Popular Science Monthly/Volume 29/June 1886/Literary Notices

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Comparative Literature. By Hutcheson Macaulay Posnett, M.A., LL.D., F.L.S., Barrister-at-Law, Professor of Classics and English Literature, University College, Auckland, New Zealand, author of "The Historical Method." New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1885.

This is in many ways a remarkable book. For some years, not many to be sure, a certain number of critics have been urging: the necessity of applying to the study of literature the principles of scientific treatment which has brought forth rich fruit from many seemingly arid sources. While they have been apostrophizing vaguely on the general need of some such change, and generally with but little apparent success, we have in this volume tangible proof of the good results that the method can produce in competent hands. Naturally enough, the mere novelty of the theory excites angry surprise; then, too, the venerable habit of regarding literature and science as two irreconcilable poles of thought has opposed the recognition of the inevitable advance of science into every department of investigation, and it has been held—it is still held—that genius is something which defies analysis as it defies definition; that it was only necessary to have a creative mind to create masterpieces; and that to attempt to show how any great man in the past wrote, what influences controlled and directed him, was mere presumptuous extravagance. We are also told that literature is made up of beauty, and is only to be enjoyed; students of its principles are carefully warned off from its treasures. Yet one might as well tell a botanist that flowers are only to be enjoyed, or a mineralogist that gems exist but for the purpose of evoking admiration; the sciences of these imaginary men would survive such impossible advice, and the existence of these sciences, it may be well to notice, has not yet tended to diminish the interest or delight in the objects with which they are concerned.

If, then, the reasonableness of some form of the scientific study of literature may be acknowledged, this book, which contains a serious application of the results of sociological investigation to various early literatures, is well worthy of attention. The conditions of early society have been ascertained by long and careful investigation; the comparative study of its beginnings has been facilitated by observing phenomena still existent among rude races, and in this volume Mr. Posnett applies to letters the upshot of these studies. Naturally, it is to the literature of Greece that he turns with especial interest, for, besides its importance to all later civilizations, it bears distinctly the marks of autochthonous growth. Inasmuch as society developed from the communal form of the clan into the fuller expression of individuality, it becomes important to examine the growth of literature by the light of these discoveries, as this author has done, and the result is most gratifying. It is obvious that any one who approaches Greek territory with such intentions is sure to stir up a hornets' nest. Anything that tends to show that the sacred spirit of Hellas has grown up under conditions that may be explained by studying other races is held to lay profane fingers on a carefully guarded art. Mr. Andrew Lang has tasted some of the wrath of zealous scholars who have not fancied his proof that the stone age of Greece was like the stone age of every other race; and it is hard to conceive the miserable fate that awaits Mr. Posnett for daring to compare the early Doric choral dances to the buffalo-dance of the North American Indians. Yet he has done this; and, moreover, he has shown how the customary belief of clans in inherited guilt and in vicarious sacrifice survived in the plays of Æschylus and Sophocles, only to disappear in those of Euripides with the growth of individuality. His proof of the limitations of the Greek ideas through these bonds is most valuable. Here at last we have something like solid ground to take the place of a priori hypothesis. To enforce his points he has brought together abundant testimony from the early Hebrew, Sanskrit, Persian, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and other literatures, which is the only way in which this vast subject can be properly studied. The study of Greek literature alone has led to extravagant notions of the miraculous force of genius; by examining all the testimony, though the task is an arduous one, sounder ideas will prevail. Space is lacking for even a statement of all that is contained in this excellent book, but it may be said that every student of literature will find his reward in mastering its pages. No one will agree with everything that Mr. Posnett says, but whoever learns to apply to the foundation of literature the light obtained from the study of contemporary society may be sure that he is on the right path. That is the whole secret: to study literature as but a part of man's development, not as a separate, divinely inspired entity a mysterious thing created by incomprehensible genius.

Hunting Trips of a Ranchman. By Theodore Roosevelt. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Pp. 347. Price, $3.50.

