Popular Science Monthly/Volume 14/December 1878/Literary Notices
All around the House; or, How to make Homes happy. By Mrs. H. W. Beecher. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 461. Price, $1.50.
Mrs. Beecher's new book, as its title happily imports, is devoted to the general interests of the household, and not to any one of its specialties. It is a result of the writer's observation and experience, which have been very considerable, and it may be said to correspond to those important books put forth by physicians of large opportunities under the title of "Practice;" so that, as we have Fergusson's "Practice of Surgery," we may be also said to have Mrs. Beecher's "Domestic Practice." She speaks as a working housekeeper who has had varied trial in the administration of home affairs, and her book is full of useful instruction and wise common-sense, which cannot fail to be valuable to those of her sex who are entering upon the duties and responsibilities of family management, and who have any solicitude about doing their work well. We are glad to see that Mrs. Beecher is thoroughly imbued with the true spirit of her subject. She has an elevated ideal of what a home should be; she understands that it cannot be realized without effort, capacity, and preparation, and keenly realizes how little there is done in any thorough or comprehensive way to qualify woman for intelligent or efficient activity in the domestic sphere.
It is certainly a painful reflection that of all the vocations which human beings pursue, in these times of abounding education, none are entered upon so lightly, so carelessly, and with such an utter absence of all adequate qualification, as that of housekeeping, or, as Mrs. Beecher significantly puts it, of "home-making;" while, of all the sources of human misery, there is none that yields a more copious measure of wretchedness than the incapacity of woman to take judicious and intelligent charge of household affairs. Everything else must be prepared for, but "home-making" is thought to need no serious preparation. Yet the interests involved are to the last degree varied, complex, and delicate, requiring knowledge, tact, judgment, patience, in fact the highest accomplishments of character. The interests of the office, the counting-house, the school, are simplicity itself compared with those of the household, where diet, clothing, health, the management of children, the control of servants, the duties of hospitality, and the direction of many stubborn elements, demand intellectual and moral attributes of the highest order on the part of the heads of the house, and in a sphere which mainly belongs to woman. And yet this is the one and almost the only department of our social activity for which no preliminary training is provided in any systematic way. The doctor, the lawyer, the clergyman, the miner, the farmer, and even the accountant, the dentist, and the farrier, each has his college, but where is the college for the "home-maker?" Its necessity is not even perceived. The women are trying with might and main to get into nearly all the colleges that have grown up as preparations for the business of men, and, when they attempt to make one of their own, they are content to imitate as far as possible those of the opposite sex, and never think of demanding institutions in which they may be educated for that line of activity which the great majority of them are destined to pursue.
Mrs. Beecher sees clearly enough that the modern tendency of feminine culture is not in the direction of home improvement, and that whatever is done in the way of help to this end must come in the shape of such occasional contributions as ladies interested in the subject are prompted to offer. She has a chapter on "Home Colleges," which is an excellent idea, as nothing better is yet to be had, while her volume will serve as an admirable text-book for it. The work is well suited where the class-drill is not very severe, being lively and interesting in its manner, as well as useful and instructive in the information it gives. We have read it through with profit, and cordially recommend it to everybody who lives in a house—especially if it has a plurality of occupants. If the hundred pages of receipts at the close (which are no doubt in themselves excellent) were omitted, the volume would make a first-rate reading-book for girls' schools.
United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries. Report for 1875-'76. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 1079. 1876.
In the popular mind, the sole aim and object of the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries is to devise and apply measures for the increase of the fish-supply in our lakes, rivers, and smaller streams; but in fact the commission is also charged with the duty of promoting by its researches the interest of the sea-fisheries, and hence it is that much of the present volume—indeed, by far the greater part of it—is taken up with an historical and statistical account of the American whale-fishery. We are inclined to think that it would be best to restrict the labors of the commission to the one department of propagation of food fishes. The "History of American Whaling" is no doubt very interesting and valuable, but it has no organic relation to the work of the Fish Commission. The commissioner, Prof. Baird, in the report proper, first briefly rehearses the history of the commission; then details the results of the inquiries that have been made into the decrease of the food-fishes; next he reviews the work that has been done in the propagation of food-fishes; and, finally, gives tables showing the number of fish distributed by the commission since the beginning of its work. Then follows Appendix A (780 pages), on the "American Whale-Fishery." Appendix B, "The Inland Fisheries," comprises reports on "The Fisheries of Chicago and Vicinity," on "The Salmon-Fisheries of the Columbia," and "Notes on some Fishes of the Delaware." There are five papers in Appendix C, treating of the carp, the shad, the Schoodic salmon, salmon-breeding in the McCloud River, and the exportation of fishes and hatching apparatus to various foreign countries.
