Popular Science Monthly/Volume 50/December 1896/Scientific Literature

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Popular Science Monthly Volume 50 December 1896  (1896) 
Scientific Literature
 

Scientific Literature.
SPECIAL BOOKS.

The trees, the author of this book[1] says, may be justly numbered among our best friends. But we need to know them better. "It is not enough to be able to distinguish an ash from a hickory or a fir from a spruce; it is more important by far that we should become acquainted with the form and character of the leaves, the fruit, and the bark, and thus acquire a fuller knowledge of the way the tree lives. To know a tree is to become familiar with the purpose and condition of its life. This is revealed in no small measure by the leaves. The needle of the pine enables the tree to withstand a hurricane on a mountain top, yet its slender figure is perfectly adapted to the task of gathering light and air for the tree's life. The broadleaved buttonwood would fall before the gale which the pine successfully weathers. Not less plainly does the diversity of character in a leaf reveal the diversity of the tree itself. No two leaves are exactly alike; no two trees are exactly alike." Although, as he admits, it is not possible to portray all the beauty of a leaf with a pencil, the author has endeavored in this attractive volume to represent in outline the most characteristic features of the leaves of American trees, supplementing his pictures with such descriptions of them, and the trees to which they belong, with their habitat, as has seemed appropriate. Endeavoring to draw the leaves exactly as he found them, his two hundred and odd sketches were all taken from Nature, and only sixty of these from pressed specimens which were obtained at the Harvard Botanic Garden. "Yet I have found the world of truth and beauty, as far as leaves are concerned, so limitless that types and rules seemed valuable only as guide-boards are on a strange path." The botanical names are given, first from Gray's Field, Forest, and Garden Botany; second, in conformity with a recent system of nomenclature instituted by Prof. C. S. Sargent. An introduction is contributed by Prof. L. H. Bailey. The sketches begin with a chapter on The Leaf as a Builder, in which the leading features of the endless variety in the forms of leaves are briefly described and illustrated, and the functions of the leaf in the tree's life are explained. The leaves as they are singly brought up are classified as simple alternate, simple opposite, and then as with or without teeth and their edges divided or not divided, compound alternate and compound opposite, and evergreen leaves. Of the genera that are portrayed are the magnolias, tulip tree and sassafras, witch-hazel, sorrel tree, elms, birches, alder, willows, poplars, hawthorns, oaks, dogwood, burning bush, maples, ailantus and locusts, sumach, walnuts, hickories, ash-leaved maple and ashes, horse-chestnuts and buckeyes, pines, spruces, hemlock, fir, larch, and arbor vitæ. An intelligible plan for leaf identification occupies one page. A systematical index of the trees of the eastern United States gives the common names and the botanical names according to Gray and Sargent, with the family to which each tree belongs.

 

This book[2] is not a description of scenery nor an account of Alpine adventures, but an inquiry into the agencies that have made Switzerland, what it is. Its scenery, the author says, "is so greatly due to geological causes that it is impossible to discuss the present configuration of the surface without some reference to its history in bygone times. I do not, however, propose to deal with geology further than is necessary for my present purpose." He defines that purpose by remarking that during his holidays in the Alps "my attention was from the first directed to the interesting problems presented by the physical geography of the country. I longed to know what forces had raised the mountains, hollowed out the lakes, and directed the rivers. During all my holidays these questions have occupied my thoughts, and I have read much of what has been written about them." While the book, notwithstanding its somewhat clumsy construction, will be an acceptable one to every reflecting reader, it will be most welcome to one who is interested in geology. He need not be a geologist, nor much versed in that science, for the author has supplied a very good elementary geological introduction to the work, in which those geological points that have immediate application to the matter in hand are sufficiently explained. But he must want to know why such and such features are so, for that is what the book undertakes to tell. With such a mind, every student and tourist will find the book pleasant and profitable. First is given the geological introduction, with especial reference, of course, to Switzerland. Then the origin of mountains is discussed, and the general peculiarities of the mountains of Switzerland are noticed. The phenomena caused by the accumulation and action of ice and snow are considered, the former extension of glaciers, the origin and formation of valleys, the action of rivers, their directions, the character and origin of the lakes, and the influence of the strata upon scenery. Pursuing the study more in detail, attention is directed to the Jura, the central plain, the outer Alps, the central massives, the Lake of Geneva, the massive of Mont Blanc, the Valois, the Bernese Oberland, the upper Aar, Zurich and Glarus, the Rhine, the Reuss, the Ticino, and the Engadine, closing with a general summary of the geological history of Switzerland. A list of works and memoirs referred to is given in the appendix. The work is accompanied with more than one hundred and fifty suitable illustrations and an excellent map.

 

It is idle to speculate as to whether Herbart could have done the work in education that Locke or Pestalozzi did, but certain it is that, having the work of the older men to stand upon, he accomplished what they could not do, Herbart's service it was to unite into one system the grand isolated principles established by the pioneers of modern education. The volume before us[3] presents Herbart's ideas as set forth in seven of his essays, two of which discuss Pestalozzi's theories, and in his book, whose title is translated as Pestalozzi's Idea of an A B C of Sense-Perception investigated and scientifically carried out as a Cycle of Preliminary Exercise in the Apperception of Forms. In one of the essays he sets forth the insufficiency of empiricism in pedagogy, and draws an instructive parallel between tact and character; in another he insists that success in moral as well as in intellectual education depends on the proper psychologic grading of the training conferred. In still another he advocates many-sidedness in schools while at the same time showing the impossibility of satisfying all the "faddists," and follows this by demanding as much free time for the pupil as can be secured by economy of the working hours. His conception of pedagogy as a whole is laid down in the essay On the Æsthetic Presentation of the Universe as the Chief Office of Education. As to what constitutes presentation of the universe, his own words are "experience, human converse, and instruction taken all together." Conceding that the object of learning is doing, we must know what is right in order to do what is right, and besides this there must be the desire to do right. Knowledge and sympathy, then, are the two ends of the Herbartian pedagogy. In his discussion and extension of Pestalozzi's A B C of Sense-Perception, Herbart affirms that the cultivation of sense-perception falls within the sphere of mathematics, and that mathematical exercises afford the best means of holding the attention of the pupil. In discussing the exposition of mathematics for educative purposes, he declares that nothing seems to lie so nearly at the center of mathematics as trigonometry. Angles, then, should be the first subject for mathematical exercises. A section of seventy-seven pages is devoted to a plan of progressive exercises on triangles, or trigonometry. In a concluding chapter the value of a knowledge of triangles in the study of geography is pointed out, and the transition from the triangular form to the variety of forms in Nature and art is committed to the drawing-master. Wherever in the volume criticisms and expositions of Pestalozzi's work appear, it will be seen that Herbart does not seek to supplant Pestalozzi, but rather to supplement him. In the opinion of the translator, the American school system has had the benefit of Pestalozzianism, and is now ready for the further advance to be had from Herbartianism — in fact, has already entered upon this advance, although, he says, many teachers are guided by Herbart's ideas who never heard of him.

 
  1. Familiar Trees and their Leaves. Described and illustrated by F. Schuyler Mathews. Pp. 320, 12mo. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Price, $1.75.
  2. The Scenery of Switzerland and the Causes to which it is Due. By the Right Hon. Sir John Lubbock. Pp. 371, 12mo. New York and London: The Macmillan Company. Price, $1.50.
  3. Herbart's A B C of Sense-Perception and Minor Pedagogical Works. Translated, with Introduction, Notes, and Commentary, by William J. Eckoff. International Education Series, vol. xxxvi. Pp. 288, l2mo. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Price, $1.50.