Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/225

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SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE.

217

those of our Gaelic colleagues; and, accordingly, when a book such as Dr. Fleury's leaves its native soil, it comes in contact with forms of critical judgment which it cannot successfully meet. As the author himself almost naively notes, in contrasting French works with those of an English writer, Sir John Lubbock, "With us a philosopher writes books for his own renown. Sir John Lubbock thinks of himself not at all." Dr. Fleury follows the French ideal and produces a chatty volume thoroughly infused with his personal opinions and interests, kaleidoscopic in scope, rather aimless in design, literary in form, and, judged by our own ideals, a very bad exemplar for popular science.

The general point of view is that of a physician who wishes to record for the benefit of other types of professional men, the medical aspect of the large and ever-present problems of civilization. From responsibility in cases of crime, and the methods in use at the Salpêtrière, to an essay on the bad effects of tobacco, and the proper regimen for literary men (illustrated by copious testimonials from men of literary note); and again from disquisitions on the effects of serum and other liquids hypodermically applied and an account of the nervous system, through discussions of mental and physical fatigue and the treatment of indolence and melancholy, to the psychology of love and anger as morbid passions, and the 'physiological analysis of flirtation,'—the volume proceeds at times interestingly, often touching upon new and significant observation, but always aimlessly, selfconsciously and with a strained attempt to introduce novelty and paradox. When the author remarks "who knows but the twentieth century may rewrite Werther in its own way, with figures in the text, as a medical publication," he suggests only a moderate exaggeration of some of his own pages. The scientific point of view and useful scientific writing are not dependent upon diagrams and phrases, but on the natural outcome of fullness of learning, of a fundamental training and a combination of enthusiasm and skill. Dr. Fleury's book affords glimpses of an attractive personality endowed with some of these requisites; but his volume can have little influence upon the English reading public.

Of translations, as of the dead, it is generally best to say nihil nisi bonum. But the imperfections of the present task are all of that totally unnecessary type which makes them particularly aggravating. The foreignness of the presentation is left unmitigated by skillful phrasing; the existence of appropriate technical terms in English is ignored, and minor errors (such as the wrong retranslation of an English work cited by the French author) are numerous.

Prof. Flournoy's skillful description of a remarkable case of sub-conscious automatism was noticed in a recent issue of this Monthly. It is in every way worthy of presentation to English readers; and such readers are under obligations to Messrs. Harper & Bros, and the translator for the creditable appearance of the English volume. The translation is fluent and acceptable, and the composition of the book eminently satisfactory. Apart from the general query as to the desirability of placing a volume of this type before the public at large in a form intended to suggest its popular assimilability, the temper of the translator's preface demands a word of comment and of protest. To present this volume as a contribution to the mystical aspect of that composite activity, the results of which are denominated 'Psychical Research,' is a wrong to the author's purposes and (with few exceptions) is antagonistic to his own point of view. To put forward the volume as a contribution to a line of investigation that shall scientifically prove to be 'the preamble of all religions,' that shall demonstrate unsuspected and anomalous mental powers, and all but demonstrate immortality, to claim that for any one skeptically inclined and out