Popular Science Monthly/Volume 23/October 1883/Literary Notices

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Spencer's Descriptive Sociology: A Cyclopædia of Social Facts, representing the Constitution of Every Type and Grade of Human Society, Past and Present, Stationary and Progressive. In Eight Tarts, large folio. D. Appleton k Co. Price, $35.

We have from time to time made reference to this great work as its parts have successively appeared during the last fifteen years; but, having now assumed its completed or final form, we desire to call attention to it as a whole, and calculated to meet the wants of modern students in the way of a valuable work of reference.

As we have repeatedly explained, this comprehensive cyclopædia of social data is novel in form, the whole work being planned and executed with a view to the utmost facility in getting at the multitudinous facts which it records. Mr. Spencer had before him a task of great difficulty when he attempted to present the materials that are descriptive of all phases of human society within an available compass, and by a plan that shall make them in the highest degree accessible for reference, and at the same time instructive for comparative study. After long reflection and various trials, he was compelled to adopt the tabular mode of arranging the facts, which necessitated the folio form of publication, with very large pages. This, of course, was undesirable, but it was unavoidable; yet, as the work is one rather for consultation than for continuous reading, there is really an immense gain in the plan chosen by which any one of its multifarious subjects may be followed out in its broadest relations with ease and dispatch.

Of course, the first thing Mr. Spencer had to do was to arrive at a classification of those elements and activities of human society which are the objects of study by the sociologist. These elements and factors exist in nearly every human society, but with the widest differences of form and development. In low and rude communities, the parts that make up the social state are rudimental, while in the ascending grade of social progress they are developed to all degrees of complexity. Some societies, as the savages, are stationary, that is, without historic change, and the descriptions of their composition and character are therefore simple, and occupy the least space. But other communities have had a long historical development, which has, of course, consisted in the evolution of the constituent parts, and these have therefore to be separately traced through all the stages of progress.

To understand how difficult the mode of presentation was, we have but to refer to the extent of the subjects dealt with. Among the social structures and activities, are the forms of government, both general and local; industrial, educational, and military institutions; domestic relations, and the constitution of families; religious systems and ideas, and ecclesiastical organizations; ceremonial customs, and social habits; recreations and amusements; useful arts, inventions, industries, and the progress and condition of knowledge; moral sentiments, ideals, and practices, and the cultivation of taste and æsthetic art; the physical, intellectual, and emotional characters of different peoples and races; and the widely varied conditions of nature, and the environing circumstances that influence the social state. These are the fundamental facts of all communities which are to be inquired into by the student of social science, and Mr. Spencer's problem was to bring these facts into such relation by classification and tabular representation as will facilitate comparison for scientific purposes. It was indispensable that two conditions be fulfilled: In the first place, the facts required to be so presented as to bring out coexisting conditions, or to show how the various factors were combined and correlated in the social structure at any one period. In the next place, it was imperative that the movement of progressive societies from epoch to epoch should be so exhibited that each constituent should be separately traced, while at the same time the consensus of advancement is displayed. Progressive societies grow unequally. Some advance rapidly in certain lines, and slowly or not at all in others, and to deduce the laws of social growth, the first condition is that of comprehensive comparative study, and Spencer's cyclopædia is conformed throughout to the attainment of this object.

It will be seen that in the nature of the case the work must have been on a very comprehensive scale. A treatise for this purpose within moderate limits would have been good for nothing; and the treatment of the subject in the ordinary form of books would have been of but very little service. But, by getting rid of all that is superfluous, by eliminating irrelevant statements, and rejecting comment and speculation, in short, by confining the digest to the essential things concerning human society to which science must be confined in its work of establishing general truths, it became possible to condense immense amounts of historic and descriptive matter within comparatively narrow spaces. It is the merit of Spencer's work to have accomplished this object with remarkable success. Of course, anything like a really universal description of human societies, no matter how condensed, would be practically impossible, nor would it be at all necessary. What is wanted for general instruction, and scientific induction, is an array of social data that shall largely represent all the types, forms, and grades of the social state. The greatest number of human societies upon the earth are still in the low and comparatively stationary condition, although in this respect no two are alike. A large number must therefore be studied, sufficient for the derivation of general principles, but it would be needless to extend the list to unmanageable proportions. Then there are societies which have advanced to certain stages of civilization where they have been arrested and fallen into decay. A sufficient number of these require to be represented to teach the lessons they are calculated to enforce. Then there are societies which illustrate a long and slow historic progress through many centuries, and which stand at the head of the present civilization of the world. These are selected for the study of social development in its highest degree as hitherto attained. Mr. Spencer's work covers this broad field, and is thus fully adequate for the scientific demands of the age in pursuing comprehensive sociological inquiries.

