Popular Science Monthly/Volume 8/April 1876/Literary Notices
|←Correspondence and Editor's Table|| Popular Science Monthly Volume 8 April 1876 (1876)
To those who care only for politics on account of its gossip, personalities, and passing excitements, or who study it merely as an art for the attainment of their own selfish ends, these works need not be commended; but those who are interested in working out the principles of a science that underlies all politics will be glad to learn that the "Descriptive Sociology" of Herbert Spencer is making fair progress, the fourth number being now published. This work is not at all known even by the most intelligent portion of the American people. They talk much about society, speculating upon its origin, declaiming against its evils, and proposing endless nostrums for its relief and regeneration, but give no attention to the most serious, thorough, and successful effort yet made to elucidate the natural laws of social phenomena. If the value and importance of Spencer's "Descriptive Sociology" were at all understood, it would be found in every public library, in many private ones, and in all higher educational institutions. It is nothing less than a series of representations, almost pictorial in their clearness, of the constitution of human societies, of all forms, types, and grades, the world over. It gives the whole range of social facts that characterize each community in such an ingenious scheme of representation that they can be compared with extreme facility, and their elements considered either separately or as existing together; and either as advancing by themselves, or as moving on connectedly and under mutual influence. The industrial, economic, domestic, civil, military, aesthetic, moral, religious, and intellectual condition of each community, is given in a systematic way, which brings out the relations of these social factors; and the whole is carefully authenticated by copious and classified extracts from the best authorities by which the social facts in the several cases have been described. Without critical examination no one can form an idea of the enormous labor that has been expended upon these works, nor of their value to the students of social affairs. Nothing worthy the name of social science, that is, embracing wide inductions and comprehensive principles, can ever come from the examination of one example or form of society only; and, in the wide sweep of his inquiries, Mr. Spencer is the first to have given to the problem of social philosophy its full breadth of scientific basis.
In the first number of this general work Mr. Spencer gave us the social history of England. In the second number he gathered up and organized what is known of the social life of the extinct or decayed American civilizations. Number Three, now before us, is devoted to the lowest types of the social state—the Negritto races and the Malayo-Polynesian races. This was compiled and abstracted by Prof. David Duncan, a collaborator with Mr. Spencer in the execution of his enterprise. It represents the social life of the Fuegians, Andamans, Veddahs, Australians, Tasmanians, New Caledonians, New Guinea people, Fijians, Sandwich-Islanders, Tahitians, Tongans, Samoans, New-Zealanders, Dyaks, Javans, Sumatrans, and Malagasy. The environments, inorganic, organic, and sociological of these communities, and the physical, emotional, and intellectual characters of each people are given, and whatever is known or accessible regarding their social habits, peculiarities, and modes of life.
Number Four, which is just published, also elaborated by Prof Duncan, is devoted to the African races. He delineates the social aspects of the Bushmen, the Hottentots, the Damaras, the Bechuanas, the Caffirs, the East Africans, the Congo people, the Coast Negroes, the Inland Negroes, the Dahomans, the Ashantis, the Fulahs, and the Abyssinians.
We cannot republish these works in the Monthly, although in the number for April, 1874, we gave a sample of the tables that are used, and which necessitated the large folio form of publication. But those who will take the pains to consult and compare these works cow issued will quickly see that we are entering upon a new stage of social ideas and knowledge. "The proper study of mankind is man," but it is far from being the same study in different ages.
This work is an abridgment or condensation of Dr. Flint's large treatise upon physiology, in five volumes. The bibliographical and historical features of the larger work are mostly omitted, and various subjects, which are there much elaborated, are more concisely presented in the single volume. The more extensive treatise will retain its place for purposes of reference, as giving a full account of the literature of physiology, and a systematic representation of its facts and principles. Out of this Dr. Flint has educed a complete working manual, which brings the treatment of the subject within convenient limits for students, while it is much more complete as a representation of the present state of the science than any other book we know upon this topic. A marked feature of the work is its illustrations, which are large and especially fine. Many of them are new, and all are executed in the best style of the engraver's art. The book is beautifully printed and is most attractive in appearance; it may be commended to all who desire a comprehensive and trustworthy work up to the latest date, by authority, on the interesting and important subject of physiology.
