Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/573

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557
LITERARY NOTICES.

try inhabited by a curious race, called the Monakas, or the Monga Fants, a people distinguished by their wonderful proficiency in mechanical arts, but still more by their preposterous domestic habits, their singular ideas, and their strange superstitions. The curiosities of Monakistan rival the wonders of Houyhnhnm Land, and the narrative of the explorer abounds with incidents and graphic descriptions as well as with scientific intimations that throw a suggestive light upon the origin of the follies and vices of civilized life. The translator is widely known as an original, vivid, and fertile writer, who has the secret of making science attractive, and we venture the prediction that his work will mark a new stage in the history of entertaining literature.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

The Concepts and Theories of Modern Physics. By J. B. Stallo. International Scientific Series. D Appleton & Co. Pp. 313. Price, $1.75.

We last month called attention to this work as one of the ablest in the series to which it has been contributed. It is not devoted to the extension of any branch of science, but is an inquiry into the validity of some of the conceptions which are commonly accepted as at the foundation of all science. It is therefore, as might be expected, a profound book. Dealing not with the operations or results of the special sciences, but with the laws of thought by which science is created, and showing how radical scientific conceptions require to be still further corrected and clarified, and presenting the case with a closeness of reasoning that can not be further compacted, the volume would be discouragingly difficult but for the perfect art of its exposition and the crystal clearness of its style. It is much easier to characterize this book than to analyze or review it. In a brief notice, we can convey only a general idea of its purpose, and this may perhaps be best done by referring to some of the circumstances in which it originated.

It may be proper to say that the author is a German by birth, and came to this country at about the age of seventeen. He was early familiar with science, and after his arrival in the United States, as we are informed, he lectured on chemistry for some years in an Eastern college. But he at length concluded to adopt the profession of law, and chose Cincinnati as his residence. Pursuing his profession successfully, Judge Stallo became widely known as a gentleman of scholarly accomplishments, of independent opinions, and liberal politics.

But he is also remembered by many as an author, having a number of years ago written a metaphysical treatise of such marked ability for one of his youthful years, that the most brilliant expectations were formed of his intellectual future. But as time passed, and nothing further was heard from him in the way of book-making, it was thought that he had abandoned his scholarly studies and, German though he was, had succumbed to the American passion for money-making. So much, at least, we have heard said by the disappointed admirers of his early work.

Yet Judge Stallo had neither lost his interest in philosophical studies nor relinquished their pursuit. Though business, public duties, and the care and culture of a growing family, had imperative claims, all his leisure hours were given with great assiduity to the work of systematic original inquiry—an inquiry, moreover, that was strictly in the line of his early intellectual efforts.

Our author has therefore not been idle. Yet there were obviously strong reasons connected with the nature of his investigations which compelled delay in the publication of his views. The task which he assigned to himself was not only one that involved comprehensive research and prolonged reflection, but it was the result of a profound revolution in his own mental history. Judge Stallo's two books, though separated in their dates by a generation of time, are far more widely separated in their ideas and purposes. They represent opposite schools of doctrine, opposite poles of thought, and different stages of mental growth in the race. The first was thoroughly metaphysical and the last is even more rigorously scientific. Judge Stallo has