Popular Science Monthly/Volume 14/March 1879/Literary Notices
|←Editor's Table||Popular Science Monthly Volume 14 March 1879 (1879)
Two purposes are intended by the author of this work: first, to set forth a history of the English language and literature; and, second, to show the fitness of the English to become the universal language of civilized man. The Anglo-Saxon, the source from which English has sprung, was a composite language, consisting of three principal Gotho-Germanic elements, viz., the slightly variant dialects of the three northern nations which in the fifth century established themselves in Britain—the Jutes, the Saxons, and the Angles. The author's plan did not contemplate any set inquiry into the origin of these dialects; he has but little to say about their descent from one more ancient mother-language—the Aryan—he simply accepts them as a fact, and then proceeds to show how by the natural process of development, profoundly modified by the environment, they, or rather the one composite language, Anglo-Saxon, was compounded with other elements to form first the Franco-English (a. d. 1200 to 1600), and finally the English language as it now is. Dr. Weisse's method consists in setting before the reader specimens of the literature of the successive centuries from the invasion of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, down to the present time, and classifying the words according to the linguistic sources from which they come. The result shows the proportion of Anglo-Saxon, Latin, Greek, French, and other elements constituting the sum of the language at any given period. It shows, further, the changes undergone by the form of the language, if we may so designate its grammar, as distinguished from its matter, i. e., its vocabulary. Anglo-Saxon was a language possessing a variety of inflections to designate by the termination or by prefixes the diverse relations between words or their significates. Of these inflections English retains but few: a possessive (or genitive) case for nouns; an accusative (or dative) for some pronouns; the plural sign s final for nouns, and the final s in the third person singular of the verb; an imperfect (or aorist) tense of verbs; and perhaps some other traces. For the most part we now express by "prepositions," or by "auxiliary verbs," the relations expressed in Anglo-Saxon by inflections, or root modifications. Our author's specimens from the literature of the successive ages make all this very plain. Then the changes in the matter of the language, its invasion by foreign words, are exhibited. The first literary specimen in the volume is taken from Ethelbert's code of laws, which dates from the year 597. Here, as in the case of all the specimens cited by the author, the linguistic source of each word is stated, and it thus appears that in Ethelbert's time out of 100 words not over six were other than pure Anglo-Saxon. Compare with this the constitution of English. Dr. Weisse finds that out of 100 words in the Bible 78 are Anglo-Saxon; in Samuel Johnson, 51. But of this side of the work we have written enough.
Dr. Weisse was an utter stranger to English up to his thirtieth year, and his estimate of the value of our language at that time was in direct ratio to his ignorance of it. Convinced of its inferiority to certain other languages, he commenced the researches of which this volume is the result, for the purpose of demonstrating that inferiority. His studies satisfied him that English "contains the cream and essence of its predecessors and contemporaries; that its grammar is simpler, and that its records and literature are more consecutive and complete, than those of any other tongue." He is not content to class English with the best languages of the globe; it surpasses them all: it is the best, the most flexible, the one language of all that have ever existed which is most suitable to become a universal language. But there exist some slight hindrances which Dr. Weisse labors to remove, and the principal one is that we do not "write as we pronounce or pronounce as we write." If our "orthography" were reformed and a few syntactical anomalies corrected, nothing could prevent the English from becoming universal. Already it is spoken by some 90,000,000 people, and English-speaking nations are the masters of a far larger area of the inhabited globe than are the nations using any other tongue.
The author does not confine himself very scrupulously to the programme indicated in his title, but is ever digressing to the right hand and to the left. His business is with the English language as it has been and as it is, but for page after page the reader might suppose that he was perusing a dogmatic treatise de omnibus rebus. Dr. Weisse himself is not unconscious of the irrelevancy of much that he has written, but he excuses it on the ground that his digressions serve to amuse the reader and make the perusal of the work a pleasure instead of an irksome task. For our part, when we wish to learn the truth about the supposititious visit of St. Paul to Britain, the history of Pelagius, or other topics, we prefer to get our information from the histories which deal with those subjects. Though not uninteresting, these digressions are a blemish, and should be omitted if the work reaches a second edition. The volume is a valuable contribution to the history of the English language, and we bespeak for it the earnest attention of our readers.
