Popular Science Monthly/Volume 7/June 1875/Literary Notices
The author of this book is quite widely known by his former publication, "Hereditary Genius," and by various statistical works. Here he has attempted to analyze the "Natural History of the English Men of Science of the Present Day," and to determine, if possible, the effect of the circumstances in which they have lived, including the consideration of their antecedents, their hereditary qualities, their education, and of the influences which have made them what they are.
His definition of a man of science, for the purpose of his inquiry, is characteristically English, although it may be, on the whole, the best attainable one for the special questions of which he treats; he selects, then, only members of the Royal Society of England, and among these he still further separates those who have received a medal for scientific work; those who have presided over a section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science; those who are members of a certain literary and scientific club of London, etc., etc. On these grounds 180 men have been selected, who are presumably representative English scientific men.
The author estimates that at least 300 men could have been selected, and that this gives (having regard to age) about one scientific man to every 10,000 in England.
His question then is, "What are the conditions of nature and the various circumstances and conditions of life—which I include under the general name of nurture—which have selected that one and left the remainder?" The data available for the solution of this question are "the autobiographical replies to a very long series of pointed questions addressed severally to the 180 men" previously described. Of course, these replies were given in confidence, and it is not possible for the reader to connect the various replies, which are often given in detail, with any one person interrogated.
The first inquiry is into the "Race and Birthplace" of the subjects of the inquiry. Out of ten scientific men, five are pure English, one pure Scotch, etc.; their birthplaces are usually in towns away from the seacoast. "The branch of science pursued is often in curious disaccord with the surrounding influence of the birthplace. Mechanicians are usually hardy lads, born in the country; biologists are frequently pure townsfolk."
The occupation and position in life of the parents are next considered, and the chief point of interest here developed is that, out of every 100 scientific men, only three or four have had clergymen for their fathers. Although so many of the graduates of the English universities take holy orders as a means of securing fellowships, yet it is noteworthy that, in a fairly-selected list of 660 separate appointments on scientific councils, only sixteen have been divines, and these have chiefly been proficients in the astronomical and mathematical sciences, and not a single biologist is to be found among them. The inquiry proceeds to physical peculiarities of parents, and the conclusion is reached that out of 165 cases examined these peculiarities were in harmony seventy-eight times, in contrast thirty-one times; from examination of special conditions, such as the height, color of hair, corpulency of the parents, the general result is that the parents of scientific men are decidedly more in harmony as to their physical characteristics than in contrast.
In some of these discussions we confess to a slight feeling of doubt as to the trustworthiness of the conclusions. Although "figures will not lie," there may be an accidental accumulation of coincidences in a small number of cases which will quite mask the real law, and statisticians need excessive care in drawing such conclusions.
In general, this caution is evident throughout the volume. We have given enough to elucidate the author's method; and we will only note those conclusions which seem most interesting, referring the reader to the book itself for details.
The average number of living children of scientific men seems to be, on the whole, decidedly smaller than that of the parents of these men; their health relatively to their parents is not so good; in one out of every three cases their marriages are sterile. In contrast to this, it may be said that their health, relatively to that of the average man, is better and their energy greater. Still the conclusions above noted do not promise well for the continuation of the race as pure blood.
Chapter II. deals with the qualities of the men themselves, as derived from their answers to the questions proposed to them. Out of every ten, "seven call themselves members of the Churches of England, Scotland, or Ireland," while the remaining three are distributed among various sects; two out of every ten have a "decided religious bias."
To the question "Has the religious creed taught you in your youth had a deterrent effect on the freedom of your researches?" seven or eight say "No" to one who says "Yes."
Chapter III. deals in an admirable manner with the "Origin of the Taste for Science," and we commend it to all who are interested in scientific education; together with Chapter IV., which deals with the merits and demerits of the education itself.
The lessons of these two chapters are condensed by the author into this general statement: Teach a few congenial and useful things very thoroughly; encourage curiosity concerning as wide a range of subjects as possible; and do not over-teach. Specially he recommends (from the knowledge gained from his inquiry), for the precise subjects to be studied in order best to educate a youth for scientific pursuits: 1. Mathematics; its processes to be utilized for interesting ends and practical application; 2. Logic; 3. Observation; theory in experiment in at least one branch of science; 4. Accurate drawing of objects connected with this branch; 5. Mechanical manipulation. "These five subjects should be rigorously taught." There should remain enough time for literature, history, poetry, and languages: these last are to be learned solely to enable the learners to read ordinary books written in them.
