Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/434

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


"An unscientific account of a scientific expedition" is what Mrs. Mabel Loomis Todd happily styles the story of the Amherst Eclipse Expedition, told in Corona and Coronet[1]—"Corona" being what the expedition went to see, and "Coronet" the vessel that took it to the observing station. Professor Todd was the astronomer of the party, and Mrs. Todd, who has published a work on astronomy, was his companion. She believes that certain aspects of the trip, covering as it did more than ten thousand miles of sailing for the party, and at least forty five thousand miles of deep-sea voyaging for the Coronet, were worthy of narration. The astronomical purposes of the expedition, the objects it sought to obtain, the scientific bearings of the observations, and the methods, are intelligibly set forth in the introduction to the book. The rest is devoted mostly to narrative, the social aspects of the voyage, and the incidents. A short sojourn was made at the Sandwich Islands, where the more interesting objects were visited. Mrs. Todd was with Kate Field when she died there, and gives an account of her last hours. A voyage of four weeks carried the party to Yokohama, whence some of the members went to the capital and other interesting points in Japan, while the rest were preparing the observing station at Esashi, eleven hundred miles north of Yokohama—"a village on the shores of the Sea of Okotsk, among the hairy Ainu," in a region so remote that the native steamers had only recently begun to go there at all. Besides the account of the observations, descriptions are given of such Japanese experiences as life in Kioto, cormorant fishing, yachting in the Inland Sea, the tidal wave, and observations among the Ainu, with a visit on the way home to an Arizona copper mine.

The late Prof. James D. Dana had begun a revision of his Text-Book of Geology a short time before his death. Prof. William North Rice was requested by his family to complete the revision, and the result is the present volume.[2] It was intended in the original plan of revision to preserve as far as possible the distinctive characteristics of the book. It was to be brought down to date as regards its facts, but was still to express the well-known opinions of its author, with the general plan of arrangement kept unchanged. It soon became evident, however, that more and greater changes than had been contemplated would be required. The zoölogical and botanical classifications would have to be modified; the theory of evolution must have more recognition than it had received, especially as Professor Dana himself had adopted some of its features before his death; and the treatment of metamorphism was believed to require considerable modification. In the present edition the bearing of various events in geological history upon the theory of evolution is pointed out in the appropriate places, and the general bearing of paleontology upon evolution is discussed in the concluding chapter. All these changes seem to be in the line of continuing the usefulness of Professor Dana's most excellent and standard work, and of keeping his name before students as that of "one of the greatest of geologists and one of the noblest of men."

A true son of Nature is Mr. F. Schuyler Mathews, and he shows himself at his best in his Familiar Life in Field and Forest,[3] "There are few things," he says, "more gratifying to the lover of Nature than these momentary glimpses of wild life which he obtains while passing through the field or forest. Wild animals do not confine themselves exclusively to the wilderness; quite frequently they venture upon the highway, and we are apt to regard the meeting of one of them there as a rare and fortunate occurrence. The daisy and the wild rose appear in their

  1. Corona and Coronet: Being the Narrative of the Amherst Eclipse Expedition to Japan, in Mr James's Schooner Yacht Coronet, to observe the Sun's Total Obscuration, August 9, 160(5. By Mabel Loomis Todd. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Pp. 383. Price, $2.50.
  2. Revised Text-Book of Geology. By James D. Dana, LL. D. Fifth edition, revised and enlarged. Edited by William North Rice. American Book Company. Pp. 482.
  3. Familiar Life in Field and Forest. The Animals, Birds, Frogs, and Salamanders. By F. Schuyler Mathews. New York: D. Appleton and Company. Pp. 281. Price, $1.75.