Popular Science Monthly/Volume 8/January 1876/Literary Notices
The author of this book is not a stranger to the American people. He made a tour of the country a year or two since, and was called upon at various points to express his views on currency and finance, which he did with a bluntness and pungency that made a deep impression upon his hearers, and upon all who read his well-reported addresses. It was felt by many that his views were sound and important, and that it would be an advantage to the country if he would give us a season of lecturing upon the subject. But, as he could not remain, he agreed to do the next best thing, which was, to prepare a little volume, to be published in this country, giving a condensed exposition of his views. This volume is now issued and will be widely read, as well for its vivid and racy controversialism as for its sound and instructive teachings upon the topics discussed. Besides the Appendix, it is divided into three parts: first, "Metallic Currency;" second, "Paper Currency;" and third, "What is a Bank?" Prof Price insists that there is really very little mystery about this subject that is generally regarded as so mysterious; while he admits that there is more error and absurdity and stupid nonsense put forth regarding it than upon almost any other subject of current speculation. A main cause of this, he states to be, the credulous confidence with which the public listens to the outgivings of men whose authority comes not from any intelligent or scientific understanding of the subject, but from the circumstance that they deal in money and have a great deal of it, and much to do with it. But practical familiarity with business operations, he maintains, is very far from conferring insight into the philosophy of such operations. A blockhead may make money, and make a parade of all the technical terms of finance, but know no more of the principles of the subject than the veriest beggar who hardly sees a dollar from one year's end to another. Yet the public pricks up its long ears to listen to the oracular twaddle of brokers, bankers, merchants, and treasury officials, who only confuse and confound the subject with their discordant utterances. Such books as those of Price and Jevons will do much to clear away the fog that has gathered around monetary questions in this country, and they should be widely circulated and carefully read, especially by young men who would prepare themselves to take a useful part in public affairs.
We have in Mr. Tice's book another wild and fruitless attempt to explain all phenomena by electricity. As, in former times, unexplained phenomena were ascribed to magic or supernatural power, so in modern days the unscientific look to electricity as the efficient cause of all physical mysteries. The author of this book admits no force but electricity. Mechanics is a nightmare, centrifugal force is electric repulsion, the perturbing force of a planet is only electric attraction, and all the phenomena of our atmosphere arise from electrical causes.
The volume before us is Part 11., and from the preface we learn that Part I. has never been published; we are, however, not left in doubt as to its contents. We are told on the first page that in Part I. we can learn "all about the nature and constitution of rain and snow storms; all about cold and hot, wet and dry, seasons; and all about winds, gales, tornadoes, and hurricanes." If Mr. Tice has done half of what he claims, he has done enough to secure immortal fame. Nevertheless, after an examination of Part II., we are seized with a violent longing to be spared from Part I. The special function of Part II. is to establish meteorological cycles and to promulgate the theory of planetary equinoxes, on the strength of which Mr. Tice has made predictions which have gained for him considerable attention. It is unfortunate, however, for his reputation that he ever ventured into print; for no one can give his book the most cursory examination without detecting its unsoundness. Lack of space forbids more than a brief outline of Mr. Tice's theory. To point out all his errors in mathematics, physics, and astronomy, his false assumptions and logical fallacies, would require several pages.
All phenomena are periodic. "The regular recurrence of identical physical phenomena is an admitted fact." Were the cycle known, we could tell just when the phenomena of the past would be repeated. Mr. Tice considers the discovery of a meteorological cycle "the most clamant desideratum of the age." The discovery (?) of the Great Cycle was Mr. Tice's first step in the science of meteorology. It is exactly 11.86 years. He claims that this is established by the periodic phenomena of sunspots, magnetic storms, cyclones, earthquakes, auroras, etc., but fails to give us the process of reduction. This period is identical with Jupiter's year, and the inference is that Jupiter is the cause of the cycle, which henceforth is called the Jovial Cycle. The idea of associating Jupiter with the eleven-year periods is not new, but we supposed it had been abandoned.
Mr. Tice's next stage is to prove that the phenomena of sun-spots, cyclones, etc., reach their maxima when Jupiter is at his equinoxes, and, of course, once every 5.93 years. This proof Mr. Tice gives in full with immense satisfaction, quite unconscious of its having not even a presumption in its favor. Finding nothing in his astronomy of Jupiter's equinoxes, he assumed that his solstitial points coincided with his points of greatest and least distance from the sun (aphelion and perihelion), as is the case, approximately, with the earth. The same groundless and false assumption is afterward made for the other planets, and such reasoning Mr. Tice calls "deduction from general principles" and "telluric analogy." Again, at its equinoxes the earth is at its greatest distance north and south of the plane of the sun's equator: Mr. Tice infers that the same is true of all other planets.
