Popular Science Monthly/Volume 4/January 1874/Literary Notices

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Popular Science Monthly Volume 4 January 1874  (1874) 
Literary Notices
 
LITERARY NOTICES.

Report of the Geological Survey of Ohio. Vol. I., Geology and Paleontology. Part I., Geology; Part II., Paleontology. Published by authority of the Legislature of Ohio. Columbus, 1873.

These two octavo volumes, which together form the first volume of the final report on the survey of Ohio, mark an important advance in the scientific knowledge of the character, history, and resources of our country. Since the survey was undertaken in 1869, three preliminary reports have appeared, giving the progress of discovery and labor for each year, and containing much valuable and interesting information. But here we have the beginning of the end, the first installment of a series which is to comprise some six volumes, and which will be a model in many respects for similar works in years to come.

As long ago as 1836 an attempt was made to have a geological survey in Ohio, and two annual reports of progress were published under the direction of Prof. W. W. Mather and Dr. S. P. Hildreth, together with several other gentlemen since eminent in geological study. The panic of 1837, however, caused the abandonment of the work by the Legislature, a mistaken economy which much retarded and impaired the development of the resources of the State. It was not until 1869 that the enterprise was resumed, and placed in the hands of the very able corps of gentlemen who have so well performed their work.

At the head of the survey was placed Dr. John S. Newberry, whose ability has found full scope, and whose reputation has gathered new laurels in this honorable service to his own State. Associated with him are gentlemen of high standing and capacity, Profs. E. B. Andrews, Edward Orton, and J. H. Klippart, as assistant geologists, and Dr. T. G. Wormly as chemist; while the work of paleontology has been divided between Dr. Newberry and Prof. F. B. Meek, so well and widely known in this especial department.

The second volume, soon to appear, will be composed, like the first, of two separate parts, on geology and paleontology; the third volume will treat of the economic geology of Ohio; and the fourth, of its agriculture, botany, and zoology. Part I. of the first volume has some of the mechanical defects that generally appear in public documents issued by State printers; but Part II. is a fine specimen of a book. A very large edition was voted by the Legislature, for the purpose of making the work familiar to the people of the State; and Dr. Newberry has been most successful in his endeavor to render the subjects treated of plain to all intelligent readers, so that these reports may be not only a treasure-house for students of science, but a means of information and instruction for the people at large.

The first part, on geology simply, forms an octavo of 680 pages. It opens with some general discussions, which properly introduce such a volume, and then passes on to the local details by counties. To any but specialists in geology, the general chapters in the First Section will possess the chief amount of interest; but there are doubtless many professional students of the science who could derive great benefit from these unpretending but masterly pages. After a brief sketch of the history of the survey, Dr. Newberry gives four chapters treating respectively of the physical geography of Ohio, of its geological relations to the rest of the country, and of its geological structure through the Silurian and Devonian formations.

Those who are acquainted with Dr. Newberry's cast of mind and method of treatment, will recognize these chapters as eminently characteristic, in the wide range and striking power of their generalizations, and the clearness of statement which pervades them. The second chapter, on the Physical Geography of Ohio, is in reality a brief but admirable summary of the physical geography of North America. Its discussion of the important question of the relation of forests to rainfall should be read by every intelligent man. With few exceptions, all students of science are agreed as to the destructive effects produced upon climate by the removal of woods from a country. This lesson cannot be too soon or too earnestly pressed upon the attention of our people and our governments, both State and national. It has been held by some that the removal of forests causes an actual lessening of the annual rainfall; but this view is hardly borne out by recorded observations. The same injury, however, is equally accomplished in a somewhat different way. The removal of timber lays the ground open to rapid evaporation, and, worse still, causes the surface covering of earth, mould, etc., to be washed away from the unprotected sides of hills and mountains. The consequence is that the same yearly amount of moisture, instead of being slowly and gradually discharged by the brooks and streams, rushes away in destructive torrents and freshets, such as are all too familiar every spring, when the winter's snow is melting. The water-supply being thus lost all at once, the steady streams and rivers of a generation or two past dwindle in the summer to fitful and worthless rills. Such is the harvest of disaster from "our great lumbering interest."

