Popular Science Monthly/Volume 21/September 1882/Literary Notices
|←Editor's Table||Popular Science Monthly Volume 21 September 1882 (1882)
The compiler believes: is no advantage for the reading lessons given to the pupil in school to be primarily directed to some subject of thought. "If the food is also palatable as well as nutritious," the pupil becomes interested and his mind engaged with the substance of the lesson, and he will gain all the advantages that otherwise cost so much labor, without direct and conscious effort. The reading exercises should also be bed to the condition of the pupil's mind at each period of growth, and should constitute appropriate models of style, leading in the direction of literary excellence. Hence is suggested the propriety of introducing lessons bearing on some topic of study which the pupil is pursuing at the same time. Text-books rive, necessarily, the bare outlines. The reading-books might help to fill up the outlines with details, giving fuller descriptions of the most interesting features, and the stories which the children love so web. When these supplementary elements are chosen from co-authors, we have what we might call an ideal reading-book on the subject in hand. The present work is an attempt to apply these principles to geographical topics. The order of the topics is the same as is found in any well-arranged text-book on the subject; and the articles are from writers of acknowledged excellence. We have in twenty chapters selections on the several varieties of natural features and scenery, on the surface of the earth, volcanic and meteorological phenomena, natural curiosities, wild animals, national characteristics, peculiar customs, regions, and people, cities, ancient works and ruins, and modern works,, etc., given in the form of essays, popular descriptions, narratives of travel, scientific accounts, and poems, by a list of writers embracing the names of European and American authors who have become distinguished in various fields of literature and science.
The author of this book has his own views of morality, and, although he does not profess to have made any great revolution in the science, he has still made a book which is worthy of careful consideration. It is an unusually spirited and attractive volume on what is commonly regarded as the dullest of subjects.
Mr. Stephen began as an orthodox utilitarian in morals, and avows that the Gamaliel at whose feet he sat was John Stuart Mill. This, however, he regards as an immature proceeding, in which he merely joined other thoughtful lads in deferring to one whose authority was decisive. At a later period his mind was much stirred by the appearance of Darwin's "Origin of Species." He acknowledges great indebtedness to Darwin's writings, but so far as ethical problems are concerned he came at length to think that the Darwinian resources were unsatisfactory, and that a deeper view was necessary—this conviction being due to the influence of Herbert Spencer's writings. After an historical examination of the English moralists of the eighteenth century, Mr. Stephen read the "Methods of Ethics," by Henry Sedgwick, and, although admiring the work, he found himself differing from it at so many points that he resolved to publish systematically upon the subject himself. Mr. Stephen regards the relation of evolution to ethics as its critical point, while Mr. Sedgwick belittled it, and thus left a great deal to be done in clearing up the inquiry.
Of his attempt Mr. Stephen says: "At times I have been startled at my own impudence when virtually sitting in judgment upon all the deepest and acutest thinkers since the days of Plato. But I easily comfort myself by remembering that the evolution of thought is furthered by the efforts of the weak as well as of the strongest; and that, if giants have laid the foundations, even dwarfs may add something to the superstructure of the great edifice of science. So far as my reading has gone, I have found only two kinds of speculation which are absolutely useless—that of the hopelessly stupid and that of the hopelessly insincere. The fool who does not know his own folly may be doing nothing, and the philosopher who is trying to darken knowledge may be doing worse than nothing, but every sincere attempt to grapple. with real difficulties made by a man not utterly incompetent has its value. I claim to come within that description, though I claim nothing more. And I have the satisfaction—not a very edifying one, it may be said, for a professed moralist—to reflect that if my book does no good to anybody else, it has provided me with an innocent occupation for a longer time than I quite like to remember; while I hope that there is nothing in it—if I may apply to myself what a discerning critic has said of Dr. Watts's sermons—"calculated to call a blush to the cheek of modesty."