The character of this book is further described by its sub-title, "Sketches of Sport on the Northern Cattle-Plains"; and this makes it appropriate to begin the story with a description of those plains and their—for the time at least—great industry. They lie in the basin of the Little Missouri River, and "stretch from the rich wheat farms of Central Dakota to the Rocky Mountains, and southward to the Black Hills and the Big Horn Chain, thus including all of Montana, Northern Wyoming, and extreme Western Dakota." The region is a nearly treeless one, of light rainfall, cut up by streams of the most capricious character, diversified with deserts of alkali and sagebrush, prairies, rolling hills, and fantastically carved and colored "bad lands." The country was won from the Indians only about half a dozen years ago, and was almost immediately occupied by the cattle herders, owning from hundreds to tens of thousands of head, and occupying land of extent to correspond, with not very exactly defined boundaries and no legal titles. With them came the now famous cowboys, of whom and their habits Mr. Roosevelt gives a very interesting description. The home-life of this wild region, which is, of course, usually a bachelor's life, with cowboys for neighbors, and rough enough, forms the subject of a lively running sketch, passing from topic to topic, after which the reader is introduced to the game in its several kinds—waterfowl, grouse, jack-rabbits, wild turkeys, and the larger animals. The white tailed deer is the best known and most widely distributed of all the large game of the United States, and the kind which under any sort of decent treatment is probably likely to stay longest at large among us. These deer have the capacity of living in a region even when it has become thickly settled, and making themselves at home among tame cattle, and still exist in nearly every State. They "are very canny, and know perfectly well what threatens danger and what does not; keep themselves concealed in the densest thickets of the river bottoms, and at the first intimation of danger steal off noiselessly almost from under the eyes of the hunter." Mr. Roosevelt tells of the best ways of killing them, but our interest is in the ways they have of keeping from being killed, in which we hope they will improve. The black-tail deer, more important animals in some respects, in their unsophisticated state are very easy to approach, but a short experience of danger on their part changes their character, and when hunters are often afoot, they become "as wild and wary as may be." They would be extremely difficult to hunt except for their inordinate curiosity, which gives them the habit of turning round every once in a while, stopping, and looking at their pursuer. Antelopes, or prong-horns, are also very wary game, but may be betrayed by their morbid curiosity or their unhappy liability to be thrown into a panic. No other plains game, except the big-horn, is as shy and sharp-sighted; "and if a man is once seen by the game the latter will not let him get out of sight again, unless it decides to go off at a gait that soon puts half a dozen miles between them. It shifts its position so as to keep the hunter continually in sight,. . . and after it has once caught a glimpse of the foe, the latter might as well give up all hopes of getting the game." The bighorn, or mountain sheep, "are extremely wary and cautious animals, and are plentiful in but few places." They are almost the only kind of game on whose haunts cattle do not trespass. They live on the rocks, and are not annoyed by rival claimants to their sterile estates. Their movements are not light and graceful like those of the antelopes, but they have a marvelous agility which proceeds "from sturdy strength and wonderful command over iron sinews and muscles." There is probably no animal in the world their superior in climbing; and "the way that one will vanish over the roughest and most broken ground is a perpetual surprise to any one that has hunted them." Regarding the buffalo, Mr. Roosevelt observes that its rapid extermination "affords an excellent instance of how a race that has thriven and multiplied for ages under conditions of life to which it has slowly fitted itself by a process of natural selection continued for countless generations, may succumb at once when these surrounding conditions are varied by the introduction of one or more new elements, immediately becoming the chief forces with which it has to contend in the struggle for life." These new elements are the barbarity of civilized man in hunting the buffalo, and the greed of the cattle-herders for its pasture-lands; and their presence has made the other conditions and habits which were most favorable to the preservation of the animal to contribute to its extinction. Happily, "events have developed a race of this species, known either as the wood or mountain buffalo, which is acquiring, and has already largely acquired, habits widely different from those of the others of its kind. It is found in the wooded and most precipitous portions of the mountains, instead of on the level and open plains; it goes singly or in small parties, instead of in huge herds; and it is more agile and infinitely more wary than its prairie cousin. The formation of this race is due solely to the extremely severe process of natural selection that has been going on among the buffalo-herds for the last sixty or seventy years." Elk were formerly plentiful all over the plains, but they have been driven off the ground nearly as completely as the buffalo. They are still, however, very common in the dense woods that cover the Rocky Mountains and the other great Western chains; but they are unfortunately one of the animals seemingly doomed to total destruction at no distant date. Already their range has shrunk to far less than one half its former size. "Ranged in the order of the difficulty with which they are approached and slain," says Mr. Roosevelt, "plains game stand as follows: big-horn, antelope, white-tail, black-tail, elk, and buffalo. But, as regards the amount of manly sport furnished by the chase of each, the white-tail should stand at the bottom of the list, and the elk and black-tail abreast of the antelope. Other things being equal, the length of an animal's stay in the land, when the arch foe of all lower forms of animal life has made his appearance therein, depends upon the difficulty with which he is hunted and slain. But other influences have to be taken into account. The big-horn is shy and retiring; very few, compared to the whole number, will be killed; and yet the others vanish completely. Apparently they will not remain where they are hunted and disturbed. With antelope and white-tail this does not hold; they will cling to a place far more tenaciously, even if often harassed. The former, being the more conspicuous and living in such open ground, is apt to be more persecuted; while the whitetail, longer than any other animal, keeps its place in the land in spite of the swinish game-butchers. . . . All game animals rely upon eyes, ears, and nose to warn them of the approach of danger; but the amount of reliance placed on each sense varies greatly in different species."

