Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/570

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Interesting indications of the direction in which Mr. Spencer's thought was tending forty years ago may be found scattered through this volume. Thus, on page 32 he declares that civilization is a part of Nature, hence its progress is all of a piece with the development of an embryo or the unfolding of a flower; and, provided that the constitution of things remains the same, this progress must result in the perfection of mankind. Again, on pages 121, 122 is a paragraph illustrating the specialization of functions and the adaptation of parts to their duties which goes on in the development of various kinds of organisms. This paragraph shows that in 1849, when it must have been written, Mr. Spencer had already entered upon the line of thought which led him up to the general law of evolution. Several passages give evidence that he had then discovered the operation in Nature of the process that has since become known under the name "natural selection." Thus on pages 203, 204 he says, "Partly by weeding out those of lowest development, and partly by subjecting those who remain to the never ceasing discipline of experience, Nature secures the growth of a race who shall both understand the conditions of existence and be able to act up to them."

The Man versus The State consists of four essays combating paternalism, which were originally published as magazine articles, and are among the most able and vigorous of Mr. Spencer's miscellaneous writings. A postscript and a note have since been added.

Outlines of Lessons in Botany. Part II. Flower and Fruit. By Jane H. Newell. Boston: Ginn & Co. Pp. 399. Price, 90 cents.

The leading aim in this work is to direct pupils to the study of plants themselves. With the very practical purpose of securing sufficient material for study, the successive lessons deal with the flowers in season in New England and vicinity, to which region the book is specially adapted, from March to early summer. A few house-plants are introduced to help out the scanty blossoms of March. Later, wild flowers, the blossoms of forest trees and fruit trees, and the flowers of garden vegetables all receive attention. While the analysis of flowers occupies the greater part of this volume, attention is given also to the leaves, stem, and roots of the specimens studied. An appendix contains a schedule for plant description, with some fifty or sixty descriptions following this form. There are also a glossary, an index of plants, and a chart comprising sixty families designed to introduce pupils to the use of Gray's Manual. There are thirty-seven illustrations.

A History of Epidemics in Britain (664—1666). By Charles Creighton, M. A., M. D. New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 706. Price, $4.50.

The pestilence of 664 in England, known to tradition as the great plague "of Cadwallader's time," furnishes the starting-point for this history. But little can be told about this pestilence, for, besides an entry in the Irish annals, Beda's Ecclesiastical History is the only source of authentic information concerning it. Previous to the "black death" of 1348-'49, English epidemics were almost all famine-sicknesses. The author gives a chronological list of such pestilences, embracing more than forty, with full accounts of three of them, and notes concerning others. An early chapter is devoted to Leprosy in Mediæval Britain, from which it appears that much consideration was given to lepers in the middle ages, these unfortunates being deemed the special wards of Jesus Christ. The author believes, however, that the hundred or more hospitals mentioned under the name of lazar-houses in Dugdale's Monasticon were not exclusively for the care of lepers. Furthermore, contemporary descriptions of lepers indicate that several diseases were then known by the common name of leprosy.

The black death, or bubo-plague, of 1348-'49, produced a frightful mortality. Certain parish records show ten times the ordinary number of burials. During the fourteen months of its prevalence two thirds of the clergy of Britain were carried off, and one half of the whole population of London. Dr. Creighton's account of this pestilence includes an examination of the traditions which locate its origin in China and in Tartary, and a discussion of the theory of the bubo-plague. The social and economic consequences of the black death make up an interesting chapter,