Popular Science Monthly/Volume 7/August 1875/Literary Notices
The Principles of Sociology. By Herbert Spencer. A Quarterly Serial. Part III. D. Appleton & Co. Price, $2.00 a year.
It is an essential part of Mr. Spencer's method of treating sociological science to trace the genesis of the fundamental ideas which have become embodied in social institutions. The installment of his work now before us is devoted to the origin and development of religious ideas. These have been powerful in all ages, in all places, and in all grades of society, in influencing human conduct, and in determining the constitution of the social state. In this country religion is largely differentiated from government; but it remains at the basis of extensive and important institutions. In European nations, and in most countries in fact all over the world, religious establishments are still part of the state organization and potent factors in determining the structure of society. An element of the social state, so universal and pertaining to humanity itself, is certainly a fit subject for scientific elucidation. For, although it is claimed in special cases that religious ideas are not of natural but of supernatural origin, and therefore not amenable to the scientific method of investigation, yet those who entertain this view always limit it to a particular case. The believers in the supernatural origin of religious conceptions generally restrict their view to the one religion which they hold to be true. But, although the implication is that all other religions are false, they still remain to be accounted for, so that, admitting the super-natural character and origin of a single system of faith, there yet remain hundreds of other systems of all complexions and gradations which are the legitimate subjects of study from the scientific point of view. A Christian may hold his system to be preternaturally given, and its origin to be not open to scientific scrutiny or criticism; but he cannot object to the employment of science in tracing out the development of religious notions among heathen and savages. There is, therefore, plenty of legitimate room to carry on the inquiry.
In this number of his work Mr. Spencer devotes himself to tracing the origin and growth of religious ideas, that in their various forms may be regarded as universal. His aim is to show that they are natural and necessary outgrowths of the intercourse with Nature of the human mind before it has learned any thing of the true order of Nature. In his successive chapters he treats of "The Ideas of Death and Resurrection," "The Ideas of Souls, Ghosts, Spirits, Demons, etc.," "The Ideas of another Life," "The Ideas of another World," "The Ideas of Supernatural Agents." The argument, as is usual with Mr. Spencer, is able, the analysis clear, and the presentation forcible. The work is full of fresh and interesting information regarding the mental states and habits of the lower races of mankind, and the accompanying psychological discussion gives an impressive interest to the facts.
Transits of Venus. A Popular Account of Past and Coming Transits from the first observed by Horrocks, 1639, to the Transits of 2012. By Richard A. Proctor. 232 pp., 12mo. New York: E. Worthington & Co.
This last book from Mr. Proctor's pen is written in his usual charming style, and, as the author says, is intended to be partly historical and partly explanatory. The book opens with an account of the transits of the seventeenth century, when, as a consequence of the establishment of the Copernican theory of the solar system, astronomers perceived that the inferior planets, Mercury and Venus, must from time to time appear to cross the face of the sun. Kepler calculated and announced, in 1627, that in the year 1631 both Mercury and Venus would pass over the sun's face—Mercury on November 7th, and Venus on December 6th; and that in 1761 Venus would again pass across the face of the sun. As the first occasion on which the transit of an inferior planet was ever witnessed, the transit of Mercury in 1631 has an interest resembling that which attaches to the first observation of a transit of Venus, eight years later, the one contemporaneous with Mercury not having been observed, as it took place in the night-time; and, as to this one which took place eight years later, Kepler had calculated that, while in inferior conjunction December 4, 1639, Venus, though near the sun, would pass below its disk, and there would be no transit, which calculation happily was found to be a miscalculation, and therefore a transit would really occur. The first observation of a planet's transit, that of Mercury, was made by Gassendi, of Paris. Through a small aperture in a shutter the solar light was admitted into a darkened room, and an image of the sun, some nine or ten inches in diameter, was formed upon a white screen. A carefully divided circle was traced upon this screen, and the whole was so arranged that the image of the sun could be made to coincide exactly with the circle. As he had no trustworthy clock with which to ascertain exactly the moment of ingress, which he was anxious to do, he determined that the altitude of the sun should be carefully estimated during the progress of the transit. For this he needed an assistant, whom he placed, with a large quadrant, in a room above him, instructing him to observe the height of the sun as soon as he heard Gassendi stamp upon the floor of the room beneath. With these preparations Gassendi began to watch for the transit two days before its appointed time. To make a long story short, by the evening of November 7, 1831, the first transit bad been observed, and in the manner here described. The first observed transit of Venus (to which planet Mr. Proctor gives his whole attention from this point) followed that of Mercury, and was calculated and observed by Horrocks, a young minister of Hoole, in Lancashire, who was a prodigy for his skill in astronomy. He was but twenty years old when he calculated this transit, and died two years afterward. He possessed a telescope, "the recent and admirable invention," which he used in the observation. The transit came on Sunday. He had watched two days, and Sunday until the hour for divine service. Returning from this at fifteen minutes past three in the afternoon, he found Venus just entered on the sun. Sunset cut him short with half an hour, but Venus had been seen in the act of transit. The transits of 1769, together with the methods suggested, during the interval since the last transit, for utilizing them in determining the solar parallax, are next dwelt on. A long and instructive chapter on transits and their conditions is then introduced, after which the subject of the coming transits is taken up. As the book was put to press just before the late transit, it is of course included among the latter.