The popular interest which the subject of the rights and wrongs of authors has recently awakened in England, France, and the United States, and the uncertainty and confusion into which the law of copyright has been allowed to drift, make a satisfactory treatise on this subject as welcome to men of letters as to the legal profession. The book before us is beyond comparison the most thorough and critical work on literary property yet published in England or this country, and, though an American publication, it is as complete an exposition of the English as of our own law. Our readers will remember that in his evidence before the English Copyright Commission, which we reprinted in the December "Monthly," Professor Huxley maintained that there was no distinction in principle between literary property and any other kind of property. Herbert Spencer and Professor Tyndall, who also testified before the Commission, were evidently of the same opinion. In a preliminary essay on "The Origin and Nature of Literary Property," Mr. Drone has gone to the bottom of this subject, and by an elaborate examination of all the principles, authorities, and arguments which bear on it, shows that literary property has the same general attributes and is governed by the same general principles that obtain in the case of all property. Hence the right of an author to his intellectual productions is no more a monopoly subject to the whims of the Legislature than is the title of the owner to his lands or bonds. Until about a century ago this principle was recognized and acted on in England, where perpetual copyright in printed books was not denied till 1774, when the House of Lords, following the empty declamation of Lord Camden instead of the sound opinions of Lord Mansfield, Sir William Blackstone, and other learned jurists, decided, on an equal division of the judges, that authors had no rights in their published works excepting what Parliament might choose to give them. This decision has since controlled the law in England and the United States, but, as Mr. Drone forcibly maintains, it was "contrary not only to right and justice, but to the true purpose and meaning of the statute" (of Anne) "as determined by settled rules of construction."
The question whether the unlicensed abridgment of a copyrighted book is piratical, is one which is likely to be brought home to any author of an elaborate work. n the law on this point is governed by loose judicial dicta and doubtful precedents, honest authors have little reason to hope for protection against piracy. But Mr. Drone, following his plan of determining the law by governing principles, shows that the unauthorized abridgment of a copyrighted work is piratical. After a thorough discussion of the subject, he thus sums up the whole matter: "A genuine abridgment embodies the substantial results contained in the work abridged, and, if unauthorized, is damaging to the author of the original. The question of piracy is determined by the application of the established principle that no one without authority shall take a material part of another's work to the injury of the person entitled to protection. It is settled that piracy may be committed by taking a few pages from a copyrighted book; to hold that the substance of the whole may be lawfully appropriated, if published in the form of an abridgment, is as absurd as it is inconsistent and unjust." Under the head of blasphemous publications, he considers the question whether a work hostile to religion is entitled to copyright. Lord Eldon refused an injunction against the piratical publication of Sir William Lawrence's "Lectures on Physiology, Zoölogy, and the Natural History of Man," on the ground that the original contained passages which "impugned the doctrines of the immateriality and immortality of the soul." For similar reasons, the same judge refused to protect Byron's "Cain." Mr. Drone criticises these decisions as being unsound and illiberal, and maintains that even in England, where the law on this subject is more stringent than in the United States, there is no good reason why protection should be denied to publications in which the prevalent doctrines relating to religion are doubted or denied with moderation and sincerity.
Many other important and interesting questions are ably discussed in language which is singularly concise, clear, and free from legal verbiage. The work will doubtless take its place as the standard authority on the subject of which it treats.
