Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/521

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503
LITERARY NOTICES.
larizer of science addresses are more apt to be perplexed by a non sequitur such as this than by mere verbal peculiarities."
 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters (1870-72). Atwood & Culver: Madison, Wis.

The State of Wisconsin is but just of age, having emerged from its Territorial infancy and entered upon its sovereignty only twenty-two years ago. This is but a short period in the lifetime of an independent political community, yet much has been done within that period to give the State an impulse in the direction of civilized development. Taking journalism as a standard, the number of newspapers and periodicals printed in Wisconsin, in 1870, was no less than 174—of which 6 were monthly, 1 semi-monthly, 14 daily and weekly, and 153 weekly. In 1870, was organized, at Madison, the capital, the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters, devoted to the material, intellectual, and social advancement of the State. This association numbers at present 55 annual members, 29 corresponding members, and 12 life-members. The first volume of the proceedings, now before us, is a very interesting document, the first part of which is a report to the Legislature by Dr. J. W. Hoyt, President of the Academy, which gives an account of its establishment, and a valuable inventory of the contributions to philosophy, political science, social science, natural science, and the useful and the fine arts, by distinguished citizens of the State, within the last few years. The remainder of the volume of proceedings is filled with a series of original papers in the several departments, many of which are able and instructive. The plan of the institution is comprehensive, and if it is sustained, as it ought to be, it cannot fail to be of great service in promoting the higher prosperity of the State.

Physics and Politics; or, Thoughts on the Application of the Principles of "Natural Selection" and "Inheritance" to Political Society. By Walter Bagehot,[1]Esq., author of "The English Constitution." D. Appleton & Co.

The second volume of the "International Scientific Series" is now issued, and it is but just to say that it ably sustains the character of the enterprise. It was no easy task to follow Prof. Tyndall, the clearest of our scientific thinkers, and most elegant and eloquent of our scientific writers; and, had a similar subject been chosen, we could have hardly expected a monograph so finished as the "Forms of Water." But Mr. Bagehot's theme is widely dissimilar from that of Prof. Tyndall, and, although treating of a subject at the opposite pole of science (if we may so speak), is not less attractive, and is presented with great literary skill, keenness of analysis, and originality of view. The author is unknown in this country, except through various essays in the Economist, of which he is the editor, and in the periodicals; but he takes a high rank among the thinkers of England. His book on "The English Constitution," which will shortly be republished here, is unquestionably the ablest work on the philosophy of modern politics that has appeared in a long time, and at once placed its author in the front rank of writers upon the science of government.

The volume now issued is not only from the latest point of view, and stamped with all the freshness of recent inquiry, but it is a pioneer discussion which clears a path of investigation that is certain to be followed up in the future with the most marked and valuable results.

If any one were asked to name that field of thought which is at present most chaotic and discordant, where there are the fewest settled principles, and the most arbitrary assumptions, in which everybody can dabble with equal claims to attention, and where scientific knowledge is utterly scouted as of no manner of use or application—it would of course be that of politics. In almost every other field where the human mind requires to be used, a certain amount of knowledge is regarded as indispensable; but in politics the charlatan and the ignoramus put forth equal claims with the trained and painstaking thinker. This state of things cannot last. The advance of knowledge is irresistible, and it will as certainly produce a revolution in politics as it has already produced revolutions in so many other departments of thought. This pestifer-

  1. Pronounced Bá-jote.