So large and laborious was the undertaking upon which he engaged and so difficult was it to command capable assistance in carrying out the project, so heavy the expense of the undertaking, both in securing the protracted services of capable assistants and in the publication of the works, which Mr. Spencer had to meet alone, and so intensely was Mr. Spencer himself absorbed in the execution of his elaborate system of philosophy, that the "Descriptive Sociology" proceeded slowly, and was published irregularly as the parts were successively brought to completion. They therefore appear in an order that was determined by the circumstances of their preparation. Of all the savage races upon the globe, the very lowest are the Negritto tribes and the Malayo-Polynesian races. These are dealt with in Part III of the cyclopædia. Seventeen examples are given as types of the lowest races, viz.: the Fuegians, Andamanese, Veddahs, Australians, Tasmanians, New Caledonians, New Guinea people, Fijians, Sandwich Islanders, Tahitians, Tongans, Samoans, New Zealanders, Dyaks, Javans, Sumatrans, Malagasy. Part IV is devoted to thirteen of the representative African races; Part V to fifteen of the Asiatic races; and Part VI to seventeen of the principal American races. These four parts exemplify the undeveloped, or the but rudely developed forms of social life which are to be taken as starting-points in studying the development of mankind. Part II is devoted to more advanced forms of society, the imperfect civilizations of which are decayed or extinct, and it embraces the Mexicans, the Central Americans, the Chibchas, and the Peruvians. This line of study is also still further pursued in Part VII, which delineates the social life and the form of civilization attained by the Hebrews and the Phœnicians. Part I and Part VIII, the first and last issued, are devoted to the sociological history of the English and the French as old historic and still flourishing civilizations. There is a more or less continuous social history of England and France, running through some two thousand years and culminating in their present high development, which makes them the best examples for tracing the slow-working agencies by which the highest social conditions have been attained. The sociology of the French is the most elaborately worked out of all, the part devoted to it being so large as to rank it as a double number.

It was Mr. Spencer's original intention to include some other societies in his project, but, as its execution threatened to become pecuniarily ruinous, he closed the undertaking with Part VIII. But the scholarship of the world owes him its best thanks for having carried this great, original, and invaluable work to such satisfactory completion as it has actually attained. The history of the advance of knowledge hardly furnishes a parallel to this enterprise. Mr. Spencer foresaw many years ago that the establishment upon a sound and permanent basis of the highest and most important of all the sciences, that of human society, would depend upon such a collection and systematization of its immense data as had never been attempted or even dreamed of by inquirers upon social subjects. All science rests upon the foundation of observed facts, and these facts must be as extensive as the generalizations to be built upon them. And, because such data were neither at hand nor forthcoming, nor deemed possible of procurement, it was held that sociology could never become a legitimate and well-grounded science. It might be a region of speculation, but it could have no valid inductive basis. Mr. Spencer perceived that there was no reason in the necessity of things for this hopeless conclusion, and he accordingly undertook the preliminary work of preparing a solid foundation for the new science. Nor is it too much to say that the issue of the first part of the "Descriptive Sociology" settled the question. So eminent an authority upon this class of subjects as Mr. E. B. Tylor, author of the "Early History of Mankind," remarked upon its appearance, "It is a sufficient answer to all disbelievers in the possibility of a science of history."