This is the first American work devoted exclusively to the cultivation of ferns, and it is intended to serve as a guide to those in this country who are interested in the subject and would like to know how ferns may best be cultivated. The spirit of the book is well expressed on its last page in the following words: "The writer will not claim that the fern-mania, which may be traced from its beginning across the ocean to its recent development in this country, is a hobby superior to most others; but he does claim that, properly guided, it can be the means of stimulating pure and healthy exercise and study; and that, whether pursued in a scientific way or only as a pastime, it can in any event do no harm, but may be the cause of great and permanent good. If this little book shall in any way conduce to the love of the graceful plants of whose culture it treats, or aid any beginner in the study of the ferns, the writer will feel that another pleasure has been added to that which he has already experienced in its composition."
As an example of the ability of the author to carry out his purpose, we quote the following from Chapter V., entitled "How to collect Ferns for Cultivation." Premising that the desire to collect ferns is a natural accompaniment of vacation-trips, the author says:
The volume contains six colored illustrations of interesting species, and numerous plates illustrative of the growth and culture of ferns. A very tempting frontispiece shows the fern-corner of the writer's greenhouse. There is an important chapter concerning soils and pots for ferns, with pictures of pots of several different forms: one upon fern-cases, another with lists of ferns suitable for cultivation in tropical and temperate houses and in fern-cases. Fern-pests are also discussed, and pictures of nine of these creatures are given in plate 22. But further details are needless; the book teems with useful instruction from beginning to end.
This volume appears in response to a demand, by the scientific world, and especially of those engaged in the public-health service, for a third edition of the brochure on "Water Analysis." The author has rewritten nearly all he had before published upon the subject, and now offers the results of an increased and extended experience. He has also incorporated with his essay on "Water Analysis," sections on "Examinations of Air and Food." His aim is to furnish hints and suggestions, helpful to those who have not, like himself, "plodded for years through tortuous paths, at the sacrifice of much time and labor." In preparing the book, two objects were kept steadily in view: "1. To avoid a consideration of these three subjects, solely after the manner of an analyst, who mechanically deals with chemical operations and arithmetical calculations, but to treat them as a physician who studies them in connection with health and disease; 2. To render such details respecting examinations of water, air, and food, as fall within the province of the medical officer of health, so free from technicalities, and all cloudy and chaotic surroundings, as to enable any one, who possesses the average chemical knowledge of a physician, to teach himself, by the aid of this vade mecum of the health officer."
The following extracts will give a fair idea of the author's admirable directness of statement, and the valuable practical information he has been able to substitute for much of the technical detail that usually encumbers such a book:
An excess of aqueous vapor in the atmosphere has not only a depressing effect on the nervous system, but it interferes with the cutaneous and pulmonary exhalations. If the temperature is high (65° to 80° Fahr.), saturated air is sultry and offensive. If low (e. g., a Scotch mist of 36° Fahr.), its chilling influence penetrates all clothing. At least one half of the patients which apply for relief during the winter mouths to the physicians of the metropolitan and provincial hospitals of this country are afflicted with colds, coughs, and bronchial and rheumatic affections. The prevalence of these disorders at this season is, without a doubt, due partly to the coldness and partly to the excessive moisture of our very changeable climate. Above 80° Fahr., air of excessive humidity becomes injurious; and it has been doubted as to whether life can be prolonged in such air at a temperature between 90° and 100° Fahr.The relation between such lung diseases as bronchitis and pneumonia and the unwholesome condition of the air of our dwellings has not been sufficiently recognized by the medical profession and the public. One of the most common causes of an attack of bronchitis is a Budden exposure of the bronchial mucous membrane to extreme conditions of air. A man who breathes for some hours the hot and dry vitiated air of an unventilated room is prone to be thus affected on passing out into cold, damp night air. If debilitated, from any cause, the inflammation may affect the substance of the lung, and the man will have pneumonia.
In this paper, Dr. Harris presents his well-matured views on the laws, sanitary provisions, and methods best fitted for securing the benefits of general vaccination throughout the United States. The same author, in another paper, suggests plans for securing complete and authentic records of deaths and the causes of death in this country.
The author of this pamphlet is a resident of Florida, and considers the "Constituents of Climate" with special reference to the climate of that State.