We give in the body of the Monthly a sample of the curious and interesting information on the economy of animal life to which this book is devoted. It opens a new chapter of strange things in the field of life, to the common reader, and will be perused with avidity by all lovers of natural history. The names of most of the little creatures described will be found somewhat new to general readers; but the lively, familiar, and graphic style of the writer will go far to compensate for this drawback, as he is not without a very decided sense of the comical and humorous side of his remarkable subject. The author is an eminent authority in zoölogy, and the work is largely the result of his own observations and studies. It is one of the most original monographs in the series to which it was contributed.
Since the translation of Siebold's "Comparative Anatomy of the Invertebrata," by Dr. Burnett, accompanied by the valuable investigations of the translator, and the publication of "Mind in Nature," by Prof. H. James Clarke, there has been no general work published in this country equaling in importance the one before us. Indeed, we cannot now recall any work which covers the same ground; and as an evidence of its value it may be stated that the English magazines of science have repeatedly made liberal quotations from some of the chapters, as they originally appeared in the American Naturalist.
Dr. Packard has not only brought together and richly illustrated a résumé of the labors of the leading embryologists of Europe—Kowelevsky, Schultze, Schneider, Metschnikoff, Salensky, Cienkowski, and others equally distinguished—and also the work of American naturalists, too, but has contributed much original matter from his own published works on insects and crustacea. The various classes are conveniently but not too rigidly grouped in a natural sequence, commencing with the Monera, and ending with Man.
It is refreshing to get hold of a general work which is strictly in accordance with the latest interpretations of science, and it must remain for many years the one standard work on the subject.
The author, as is the case with ninety-nine hundredths of the leading investigators, is an evolutionist, and indeed it would be difficult to conceive a work of this nature presented in any other light, unless it were given as a bare descriptive catalogue of details.
With each group (considered as a special study) are given a brief sketch of the structure and habits of some of its leading forms, their affinities, embryology, and a very useful table of the literature of the subject. A list of the authors referred to indicates clearly how few Americans have contributed to a knowledge of the subject.
The advanced character of the work is seen in the adoption of Haeckel's terms for different conditions of the embryo, such as the morula stage, planula stage, gastrula stage, etc. The ascidian stage is also recognized in the development of Vertebrata. Amphioxus is considered separately from the fishes, the Brachiopoda are placed among the worms. Altogether it forms one of the most valuable works of science yet published in this country, and it is safe to say that no working naturalist can do without it.
As a second edition of the work must soon be demanded, we trust it may be accompanied by a table of contents.
This is a reprint from Major J. W. Powell's report of his explorations of the Colorado River, giving a full scientific account of the little animals known on the Western prairies as Pocket Gophers. Regarding the two genera Geomys and Thomomys as constituting a perfectly natural group of the grade of a family, Geomyidœ, the author describes them as "among the heaviest for their inches of any animals in this country, of squat, bunchy shape, with short, thick limbs, a short tail, very small or rudimentary ears, small eyes, no appreciable neck, and thick, blunt head; and they are as completely subterranean as the mole itself. They are rarely or momentarily seen above the ground; they excavate endless galleries in the earth in their search for food, frequently coming to the surface to throw out the earth in heaps, but plugging up these orifices as soon as they have served their purpose."
Geomys contains five (some authors say seven) well-defined species; Thomomys but a single species, including three recognizable races, out of which, by the process of species-mongering so common with earlier naturalists, a dozen separate species were made. While in Geomys the links have disappeared and the species are well-pronounced, in Thomomys the separation is incomplete, and the connecting forms still visible. "The genus appears to be working into a number of species, but the process is still far from completion." Adopting modern philosophical views, the author's tendency is to reduce the number of species, seeing only races or varieties where others claim to have found well-defined species. The several species constituting the family are separately described. The cranial and dental characters of the group are afterward treated, and the work closes with a further description, communicated by Prof. G. Brown Goode, of Geomys tuza, a form confined to Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, and there known as Salamanders.
Prof. Coues has the rare faculty of making even technical descriptions interesting, and for this reason the work commends itself to the attention of other than scientific readers.
In the preface to this little book the author tells us that it is intended for beginners in the use of the microscope, a purpose that appears to have been kept well in mind in the subsequent pages, as the explanations are clear, the directions explicit and suitably detailed; and nothing has been attempted that lies beyond the understanding of any intelligent girl or boy of fifteen. After pointing out the numerous applications of the instrument, that are every day extending, the simple and compound microscope, and the essential parts of each, are described. The various forms in use are next enumerated, with brief descriptions of the most noted; and then follow practical directions for the selection of a microscope, and the requisite accessory apparatus. Illumination, the manipulation and care of the instrument, and the collection and mounting of objects, take up the remainder of the book. The student is referred to the larger works of Carpenter and others for a knowledge of the principles involved in the construction of the microscope, and of the course of procedure in the several departments of study to which it is applied.