That this great work should not have been appreciated by the age to which it was offered is not surprising. The sciences that have been long established are still struggling for educational recognition, and no form of intellectual labor is so ill appreciated in these times and especially in this country as that which aims at the extension of knowledge and the establishment of new truth. But this state of things can not last. Science is destined to make its way, and the science which furnishes a new method and new aids in the study of human affairs is bound to force the recognition that has not yet been accorded. There are many gropers in the field of so-called "Social Science," and, although their results are of but little value, they attest a vague belief in the social order as something capable of rational elucidation. What we want is better methods of conducting the investigation and a truer spirit of science in their pursuit. The work here noticed, in proportion as it becomes known, is certain to be tributary in an eminent degree to this desirable end.

Report on the Thermal Springs of the Yellowstone National Park. By A. C. Peale. Author's edition. Washington. Pp. 454, with Plates and Charts.

The report is a Part extracted from the report of Dr. Hayden's "Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories for 1878," and well deserves the distinction of a separate publication. It gives full accounts of all the geysers and hot springs of the park, arranged in the order of the river systems to which they belong, with the history of our knowledge of them, and of the region as a whole, accompanied by illustrations tinted in the natural colors, and maps, in which each spring and phenomenon described is indicated by a corresponding number. The reader of the historical introduction will be surprised to learn how short a time these wonders, now familiar and world-renowned, have been known. John Coulter, of Lewis and Clark's expedition, was the first man who ever saw them, and his accounts of them, first given in 1810, were not believed at all. James Bridger next told of them, in 1 844, and was likewise discredited. Even the newspapers were afraid to publish any of his stories. Captain John Mullan, in 1853, heard something about the hot springs and geysers from the Indians; and Captain Reynolds, in a report to the Fortieth Congress, admitted that Bridger might possibly have seen such springs as he described. The first authentic description of the springs was published by David E. Folsom in the "Lakeside Monthly," Chicago, in 1870. Other explorations were made at about this time, and other magazine articles, some of them illustrated, were published concerning the phenomena; and the first scientific accounts of the region were given by the geological surveys of 1871 and 1872.

The Diseases of the Liver, with and without Jaundice. By George Harlet, M. D., F. R. S. Philadelphia: P. Blakiston, Son & Co. Pp. 751. Price, $5.

The author published in 1863 a monograph on "Jaundice," with observations on the special application of pathological chemistry to the detection and treatment of diseases of the liver and pancreas. With the fruit of twenty years of additional experience, he has again gone over the subject and produced the present treatise, which, although it embodies the whole substance of the original monograph, "bears no more resemblance to it than a mature adult does to the suckling from which he sprung." While the scientific principles on which both works are founded are identical, the present one is much larger than the former, and contains in a condensed form a considerable amount of clinical and scientific data that have never before been collected into one volume. As in other branches of science, many old theories have been abandoned. The work being intended for the use of the "qualified brethren" of the author, he does not undertake to discuss them, but, in order that the reader may see how many of them have been given up and how many new ones espoused, he has put his own views, in accordance with the facts and arguments expressed throughout the volume, into a concise and diagrammatic tabular form.

"Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History." Vol. I, No. 4. New York: Printed for the Museum. Pp. 40, with Plates.

The present number of the "Bulletin" is wholly occupied with a contribution by Joseph B. Holder on "The Atlantic Right Whales," in which he maintains that the black whale so called of the temperate Atlantic, which was lately introduced to science as a recent discovery, and is now after a long period of nearly total extinction rapidly increasing in numbers, "is the one our forefathers found abundant along the Atlantic coast, from Newfoundland to Florida. It is the one which was first hunted by the Cape Cod and Nantucket whalers; and is not the one now and latterly captured in the Arctic seas." Facilities have been given for the study of the animal by the existence of five skeletons in America and Europe, and by the capture of an adult specimen in 1882 off the New Jersey coast. To the results of the author's studies of the American specimens are added criticisms of previous accounts of the right whale, and a summary of historical mentions relating to the present and allied species. Some of Dr. Holder's conclusions have been disputed by Mr. J. A. Allen.

