Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/131

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119
LITERARY NOTICES.

the foundation and prerequisite of man's true spiritual unfolding.

It has been made a criticism of Mr. Hinton's books, that their arguments are not fully sustained; or that, while their first portions are clear and cogent, the latter parts are indefinite and less conclusive. But this criticism, attributes to defect in discussion that which is due to the nature of the subject-matter, for the ideas successively dealt with are so different as almost to appear contrasted. In the sphere of physical Nature, there are a definiteness, a quantitative sharpness, and a kind of tangibleness in the truths established, which disappear as we pass into the domain of moral and religious conceptions. This contrast of the phenomena in the two spheres, which are precisely conceived in the one case and not in the other, has been made the ground for denying that there can be any true science in the higher realm of man's moral and spiritual activity. But the objection is not valid; for, wherever there is an orderly and coherent body of truths, though they cannot be formulated with exactness, there is the legitimate basis of science. It may be long before the reconciliation and unification of unlike ideas and diverse systems of opinion will be completely accomplished; but it is no longer regarded as impossible, and every able attempt to realize it brings us a step nearer to the final and desirable result. Much is said, in these times, of the conflict of science and faith, and many maintain that they are invincibly hostile and must be permanently alienated. Mr. Hinton holds that this is an error due to the incompleteness and imperfection of present knowledge which the advance of thought is certain to correct, and all who read his works must confess that they are able and original contributions to this end.

"Life in Nature," aside from the higher purpose for which it was written, is one of the most charming studies in biology that our language affords. It abounds in interesting facts illustrating the beautiful laws of vital phenomena, and stated with unrivalled clearness, and is marked by keen and original insight into the old obscurities of the subject. The first chapter treats of "Function, and how we act;" the second of "Nutrition, and why we grow." The subsequent chapters take up the "Vital Force and Laws of Form," the "Universality of Life," "The Living World," "The Phenomenal and True," the "Organic and the Inorganic," and "Nature and Man." The volume is neatly illustrated, and we recommend it to all who care either for the strict science of the subject, or for the larger questions to which it leads.

"Man and his Dwelling-Place" was written fifteen years ago, has been recast, condensed, and made to embody the author's maturer views. Its perusal should follow that of "Life in Nature," as it deals with a higher range of questions, and is of a more speculative and metaphysical quality.

Mr. Hinton writes in a lucid, attractive, and eloquent style, and his books contain many passages of remarkable impressiveness and beauty. In the felicity of his delineations he often reminds one of Ruskin; but, unlike the great Rhapsodist of art, he is never run away with by his rhetoric. The intensity of his convictions and the earnestness of his feelings give warmth and force to his language, which is still chastened and restrained by the discipline of refined scholarship.

 

 

PUBLICATIONS RECEIVED.

Intermembral Homologies. The Correspondence of the Anterior and Posterior Limbs of Vertebrates. By Burt G. Wilder, S.B., M. D. Boston, 1871.

Apparatus for Electric Measurement, with Rules and Directions for its Practical application. By L. Bradley. Jersey City, 1872.

Proceedings at the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Free Religious Association. Held in Boston, May 30 and 31, 1872.

Papers relating to the Transit of Venus in 1874, prepared under the Direction of the Commission authorized by Congress, and published by Authority of the Hon. Secretary of the Navy. Washington, 1872.

A Classified Catalogue of the Birds of Canada, including every Species known to visit the Several Provinces which now form the Dominion of Canada. By Alexander Milton Ross. Toronto, 1872.