The progress of democracy, that is, of popular power, in European states, is a fact that is regarded with widely different emotions—some persons seeing in it unmixed evil, while others expect from it the solution of all the problems which vex the student of political science. The event will in all probability confound the adherents of both of these extreme opinions, and it will be found, after the last barrier to popular self-government has been removed, that the human race will still pursue the even tenor of its way. But, however this may be, the work before us treats of a living question, and is sure to win the attention of the thinking public.
Our author investigates the causes to which the progress of democracy in Europe is to be ascribed; how far it has contributed to good government; what have been its dangers and mischiefs; and for his illustrations he goes to the East, to Greece, to Rome, the middle ages, the Italian republics, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, and England. The work is a series of studies of democracy in the countries named, and the author is careful not to call it a "History of Democracy in Europe," which would be simply another expression for a "History of Europe."
Of the work in general it may be remarked that it gives evidence of diligent research and abundant learning; also that it is written in a highly philosophical spirit. No homage is here rendered to forms of government, nor is the power of mere statutes and constitutions regarded as paramount in shaping the destinies of man in society. On the contrary. Sir Erskine May expressly investigates the social, moral, and physical causes of freedom, shows how the development of popular power is a natural law, considers the influence upon society and freedom of local environment, as the sea, navigable rivers, etc.; the influence of race; and many other factors usually overlooked by the Dryasdusts.
Hence we are the more surprised at the fact that he himself has overlooked one of the most easily discernible factors in the development of democracy in Europe. If we are to believe the testimony of many not unintelligent observers, a very evident tendency to "Americanization" is everywhere visible in European life, and naturally this tendency would be apparent first of all in political life. Even in the quiet of the German universities "Americanization" is an ever-present specter. Yet in these two volumes little or no reference is made to the United States. True, the author says of the American Revolution that "it was a prelude to revolution in Europe"; that it "stimulated the popular movement in England and in France." But that is all. With Sir Erskine May the post-Revolutionary history of the United States goes for nothing, apparently, in so far as European democracy is concerned. Surely this is a fatal oversight in our author, and one that can not be repaired without rewriting the entire work.
We have before us Parts VI. to XII. inclusive, completing the first of the two volumes of this valuable work; and, though we have noticed it before, we take occasion on the completion of Vol. I. to again commend it to the favorable attention of our readers. The text is a familiar account of the different flowers and ferns. Their associations with human history, wherever such associations have existed, are pleasantly recounted; the medicinal and household uses of each species receive attention; the botanical characters are clearly stated; in short, the purely literary portion of the work is of the highest excellence. As for the plates, it can be said of them without exaggeration that they leave nothing to be desired, whether with respect to their artistic beauty or their fidelity to nature.
The first of the three parts into which this work is divided contains a sketch of Byzantine history from the beginning of Justinian's reign down to the fall of Constantinople. The second gives an account of the modern Greeks and Albanians, their national characters, the state of religion and education among them, and their present condition and prospects. The third part is devoted to the Turkish Slavonians, the Wallachians, and the Gypsies, with sketches of the history of Servia, Bulgaria, and Montenegro.
Among the most important papers contained in this report is one on "Color-Blindness in its Relation to Accidents by Rail and Sea," by Professor Holmgren, of the Upsal University. The author gives the history of color-blindness, and points out practical methods for discovering and determining defects of the sense of color. To this treatise is appended an article on "Color-Blindness" contributed to the "Princeton Review" more than thirty years ago by Professor Joseph Henry. There is a number of papers, by different authors, on American antiquities. Other essays in the report which are specially worthy of notice are: "Notes on the History and Climate of New Mexico," "Change of the Mexican Axolotl to an Amblystoma" (translated from the German), "Diminution of the Aqueous Vapor of the Atmosphere with Increase of Altitude" (translated from the French), together with several other short memoirs on meteorological subjects.
