually elevate the tone of our entire literature. If it can only get among our church people, it will make many of them more truly religious. Success to it."
Again he wrote to the same gentleman regarding two books bearing in opposite directions upon current controversies.
Some of Mr. Perinchief's sermons have been published, but are out of print; new editions are announced. They are remarkable for vigorous simplicity of style, warmth of religious feeling, and independence of thought. Mr. Perinchief's position in the Church was similar to that of Frederick Robertson. There is much likeness in their intellectual work, and in the opinion of many the excellences of Mr. Perinchief's discourses are quite equal to those of the eminent and liberal English clergyman.
Nordenskiöld occupies an eminent position among the explorers of Arctic lands. For upward of twenty-one years, or since 1858, he has devoted his great abilities to that laborious and often perilous work. Accounts of his researches and discoveries have appeared from time to time, and the Swedish Arctic and Polar Expeditions planned by him, or in which he took a conspicuous part, have a wide fame, and are rich in results. The latest expedition undertaken by the great explorer was a successful effort to reach Behring's Strait and the Pacific Ocean from Norway by way of the Kara Sea and the Arctic Ocean. In this and in two previous expeditions along the north shores of Europe and Asia an extensive series of observations was made of the greatest importance to commerce and to science. The coast-line was well determined and mapped, soundings were made, and a record kept of meteorological and magnetical observations. Besides these, some of the great rivers which empty into the Arctic Sea were explored; the important fact was shown that the northern lands of Siberia are not only highly fertile, but are susceptible of cultivation; and that a vast pine forest of gigantic growth extends northward of the Arctic Circle, stretching from the Ural quite to the Sea of Okhotsk. Many more plants were found at home in higher latitudes in Siberia than in Sweden. The white and red currant grow in great luxuriance on the banks of the Yenisei in the north forest region.
The volume before us was prepared by Alexander Leslie, Esq., of Aberdeen, and, although largely a compilation from reports and papers by Nordenskiöld and his able scientific assistants, has been put together with rare tact and judgment, and forms an interesting and timely contribution to the literature of Arctic exploration.
The first voyage of Nordenskiöld to Spitzbergen was made in 1858 as geologist in Jorell's first expedition to that island. It was then that he discovered, at Bell Sound, on the southwest part of Spitzbergen, the remarkable fossil flora which was determined by Professor Heer to be of Tertiary age. He also found in the same fiord limestone in vertical strata, which, from its fossils, is referred to the Carboniferous formation. In the spring of 1861 another voyage was made, and the work of exploration begun in 1858 was pushed with vigor. On this journey, while yet many miles from Spitzbergen, snow-buntings, exhausted in their migratory flight, alighted in the rigging of the ship. On another occasion, flocks of the barnacle-goose were seen flying northeastward beyond Spitzbergen, perhaps to yet unknown lands. When the breeding-season for birds was at its height, the vast numbers seen astonished the travelers. The rocks of the coast for many miles were literally covered with them.
Nordenskiöld made six voyages of exploration to Spitzbergen, and one to Greenland. This last was in 1 870, and the account of his journey inland is of great interest. He proceeded to the head of Auleitsivik Fiord, and went thence about thirty miles over a region that was one vast ice-field, dangerous and exhausting to travelers. They reached a point twenty-two hundred feet above sea-level. A pair of ravens were the only animals seen, but traces of the ptarmigan were met with. In the Polar Expedition to Spitzbergen in 1872-'73, a very extensive exploration of the eastern shore of Northeast Land was made. This is a desolate, ice-covered island about ninety miles in length by seventy-five in breadth, separated from Spitzbergen by a strait eighteen miles broad. The ice-covering is probably from two to three thousand feet in thickness, and the movement of the ice mass is eastward, forming the broadest glacier known. Its breadth is even greater than that of the Humboldt glacier of Greenland.
The book abounds in fine descriptions of Arctic scenery, and the long night seems to be not wanting in agreeable aspects. The darkness is lessened by the mild light of the moon; and a faint, reddish glimmer in the southern horizon lingers for some time, a reminiscence of the day and of summer. Overhead the pole-star shines with steady luster, and the vault is all aglow with stellar light. On the shore, in the ice-slush, a phosphorescent glow is frequently observed, due, it is supposed, to the presence of minute crustaceans, and this phenomenon continues even at a temperature of 10° Cent, below freezing.
