Popular Science Monthly/Volume 42/March 1893/Literary Notices
|←Editor's Table||Popular Science Monthly Volume 42 March 1893 (1893)
This is a posthumous work, completed in accordance with the author's desire by his daughter. It is described in his note-book as "a few carefully studied monographs, linked together by a slender thread of ethnographic relationship." The thread, as nearly as it seems susceptible of description, assumes the form of an inquiry into the probability of there having been any relationship between the developments of primitive Old World and of aboriginal New World civilization. The first essay, which gives its title to the book, embraces a critical inquiry into the origin of Plato's story of Atlantis — which is left in the great philosopher's imagination — a discussion of the legends that have been current on the subject, a presentation of scientific evidence as being decisive against such a land having ever existed; and the conclusion — while the admission is made and even the belief is avowed that the Phoenicians may have visited America, and evidences of their presence here may yet be found — that ancient American civilization was native. In the next essay, the discovery of America by the Northmen and their attempts at colonization are accepted and discussed as established facts. The essay on Trade and Commerce in the Stone Age concerns the whole world, while the evidences of trade relations between different parts of America are considered in it in full. The conclusion is expressed that the exceptional aptitude of skilled workmen was recognized and brought into use for the general benefit, and co-operation and the division of labor were known at a very early stage in the development of primitive mechanical art; that materials for manufacture were transported from remote localities, and the exchange of products was facilitated by professional traders. The native origin of American civilization is again taken up in the essay on Pre-Aryan American Man. The succeeding essay is concerning the Æsthetic Faculty in Aboriginal Races; and in the following one the Huron Iroquois are presented as a typical American race. In the paper on Hybridity and Heredity the idea, fostered by Morton, of an approximation of the Anglo-American to the red Indian type is rejected; and an interesting speculation is suggested of the future of the colored race in this country, which, left free, as it now is, to enjoy the healthful social relations of a civilized community, and protected by prejudice from any large intermixture with the white race, will survive distinct. In the last paper, on Relative Racial Brain-weight and Size, the conclusion is reached that in the remarkably exceptional characteristics established by the study of certain Peruvian crania, "we have as marked an indication of a distinctive race-character as anything hitherto noticed in anthropology."
The author of this book is a Congregational clergyman, and he has given an excellent summary of the results of the "higher criticism." He follows Kuenen and Wellhausen, chiefly, in his views of Israelite history, beginning with the prophecies of the eighth century b. c. as a basis, and working back to the origin of the nation and forward to the introduction of Christianity. He thinks that Genesis is largely mythical, and was not composed till the Babylonish exile. He rejects the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and ascribes its composition to several authors between the sixth and eighth centuries b. c. The creation of the Bible, in fact, began with Ezra, the scribe, after the Babylonish exile. Prior to that time the sacred books of the Jews were lightly esteemed, and were tossed from pillar to post, but Ezra and his associates gathered them into a canon. The prophecies are the earliest and most reliable books of the Bible. The older parts of Genesis are products of oral tradition. The Levitical law and priesthood were not established in Israel until after the exile. Amos was the first prophet, Hosea came next, Joel and Malachi about two and a half centuries later. Isaiah wrote the first part of the book bearing his name, but the latter part was written by an unknown prophet of the exile. One of the most interesting chapters of the book is that entitled "From Gods to Gods," in which Mr. Adams shows that Israelite monotheism was developed from fetichism and idolatry. The prophets were the originators of monotheism in Israel, not Abraham, as is popularly supposed. The prophets also attacked the bloody sacrifices of the people. Human sacrifice was often practiced, even as late as Micah's time, for he protested against it. Jephthah offered his daughter in sacrifice to Jehovah; Samuel hewed Agag into pieces "before Jehovah"; and Abraham was tempted to sacrifice Isaac.
