Popular Science Monthly/Volume 32/March 1888/Literary Notices

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Popular Science Monthly Volume 32 March 1888  (1888) 
Literary Notices
 

LITERARY NOTICES.

Origins of the English People and of the English Language. Compiled from the Best and Latest Authorities. By Jean Roemer. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 658. Price, $3.50.

In this book political and literary history are combined, each being treated with a nearly equal degree of minuteness, in such a manner that a fair view of the subject is presented from both sides, and the mutual influence and reactions of the ethnic and linguistic development of the English people are plainly exhibited. The author's vindication of this course — if he needed any vindication for doing his work as completely as he could — may be found in the opening sentences of his preface: "The history of a language is, in a great measure, the history of the people who speak it, and of those who have spoken it. It is the history of the many populations, different in origin, manners, and in speech, who have at various epochs occupied the soil conjointly, sometimes in friendly but more often in hostile relations, until people of another race, more powerful than any, have crushed them all, and, taking possession of the land, have divided it among themselves, exterminating all who resisted them, and allowing the rest to live only on condition of their being quiet and doing all the work." The English people and language are a conspicuous example of the product of such a series of revolutions as is here described. The course to be followed in tracing the English language to its sources involves, therefore, a critical inquiry into the origin, character, and distribution of the various races of men — Celts, Romans, Saxons, Danes, and Normans—who at Tarious epochs have found their way into the British Islands; their idioms and forms of religion, their social and political differences, and their relative progress in the arts of civilized life. If we go back to the beginning of this history, we must take notice of the palaeolithic and neolithic mpn, whose part in the formation of the British people is a totally unknown factor. Still, they have left their marks on the land, and may have contributed more than we know toward shaping its future destiny. The Celts were a factor of more recognized importance, and exerted an influence which is still potent in the character of various populations and in the language. From them arc inherited numerous local names; and, "although the Druids committed nothing to writing, the religion of the British tribes has exercised an important influence upon literature. The mediaeval romance?, and the legends, which for a long time stood for history, are full of the ' fair humanities ' and figures of its bright mythology." The Romans contrib- uted a quota, which must have been very considerable at the time, but the outward effects of which were to a large extent washed out by subsequent revolutions and invasions. So that, while English is full of what has been derived from Roman influ- ences transmitted through factors operating intermediately in later times, it is doubtful whether any Latin word in modern English is traceable to that remote period. The visible building up of the English people and their language begins with the institu- tion of the Saxon dominion. When Charle- magne had been crowned emperor, and was aspiring to revive the ancient Roman Em- pire, it was desirable to avoid complications which might arise from a supposed identity with the continental Saxons who had fallen before the great chief; and the names of English and England were adopted, in part, it may have been, "as more suitable to pro- claim to the world at large a distinct nation- ality for all the inhabitants of England, pos- sibly divided on minor questions, but having nothing in common with the Saxons of con- tinental Europe." The earliest Anglo-Saxon literature originated in the conflict of Chris- tianity with Anglo-Saxon paganism, in which not the heathen practices and ceremonies were the most formidable impediments to the progress of the Christian faith, but the kind of heathen poetry still current, by means of which the memory and practice of the ancient rites and ceremonies were kept alive in the songs at wakes and fes- tivals. "It was to counteract this influence that the clergy composed Christian h3'mns and songs in the national language, which, to be effective, had to conform to the taste of the age, and to be made equal to the best poems then extant and admired by the most intelligent of those who had embraced the new religion." Among these works was the great poem of Caedmon. The Danes left their impress in local names and in changes in pronunciation, but the whole influence of their sojourn, owing to the disorders and divisions which it produced, was detri- mental; and "it was impossible that in such circumstances the national character should not have become deteriorated, and that the country should not have lagged be- hind in the career of wealth, the arts, of literature, and of every other line of public prosperity and greatness. Accordingly, at the era of the Norman invasion, England was still a country of no account on the po- litical map of Europe." This event, mark- ing a new departure in the career of the English nation, is, with all that relates to it, treated with fullness of detail in its his- torical, linguistic, and literary aspects. The earlier history of the Normans is given. The conquest is related. The growth of the Norman-French language in England was followed, after the separation of Normandy, by its decline. Then occurred the fusion of the Anglo-Norman French and Anglo-Saxon English, the progress of which is carefully recorded. The last chapter in this depart- ment of the work is upon "The English Language and its Vocabulary"—that is, the development of the language as a self-con- tained entity—which is treated in a manner similar to that in which the other subjects are considered. The history is illustrated by collections, in separate chapters, of specimens of Anglo-Norman French and of early English, both arranged chronologi- cally to show the changes that took place consecutively in the two languages during the course of the evolution. It is supple- mented by an appendix treating of "French Sources of Modern English," in which are given an historical sketch of the French language and a chapter on its etymology, followed by specimens of early French. Though it is subordinate to the main pur- pose of the book, the execution of this de- partment is equally satisfactory with that which characterizes the part more closely related to the English evolution. The whole book, so far as our cursoiy examination al- lows us to judge of its merits, bears the marks of conscientious research, and of a desire to be careful in statement and omit nothing that might contribute to a clear comprehension of the whole story which it tells and of every part of it. So full a pre- sentment of the facts which it comprises, in their bearings upon one another, can not be so conveniently found in any other one book with which we are acquainted.