The contents of No. 3 include notes on the birds of Dakota and Montana, by Dr. Elliott Coues; on fishes from the Rio Grande, by Dr. D. S. Jordan; on the North American Pyralidæ, by Professor A. R. Grote; paleontological papers, by Dr. C. A. White; notes on fossils found in a dark shale discovered at Independence, Iowa, by Professor S. Calvin; and a paper on the mineralogy of Nevada, by Dr. W. J. Hoffman. No. 4 comprises a memoir by S. H. Scudder on certain fossil insects; a report by Dr. E. Coues on the fishes of Dakota and Montana; a catalogue of plants of the same region, by the same author; remarks by Dr. F. M. Endrich on some striking products of erosion in Colorado; a paper on the Laramie group of rocks, by Dr. C. A. White; and finally a synonymatic list of the American Sciuri, by J. A. Allen.
The titles of these publications sufficiently indicate their purpose—viz., to diffuse among the people information concerning the great economic questions of the time. The volumes constitute a series of "Economic Monographs," published under the auspices of the New York Free Trade Club.
These latest volumes of Van Nostrand's series of brief treatises on subjects of practical science need no commendation. They are all written by men perfectly well versed in the subjects of which they treat, and the practical mechanician, electrician, surveyor, etc., will find in them precisely that kind and that measure of information which they most urgently need.
The volumes named above are the first two, we believe, of a series entitled "Handbooks for Students and General Readers." Wherever it may appear to be desirable, the works are revised with special reference to the United States. Thus the volume on the Vertebrates is "specially revised" by Professor A. S. Packard, Jr., and the Astronomy by Professor Simon Newcomb. The editors and publishers of the series appear to have spared no pains and no expense to make the several volumes as perfect expositions as may be under the circumstances of the various departments of knowledge of which they treat.
The advocates of "prohibition" and "total abstinence" will derive great encouragement from the perusal of this little pamphlet: it contains the strongest arguments that can be advanced on the physiological side in favor of their views. Readers who are neither prohibitionists nor total abstainers would do well also to examine the matured opinions on the "wine question" of so eminent an authority as Dr. Richardson.
Journal of a Tour in Marocco and the Great Atlas. By J. D. Hooker, K. C. S. I., etc., and J. Ball, F. R. S. London and New York: Macmillan. 1878. Pp. 515. $6.50.
Lectures on Materia Medica. By Carroll Dunham, M. D. New York: Printed by Francis Hart & Co. 1878. For sale at homœopathic pharmacies. Vol. I., pp. 409; Vol. II., pp. 419.
Natural History of the Agricultural Ant of Texas. By H. C. McCook. With Plates. Published by the Author. Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia. 1879. Pp. 310. $4.
Lecture Notes on Chemical Physiology and Pathology. By Victor C. Vaughan, M. D. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Ann Arbor Printing and Publishing Co. 1878. Pp. 315.
The Great Slighted Fortune. By J. D. Bell. New York: T. Y. Crowell. Pp. 462. $1.50.
New and Original Theories of the Great Physical Forces. By U. R. Rogers, M. D. Published by the Author. 1878. Pp. 108.
Paradoxical Philosophy: A Sequel to "The Unseen Universe." London and New York: Macmillan. 1878. Pp. 235. $1.75.
Harmony of Science and the Bible on the Nature of the Soul. By J. U. Kellogg, M. D. Pp. 24. 75 cents.
Diphtheria: its Causes, Prevention, and Proper Treatment. Same Author. Battle Creek, Michigan: "Review and Herald" Publishing Co. 1879. Pp. 64. 25 cents.
Wanderings in South America. By Charles Waterton. London and New York: Macmillan. 1879. Pp. 536. $6.50.
Demonology and Devil-Lore. By Moncure Daniel Conway. New York: Holt & Co. 1879. Vol. I., pp. 444; Vol. II., pp. 483.
