Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/700

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The following extracts will give a fair idea of the author's admirable directness of statement, and the valuable practical information he has been able to substitute for much of the technical detail that usually encumbers such a book:

An excess of aqueous vapor in the atmosphere has not only a depressing effect on the nervous system, but it interferes with the cutaneous and pulmonary exhalations. If the temperature is high (65° to 80° Fahr.), saturated air is sultry and offensive. If low (e. g., a Scotch mist of 36° Fahr.), its chilling influence penetrates all clothing. At least one half of the patients which apply for relief during the winter mouths to the physicians of the metropolitan and provincial hospitals of this country are afflicted with colds, coughs, and bronchial and rheumatic affections. The prevalence of these disorders at this season is, without a doubt, due partly to the coldness and partly to the excessive moisture of our very changeable climate. Above 80° Fahr., air of excessive humidity becomes injurious; and it has been doubted as to whether life can be prolonged in such air at a temperature between 90° and 100° Fahr.

The relation between such lung diseases as bronchitis and pneumonia and the unwholesome condition of the air of our dwellings has not been sufficiently recognized by the medical profession and the public. One of the most common causes of an attack of bronchitis is a Budden exposure of the bronchial mucous membrane to extreme conditions of air. A man who breathes for some hours the hot and dry vitiated air of an unventilated room is prone to be thus affected on passing out into cold, damp night air. If debilitated, from any cause, the inflammation may affect the substance of the lung, and the man will have pneumonia.

General Vaccination. By Elisha Harris, M. D. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1877. Pp. 16.

In this paper, Dr. Harris presents his well-matured views on the laws, sanitary provisions, and methods best fitted for securing the benefits of general vaccination throughout the United States. The same author, in another paper, suggests plans for securing complete and authentic records of deaths and the causes of death in this country.

Constituents of Climate. By F. D. Lente, M. D. From the "Richmond and Louisville Medical Journal," 1878. Pp. 56.

The author of this pamphlet is a resident of Florida, and considers the "Constituents of Climate" with special reference to the climate of that State.

Democracy in Europe. By Sir Thomas Erskine May. 2 vols. New York: W. J. Widdleton, 1878. Pp. 495, 568. Price, $5.

The progress of democracy, that is, of popular power, in European states, is a fact that is regarded with widely different emotions—some persons seeing in it unmixed evil, while others expect from it the solution of all the problems which vex the student of political science. The event will in all probability confound the adherents of both of these extreme opinions, and it will be found, after the last barrier to popular self-government has been removed, that the human race will still pursue the even tenor of its way. But, however this may be, the work before us treats of a living question, and is sure to win the attention of the thinking public.

Our author investigates the causes to which the progress of democracy in Europe is to be ascribed; how far it has contributed to good government; what have been its dangers and mischiefs; and for his illustrations he goes to the East, to Greece, to Rome, the middle ages, the Italian republics, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, and England. The work is a series of studies of democracy in the countries named, and the author is careful not to call it a "History of Democracy in Europe," which would be simply another expression for a "History of Europe."

Of the work in general it may be remarked that it gives evidence of diligent research and abundant learning; also that it is written in a highly philosophical spirit. No homage is here rendered to forms of government, nor is the power of mere statutes and constitutions regarded as paramount in shaping the destinies of man in society. On the contrary. Sir Erskine May expressly investigates the social, moral, and physical causes of freedom, shows how the development of popular power is a natural law, considers the influence upon society and freedom of local environment, as the sea, navigable rivers, etc.; the influence of race; and many other factors usually overlooked by the Dryasdusts.

Hence we are the more surprised at the fact that he himself has overlooked one of the most easily discernible factors in the development of democracy in Europe. If we are