Popular Science Monthly/Volume 50/March 1897/General Notices

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GENERAL NOTICES.

We have received a couple of attractively got up books, one on Angling and one on Hunting,[1] which are apparently the first two of a new series, to be called the "Out-of-door Library." The books are made up of short papers by different writers, all of which have appeared in Scribner's Magazine. The stories are for the most part accounts of trips to special regions famed for some particular game. The first chapter in Angling is a discourse on fly fishing. The Land of the Winanische is the account of a fishing trip to Lake St. John and its surroundings, where, it seems, the winanische or ouinaniche is localized. Nepigon River fishing, striped and black sea bass, and tarpon fishing in Florida are accounts of similar excursions. A chapter on American game fishes, and finally one on Izaak Walton, which describes his home and fishing grounds in Dovedale, complete the volume on angling. Hunting contains eight chapters. The first one, entitled Hunting American Big Game, is an account of the game conditions in Wyoming some fifteen or twenty years ago. Camping and Hunting in the Shoshone gives a general description of the Rocky Mountain scenery in this district, and describes exciting incidents from a number of hunting trips which the author, W. S. Rainsford, has made to this region. A few pages are next given to climbing for white goats. Sport in an Untouched American Wilderness describes the region east of the State of Maine, between the Atlantic Ocean on the south and the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the north. A Kangaroo Hunt recounts several hunting excursions in the Australian bush. The Last of the Buffalo is a brief historical sketch of this now almost extinct animal, winding up with the description of a Montana buffalo hunt of the days when this game was still plentiful. At St. Mary's and Hunting Musk Ox with the Dog-Ribs complete the volume. Both books are well illustrated, and, while not particularly scientific or instructive, some of the descriptions are interesting simply as stories, and all of them will hold the attention of the sportsman.

 

Prof. L. H. Bailey has made a collection of his addresses to horticultural societies and similar essays, all bearing upon the process of evolution as observed in domestic plants.[2]Having had the plan for such a collection in mind for some time, he has been treating from time to time subjects which would together make up a somewhat systematic whole. He has grouped his papers as essays touching the fact and philosophy of evolution, those expounding the fact and causes of variation, and those tracing the evolution of particular types of plants. The last of these divisions is the most popular and practical, and therefore the most interesting to the horticulturist who is not a biologist. In one of these he discusses the question, Whence came the cultivated strawberry? or rather. Whence came the pine, its ancestor? Of the three possible origins — a hybrid, a direct development of the Chilian strawberry, or a modified form of our big wild strawberry — his examination leads him to decide on the second. In a similar manner he discusses the development of American plums, grapes, and carnations; of the petunia and the garden tomato. Much interesting horticultural history is used as evidence in these discussions. The opening essays of the volume are addressed more especially to the biologist. "It is only in the first two essays," he says, "that I have ventured to state any general convictions respecting the bolder problems of organic evolution; but I count these of much less merit than the statements of many plain and simple facts of observation and experiment which are made in the humbler essays. If the author has been fortunate enough t.o make any contribution to positive science in these pages, it is probably that associated with the vexed question of bud variation, which is chiefly presented in the third essay; but even this is novel only in its treatment." The first two essays deal with the survival of the unlike and the transmission of acquired characters. Prof. Bailey holds that unlikenesses are the greatest facts in the organic creation; that they survive because they are unlike, and thereby enter fields of least competition. He believes that acquired characters useful to the species tend to be perpetuated, and the more surely the longer the transforming environments are present. Intermediate in character as in position between the former and latter groups of essays are those dealing with the fact and with the causes of variation. In one of these he combats the idea that improvement in the quality of fruits is always at the expense of some other desirable quality of the plant. In others he discusses the distribution of cultivated varieties with reference to climatal and geographical conditions, the longevity of varieties, the relation of seed-bearing to cultivation, and similar topics.

 

Problems in Elementary Physics, by E. Dana Pierce, is the title of a little volume intended to be used as an auxiliary to the ordinary text-book or laboratory manual on physics. It consists of a series of selected problems for illustrating and also for testing the student's knowledge of the general physical laws. The introductory sections review the portions of arithmetic most needed in physical computations. A good working knowledge of algebra and plane geometry is assumed. A separate chapter is given to simple applications of the graphic method. (Holt, 60 cents.)

 

A seventh and revised edition of Dr. Newell Martin's useful handbook of physiology, The Human Body, has come to hand. A considerable amount of new matter has been added, especially in connection with the physiology of the cardiac and general vascular nerves and of the brain. As Dr. Martin says, "Physiology has not finished its course," and while this volume contains all the more important facts at present known about the working of our bodies, it also makes it plain that very much is yet to be discovered. (Holt, $2.20.)