Native Flowers and Ferns of the United States. By Thomas Meehan. Boston: Prang & Co. 1878. Parts 17, 18, 19, 20. 50 cents each.
Index Medicus: Monthly Classified Record of the Current Medical Literature of the World. New York: Leypoldt. Vol. I., No. 1. Pp. 72. $3 per year.
Relation of Adhesion to Horizontal Pressure in Mountain Dynamics. By H. F. Walling. With Plates. From "Proceedings of American Association." Pp. 20.
On the Crystallography of Calcite. By J. R. McD. Irby. Bonn: Charles George print. 1878. Pp. 72.
Annual Report of the Health Officer of the District of Columbia (1878). Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 117.
The Aphididæ of the United States. By C. V. Riley and J. Monell. With Plates from Bulletin of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories. Pp. 32.
Report of the State Board of Health of Colorado (1877). Denver: "Tribune" print. Pp. 161.
Dictionary of Music and Musicians. By George Grove. London and New York: Macmillan. 1879. Part V. $1.25.
Industrial Education. By Alexander Hogg. Galveston, Texas: "News" print. 1879. Pp. 52.
Aural Therapeutics. By S. Theobald, M.D. From "Maryland Medical Journal." Pp. 10.
A New Order of Extinct Reptiles. By Professor O. C. Marsh. With Plates. From "American Journal of Science and Art." Pp. 8.
Some Early Notices of the Indians of Ohio. By M. F. Force. Cincinnati: Clarke. 1879. Pp. 75. 50 cents.
The Applications of the Physical Forces. By Amédée Guillemin. Part I. London and New York; Macmillan. 1879. Pp. 48. 40 cents.
Inequality in Length of the Lower Limbs. By William Hunt, M.D. From "American Journal of Medical Sciences." Pp. 6.
Are Inebriates Automatons? By G. M. Beard, M.D. From "Quarterly Journal of Inebriety." Pp. 12.
Address and Memorial in Opposition to the Bill to amend Statutes relating to Patents. Cincinnati: "Times" print. 1879. Pp. 76.
Inscribed Stone of Grave Creek Mound. By M. C. Raid. From "American Antiquarian."
Address of Professor A. R. Grote, Vice-President Section B, American Association. Salem: printed at the Salem press. 1878.
Report on the Walnut Hill Asylum. Hartford, Connecticut: Press of Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co. 1878. Pp. 26.
Silica vs. Ammonia: Report of Dr. A. R. Ledoux. Raleigh, North Carolina: "Farmer & Mechanic" print. Pp. 23.
A Fable of the Spider and the Bees. Compiled by the National Defense Association. New York. 1873. Pp. 61.
Hampton Tracts; Health Laws of Moses; Duty of Teachers: Preventable Diseases; Who found Jamie? A Haunted House. New York: Putnams. 1879. 8 cents each.
The Antiquities and Platycnemism of the Mound Builders of Wisconsin. By J. M. DeHart, M.D. Pp. 15.
On the Illumination of Lines of Molecular Pressure. By W. Crookes, F. R. S. London. 1878. Pp. 11.
Objections to the Doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body. By a Physician who his seen an Angel. Philadelphia: Gross & Halloway print. Pp. 21.
Alcoholic Medication. By N. Newby, M.D. Spiceland, Indiana. 1877. Pp. 16.
Extent and Significance of the Wisconsin Kettle Moraine. By T. C. Chamberlin. From Transactions Wisconsin Academy of Sciences. Pp. 36.
Yellow Fever. By J. Livingston. New Orleans: Hyatt print. Pp. 16.
Congress and the North Pole. By Captain H. W. Howgate, United States Army. Kansas City, Missouri: "Review of Science and Industry" print. 1879. Pp. 43.
Spencer's Social Anatomy. By H. M. Simmons. From Transactions Wisconsin Academy of Science. Pp. 6.
Thoughts on our Conceptions of Physical Law. By Professor Francis E. Nipher. Kansas City, Missouri: "Review" print. Pp. 9.