In the present state of public interest in the applications of electricity, any author who succeeds in presenting the subject in a popular manner may expect a favorable reception, and we doubt not such will be accorded to this latest addition to works of this character. M. Hospitalier's exposition is clear and concise, and popular enough in form to be interesting and intelligible to a wide circle of readers. The work consists of four principal parts, in the first of which the author considers the sources of electricity—hydro-and thermo-electric batteries and machines—and also various apparatus for transforming currents, under which heading he places accumulators or secondary batteries. The second part is devoted to electric lamps—regulators, candles, and those producing light by incandescence. In the third division the subject of telephones and microphones is taken up, and all the later forms of these pieces of apparatus are described. In the fourth and final part there are considered various applications of electricity, such as devices for indicating fire-damp in coal-mines, fire-alarms, etc., the electrical transmissional power, electro-motors, and electric distribution.
While the book will be found in many respects an excellent popular résumé of the subject, it is not without defects, and lacks the completeness which a work of this character should at the present time possess. The daily as well as the technical press has familiarized most persons interested in the subject with the various types of lamps which have so far been developed, and the questions of interest now are mainly those of cost and the conditions upon which electric lighting in general depends. Much of the description of different forms of lamps of the same class might, therefore, have been dispensed with—such, for instance, as the various forms of candles and the lamps of imperfect contact, neither of which promise to have much of a future before them—and been given with advantage to incandescent lamps employing a carbon filament. The treatment of this class of lamps is, to say the least, meager, and that of the workers in this field far from satisfactory. One would hardly get a correct idea of the relation of Mr. Edison's work to the present successful results by the author's presentation of it. The treatment of the problem of distribution is hardly as full and complete as might be desired, or the work of M. Marcel Deprez in this direction as clear and as full as it should be. The work on the whole is, however, a very readable one, and will give those unacquainted with the recent advances in the industrial applications of electricity a fairly good idea of what has been so far accomplished.
This work may be regarded as in certain senses a pioneer in the field of literature to which it relates. The aim of the author has been to furnish students with materials for a more scientific study of English etymology than is commonly to be found in previous works on the subject. The older dictionaries were rich in quotations illustrative of the words they defined, but their etymologies were defective and of the crudest kind, being in most cases thoroughly unscientific guess-work, and most likely wrong. In many instances, Mr. Skeat says, he has found evidence that the dictionary-makers manufactured words for the express purpose of deriving others from them. The earlier editions of Webster's "Dictionary" gave the corresponding words and the one under consideration from a great number of languages, without any discrimination based upon the possibility of their having or not having a real relation with the English word. Such comparison was, perhaps, interesting as a curiosity, but was confusing to etymological students, and could give no clew to the derivation of the word. Better work has been done in the later editions of Webster, in which Dr. Mahn's etymologies deserve and receive commendation; but the plan of the work, says Mr. Skeat, "does not allow of much explanation of a purely philological character." In preparing his work the author has been guided by certain canons, a few of which, such as commend themselves to the general reader, are: Before attempting an etymology, ascertain the earliest form and use of the word, and observe chronology, observe history and geography, observe phonetic laws. The whole of a word, and not a portion only, ought to be reasonably accounted for; mere resemblance of form, and apparent connection in sense between languages which have different phonetic laws, or no necessary connection, are commonly a delusion, and are not to be regarded; and it is useless to offer an explanation of an English word which will not also explain all the cognate forms. The attempt is made to give the exact history of each word, and, to make its pedigree complete, it is traced through all the ascertained successive changes, in their order, which it has passed through in the several languages through which it has come down, as if by descent, to us. Thus, in the case of the word "canopy," it is shown, by the brief, clear notation which is adopted throughout the book, that the word is derived in English from the French, the French from the Italian, that from the Latin, and that from the Greek; and if the ultimate Aryan root can be deduced, that is indicated. This, Mr. Skeat believes, is the first attempt of this kind that has been made, except partially. Another notation, equally simple and plain, shows cognate forms and distinguishes them from descending forms. Many of the articles are quite full histories, and all are rich in suggestions to the thoughtful student. Mr. Skeat frankly confesses to a number of short-comings. The remark to be made about them is not so much that they exist, as that the author should take the pains to call attention to them. On review they appear generally to be such as must inevitably beset the student who has to undertake so large a subject alone, or such as every one who attempts to advance into so extensive a field, that has been heretofore so little or so unskillfully cultivated, must expect to be liable to.