Weather. A Popular Exposition of the Nature of Weather-Changes from Day to Day. By the Hon. Ealph Aber- CROMBY. " International Scientific Se- ries," Yol. Iviii. New Tork: D. Apple- ton & Co. Pp. 472. Price, $1.75.

There is no class of natural phenomena which compels such general and constant interest as that which constitutes weather. The number and importance of human af- fairs which are affected by rain, snow, and bail, winds, lightning, heat, and cold, make a knowledge of the laws which govern weather-changes extremely desirable. Al- though the need of this knowledge has been felt from the earliest times, it is only within twenty years that the science of meteorology has advanced so far as to be of much prac- tical benefit. But now that weather-pre- dictions are issued by the governmental bu- reaus of the United States and other coun- tries, and prove true four times out of five, a wide-spread desire has arisen to know how this baffling problem of the weather has been so far mastered. To satisfy this de- sire is the object of the present volume. "Many books," says the author, in his pref- ace, "have been written on storms and climate, but none on every-day weather. The whole of this work is devoted to weath- er, in the tropics as well as in the temperate zone." The more elementary parts of weather-science are treated in the first three chapters, the rest of the book being devoted to explaining the more difficult questions. "This volume is not a mere compilation of existing knovrlcdge, for the results of many of the author's original and unpublished re- searches are included in its pages—such, for instance, as the explanation of many popular prognostics; the elucidation of the general principles of reading the import of cloud-forms; the classification of those cases in which the motion of the barometer fails to foretell correctly the coming weather; and the character of that kind of rainfall which is not indicated in any way by iso- baric maps." In the elementary portion of the book the author tells how weather- charts are made and what they teach, and shows why popular weather-signs sometimes prove true and sometimes fail. He also describes here the various forms of clouds, and notes the prognostics to be drawn from them. In the advanced chapters there is a further discussion of lines of equal baro- metric height, which is followed by a de- scription of the making and use of the rec- ords of the barometer, thermometer, and wind-gauge. The nature of squalls, thun- der-storms, blizzards, barbers, pamperos, and tornadoes is next explained. Some ac count is then given of local, diurnal, annu- al, and secular variations of weather.

In the last three chapters of the book the manner in which the individual weather disturbances follow one another, and the forecasting which depends on knowledge of these sequences, are taken up. The chief types of weather which occur in western Europe and the United States are given in detail, and are copiously illustrated by charts. In the chapter on "Forecasting for Solitary Observers," which can never be su- perseded for the use of mariners and herds- men, the author points out "the best that a single observer can do, who has his eyes to look at the appearance of the sky, and any instruments at his disposal." This chapter will interest all who have any taste for ama- teur work in meteorology. The forecasting by synoptic charts, as done in central bu- reaus having telegraphic communication with stations for many hundred miles around, is described in the closing chapter. It appears that forecasting is much easier for some countries than for others. In tem- perate regions, those countries are best situated which lie east of a well-ofoserved land- area, because most disturbances in the tem- perate zone move from the west. Hence, the eastern United States can usually count on timely warning of approaching storms. Still, infallibility can not be expected, how- ever favorable the locality. "It is impossi- ble to suppose," says the author, "that we have yet nearly reached the highest perfec- tion of which forecasting is capable, but still we know enough of the nature of the subject to say with certainty that calcula- tion will never enter much into the science of weather-prevision. Natural aptitude and the experience of many years' study are the qualifications of a successful forecaster. In fact, meteorology is not an exact but an observational science, like geology or medi- cine."

