Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/291

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279
LITERARY NOTICES.

that women have hitherto been the sufferers from a systematic oppression which has made life a burden, while tyrannical men have made existence pleasant by abusing the weaker sex. Yet suicide is everywhere three or four times more frequent among men than among women. It is remarked that suicide is more frequent among Spanish women than those of any other country; and, curiously enough, that the proportion is generally found to decline with the greater preponderance of women in any country. Age also powerfully influences suicide, and nearly equally so in both sexes. The time of life most favorable to suicide is from twenty to fifty years of age; but the greatest proportion happens between forty and fifty. Dividing life into periods of ten years, it will be found that the fifth decennial period stands highest, and curves have been constructed to represent graphically to the eye the rate of increase and decline. Fig. 2 illustrates this for four countries.

Under the head of civil and social status, Dr. Morselli considers the influence of celibacy, marriage, widowhood, and the presence or absence of children. Those conditions are very different and marked ia their effects. In Italy, France, and Switzerland, suicides are less numerous among single than among married women. In Italy, if the suicides among single women are represented at 90, those of married women will be 100, and of widows 147; and in France, if the probability of suicide among married men is represented by 100, that of single men will be 111·4, and of widowers, astonishing to say, 250. Fig. 3 brings out some of these results very strikingly.

There are many other points of interest in the volume which we can not even name. The discussion of the philosophy of the subject, its moral aspects, and under what condition the suicidal practice is to be diminished in future, is clear, sagacious, and instructive. The subject has always a mysterious fascination, but as here considered it has also a rational and scientific interest that will command the attention of all thinking people.

In a chapter on the modes and instruments of self-destruction, it is shown that even here there is a predictable regularity.

The Foreigner in China. By L. N. Wheeler, D. D. With an Introduction by Professor W. C. Sawyer, Ph. D. Chicago: S. C. Griggs & Co. Pp. 268. Price, $1.25.

Dr. Wheeler has here given us an extremely readable little volume, treating various aspects of matters in the "Flowery Kingdom." He was a Methodist missionary in China from 1865 until 1873. He preached to the natives in their own language, and devoted himself actively to missionary work through the preparation of many English and Chinese publications. His familiarity with the native written and spoken language gave him advantages in studying the character of that people, of which he seems to have well availed himself. There are more candor and fairness in his pages than might be expected of one, under the powerful bias of religious partisanship, who goes to a distant country for the avowed purpose of overturning its system of faith. His chapters on Chinese history, diplomatic intercourse, and on the origin and effect of the various wars—external and internal—in which the empire has been involved in modern times, are most interesting and instructive. As between the peaceable pagans, who are content to be let alone, and the aggressive Christian nations, who have been bent upon opening the Celestial Kingdom to the benefits of civilization, Dr. Wheeler does not fail to recognize that the heathen have much the better showing. After giving an account of the Chinese policy, and the wars and their results, in the first eight chapters, the author passes to the subject of the religious conversion of the Chinese people. An account of the Roman Catholic missions is followed by that of the Protestant missions, and a discussion of the hindrances to evangelism, after which he devotes a chapter to proving that Protestant missions are not a failure. He points out the great difficulties of the work, and gets a standard of what constitutes success in dealing with such a nation by showing that all other efforts to influence the Chinese—diplomatic, commercial, and military—have been anything but successful. Judged "by the same tests as we apply to more mundane undertakings," missionary work, he thinks, is not to be pronounced a failure. Hut Dr. Wheeler's ideas of success are certainly