The Unseen Universe; or, Physical Speculations on a Future State. 212 pages. New York: Macmillan & Co. 1875. Price, $1. In paper, 60 cents.
We briefly announced this work in the June Monthly. It has been for some time anticipated with an earnest interest by some, and a vague curiosity by others, as rumor made it the joint production of two eminent savants; and it was expected that a crushing double shot would be poured into—somebody. It has been since stated that the book is due to Prof. G. P. Tait, the eminent mathematician of Edinburgh, and Prof. Balfour Stewart, of Owens College, Manchester, author of various works on physics, among which is the little volume on the "Conservation of Energy," published in the "International Scientific Series." These are strong men; the subject is one of profound interest, and is certainly handled in an original way, and the volume, besides, is cheap, and in excellent type. The best analysis that we have seen of the work, and a better one than we could prepare, appeared in Nature, and we shall best serve our readers by quoting freely from the review:
"The preliminary chapter states the fact of the all but universal belief in, or aspiration after, immortality. It admits that that doctrine is inconsistent with the doctrine of continuity as generally understood and as applied solely to the visible universe. It accepts and explains the principle of continuity in the fullest sense, and it attempts to reconcile it, as thus apprehended, with the doctrine of immortality. Incidentally—out of the apparent waste of energy in space, and on other indications chiefly teleological—it constructs an hypothesis of an invisible universe, perhaps developed out of another invisible universe, and so on ad infinitum. It is another consequence of the theory that our natural bodies are probably accompanied by a sort of invisible framework or spiritual body, and that the phosphonis and other substances of which the natural body is built up are not really identical with these elements in their ordinary condition of inorganic atoms, but are somehow transubstantiated by the coexistence, along with the mere chemical substance or with its chemical properties, of this invisible, imponderable, immaterial, accompanying essence, which derives a kind of vis vivida from a connection with the unseen universe. The passage from the visible universe to the invisible seems to be made intelligible to the authors by the existence of the ether, a substance into which energy is continually being passed, and into which it is perpetually, and, so far as any obvious or sensible effect is concerned, finally, absorbed.
"As a first postulate the authors assume the existence of a Creator. Finite beings, creatures, are conditioned by the laws of the universe, and it is in these conditions that we must seek to discover its nature. The first pair of subjects for human thought are matter and mind, and the materialists tell us that, whereas mind or mental activity never exists without being associated with some forms of matter, we may perfectly conceive matter, as for instance a block of wood or a bar of iron, existing without intelligence. Is mind, then, the dependent—is there nothing in matter which serves as the vehicle of intelligence different from all other matter? The authors answer that we have no right to assume that the brain consists of particles of phosphorus or carbon such as we know these substances chemically, that we cannot say that there may not be something superadded to their chemical and physical qualities. They dwell upon another fact—the fact that individual consciousness returns after sleep or trance; a fact inferring some continuous existence. The assumptions of the materialist are less inevitable than he supposes. Turning to mind, finite conditioned intelligence, the authors ask, what is essential to it? It must have some organ by which it can have a hold upon the past, and such a frame and such a universe as supply the means of activity in the present. Outside they find physical laws, and they look on the principle of continuity as something like a physical axiom. By this principle we are compelled to believe that the Supreme Governor of the universe will not put us to permanent intellectual confusion. It is in the nature of man, certainly in the nature of scientific man, to carry the explanation of every thing back ad infinitum, and to refuse perpetually to grant what is perpetually demanded of him, that he has arrived at the inexplicable and unconditioned. On this principle scientific men have supposed themselves to prove that the physical universe must one day become mere dead matter. The authors consider that this is a monstrous supposition, although they grant that the visible, or by-sense-perceivable universe, must in transformable energy, and probably in matter, come to an end. They think that the principle of continuity itself demands a continuance of the universe, and they are driven to believe in something beyond that which is visible as the only means of explaining how this system of things can endure in the future, or can have endured forever in the past. They see a visible universe, finite in extent and finite in duration, beyond which, on both sides stretching infinitely forward and infinitely backward, there is an invisible, its forerunner and its continuation. It is natural to infer that these two invisibles must meet across the existing finite visible universe. As we are driven to admit the invisible in the past and in the future, there must be an invisible framework of things accompanying us in the present.