Most of these conclusions are quite as applicable to America as to England, and they deserve the most careful attention.
Roughly speaking, the author finds that "six out of every ten men of science were gifted by nature with a strong taste for it," and "we may therefore conclude that the possession of a strong special taste is a precious capital, and that it is a wicked waste of national power to thwart it ruthlessly by a false system of education." No test can be given to distinguish in the youth a special taste from a passing fancy, but hereditary inclinations should be carefully regarded. A curious result of the inquiry is, that the influence of the father in determining the scientific taste is three times more potent than that of the mother. Probably the general impression on this point is opposed to such a conclusion.
The practical lesson for England is drawn with great force and skill by the author on page 222, et seq. Much of this is inapplicable to us in America, but it is in the highest degree valuable generalization, and it is peculiarly worthy the attention of educators.
Science with us is sporadic, and no one is in any degree directly responsible for its fostering, except, perhaps, the larger universities. There is no central power which can assist its prosecution, nor is there much intelligent inclination on the part of our lawmakers to help it or hurt it. As an example of the lack of intelligence in the forwarding of scientific research, we may note the liberal appropriations ($175,000) for the observations of the transit of Venus by the last Congress but one; and the refusal of more than $3,000, by the last Congress, for the preliminary computations incident thereto. Evidently for us at this time the lessons of this book are not to be applied, but much more elementary ones; yet, undoubtedly, the true principles of "government aid to science," and cf the "endowment of research," are correctly indicated.
These are questions which assuredly will arise in America as they have in England, and we cannot doubt that the careful analysis here given will serve as a firm basis for rational action in this most important direction.
This is a model book of travel, fresh, entertaining, full of novelty, yet in a high degree instructive and trustworthy. Its author combines the accomplishments of the artist with the solid acquirements of the man of science and the ardent enthusiasm of the explorer, so that, though still a young man, his name is already famous both in Europe and America. The history of Dr. Schweinfurth happily illustrates the power of early impressions. At his first school one of the masters was the son of a missionary in South Africa. The stories he told of the wonders of that distant country took possession of the youthful fancy of his pupil, and turned his mind toward the land where he was to achieve such signal renown. Dr. Schweinfurth devoted himself from boyhood to the science of botany. He studied at Heidelberg and Berlin, where he took his degree as doctor of philosophy. In 1860, when about twenty-four years of age, his interest in Africa was intensified by the circumstance that a collection of plants from the region of the Nile was placed in his hands to arrange and describe. While engaged in this work, a yearning came over him to behold these plants in all their bloom and beauty in their native haunts, and so added an immediate stimulus to his life-long interest in that strange country. Accordingly, in 1863 he left Berlin for Egypt, and, after botanizing in the Delta of the Nile, along the shores of the Red Sea, in Abyssinia and Khartoom, for two years and a half, he went back to Europe with an empty purse and a splendid collection of plants, though obtained at the additional cost of repeated attacks of fever. But this expedition only whetted his appetite for African exploration, and he soon submitted to the Royal Academy of Science a plan for the botanical survey of the equatorial districts lying west of the Nile, portions of which were still wholly unknown. His proposals were accepted, and the expenses of the enterprise were met by the "Humboldt Institution of Natural Philosophy and Travels," in Berlin. In July, 1868, he again landed in Egypt, and in the first chapter of this work he records the incidents of his journey till his arrival at Khartoom. After a short delay he proceeded up the White Nile and Gazelle. He says:
As a result of this study, several pages are devoted to explanations of this river system and the topography of the swampy region of the Meshera, where he was compelled to linger through February and March, botanizing in swamps, wading among papyrus-clumps, and exposed to the dreaded malaria of this unhealthy region. His immunity from sickness he attributes in part to the three doses of quinine, of eight or nine grains each, which he took daily. Half the travelers who have ventured into these swamps have succumbed to fever. Here Miss Tunne's expedition suffered a loss of five out of its nine European members, and among them Dr. Steudner, the botanist of the expedition. Here Heuglin lost most of his time by continual relapses of fever. And in this region Le Saint, a French geographical explorer, had died a few months before. From this place he took his start for the interior. He thus describes his company:
After passing through the lands of the Dinka, Dyoor, Bongo, and Mittoo, and adding much to our knowledge of these people while studying the topography of the country and contributing important discoveries concerning its river system, besides his incessant botanical, entomological, and meteorological observations, he came upon the territory of the Niam-niam. On the 29th of January, 1870, he set out with four Nubian servants, and thirty Bongo bearers, under the protection of Mohammed Aboo Sammat, a magnanimous Nubian merchant, who, sword in hand, had vanquished various districts large enough to have formed small states in Europe. Of this man the author says:
They were soon joined by a caravan consisting of 500 bearers and 120 soldiers, and these with women and slaves made a procession in single file of some 800 people. The incidents of their progress are of the deepest interest, but we have no space for their enumeration. From his account of the Niam-niam people we quote the following:
"The social position of the Niam-niam women differs materially from what is found among other heathen negroes in Africa.