The books of Job and Daniel are "fictitious." They are not false, but they are true only in the sense that novels, poems, allegories, and parables are true. Job is a magnificent poem and a profound piece of philosophy, written by some unknown sage at an unknown date. Daniel is one of the several apocalypses which appeared about b. c. 150, called forth by the sufferings of the Jews under their Greek oppressors. The author thinks that David did not write many if any of the Psalms, and they were attributed to him simply because he was Israel's greatest king, a lover of music, and the patron of poets and prophets. "The real power of the Old Testament is in its poetry," but we must "resolutely reject" many of the sentiments of the Psalms, such as their imprecation of divine wrath upon the enemies of Israel. Mr. Adams gives a fine sketch of the Persian, Greek, and Roman influence upon the Jewish nation and religion. It is commonly believed that Judaism degenerated between the exile and the birth of Jesus, but our author rightly says, during that period "the principal preparation was made for the introduction of Christianity." The Holy Scriptures were translated into Greek; synagogues were built in Alexandria and wherever the Jews were dispersed and settled. Their ideas of the world were broadened and their religious views were liberalized. Devout and learned scribes traveled from place, to place teaching the people. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes propagated various phases of religious belief and practice. The book of Ecclesiastes, written about 200 b. c, and therefore not by Solomon, shows us the effect Greek philosophy had on Jewish thought. It produced pessimism. "When the fullness of the times was come," God sent forth the great teacher of Nazareth to fulfill the law and the prophets. Mr. Adams accepts the critical and rational view of the Gospels, concluding that they were compilations by unknown authors from oral tradition and perhaps written sources, between a. d. 70 and 150.
All "miracles" are rejected, except those that may be explained as extraordinary natural events. The bodily resurrection of Jesus and his birth of a virgin, in particular, are denied, and Mr. Adams thinks that a better statement of the Incarnation is a necessity. Commenting upon the doctrine of the Logos in the Johannine Gospel, he says: "The Word which has always been with God and is God becomes the rocks of the world, the water of the oceans, the stars of the sky, and in due process becomes flesh and dwells among us, full of grace and truth. Nothing is made without the Word. Jesus," he adds, "certainly did not build the worlds, but that manifesting Spirit, which became flesh in him, has always been uttering God."
On the whole, this book accomplishes its purpose very satisfactorily. The writer covers a large field, and it is remarkable that he has made no more mistakes than he has. His thought is clear and suggestive; his style easy and flowing; his spirit earnest and reverent; his conclusions judicious and undogmatic. Those who are not familiar with the subject treated will find the book very instructive; and those who are well versed in such matters will find it a good summary of scholarly opinions on the most important religious problem of the day. If Mr. Adams had appended a list of such authorities as those mentioned in the preface, he would have added to the value of his book, for one of the chief functions of such books is to make their readers read further and more thoroughly.
Heretofore the chemical basis of the animal body has been presented in a brief appendix incorporated with the final book of Prof. Foster's Text-book of Physiology. But the advances of science, as well as the demands for more thorough knowledge, have expanded the fifty pages that sufficed, in the former editions of that text-book, to describe this subject, into the present volume. Dr. A. Sheridan Lea was the author of that appendix, as he is of this volume that constitutes a treatise on the chemical substances occurring in the animal organism.
In the first portion of the volume we find the section on proteids enlarged by the addition of the discoveries that have been made regarding those substances; methods of preparation are clearly and succinctly described, and the various reactions are explained. The section describing peptones now includes albumoses, that are classed with the former, both on account of their close relationship and for convenience. The author calls attention to the fact that various substances that have been described as peptones have consisted, to an extent at least, of a mixture of true peptones with variable quantities of albumoses, and that our knowledge of true peptones is at present in a state of transition. In fact, as he truly states, until some new property of proteids is discovered by which their absolute purity may be determined, the question of the constitution of proteids will probably remain unsolved.
A new section is added on the enzymes, in which we find descriptions of trypsinogen, pialyn, rennin, muscle- enzyme, and ureaenzyme.
In the section on the nitrogenous non-crystalline bodies allied to proteids, descriptions of the mucin of bile, of that of the submaxillary gland, and of that of the umbilical cord, of gelatin-peptones, of neurokeratin, of chitin, and of nucleo-albumins have been added. In the section on carbohydrates the dextrins are now well described; while the sugars are satisfactorily explained by Emil Fischer's able researches regarding the several members of this class of carbohydrates.
In the sections on the fatty acids and fats, on the amides and amido-acids, on urea and the uric-acid group, on the bile acids, and on the coloring matters and pigments of the animal body, much recent material has been incorporated, while a brief section is devoted to ptomaines and leucomaines.
The volume is a most useful addition to the literature of the subject; the numerous references it contains will permit the student to consult original authorities should he so desire; while in general an immense amount of time will be saved for those studying this subject by this collocation of results that are scattered throughout medical literature.
An admirable idea is embodied in the series of English Classics for Schools of the American Book Company — a series in which the masterpieces of English literature are presented in attractive form for reading in class or for supplementary reading. Of this series there are now sent to us Ten Selections from the Sketch Book of Washington Irving, Shakespeare's Tragedy of Julius Caesar, and his Comedy of Twelfth Night, at the price of twenty cents each, and Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe at fifty cents. With the text are given brief notices of the author, with analyses of the particular works.