"What, then, is this present visible universe; and can we point to sure signs of this invisible substance which accompanies what may prove after all to be the mere shadow of things? Matter has two qualities. The first is that it is indestructible; the second, that the senses of all men alike point to the same quantity, quality, and collocation of it. Our practical working certainty of the existence of matter means: 1. That it offers resistance to our imagination and our will; and, 2. That it offers absolute resistance to all attempts to change its quantity. Certain other things—notably energy—are in the same sense conserved, and, if we recognize the transmutability of energy of motion into energy of position, we may say that energy is equally indestructible with matter itself. But energy is undergoing a perpetual self-degradation. All other forms of energy are slowly passing into invisible heat-motions, and when the heat of the universe has ultimately been equalized, as it must be, all possibility of physical action or of work will have departed. Mechanical effort cannot longer be obtained from it. The perfect heat-engine only converts a portion of the heat into work; the rest is lost forever as an available source of work. There is indeed a sort of wild and far-off possibility by which a little more work might be got out of a uniform-temperature universe, if we could suppose Clerk-Maxwell's demons—'mere guidance applied by human intelligence'—occupied in separating those particles of a heated gas which are moving faster than the average from those which are moving slower. But this is but a broken reed to trust, and it would at the best avail us little. What must happen in the existing physical system would be this: the earth, the planets, the sun, the stars, are gradually cooling; but infinitely numerous catastrophes, by which the enormous existing store of energy of position may be drawn upon, may over and over again restore unequal temperature. The fall together, from the distance of Sirius, of the sun and another equal sun would supply the former with at least thirty times as much energy as can have been obtained by the condensation of his materials out of a practically infinite nebulous mass of stones or dust. But these catastrophes can only delay the inevitable. If the existing physical universe be finite—and the authors never seem to realize the speculative possibility that it may not be so the end must come, unless there be an invisible universe to supplement and continue it.
"What is the ultimate nature of matter, and especially of the ether, which is the vehicle of all the energy we receive from the sun? There have been four theories, for each of which something may be said. There is the Lucretian theory of an original, indivisible, infinitely hard atom, 'strong in solid singleness;' Boscovich's theory that the atom or unit is a mere centre of force; the theory that matter, instead of being atomic, is infinitely divisible, practically continuous, intensely heterogeneous; and, finally, the theory of the vortex-atom, a thing not infinitely hard and therefore indivisible, but infinitely mobile, so that it escapes all force which makes effort to divide it. What we call matter may thus consist of the rotating portions of a perfect fluid, which continuously fills space. Should this fluid exist, there must be a creative act for the destruction or production of the smallest portion of matter. Whichever of these theories we adopt, we must explain the simplest affection of matter—that by which it attracts other matter. There seems little possibility of doing so. The most plausible explanation is in Le Sage's assumption of ultramundane corpuscles, infinite in number, excessively small in size, flying about with enormous velocities in all directions. These particles must move with perfect freedom among the particles of ordinary matter, and if they do so we can understand how, through the existence of the ultramundane particles, two mundane particles attract inversely as the square of the distance. On this theory the energy of position is only the energy of motion of ultramundane and invisible particles—and a bridge is built between the seen and the unseen. These ultramundane particles are something far more completely removed from all possibility of sensible qualities than the ether which Sir William Thomson has attempted to weigh. Struve has speculated upon the possibility that it is not infinitely transparent to light, and his calculations, based on the numbers of stars of each visible magnitude, lead him to suppose that some portion of the light and energy from distant suns and planets may be absorbed in it. The ether is thus a kind of adumbration or foretaste of the invisible world. It may have certain 06 the properties of that world which is perceived by sense, but it is probably subject only to a few of the physical conditions of ordinary matter.
"Let us look once more at the substance of the universe. We recognize that it is impossible to suppose any existing state but as the development of something preexisting. To suppose creation is to suppose the unconditioned. Creation belongs to eternity, and not to time. This being so, it is difficult to believe in the vortex-ring theory, which regards the invisible universe as an absolutely perfect fluid. With an imperfect fluid, the eternity of visible matter winch the vortex theory requires, disappears. Such a visible universe would be as essentially ephemeral as a smoke-ring—so that we may accept it as possible, if not probable, that the visible universe may pass away—that it may bury its dead out of its sight. In its present state we have three forms of development—Chemical, or Stuff-Development, Globe-Development, and Life-Development. It is a question whether the ultimate atoms of chemists are really ultimate; whether some agent, like great heat, for instance, could not split them up into various groups of some primal substance like hydrogen. We see the prospect of a similar simplicity in the development of worlds on the theory of Kant and Laplace, which makes the systems of the universe the result of the gradual condensation of nebulous masses. In the end, all the masses of the universe must fall together—in the beginning there can have been no masses, every thing being nebulous and discrete, even if ordinary matter be indestructible. The last state and the first state of the visible universe are thus separated from each other by a finite duration. A like simplicity may be reached in the development of life. Darwin has made it at least possible that all life may issue from some primordial life-germ. The complete refutation of the doctrine of abiogenesis—the practical proof that life issues only from life—leaves us still bound to account for that germ. There is no doubt that species develop varieties which may ultimately become distinct species, although there is little indication that the varieties of what was once one species are ever separated like species originally different, by a barrier of mutual infertility. A sufficient length of time might enable us to overcome this barrier. In all our developments—the substance-development, the globe-development, the life-development—we are thus brought, in the end, to a something which we are not yet able to comprehend.