Between the parallels of 3° and 4° north latitude, and 28° and 29° east longitude from Greenwich, in the very heart of Africa, is a territory of some 4,000 square miles, inhabited by the Monbuttoo. The country of the Niam-niam constitutes its northern and northwestern boundaries:
From his account of the Monbuttoo, of whom he speaks "as exhibiting a development of indigenous culture entirely different to what can be witnessed all around," we quote the following:
'But, as every page and paragraph of this work is of absorbing interest, we are weary of the mental conflict as to which shall have place in our limited space. We will conclude with the following:
A very interesting tract of the vegetable kingdom, which has hitherto received but little popular attention, is here reported upon by two of the most eminent English authorities upon the subject. In all that relates to those numerous and curious forms of vegetable growth called fungi, in their familiar forms, as seen by everybody in field and forest, and in their still more wonderful microscopic varieties. Rev. M. J. Berkeley, the venerable Rector of Sibbertoft, is perhaps the first authority in the world. Though a hard-working clergyman, he has found time to master and to extend one of the most interesting provinces of botany hitherto as obscure as it is extensive. He engaged to produce a book for the "International Series" upon this subject, but, finding, from the multiplicity of bis engagements and his uncertain health, that he could not accomplish it satisfactorily, he associated with himself the next ablest man of England in this field, Dr. M. C. Cooke, who has done the principal work, which now appears under the critical editorship of Dr. Berkeley himself. Readers who desire to become acquainted with the subject-matter of this volume, and to form some general idea of its scope and importance, are referred to the opening article of the present number of the Monthly, and, if its perusal interests them, they will find that the book gives the clearest and fullest account of the subject for common readers that has yet been published.
The following passages are from an able review of it in the London Athenæum:
Under the able editorial management of Mr. James Hogg, this journal is doing excellent service in the interest of gardening and fruit culture. It contains each mouth a large amount of interesting and valuable matter, characterized, in the main, by a directness of statement and common-sense that quickly win the confidence of the reader, and assure him that he is in the hands of a safe and competent instructor. From the thirty-two titles in the last number, the following may be taken as a fair sample of the variety and practical character of the subjects treated: "Insects injurious to Room-Plants," "Fresh-Water Aquaria," "The Artistic Influence of Flowers," "Tropical Scenery," "About Ferns," "The Truffle," "Stillingia Sebifera, or Tallow-Tree," "The Carolina Poplar," "Watering Plants," and "Thinning out Fruit."
The basis of the present volume is mainly an unpublished report prepared by the author, in 1862, upon the ornithological collections made in the Missouri region by the naturalists of the expedition under Captain Reynolds, and afterward extended so as to embrace the ornithological results of previous explorations, in 1856-'57, by Lieutenant Warren, in the region of the Upper Missouri, Yellowstone, and Platte Rivers. In 1872 Dr. Hayden, U. S. Geologist, expressed to the author his desire to publish a treatise on the ornithology of the Western Territories, which he had explored. Dr. Coues undertook the task of elaborating the material collected since the writing of his original report, and the whole result is published in the book now before us, which is believed to be fairly abreast of the present state of the science. To bring the work within the compass of a single volume, and to give it a distinctive character apart from the general work on "North American Ornithology" in preparation by Profs. Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway, its scope is restricted to the Missouri region. The birds of this region, like most others of North America, having been repeatedly and sufficiently described, text of this technical kind has been omitted as a rule, to make room for fresher matter of more general interest, but particular plumages, not yet well known, are described. The distribution of the species, their residence or migration, and their abundance or scarcity, are worked out, not only within the region indicated, but throughout the general area they inhabit. All the species at present known to inhabit this region are given, and represent a large majority of the birds of North America. The author is brief in the cases of the best known Eastern birds, in order to devote more space to the history of species upon which less has already been written. Three families, Laridæ, Colymbidæ, and Podicipidæ, are made the subjects of special monographs.