The Life of George Combe. By Charles Gibbon. London: Macmillan & Co. 2 vols. Pp. 739. Price, $8.
It may be thought that an elaborate two-volume biography, issued twenty years after the death of its subject, whose chief claim to be remembered is the close association of his name with a science which is now generally considered as belonging to the past, must rank as a not very judicious literary venture. No doubt a smaller and more inexpensive work would have had a wider sale, yet it is better that the work should have been done just as it has been done. While merely because he was an eminent phrenologist it would not have been worth while to write Combe's life at all, yet as the author of the "Constitution of Man," and as the representative of a transition period in knowledge and education, and as giving us an account of a very interesting character, the biography deserved to be fully written out. That Combe regarded phrenology as the key to all knowledge, that he devoted himself to it with great assiduity, and applied it everywhere as a sufficient philosophy of human nature, are by no means the real grounds on which he is entitled to be remembered. Phrenology represented a mere point of view from which humanity was to be studied, and that point of view was the true one, and a great advance on all previous systems. Phrenology was the rude means of first bringing mental phenomena into relation with organization, in the popular thought. It was almost inevitable that the first theories of this relation should be deficient and erroneous; but, the attitude taken being correct, valuable results flowed from it. It is on account of his views and reformatory labors regarding education, the treatment of the insane, the true principles of prison discipline, and the emancipation of the masses from social and religious prejudices, that Mr. Combe deserves to be gratefully and honorably remembered, and in this respect his biography is of living and permanent interest.
Deterioration and Race Education; with Practical Applications to the Condition or the People and Industry. By Samuel Royce. Boston: Lee & Shepard. Pp. 685. Price, $2.50.
We noticed this instructive work upon its first appearance last year, and are glad to see that it has gone to a second edition, as it contains a great deal of information, bearing upon the subject of education, that cannot be found compiled and digested elsewhere. Mr. Royce views the subject in its broadest aspects, laying great stress upon those forces in society which lead to pauperism and physical, mental, and moral degeneracy, and it is as a corrective of these evil tendencies that he chiefly regards the subject of education. The fundamental idea of his work, illustrated and enforced by numerous facts and copious discussion, is that the great deficiency in our system of mental cultivation is the non-recognition of the element of industry. In the new edition of the book he has added nearly one hundred pages, designed to give increasing effect to this aspect of his general argument. In the first place he demands that education shall include learning to work or an actual preparation for industrial occupations. He appreciates and favors the Kindergarten as the first step in this direction, to be followed up by developing schools and technical institutions to teach the practice as well as the elementary principles of various mechanical trades. He gives an interesting account of several industrial schools and manual institutes, chiefly in New England, which have for their object the training of the young in the skillful and intelligent exercise of hand-labor. Mr. Royce points out the vicious and lamentable influence of the existing system of education, in disqualifying the young for entering upon industrial occupations, by presenting false ideas of life through the excessive and one-sided influence of literature and books alone. It is not the worst, he thinks, that working-studies are ignored, but that in our existing schools there arises a prejudice against manual labor, a contempt of it, and an ambition to get a living by headwork in the practice of the professions. Thousands upon thousands who can never enter the professions, and who have not intellectual faculty enough to win success in life by pure intellectual labor, are nevertheless set upon this track, and unfitted for the honest and efficient pursuit of industrial avocations. Want of space prevents our giving several important quotations from this part of Mr. Royce's book, which readers specially interested in the subject will find it useful to procure.
Superstition in All Ages. By John Meslier. Translated from the French by Miss Anna Knoop. New York: Liberal Publishing Co., 141 Eighth Street. Pp. 339. Price, $1.50.
The author of this curious book was born in 1678, in the French village of Mazerny, and died in 1733, at the age of fifty-five. He has, therefore, been dead nearly one hundred and fifty years; and, although his name is not to be found in any of our common cyclopædias, his book, the only one that he ever wrote, is now first translated into English, and is published in the United States.