Professor Wells undertakes a diagnosis of the disease with which our merchant marine is afflicted, through the operation of which, from having once been our pride and boast, it has fallen in the course of a quarter of a century into a contemptible insignificance; or, to illustrate the subject by figures, from carrying in 1855 75·5 per cent of the imports and exports of the country, by steady diminutions to carrying only 16·2 per cent of them in 1881. The most direct cause of decay is found in our navigation laws, under which the privileges essential to the prosperity of an American merchant marine are confined to American-built vessels, and denied to all ships bought abroad. In connection with this cause others are operating which bear with peculiar hardship on American vessels and American ship-building enterprises, such as high duties on imported materials used in ship-building, and various local burdens, in the imposition of which a positive discrimination appears to be made against American vessels. Back of these causes and under some of them lies the fundamental cause, in the protective system, some of whose most positive advocates have avowed the belief that the policy of the country is to discourage commerce, and the provisions of which have been adjusted, whether designedly or not, in consistency with this belief. No one measure, the author concludes, "will arrest the decay of American shipping, bring back prosperity to our ocean carrying-trade, or revive the industry of ship-building in this country. The field of reform to be entered upon is a very large one; the number of details which are to be attended to are numerous; but reform, nevertheless, is both possible and practicable if the American people desire and will it." He then mentions the most essential measures of reform, the nature of which is indicated generally by the references we have made to the evils that demand a remedy.
The author states that his design in planning the series of which these works are a part has been to teach the great laws of Nature in language simple enough for every child to read, and to awaken the powers of observation and reasoning by means of purely elementary descriptions. "The Forms of Land and Water" gives descriptions of the earth and its general features and phenomena. "Vegetable Life" is intended to teach the laws of the life and growth of plants and to serve as an introduction to elementary botany. The effort has not been a happy one. The style is childish instead of simple, and is calculated to lead to inexactness and confusion; pains are taken to give a knowledge of scientific terms and their definitions which should rather have been applied to the communication in really plain language of the facts which the words indicate. The matter is above the comprehension of the kind of children for whom the style seems to be intended, and the style is not adapted to the tastes of larger ones. The illustrations are excellent.
The author is pastor of the Independent Congregational Society of Bangor, Maine. The substance of the volume was originally delivered as a series of regular Sunday discourses before his people. The principal motive of the book is stated to be "to apply the facts of science to inherited doctrines, and then to give a positive basis of belief and conduct in consistency with these facts, to interpret the results of the best authorities, and to bring them into a practical form and conclusion." The author apparently belongs to the advanced rank of "free religious" thinkers. He denies the supernatural character and authority of the "Church of tradition," and of its gospel, and would substitute for the latter a "gospel of law," the fundamental principle of which is that every effect is the natural product of some natural cause.
The author of this book is and has long been one of the Superintendents of the Public Schools of the city of New York, and the supervision of object-lesson studies falls within his department, his writings upon that subject have, therefore, a broad basis of experience, involving the trial of methods and the improvement and extension of the objective system. Mr. Calkins published, some years ago, the "Primary Object Lessons," which has been well received and generally adopted. The new work now issued—the "Manual"—extends over a broader field, and embraces subjects and methods for more advanced teaching than those presented in the author's earlier work. It is, therefore, not a substitute for that book, nor a revision of it, but an entirely new treatise, with a great variety of appropriate topics, materials, and suggestions to aid teachers in oral instruction. In this line Mr. Calkins's books are authorities at the present time.
A book so well backed and braced by authorities as this may seem to need no commendation from us; but a careful examination of it has shown that it is a most practical, judicious, carefully considered digest of hygienic rules and hints about health which is well calculated to be useful to everybody.
This new venture in the literary field is bright, varied, and spicy, and the best newspaper bargain for the family now a-going at fifty cents. There is a practical turn about it that is promising, and its scientific side will probably improve with time. The mechanical style of its title, however, seems open to criticism. An artist has been let loose upon it, and the consequence is obscurity. A title, of all things, should be clear, and not so buried up in artistic beauty that we have to spend time digging out what it means. Give us clear, plain, sharp lettering that tells its whole story at the first glance, and let the artist revel in the advertisements.