Saxon Tithing-Men in America. By Herbert B. Adams, Ph. D. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University ("Studies in Historical and Political Science"). Pp. 23. Price, 25 cents.

The tithing-man's duties in Massachusetts and Plymouth colonies were very much like those of the constable, and, though he was preceded by officers of that name in New England, he was a far more ancient officer than the constable in the old country. While the constable had the care of public order, the tithing-man's duties were rather connected with the preservation of order and morals in families. Originally one was appointed for every ten families. Dr. Adams follows his account of the functions of the New England tithing-man with a review of the history of the office, which he traces back to the Saxon rule in England.

Medical Economy during the Middle Ages. By George F. Fort. New York: J. W. Bouton. Pp. 488.

The author styles his work "A Contribution to the History of European Morals, from the Time of the Roman Empire to the Close of the Fourteenth Century." Its general purpose is stated to be that of an historical inquiry into the practical effect upon social life throughout the period traversed, of that singular credence which involved preternatural agencies. This belief appears to have been particularly general and controlling in respect to matters appertaining to the preservation and restoration of bodily vigor. Superstition seems to have reigned supreme down to the time of Charlemagne. From that epoch the slow growth of better ideas and a more intelligent practice may be traced, beginning with the schools fostered by that enlightened ruler, and the scholars he called around him. The scope of Mr. Fort's work includes the condition of medical art under the Roman emperors to Galen's time; the influence of the Alexandrine schools in producing a regular system of magic cures, and the progress of the magic system as a moralistic episode of the middle ages, concurrent with ancient medical text-books in the cloisters; the gradual development of the science, aided by Arabic erudition at the Italian universities; and the bloom of alchemy and astrology. Among special features receiving attention are the curative powers ascribed to gems, incantations, etc., the manner of dealing with abandoned women, and the status of physicians, of both sexes, at different epochs.

A Dictionary of Practical Medicine. By Various Writers, edited by Richard Quain, M. D., F. R. S. Fourth edition. New York: D. Appleton & Co. In one large 8vo vol. By 1,834, with 138 illustrations. Price, $8.

This work, which has engaged the editorial labors of Dr. Quain for several years, is a single octavo volume of some eighteen hundred pages. No dictionary of medicine so compendious, and at the same time so authoritative, has yet appeared in any language. One hundred and sixty writers contribute an immense number of articles, varying in length from a column or less to thirty pages. Each contributor "volunteered or was invited to write on a subject with which he was specially familiar"; and the list of authors is as representative of the best literature of the profession in England, Ireland, and Scotland, as any that could have been framed. If the name of a distinguished authority is missed here and there, this is only the inevitable result of there being other and sometimes younger men, equally qualified and more conveniently situated for the particular purpose. Dr. Quain's editorial resources have been, indeed, of the amplest kind; he has marshaled an array of professional talent which is not only creditable to the position of the editor among his colleagues, but creditable likewise to the profession as a whole. Those who know nothing of dictionary-editing will hardly appreciate the editorial labor that this work represents. A sense of proportion in assigning the space to the several subjects in a vast field of knowledge must be constantly and watchfully observed, along with a due consideration for the value of everything that a distinguished contributor would wish to write on his favorite theme. It is given only to a firm hand and a delicate tact to achieve success in such an enterprise; and the measure of Dr. Quain's success must be, on the one hand, the compact form and size of his dictionary, and, on the other, the endless variety of the articles and the value of the signatures that they bear. An encyclopedic undertaking of this compass and quality brings to light both the wealth of our home resources in the particular learned profession, as well as the distinctively English characteristics of brevity and point. The new "Dictionary of Medicine" will take rank with the corresponding works in other departments of knowledge, for which the English press has acquired a certain distinction abroad; and it does not surprise one to hear that steps are being taken to have it translated into more than one Continental language.