The volume of Mr. Southworth is an interesting contribution to our knowledge of one of the most important regions of Central Africa. It is the well-told account of a journey made by the author as traveling correspondent of the New York Herald for the purpose of exploring the countries of the Upper Nile—their aspects, resources, and populations.
The journey commenced at Cairo on the 27th of December, 1871. "At noon on the 6th of February," says the traveler, "our Soudan dahabeah was parting the dark, rippling waters of the Blue Nile from the muddy flow of its sister confluent, the White Nile, and by one o'clock the solitary minaret of Khartoum was seen above the palms and acacias!" This city contains 40,000 inhabitants, is the capital of the Soudan, and is the finest provincial city of Central Africa.
The chapters in which the author gives an account of his trip up the White Nile through the heart of the Soudan are full of interest. The country is described as wonderfully fertile. With its present wretched cultivation it is more productive than the well-tilled fields of Italy. It abounds in cattle and camels, as well as wild animals. Under the present government the progress toward civilization has been immense. Within fifteen years we are informed, 30,000,000 people have been brought in some degree within the circle of semi-civilization. But only incipient steps are taken. The slave-trade and all the depressing influences of savagism still bear upon the people. It is believed that no country in the world is better adapted to the raising of cotton than the Soudan.
The author turned back from his travels at Arbah Island, 300 miles southward from Khartoum, and nearly 2,000 miles from the Mediterranean.
The volume is enlivened by vivid descriptions of natural scenery and phenomena. On the Nubian Desert the mirage sometimes breaks the dreary view. "On the 17th of January we were seemingly encompassed by this imponderable mirror. In the glowing heat the bed of the desert would seem to rise in rippling waves, and a line of rocks, at 200 yards distance, kept common time and looked like a regiment of men marching off the field in line of battle." The simooms, sand-storms, and sand-spouts, as well as the gorgeous tropical scenery, are vividly described. The horrors of the slave-trade, and the means by which this and other barbarisms may be overcome, are prudently and judiciously treated. Dr. Southworth has done excellent service in publishing this volume.
This is a twelve-page monthly devoted mainly to the interests of microscopy. Its purpose, as expressed in the prospectus, is to diffuse a knowledge of the best methods of using the microscope, of valuable improvements in the instrument, and its accessories; of new methods of microscopical investigation, and of the most recent results of microscopical research. Besides general articles, of which the number before us offers a pleasant variety, some of them illustrated, there is a "Young Folks' Column," "Our Work-Table," "Book-Table," "Notes and Queries," etc.
Among the subjects treated in this report are the entailments of alcohol, draining for health, poisonous paper, relation of schools to health, resuscitation of the drowned, cerebro-spinal meningitis, meteorology of Central Michigan. Of the eight special reports, five were drawn up by Prof, R. C. Kedzie, M. D., whose labors are well known to all who take an interest in sanitary science.
This volume is an important contribution to our knowledge of the extent and nature of the impurities found in drinking-water, and the most ready means of detecting and classifying them. In clearness of method and statement, and style of its illustrations, the work is admirable. The author does not attempt to link particular forms of impurity with specific sanitary effects, but says further observation may show their deep sanitary significance.
No one now hesitates to condemn a water containing bacteria and fungi, or swarming with the lower forms of life.
The means by which sediments and floating impurities in water maybe best obtained and studied is pointed out in a brief introduction.
Section 1 treats of the mineral matters found in drinking-water; section 2 gives an account of the dead and decaying, section 3 of the living forms found in water.
The twenty-four plates comprise over four hundred figures; frequently, however, the same object is presented under different forms. The volume is an excellent handbook, and will greatly facilitate the study of the important subject of which it treats.
This is the first installment of Major J. W. Powell's exploration and survey of the Colorado River region. The book consists of three parts, in the first of which we have a journal of the exploration of the canons of the Colorado in the year 1869; in the second, an account of the physical features of the valley of the Colorado; and in the third, three chapters on the zoölogy of the region explored. The two chapters of the second part were published in the Monthly last summer. Major Powell kindly permitting us to copy from advanced sheets, and supplying us with the woodcuts. The present volume is an exceptionally interesting and instructive description of the strange and picturesque country explored.