This is a very instructive address, by one who is well up in copyright erudition. The account of the origin of copyright is particularly excellent, while the exposition of the present state of copyright law and practice in Canada, and how the policy of the home Government has borne upon the British Provinces, will be of interest to all who are concerned about this subject.
It is curious to note how the first institution which was invested with the control of publication in England, by which authors' rights in their books were protected, was established as a means of maintaining religious orthodoxy. The Stationers' Company, which, like all the other ancient trading guilds, had existed from the middle ages, received a chartered extension of its powers "to search out and destroy" books printed in contravention of the company's monopoly, "or against faith and sound doctrine." On this point Mr. Dawson observes:
A third edition of this excellent work having been called for, the approbation of the profession must be taken as determining it to rank as one of the standards of medical literature. The plan of the work is that of a practical treatise, which, while making no pretension to being exhaustive yet comprises sufficient to afford a clear insight into the elements of dermatology, and a knowledge of the important facts in connection with each disease treated of. The progress of dermatological science, in both its physiological and pathological aspects, has been very rapid in recent years, which makes indispensable the frequent revision of works on skin-diseases. The second edition of this work was accordingly carefully rewritten and much extended. The third edition has also been critically revised, and brought sharply up to date. The chapter on the anatomy and physiology of the skin has been rewritten and elaborated, this change being demanded by the recent studies in microscopic anatomy. The book as a whole has also been considerably enlarged. Numerous additions in the way of cases illustrating rare forms of disease, new and important observations, personal experience, and therapeutical information, will be found upon almost every page.
There are few things to be done in this world that can not be overdone, and among the things that can be studied out of all proportion to their importance are the exquisite niceties and transcendental refinements of language. The danger of excess here is, however, because a high standard of excellence is justly demanded. Dr. Hodgson's book recognizes the need of adopting such a standard in the study of English; and, what is more important, it adopts the right plan to secure this as a practicable thing. The author's principle is that example is better than precept, and instead of working up a lot of rules to be learned and applied, his book consists of examples of the erroneous use of language, from many and reputable sources. He points out errors, faults, and blunders in composition, but he shows that all writers—even the best—have their lapses. The book is very interesting and teaches in the best manner by concrete illustrations of the errors to be avoided. Dr. Hodgson was a man of fine literary taste, very widely read, and methodical in his observations; he has accordingly enriched his book with a host of examples of incorrect language, commonly overlooked, which will be of invaluable service to the critical students of English.
Mrs. Hodgson appends the following note to the preface: "The materials of this little volume were selected by my husband from his notes of many years' extensive and varied reading, and they were arranged for publication in their present form before his death. In now conducting the book through the press I have had the assistance of kind friends to whom his memory is dear. But, deprived of his own revisal, there may be errors and imperfections that have escaped our notice, and for such I must ask the reader's considerate indulgence."
This incompleteness or lack of finish in the volume on the part of the author made desirable a critical revision of the American edition; this has been done by Mr. Francis A. Teall, with excellent judgment and discrimination.
The Directory contains descriptions of more than 3,600 institutions of every kind, from the Kindergarten to the university, throughout the United States, with lists of State, city, and county school-officers and educational periodicals; a synopsis of the public-school system; a sketch of education in foreign countries; and much other valuable matter. The present volume is the fourth in annual series; it has been prepared under such advantages as it is believed make it more full and accurate than its predecessors, and is enriched with four new departments—those of "College Y. M. C. A.," city superintendents, county superintendents, and the foreign department, which embraces the comparative statistics of elementary education in fifty different countries.
The author maintains that the view of Bright's disease as a local disease and its treatment under that view are mistaken. He advances the idea that the primary cause of the disease lies in the organic nervous system, which controls the nutrition and growth of the entire organism, as well as the elimination of the products of disintegration; that it may exist for many months, if not years, before albumen is detected in the urine; and that then other organs are involved, not from sympathy with the kidneys, but from innervation of the nervo-vital energy. He has found it curable when treated in the light of his theory, provided the disorganization has not proceeded too far.