"Turning from matter to the phenomena which affect it, we notice one singular set of phenomena in which things insignificant and obscure give rise to great lines of events. A whole mass of water, the temperature of which has been reduced below the freezing-point, suddenly crystallizes on the slightest starting motion; a whole series of tremendous meteorological phenomena, such as hurricanes in the Indian Ocean, happen because certain positions of Mercury and Venus affect the sun's atmosphere, causing spots in his, and the condition of the sun affects the earth. Like the complicated series of effects which follow the pulling of the trigger of a gun, the effects are utterly disproportionate to their causes. Man is a machine of this unstable kind—some trivial change affecting the matter of the brain is all that is needed to set him in motion. May not other beings be capable of touching what we may call the hair-triggers of the universe? Whatever these agencies are, angels or ministering spirits, they certainly do not belong to the present visible universe. The writers examine the sacred records to confirm their speculations."
Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Twenty-third Meeting, held at Hartford, Conn., August, 1874. Salem, 1875.
ThisThis is the annual volume of the American Association, and represents the results of the Hartford meeting in 1874. It opens with the address of the retiring president, Prof. J. Lovering, of Harvard College.
This is concerned with what is called "the great problem of the day," viz., "How to subject all physical phenomena to dynamical laws," and gives an abstract of the various theoretical views on "action at a distance," which, although brilliant, is not fully satisfying.
The practical moral enforced by the address seems to be one designed for American physicists; the moral is that, "unless our physicists are content to lag behind and gather up the crumbs which fall from the rich laboratories and studies of Europe, they must unite to delicate manipulation the power of mathematical analysis."
It is quite true that the mathematics are sadly neglected among us, and of this we have a striking confirmation in this very volume: the only mathematical paper in the whole book is one which demands forty-seven lines for itself, and this is a new demonstration of one of the theorems of Euclid. It is indeed true that our physicists, our scientific men generally, and above all our students, need to recognize, far more than they now do, the value of analysis as a means of research.
We must not forget, however, what in fact is pointed out in this very address, that the basis for mathematical analysis applied to physics must come from laboratory experiments: and certainly in this respect America has little to fear from importations of "crumbs." The laboratories of the Stevens Institute of Technology, of the Lawrence Scientific School, of Columbia College, of the University of New York, and others, bear faithful witness to thorough work, and to real advances in the most delicate researches of physics. It must be remembered, too, that great works of analysis are not plenty in any country, and we think that the masterly works of Ferrel, on the theory of the tides, redeem America from reproach for 1874 at least.
The "Report of the Committee on the Preservation of Forests" follows, and from it we learn that this important subject is now before Congress in a proper form, and that we may reasonably hope for some action from that body.
The Association is divided into two sections, A and B, the first of "Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry," the second of "Natural History," and we can judge of the attention given to the various subjects by noting the number of papers devoted to each.
Thus we find for Mathematics, one; for Astronomy, three; for Physics, eight; for Chemistry, eight; for Statistics, one. This completes the work of Section A. In the section of "Natural History" we find for Geology, eleven papers; for Paleontology, one; for Botany, four; for Zoölogy, twelve; for Anthropology, two.
It cannot fail to be noted that on the whole this volume of 378 pages is a decided improvement on its predecessor of 669 pages, particularly in the character of the publications printed. The printing committees seem to have exercised a careful scrutiny of the work put before them, and their selection has made the volume not uncreditable to American science.
We had not intended to notice in detail any of the separate papers, since they are all to be seen in the volume itself, and since very full reports of them were published by the New York Tribune during the time of the meeting; but it is impossible to avoid calling attention to a paragraph in a paper by Dr. Asa Gray, the great botanist of Cambridge, on the growth of the trunks of trees. The question was raised as to whether a tree in growing expanded its main trunk vertically in those parts once formed; experiments were made to determine this point by Dr. Gray, and the experiments and theories of various correspondents are analyzed by him. Of one he says:
We quote this to show that in some instances botany is more than an exact science—it is a precise one.
The Maintenance of Health. By J. Milner Fothergill, M. D. 366 pages. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1875. Price, $2.00.
This book is, in the author's first and last words, "a medical work for lay readers," "writ out of great good-will unto my countrymen." The book is divided into thirteen chapters, with the salient points summed up at the end of each in a list of propositions. The first chapter treats of health, what it is, and how maintained laying down many propositions, among which are that there are different types of health, and that bodily and mental health must go hand-in-hand. The next three chapters treat successively of health in youth, or the period of growth; health in adult life; and health in old age, or the period of decay. Chapter V. discusses the quality, quantity, and properties of food and clothes. Chapter VI. is given to stimulants and tobacco, in which the author uses these propositions: "Alcohol is a respiratory food, not a poison under all circumstances, as held by some; as a stimulant, it enables the system to use some of its reserve force; when the brain is worried, alcohol may be taken at bedtime with benefit; tobacco in moderation is harmless, except to the young and growing." Chapter VII. treats of the "Effects of Inheritance;" VIII., "The Election of a Pursuit in Life;" IX., "Overwork, and Physiological Bankruptcy;" X., "Mental Strain and Tension," with this as one of its propositions: "Chloral hydrate is a much more objectionable narcotic than either opium or alcohol. In Chapter XI., under the heading "Hygiene," the author treats, in separate sections, of "The House we live in;" "The Air-Supply;" "Ventilation;" "The Water-Supply;" "Sewage;" "Fevers;" "Disinfectants and Antiseptics;" "Vaccination;" "Accidental Poisoning." Chapter XII. is devoted to the treatment of "Emergencies," Chapter XIII. discusses the influence of climate and telluric conditions on health, and concludes the book. The author's style is easy and entertaining, and his book contains a large amount of valuable information.