Mr. Galton's attention having been directed to the individuality and significance of the marks made by the tips of the fingers, he was surprised when he came to inquire into the subject at perceiving what had been done, and what a promising field of inquiry still lay in it. He found it of real importance and investigated it, with results, truly curious and valuable, which are given in this book. The account begins with notices of the previous employment of finger prints among various nations, with objects partly superstitious and partly ceremonial; then various methods of making good prints are described at length; next, the character and purpose of the ridges, whose lineations appear in the finger prints, are discussed. These preliminary topics having been disposed of, the inquiry proper begins with a discussion of the various patterns formed by the lineations, illustrated by plates of the principal varieties. The question is raised as to the persistence of the patterns, or whether or no they are so durable as to afford a sure basis for identification, and is answered, except as to proportions, in the affirmative. An attempt is made to appraise the evidential value of finger prints by the common laws of probability. A succeeding chapter deals with the frequency with which the several kinds of patterns appear on the different digits of the same person; and in it unexpected relationships and distinctions are established between different fingers and the two hands. Methods of indexing are discussed and proposed, by which a set of finger prints may be so described that it may easily be searched for and found in any large collection. The practical results of the inquiry are discussed as to its possible use in differentiating a man from his fellows; and the finger prints are found to afford one of the most certain marks of identification. The question whether patterns are transmissible by descent is answered affirmatively; and this leads to the estimation of their use in indicating race and temperament. In the last chapter the right is discussed of the nine fundamentally differing patterns to be considered as different genera, and of their more characteristic varieties to rank as different genera or species, as the case may be, with affirmative conclusions.
The author of this work is Professor of Physics in the University of Notre Dame. The main purpose of the book is to give musicians and general readers an exact knowledge, based on experiment, of the principles of acoustics, and to present at the same time a brief exposition of the physical basis of musical harmony. The author believes that, in view of the attention now given to theoretical as well as practical music in European and American conservatories, this presentment can not be considered altogether untimely. The treatise is based on the recent and most exact observations of modern physicists, most prominent among whom are Helmholtz and Koenig, as well as the works of the older acousticians, and is intended to include a summary of all that has been learned and determined down to the date of publication. To Koenig, the latest of these investigators, and the one probably who has carried our knowledge of the philosophy of music to the most successful results yet obtained, personal obligations are acknowledged. The volume has grown out of a course of lectures that were given in 1891 in the Catholic University of America, Washington, D. C. These, however, have been thoroughly revised, with the purpose of making the exposition of the subject more complete than was possible in lectures actually delivered, so that it is practically a new work. Yet the lecture form has been retained as being more animated and picturesque, and more in keeping with the character of a work that deals so largely with apparatus and experiments. Of the illustrations and experiments many were prepared expressly for this work, while others are to be found only in the more recent French and German treatises on sound and music. The first chapter, beginning with a reference to the relation of the science to the art of music, is devoted to the explanation of the Production and Transmission of Sound and the Nature of Sonorous Vibrations. In the next two chapters the laws of Loudness or Intensity of Sound and Pitch are considered, with a description of Koenig's Grand Tonométre Universel, and the subjects of Telocity, Reflection, and Refraction of Sound. The topics of Musical Strings, Vibrations of Rods, Plates, and Bells, and Sonorous Tubes follow; after which come the theoretical subjects of Resonance and Interference, Beats and Beattones, the Quality of Sound, and Musical Intervals and Temperament.
The fact that this work possessed sufficient merit to go through three editions in German in the four years following its first publication, implies an intrinsic merit; for there is no paucity in the literature of this subject, while the new discoveries that are constantly being reported by investigators tend to make a comparatively recent book behind the times, speaking from a scientific standpoint.
In the first chapter the sexual products are described, and following this is an explanation of the phenomena of the maturation of the egg and of the process of fertilization, the author presenting the theory that the female nuclear substance transmits the peculiarities of the mother, the male nuclear substance those of the father. This is an expansion of the theory of fertilization into one of transmission.
We do not think that the translator has been felicitous in his choice in using the term "process of cleavage" for the more usual term of segmentation of the ovum, even though he has the precedence afforded by Prof. Huxley's employment of a term that should have been left to its original scientific use in geology and mineralogy.