A Manual of Xouth American Birds. By Robert Riduway. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company. Pp. 631, with 124 Plates, containing 464 Outline Drawings of thf! Generic Characters. Price, |;Y.50. This noble book, embodying descrip- tions of all the birds known to frequent the United States, was originally projected by Professor Spencer F. Baird, who had collected, in sympathy with its purpose, the great cabinet of American birds now form- ing a part of the National Museum. The pressure of official duties which fell upon him prevented his completing the scheme, or even carrying it on. The task—or "the privilege," as he expresses it—of continuing the work then fell to the present author, who is known as an enthusiastic naturalist, and especially interested in birds. He has endeavored to make of it such a manual as its projector would have desired to see as the fruit of his conception. The object of the volume is to furnish a convenient man- ual of North American ornithology, reduced to the smallest compass by the omission of everything that is not absolutely necessary for determining the character of any given specimen, and including, besides the correct nomenclature of each species, a statement of its natural habitat, and other concomi- tant data; to provide a handy book for the Bportsman and traveler, as well as for the resident naturalist. The greater part of the material on which the work is based has been furnished by the collection of American birds and their eggs which forms a part of the National Museum. The collec- tions of the American Museum of Natural History, in New York city; of the Academy of Natural Sciences, of Philadelphia; of the Boston Society of Natural History; and of the Mu«eum of Comparative Zoology, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, have also been consulted; and acknowledgment is made that the private collections of George N. Lawrence, of New York city; William Brewster, of Cambridge, Massachusetts; and II. W. Henshaw, of Washington, have furnished indispensable material in the way of extra-limital species or more extensive series of certain species. Not consultation of specimens alone, however, has been de- pended upon; "for, however much the prop- er discrimination of species and subspecies may be a question of material, a great deal depends upon our knowledge of the birds in life, their natural surroundings, and other things which can be learned only out of doors. Fortunately, a very large number of accomplished field-naturalists have care- fully observed the habits of our birds, and through their published records have to- gether contributed a vast store of infor^ mation which no single person could him- self have gained. To the much that haa been gleaned from this source have been, added the author's field-notes, collected dur-. ing the period extending from a recent date back to the year 1863, and embracing many measurements of fresh specimens, notes on location of nests, first colors of bill, eyes, feet, etc., and various other use- ful memoranda." It is intended to embrace the North American species, as they are in- cluded within the geographical limits defined in the American Ornithological Union's check-list. But it has at the same time been deemed desirable to include certain extra-limital species from contiguous coun- tries; such as those which are known to in- habit Socorro Island, off the coast of north- western Mexico, which is North American in its zoological affinities; those species which have been included for the sake of compari- son, or on account of the greater or less probability of their occurrence within the southern boundary of the United States; and certain "high-sea" species whose wan- derings may make them liable to reach our coasts as "accidental visitors." The body of the manual—which is preceded by a "Key to the Higher Groups "—consists of technical descriptions of the orders, fam- ilies, genera, and species, in the general order of diving -birds, swimmers, waders, shore -birds, gallinaceous birds, pigeons, birds of prey, parrots, etc.; cuckoos, wood- peckers, etc.; goat-suckers and swifts, and the perching birds. The appendix gives ad- ditional memoranda concerning certain rare or little-known species, and lists of new genera and species, and of genera and spe- cies admitted as North American which are not included in the American Ornithological Union's check-list. The index gives a refer- ence to every genus and species described, under both its scientific and its popular name. f

Introductory Steps in Science. For the Use of Schools. By Padl Bert. Trans- lated by Marc F. Vallette. Revised and enlarged by John Micklbborougei. New York: D. Applcton & Co. Pp. 363. Trice, |1.50.