The Geological Story briefly told. An Introduction to Geology for the General Header and for Beginners in the Science. By James D. Dana, LL. D., Professor of Geology and Mineralogy in Yale College. 263 pages, 12mo. New York: Ivison, Blakeman, Taylor & Co., 1875. Price, $1.50.
Now that the stories of science are being simplified and told in so many ways, that everybody may hear them. Prof. Dana comes forward and briefly tells his favorite story—the geological one. This little book is one of the most interesting and instructive of the briefly-told stories of science published. It fills well the place for which it was intended—an introduction to geology for the general reader and for beginners in the science—and will be specially welcomed as a source of ready and concise information in this branch of study. Scientific terms are defined as they are met with, and the whole narrative is made as popular as possible. After some prefatory suggestions about practical out-door study, the subject of "Rocks, or what the Earth is made of," embracing constituents of rocks, kinds of rocks, and structure of rocks, forms the opening part of the book. Part second treats of the methods by which the different kinds of rocks have been made, and the causes in geology which have formed the geographical features of the earth's surface. Part third deals with historical geology, tracing the succession in the formation of the rocks of the earth, and the progress of life—plants and animals—from the simpler forms of early time up to man. The book is finely illustrated.
Art-Life and Theories of Richard Wagner. Selected from his Writings and translated by Edward L. Burlingame. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1875.
There is probably no subject which a hasty public opinion would more quickly exclude from the cycle of the sciences than music; and public opinion would be, as usual, both right and wrong. The strictly scientific part of music—the systematic collection of the general principles and leading truths relating to it—is of no immediate use to the composer; neither is any particular theory of atoms important to the I analytic chemist. Chemistry, however, although at present chiefly an art, claims a place among the sciences, and the modern school of music formulates its theories in scientific guise, and demands a judgment on intellectual and scientific grounds. We must not forget, too, that among the seven sciences of the ancients music was the peer of geometry.
This volume of selections and translations from the writings of Wagner, the founder and the chief exponent of the new school of music, is almost the only means by which Americans can arrive at a conception of the principles which animate it, and of the ideals which it seeks. Wagner is a voluminous writer, and many of his essays are of a quite special nature, so that great judgment was required in selecting such of them as should give the reader a rounded conception of Wagner as a man, as a composer (in reference to his own works), and as a musician, or musical theorist (in reference to the function which music should fulfill, and to the means for attaining its ideal).
With only a casual acquaintance with Wagner's complete works, we may yet unhesitatingly say that the selection has been very judiciously made; and, indeed, any one, after reading the volume, will obtain a definite conception of Wagner's personality, which will be felt to be a true conception.
The book opens with a brief introduction, in which the translator explains some of the difficulties which stand in the way of putting Wagner's German into tolerably plain English, and then proceeds to Wagner's autobiography; or so much of it as brings the account down to 1842, since which time his life has been in a great degree a public one.
His youth was idle and stormy, and it was only after hardship and some real misery that he came to thorough work; the determining cause of his action seems to have been an intellectual one, rather than an impulse.
Following the autobiography, come three essays much of the same class: "The Story of the First Performance of an Opera," "A Pilgrimage to Beethoven," and "The End of a German Musician in Paris."
The impressions with which one comes away from the reading of the autobiography are strengthened and amplified by these sketches.
These belong to Wagner as a man, and confirm the rather unpleasant impression which his own life, as written by himself, conveys; he seems to have let his enthusiasm degenerate into waywardness, or rather waywardness was his enthusiasm, and his aspect toward the world in general is disheartening. We are speaking now of Wagner as he was in his earlier years, before 1842, and we recognize the propriety of the selection of the second and third of these essays as exponents of his feeling at that time. Indeed, that must be the sufficient excuse for their selection, as the fictions themselves are of the slightest and-most trivial description.
From this point onward we have to deal with quite another phase; not, indeed, with another Wagner, for the unpleasant impression of his personality remains, but with the same Wagner under new impulses or new intellectual motives. To this period belong the two essays on "Der Freischiitz," which must be classed among the best specimens of musical literature extant.
They are charming for the keen appreciation of the points involved, and for the skill in which characteristics, good and bad, are brought out and set over against each other. Although these, in time, are of the same epoch as the ones previously noticed, they are an outcome of a decidedly higher phase of feeling.
Then follow essays on the music of the future, the purpose of the opera, musical criticism, and on the production of "Tannhäuser" in Paris. These are fine in all ways, and show how Wagner's musical theories were taking shape, and define, when taken together, what that shape is. We had meant to give this in brief, but find the task no light one, and we must refer the reader to the essays themselves for an explanation. Suffice it to say that Wagner proves, in such a way that all must follow him, that the form of the opera produced by the Italian school is entirely inadequate, not to say absurd. It is absurd poetically, dramatically, and above all musically. He also explains in what way he proposes to remedy these defects, and despite much "fine writing" and vague disquisition an idea may be had of his scheme. Two essays on the plan of the Grand Opera-House at Baireuth show that his ideas may be put into definite brick and mortar, although hard to formulate into words.
