Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/864

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846
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and valuable observations in Prof. Miall's address. He dwelt with proper force on the impossibility of obtaining a living insight into biological problems or even a living acquaintance with biological facts by means of text-books and lectures alone. He indicated the necessity of extreme care in talking of the "laws of Nature," lest some false idea of a positive mandate should creep into the mind. He expressed himself as accepting in great measure, but still in part only, the "recapitulationist" theory, as it has been called, of embryonic development. He believes that the mammalia certainly had a piscine origin in remote ages, but professed himself unable to trace their family record any further back. He does not like the word must in the mouth of a biologist. "Whenever any biologist brings the word must into his statement of the operations of living Nature, I look out to see whether he will not shortly fall into trouble."

 

Upon the whole, there was much useful work accomplished at the Toronto meeting. One could not attend the different sections without feeling that the work of science in its different branches is a great and mighty and beneficent work, and one which elevates and liberalizes the minds that give themselves to it with devotion. However lightly these annual gatherings may sometimes be spoken of as being mainly occasions for holiday-making, we believe that they are the means of communicating many useful intellectual impulses both to the working members themselves and to the general public.

 


Scientific Literature.
SPECIAL BOOKS.

In this fifth volume of the Memoirs of the American Folklore Society are given what might be called the book of Genesis of the Navaho Indians and the shorter legends of Natinesthani and The Great Shell of Kintyel.[1] The origin legend starts with twelve insect peoples and tells how First Man and First Woman were produced by the gods and cared for by the insect peoples as the gods directed. The history of this pair and of their descendants follows and is filled with incidents designed to explain present customs of the Navahoes and various phenomena of Nature. The last chapter of the legend, dealing with the growth of the Navaho nation, is in part traditional or historical, and many of its dates are approximately correct. The introduction of sixty pages which Dr. Matthews has prefixed to the legends, and his sixty-five pages of notes, contain much material of value to the anthropologist. The Navaho reservation lies in the northern parts of Arizona and New Mexico, and although arid is not a desert. Dr. Matthews tells us how the Indians manage to raise meager crops from its soil, and how they care for their herds of sheep and goats. He also describes the personal appearance of this rather intelligent people and the structure of their various kinds of dwellings, giving portraits of several individuals and views of typical houses. Their industries—weaving, in which they excel, basket making, pottery, silverwork, etc.—are described,


  1. Navaho Legends. Collected and translated by Washington Matthews, M. D., LL. D. Boston; Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Pp. 299, 8vo. Price, $6.