Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/141

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133
LITERARY NOTICES.

calls attention to the fact that not even the most careful chemical examination of the functions of the stomach will put within our grasp the divining-rod that will, as it were, "magically call forth the fountain of knowledge from the adamantine rocks of obscure symptoms."

The reputation that the American people have of being a nation of dyspeptics is not altogether without foundation; and where gastric disorders are even moderately prevalent, such a work as this must be of value in enabling all physicians to be well informed regarding the latest methods of diagnosis and treatment of gastric diseases.

 

The third and concluding volume of Prof. A. B. Hart's Epochs of American History—Division and Reunion—brings down the narrative from the accession of Jackson to the end of President Cleveland's first administration. In the construction of the series each author has kept his own point of view, and no pains have been taken to harmonize divergencies of judgment; but it is believed that all these substantially agree as to the underlying causes of the growth of our country. The present volume is by Woodrow Wilson, and is the work of a master. Only a sketch in broad outline has been attempted—not so much a compact narrative as a synopsis, as rapid as possible, of the larger features of public affairs in the sixty years it covers. The story is told in four parts: the period of critical change, when the spoils system was introduced and sectional divergence began to be disclosed; the period of the prominence of the slavery question; the period of secession and civil war; and the period of the rehabilitation of the Union.

A paper on The Financial History of Virginia from 1609 to 1776, published by William Zebrina Ripley in the Columbia College Studies in History, Economics, and Public Law, is a contribution to the effort to trace the gradual development of systems and theories in financial management. One does not look, the author says, "to primitive society and its institutions for well-rounded principles and technical details; for to construct a science of finance where there was none in fact, would be to pervert the course of history. Theories do not arise until experience has taught man the abuses attendant upon social life. Consequently the financial history of this oldest American Commonwealth for many years is merely the story of the simple methods adopted by a people too fully occupied in conquering a wilderness to spin fiscal theories, who wanted to support the incipient Government in the easiest possible way." The institution of slavery had a marked influence on the course of development in Virginia, and was the ultimate factor that distinguished this colony from those of New England. The fiscal systems of the two regions became radically different, because the outward conditions of climate, soil, and situation were totally unlike; and the history attests the truth of the law that the direct environment is, after all, the most powerful factor in shaping early social institutions.

The study of Bankruptcy in the light of comparative legislation, contributed by S. Whitney Dunscomb, Jr., to the Columbia College Series of Studies in History, Economics, and Public Law, comprises a review of the laws and processes of the European nations and the United States relative to insolvency. In the first chapter the conditions are stated which constitute bankruptcy or insolvency under the laws of the several States, and terms are defined. Then the effects are described as to the person and juristic status of the bankrupt, as to his property, and as to the acts performed by him; the operations of bankruptcy; the closing of it, by composition relinquishment of assets, and other methods; the rehabilitation of the bankrupt; and preventive compositions or compositions before bankruptcy. The second part of the essay relates to Bankruptcy in the United States under the National Bankrupt Law and the insolvent laws of the several States.

A book fitting the prominent feature of the immediately present time is A Brief History of Panics, "Englished" from the French of Clement Juglar, and edited by De Courcy W. Thom, who has also furnished an introductory essay setting forth the indications of approaching panic. The book was written before the present disturbances in the money market set in, the premonition of which is spoken of as "a somewhat uneasy feeling about silver," and when some of Mr. Thorn's symptoms were already apparent;