Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/579

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
563
LITERARY NOTICES.

rator of the Department of Ethnology, United States National Museum. He brings his reader to "the day when the first being worthy to be called a man" stood upon the earth, and he describes his utter poverty of clothing, tools, experience, language, etc. "All Nature laughed at him." But "the one endowment that this creature possessed, having in it the promise and potency of all future achievements, was the creative spark called invention." From this beginning Mr. Mason evolves an interesting narrative of the progress of invention, using "five guides upon his interesting journey." The first is history, the second philology, the third folk lore, the fourth is archæology, and the fifth ethnology. And, as a result of the assistance of these mediums, he claims that we now have on earth types of every sort of culture it has ever known.

The second part of the pamphlet is devoted to a treatise on American inventions and discoveries in medicine, surgery, and practical sanitation, by John S. Billings, M.D., Curator of the United States Medical Museum. Dr. Billings draws attention to the enormous number of applicants for license to prepare and sell patent and secret medicines, and, while denying the benefits derivable from such nostrums, he claims that their existence is solely due to advertising; that he knows of only four valuable secret remedies, and that proprietary and secret remedies are largely responsible for the establishment and support of some of our newspapers and journals. To give an idea of how far the patent-medicine craze has gone, he tells of a "patent automatic doctor," on the principle of "put a quarter in the slot and take out the pill that suits your case." In 1880 there were in the United States five hundred and ninety-two establishments devoted to the manufacture of drugs and chemicals, the capital invested being $28,598,458, while there were five hundred and ninety-three establishments devoted to the manufacture of patent medicines and compounds, the capital invested being $10,620,880.

As a pleasure resort and a reminiscence, the White Mountains never tire. As a field for scientific exploration they are likewise perennial. That their powers of literary suggestiveness have not yet been fully drawn upon is proved by a collection of out-of-door sketches of Mr. Frank Bolles, entitled At the North of Bearcamp Water (Houghton, Mifflin & Co., $1.25). Bearcamp Water is a little river that flows from Sandwich into the Ossipee Lakes. "At the north" of it are the Chocorua Lakes and the mountains Chocorua and Passaconaway and their less imposing companions--Mr. Bolles's home, where he lives when he is not drudging at Harvard University, nearly equally related to the base of Chocorua--famous as the most characteristic and picturesque peak in New England, and the lakes. His "strolling chronicles," as he calls them, give vivid photographs of this most interesting region, the lakes, rivers, valleys, and mountains, and the life there in summer and winter. Mr. Bolles roams around them at will; regardless of season or weather, pushes boldly into the obscure recesses of the untrodden wilderness; spends an August night in a thunder-shower alone on the narrow ledge of Chocorua's precipitous peak; essays climbing the mountain through the snow; carves his own way up Pangus; and accomplishes as a matter of course that which the amateur mountaineer of two weeks a year shrinks from as a kind of modified suicide. He knows the birds, the bears, and the squirrels, and has an Orphean way of calling the birds around him in flocks at will; and he tells of all these things with the air of one who is occupied with them for the love of them; and in telling of them has added another to the most valuable and attractive of our outdoor Nature books.

An excellent United States Relief Map, published by the Geological Survey, is of convenient size and shows clearly and distinctly the elevations of all the parts of the country--including coast lands, valleys, plateaus, and mountains regions, at convenient intervals. The elevations are designated by a series of nine distinct shades of color, from white to dark brown, showing depressions below sea level and elevations from sea level to 100 feet; from 100 to 500, 500 to 1,000, 1,000 to 2,000, 2,000 to 5,000, 5,000 to 8,000, 8,000 to 11,000, and above 11,000 feet.

Who? When? and What? (Parmalee & Chaffee, publishers, New York) is a chart of the famous men and events of the six centuries, 1250 to 1850. It shows the centuries