 

The first and most needed reform in methods of instruction called for in the educational revival begun by Horace Mann was the substitution of something better for text-book memorizing. Objects were chosen instead of words, and "things before words" became the motto. James Johonnot's Principles and Practice of Teaching, in the International Education Series, of which a new edition lies before us, was a potent factor in bringing about the above reform. He advocated the new education as based on the methods of Pestalozzi. The work of revision for the present volume has been done by Sarah Evans Johonnot. In a few instances the phraseology has been modernized, and a brief sketch of the pioneer work in manual training has been added, to show Mr. Johonnot's influence and close connection with the earliest experiments in this country. (Appletons, $1.50.)

 

The thirty-fourth annual Report of the Michigan State Board of Agriculture, as do all these reports, contains a large amount of interesting information, which is, however, as is also usually the case, so presented as to be rather difficult of access. There are nine hundred pages, and the topics range from the "management of swamps" to "climbing cutworms" and "five-banded bees." The volume contains a portrait and sketch of T. T. Lyon, Superintendent of the Michigan Experiment Station.

 

The Transactions of the American Climatological Association for 1896 have just reached us. Among the papers of special interest may be mentioned: Some of the Difficulties of Climato-therapy, by J. B. Walker; A Plea for Moderation in our Statements regarding the Contagiousness of Pulmonary Consumption, by V. Y. Bowditch; The Climate of Arizona, by M. A. Rodgers; The Sanitarium or Closed Treatment in Phthisis, by E. O. Otis; and A Study of Highly Mineralized Thermal Waters in the Treatment of Disease, by H. H. Schroeder. The object of the association is thus stated in its constitution: "The study of climatology and hydrology, and of diseases of the respiratory and circulatory organs."

 

General Principles of Zoölogy, by R. Hertwig (translated by George W. Field), comprises the first or general part of the author's Lehrbuch der Zoologie. When the latter volume first appeared there was no intention of a separate publication of the general part; but it is now thought that a book simply covering the "larger generalizations of the subject" will be of service and within the reach of many who would not purchase the larger work. The contents are well described by the title; it is a manual of zoölogy; there are paragraph headings in larger type, and the general arrangement of the text is such as to facilitate its use as a text-book, if desired. (Holt, $1.60.)

 

The Elements of Physics, of Profs. Edward L. Nichols and William S. Franklin (Macmillan, $1.50), has been prepared with a view to producing a text-book which shall correspond with the increasing strength of the mathematical teaching in university classes. While some text-books assume that the student's mathematical knowledge does not reach to the calculus, and others presume so much upon the mathematical training that they are unreadable for nearly all undergraduates, this one is intended for those who possess an elementary knowledge of the calculus. It is planned to be used in connection with illustrated lectures. It meets all difficulties, simplifying them as much as possible, but not evading them. The first volume, on mechanics and heat, has already been published. The present volume, the second, concerns electricity and magnetism, and a third volume is to follow.

 

The second title of Mr. William Matthews's Nugœ Litterariœ (or Literary Trifles) — Brief Essays on Literary, Social, and other Themes — well describes the character of the book. It is a collection, without special arrangement, of paragraphs and short essays on all kinds of subjects — ever bright and pungent and consequently interesting, always containing at least one good thought, often witty and more frequently suggestive, and good to take up at any time of the day and to read steadily or in five to fifteen minute intervals. Six of the papers first appeared in the North American Review (Roberts Brothers, $1.50).

 

The second volume of The Cambridge Natural History (Macmillan, $3.50) contains a connected and comprehensive history of the flatworms and mesozoa, nemertines, threadworms and sagitta, rotifers, polychæt worms, earthworms and leeches, gephyrea and phoronis,. and polyzoa. These various subdivisions are dealt with by special students and zoölogists. The chapters on polychæt worms, gephyrea and phoronis, and polyzoa are particularly acceptable as bringing together much information that has heretofore been locked up in special memoirs. In the chapter on rotifera, Prof. Hartog presents for the first time his views on the zoölogical affinities of the group. He says: "I have been induced to take a view of the structure of the rotifers that brings it into close relationship with the lower platyhelminthes and with the more primitive larva of the nemertines termed pilidium." He therefore changes the orientation of the rotifer, and places it, like the cuttlefish, mouth downward. For anterior and posterior he substitutes oral and apical; for dorsal and ventral he uses anterior and posterior. As in the volume on insecta, the name of the author of the first chapter only stands conspicuously on the cover. The volume and the whole series, in fact, is in a way so encyclopedic in its character that it seems as much out of place to have an author's name on the cover as it would be to see a single author's name on an encyclopædia. The volume is an indispensable adjunct to the library of a naturalist. The beautiful illustrations, the matter, well up to the latest researches on the subject, and the fact that specialists in each department have contributed to its material, bringing in their own original work, make the series unique and invaluable.

