Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/257

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245
LITERARY NOTICES.

"such permission shall not be granted unless the foreign order shall have been conferred in consequence of active and distinguished service before the enemy, either at sea or in the field," or unless the party "shall have been in the service of the foreign sovereign by whom the foreign order is conferred." It may be thought that this is a very light cross to bear, but we republicans cannot understand how grave these considerations are in England. Virtue may be its own reward, and wealth, fame, and the honor of making discoveries, may fill the measure of ambition nearly full, but nothing fills out, and sweetens, and happifies the life of the typical Britisher, like a decoration. When, therefore, an appreciative foreign sovereign sends over a bundle of ribbons for distribution among the distinguished F.R.S.'s, it certainly appears hard that they cannot be allowed to wear them. The editor of Nature has all our sympathy when he says: "It seems to us unjust and cruel that men of science, to whose labors it is mainly owing that our country and the world generally are mounting rapidly higher and higher in the scale of civilization, should be practically debarred from accepting the few honors that come in their way."

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

The Atmosphere. Translated from the French of Camille Flammarion. Edited by James Glaisher, F. R. S. With 10 Chromo-Lithographs and 86 Woodcuts. 450 pages 8vo. Price, $6.00. Harper & Brothers.

A volume like this, summing up our knowledge of the atmosphere, has been long wanted, and it is now well supplied. The scientific investigation of the air may be said to have commenced with the discovery of its weight and the invention of the barometer about 1643, and the eight generations of investigation that have intervened have developed a vast body of facts and laws relating to atmospheric phenomena, so that, considered alone as a measure of what has been done in this period toward clearing up the mysteries of Nature, M. Flammarion's book would be very interesting. The French edition was twice the size of the present translation, and was a regular cyclopædia of atmology, but, by cutting off certain parts of it which dealt with the remoter relations of the air, as for example its influence upon plants, and by retrenching the exuberant imaginative style in which it was written, and in which popular French writers so delight, the translator has brought the work within very reasonable limits, and adapted it more perfectly to the taste of English readers. The edition has, moreover, gained greatly in accuracy and trustworthiness by the rigorous censorship of its editor, Mr. Glaisher, whose position as a scientific meteorologist is no doubt superior to that of the author of the work. The book is very free from technicalities, and, in its simplicity, accuracy, and attractiveness, it is an excellent example of popular scientific literature. Its general object, as stated by the editor, has been "to produce a work giving a broad outline of the causes which give rise to facts of every-day occurrence in the atmosphere, in such a form that any reader who wished to obtain a general view of such phenomena and their origin would be readily enabled to do so. The great number of subjects treated of will thus, to the majority of readers, who merely desire an insight into the general principles that produce phenomena, which every one has seen or heard of, be found to be rather an advantage, as the whole range of atmospheric action is thus displayed in the same volume in moderate compass, without so much detail being anywhere given as to make the book other than interesting to even the most casual reader.

"The work treats of the form, dimensions, and movements of the earth, and of the influence exerted on the meteorology by the physical conformation of our globe; of the figure, height, color, weight, and chemical components of the atmosphere; of the meteorological phenomena induced by the action of light, and the optical appearances which objects present as seen through different atmospheric strata; of the phenomena connected with heat, wind, clouds, rain,