Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/130

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

A similar thing has just been done again. Max Müller was allowed to use the Academy columns to abuse and misrepresent Prof. Whitney, of Yale College, in matters of philology. The American linguist replied to these assaults in a letter to the Academy, which again its editor refused to print, and it found publicity, as before, through the hospitable pages of the Examiner. And this difference of fairness between the two journals goes along with other differences which will be of interest to American readers; for, while the Academy is characterized by the amount of its pedantic rubbish and scholarly trumpery, suited to the learned drones of Oxford and Cambridge, the Examiner addresses itself more to the living questions of the day, and discusses subjects of universal interest, with an ability and independence that may commend it to American readers desiring an English weekly.

 

LITERARY NOTICES.

The Unseen World, and other Essays. By John Fiske, M. A. LL. B. Pp. 349. Price $2. J. R. Osgood & Co.

To say that this volume is by the author of the "Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy" will be at once to commend it to a large circle of readers; but as a series of interesting papers on a wide variety of topics, scientific, philosophic, artistic, historical, and critical, it will be commended to many who have not been attracted to the earlier and more solid publication. Most of the articles of the volume will be remembered as they appeared in the periodicals; admirable in style, bold in thought, and rich in scholarly erudition. Mr. Fiske has views of his own which he works out with freedom, and often with great beauty and force of statement.

The volume takes its name from the first two essays, which lately appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, and were read with interest by many thoughtful people. They start from the speculations of a recent book entitled "The Unseen Universe," which broke into a somewhat new field of ingenious scientific conjecture, and was read with an eager but rather perplexed curiosity by those who are fond of transcendental inquiries. This work has been already noticed in the Monthly, and is chiefly important as an effort by thoroughly disciplined scientific men to arrive at the conception of immortality and a realm of future spiritual life from the scientific point of view. Mr. Fiske is in sympathy with this aspiration, but deals with the problem by his own methods, and perhaps in an abler way than the authors who opened the discussion. We cannot here reproduce his views, which are only to be understood by a careful perusal of the essays in which they are presented.

But, while cordially recommending this volume as a whole, we must except the review of Draper's "History of the Conflict between Religion and Science," which we think somewhat unworthy the author. Mr. Fiske adopts a deprecatory tone in speaking of Draper's books, which is construed by the newspapers into contempt—which jumps with public prejudice, and is quite to be expected from certain quarters; but for which he gives us no satisfactory reasons.

He charges Dr. Draper with superficiality and mental idiosyncrasy, in not understanding Rome; in not appreciating Greece; in hostility to the Catholic Church; in over-rating semi-barbarous civilizations, "and above all an undiscriminating admiration for everything, great or small, that has ever worn the garb of Islam, or been associated with the career of the Saracens." But, after indulging in a little sarcasm at Dr. Draper's admiration of the "turbaned sage," Mr. Fiske finds himself compelled to say:

"Speaking briefly with regard to this matter, we may freely admit that the work done by the Arabs, in scientific inquiry as well as in the making of events, was very considerable. It was a work, too, the value of which is not commonly appreciated in the accounts of European history written for the general reader, and we have no disposition to find fault with Dr. Draper for describing it with enthusiasm. The philosophers of Bagdad and Cordova did excellent service in keeping alive the traditions of Greek physical inquiry at a time when Christian thinkers were too exclusively occupied with transcendental speculations in theology and logic. In some departments, as in chemistry and astronomy, they made original discoveries of considerable value; and if we turn from abstract knowledge to the