Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/525

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509
MISCELLANY.
hand, a precise definition from the side of mental science is acknowledged to be impossible. Taken in its broad sense, the word simply denotes a marked degree of mental disorder. What that degree is, depends upon the practical issue presented in each case. In highly-civilized countries a moderate degree only, more or less incapacitating for the due performance of the social relations, constitutes insanity, and entitles its subjects to the charity and protection of the state. Where it is claimed to excuse from the punishment of crime, a high degree of mental disorder is required to be shown. Other degrees are necessary in order to make void a will, or excuse from the performance of a contract. A slight degree only may constitute a medical case of insanity, of the greatest interest and importance. In a narrower and technical sense, insanity denotes chronic mental disorder not obviously belonging, as a symptom, to some recognized form of bodily disease."

Animal Physiology: The Structure and Functions of the Human Body. By John Cleland, M. D., F. R. S. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 12mo, 325 pages. Price, $1.50.

In the first chapter of this work the author gives a brief account of the relations of physiology to other departments of science; a description of the composition and properties of organic matter; definitions of the principal functions; and a couple of pages on the neucleated corpuscle, which he is disposed to regard as the ultimate physiological unit. Connective tissues; the skeleton and its function, with the minute structure of bones, ligaments, and cartilages; muscles, their structure and mode of action; and the structure and functions of the skin and mucous membrane, form the subjects of the four succeeding chapters. Alimentation, and the apparatus and process of digestion, are next treated; and then follow in the usual order chapters on the blood, the circulation and its organs, and respiration. The structure and functions of the glands are next disposed of; and three chapters are given to the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system, including the organs of special sense. Voice and speech are next treated; and the book closes with a chapter on the subject of reproduction and development. The matter of the work is largely anatomical, too much so, in our opinion, for a book on physiology; but, as the author says that it is intended for those "previously unacquainted with anatomical details," this feature may be exactly suited to their needs. In this case, however, the physiology should have been similarly graded, which it is not, being much too advanced for pupils ignorant of anatomy. The work is mainly a compilation, the author claiming originality only in his method of grouping the facts. The style is clear, the illustrations are numerous and well executed, and both a glossary and index are appended.

Elements of Zoology for Schools and Science Classes. By M. Harrison. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 16mo, 172 pages. Price, 75 cents.

The title of this book is doubly misleading. It is called a zoology, when, in fact, it deals with only one department of that great subject, viz., comparative anatomy; and, instead of giving the elements of this, goes rather to the opposite extreme, being little more than a bare statement of those later generalizations embodied in modern systems of classification. The book is not adapted to the wants of beginners, and is, therefore, quite out of place in an "elementary series." Those, however, desiring a brief summary of this branch of zoological science will find it of service, though the works of Huxley, from which it is mainly derived, put the subject in a much more attractive shape. The book is copiously illustrated, has a series of questions attached to each of the chapters, and is provided with a glossary.

 


MISCELLANY.

Observations of the Transit.—So far as heard from, the numerous expeditions which went out to observe the recent transit of Venus met with a fair measure of success. By the wise liberality of the various governments, the contingencies of fair or foul weather were provided against, and the view, which at one point was obstructed by clouds, was more successfully had at some other station in the same latitude, where the skies were more propitious. At Wladiwostock, the most northern station