This is the first installment of a systematic introduction to the study of embryology. For the sake of making the first steps in this interesting branch of science as easy as possible, the authors consider in the present volume only the embryogeny of the common fowl. The development of the chick once mastered, the study of other forms becomes an easy matter. The work consists of nine chapters, with an Appendix. In Chapter I. we have a description of the egg, and an account of the changes which take place up to the beginning of incubation. Chapter II. is a summary of the history of incubation. The other chapters, down to the ninth, indicate the changes which occur from the first day of incubation down to the end of that process. Chapter IX. is on the development of the skull. In the Appendix are given practical instructions for studying the development of the chick.
This is the second edition of this book on the improvement of health by natural means, including a history of food and a consideration of its substantial qualities. The work opens with a statement of the various unfavorable influences that tend to the enervation of the physical powers of parents; and this is followed by an outline of man's organization, development, and proper sustenance, and by an elucidation of the relations which exist between the vegetable and animal kingdoms, whence his subsistence is obtained. The book contains few cuts, and these are poorly made.
The object of this book is to furnish a clear and easily-understood description of the principles, construction, and operation, of the locomotive-engine of the present day, a subject not concisely or adequately treated in any one similar book. It is intended not only as a hand-book for all classes of mechanics and railroad-men, but as a readable book of practical information for amateur engineers, students, and general readers. The headings of a few chapters taken at random are: "The Steam-Engine;" "Forces of Air and Steam;" "General Description of a Locomotive-Engine;" "Different Kinds of Locomotives;" "Accidents to Locomotives;" "Responsibility and Qualification of Locomotive Runners." The subjects presented are treated simply and plainly, in the form of question and answer, of which there are 563. The book is illustrated by 230 woodcuts and many plates.
This new treatise on mechanics has for its object the establishment of strict precision in the meaning of dynamical terms, and the classification of physical quantities into elements and functions. It is written for students of mechanics, by a practical engineer; and the terms adopted in it are those used in the machine-shop, rejecting the ideal vocabulary heretofore used in text-books and colleges; thus the author rejects such terms as "efficiency of force," "working force," "quantity of motion," "mechanical power," "mechanical effect," "energy," etc., as having no definite meaning, or being redundant expressions meaning "force," "power," or "work." The first 56 pages treat of "Statics," and the next 221 pages are given to "Dynamics." A short chapter on the "Dynamics of Sound," a chapter on the "Mechanics of Astronomy," and an Appendix elucidating a duodenal system of arithmetic, measures, weights, and coins, complete the work, the whole of which is illustrated by 242 woodcuts.
The contents of this neat little publication are designed particularly to enable mothers to understand and take care of the growth of children's teeth. The author first gives several illustrations with descriptions, showing the position of the teeth in the jaws, together with the usual time of appearance of the milk-set and permanent set of teeth. He then treats of the structure of the teeth, the changes they undergo, and the nutrition which they demand, the same as other parts of the body. The food must furnish bone-material as well as flesh-material. Phosphate of lime gives hardness to the teeth and bones, but it must be organized by a plant before it becomes fit food for an animal: "Artificial salts will not nourish the teeth by being taken as food; yet some persons have recommended that they be put into bread for that purpose." Other subjects are "Early Growth of the Teeth," "Infants' Teeth," "Dental Decay," "Children's Teeth," "The Six-Year Molars," "Plugging Teeth," "Effects of Medicine on the Teeth," "Diseases of the Teeth," "Extraction of Teeth," and "Artificial Teeth." The book is a good one, and will fully repay an attentive perusal.
The contents of this volume are a course of lectures on physiology, delivered by Prof. Küss, at the Medical School of the University of Strasbourg; edited by Mathias Duval, M. D., of the Medical Faculty of Paris; and translated by Robert Amory, M. D., formerly Professor of Physiology at the Medical School of Maine. The object of the work, as stated in the preface, is to supply the want of an English text-book in which the functions of living tissue are closely compared and combined with its texture; or, in other words, a book wherein the relations of physiology to histology are carefully presented; for, while there are many good works on physiology, to which the student can refer for a knowledge of the subject, a concise treatise, within the limits of the means of medical students, has been a want hitherto supplied only by treatises in French or German. The book is embellished with 150 woodcut illustrations.
This pamphlet of 76 pages contains the separate Reports of the Commissioners, Nathan Allen and Wendell Phillips, to which is added, in an appendix, a letter to the Commissioners by S. E. Sewall. The Report gives the number of insane in the State as, approximately, 3,624, but the Commissioners are persuaded that, if more thorough measures were taken for ascertaining the number, they would exceed four thousand.