The "Legend of the Nibelungen" gives an excellent idea of his skill as an author, and would show to any one not acquainted with his operas that the dramatic situations and the swing and progress of a dramatic climax are likely to be fully understood and adequately treated by him. This volume gives, it seems to us, an adequate idea of Wagner as a man and as a musical theorist. As a man he is not lovable, scarcely admirable. One would call him acute rather than profound. As a theorist, it is impossible to give a suitable judgment in the short limits of a review, which shall not at the same time offend both his friends and his enemies. Any such judgment must be in a large degree personal, and therefore imperfect. Shall we say that dramatically and poetically he stands alone in opera—that symphonically he has not yet reached the limits of his master Beethoven—that in dramatic vocal forms R. Franz and Schumann are worlds beyond him? He is but the expression of his time—a vague yearning for perfection—an embodied dissatisfaction with his age. He has not, nor will he have ever, reached the dramatic, poetic, and symphonic unity which Handel attained in the "Messiah" a hundred years ago.
His efforts, we think, will be, and have been, of the highest use, and it will be long before music again has such a master of poetry, drama, and song, for a votary; still we sympathize heartily with the accomplished musical critic of the Tribune, who speaks of the new school thus:
"The day has gone by when Liszt and Wagner could be decried as mad fanatics. The new music is gaining ground; it is played and sung in every city of the civilized world; we must listen to it whether we like it or not; and the wisest of us have determined to like it if possible, or at least to pretend to like it if we can do no more. And yet it is rather saddening to think that the symphony of the future is to be like this Dante symphony (Liszt)—poetic, imaginative, forcible, and thoughtful as it is, but so terribly hard....
"It is saddening to be told that there shall never be another Haydn; that the world shall never be gladdened with the bright fancies and graceful sentiment of a new Mozart; that even the idealities of Schumann are fashions of the irrevocable past; that we shall wrestle with melodies as if they were Greek roots, and suffer all the pangs of purgatory before we can work out a tune."
What the new music is, we have learned from Thomas long ago, and we fear that subtile master has made us like it all too well for his and our true progress in art: what its theories and ideals are, we learn authentically for the first time in English speech from this book, and we welcome it, if only that it puts the dogma into a definite, and therefore refutable, form.
Berliner Astronomisches Jahrbuch für 1877. W. Foerster und F. Tietjen. Berlin, 1875.
The Berlin Jahrbuch, which corresponds to the English Nautical Almanac and to the American Ephemeris in part, is published yearly in Berlin, under the charge of the Director of the Berlin Observatory. It differs from the English, and American, and French Ephemerides, in that it is a purely astronomical year-book, the nautical data being given by a separate publication—the Nautisches Jahrbuch which—is at present under the direction of Bremiker, who, as well as Foerster, was one of Encke's pupils, while Encke was the conductor of the Berlin Jahrbuch.
The present volume differs little from the preceding ones, but it is fully up to the requirements of the science. It gives: 1. Ephemeris of the Sun and Moon, 100 pages; 2. Geocentric places of the major planets, 57 pages; 3. Heliocentric places of the major planets, 12 pages; 4. Appearances of Jupiter's satellites and Saturn's ring, 8 pages; 5. Mean and apparent places of certain fixed stars, etc., 55 pages; 6. Eclipses, etc., of the year, 24 pages; 7. Auxiliary tables, etc., 6 pages; 8. Ephemeris of the minor planets (asteroids), and list of their approximate geocentric places, 111 pages.
It will be seen that astronomers are well provided for in data from this Ephemeris, which, on the whole, is more compendious than any other. It has not, for example, the hourly ephemeris of the Moon which is given in both the English and American Ephemerides, but in general it is more convenient than either of these. Its specialty, so to say, is in its ephemerides of the asteroids. Of these, 142 were known at the time of the publication of this volume, and complete ephemerides of 136 are given. It may not be amiss to give a few details with regard to these small planets, as in general little is known of them: 123 of these asteroids have been observed in three different years, and, of these 123, 112 have their orbits so well settled that their places will be sufficiently exact for some time. One of the 123 (Frigga) has been observed during three oppositions, and, although its orbit should be well determined, it has not been again found. Silvia and Clymene were for some years lost, but they have now been successfully sought for and observed. Maia, Bike, and Camilla, of the first 123, have been observed only during one year, and are for the present lost. Liberatrix is also lost, and not enough time has elapsed since the discovery of the remaining 13 planets to be certain of their orbits.
It may be said that of the 142 planets known up to February, 1875, at least 92 have their orbits fully determined, while only four are for the present lost. This is a most admirable showing both for the intrepidity of the computers and the assiduity of the observers. Since February three new planets have been found, two by Dr. Peters, of Clinton, New York, apparently in honor of his safe return from a most successful expedition to observe the transit of Venus, and one by Borelly, of Marseilles. As a tour de force in finding asteroids may be mentioned Watson's discovery of No. 139 in Peking, China, during the residence of the American Transit-of-Venus Expedition in that place. It may add to one's conception of the assiduity of astronomers if we remember that in 1800 not a single one of these asteroids was known.