Mr. Tice calculates the equinoxes of the planets from their aphelia and perihelia, and accounts for the disturbing force of a planetary equinox on the supposition that the planet at its equinox is at its greatest distance from the solar equator, and hence exposed to only one pole of the sun. Thus, when the earth is at its vernal equinox, the north pole of the sun is invisible, and we are exposed to the full influence of its south magnetic pole. Terrific energy is then interchanged, disturbing both the atmosphere of the earth and that of the sun. The disturbances in the latter are communicated to the other members of the solar system. Similar results are produced at the autumnal equinox by the sun's north magnetic pole. When at their equinoxes the other planets undergo a like experience, and indirectly, through the sun, we share in the resultant electrical excitement. Such is the theory, and on such foundations does it rest. Historical records and the reports of the weather bureaus furnish endless confirmations, for every storm finds an equinox to bear the responsibility. In order to include all actual phenomena, the duration of an equinoctial period is put at one-fourth the planet's year, so that each planet spends halt its time in creating disturbances throughout the solar system.
Not the least curious feature of the book is the adoption, into the family of planets, of the mythical Vulcan, supposed to have been discovered in 1859, and for a time believed to be a real planet, lying very near the sun. As nothing has been seen of it for the last dozen years, this looks very much like another assumption, of which, indeed, there appears to be no lack throughout the book.
The meeting of the American Philological Association, of which this pamphlet is a record, was hold at Newport, R. I., from July 13th to July 15th of this year. It was opened by an eloquent and suggestive address from the President, Dr. I. Hammond Trumbull, who reminded the Association of the urgent need of attentive study of the structure of the languages of our American Indians, a need all the more urgent as they have no written language, and as year by year they are passing away. The vexed question as to a change in the present mode of spelling in English was also considered, and Dr. Trumbull avers that, while scholars agree on the question of the desirability of such a change, the main difficulty in the way of reform is the want of agreement among them as to the best-way of effecting it. He says, "The objection that reform would obscure etymology is not urged by real etymologists;" and the testimony of Hadley and Max Müller is quoted, sustaining this position.
Again, the objection that words "when decently spelled would lose their 'historic interest' is equally unfounded. The modern orthography is superlatively unhistorical.... The only history it can be trusted to teach begins with the publication of Johnson's Dictionary." The important recommendation is made that a list of words be prepared, "exhibiting side by side the present and the reformed spelling," such that prominent scholars in England and America would recognize either form as allowable.
This subject was referred to a committee of five eminent philologists, who will report at the next annual meeting, and have liberty in the mean time to prepare such a list of words and cause them to be printed. This action assumes an additional interest from the fact that the State of Connecticut has already in contemplation such a change of spelling in its official reports and journals.
Important papers were read by Prof. Albert Harkness, Mr. A. C. Merriam, Prof. F. A. March, Prof. Franklin Carter, and others.
Many of these are, of course, of quite a special nature: among those of more general interest may be mentioned Prof. March's paper on "The Immaturity of Shakespeare as shown in Hamlet." In the report of Prof. March's paper in the "Proceedings," his analysis of the play, from this point of view, is brought into nine short propositions which are comprised within the limits of an octavo page. This brevity rather amusingly recalls Goethe's prolix analysis of the same play in "Wilhelm Meister;" it is by no means certain that Prof. March's summary will not help the puzzled reader of Hamlet quite as much as Goethe's chapters.
Another paper of interest was by Mr. C. M. O'Keefe, of Brooklyn, "On the Proper Names in the First Sentence of Caesar's Commentaries."
This report opens with a brief statement of what the Marine Hospital Service of the United States is; amount of collections and expenditures during the year; number of cases of disease and injury treated; and a comparison of the figures with those of previous years. Defects needing legislation; cost of the service to the government; port inspections and office dues; government hospitals; and preventive medicine in the service, are the subjects of succeeding sections. Then follow seventy pages of statistics classified under two heads: first, financial and economic; second, medical and surgical. Eleven papers under the following titles, and a copious index, occupy the last one hundred and fifty pages of the book: "The Hygiene of the Forecastle;" "American Commerce and the Service;" "Unseaworthy Sailors;" "Sailors and their Diseases in Chelsea Hospital;" "The Service on Cape Cod;" "The Freedman and the Service on the Ohio;" "Diseases of River Men, their Causes and Prevention;" "Preventable Diseases on the Great Lakes;" "Syphilis: the Scourge of the Sailor and the Public Health;" "Yellow Fever at Pensacola in 1874;" "The Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1873." These papers are by different authors, and will be found of interest by medical men.