Meslier was a Roman Catholic priest, and was for thirty years curate of Entrepigny in Champagne. There is a brief sketch of his life by Voltaire prefixed to the volume, from which we gather that he was a quiet, studious man, of a philosophic turn of mind, who at the seminary devoted himself to the system of Descartes. He is said to have been strictly just and warmly benevolent, attending regularly and faithfully to his clerical duties, and at the end of each year giving what remained of his salary to the poor of his parish.
The following incident is recorded as illustrative of his character: "The lord of his village, M. de Touilly, having ill-treated some peasants, he refused to pray for him in his service. M. de Mailly, Archbishop of Rheims, before whom the case was brought, condemned him. But, the Sunday which followed this decision, the Abbot Meslier stood in his pulpit and complained of the sentence of the cardinal. 'This is,' said he, 'the general fate of the poor country priest; the archbishops, who are great lords, scorn them, and do not listen to them. Therefore, let us pray for the lord of this place. We will pray for Antoine de Touilly, that he may be converted, and granted the grace that he may not wrong the poor and despoil the orphans.' His lordship, who was present at this mortifying supplication, brought more complaints before the same archbishop, who ordered the curate Meslier to come to Douchey, where he ill-treated him with abusive language."
So there was nothing remarkable or unusual about the outward career of this country preacher that was not suitable to be immediately buried in oblivion. But he had been long and quietly at work in a way that was calculated to give interest and notoriety to his name after he had finally left the scene of his labors, where he died in the odor of sanctity. Meslier, it must be said, to the great scandal of his name, did not believe in the theology that he preached. But he lived in times in which men were not very powerfully solicited to express their independent opinions, and, as Meslier said he did not want to be burned alive on account of what he thought, he prudently followed the example of Copernicus and postponed publishing his real views till after he was out of the way. When Meslier was gone, there was found in his house a manuscript volume entitled "Common-Sense," written in his hand, and addressed as "My Testament" to his parishioners. The book was printed, and went through various editions in the eighteenth century, and it is this which is now revised and translated by Miss Knoop. Of its quality the reader can judge from a remark of Voltaire in a letter to D'Alembert, which is as follows: "They have printed in Holland the Testament of Jean Mesher; I trembled with horror in reading it. The testimony of a priest who, in dying, asks God's pardon for having taught Christianity, must be a great weight in the balance of liberals. I will send you a volume of this testament of the anti-Christ, because you desire to refute it."
We have not read this book, and are, therefore, unable to form a critical judgment of it; but Mr. James Parton writes to its translator concerning it as follows: "The work of the honest pastor, Jean Meslier, is the most curious and the most powerful thing of the kind which the last century produced. Thomas Paine's 'Age of Reason' is mere milk-and-water to it, and Voltaire's 'Philosophical Dictionary' is a basket of champagne compared with a cask of fourth-proof brandy. Paine and Voltaire had reserves, but Jean Meslier had none. He keeps nothing back; and yet, after all, the wonder is not that there should have been one priest who left that testimony at his death, but that all priests do not. True, there is a great deal more to be said about religion, which I believe to be an eternal necessity of human nature, but no man has uttered the negative side of the matter with so much candor and completeness as Jean Meslier. You have done a virtuous and humane act in translating his book so well."
The American Antiquarian: A Quarterly Journal devoted to early American History, Ethnology, and Archæology. Edited by Rev. Stephen D. Peet, Unionville, Ohio. Cleveland, Ohio: Published by Brooks, Schinkel & Co. Price, $2 a year, or 50 cents a number.
The rapid growth of the biological sciences, initiated by the publication of the "Origin of Species" nearly twenty years ago, has brought into especial prominence the great questions of the origin, antiquity, and development of man; and from subjects of theological speculation has transformed them into well-recognized problems of physical science. All the various lines of biological inquiry converge in this direction; and, as pointed out by Prof. Huxley in his address on "The Progress of Anthropology," published in the October number of this journal, that science has already gained a well-established place, counts among its numerous workers a large number of eminent men, and promises to remain, for many years to come, the chief centre of scientific interest in all countries where science is cultivated.
Up to within a few years most of the work in this department has been done abroad, and the Anthropological Societies of Paris, London, and Berlin, each with its special organ for making known the fruits of research, and with a large and distinguished membership, show the wise provisions that have been made for the prosecution of future investigations.