Chapter III., on the "Geological Relations of Ohio," is yet more interesting in a purely scientific aspect. It begins with a brief outline of the characteristic features of the several great periods of geological history, as represented by the deposits in North America. Here Dr. Newberry gives, in a popular form, the gist of his discussion lately presented to the American Association of Science at Portland, and more recently to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, at its session in this city in October last, on "Cycles of Deposition in Sedimentary Rocks," a generalization unsurpassed for its beauty, its simplicity, its wide-reaching grasp, and its lucid explanation of a multitude of details, previously insignificant and often wearisome.

Each of the great ages of palæozoic geology—the two Silurians, the Devonian, and the Carboniferous—represents, in this view, a grand invasion of the sea upon the land, slowly spreading itself over the continent, mainly from the west and south, and laying down a series of sediments in a fixed and regular order, depending on the increasing depth of the advancing waters. No one, it would seem, can look at the facts in a broad and philosophical view, excluding of course the thousand details which cause partial modifications in every such great operation of Nature, without recognizing here a new light cast upon the hitherto unmeaning succession of varying kinds of deposits.

The remainder of this volume is occupied with the detailed description of the geology of twenty-one counties—nearly one-fourth of the State—by Profs. Andrews and Orton, Dr. Newberry, and Messrs. M. C. Read, G. K. Gilbert, and N. H. Winchell, assistants. While all these accounts are full of valuable matter, especial interest attaches to Prof. Orton's excellent account of the lower Silurian formation, known in Ohio as the Cincinnati Group, and to Mr. Gilbert's summary of the surface geology of the Maumee Valley, which is rich in remarkable illustrations of the effects of the great sheet of ice, and afterward of the broad expanse of water, which overspread so much of our northern country during the several parts of the great Glacial Epoch. Dr. Newberry's sketch of Cuyahoga County, the region around Cleveland, also treats of the same fascinating subject; and Prof. Andrews gives quite a chapter of "Conclusions, Theoretical and Practical," on the mode of formation of different varieties of coals.

It only remains to refer briefly to the second volume or second part of Volume I., which treats of the paleontology of Ohio. This work, somewhat larger than the first part, comprises three divisions, as follows: the "Invertebrate Fossils of the Silurian and Devonian Formations," by Prof. F. B. Meek; the "Fossil Fishes of the Devonian Group," by Dr. Newberry; and the "Fossil Plants of the Coal Period" (in part), also by Dr. Newberry. With the exception of these last, the present volume includes only the fossils below the carboniferous rocks.

In these chapters, a great and permanent work has been accomplished for science, in the accurate description and classification of a very large number of interesting fossils, heretofore either undescribed, or described so imperfectly as not to be reliable as a basis for study. The crinoids, mollusks, brachiopods, and trilobites, have been well intrusted to Mr. Meek, whose full and careful discussions are accompanied with an admirable series of plates. The most remarkable part of this volume, however, is that relating to the fossil fish of the Devonian Age. This period, as is well known, has long been called the "Reign of Fishes," from the great variety of singular and grotesque forms of fish-life which then appeared and peopled the ancient seas. The greatest share in bringing to light this extraordinary series of by-gone types was borne by Hugh Miller, whose discoveries in the "Old Red Sandstone" of Scotland have won for him imperishable fame in the annals of science. The continuation, on this continent, of Miller's discoveries abroad, is here given to the world; and it is no less remarkable, perhaps indeed more so, than were his. The series of fish here described forms an extraordinary addition to our knowledge of the life of the past. The Devonian waters that spread over what is now the greater part of Ohio were inhabited by a strange race of literal sea-monsters, singular in form and gigantic in size, plated and mail-clad, and bearing all manner of elaborate weapons for offense and defense. Among them we may refer to the tribe of Chimæroids, allied to the sharks, now represented only by a few rare species, and which, though well known to have existed in later formations, has never before been discovered in palæozoic rocks. Dr. Newberry has described the new genus Rhynchodus, with several species belonging to this group. Still more singular, however, are several genera of ganoid fish, of which only one or two can be referred to here. One of these is Onychodus, which carried at the extremity of its lower jaws, where the two rami meet, a vertical set of long, radiating teeth, projecting like the piercing prow of an iron-clad ram. This form is wholly novel. Another is Deinichthys, the giant of the period, whose tremendous jaws, shaped like sled-runners, were a couple of feet in length; while the bony buckler that covered the back was from one to two inches in thickness!