The methods of development of the two primary and of the two middle germ layers — the so-called gastræa theory and cœlom theory — are presented in separate chapters. The author maintains that at the close of segmentation there is only one germ layer present — the epithelium of the blastula. From it the remaining germ layers arise by the processes of invagination and evagination — the inner germ layer being formed by means of gastrulation, the two middle germ layers being formed by the formation of the body cavities, in that two body sacs are evaginated from the cœlenteron and grow out between and separate the two primary germ layers. After their origin the middle germ layers are differentiated into several fundaments (rudiments) by processes of folding and constricting off.
The development of the connective substance and blood is explained by means of the mesenchyme germs. This is followed by chapters on the establishment of the external form of the body and on the fœtal membranes of reptiles, birds, mammals, and man.
The consideration of the science of the embryology of organs is divided into four sections, comprising the morphological products of the inner, of the middle, of the outer, and of the intermediate germ layers. This is, of course, an arbitrary division, for the teeth arise from the intermediate and the outer germ layers, while the alimentary canal and its glands contain elements from the inner, middle, and intermediate layers.
Space forbids any extended consideration of the features pertaining to these latter topics. The work is certainly a comprehensive presentation of the subject, and the translator has performed his arduous task in a satisfactory manner.
Each successive portion of this valuable work testifies to the masterly ability with which its author has handled a large and difficult undertaking. The present part deals with Amines and Ammonium Bases, Hydrazines, Bases from Tar, and Vegetable Alkaloids. The substances of chief commercial importance that are treated are, therefore, drugs, such as aconitine, atropine, cocaine, morphine, quinine, and their allies; the alkaloids of coffee, tea, and cocoa, and the aniline colors. Substances of special interest at the present time which fall within the scope of this part are antipyrine and certain other antipyretics. A third part of Volume III is to be issued to complete the treatise, and it is gratifying to note that the success of the work in its enlarged form warrants the author in announcing a new edition of the earlier volumes.
The aim of this book is to give an account of the injuries received in railway and similar accidents that become the subject of medico-legal inquiry. The author has long been a student of this branch, having published in 1883 a work on Injuries of the Spine and Spinal Cord and Nervous Shock, to which he had given several years of preparation, and having continued his observations since. While injuries of all kinds and degrees are caused by railway accidents, they do not differ for the most part from those which are seen after other forms of violence. Even the injuries in the back received in railway accidents do not differ from similar injuries received in other ways; but their frequency, and the character they impress on the features of many other forms of injury, demand for them a place by themselves. It is, in fact, a peculiarity of railway accidents that these injuries of the back are nearly always produced, whatever other injuries may occur, and even though there may not be other injury; that the patient is often not aware of them till some time afterward, and that their direct and indirect effects are often widespread and long continued. Vastly more numerous and even more important than these are the cases of "general nervous shock"—an unprecise term applicable rather to the whole of the clinical circumstances of the case than to any one symptom which may be presented by the injured person. The characteristics of the cases described by it indicate some functional or dynamic disturbance of the nervous equilibrium or tone, rather than structural damage to any organ. Another class of effects is included under the designation of fright neurosis or traumatic hysteria. The diagnoses of these phenomena are complemented by the citation of considerable numbers of cases which illustrate the almost capricious variety of the forms under which they are manifested. In treatment a pre-eminently important factor is rest; but, besides this general remedy, there are special forms of affection that require special applications. The mental condition is all-important; and in this connection special stress is laid upon the effect of the expectation of compensation, and upon malingering, into which the patient is to a greater or less extent seduced unintentionally and unconsciously by the trend of his thoughts and fancies; so that complete recovery is not assured till the mind is cleared, to which payment of damages contributes greatly; yet this is predicated without reflection on the character, motives, or entire honesty of the patient. The closing chapters are devoted to the discussion of this branch of the subject in its medico-legal aspects.
This part of this excellent text-book treats of the physiology of the various senses, of that of certain special muscular mechanisms, as of the voice, of speech, and of looomotion; of the tissues and mechanisms of reproduction, including impregnation, menstruation, pregnancy, parturition, the phases of life, and death. Preceding the physiology of each organ there are descriptions of its anatomy and histology, as in the other parts of this work.
The great caution that Prof. Foster displays throughout the work in judicially presenting both sides of a moot point is well shown in the section on color sensations. Both the Young-Helmholtz and the Hering theory of color perception are explained, but the author is inclined to accept the latter, both because there is a recorded case in which only white and black could be seen, and because the phenomena of peripheral color vision better accord with Hering's theory.
