Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/873

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

The subject is clearly presented, and his views and conclusions are not only practical, but so important that they can not receive too much popular attention.

Antiseptic Surgery: The Principles, Modes of Application, and Results of the Lister Dressing. By Dr. Just Lucas-Championnière, Surgeon to the Hôpital Tenon. Translated and edited by Frederic Henry Gerrish, A. M., M. D., Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics in Bowdoin College. Portland: Loring, Short & Hannon. 1881. Pp. 240. Price, $2.25.

The editor's object in introducing this work is to enable his fellow-practitioners in America, in the absence of any low-priced treatise on the subject in the English language, to gain such a knowledge of Lister's method as will enable them to apply it with essential accuracy. The method has become thoroughly established in medical science, and is being rapidly adopted by intelligent practitioners in all countries. It is recognized in England, "reigns supreme" in Denmark, "has its enthusiasts" in Germany, "has gained a firm foothold" in France, and is represented among the surgeons in Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Russia, Italy, and America. "Nélaton," says the author, "was accustomed to say that the man who should discover the means of suppressing purulent infection deserved a statue of gold. If this view of Nélaton's was generally entertained, the statue would be raised to Professor Lister, for purulent infection has disappeared from the list of wound complications in the services in which his method is followed."

The Origin of Primitive Superstitions, and their Development into the Worship of Spirits, and the Doctrine of Spiritual Agency among the Aborigines of America. By Rushton M. Dorman. Twenty-six Illustrations. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. 1881. Pp. 398. Price, $3.

Mythology, as considered by the author, includes in its broadest definition all pagan religious beliefs, commonly called superstitions, and can not be confined to collections of fables and traditions, which are the folk-lore of peoples. In this, its larger sense, it is a very important branch of archæological science, and its study reflects much light into a past which written history has not penetrated. The author is struck with the universality of mythology, and with the evidence it presents of the homogeneity of man's religious beliefs, and his purpose is to collate the facts that show this homogeneity, to reduce to a system of religious beliefs the multitude of superstitions that have germinated among uncultured peoples, and to trace all superstitions to a common origin. The general prevalence of the same superstitions and folk stories among primitive peoples has led to exaggerated efforts to trace a derivation of one system of mythological belief from another by contact or migration of myths. Mr. Dorman believes that these efforts have been wrongly directed; that the mythologies in question *are all of natural development among each people; and that their similarities among all peoples in the same successive stages are explained by the fact that their growth has always and everywhere taken place according to the laws of man's spiritual being. Hence we have no need to assume communications between the negroes and the American Indians and other uncultured peoples, of the existence of which we have no evidence, to account for the coincidence of such myths as the "Uncle Remus" stories of the plantation negroes with similar stories among tribes strange to them. Mr. Dorman takes issue with those who believe that the higher phases of belief and worship have been the most ancient, and have become debased in the ruder forms. According to his view, "all primitive religious belief is polytheistic. All savage tribes are full of the terror of invisible spirits which have been liberated by death," which fill all nature, animate and inanimate, are in the air, the wind, the storm, the rock, the vale, the river, the water-fall, and which "transmigrate into human beings, animals, plants, and even into inanimate stones, idols, and heavenly bodies, which are supposed to be animate thereafter. Hence originates the worship of ancestors, and also of animals, plants, stones, idols, and the heavenly bodies." He is also convinced that those writers are wrong who have affirmed of any people that they are destitute of religious feeling, and as-