The results of Nordenskiöld's last voyage, in which he passed Behring's Strait and entered upon the Pacific Ocean, are briefly stated, and the fuller account from the pen of the explorer will be awaited with interest. The Vega, the vessel in which this important voyage was made, was detained by ice but a few miles from the strait, for two hundred and sixty-four days. It made the passage of the strait on the 20th of July last, and demonstrated the practicability of navigation from the North Atlantic to the North Pacific. The volume is appropriately dedicated to Oscar Dickson, of Gothenburg, whose princely liberality made the several expeditions possible.
Books of this kind are much needed, as our scientific literature is becoming burdened with a great multitude of new technical terms, many of which are not found in ordinary dictionaries. But this work does not profess to be complete. Only the most commonly used and most important words have been included. The compiler has aimed at accuracy and brevity, and seems to have fairly secured both. We might object to the smallness of the type, but 14,000 entries got within moderate limits of course necessitate small type.
This Is a small book, but a valuable one. It assumes that there is need in our schools of a much more thorough study of English, and it opens the way to this study by a rational method. The usual study of language, as an isolated and arbitrary acquisition—an accumulation of words in the memory in their mere verbal relations—is one of the driest and most repulsive of mental occupations. Grammar is undoubtedly more responsible for that hatred of the schoolroom, and all that belongs to it, which is one of the common results of education, than any other subjects. The laws of mind, like the physical laws, vindicate themselves. The young intellect instinctively revolts at the drudgery of grammatical word-grinding, and in all history the teacher tries to counteract this tendency by the use of the rod. There is no reason or necessity for this; it is simply the result of a vicious method. The subject is capable of deeply interesting all minds of sufficient maturity to begin to recognize the relations and meanings of things. As Professor Gilmore says, the study of English literature "may be made one of the most interesting by associating the literary with the political and social history of the people; by withdrawing attention from the minute details of literary history, and fixing it only on salient points; by studying authors as well as studying about authors." The professor cuts the knot at once by taking the evolution point of view. He says: "We propose, then, to consider the origin and development of the English language; and to approach that subject—as, indeed, it can only be intelligently approached—from an ethnologic and historic point of view. In studying the philology of a people, we must at the same time study their ethnology and history. We can have no just conception of English literature unless, as we trace its progressive development, we couple with it the gradual unfolding of English political and social life." He goes on in the same strain; "The present character of a people is largely determined by the character of their ancestors, and the circumstances in which those ancestors were developed. The political institutions of a people are but the unfolding of a germ implanted centuries ago, and matured by all the influences to which that people has since been subjected. So it is with the literature of a people. All the past enters into the present, and makes it what it is. The present will enter into all the future, and give it character. A nation's literary history records the germination and growth, through shade and sunshine, of seeds which were implanted in the soil centuries ago—the development of principles which are as old, to say the least, as the language in which they are to-day embodied. Hence, to apprehend fully the literary character of any age, we must submit ourselves to the formative influences which have made its literature what it is. Thoroughly to understand the dramas of Shakespeare, the essays of Bacon, the poems of Milton, we must go back into the dim and dusty past, and learn how Shakespeare, Bacon, and Milton came to think and speak as they did; for no one even of these master minds was sufficient unto himself—they were all more or less indebted to the past. What has been said with reference to English literature is equally true—indeed, rather more true—with reference to the English language. In order thoroughly to comprehend and effectively to use the English of the present day, we must study the English of the past—we must know the language, not merely in its developed form, but in its germinal principles."
The book is obviously the result of wide and critical reading, and much experience in teaching. It makes no formal claim as a text-book, but competent instructors will find ways to make it useful. It contains copious notes, and many references to works suitable for consultation by students,
This volume consists of various articles contributed by its author to the periodicals, and he has done well to collect them in this convenient and accessible form. The book opens with three or four papers on various aspects of "Darwinism," but its chief con|contents}} contents are not described by this title, though they all treat of kindred questions raised by the progress of recent inquiry. Although not a systematic treatise, this collection will be valuable to students of contemporary thought. It may be strongly commended to general readers upon those subjects, as introductory to more methodical works. The book is in an eminent degree of the explanatory and helpful sort which, by brief incidental explanations, often succeeds in aiding the learner where more formidable disquisitions fail to be apprehended. All who are perplexed with imperfect apprehension of evolutionary doctrines will find these essays especially instructive and useful. They are not only full of valuable thought, but they make the topics plain and interesting to unproficient minds.