The Influence of Sewerage and Water-Supply on the Death-rate in Cities. By Erwin F. Smith. Pp. 84.

This paper was read at the Sanitary Convention at Ypsilanti, Michigan, July, 1885, and is reprinted from a supplement to the "Annual Report of the Michigan State Board of Health for 1885." As the author himself states, no effort has been made to present anything new in this article, but he has rather sought to place, in a form suitable and convenient for study and comparison, facts and data otherwise not readily accessible. It will seem somewhat surprising at first sight that so much of the material used is from foreign sources; yet this could not be avoided, as the writer forcibly points out, for, although there is no lack of so-called statistics in our own country, yet reliable and therefore valuable mortuary data are obtainable from but few localities. While we can not, in our space, mention all the questions and matters touched upon in this pamphlet, we would call especial attention to the charts appended to it. An examination of them ought to be sufficient to convince the most skeptical as to the direct relation an improvement in the system of sewerage and the water-supply of a city holds to the decrease in the death-rate of its inhabitants from certain diseases.

In Chart I, which records the deaths from typhoid fever to each 10,000 inhabitants before, during, and since the introduction of sewerage and water-supply, Munich, in Germany, shows for the years 1851 to 1859 twenty-one deaths from this disease to each 10,000 inhabitants, while for the period from 1874 to 1884 the rate has fallen to six and three tenths per 10,000.

Another chart, designed to show the protective influence of sewerage and water-supply in the cholera epidemic of 1865-'66, is divided into two groups. The cities enumerated in Group I were abundantly supplied with good water, and in most cases were also well sewered; those in Group II were incompletely sewered, or entirely destitute of modern sewers, and very dirty; their water-supply was scant or open to infection.

In the first group, where we find, among other cities, New York and Brooklyn, the former shows 12·8 deaths per each 10,000 inhabitants, the latter 16·5.

Memphis, Tennessee, which is placed in the second group, shows 268 deaths from cholera per each 10,000 of its population. St. Louis has 173·0 as its record; while Chicago, which in this group makes the best showing, stands charged with 43·7 for every 10,000 of its inhabitants.

Figures like these themselves furnish an impressive sermon.

The Epic Songs of Russia. By Isabel Florence Hapgood. With an Introductory Note by Professor Francis J. Child. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Pp. 359. Price, $2.50.