We observe with pleasure the addition of four pages to the Engineering and Mining Journal, edited by Richard P. Rothwell, C. E., M. E., and Rossiter W. Raymond, Ph. D. Heretofore its weekly issue consisted of sixteen pages, now it is twenty. But, besides enlarging, the publishers announce their intention of otherwise adding to the value of the journal. Thus they will make more liberal use of engravings to illustrate subjects of professional interest, and questions of practical importance in mining, metallurgy, and gas-engineering, will receive special attention. Another new departure, something in the nature of Notes and Queries, is announced, and cannot fail to enhance the value of the paper. It is the publishers' desire to have their pages used as a" "medium for asking and giving information on subjects connected with mining and metallurgy, or general science." Subscription, $4.00. Publication-office, 21 Park Place, New York.
International Scientific Series.—If the last volume of this series, on "Fungi," be thought somewhat remote from the urgent solicitudes of the American mind, no such objection can be urged against the contribution of Prof. Jevons to this series, now in press, entitled "Money and the Science of Exchange." Prof. Jevons is not only a logician of originality and eminence, and author of a recent profound work on the "Principles of Science," but he is a professional student of political economy, and the author of important works upon this subject also. He brings a disciplined mind and a comprehensive knowledge of the subject to the discussion of that important branch of economical science which deals with currency, and may be expected to give in his new volume a clear and compact statement of the subject, as far as its scientific principles have been worked out. Such a volume cannot fail to be useful in this country, where the interest in money is so intense as to be surpassed only by the general ignorance of its nature, offices, and laws.
"The Unseen Universe."—Under this title an anonymous work will be shortly issued from the press of Macmillan, treating of the religious bearings of the most advanced science, in such a way as to arouse the interest of both scientific and religious thinkers. Since its announcement the work has been anxiously looked for, and there is much speculation as to its authorship.
The Religion of Humanity. By O. B. Frothingham. Pp. 338. New York: Putnam's Sons. Price, $1.50.
Home Sketches in France. By Mrs. Henry M. Field. Pp. 256. New York; Putnam's Sous. Price, $1.50.
Fifth Catalogue of Seventy-one Double Stars. By S. W. Burnham, Esq. Duplicity of the Principal Star of New Scorpii (same author). Reprint from Royal Astronomical Society notices.
Iron and Steel. By Adolf Schmidt, Ph. D. Pp. 12. St. Louis Times print.
History of Greece, By C. A. Fyffe History Primers). Pp. 127. New York: Macmillan. Price, 40 cents.
Pneumo-thorax. By Austin Flint, Sen., M.D. (series of American Clinical Lectures). Pp. 18. New York: Putnam's Sons. Price, 40 cents.
Spectroscopic Examination of Gases from Meteoric Iron. By Arthur W. Wright. Pp. 8.
The Past and Future of Geology. By Joseph Prestwich, M.A., F.R.S. London: Macmillan. Pp. 50. Price, two shillings.
Possibility and Probability of Super-natural Revelation. By Rev. Horace Bumstead. Pp. 13. Minneapolis: Johnson & Smith.
Doubt. By J. N. Stiles. Pp. 19. Chicago: Beach, Barnard & Co.
Philadelphia School of Anatomy. By William W. Keen, M.D. Pp. 32. Philadelphia: Lippincott.
Skew Arches. By E. W. Hyde, C.E. Pp. 104. New York: Van Nostrand. Price, 50 cents.
The Iron-clad Ships of the World. By M. P. Dislere. Pp. 29. Washington: Government Printing-Office.
The Centennial of Chemistry. Pp. 208. Philadelphia: Collins, Printer. Price, $1.00.
Cretaceous Lamellibranchs, collected at Pernambuco. By Richard Rathbun. Pp. 15.
Journey in Honduras. By R. C. Huston, C. E. Pp. 39. Cincinnati: R. Clarke & Co. Price, 50 cents.
Catalogue of American Grape-vines. Bush & Son, Bushberg, Jefferson County, Mo.
Transits of Venus (Proctor). New York: Worthington.
Manual of Diet in Health and Disease (Chambers). Philadelphia: Henry C. Lea.
Navigation, in Theory and Practice (Evers). Putnam's Sons.
Theology of the Coming Man. By G. Eppley, M. D. Pp. 11. Lewisberry, York County, Pa. The Author.
Vertebrata of the Eocene of New Mexico (Cope).
Theory of Solubility (Walz). Philadelphia: Collins, printer.
Causes of Irregularity in Development of the Teeth (Kingsley).
Munroe's Philosophy of Cure.