The present volume is the first of a series of "German Philosophical Classics for English Readers and Students," to be issued by the publishers under the general editorial supervision of Professor Morris, each volume of which will be devoted to the critical exposition of some one masterpiece of German philosophical thought. The editors will seek in each case to furnish a clear and attractive statement of the special substance and purport of the original author's argument, with interpretations and elucidations in the light of the historic and acknowledged results of philosophic inquiry, and independent estimates of the merits and deficiencies of his work, and they will have especial reference to its relations with British speculation. Besides the general editor, several eminent scholars and teachers have been invited to prepare particular volumes of the series. The prominence of Kant among modern philosophers and the general merits of his work make it eminently fitting that he be given the first place in the series. His thoughts certainly deserve and need to be set forth in a shape in which they may be accessible and intelligible to the average of thinking readers. Professor Morris has undertaken this task in the face, he acknowledges, of considerable difficulties, among which are that "Kant's work marks and conspicuously illustrates a stadium of transition in the history of modern thought," that "it is far more eminently the story of a process of inquiry and demonstration than a didactic exposition of finished results," and that "Kant's intellectual attitude, in some of its most essential aspects, remains, to the end, thoroughly confused."
Dr. Beard's essay has less immediate bearing on the Salem witchcraft than on the case of a murderer who was recently executed at Washington. The witchcraft excitement of 1692 is used as a pivot on which to hang a plea in behalf of the murderer. The people of New England were under a delusion when they tried and hung the Salem witches; so, it is argued, we have been under a terrible delusion in trying and hanging the murderer of our President.
Professor Geikie is a very sound geologist, but we are inclined to think he is more at home in the work of exploration than in that of essay-writing. The papers of this collection are all good and solid, and will interest those already instructed in its line of topics, but they have not a large share of the quality which will attract general readers.
Unscientific Treatment of the Insane.—In his paper on "Insanity in its Relations to the Medical Profession and Lunatic Hospitals," Dr. Nathan Allen points out several serious defects in the management of our hospitals for the insane. The first of his objections is to the separation of the experts from the medical profession and the placing of the study of insanity and the care of the insane so exclusively in their hands. A second fault is in the erection of so large and expensive buildings, by which a multitude of difficulties, avoidable in the multiplication of smaller establishments, are encountered. The system itself, moreover, is wrong, in that it aggregates such large masses N of diseased persons; and it violates sanitary laws by bringing the diseased in contact with each other, to infect each other with the most infectious of all disorders—those of the mind. A fifth objection is that the magnitude of the congregations precludes the employment of the highest order of sanitary agencies for the health and improvement of the patients. Finally, it is objected that the present system tends directly to confine the knowledge and treatment of insanity to a few individuals. Add to this that no plans are devised or means employed to prevent insanity, and we have abundant reason, Dr. Allen thinks, to revise our system.
The Prehistoric Architecture of America. By Stephen D. Peet. Reprint from the "American Antiquarian." Pp. 16.
The Prevention of Yellow Fever. By Professor Stanford E. Chaille, M. D. New Orleans: L. Graham & Son, Printers. 1882. Pp. 22.
The Culture and Management of our Forests. By H. W. S. Cleveland. Springfield, Ill.: H. W. Rokker, printer. 1882. Pp. 16.
Tenth Census of the United States. Forestry Bulletins Nos. 1 to 16. With Special Reference to the Lumber Industry. December, 1881.
The Fifty-eighth Annual Report of the Officers of the Retreat for the Insane of Hartford, Connecticut. Hartford. 1882. Pp. 35.
Consumption: Its Causes. Prevention, and Hygienic Management. By W. H. Smith, M.D., Ph. D. St. Clair, Michigan. Pp. It.
Report on Surgery. By W. O. Roberts, M. D. Reprint from the "American Practitioner," Louisville. 1882. Pp. 16.
Socialism and Christianity. By H. Cheroung. Printed by the Author. New York. 1882. Pp. 42. 15 cents.
