Popular Science Monthly/Volume 24/December 1883/Literary Notices
|←Editor's Table||Popular Science Monthly Volume 24 December 1883 (1883)
This little volume has exceptional claims upon the attention of thinking people. It is not of the current order of social science literature, but is rather a trenchant protest against its prevailing spirit, and an able attempt to substitute the scientific for the sentimental mode of studying the relations of men in society. Professor Sumner finds a very loose state of thinking in regard to social obligations, their grounds, and their extent, what people owe to each other, and what they expect from each other, and he shows very clearly that from erroneous views upon these subjects spring a large number of the worst evils of the social state.
The general object of beings who recognize evil as something to be avoided, and good as something to be sought, and who look forward to ends to be secured and work for the accomplishment of these ends, is undoubtedly to make things better, but how to do this it is by no means so easy to determine. The most conflicting projects are offered for the attainment of the end, and the discords of opinion as to what things are socially best show that ignorance, prejudice and passion have still a great deal to do with the subject. In any treatment of it, therefore, that can become instructive and helpful, the first thing is to get at the facts and call things by their right name. Professor Sumner has this unquestionable merit, that he refuses to be misled by words, and insists upon stripping off the illusions in which the subject is shrouded, and getting at the real things represented. This is not an agreeable task. It requires some courage to encounter an ignorant public sentiment which appropriates to itself the whole terminology of charity, benevolence, and sympathy for the poor and weak, and denounces as cold and hard-hearted all who do not share its sentimental views upon social questions. Professor Sumner comes in for a liberal amount of reprobation, the "New York Tribune," for example, saying that his book is characterized by "an insolent dogmatism," and its critic declares that he "can not resist the feeling that our professor has a great contempt for the poor."
Professor Sumner is charged with contravening alike the dictates of Christianity and the impulses of humanity in the views he presents, but such a charge is clearly groundless. For, if anything is established by the widest experience, it is that Christian philanthropy and benevolent impulse require a good deal better guidance than they have hitherto had. Instinctive sympathy is not enough, and it is simply notorious that indiscriminate charity does more harm than good. The more the subject is looked into, the greater is the accumulation of proof that benevolence and generosity, if not exercised with intelligent caution, work widespread mischievous effects. What we need, therefore, is a clearer understanding of the principles of the subject; and he who helps us to these may claim to be the most truly Christian and humane, because he shows us how to secure the most permanently beneficent ends. In spite of the literary cant about "Gradgrind," and the "dismal science," what we want most urgently are facts and their rational interpretations. Professor Sumner has been accused of an unfeeling indifference to the trials of the helpless and unfortunate, and of recommending the hard and selfish policy of looking out for one's self and neglecting those who need assistance. But this is a wholly unjust imputation. What he demands is simply that aid shall be given with a good deal more discrimination than is customary, and only where the giver is certain that he will not make matters worse by his charity. He never says that men in society owe nothing to each other, but he is very decided in the conviction that no class owes to another class that which will injure it. What they owe to each other are mutual guarantees of the opportunity to earn, possess, and enjoy, and do the best for themselves without interference or impediment. He says:
"The only help which is generally expedient, even within the limits of the private and personal relations of two persons to each other, is that which consists in helping a man to help himself. This always consists in opening the chances. A man of assured position can, by an effort which is of no appreciable importance to him, give aid which is of incalculable value to a man who is all ready to make his own career, if he can only get a chance." But "the aid which helps a man to help himself is not in the least akin to the aid which is given in charity."
But it is best to let Professor Sumner speak more fully for himself, and we accordingly give some extracts from his book in another part of the "Monthly." We have to apologize to the author for the fragmentary representation of his thoughts, but the reader can repair that by getting the book.
The grounds of the station are situated near Geneva, and embrace one hundred and twenty-five acres. The object of the institution is understood to be to ascertain, verify, and group facts the knowledge of which shall assist the farmer in carrying on his business. Its duties also comprise the dissemination of information; and for this purpose the director has published weekly bulletins of the progress of the experiments which were sent to newspapers, to the directors of other stations, and to men identified with agricultural progress. Special effort has been made to instruct visitors, and every intelligent visitor has brought information of value to the station. The investigations have had a practical rather than a theoretically-scientific bearing. As represented in the report, they have had a wide scope, and involve an immense number of details.