The work is primarily a dictionary of practical medicine for the use of practitioners. It includes naturally all the diseases that come more particularly within the province of the physician as distinguished from that of the surgeon; but in the numerous articles on general pathology, general therapeutics, hygiene, medical jurisprudence, diseases peculiar to women and children, and subjects on the border-land of medicine and surgery, it includes all but the most technical parts of surgery also. It is, therefore, a work in which the general practitioner of medicine will find articles, in alphabetical order, on all the subjects that are likely to come under his notice in the course of his every-day work. The direct interest of it for the laity—the interest of the subject matter, if not of the volume itself—is proved by the liberal allowance of space given to many matters that are a concern to all educated persons. Chief among the articles of this class are those on "Nursing the Sick and the Training of Nurses" (Miss Nightingale), "Administration of Hospitals, and the Construction of Hospitals" (Captain Douglas Galton), "Public Health" (the late Dr. Parkes), "Vaccination" (the late Dr. Seaton), "Contagion" (Mr. Simon), "Personal Health" (Dr. Southey), and "Predisposition to Disease" (Dr. W. B. Carpenter). Shorter signed articles of general interest are those on "Diet," "Climate," "Health Resorts," "Mineral Waters," "Sea-Air," "Sea-Baths," "Sea-Voyages," "Sea-Sickness," "Baths," "Douche," "Hydrotherapeutics," "Exercise," "Fatigue," "Effects of Extreme Cold and Extreme Heat," "Sunstroke," "Malaria," "Periodicity in Disease," "Epidemics," "Plague," "Quarantine," "Disinfection," "Mortality," "Alcohol and Alcoholism," "Criminal Irresponsibility," "Civil Incapacity," and many more.

Many of the subjects of that class were, of course, ably handled by the older writers; and, more particularly, diet, climate, sea-voyages, and the like, were matters familiar to the contemporaries of Hippocrates and Galen. But there are not a few articles in this dictionary of which even the headings would have been looked for in vain in a similar work as recently as fifty or sixty years ago. "Anæsthetics," "Ophthalmoscope," "Laryngoscope," "Microscope in Medicine," "Clinical Thermometry," "Physical Examination" how great an increase in the useful power of medicine and surgery do these new titles represent! "Addison's Disease," "Lymphadenoma," "Leucocythemia," "Pernicious Anæmia," "Myxoedema," "Locomotor Ataxy," "Pseudo-hypertrophic Muscular Paralysis," "Diseases of the Spinal Cord," "Pneumogastric Nerve," "Sympathetic Nervous System"—how much is there here that is quite new and curious, and may one day be even useful! "Diphtheria," "Typhoid Fever," "Malignant Pustule," "Micrococci," "Bacilli," "Parasitic Skin Diseases," "Chyluria," "Thrombosis and Embolism," "Fatty Degeneration"—how much of progressive theory, better discrimination, and rational suggestion is contained in those! The headings "Antiseptic Treatment" and "Diseases of the Ovaries" will call to mind a degree of success in formidable surgical undertakings which no previous generation has known. It would be an endless task, and much too technical, to enter into details about these numerous additions to the catalogue of diseases, to the stock of pathological ideas, and to the resources of treatment. The enumeration will serve to show that the alleged progress of medical science can be substantiated, if need be, by full particulars. It may be more generally interesting to give some account of the modern position of medical science of its precision, and of what its precision depends upon.


On the Characters of the Skull in the Hadrosauridæ; and on some Vertebrata from the Permian of Illinois. By E. D. Cope. Pp. 13, with Four Plates.

"Paleontological Bulletin," No. 36. First Addition to the Fauna of the Puerco-Eocene; On the Brains of the Eocene Mammalia Phenacodus and Periptychus; and Fourth Contribution to the History of the Permian Formation of Texas. By Professor E. D. Cope. Philadelphia: A. E. Foote.

Proceedings of the Third Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Pharmaceutical Association held in Oshkosh, August 6-10, 1682. E. B. Heimstreet, Janesville, Secretary. Pp. 98.

Ætiology and Non-Infection of Sewer Gases. By Washington Ayer, M.D. San Francisco. 1883. Pp. 25.

Study of Neglected Lacerations of the Cervix Uteri and Perinæum. By Thomas A. Ashby, M.D. Baltimore, Md. Pp. 11.