What are here called "Epic Songs" are really the folk-songs, or songs of the common people, whose only literary existence is in the form of copies taken down from the mouths of some of the singers, after they have been handed down by oral tradition for, it may be, hundreds of years. Besides the pleasure to be got from the works themselves as stories and poetry, the perusal of them, as Professor Child says, is well adapted to help to an appreciation of those of our fellow-men who have been educated by tradition and not by books, and who, though living on the plainest fare of oats, feel and cherish poetry "not less than those who have been nursed in comfort and schooled in literature." These Russian epics possess a striking distinction from those of Western Europe, in that while the latter passed from the popular mouth to writing during the middle ages, and are no longer to be found except in books, the Russian epics are still living in some districts of the country, and are "even extending into fresh fields"; and "it is only within the present century within the last twenty-five years, in fact that the discovery has been made that Russia possesses a national literature which is not excelled by the finest of Western Europe." Although one or two small collections had been previously published, which gave, however, no real indication of the richness of the field to be explored, systematic investigation of this literature was first begun by Petr N. Rybnikof, of Petrzavodsk, on Lake Onega, about 1860. He discovered the chief minstrel of the region and the most important poem, and succeeded in collecting more than 50,000 verses. A. F. Hilferding, who followed him in 1870, made a still larger collection. "Two of the causes which have aided in the preservation of epic poetry in these remote districts, long after its disappearance from other parts of Russia, are liberty and loneliness. These people have never been subjected to the oppressions of serfdom, and have never lost the ideal of free power celebrated in the ancient rhapsodies." In the isolation of their forests, moreover, they do not come in contact with the world, and have never felt the influence of change—conditions remain as in epic times. They also thoroughly believe the truth of the marvelous things recited in the poems. A curious incident is related, in which the imposition of a new forestry regulation contributed to the extension of the songs. A community were compelled to abandon their farms, and went to net-making. As farmers, they knew nothing of the songs; in company with the net-makers and other handicraftsmen, they learned them all. The singing of the poems is not now a profession, but is a domestic diversion, and the present minstrels all belong to the peasant class, and are nearly all well-to-do. The epic songs proper are divisible into three groups—the cycle of Vladimir or Kiev, that of Novgorod, and that of Moscow—and these are preceded by three songs of the Elder Heroes. In the songs of the Vladimir cycle, the recently Christianized people for convenience' sake baptized their heathen gods, making of Perun, the thunderer, nya, or Elijah the Prophet, the hero of the series, and earned the epithet of "two-faithed," which was applied to the Russian people by their older writers. The Novgorod cycle is more restricted, consisting practically of but two songs, and is more definite, more practical, and closer to history than the Kiev cycle. The Moscow cycle begins with Ivan the Terrible and ends with Peter the Great, and is not represented in this volume. A running view of the development of this poetry is given in the author's introduction.

Applied Geology: A Treatise on the Industrial Relations of Geological Structure; and on the Nature, Occurrence, and Uses of Substances derived from Geological Sources. By Samuel G. Williams, Professor of General and Economic Geology in Cornell University. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1886. Pp. 386. Price, $1.50.

The study of geology may be carried on with two entirely different aims. For one who undertakes the study for the sake of the science itself, the chief interest lies in tracing out from the records of stone a history of the surface of our globe, in noting the manifold changes which it has undergone, and perhaps, incidentally, studying the flora and fauna that have flourished upon it. Others, however, will regard geology from a different standpoint. Knowledge of the earth's structure, of the location and the occurrence of its various constituents, can be made use of for the interests of man.

A moment's thought of the great number of substances needed by man, for the supply of which he must look to old Mother Earth, will show how closely geological knowledge, applied to this end, is connected with the very progress of the human race. There has been no lack of excellent books devoted to the study of geology as a science, to theoretical geology, if this term be permissible. However, the need has long been felt of some work that would serve as an aid in making a knowledge of the earth's structure available for practical purposes. Professor Williams has written his "Applied Geology" to meet this want.

It was a question of no small importance how such a work should be conceived and arranged. On the one hand, it was desirable to have the treatise of value to the student of geological science; on the other hand, the book was to be made available for a large class in the community whose pursuits, although not exactly calling for a training in geology, yet make a thorough knowledge of some features of this science most desirable. In our opinion, the author has been very successful in meeting this twofold purpose.

The first forty-odd pages of this book are given to a consideration of the rock-forming minerals and their classification; to a description of rocks and the arrangement of rock-masses. To one who has already studied geology, these pages will prove a welcome review of certain parts of the science that bear more directly on the subjects to follow; for one who has not before engaged in the study, a careful perusal of this part is essential to an understanding of the sequel. The economic relations of geological structure are then discussed; the important bearing of structure on the relative accessibility of valuable substances and deposits is pointed out; the need of a thorough acquaintance with the obtaining geological conditions, by those undertaking great architectural or engineering structures, is referred to, and so on.

The next chapter is devoted to materials of construction. This embraces a thorough discussion of building-stones, their properties, strength, and durability. Their geological positions and distribution are considered. Some notes on materials for mortars and cements are added.

Then follow chapters on the relations of geology to agriculture and to health. The former takes up the question of the origin of soils, and their composition; of geological fertilizers, of drainage, and sub-soil's. The latter covers but a few pages and touches on the water-supply of households and communities, and the problems of drainage.