The articles contained in this volume originally appeared in the English Mechanic, a practical magazine of sterling merit. The information may be relied on as trustworthy, and the problems solved are precisely such as arise for solution every day in the workshop of the mechanic or the amateur handicraftsman. We cannot better indicate the character of the work than by naming a few of the heads under which the matter it contains is arranged. Thus we have the heading "Miscellaneous Tools, Instruments, and Processes," which includes hints on the microscope, hydraulic press, drills, screw-propeller, etc.; "Cements, Glues, Varnishes," "Solders," "Metals," "Steam-Engine," "Fire-arms," "Clock-work," "Glass," "House and Garden," "Drawing and Modeling," "Photography," "Musical Instruments," "Electricity and Telegraphing."
This is an address to a graduating class of the Stevens Institute of Technology, by the Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Prof. Thurston, in the first place, recalls to the minds of the young engineers the rare educational advantages they have enjoyed at the Institute: very full instruction in mathematics and physics; in modern languages; the English language and literature; principles of engineering, and the practice of the arts connected therewith. So far, the students have been working at the foundation; the superstructure they must build by their own efforts. The professor exhorts them to be wide-awake, observant, conscientious, true to their clients, progressive, radical in theory but conservative in practice, and diligent in study.
In this work the author well sustains the reputation he has long enjoyed of being a profound thinker. It contains the results of Mr. Reemelin's meditations during many years—meditations reduced to writing from time to time without any definite intention of publishing—upon the laws and phenomena of politics. As reading corrected his views, these detached meditations were amended, and gradually the purpose ripened to gather them together and put them in permanent form.
The first of these papers is a brief description of the physical and chemical characters of a new mineral which, according to the author, is closely related to the sesquihydrates of iron. It contains about seventy-five per cent, of sesquioxide of iron, seven per cent, of silica, and thirteen per cent, of water, the remainder being alumina.
The second paper is a full account of the physical properties and chemical constitution of two new varieties of vermiculite, a mineral having a granular, scaly structure, and composed mainly of silica, alumina, magnesia, iron, and water. Its name is derived from the circumstance that, when heated, its scales open out into worm-like threads.
This is a preliminary paper describing, with measurements, the external parts of a foetal manatee, a little less than three inches long; and a fœtal cetacean but a trifle longer, and supposed to be the embryo of a porpoise or dolphin. Then follow some remarks on the affinities of the sirenia, in which the author, after referring to the present state of opinion on the subject, gives reasons for viewing them as near relations of the ungulates.
Prof. Wright analyzed some fragments of the great Iowa meteorite of 1876, and the results of his investigation are given in the pamphlet before us. He finds the spectrum of the gases contained in the meteorite to closely resemble that of several of the comets. Other facts are cited to show that a comet is simply a meteorite of considerable magnitude, or a swarm of many of lesser size.
This is a remarkably clear and interesting history of an outbreak of trichina disease that was clearly traced to the eating of smoked but uncooked sausage. The disease was fatal in several cases, but the larger proportion of those attacked recovered. The author describes the symptoms of the disease, and the several modes of treatment that were adopted. The occurrence led to an extended examination of the pork produced in several counties in Southern Indiana, when it was found that from three to sixteen per cent, of the hogs that came under observation contained trichinæ. Though full of important information for the doctors and the public, this paper is, for pork-eaters, any thing but pleasant reading.
The author of this address defends the paradox that disease is the normal condition, while health is the abnormal condition of our race. If this is the case, then prophylaxy and sanitation must be up-hill work indeed. Still to this work Dr. Gay does not hesitate to address himself, and his pamphlet contains many timely observations on various insanitary conditions of modern life.
This book contains a few good things, that have been said a hundred times before, and that are here scattered through a large amount of nonsense which might better have been left unsaid.
This is a pamphlet of sixty pages, containing a popular account of the discovery, opening, and mode of working, of the new silver and lead mines in the locality named.