The report is for the fiscal year ending November 30, 1882. It includes several valuable papers on subjects of theoretical and practical sanitation. Among the most interesting topics discussed is that of the progress of epidemic and intermittent fever in Connecticut and other parts of New England, concerning which Dr. G. H. Wilson contributes a very suggestive paper, and the secretary's report embodies many valuable facts.
The scale and magnitude of the work accomplished by the Institution have been greatly increased in comparison with the work of previous years, while the expenditures have not been augmented. The building for the National Museum has been completed and occupied, and a large proportion of its material has been provisionally arranged for instructive display. Suitable accommodations have been provided within it for the chemical laboratory. A considerable number of original researches have been undertaken under the direction of the Institution, among the most important of which were, perhaps, those in Alaska. The twenty-third volume of the "Contributions to Knowledge" has been published, and contains six treatises; and the twentieth and twenty-first volumes of the "Miscellaneous Contributions" contain three parts or memoirs each. A valuable work has been done by the Ethnological Bureau, under the direction of Major Powell, particularly in the line of Mr. Cushing's investigations among the Zuñis, and Mr. James Stevenson's among other Pueblo tribes. Other scientific enterprises with which the Institution is allied are noticed; and the report-volume itself embodies the results of a considerable amount of research in meteorology and allied subjects, astronomy, physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, and anthropology, with numerous special papers in the last-mentioned subject.
The author of this work is a Presbyterian clergyman of Richmond, Virginia, who here deals with scientific as well as theological questions, bringing to aid him in his task the results of the thoughts and studies of years. Starting with the principle that belief in Eternal Being is a necessary result of human experience and of all thought on the origin of things, the question arises what is this Eternal Being? To the author it is not solely matter or solely spirit or mind, but and this is what it is the avowed purpose of the book to maintain it "consists in God, the Eternal Spirit, or Mind, immanent in and working upon eternal matter, and bringing out of it, in time, the best results that perfect wisdom, benevolence, and power can produce." This at once brings the doctrines of materialism into the discussion. "But as materialism necessarily denies the existence of a spiritual and personal God, and asserts itself as a rival and conflicting system of faith, of course its advocates can not be overthrown by appeal to the authority of Scripture. . . . If met at all, they must be met on the ground of unrevealed knowledge." A summary of the history of materialism and the materialists, from Democritus down, is given, and the conclusion is expressed that "Darwin, Huxley, Spencer, and Tyndall, have not advanced a step nearer to the construction of the universe without the aid of a spiritual intelligence than Lucretius did in his poem." The attempt is next made to show that the doctrine of creation out of nothing is not found in any of the canonical books of the Bible, nor in any authoritative Christian creed or confession of faith of a date older than A. D. 1500; and the idea of a creation in six days is dismissed as untenable. The atomic theory of the constitution of matter is reviewed, and declared not competent to account for the phenomena, and a counter-hypothesis is advanced, which is called the nomian theory, or the hypothesis of law, the substance of which is that "God is the Eternal Power, Force, and Cause, in the universe." The rest of the book is mainly theological, and the conclusion is reached, agreeably to the philosophies of Kant and Hamilton, that "a science of ontology in its full meaning is impossible to man," or that, though we know that spirit is, and that matter is, we do not know, and probably never will know, what is the essence either of spirit or of matter."
The former edition of Worcester's "Elementary Dictionary " was published in 1835, and was revised and enlarged in 1860. So many changes have been made of late in our language that it has been deemed expedient to supersede the old work by this essentially new one. Besides the vocabulary proper, it contains tables of words and phrases from foreign languages; of pronunciation of biographical, mythological, and geographical names; of abbreviations used in writing and printing; and of weights and measures, the metric system, foreign coins, etc.
This is the fourth number of Messrs. Putnam's "Topics of the Time" series, and includes five essays, viz.: "Village Life in Norfolk Six Hundred Years ago," by the Rev. Dr. Augustus Jessopp; "Siena," by Samuel James Cappar; " A Few Words about the Eighteenth Century," by Frederic Harrison; "France and England in 1793," by Oscar Browning; and "General Chanzy," from "Temple Bar."
The second volume of this work, in which were considered the unhappiness arising from poverty and that arising from uncongenial pursuits and labor, was published some months ago, when in our review of it (see the "Monthly" for March, 1883, p. 711) we indicated the general character and scope of the work as a whole. In the present volume, which, though following the other in the order of time, is intended to precede it in logical connection, are discussed the unhappiness due to erroneous theological conceptions and doctrines; that arising from bad forms of government; and that arising from ignorance. Much attention is given to the doctrines of Mr. Henry George.