Mineral fuels and geological materials for illumination are taken up in turn. A classification of the coals (with numerous analyses of different kinds) is followed by a review of the geological horizons of mineral fuels; the fuel value of coals, based on their analysis, is explained, and hints are given on the selection of coals adapted to different purposes. The chapter on geological materials for illumination discusses the occurrence of petroleum and the modes of mining and refining this oil.

Next in order comes the consideration of metalliferous deposits. This theme, as is due its importance, occupies a considerable part of the book. Each of the more important ores receives attention in a separate chapter, and the whole forms a most valuable résumé of the subject. Tables showing the annual production of many of the leading minerals, compiled from the most recent data, will prove of especial interest to manufacturers. The closing chapters of the book treat of substances adapted to chemical manufacture or use, fictile materials, refractory substances, ornamental stones, and gems.

From all that has been said, an idea may be formed as to the nature and the scope of this work. A book of this kind must naturally rely to a certain extent on the work done by others. The author's task, in great part, has consisted in collecting and collating material from many sources. But from this it must not be inferred that the work in question is merely a collection of dry facts and data. On the contrary, written by one evidently thoroughly familiar with the ground covered, the book presents in a most interesting manner a vast amount of information of the greatest practical value. The style is clear and concise, and the book will form most pleasant reading, even for one not directly interested in applied geology.

Fifth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey to the Secretary of the Interior. 1883-'84. By J. W. Powell, Director. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 469, with Plates and Pocket Map.

The topographic work of the survey has been prosecuted in New England, of which the preparation of a map has been begun, and where the State of Massachusetts is cooperating with the survey; in an area of 19,750 square miles in Western Maryland, West Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Western North Carolina, and Eastern Tennessee; and in various parts of the districts of the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and the Pacific. The geologic work embraces the survey of the Yellowstone National Park, by Mr. Arnold Hague; studies in Dakota and Montana, by Dr. Hayden; of glacial phenomena, by Professor T. C. Chamberlain; of the archæan rocks of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Dakota, by Professor Roland T. Irving; of the Quaternary lakes of the Great Basin, by Mr. G. K. Gilbert; of the Cascade Range, by Captain C. E. Dutton; a survey of the District of Columbia and adjacent territory by Mr. W. J. McGee; economic studies in Colorado, by Mr. S. F. Emmons; and surveys of the Sulphur Bank, Knoxville, and New Idria quicksilver-mining districts, by Mr. G. F. Becker and Dr. W. H. Melville; and of the Eureka District, by Mr. J. S. Curtis. The paleontologic work includes Professor Marsh's labors on vertebrate fossils and those of Dr. C. A. White, Charles C. Walcott, and others, on invertebrates, and the investigations of Mr. Lester F. Ward and Professor Fontaine in fossil plants. Chemical analyses have been carried on by Professor Clarke and Dr. T. M. Chatard, and physical investigations by Carl Barus. Special papers representing a considerable number of these investigations are incorporated in the volume containing the report.

Gyrating Bodies. An Empirical Study. Illustrated by upward of Fifty Figures "from Life." By C. B. Warring, Ph. D. Poughkeepsie, N. Y. Pp. 106. With Three Plates.

A gyrating body is defined as "a body revolving on an axis passing through its center of gravity, and acted upon by a continuous force tending to make it revolve on another axis at right angles to the first." The term includes the top, the gyroscope, several toys to the principle of which these furnish the key, and, according to the author, the earth. Such bodies have some curious and paradoxical properties, which, though they may have been carelessly observed without being remarked upon, will be looked upon as strange when attention is called to them; for they seem to contradict our ideas of the operation of the laws of motion. Mr. Warring's studies cover several instruments of the class, and were prosecuted for the purpose of investigating these properties and explaining them. Having reached an explanation, he finds that similar properties reside in the complicated movements of the earth, and that by them such phenomena as nutation and precession may be accounted for.

American Diplomacy and the Furtherance of Commerce. By Eugene Schuyler. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Pp. 469. Price, $2.50.

