Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/845

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LITERARY NOTICES.

but incidental to their own gratifications; a devil loves evil for its own sake. Sometimes a god belonging to a conquered tribe is degraded to the rank of a demon in the mythology of the conquerors. Again, there are demons (or, as the case may be, devils) created by pure accident! "Belial" is an instance of this, being an erroneous personification of "godlessness." The author's remarks on demonism in India are à propos: "The Hindoos have covered their land with temples to propitiate and deprecate the demons, and to invoke the deities against. . . drought and famine. Had they concluded that famine was the result of inexactly quartered sun-dials, the land would have been covered with perfect sun-dials; but the famine would have been more destructive, because of the increasing withdrawal of mind and energy from the true cause, and its implied answer. But how much wiser are we of Christendom than the Hindoos? They have adapted their country perfectly for propitiation of famine-demons that do not exist, at a cost which would long ago have rendered them secure from the famine forces that do exist. We have similarly covered Christendom, . . . while around our churches, chapels, cathedrals, are the actually existent seething hells of pauperism, shame, and crime." Demonism still subsists among the most enlightened nations, backed by the sternest sanctions it is possible to conceive. "A story is told of a man wandering on a dark night over Dartmoor, whose feet slipped over the edge of a pit. He caught the branch of a tree suspended over the terrible chasm, but, unable to regain the ground, shrieked for help. None came, though he cried out till his voice was gone; and there he remained dangling in agony until the gray light revealed that his feet were only a few inches from the solid ground! Such are the chief demons that bind men till cock-crow. Such are the apprehensions that waste also the moral and intellectual strength of man, and murder his peace as he regards the necessary science of his time to be cutting some frail tenure sustaining him over a bottomless pit, instead of a release from real terror to the solid ground."

The passages we have quoted will give an idea of our author's style and point of view. There is hardly a page of the work which does not contain sentences full of epigrammatic force. Speaking, for instance, of the divers forms ascribed to the devil, Mr. Conway says that "the whites painted him black, and the blacks, with much more reason, painted him white."

Paradoxical Philosophy: A Sequel to "The Unseen Universe." London and New York: Macmillan & Co. 1878. Pp. 235. Price, $1.75.

The readers of "The Unseen Universe" will find in the present volume, which is by the same authors, a further discussion of the question of a future state. The work purports to report the proceedings of an imaginary "paradoxical society" at one of its anniversary meetings, and the conflicting views of many different schools of thought upon this subject are set forth with considerable force, and in a way that will interest the most listless reader. The whole subject is treated in the light of modern science; and, though the problem is not brought one hair's breadth nearer to a solution by the clash of arguments, new points of view are at least indicated, new proofs suggested, new difficulties shown to lie in the way of accepting whether the materialistic or the idealistic philosophy. But no less hopeless appears to be the attempt to effect a reconciliation between these two; and the ancient enigma, "Whither are we going?" still remains.

How to be plump, or Talks on Physiological Feeding. By T. C. Duncan, M. D. Chicago: Duncan Brothers. 1878. Pp. 60. Price, 50 cents.

The doctor who writes this book had the good fortune, several years ago, to be employed in the family of an oyster-dealer, and, though it is not stated that oysters were at the time a "legal tender" in Chicago, they appear to have suddenly become a rather large element in our author's bill of fare, since he often ate them when he did not want them, "rather than let them spoil." "Other food" was taken "after or with the oysters"; and whether absence of the harassing cares of a large practice can be counted in or not, certain it is that the doctor, oddly enough, soon found himself grow-