Contains reports made to the Treasury Department by Dr. Woodworth, superintendent surgeon of the Marine Hospital Service, and to the War Department by Dr. J. K. Barnes, Surgeon-General U. S. Army. Dr. Woodworth's report is brief, and traces the history of the introduction of cholera through the agency of the mercantile marine. The War Department report is divided into three parts, the first being written by Dr. Ely McClellan, U. S. Army. This gives a history of the epidemic of 1873 in the United States. The second part, by Drs. J. C. Peters and Ely McClellan, is devoted to the history of the travels of Asiatic cholera. In the third part is given the bibliography of cholera by Dr. J. S. Billings, U. S. Army.
This pamphlet contains a large amount of practical information about several of the more important explosives now in common use, such as nitro-glycerine and its various preparations, gun-cotton, and the picrates and fulminates. Their chemical composition, mode of preparation, manner of firing, and the reactions which occur during explosion, are clearly set forth, and tables are also given exhibiting their relative explosive power.
This is a practical guide to the art of taxidermy, giving detailed directions for all the operations required in the preparation and mounting of natural history specimens. It contains several plates and a full index.
The problems considered in this essay are the materiality or immateriality of the mind, and future personality. The other papers are on "The Theological Amendment," and "The State Personality Idea."
Dr. Wolfe tells us that he has been for twenty-five years an observer of modern spiritualism. Had he not published this book, the world might never have known the extent of his gullibility. He has only himself to blame.
Two papers by Prof. Schweitzer, printed from the Catalogue of the University, comprise this pamphlet. One is upon the "True Composition of Coal," and the other on the "Water-Supply of Columbia, Boone County," with analyses. Both papers are of value, giving in detail the results of faithful and well-directed laboratory work.
Mr. Wingate allows some of the prominent newspaper editors of the United States to express their opinions on journalism, its limits, its tendencies, its perils, its prospects, In some instances the editors are catechised in an interview, in others their views are ascertained by reference to the journals they edit.
The forms of life here spoken of are six in number, five of them being vegetal growths, and the sixth an animal organism, a genus of infusorium. They are all microscopic organisms.
Intended as a guide to the discovery of quartz and placer indications of gold and silver mines. The book further gives descriptions of metalliferous rocks of various kinds in the New England States and the neighboring provinces of Canada.
The American Electrical Society, whose official organ this Journal is, has for its object the interchange of knowledge and the professional improvement of its members, the advancement of electrical and telegraphic science, and the establishment of a central point of reference. The articles which appear in the Journal consist chiefly of papers read at the meetings of the society, but papers from other sources on telegraphic and electrical subjects are also given. In the present number, the first article, which is well illustrated, is by Mr. Elisha Gray, on "The Transmission of Musical Tones telegraphically." There is also an illustrated article on "Quadruples Telegraphy." Among the selected articles we may name one on Edison's "New Force," by Dr. Beard, and a sketch of Sir Charles Wheatstone. The Publishing Committee, in a note prefixed to the present number, state that a second number may be issued in three or four months. Price, $1.50 per number.
In this, his third annual report, the State geologist of Minnesota gives the results of his researches on the geology of the two counties of Freeborn and Mower. In the former county there is an abundance of peat, most of the marshes being peat-bearing. This peat is of the best quality, and is gradually coming into use for fuel. Geological maps of the two counties accompany the report.
The present number of the "Bulletin" is devoted to a description of the ornithological specimens brought from Kerguelen Island by the Transit-of-Venus Expedition of 1874-'75. The number of species described is twenty-one, belonging to six families—Procellaridæ, Spheniscidæ, Laridæ, Phalacrocoracidæ, Anatidæ, and Chionididæ.
This issue is No. 4 of Vol. II., and comprises nine articles, with an index to the volume. The articles are No. 16 to No. 24 of the series, eight of which are upon subjects of entomology, and all of value to specialists in that science.
No. 18 is a check-list of the North American sphinxes by Aug. R. Grote, and No. 20 is a valuable paper by Dr. Scudder, being a synonymic list of the butterflies of North America north of Mexico.
Article No. 22, by M. C. Cooke, M. A., of London, is a synopsis of the discomycetous fungi of the United States, in which very full credit is given to American mycologists (or assistance rendered.