On the first page of this pamphlet the author says his object is to show that, notwithstanding certain apparent differences, Pettigrew and Marey essentially agree in their views on the subject of flight. But the real object, as it appears from the remaining pages, is to prove by citations from both authors that Pettigrew anticipated Marey in most of his results, the latter, indeed, having claimed as original a great deal for which he was clearly indebted to Dr. Pettigrew. It is the old fight over again concerning priority of discovery, and in this case, according to our present lights, Pettigrew appears to have the best of the battle.
Number 13 of this series contains Tyndall's paper on "The Transmission of Sound by the Atmosphere," and an account of "Gigantic Cuttle-Fishes," by W. Saville Kent. In this paper the author recites the records of early observations of these monsters, the stories about which were considered doubtful until the recent discoveries off the coast of Newfoundland. The bulk of the article is a history of these later discoveries.
Number 14 is on "The Glacial Epoch of our Globe." by Alexander Brown. This is an interesting popular statement of how the theory of a glacial epoch arose, and of the investigations and theories relating to the constitution and movements of glaciers of celebrated observers. The number is illustrated.
Number 15 gives Balfour Stewart's address on "The Sun and the Earth;" a paper on "Force electrically exhibited," by J. W. Phelps; and two short articles entitled respectively "Weighing the Earth in a Coal-Pit," and The "Influence of Violet Light on the Growth of Animals and Plants."
Of interest to mineralogists exclusively. The paper is republished from the American Journal of Science. It is accompanied with two colored lithographs.
This pamphlet contains a paper on the above subject, read before the Odontological Society of New York. Irregularity of teeth is shown to arise from three causes: 1. During the life of the individual, from cerebral disturbance while the teeth were forming; 2. Or before the individual life commenced, from like causes transmitted; or, 3. From mixing inharmonious types, large teeth with small jaws.
In this paper, reprinted from the proceedings of the Hartford meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Prof. Grote summarizes the results of five seasons' observation of the cotton-worm in the States of Georgia and Alabama. Where the moth first came from, its powers of flight, breeding habits, and the measures to be taken against its ravages, are among the interesting questions discussed.
The American Engineer, published monthly at Baltimore, begins its third volume in enlarged form. Though primarily this journal addresses inventors and mechanics, it will be perused with interest by the general reader, who will find in its pages much useful scientific and industrial information, $1.00 per annum.
Condition of Affairs in Alaska. By H. W. Elliott. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 277.
Our Wasted Resources. By W. Hargreaves, M. D. New York: National Temperance Society. Pp. 201. Price, $1.25.
Dissertations and Discussions. Vol. V. By J. Stuart Mill. New York: Holt & Co. Pp. 294. Price, $2.50.
Soluble Glass. By Dr. L. Feuchtwanger. Pp. 168.
Report of the Commissioners of Education, 1874. Pp. 936.
Graphical Statics. By A. J. Du Bois, C. E. New York: Van Nostrand. Pp. 79.
Camp-Life in Florida. By Charles Hallock. New York: Forest and Stream Co Pp. 348.
Travel in Southwestern Africa. By C. J. Anderson. New York: Putnams. Pp. 329. Price, $2.00.
Strength of Beams. By W. Allan. New York: Van Nostrand. Pp. 114. Price, 50 cents.
Report of Prison Association of New York. 1874. Pp. 192.
State Medicine and Insanity. By Dr. N. Allen. Pp. 31.
Sewerage. By W. H. Corfield. New York: Van Nostrand. Pp. 128. Price, 50 cents.
Manufacture of Pottery among Savages. By C. F. Hartt. Rio de Janeiro: South American Mail print. Pp. 70.
Prospecter's Manual. By W. J. Schofield. Boston: Schofield & Co. Pp. 96. Price, 50 cents.
American Journal of Microscopy. New York: Handicraft Publishing Company. Pp. 12. Price, 50 cents per annum.
Check-list of Noctuidæ. By A. R. Grote. Buffalo: Reinecke & Zesch, printers. Pp. 28.
Difference of Thermal Energy transmitted from Different Parts of Solar Surface. By J. Ericsson. Pp. 10.
Report of Directors of the New York Meteorological Observatory, 1873. Pp. 34.
Currency. By G. B. Satterlee. Pp. 17.
Report of Directors of the California Institution for Deaf and Dumb and the Blind. Pp. 55.
Prohibition does prohibit. By J. N. Stearns. Pp. 48.
Odontornithes; By O. C. Marsh. Pp. 7.
Anæsthetics in Labor. By S. S. Todd, M. D. Pp. 25.
The Great Salvation. By J. W. Chadwick. Pp. 23.