 

The United States Weather Bureau has issued a folio pamphlet on Surface Currents of the Great Lakes, deduced from the courses taken by floating bottles put into the waters of the lakes in 1892, 1893, and 1894. Of the five thousand bottles set afloat by the Bureau, six hundred and seventy two had been recovered up to the preparation of this report. The text is accompanied by a chart of each lake, showing the courses taken by the bottles each season, and the movements of the waters which these courses indicate.

 

The Report of the Commissioner of Education for the Year 1893-’94 makes two volumes of the familiar form containing over a thousand pages each. The usual statistics are accompanied by a large number of essays on educational topics. The reports of the "Committee of Fifteen" on training of teachers, on correlation of studies, and on city school systems, which have aroused widespread interest, are here printed; Rev. A. D. Mayo contributes a history of public schools during the colonial and revolutionary periods. A digest of school laws in the several States and of sanitary laws affecting schools occupies about three hundred pages. Other features are A Preliminary List of American Learned and Educational Societies, giving the officers, objects, and publications of each, and Some Recent Educational Bibliographies. There was an increase of over four hundred thousand pupils in the public schools of the country during the year, against an average of less than three hundred thousand for the preceding ten years.

 

A useful contribution to the current discussion of the money question is afforded in No. 74 of the Old South Leaflets, Hamilton's Report an the Coinage. All the important phases of the currency problem are discussed calmly and thoroughly in this masterly report of the first Secretary of the Treasury, and it is highly instructive to see how an able financier, unaffected by any of the prejudices of the present day, looked at matters that are now in hot dispute. The report makes a pamphlet of thirty-two pages. (Directors of the Old South Work, Boston, 5 cents a copy, $3 a hundred.)

 

Describing his book, The Perfect Whole (Ellis, $1.50), in its preface, Horatio W. Dresser says: "Thus, broadly defined, the purpose of this book is threefold — psychological, metaphysical, and practical. As a psychological analysis, it is especially concerned with the higher or spiritual nature of man. As a philosophical discussion, it aims to develop a generally sound view of reality by a consideration of materialism, agnosticism, and mysticism in the light of their shortcomings when compared with the demands both of reason and the spiritual sense. It points out many important distinctions essential to a just view of life, and indicates the dangers of pantheism and of all one-sided conceptions of the universe. In its practical aspect it urges the same need of breadth and discrimination which it finds essential to a sound doctrine of reality. It is an urgent appeal to life, a plea for the realization of ethics and the application of spiritual law in every moment of existence." Mr. Dresser is also author of a book entitled The Power of Silence.

 

The fourth volume, completing the edition of The Writings of Thomas Paine, which Moncure Daniel Conway has collected and edited, is almost wholly devoted to Paine's religious writings. About half of it is occupied by The Age of Reason, to which we called attention when it was issued separately. This is followed by several essays arguing against the reality of divine inspiration in the Bible, and in support of a simple Deism and a pure morality. To appendixes are relegated a number of shorter writings — autobiographical, political, and technological — including a few pieces of verse and his will. In closing his labors on the history and the writings of Thomas Paine, whom he calls "the Great Commoner of mankind," Mr. Conway says: "Personally I place a very high value on Paine's writings in themselves, and not simply for their prophetic genius, their humane spirit, and their vigorous style. While his type of Deism is not to me satisfactory, his religious spirit at times attains sublime heights; and while his republican formulas are at times impaired by his eagerness to adapt them to existing conditions, I do not find any writer at all, not even the most modern, who has equally worked out a scheme for harmonizing the inevitable rule of the majority with individual freedom and rights." As to the historical value of Paine's political writings Mr. Conway adds, "He was literally the only man who came out with the whole truth, regardless of persons." (Putnams, $2.50 a volume.)

 
  1. The Out-of-door Library. Angling, pp. 305, $1.50. Hunting, pp. 337, $1.50. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  2. The Survival of the Unlike. By L.H. Bailey. New York: The Macmillan Co. Pp. 515, 12mo. Price $2.