Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/573

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LITERARY NOTICES.

tional in its application. Whenever it was proposed to do this, the enemies of the reform have raised the cry of "expediency," "the needs of the reading public," "the advantages of cheap literature," and other similar catch-words intended to mislead, while the ethical questions involved have been contemptuously brushed aside as unworthy of serious notice.

By its refusal to legislate on the subject in accordance with well-known principles in force in other countries, our Government, it is not unfair to say, tacitly maintained that, after all, stealing was quite the thing, or at least not to be interfered with, as long as it served the interests of a numerous class, and could be carried on without peril and to the profit of the thief. To plunder the foreign author became an innocent occupation: he was not one of us, and we stilled our consciences with the pretense that moral obligations were limited by geographical boundaries.

The decisive majority in favor of the new bill sharply discredits this belittling view of our duty as a nation. It also marks a most encouraging advance in public sentiment which is daily growing more and more appreciative of that rare variety of legislation which is founded on right and justice. There is good ground to hope that the bill will meet with equal success in the Senate, while the President, with his well-known devotion to principle, is already committed in its favor.

Yet, bright as the prospects for the early triumph of the measure appear to be, its friends and promoters can not afford to relax their efforts until the bill becomes a law Signs are not wanting that its enemies, so far from being discouraged by the present attitude of Congress, have rather been stimulated by it to renewed exertions in their desperate opposition to the reform. They are trying to create dissensions among its supporters, hoping by this means to weaken their influence in its behalf.

In view of this it should be remembered that few measures of the kind can be perfected until they have had a practical trial. It would be the height of folly to imperil the essential principle of the bill merely because some of its minor details did not exactly meet the views of all its supporters. The greatest need now is, that those more directly interested in the welfare of the measure should sink their differences, and, uniting with the friends of justice and honest legislation everywhere, should continue to urge the matter upon the attention of Congress until success has been achieved, trusting to time and experience, when need arises, to bring the several features of the law into closer harmony with the public interest.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Outings at Odd Times. By Charles C. Abbott, M.D. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 282. Price, $1.50.

It is a pleasant task to review one of Dr. Abbott's books. The contrast implied in the title of his preface to this volume—"Nature and Books about it"—is reduced to the lowest point in his writings. The genial doctor has a happy faculty for transferring the charm of Nature to the printed page, that is the more valuable for its rarity. It might seem a mistake on the part of the author to put as the first of his four groups of essays the one headed "In Winter," for Nature in that season is by many regarded as wholly uncommunicative, if not frigidly forbidding. But Dr. Abbott does not find it so. Coming to an ice-fringed brook, in one of his winter outings, he quickly detects in the water "dainty little frogs—the peeping hylodes—squatted on dead leaves and yellow pebbles, and so spotted, splotched, and wrinkled were they that it took sharp eyes to find them. . . . The spirit of exploration seized me now," he says, "and I brushed the shallow waters with a cedar branch. Lazy mud minnows were whipped from their retreats, and a beautiful red salamander that I sent whizzing through the air wriggled among the brown leaves upon the ground. It was only after a hard chase that I capt-