Account of Field Experiments with Fertilizers. By Professor W. O. Atwater. From the Report of the Connecticut Board of Agriculture. 1881. Pp. 25.
Coöperative Experimenting as a Means of studying the Effects of Fertilizers and the Feeding Capacities of Plants. By Professor W. O. Atwater. Washington: Government Printing-Office. 1882. Pp. 33.
Anlagen von Hausentwässerungen nach Studien americanischer Verhältnisse. [Elements of House-Drainage, after Studies of American Arrangements.] Mitgeheilt von W. Paul Gerhart. Civil Engineer, Newport, R. I. Berlin, 1880: Polytechnische Buchhandlung, A. Seydel. Pp. 33, with Five Plates.
House-Drainage and Sanitary Plumbing. Providence, R.I., 1882, Pp. 104; and Diagram of Sewer Calculations, Newport, R.I., 1881, Pp. 7. By William Paul Gerhart, Civil and Sanitary Engineer.
An Organ-Pipe Sonomoter. By W. Le Conte Stevens. Reprint from the "Journal of the Franklin Institute," 1 July, 1882. Pp. 5.
Physiological Perspective. By W. Le Conte Stevens. From the "Philosophical Magazine," May, 1882. Pp. 17.
Two Cases of Hemi-Achromatopsia. By Henry D. Noyes, M.D. New York. 1882. Pp. 12.
Second Annual Report of the Astronomer in charge of the Horological and Thermometric Bureaus in the Observatory of Yale College. By Leonard Waldo. New Haven. 1882. Pp. 16.
Dangerous Illuminating Oils. By J. K. Macomber. State Agricultural College. Ames, Iowa. Pp. 6.
Plastic Splints in Surgery. By Samuel N. Nelson, M.D., Brooklyn, N. Y. 1882. Pp. 18.
Pro and Con of Spelling Reform. By Professor E. O. Vaile. New York: Burney & Co. 1882. Pp. 20.
Double Irrigation and Drainage Tubes; Uterine Dilatation by Elastic Force; The Cure of Hernia by the Antiseptic Use of Animal Ligature. By Henry 0. Marcy, M.D. London: J. W. Kolckmann. 1881. Pp. 12.
First Annual Report of the Committee on the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Pp. 13.
Professional Papers of the Signal Service: No. 1, Solar Eclipse of. July, 1878, by Cleveland Abbe, 1881. Pp. 186; No. 2, Isothermal Lines of the United States. 1871-1880, by Lieutenant A. W. Gruely. 1831; No. 3, Chronological List of Auroras observed from 1870 to 1879, By Lieutenant A. W. Gruely, 1881, Pp. 76; No. 5, Information relative to the Construction and Maintenance of Time-Balls, 1881. Pp. 71; No. 6, The Reduction of Air-Pressure to Sea-Level at Elevated Stations west of the Mississippi River, by Henry A. Hazen, A.M., 182, Pp. 42. Washington: Government Printing-Office.
Tenth Census of the United States; Statistics of Power and Machinery employed in Manufactures, by Professor W. P. Trowbridge: Water-Power of the Southern Atlantic Water-Shed of the United States, by George F. Swan, S. B. Washington: Government Printing-Office. 1311.
Action of Free Molecules on Radiant Heat, and its Conversion thereby into Sound. By John Tyndall, F.R.S. From the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Part I. 1882. Pp. 64.
Bird-Bolts: Shots on the Wing. By Francis Tiffany. Boston: George H. Ellis. 1882. Pp. 180.
Eliane. By Mme. Augustus Craven. From the French by Lady Georgiana Fullerton. New York: William S. Gottsberger. 1882. Pp. 340. 90 cents.
Studies in Science and Religion. By G. Frederick Wright. Andover: Warren F. Draper. 1882. Pp. 390.
Annual Report of the Chief Signal Officer to the Secretary of War for the Year 1879. Washington: Government Printing-Office. 1880. Pp. 782.
Practical Microscopy. By George E. Davis, F.R.M.S., etc. Second edition. London: David Bogue. 1832. Pp. 335. Illustrated.