This monograph of Japanese archaeology has much more than the usual interest of such documents. In the first place, it emanates from a university that has recently arisen in the great city of Tokio, which has a vigorous scientific department, and is filled with native students, who are pushing with enthusiasm into the field of original work. Several English-speaking professors have been called to take positions in this institution—the heathen being apparently more appreciative of the missionaries of science than the missionaries of the gospel. Professor Morse, of Salem, who has for the past two or three years been carrying on the good work of zoölogy in the Tokio University, has also interested himself in Japanese ethnology and the relics of its old civilization. It is curious that, when we get back sufficiently far in time, modem distinctions disappear, and we are lost in a prehistoric antiquity which discloses common features all over the world. The mound-deposits of Japan early attracted Professor Morse's attention. He had already studied these phenomena in Massachusetts and Maine, with Wyman and Putnam, and was prepared to keep a sharp lookout for evidence of their occurrence in the East. Soon after his arrival he fortunately discovered a large and extensive shell-mound on the line of the railway at Omori, six miles from Tokio. The students of the university joined him in exploring it, and many interesting specimens of pottery; implements, and weapons were obtained, which are preserved among the collections of their Archaeological Museum in Tokio. The present memoir is descriptive of those specimens. Appended to the text of this memoir are eighteen large lithographic plates on folding pages, and containing two hundred and fifty illustrations of archæological subjects. These lithographic representations are excellently done, and were all drawn by Japanese artists. Nor is this all: the composition and press-work of the volume are the work of Japanese printers, the type being set by compositors unable to speak a word of English. And, what is more, the paper upon which the book is printed is of Japanese manufacture. The paper is superior, the typography excellent, and the printing first rate—in fact, for a "heathen" production the work is highly creditable.
This volume is a combination of two works, one by C. Wye Williams and the other by J. S. Prideaux, on the general subjects of the combustion of coal, the structure of furnaces, and the atmospheric conditions of high thermal effects. It is fully illustrated, and forms a very complete manual of the subject.
This is a valuable digest of what may be called the data of the physical sciences—the units, constants, standards, and symbols of the foundation facts of the most important branches of physical science—mechanics, hydrostatics, astronomy, sound, light, heat, magnetism, and electricity. Treating of the basal conceptions of quantitative science, its expressions are of course in mathematical form. It is a valuable book for critical students, and done by a first class man.
Dr. Allen published an elaborate work in 1851, entitled "The Philosophy of the Mechanics of Nature." The present volume is a sequel to that publication, and, besides embodying its results, it involves further researches into the origin of molecular forces, of gravitation, and also of solar light and heat. The author's fundamental idea is, that molecular forces have their origin in the mechanical motions of great masses of matter; or that the heat, light, and radiant energy of space, acting upon the earth to produce all its activities, originate in the rotary and orbital movements of the sun and planets. The radiant forces are engendered and transmitted by means of a universal, electric, ethereal medium, and a large portion of his volume is devoted to an elucidation of electrical effects and laws which go to prove that the solar system is a mighty electric and electro-magnetic engine. Dr. Allen's views are comprehensive and interesting; it is for physicists to judge of the evidence of their validity.
This volume has been prepared primarily for use under teachers who also employ the author's larger work upon Qualitative Analysis. It is, therefore, a working laboratory-book, useful for classes who desire to take a short course in practical, qualitative chemistry. It is designed to afford as much insight as possible into chemical action, and prepares for a more definite study of acids and bases than is usual in such rudimentary books. The name of the author gives assurance of the excellence of the work.
Here is the sixth edition of a technological hand-book, the merit of which is thus fully attested; for those who have bought it are naturally those who wanted to use it, and it has thus been subjected to the sharpest trial. It describes the processes of electro-gilding, electro-plating, and coating of surfaces by electro-deposition; and is full of the information required by the artisan in this field of industry. The volume is an interesting record of recent improvements, and is especially full in details concerning the electro-deposition of nickel, which is just supplanting silver as a protective and ornamental coating for other metals.