One of the greatest obstacles with which the new scientific education has had to con- tend is a lack of text-books embodying the true spirit of scientific teaching. This lack is now being rapidly supplied, in each of the several branches of science, with books adapted to pupils of various needs and states of advancement. The present vol- ume is designed as a first book in science for young pupils. The study of Nature is especially fit for the training of the young. In the words of the preface to this book: "It is a well-recognized fact that the culti- vation of the sense-perceptions lies at the foundation of all knowledge. These sense- perceptions are converted into knowledge under two conditions: first, by observing differences; second, by observing likeness or similarity." It is in early childhood that the exercise of the senses is most active and most pleasurable. A little training in proper methods of observation at this time is worth more than months spent in mem- orizing scientific facts at a later period. As the child's interest is not confined to animals, plants, or rocks, to physical, chemi- cal, or physiological phenomena alone, so this book obviously accords with natural devel- opment in presenting the elements of all the common branches of science before the pupil is required to pursue advanced study in any one. The work consists of seven parts: Animals; Plants; Minerals and Kock Formations; Physics; Chemistry; Animal Physiology; and Vegetable Physi- ology. "In all departments of the book the subjects have been treated in a manner to cause the learner to observe, think, and then expreas the result of the observations in suitable language. The pernicious prac- tice of mimorizin(/ the text-book, or of re- quiring tlie student to listen, recollect, and then repeat the formulated statement of the instructor, can not be too strongly con- demned." The favor with which the French original was received is shown by the fact that over half a million copies were sold within three years. The style of the trans- lation is conversational, adhering closely to the language of the author when this is possible. Illustrations have been supplied with a liberal hand. "In the natural his- tory, so far as possible, American species have been substituted for foreign ones; and in the chapter on rock formations, that por- tion which treats of the continental devel- opment of North America has been substi- tuted for the author's geological history of France. In short, such corrections and changes have been made as would mate- rially enhance the value of the book in the bands of beginners in science in America."

Memoir of Fleeming Jknkin. By Robert Louis Stevenson. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Pp. 302. Price, §;!.

This memoir, by one of the first of living English romancers, gives a breathing portrait of a very interesting man. While Fleeming Jenkin's original work in electrical science is a notable part of the world's recent ad- vances therein, it was as a man that he was chiefly remarkable. Professor Jenkin was ardent and impulsive, with little conven- tional polish, the soul of honor, and a man with whom honesty was a passion. lie found in his engineering work a noble op- portunity for his love of exactitude and thoroughness. He exemplified how su- premely ethical are the tasks of applied sci- ence in the demands made on its votaries. During his long voyages, while he was busy laying and recovering ocean-cables, he showed himself capable of the heroic, with all the added charm of being unconscious about it. And amid all the anxious de- mands of professional emergencies, domes- tic affections of the tenderest were never absent from his mind. With him, all the powers of an acute, able Intellect were heightened and warmed by a fine emotional nature. The death of several children in a friend's family, through bad drainage, di- rected his sympathetic interest to the ques- tion of wholesome plumbing. As the result of his investigations, he became convinced of the necessity for thorough-going reform. In 1S78 he accordingly established in Ed- inburgh the first sanitary association ever formed, and which has not only had many imitators in Great Britain and America, but done much to convince the public of the strict preventability of a large class of dan- gerous maladies. This volume has added interest, in that it is to some extent auto- biographical of its author, Mr. Stevenson. He shows us incidentally and unwittingly how he has become so thoroughly grounded in his art. His imagination is supplied with clear impressions of actual men; in faithfully observing whom, nothing, howev- er apparently trivial, is neglected. His dis- criminating judgment and quick sympathy are quite as evident as this faculty of keen ebscrvation. The way in which he unravels the skein of his friend's heredity is masterly.

The Edccation' of Max. By Friedrich Feoebel. Translated and annotated by W. N. Hailma.v, a. M. "International Education Series." Vol. V. Xew York: D. Appletou & Co. Pp. 33-2. Price, ' 81.50.

This work is one of the educational classics with which eveiy teacher should be familiar. Although dealing with first principles, it is not a mass of untested theorizing, but comprises the reasons for the practical method which the experience of a great teacher proved to be successful in the school-room. Froebers aim is that the pupil shall be educated by self-exertion, beginning with that activity which, while easy and attractive, leads him forward in a continuous development of his powers. In this volume, originally designed as the first of a series, we find the fundamental ideas of the system of methods and appliances to which, fourteen years later, the author gave the name "Kindergarten." The earlier portion of the work deals with general principles, and considers the devel- opment of man during infancy and boy- hood, the most important doctrines being contained in the first two chapters. In the latter part the chief subjects of instruction are taken up in the four classes: religion, natural science and mathematics, language, art. This is followed by a discussion of the connection between school and family. The translator has inserted at many points biographical and other illustrative notes, and includes in his preface the essential parts of the interesting report on Froebcl's Institute at Keilhau, made in 1825, by Superintend- ent Zech.