Prof. Thurston here defines what a mechanical laboratory ought to be, its province and its methods. Such a laboratory the trustees of the Stevens Institute of Technology, he informs us, have consented to establish. Such bodies as the Railway Master-Mechanics' Association, the Society of Civil Engineers, and the Iron and Steel Association, have pledged themselves to give aid and advice in promoting the enterprise.
Zapus is the name given by Dr. Coues to a genus which includes only one species, the "long-legged mouse of Hudson's Bay." This animal, usually referred to the Muridœ, differs from the Muridæ, says Dr. Coues, to a degree warranting the recognition of a family Zapodidœ. With respect to Lagopus leucurus (the white-tailed ptarmigan). Dr. Coues remarks upon its breeding-habits, its nest, and its eggs.
This is an excellent account of the great Kentucky Cave. It is not only a trustworthy guide for the visitor, but something far better than an ordinary guide-book—an historical and descriptive account of the Mammoth Cave, giving explanations of the causes concerned in its formation, its chemistry, geology, etc., together with full scientific details of the eyeless fishes. The volume has twelve lithographic illustrations, also an original map.
The two papers contained in this pamphlet are reprinted from the "Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History." The first of the papers treats of the Newport conglomerate, and the second of the gravel and cobble-stone deposits of Virginia and the Middle States.
This is a very useful little volume, enabling the reader to reduce to United States standards the money, measures, and weights of every commercial nation in the world. The work is divided into two parts, in the first of which we have a classification according to countries, arranged alphabetically, and, in the second, a set of tables, giving the value of each unit both in English and in metric standards.
Washington Astronomical and Meteorological Observations (1873). Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 429.
of Northwestern Wyoming. By W. A. Jones, U. S. A. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 332.
Algebraical Equations. By J. Macnie, A. M. Pp. 194. New York: A. S. Barnes & Co. Price, $2.50.
History of the United States. By J. A. Doyle. Pp. 404. New York: Holt & Co. Price, $1.40.
Beliefs of the Unbelievers. By O. B. Frothingham. New York: Putnams. Price, $1.
French Political Leaders. By E. King. Pp. 326. Same publishers. Price, $1.50.
Filth-Dlseases. By J. Simon, M.D. Pp. 96. Boston: James Campbell. Price, $1.
Percy Bysshe Shelley as a Philosopher and Reformer. By C. Sotheran. Pp. 51. New York: Somerby. Price, $1.25.
Algebra for Beginners. By J. Loudon, M.A. Pp. 158. Toronto; Copp, Clark & Co.
Report on the Public Schools of Columbus, Ohio. Pp. 428. Columbus: S. A. Glenn,
The Textile Colorist (Monthly). For sale in New York by Wiley & Son. Price, $1 per number.
Report of New York City Superintendent of Schools (1875). Pp. 77. New York; Cushing & Bardua print.
Report on the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoölogy (1875). Pp. 68. Boston: Wright & Potter print.
Message of Governor Tilden (January, 1870).
Chemical Analyses of Fertilizers. Published by the Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture. Pp. 44.
The Bible and Science. By J. Weiss. Pp. 22. Boston: Cochrane & Sampson print.
Sheep-Husbandry in Georgia. Pp. 24. Atlanta: Harrison k Co. print.
Sympathy of Religions. By T. W. Higginson. Pp. 38. Boston: Free Religious Association. Price, 10 cents.
The Financial Problem. By Hon. E. Ward. Pp. IS. Washington Congressional Record print.
Charities of New York (1876). Pp. 69. New York; Putnams.
Sketch of the Life of J. A. Lapham. By S. S. Sherman. Pp. 80. Milwaukee: News Co. print.
Man's True Relation to Nature. By T. P. Wilson, M.D. Pp. 26. Cleveland, Ohio: L. H. White.
Sanitary Condition of Towns. Pp. 32 (Legislative Document). Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co. print.
Elements of Life-insurance. Pp. 32. Boston: Wright k Potter print.
Variation in Strength of a Muscle. Pp 6. Also, New Form of Lantern Galvanometer. Pp. 3. By F. E. Nipher. Reprint from American Journal of Science.
Specimens of Milk from Vicinity of Boston. By S. P. Sharples, S. B. Pp. 7.
Valedictory Address to the Medico-Legal Society of New York. By C. Bell. Pp 22.
Meteorology and Health. By W. Blasius. Pp. 5.