This book aims to give an accurate account of such matters in the history of the Association as seem to be of the most importance, and of such as would present the work of the teachers in the advancement of education in the State. Summaries are given of the proceedings of each of the thirty seven meetings of the Association. Many of the biographical sketches are accompanied with portraits of their subjects, which, unless the artist's or the printer's work were better done, had better been omitted.
This work is intended to include all the words the use of which has been questioned by the numerous verbal critics whose works are current, to collate the verdicts of the different authorities, and estimate, where it is practicable, the weight to be attached to their views. A strictly alphabetical arrangement is adopted; and the indication is given, by distinctions in type, at the head of each article, whether the word in question is indefensible or in dispute, or whether it may be regarded as legitimate.
The present treatise is a condensed edition of the larger "Astronomy" of the same authors, from which some of the less essential details of practical astronomy and most of the mathematical formulas have been omitted. Some of the space thus gained has been utilized in giving a fuller discussion of the more elementary parts of the subject, and in treating the fundamental principles from various points of view.
Dr. Brown has undertaken, as rapidly as his means will allow, to publish a kind of library of forestry, to which this is the third contribution. The other two volumes, relating to forestry in England and in France, have already been noticed in our pages. The object sought in the publications is to produce popular technical treatises which may be useful to students of forest science who have not access to the works quoted, by stating views that have been advanced and have required attention, and by citing statements bearing upon them in such form as to place readers in a position to work out for themselves the solution of problems raised. Much of the information was collected by the author during a journey in Finland and Scandinavia.
In our notice of Spencer's "Cyclopædia of Descriptive Sociology," which appeared in the October "Monthly," there occurs a misleading statement which it is desirable to rectify. Part III of that work, devoted to "Types of Lowest Races, Negritto Races, and Malayo-Polynesian Races," carelessly represents that the Negritto races and the Malayo-Polynesian races were specified as races meant by the title "Types of Lowest Races." This is incorrect. The title is meant to indicate three separate groups, of which "Types of the Lowest Races," including Fuegians, Veddahs, and Damans, constitute only the first. The other groups do not fall within this category; the Malayo-Polynesians, various of them, being quite high races both in type and civilization. It is desirable to avoid error and confusion in this important gradation.
The Classification, Training 1, and Education of the Feeble-Minded, Imbecile, and Idiotic. By Charles H. Stanley Davis, M.D. New York: E. Steiger & Co. Pp. 46.
Variations in Nature. By Thomas Meehan. Salem Press, Salem, Mass. Pp. 14.
Bureau of Education Circular: Proceedings of the Department of Superintendence, American Educational Association, 1883. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 81.
A Physician's Sermon to Young Men. By William Pratt. New York: M. L. Holbrook & Co. Pp. 48. 25 cents.
Das Studium der Staatwissensehaften in Amerika (The Study of the Political Sciences in America). By Dr. E. J. James. Jena: Gustav Fischer. Pp. 26.
The North-Atlantic Cyclones of August, 1883. By Lieutenant W. H. H. Southerland. U. S. Navy. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 22.
Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, December. 1882, and January, 1883. Pp. 36. The same, February and March, 1883. Pp. 32. Editor, Alexis A. Julien, School of Mines, Columbia College, New York.
Programme of Studies, No. 10 Gramercy Park, New York. Pp. 20.
Some Researches after Hæmoglobin. By Robert Saunders Henry, A. M., M. D., Charleston, W. Va. Pp. 7.
Quarterly Report, Bureau of Statistics, Treasury Department, relative to Imports, Exports, Immigration, and Navigation. For Three Months ending June 30, 1883. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 112.
Incineration. By John D. Beugless. New York Cremation Society. Pp. 16.
On the Present Status of the Eccentricity Theory of Glacial Climate, pp. 8, and On the Origin and Hade of Normal Faults, pp. 5. By W. J. McGee.
Ueber das galvanische Verhalten der Amalgame des Zinkes und des Cadmiums (On the Galvanic Behavior of the Amalgams of Zinc and of Cadmium). By William L. Robb, A. B. Berlin: Gustav Schade. Pp. 31.
The Sun changes its Position in Space. By August Tischner. Leipzig: Gustav Fock. Pp. 37.
Evolution of the American Trotting-Horse. By Francis E. Nipher. Pp. 6.