AxiMAL Life in the Sea and on the Land. By Sarah Cooper. Illustrated. New York: Harper & Brothers. Pp. 413. Price, $1.25.

Thls very attractive book is designed as an introduction to the study of zoology for children. While accuracy and freshness have been aimed at in its pages, scientific terms have been avoided as much as possi- ble. In classification, which has not been made prominent, the arrangement of Nich- olson has been followed. In arrangement, the ascending scale is pursued, beginning with sponges and ending with man. Such animals as are most likely to interest young people have been selected to illustrate the several orders and classes. Of the study of animals, the author says, very properly, in her preface: "It is far more charming to gain this knowledge from the objects themselves than from merely reading about them in books; and it is therefore hoped that each subject which is treated in these pages will be studied from specimens actually in hand, whenever it is possible to obtain them." A very good substitute for unob- tainable specimens is afi'orded by the abun- dant and clear illustrations.

Outlines of Natural Philosophy. For Schools and General Readers. By J. D. Everett. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 335. Price, $1.

This little volume, by the editor of that standard work, Deschanel's "Natural Phi- losophy," is designed to be easy enough for a class reading-book, and precise enough for a text-book. It is written in the con- tinuous style of a general treatise, instead of being cut up into detached paragraphs like a common school-book. Although the book is elementary, its language is adapted to the adult reader and the academy or college student, raiher than to the young jjupil; but technical terms have been avoid- ed, and algebraic formulas have been alto- gether excluded. The descriptions are uni- formly clear, and arc made more effective by abundant illustrations.

Childhood: Its Care and Cclture. By Mary Allen West. Illustrated. Chi- cago: Woman's Temperance Publication Association. Pp. 772.

The moral and physical culture of chil- dren is treated in this large volume, especial prominence being given to religious teach- iags. The mental culture which is more properly received at home than in school is also touched upon. The bock is embel- lished with pictures, poetry, stories, and music.

A History of Elizabethan Literatcre. By George Haixtsbury. London and New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 471. Price, $1.75.

This book is intended to be the second of a series of four volumes, by different au- thors, together comprising a history of Eng- lish litei-ature. The period covered in the present volume is from 1560 to 1660. The large number of writers noticed seems to leave nothing to be desired on the score of completeness. Illustrative extracts are given from all the important ones excepting the four best known.

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Henderson, J. T. Analyses and Commercial Values of Commercial Fertilizers and Chemicals. Report showing comparatively the Yield of the Leading Crops of the State of Georgia. Pp. 32. Atlanta, Ga.: Department of Agriculture.

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Chicago Manual-Training School Fifth Arnu;*! Catalogue, lSS7-'83. Pp. 24.

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Evening Post Publishing Company, New York. A Bill to promote Mendicancy. Pp. 27.

Richardson, C. Gordon. Alcohol: a Defense of its Temperate Use. Toronto: National Liber.*! Temperance Union. Pp. C7.

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Goode, George Brown. The Fisheries and Fishing Industries of the United States. Vol. II. Geographical Review for 1880. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 787.

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Camp. C. C. Labor, Capita), and Money: Their Just Relations. Bradford, Pa.: D. W. Leech. Pp. 250.

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Gordon. Anna A. The White Ribbon Birthday Book. Chicago: Woman's Temperance Publishing Association. Pp, 279.

Lindley, Walter. M.D., and Widney, J. P., M.D. California of the South. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 377. $2.

Salomons, Sir David. Management of Accumulators and Private Electric Light Installations. New York: D. Van Nostrand. Pp. 150, with Plate.

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Müller, F. Max. Biographies of Words and the Home of the Aryas. New York: Longmans, Green & Co. Pp. 278.

Ballou, Maturin M. Under the Southern Cross. Boston: Ticknor & Co. Pp. 405.

Saint-Pierre, Bernardin de Paul and Virginia Translated by Clara Bell. New York: W. S. Gottsberger. Pp. 219.

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Day, David T. Mineral Resources of the United States. Calendar Year 1886. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 813.

Bancroft Hubert Howe. History of the Pacific States of North America. Mexico. Vol VI. 1861 to 1887. San Francisco: The History Company. Pp. 760. $5.

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