The Nature of Heat and Gravity. By William Coutie. Troy, N.Y. 1883. Pp. 19.

Remarks on Hydrophobia. By Charles W. Dalles, M.D. Philadelphia. 1883. Pp. 12.

Third Annual Report of the Astronomer in Charge of the Horological and Thermometric Bureaus in the Observatory of Yale College, 1882-83. By Leonard Waldo. New Haven. 1883. Pp. 20.

Acute Articular Rheumatism. By E. O. Bardwell, M.D. Emporium, Pa. 1883. Pp. 7.

The Newport Natural History Society. Document 1. Newport, R.I. 1883. Pp. 15.

Signal-Service Notes, No. 4, The Use of the Spectroscope in Meteorological Observations. By Winslow Upton, A.M. Pp. 7. No. 5, Work of the Signal-Service in the Arctic Regions. Pp. 40. Washington: Government Printing-Office. 1883.

Q. P. Indexes, No. XIII. An Index to Articles relating to History, Biography. Literature, Society, and Travel, contained in Collections of Essays. By W. M. Griswold, A.B. Bangor, U.S.A. Q. P. Index, Publisher. 1883. Pp. 56.

Pemphigus and the Diseases liable to bo mistaken for it. pp. 11; Hints on the Treatment of some Parasitic Skin Diseases, pp. 11; The Treatment of Various Forms of Acne. pp. 7. By George II. Kobe, M.D. Baltimore, Md.

"The American Psychological Journal." Edited by Joseph Fairish. M.O. Quarterly. Vol I, No. 2. July, 1888. Philadelphia: P. Blakiston, Son & Co. Pp. 112. $2 a year.

The Calendar of the Departments of Law, Science, and I. it nature of the University of Tokio, Japan. 1881-'82. Pp. 125.

Measurement of the Force of Gravity at Sapporo, Yesso. Published by the University of Tokio. 1882. Pp. 21.

Topics of the Time, No. 4. Historical Studies. Edited by Titus M. Coan. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1888. Pp. 205. 25 cents.

Hydraulic Tables for the Calculation of the Discharge through Sewers, Pipes, and Conduits. By P. J. Flynn, C.E. New York: D. Van Nostrand. 1883. Pp. 136. 50 cents.

Die körperlichen Eigenschaften der Japaner. Eine anthropologische Studie. (The Bodily Peculiarities of the Japanese. An Anthropological Study.) By Dr. Erwin Baelz. Yokohama: Press of the "Echo du Japon." Pp. 30.

Die Kupferlegirungen. ihre Darstellung und Verwendung bei den Volkern des Alterthums. (Copper Alloys, their Description and Application with the Peoples of Antiquity.) By Dr. E. Reyer. Vienna. Pp. 16.

Revista de Agricultura. (Review of Agriculture.) Nicomedes P. De Adan, Director. Monthly; August, 1883. Havana. Pp. 32.

Muster altitalienischer Leinenstickerei. (Pattern-Book of Old Italian Linen Embroidery.) Collected and edited by Frieda Lipperheide. Berlin: Franz Lipperheide. 2 vols. Pp. 32 and 36, with 22-30 Plates. 12 marks.

First Annual Report of the Board of Control of the New York State Experiment Station, for the Year 1882. Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co. 1883. Pp. 156.

Lessons in Qualitative Chemical Analysis. By Dr. F. Beilstein. St. Louis: St. Louis Stationery and Book Co. 1883. Pp. 164. $1.50.

Genesis. The Miracles and the Predictions according to Spiritism. By Allan Kardec. Boston: Colby & Rich. 1663. Pp. 488.

God and Creation. By Robert Reid Howison. Richmond: West, Johnson & Co. 1883. Pp. 578.

Photo-Micrographs and how to make them. By George M. Sternberg, M.D., F.R.M.S. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co. 1883. Pp. 204. Illustrated. $3.

Fifth Annual Report of the State Board of Health of Connecticut, for the Fiscal Year ending November 30, 1882. Hartford: Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co. 1883. Pp. 456. Illustrated.