Notes on American Earthquakes. By Professor C. G. Rockwood, Jr., Ph. D., Princeton, N. J. Pp. 8.
Description of a New Hydrobiinoid Gasteropod from the Mountain Lakes of the Sierra Nevada. By Robert E. C. Stearns. Pp. 6.
Cholera a Disease of the Nervous System. By John Chapman, M. D. London: J. & A. Churchill. Pp. 16.Latitude, Longitude, and Time. By J. Anthony Bassett. Syracuse, N. Y.: C. W. Bardeen. Pp. 42. 25 cents.
Horses: their Feed and their Feet. By C. E. Page, M. D. New York: Fowler & Wells. Pp. 150. 50 cents.
Dime Question-Books: Grammar, pp. 87; Arithmetic, pp. 82; Geography, pp. 40. Syracuse, N.Y.: 0. W. Bardeen. 10 cents each.
United States Salary List and the Civil Service Law, Rules and Regulations. Washington, D.C.: Henry N. Copp. Pp. 141. 85 cents.
Prison Labor. Some Considerations in Favor of maintaining the Present System. By John S. Perry. Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co. Pp. 128.
The Treatment of Wounds as based on Evolutionary-Laws. By C. Pitfield Mitchell. New York: J. H. Vail & Co. Pp. 29. 50 cents.
The Mounds of the Mississippi Valley Historically Considered. By Lucien Carr, Cambridge, Mass. Pp. 107.
Transactions of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of the State of Maryland, April, 1883. Baltimore: Isaac Friedenwald. Pp. 802.
Aperçu sur la Théorie de l'Evolution (Summary of the Theory of Evolution). By Dr. Ladislao Netto. Rio de Janeiro: Le Messager du Bresil. Pp. 22.
Questões Hygienicas (Hygienic Questions): Animal Mephitism. The Sewers of Rio de Janeiro and their Influence on the Public Health. Some Hygienic Counsels to the People. By Dr. Joao Pires Farinha. Rio de Janeiro: Typographia Nacional. Pp. 54.
Die Physik im Dienste der Wissenschaft, der Kunst, und des practischen Lebens (Physics in the Service of Science, Art, and Practical Life). By Dr. G. Krebs. Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke. Part I. Pp. 112. 2 marks.
Beyond the Sunrise: Observations of Two Travelers. New York: John W. Lovell Company. Pp. 237. 20 cents.
King's Hand-Book of Boston. Cambridge, Mass.: Moses King. Pp. 360. $1.
Ancient Egypt in the Light of Modern Discoveries. By Professor H. S. Osborn, LL.D. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co. Pp. 232. $1.25.
The Handy Book of Object-Lessons. By J. Walker. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. Pp. 129. $1.25.
Sea-Sickness: Its Cause, Nature, and Prevention. By William H. Hudson. Boston: S. E. Cassino & Co. Pp. 147. $1.25.
Chemistry: General, Medical, and Pharmaceutical. By John Attfield, F.R.S. Philadelphia: Henry C. Lea's Son & Co. Pp. 727. $3.
History and Uses of Limestones and Marbles. By S. M. Burnham. Boston: S. E. Cassino & Co. Pp. 392. $6. Illustrated.
Natural Philosophy. By Isaac Sharpless, Sc. D and G. M. Phillips, A.M. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. Pp. 342.
A Natural History Reader, for School and Home. Compiled and arranged by James Johonnot. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 414. $1.25. Illustrated.
Animal Life. By E. Perceval Wright, M.A., M.D. London, Paris, and New York: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. Pp. 618. $2.50. Illustrated.
Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission. Vol. i, 1881, pp. 466; vol. ii, 1882, pp. 467. Washington: Government Printing-Office.
The English Grammar of William Cobbett. Revised and annotated by Alfred Ayres. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 254. $1.
United States Geographical and Geological Survey of the Territories: Wyoming and Idaho. By F. V. Hayden. Part I, pp. 809; Part II, pp. 508; both with numerous Plates. Also a volume of Maps and Panoramas. Washington: Government Printing-Office.
Mineral Resources of the United States. By Albert Williams, Jr. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 813.
The Law of Heredity. A Study of the Cause of Variation and the Origin of Living Organisms. By W. K. Brooks, Associate in Biology, Johns Hopkins University. Baltimore: John Murphy & Co. 1883. Pp. 836.
Cumulative Method for Learning German. By Adolph Dreyspring. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 253. $1.50.