Although commonly spoken of as the "New World," it is becoming daily more apparent that this continent has had a past that is full of interest for the archæologist and ethnologist, and out of which much is yet to be gathered that will throw light on the interesting problems involved. American investigators are already numerous, and the publication before us meets an important want, in supplying an authoritative medium for the announcement of discoveries, the discussion of new views, and the presentation of the results of American research. The broad ground it is intended to cover is thus stated in the prospectus:
"The Early History, Exploration, Discoveries, and Settlement of the different portions of the Continent.
"The Native Races, their Physical and Mental Traits, Social Organizations and Tribal Distinctions; their Religious Customs, Beliefs, and Traditions, as well as their earlier and later Migrations and changes.
"The Antiquities of America, especially the Prehistoric Relics and Remains, or any evidences as to Ancient Earthworks and Structures, Inscriptions, Hieroglyphics, Signs, and Symbols.
"Prehistoric Man, his Origin, Antiquity, Geological Position, and Physical Structure.
"The Antiquarian will also treat of subjects of a more general character, such as The Descent of Man, The Rise of Society. The Origin of Writing, The Growth of Language, The History of Architecture, The Evolution of Ornament, and Ceremonial Observances, Comparative Religions, Serpent-Worship and Religious Symbols, Man and the Mastodon, Man and Animals, Earth and Man, and many other topics which are connected with the Science of Anthropology, especially as they are viewed by the antiquarian.
"Besides these topics especial arrangements have been made by which articles will be contributed upon Archæological Relics, upon Aboriginal Languages and Dialects, and upon the Traditions of this Continent compared with those of other lands.
"The Investigations made by different Historical and Scientific Societies, as well as the Results of all Explorations and Discoveries, will also be reported as far as possible.
"In the editorial management the assistance of several prominent gentlemen has been secured."
The present number contains nine articles, all of them on topics of interest, and several finely illustrated. There is also a valuable editorial department, made up of contributions from several distinguished writers besides the editor-in-chief The magazine is a credit to American science, and deserves to be well sustained.
The Parks and Gardens of Paris. Considered in Relation to the Wants of other Cities, and of Public and Private Gardens. By W. Robinson, F. L. S. Second edition, revised. Illustrated. London: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 548. Price, $7.50.
The object of this work is to acquaint the reader with those important points of general public gardening, and of fruit and vegetable culture, in which France is in advance of other countries. The author, who has traveled extensively and given prolonged and careful attention to the subjects treated, looks upon English agriculture and rural affairs in general as far before those of France, yet in many important matters he shows that there is much to be learned of the French. The first half of the book is devoted to the parks and gardens in and about Paris, and to the squares, avenues, boulevards, and other improvements, of new Paris. In his criticisms, the aim of the author has been "not only to record and illustrate what is good in them, but also to point out what is harmful." While he finds much to learn and much to admire in their public grounds, yet of the cemeteries he says that "their best aspects are painful to any one who knows what is possible, or what has already been accomplished in the formation of decent burial grounds near large cities." After a most revolting account of the mode of burial of the poor in Père-Lachaise, the statement follows that "the Americans are the only people who bury their dead decently and beautifully—that is, so far as the present mode of sepulture will allow them. For beauty, extent, careful planting, picturesque views and keeping, the garden cemeteries formed within the past generation near all the principal American cities are a great advance upon anything of the kind in Europe."
In horticulture the questions discussed are such as the skillful cultivation of hardy fruit-trees, which has made fruit so good and plentiful in France, and has led to its large exportation; the remarkable culture of asparagus, by which it is grown so abundantly that for many weeks in the spring it is an article of popular consumption; Parisian mushroom-culture; lettuce-growing in winter and spring in the suburbs of Paris, by a method so successful that they are able to supply their own market and that of many other cities. When these tender lettuces are eaten in winter, in England, they are supposed to come from some soft southern climate, while in fact they grow in a climate as harsh as that of England. The various processes by which these results are gained are minutely described, and every page of the volume is full of interest and instruction. There are 538 superb illustrations, many of which, in the chapters upon the parks and gardens, are full-page views of scenery and architecture.
Tribes of California. By Stephen Power. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 635. 1877.
The aborigines of California differ from the Atlantic tribes in sundry essential particulars, but most of all, perhaps, in their unwarlike temper. They are a humble and lowly race, one of the lowest on earth; yet the story of their lives might convey to more favored races many a lesson of thrift, contentment, and even of manly virtue. The author has lived among these Indians for three years, studying their manners and customs with intelligent sympathy, and his book is full of most curious information concerning their social, political, and religious usages. We must not omit to add that the work evinces in Mr. Power no mean degree of literary skill; hence it is "as interesting as a romance." It is illustrated with a number of excellent plates. There is an appendix on "Linguistics," by Major Powell (of whose "Contributions to North American Ethnology" this work forms Vol. III.), containing comparative vocabularies of the various dialects spoken by the native races of California. The large map which accompanies the volume shows the distribution of the different tribes throughout the State.
