Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/256

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it shall turn their backs upon the scientific world, and address themselves to a class so uninstructed in scientific matters that every thing requires to be explained. That we have realized this ideal is not claimed; but, granting that "the great object of educating the intelligent public in scientific matters is very imperfectly fulfilled" by this publication, we have Prof. Newcomb's authority that it was not fulfilled at all by any previous periodical in this country. Our enterprise had no precedent, and, such were its obvious difficulties, that, at starting, it was generally supposed it would be a failure. We are quite aware of its shortcomings, and, thanking Prof. Newcomb for the recognition of its improvement, we hope that it will continue to grow better. But, as our pages attest, it has not been unmindful of the advances of inquiry, though it has given prominence to those extensions and widenings of scientific thought in which we believe the public has a growing interest; for the advance of science does not merely consist in new physical and chemical experiments, new mathematical solutions, or astronomical discoveries; it consists quite as much in scientific modes of thinking applied to subjects not hitherto dealt with by such methods. The great difficulty is, that the instruments, processes, problems, and general subject-matter, of advanced investigation are so completely removed from general experience; and the public interest, we think, can never be seriously enlisted in scientific inquiries until they take account of phenomena, facts, and questions, that fall within the range of familiar observation and common thought. That the public is to-day far more interested in the relations of science to religion than they are in science itself, is because one term of the relation is so thoroughly familiar to the general mind.


The Physiology of Man: Designed to represent the Existing State of Physiological Science, as applied to the Functions of the Human Body. By Austin Flint, Jr., M.D. In Five Volumes. Volume V. Special Senses; Generation. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 517 pages. Price, $4.50.

The fifth and concluding volume of Dr. Flint's comprehensive work on physiology is now published, and we congratulate the author upon the completion of his task and the success of its execution. We gave a brief account of the general object of the work, in noticing a previous volume, and have only now to say that the concluding book of the series not only sustains, but surpasses, the high character won by its predecessors, while the whole work—the product of eleven years' labor—is an honor to its author and a credit to the science of the country.

The literary merit of these volumes, we think, deserves especial recognition; that is, their style is admirably adapted to its purpose of conveying clear impressions to the reader with a minimum of effort on his part. To the general reader, there is necessarily a certain amount of hindrance from the use of the unfamiliar terms of the science; but, in no first-class work upon the subject, that we remember, is there so little embarrassment on this score as in that of Dr. Flint. In his style he has attained the excellence of a lucid simplicity, one of the perfections of art which is the more remarkable, as, being a laborious experimental physiologist, busy firstly and mainly with his science, he cannot have had much time to spare for literary discipline. It is a general fault with our scientists, that they too much neglect literary cultivation, and break down in the arts of statement; Dr. Flint is not open to this criticism. Hence, while his work will have an increasing value for physiological students, it has also peculiar claims on non-professional readers who may care to consult an elaborate treatise upon the subject.

In regard to the original character of the work, and its claims as a whole fairly to represent the present state of the science, the author says, in his preface: