Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/641

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
623
LITERARY NOTICES.

everything that belongs to government, reform, philanthropy, education, social progress, communism, etc. The present volume is the first of a series to be carried out as the leisure or opportunity of the author may allow.

The Problem of Problems, and its Various Solutions; or, Atheism, Darwinism, and Theism. By Clark Braden, President of Abingdon College, Illinois. Cincinnati: Chace & Hall. Pp. 480.

In a note prefixed to this volume, and addressed to reviewers and critics, the author requests these parties to "carefully read the book before they review it." This is only fair, and we undertook to comply with the writer's wish, but failed to get through with it either carefully, hastily, or in any other way. For life is short at the best, and is rapidly shortening, while work multiplies, and but little time is left for reading. Moreover, President Braden's volume is very substantial, and contains a good deal of printed matter on a page, which increases alarmingly after the 342d. Beyond doubt, if the depth of the work is in proportion to its length, it must be valuable. Not having carefully read it, we shall not venture to review it, but we quite agree with the author as to the importance of the discussion; and, as in his title he has sandwiched Darwinism between Theism and Atheism, our readers will infer his point of view to be that of the theologian. The book is a theological onslaught upon the school of thinkers of which Mr. Darwin is now the most conspicuous representative. We gather from the introduction that the author formerly did vigorous service, and probably won his theological spurs, as a fighter of infidels in public debates and written discussions. He considers that this has afforded him a valuable "training" as a champion of religion against the new phase of scientific infidelity, and which enables him to deal very decisively with Darwin, Mill, Huxley, Spencer, Draper, Tyndall, and the like, whom he cuff's and mauls about, in his book, without the slightest mercy. The "Problem of Problems" is obviously a good deal such a work as "Modern Physical Fatalism," which we noticed last month, but is much longer.

Aërial Navigation. By the Late Charles Blatchfield Mansfield, M. A. Edited by his Brother, with a Preface by J. M. Ludlow. Macmillan & Co. Pp. 513. Price, $5.

The author of this book, who wrote also "Travels in Paraguay and Brazil," and a "Theory of Salts," is said by Mr. Ludlow, in his preface, to have been a man of great fertility and originality of mind. He says:

"Those who knew him intimately—a now fast-narrowing circle—recollect well how there would come upon him occasionally, after intervals of quiescence, a kind of divine afflatus, and for a time his mind would bring forth one device after the other in rapid succession, as those to whom the world restricts the name of poets multiply their works during periods of creative energy. The present volume is the fruit of one of these periods, and the words at the close of the author's preface, 'My object in writing it will he simply to deliver my brain of a burden which came upon it uninvited,' express, I believe, the strictest truth as to his mental experience. . . .
"If it be asked why, after the lapse of a full quarter of a century, an unfinished work by one who is no more on earth is presented to the public, the answer is—1. That the author himself wished to have so presented it when perfect, and that he was one of those whose wishes have a right to be carried out as far as may be practicable. 2. That although the fact that he never completed it might militate against its publication unfinished, yet it does not appear that any publication issued since his death has in any wise taken the place which this volume was meant to occupy. 3. That during the same interval events of high gravity in the world's history have shown that the question of aërial navigation may be one of life and death to a nation. For we have lived to see, what Charles Mansfield did not, France governed through balloons from besieged Paris, and a dictator, who refused to despair of his country, cross the air over the heads of hostile armies."

Mr. Mansfield believed in the practicability of aërial navigation, and that the problem will at length be solved, and the work is a close and searching inquiry into the principles upon which such solution must depend. It will, therefore, be important to the students of aërostation.

The following passage from that witty philosopher, Hans Christian Andersen, when treating of the "ugly duckling," serves as a motto for the volume: "'What next, I wonder?' said the hen. 'You have nothing to do, and so you sit brooding over