Astronomical and Meteorological Observations made during the year 1872, at the United States Naval Observatory. Washington: Government Printing-Office, 1874.
This is the eighteenth regular volume of the Observatory publications, which were begun in 1845, and have been continued annually since that time, with the exception of the years 1853 to 1861.
During 1872 the instruments at the Observatory were:
1. The Meridian Transit of 5 inches aperture, and 7 feet 1 inch focal length.
2. The Mural Circle of 4 inches aperture, and 5 feet focal length.
3. The Prime Vertical Transit of 4.8 inches aperture, and 6 feet 6 inches focal length.
4. The Transit Circle of 8.52 inches aperture, and 12 feet 1 inch focal length.
6. The Equatorial of 9.6 inches aperture, and 14 feet 4 inches focal length.
6. Meteorological Instruments.
Of these instruments the first and third were not in use during the year, for lack of observers.
The mural circle was employed during the year in observations of stars whose right ascensions had previously been determined by the transit instrument, and which are included in the Washington "Catalogue" of stars, in the observation of a large number of circumsolar stars from the British Association "Catalogue," and in a few miscellaneous observations, in all about 1,400 observations.
The transit circle was devoted to the observation of the stars of the American Ephemeris, to observations of miscellaneous stars, and of the Sun, Moon, planets, and asteroids (of the last, however, only eight were observed during the year); 697 stars are found in the "Catalogue," and of these, together with the Sun, Moon, and planets, about 3,700 observations were made. The methods of reduction have remained substantially the same since the instrument was mounted. It is to be noted that the observations made of stars reflected from the surface of Mercury lead to results more and more discrepant each year, so that the latitude deduced from direct observations differs from that from reflex observations by nearly three seconds of an arc in 1872; under these circumstances all the reflection observations of 1871 and 1872 have been rejected.
The equatorial has been used in the observation of the asteroids, of which ten have been observed during the year (a very fine series having been made for three months on Alceste), of the companion of Sirius (measures on twelve nights), and of occultations (ten immersions and five emersions). Besides this a good series of observations was made on the comets of Encke and Tuttle.
The regular meteorological observations (seven observations in twenty-four hours) have been kept up and are given in detail and in means. The indications of the barometer, wet and dry bulb thermometers, maximum and minimum thermometers, solar thermometer and rain-gauge, are recorded at suitable times, and the direction and force of wind (force by estimation only) and cloudiness of sky are also noted. No self-recording meteorological instruments are provided.
The personnel of the Observatory consisted, in 1872, of a superintendent (rear-admiral U. S. Navy), of five Professors of Mathematics and three aids (observers), of an instrument-maker, and three watchmen (meteorological observers).
Besides this force several officers of the line of the Navy were detailed to take charge of the chronometers of the Navy, which are kept at the Observatory, and two Professors of Mathematics were employed on duties other than those of observing.
Storms, their Nature, Classification, and Laws, with the Means of predicting them by their Embodiments, the Clouds. By William Blasius, formerly Professor of the Natural Sciences in the Lyceum of Hanover. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates. Pp. 342. Price, $2.50.
This volume is an interesting contribution to the literature of an important branch of meteorology. It is a result of many years of observation, and the conclusion of the author is that existing theories of the nature and laws of changes of weather are intrinsically erroneous. Instead of an area of barometric depression being the storm itself, and the cause of the movement of the air-current, the storm is the conflict of air-currents of different temperatures, and the barometric depression the effect of their movement. Hence atmospheric appearances and phenomena more truly indicate and forecast storm-movements than does the barometer.
The air-currents arise primarily from difference of temperature in the equatorial and polar atmospheres, and in the upper and lower regions of air. In the tendency to restore and maintain the equilibrium thus disturbed originate all the movements known as storms.
These movements will be—1. Vertical, that is, between the lower and upper strata of air. 2. Horizontal, or between the poles and equator.
By these movements, in connection with local circumstances, all modifications of storms are produced. In temperate regions the horizontal movement of storms is most frequent—the vertical most frequent and violent in the tropics.
The formation of a cloud tells us not only that vapor is being condensed in the air, but that warm and cool currents have encountered each other.
In the horizontal movement, the cold and warm currents overlap each other, the vapor-laden warm air from the equator rising over the colder current. A consequence is, the warm air ascends until its waves reach an elevation where condensation takes place along their crests, producing flecks and bars of cloud-caps of the aerial waves. These bars of cloud sometimes span the heavens, rising in the southern horizon, heralding the approach of a northeast storm.
Not until these reach the zenith, says the author, does the barometer announce the approaching change. The storm-area is where these opposing currents encounter each other. The rotary theory of storms he considers defective, and says that the wind blows in all parts of a storm-area in direct lines from the circumference to the centre. So we encounter wind from different directions as the storm passes.