But time would fail us to dwell on these interesting accounts; and we can only express our gratification that so much important discovery is now announced and recorded in a permanent form, and congratulate both the gentlemen of the survey and the people and government of Ohio on this great work now so auspiciously approaching its close.

Autobiography of John Stuart Mill. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 313 pp., 8vo. Price, $2.25.

This is said to be the book of the season, and it is creditable to the season that it is so, for it is a volume of deep and varied interest, as well as of important instruction. Without any dramatic incident or external adventure, the earnest attention of the reader is sustained by a delineation of the quiet career of a man of thought. After all, there is nothing that so concerns us, with regard to a great man, as how his greatness was reached. Mr. Mill has conducted no campaigns, explored no new countries, guided no political administrations, but through his writings he has influenced the thought of his age, in directions where thought issues in action, and his influence may thus have been deeper than if he had wielded the more obtrusive and conspicuous agencies by which men are affected. Obviously, in writing his own life, Mr. Mill did not feel that he had any greatness to take care of, and so he gives a faithful account of his development, taking the reader completely into his confidence, relating his experiences, and offering his opinions and self-criticisms with a candor and unreserve that are quite remarkable. Those who have become interested in Mr. Mill's ideas, and through them in the man, will devour the book with eager curiosity; and those who have not, can hardly fail to be incited by its perusal to the study of his works. We by no means agree with all that Mr. Mill has promulgated, and have given, in another place, the reasons for dissenting from some of his doctrines; but, while holding him as not above criticism, and as having fallen into educational error from the very greatness of his attainments, we do not hesitate to acknowledge our indebtedness to him as a great leader of liberal thought in the present age. His autobiography is valuable as a record of his own mental unfolding; but, beyond this, it has great value as a history of the rise and progress of liberalized opinion in England within the last thirty years, in the promotion of which Mr. Mill had so eminent a share. A democrat in instinct and feeling, and holding the most radical views on grave questions of social polity and political government, Mr. Mill lived under the most compact and consolidated monarchical, aristocratic, and ecclesiastical system that the world possesses; and the history of his warfare with the ideas in which that system is embedded, while attractive as a philosophical study, has an especial interest for us, who cut loose from that order of things a century ago. Mr. Mill was never an active politician, and only tried his hand at parliamentary work for a short period, late in life; but he was much occupied with political and contemporaneous public questions, and was a virtual leader of a considerable party of men who devoted themselves to active political work.

Mr. Mill's estimates and criticisms of the thinkers of his time, and his analysis of their influence upon himself, are by no means the least interesting portions of his volume. Especially what he says of his mental indebtedness to the influence of his wife will be eagerly perused. He had already given expression to it in terms that have been thought to savor of exaggeration, but all that he had said before is here reiterated with increasing emphasis. In speaking of Carlyle, he observes: "I never presumed to judge him with any definiteness until he was interpreted to me by one greatly the superior of us both—who was more a poet than he, and more a thinker than I—whose own mind and nature included his, and infinitely more." After such a eulogy from the author of the "Logic," the question irresistibly arises, What could have been the preparation of so wonderful a mind? Mr. Mill offers his autobiography confessedly as a study in education, of which he regards himself, as he certainly was, a remarkable exemplification. But why did he forbear to utter a word in relation to the cultivation and history of that extraordinary mind which spanned and included such intellects as his own and Thomas Carlyle's? The question, moreover, will be wonderingly asked, why Mr. Mill, with all his chivalric feeling toward the opposite sex, never once mentions his mother, in the full sketch of his childhood, although his father figures prominently throughout. Perhaps she was not a woman of intellect, and took no part in his early culture; but she had a share in his being, and, whatever may have been the qualities or character of the mother of John Stuart Mill, they should not have been left out of consideration in an account by himself of his own life.