The Californian. A Western Monthly Journal. Vol. I., No. 1. January, 1880. San Francisco: The A. Roman Publishing Co. Pp. 100. 25 cents a number, $3 a year.
Industrial Education, or the Equal Cultivation of the Head, the Heart, and the Hand. An Address, by Professor Alexander Hogg, before the National Educational Association at Philadelphia, July 31, 1879. Pp. 15.
Mathematics in a Dilemma. By Lawrence S. Benson. New York: W. T. Hyde & Co. 1879. Pp. 17.
Prospectus of the Manual Training School of Washington University. St. Louis, Missouri: Globe-Democrat Printing Co. November, 1879. Pp. 24.
The Relation between Language and Ideas. A Lecture by M. A. Clancy, before the Teachers' Institute of Alexandria, Virginia, September 19, 1879. Pp. 27.
Sermons of M. J. Savage. Series on the Morals of Evolution. VII. The Relativity of Duty. Pp. 19. Vin. Real and Conventional Virtues and Vices. Pp. 16. Boston, December 12, 1879.
Notice of New Jurassic Mammals. By Professor O. C. Marsh. Reprinted from "American Journal of Science and Arts." December, 1879. Pp. 5. Illustrated.
Legends of Sepulchral and Perpetual Lamps. By Professor H. Carrington Bolton. London, 1879. Pp. 9.
Report of the Committee on Correspondence appointed by the New York State Association of School Commissioners and Superintendants, on Modes of School Supervision and Administration in the Schools of the State. Pp. 60.
Sensibility, Intelligence, Instinct, and Mind. By A. J. Howe, M. D. Cincinnati, 1879. Pp. 8.
The Berkeley Quarterly. A Journal of Social Science. Published by the Fortnightly Club, Berkeley, California. Vol. I., No. 1. January, 1880. Pp. 80. 50 cents a number. $2 a year.
Eighth Report of the State Entomologist on the Noxious and Beneficial Insects of Illinois. By Cyrus Thomas, Ph. D. . State Entomologist, Springfield. 1879. Pp. 212, with Index.
Double-Star Observations made in 1877-'78 at Dearborn Observatory, Chicago, comprising: I. A Catalogue of 251 New Double Stars, with Measures; II. Micrometrical Measures of 500 Double Stars. By Sherburne Wesley Burnham. Reprinted from the Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society. Pp. 167.
How to study Phrenology, including the First Principles or Outlines of Phrenology. By H. S. Drayton, A. M. New York: S. R. Wells & Co. 1880. Illustrated.
The Workshop Companion: A Collection of Useful and Reliable Recipes, Rules, Processes, Methods, Wrinkles, and Practical Hints for the Household and the Shop. New York: The Industrial Publication Company. Pp. 164. 35 cents.
Genesis I. II.: An Essay on the Bible Narrative of Creation. By Augustus R. Grote, A.M. New York: Asa K. Butts. 1880. Pp. 82. 50 cents.
Theology and Mythology: An Inquiry into the Claims of Biblical Inspiration and the Supernatural Element of Religion. By Alfred H. O'Donoghue. New York: Charles P. Somerby. 1880. Pp. 194.
The Art of Cooking: A Series of Practical Lessons. By Matilda Lees Dods. of the South Kensington School of Cookery. Edited by Henrietta de Condé Sherman. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1880. Pp. 226. $1 25.
The Younger Edda; also called Snorre's Edda, or the Prose Edda. With an Introduction, Notes, Vocabulary, and Index By Rasmus B. Anderson, Professor of the Scandinavian Languages in the University of Wisconsin, etc. Chicago: S. C. Griggs & Co. 1880. Pp. 302. $2.
Report of the Director of the New York Meteorological Observatory Department of Public Parks, City of New York, for the Year ending December 31, 1878. Illustrated. New York, 1879. Pp. 70.
Zoölogy for Students and General Readers. By A. S. Packard, Jr., M.D., PhD. With numerous Illustrations. New York: Henry Holt &Co, 1879. Pp. 719. $3.