American Colleges: Their Students and Work. By Charles H. Thwing. G. P. Putnam's Sons. Pp. 169. Price, $1.
This is a carefully-digested and useful little volume, giving a great deal of information in relation to American collegiate institutions. It treats of "Expenses," "Morals," "Religion," "Societies," "Athletics," "College Journalism," "Fellowships," "Chairs of a College," and "Rank in College as a Test of Distinction."
A Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Edited by George Grove. Part IV. Macmillan & Co. Price, $1.25.
This number runs from "Concert-Spirituel" to "Ferrara," and, like the former numbers, is full of musical science, art, erudition, and biography. The work improves with every number.
Sanitary Examination of Water, Air, and Food. By Dr. Cornelius B. Fox. Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakiston. 1878. Pp. 528.
Life in other Worlds. By Dr. Adam Miller. Chicago: Fox, Cole & Co. 1878. Pp. 282. $1.50.
The Old House altered. By George C. Mason. New York: Putnam's Sons. 1878. Pp. 179. $2.50.
The Proportions of the Steam-Engine. By William D. Marks. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. 1879. Pp. 161.
How to parse. By Rev. Edwin A. Abbott. Boston: Roberts Brothers. 1878. Pp. 374. $1.
Introductory Chemical Practice. By G. C. Caldwell and A. A. Breneman. New York: Van Nostrand. 1878. Pp. 170. $1.50.
Zoölogy of the Vertebrate Animals. By Dr. Alexander Macalister. New York: Holt & Co. 1878. Pp. 146. 60 cents.
Outlines of Ontological Science. By H. N. Day. New York: Putnam's Sons. 1878. Pp. 452. $1.75.
The Blessed Bees. By J. Allen. Pp. 169. $1.
Flower Painting. Same publishers. Pp. 46. 50 cents.
A New Exposition of the Leading Facts of Geology. By Gideon Frost. New York. 1869. Pp. 80.
American Quarterly Microscopical Journal. Edited by Romeyn Hitchcock. Vol. I., No. 1. New York: Hitchcock & Wall. 1878. Pp. 98. $3 per year.
The Brain and Nervous System. By Dr. J. C. Reeve. Dayton, Ohio: Democrat print. 1878. Pp. 32.
Maximum Stresses of Framed Bridges. By William Cain. Hand-book of the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph. By A. E. Loring. New York: Van Nostrand. 1878. Pp. 192. 50 cents each.
Report of the Engineer of the Philadelphia Water Department. Philadelphia: Markley & Son print. 1878. Pp. 96, with Charts.
Ventral Pins of Ganoids. By James K. Thacher. From "Transactions of Connecticut Academy." Pp. 10, with Plates.
Life and Scientific Work of Charles Frederick Hartt. By Richard Rathbun. From "Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History. 1878." Pp. 27.
The Cambridge Boiler Explosion. By J. R. Robinson. Boston: A. Williams & Co. 1878. Pp. 40.
The Indian Question. By General Pope. Pp. 31.
An Animated Molecule. By Dr. Daniel Clark. Utica: E. H. Roberts & Co. print. 1878. Pp. 42.
Hygiene of the Eyes. By Dr. F. Park Lewis. Pp. 8.
Artificial Mounds of Northeastern Iowa. By W. J. McGee. From American Journal of Science. Pp. 7.
The Food of Illinois Fishes. By S. A. Forbes. From "Bulletin of Illinois State Laboratory of Natural History." Pp. 16.
Median and Paired Fins. By J. K. Thacher. From "Transactions of Connecticut Academy." 1877. Pp. 30, with numerous Plates.
Recording Articulate Vibrations. By E. W. Blake, Jr. From American Journal of Science. Pp. 6.
The Religion of Philosophy. By W. H. Boughton. Pp. 19.
On Repulsion resulting from Radiation. By William Crookes, F.R.S. From "Transactions of the Royal Society." 1878. Pp. 76.
An Elementary Course of Geometrical Drawing. By George L. Vose. Boston: Lee & Shepard. 1878. Thirty-eight Plates. $5.