The autobiography is written in Mr. Mill's happiest style, and deserves to be, as it undoubtedly will be, very extensively read.

Sex in Education; or, a Fair Chance for the Girls. By Edward H. Clarke, M. D. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co., 181 pp. Price, $1.25.

This little volume breaks the monotony of the woman's rights discussion, and exposes one of its current fallacies—the coeducation of the sexes.

Whether or not there be sex in mind, Dr. Clarke shows that there is a great deal of it in body, and that this cannot be ignored in the work of education without entailing grave and often fatal evils upon the weaker sex. One would think that there is sufficient physiological knowledge current in the community to prevent an educational system that does not recognize and conform to the radical differences of sex; but, under pressure of a so-called reform, which starts from abstract assumptions rather than physiological data, the strong tendency is to put students of both sexes upon the same footing, regardless of all consequences. Dr. Clarke points out what some of these consequences are. He shows that there is not only a difference in powers of endurance, by which the average feminine constitution is certain to break down when brought into prolonged competition with the average male constitution, but, what is of far more importance, he shows that the feminine constitution is liable under these circumstances to a whole train of derangements and perversions that are peculiar to itself. The fact that women are designed to be mothers, while men are not, is very far from being a mere incidental circumstance that may be left out of the account in their early training. Nor can women, by declining to become mothers, escape from the peculiarities of their nature, so as to assume the career and encounter the discipline of men. The female destiny, which is to give birth to the race is no such mere incident of humanity. It is a great thing, and its greatness is conditioned upon and attested by the serious sacrifice of other things. Woman is organized throughout her whole nature to the end of maternity, and, if treated in her youth like the opposite sex, which has not this organization, evils are liable to arise that are often numerous, lasting, and fatal. And that which reason says must be the result, experience says is the result, as Dr. Clarke's book abundantly proves. In his second chapter he makes a very clear statement of the physiological facts and principles involved in the question, and, in his third and main chapter, entitled "Chiefly Clinical," he traces the morbid consequences that have followed a false system of female education. This part of his book is full of startling facts, given in detail, that should arrest the attention of some of our headlong reformers. The book is one that ought to have a wide circulation, and to be issued in a cheaper form.

British Marine algæ: being a Popular Account of the Sea-weeds of Great Britain, their Collection and Preservation. Illustrated. By W. H. Grattann. London: "The Bazaar" office, 32 Wellington Street, Strand, W. C.

While the collecting of algæ at the sea-side has long been a graceful and favorite amusement, and many persons have very pretty collections of them, mounted on cards and papers, or arranged in fanciful designs, very few have attempted to learn their names or to study out their structure, fructification, and the principles of their classification. Thanks to the labors of the two Agardhs, Kützing, Thuret, Harvey, Greville, and other eminent phycologists, the scientific knowledge of these plants now rests on a satisfactory and logical basis, and while the study of algæ is difficult in the extreme, there are ample results to reward the patient and careful investigator. The purpose of the little book, the title of which is given above, is to afford to amateurs and to students an easy introduction to the knowledge of algae, and, if one may judge from the first four parts of the work, all yet received, the author has succeeded admirably in his purpose. The wonder is, that Mr. Grattann has been able to convey so much knowledge about the subject he treats of, and yet be so sparing in the use of technical expressions.

The fact that most of the sea-weeds of the Northern Atlantic coast of the United States occur also about the British Islands, renders this book nearly as available for use here as in Great Britain. The illustrations are very neatly prepared woodcuts, mostly on a black ground, and are inserted in the body of the work. For advanced students in American phycology the only special treatise is the "Nereis Boreali-Americana" of the late Dr. Harvey, of Trinity College, Dublin, a quarto with fifty colored plates, published by the Smithsonian Institution.