According to the author, observation of the clouds, which are an embodiment of the storm, affords earlier and more trusty data of its approach than the barometer, and the rules for navigators based on the cyclone theory are worse than useless. The theory that storms progress by working their own way, that is, by condensation and rainfall in their front, he says is like a wheelbarrow drawing the man after it.
The work is, in many respects, suggestive, and will be read with interest.
Progress-Report upon Geographical and Geological Explorations and Surveys, west of the One Hundredth Meridian, in 1872, under the Direction of Brigadier-General A. A. Humphreys, Chief of Engineers, U. S. A., by First-Lieutenant George M. Wheeler, Corps of Engineers in charge.
This thin pamphlet of some 55 pages is really but a fragmentary sample of the long-expected quarto report of the Government surveys of this singularly wild and interesting field. Thus a few specimen full-page plates are given, especially of the weird-like canons; also a map. The plan of composition is commendably judicious, in that it avoids the journal form; for although it is much easier to sustain a certain sort of interest by means of the narrative method, yet in a scientific work such a form is in great danger of unprofitable extension. Still the story is told in a graphic way, with the results classified, thus giving plan and system, which are indispensable to scientific work. As a sample of the best sort of scientific work, for the reason that it is complete, and is a part with the above, which is as yet but fragmentary, we would instance Dr. Coues's "Birds of the Northwest," so full and yet so concise; so accurate, and yet so lively. It seems to be for them all a promise that the great Government reports shall stand in striking contrast with that of the famous New York survey—so unmethodical and verbose; so excessive in quantity and so turgid in style.
Meteorological Observations in Colorado and Montana.
This publication is a sort of appendix to the report of Lieutenant Hayden for the year 1874. It consists of tables, based upon the observations of meteorologists stationed at Bozeman, Judith Basin, and Trout Creek, in Montana, and on the summit of Mount Lincoln, at Fairplay, and at Canon City, in Colorado. The observations at these various places were made three times a day, for the whole of the year 1873, and during the early part of 1874.
List of Elevations, principally in that Portion of the United States west of the Mississippi.
These lists, compiled and arranged by Henry Gannett, M. E., form part of Lieutenant Hayden's Report in the Geological Survey of the Territories. Table L gives the elevation of towns and cities; Table II. those of mountains in the United States; while Table III. states the elevations of various mountains in other countries. The Twin Lakes, in Colorado, have an elevation of 9,357 feet, being situated at the greatest height of any lakes in the United States. Of the States and Territories west of the Mississippi, Colorado has the highest mean elevation, 6,600 feet, and Arkansas the lowest, 350 feet.
Annual Address before the Alumni of the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania. By Cornelius G. Comegys, M. D.
This address contains many serious and timely reflections upon such topics as state medicine, the physical basis of mind, the effects of cerebral overwork, etc. The history of medical sciences in the present century is briefly but ably sketched. Finally, the author advocates a reform in medical education. The age of teaching by lectures has almost gone by; the demands of science now are demonstrations. The student must be taught to acquire his anatomy, physiology, physics, chemistry, pathology, materia medica, and practical medicine, with his own hand and eye. The classes of clinical medicine, above all, should consist of small groups, in order to secure the closest personal scrutiny of the phenomena of disease, and of the effects of modes of treatment.
Bulletin of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories. Numbers 2 and 3, Second Series.—No. 2 contains able papers by Ridgway, Coues, Gill, and Ingersoll. These papers are severally contributions to zoölogical science, and in this intense technical shape are meant to commend themselves simply to hard workers in the field. No. 3 is mainly topographical, and contains several plates and maps.
The Brooklyn Journal of Education.—The external appearance and matériel of this publication are very attractive, and by themselves alone are calculated to win for it pubUc favor. The editorial management appears to be no less excellent; and with both of these conditions combined there is no reason why the Brooklyn Journal of Education should not meet with distinguished success. Among the articles in the first number is one on the Packer Institute, being the first of a series on the educational institutions of Brooklyn. Dr. Jerome Walker writes concerning the physique of public-school teachers. "The Philosophy and Methods of Primary Instruction" is treated by James Cruikshank. The periodical has special science and art departments. $2.50 per annum.
Six Notes de Chimie Moléculaire. Par M. Gustave Hinrichs. Paris: 1873-'75.
Moments and Reactions of Continuous Girders. By Mansfield Merriman, C. E. Pp. 23.
Principia, or Basis of Social Science (Wright). Lippincott & Co.
Bad Health of American Women. By James E. Reeves, M.D. Wheeling, Va. Pp. 43. Price, 50 cents.
Animal Volition a Creator. By C. G. Forshey. (New Orleans Academy of Sciences.)
Papers read before the Pi Eta Scientific Society of Troy Polytechnic Institute. Pp. '74.
Oldbury. By Annie Keary. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates. Pp. 420. Price, 81.25.
The Complete Arithmetic. Also, First Book in Arithmetic (Fish). Ivison, Blakeman, Taylor & Co.
Determination of Minerals by Blowpipe (Danby). London: Field & Tuer.
St. Louis Public Schools.
Bulletin of the Bussey Institution.
Morgan Expedition, 1870-'71
Archæological Researches in Kentucky and Indiana (Putnam).
Hygiene of the United States Army.