In the chapter on hearing the author states that the exact nature of the process by which the vibrations of the perilymph, produced by waves of sound, give rise to auditory impulses is uncertain. Even accepting the theory that the basilar membrane may be considered as consisting of a number of parallel radial strings, each capable of independent vibrations, the other structures in the auditory epithelium present problems that are as yet unsolved; for the true function of the rods of Corti and of the reticulate membrane of which these form a part, of the cells of Deiters, and of the inner as distinguished from the outer hair-cells, are yet unknown.
The author considers, in the section on taste and smell, that certain recorded cases lead to the provisional conclusion that the gustatory fibers are fibers belonging to the fifth nerve, though they may reach the tongue partly by way of the glosso-pharyngeal, partly by way of the chorda tympani nerves.
While we agree with the author that cutaneous pain is a separate sensation, developed in a different way in the skin than is pressure or temperature sensation, we think that he should have laid stress on the latter as being developed in a different way than is pain or pressure sensation. In fact, recorded cases of nervous diseases suggest that, though correlated, the pressure, pain, and temperature senses are distinct entities.
He does not regard "muscular sense" as an appropriate term for the recognition of impulses that are derived not only from the muscular fibers, but also, and possibly to a large extent, from the tendons and other passive instruments of the muscles. Therefore this so-called muscular sense is the outcome of afferent impulses proceeding from the periphery and started in the parts concerned in the movement, and it should not be described by a term that implies a single source of the phenomenon.
The entire volume exhibits the same careful presentation of the subjects under consideration that has characterized Prof. Foster's former work, and has made this in the past one of the best works on physiology that we have; and the incorporation of the more recent discoveries in that science in this volume sustains its high standard. The only thing that detracts from this volume is the omission of an index.
This book is described in the subtitle as "Some Account of Nature's Crops, and how they are grown." It maintains the proposition that "the whole earth is one great farm or garden, almost everywhere covered with vegetation, and bringing forth crops of the most luxuriant and varied kind"; and that Nature farms in ways of her own, on a large scale and without fuss, with a tillage of the most thorough kind, though it may be carried on without steel plows, and so quietly as to escape our notice. "There are vast pasture-lands here, there are extensive forests there; there are woods, jungles, heaths, moors, downs, but they have, all been planted; and the soil was prepared in the first instance, and has been renewed since, by laborers who are not less truly deserving of the name of laborer than the plowman, though they do not work with his implements." Of these laborers we are introduced first to the "pioneer laborers" — the gases of air and water — "which wear away the very hardest rocks by degrees"; then to the "soil-makers" — the lichens which sprout in the débris of the weathered rocks, and the roots of which, with those of the plants that follow them, continue the work done by air and water; to the "soil-carriers" — the rivers; the "soil-binders" — grass and plant roots; and the "field laborers" — worms and burrowing insects and animals, which loosen the soil; the work of which in the field particularly under view is graphically described. The work of water and roots, and the reason for deserts, are more fully considered. The office of plants in drawing food from the soil and leaving it there when they die in a more assimilable condition, and leaves and their work, are described — the influence of climate, "blossom and seed," the meaning of fertilization and the work of insects in assisting the process, and the methods of diffusion, are explained; and chapters follow on the Chances of Life, Friends and Foes to Plant Life, Nature's Militia, and Man's Work on the Farm. The whole is a successful attempt to present knowledge of the phenomena and processes of growth in an attractive form, to which a few excellent illustrations lend additional grace.
In this treatise the use of the blowpipe in analytical and determinative work is treated with great fullness. The chapter on appliances and flames is fully illustrated. This is followed by descriptions of the several modes of examining minerals, including some operations with wet reagents. A dozen pages of tables giving reactions for the oxides of earths and metals constitute Chapter III. Some seventy pages are devoted to prominent blowpipe reactions for the elements and their principal mineral compounds, arranged alphabetically under the names of the elements. Special suggestions as to the treatment of alloys, metallurgical products, and pigments are given; and these are followed by a systematic method of qualitative analysis before the blowpipe. Over a hundred pages of determinative tables are given, in which more than four hundred species of minerals are described. In these tables seven chief divisions are made — namely, metallic malleable minerals, flexible minerals, sectile malleable minerals, minerals with and those without metallic luster, earthy minerals, and hydrocarbon compounds. The methods of Prof. Richter, of Freiberg, have been largely followed in this manual, the author having been one of Richter's pupils.