Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/723

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705
LITERARY NOTICES.

picions and fears about the dead which can never be corrected, are aroused in sorrowing but loving breasts by this method of doing business."

In commenting on the article, "The United States Review" takes exception to these statements, claiming that they are not only totally inconsistent with ordinary business self-interest, but contrary to the facts, and otherwise unjust to the companies. Having no concern in the matter beyond a desire that the public shall be accurately informed on the subject, we quote a part of what the "Review" says on this point, premising that, while it writes in the interest of the insurance companies, the tone of its article is both fair and reasonable: "It is only just to say that the companies now doing business in this country have paid over ninety-nine and one half per cent of the death-claims which have been presented without question, and they have paid a large proportion of the remainder without litigation. "When it is remembered that certain cases of fraud arise which it is the duty of an honest management to unearth and expose, the proportion of claims resisted is small. All cases of compromise are brought within the limits of the foregoing statement. It is to-day a most unusual thing for a company to contest a claim. Indeed, we can point to an office founded twenty-two years ago which has never yet appeared as defendant in a suit to recover under one of its policies."

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

History of the Pacific States of North America. By Hubert Howe Bancroft. Vol. I. Central America, 1501-1530. San Francisco: The History Company. Pp. 704. Price, $5.

Though late in the order of actual publication of the series of histories, this volume is the first in the order of classification, and therefore rightly receives that number when regarded with reference to the series as a whole. The author's plan of logical arrangement is to begin at the south of the territory whose history he intends to record in the whole work, and advance toward the north; and this order corresponds in the main with the historical sequence. The volume is introduced by a general preface, giving a short summary of the plan of the whole series, and an elucidation of the theory on which it has been composed; matters which have already been discussed at length in our pages. The author avows the peculiarity of his method of work to consist in the employment of assistants, to bring together by indexes, references, and other devices, all existing testimony on each topic to be treated, whereby he obtains important information, which otherwise, with but one lifetime at his disposal, would have been beyond control. Acknowledgment is now made by name to five of these assistants. The amplitude in volume of the work is chargeable, the author says, "to the immense mass of information gathered rather than to any tendency to verbosity. There is scarcely a page but has been twice or thrice rewritten with a view to condensation; and instead of faithfully discharging this irksome duty, it would have been far easier and cheaper to have sent a hundred volumes through the press." The character and customs of the aboriginal inhabitants of the country at the time they were first seen by their subduers, and what can be gathered respecting their previous history, are discussed in the volumes on "The Native Races of the Pacific States," which are regarded as constituting a separate work from this. The "History" series, including the present volume on Central America, begins, therefore, with the Conquest, without reference to the matters treated of in those volumes. For the "History of Central America," besides the standard chroniclers and the many documents of late printed in Spain and elsewhere, the author has been able to secure a number of valuable manuscripts nowhere else existing, including some from the Maximilian, Ramirez, and other collections, with all of Mr. E. G. Squier's manuscripts relating to the subject. Much of the material has been drawn from obscure sources, from local and unknown Spanish works, and from the confused archives of Costa Rica, Honduras,