The author of this work is able to present, in evidence of his understanding of the subject, a record of seventeen years of continuous service in diplomatic positions under our Government, in Russia, Constantinople, England, Rome, Roumania, Greece, and Servia, in all of which stations he has proved himself a useful and efficient agent, and has reflected credit on the American name. The substance of the book is derived from courses of lectures which he delivered last year at Johns Hopkins and Cornell Universities, the purpose of which, in the first series, on our consular and diplomatic service, was to explain the actual workings of the State Department, and to set forth the usefulness and needs of those services to young men who are shortly to be called upon to perform the duties of citizens; and, in the second series, to show how our diplomacy has been practically useful in furthering our commerce and navigation. Under the former head are the chapters on "The Department of State," "Our Consular System," and "Diplomatic Officials," in which the history, theory, purpose, and operations of those services are fully described; and under the second head is shown "how we asserted our rights to freedom of navigation, freedom from tribute such as was paid to the Barbary pirates, freedom from the police supervision of the ocean which Great Britain at one time wished to obtain, and freedom from the restrictions on the free navigation of rivers and seas, about which we had disputes with powers so remote as Spain, Great Britain, Russia, Denmark, and Brazil." Chapters have also been devoted to the fishery question, and to the efforts of our Government to conclude commercial treaties with foreign powers. The whole subject is a very large one, and Mr. Schuyler calls attention to the fact that several points still remain to be considered.

Dutch Village Communities on the Hudson River. By Irving Elting. Pp. 68. Town Government in Rhode Island. By William E. Foster. Pp. 36. The Narragansett Planters. By Edward Channing. Pp. 23. Pennsylvania Boroughs. By William P. Holcomb. Pp. 51. Baltimore: N. Murray.

These monographs, Nos. 2 and 3 being bound together, form the first four numbers of the fourth series of "Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science." The interest of the studies shows no signs of flagging; there appears to be abundance of material at hand on which to base the successive new researches, and it is well used by the several authors. Concerning the lessons that may be learned from the studies, Mr. Foster remarks, in the opening of his paper, that "the application of the comparative method to the study of early American history has within recent years been attended with results of the most substantial value. The scattered communities along the Atlantic coast which, since 1776, have been united in a common bond of government, had their origin in widely diverse sets of conditions. While, therefore, their development has been characterized by institutions bearing a general analogy to each other, there is sufficient individuality and local differentiation to be observed, in any one instance, to render a somewhat close comparison of their points of resemblance and difference extremely serviceable. It is plain, moreover, that the further down in the scale of local division we can go, the more fruitful will be the study of these local institutions."

Mr. Elting's paper, on "Dutch Village Communities on the Hudson River," shows how these communities, which were in fact a secondary though more natural form of organization supplementing the first artificial and unsatisfactory aristocratic form, were really the outgrowth of German institutions that are known to have existed at least as far back as the time of Julius Cæsar. The same idea of community in the ownership of the land appears to mark them both. In conclusion, the author asserts, with considerable boldness, we think, that "from the banks of the Rhine, the germs of free local institutions, borne on the tide of Western emigration, found here, along the Hudson, a more fruitful soil than New England afforded for the growth of these forms of municipal, State, and national government, which have made the United States the leading republic among the nations."

Mr. Foster, in his "Town Government in Rhode Island," dwells upon the independent origin and independent action of the towns, which prevented them from associating themselves together except under great stress of circumstances, and then under reservations which fixed a stamp on the character of the State; and this trait of original organization explains the hesitation which was shown by Rhode Island in adopting the Federal Constitution. In the "Narragansett Planters," Mr. Channing describes a peculiar landed aristocracy possessing large estates, who, obtaining a holding on Narragansett Bay, produced a state of society which had no parallel in New England, and "was an anomaly in the institutional history of Rhode Island."

In "Pennsylvania Boroughs," Mr. Holcomb glances at the antiquity of the borough in England, considers the meaning of the term, especially as used in Pennsylvania, in distinction from "town," studies early borough government in Germantown as the first borough organized in the State, and in Bristol as a type of the boroughs of the eighteenth century, and examines the character and the possibilities of the present borough.

Proceedings of the American Society of Microscopists. Eighth Annual Meeting, 1885. Pp. 258. Price, $2.

Among the numerous essays printed in this volume many of which will undoubtedly prove enjoyable reading for the specialist are a few which will claim the interest of a wider circle.

"The Cultivation of Bacteria, and the Cholera Bacillus," by Lester Curtis, treats of the mode of growth and development of this peculiar bacillus that has of late created such a stir and commotion in the learned world abroad. The differences between the bacillus of Koch and that of Finkler-Prior, with which it was by some considered identical, are clearly pointed out. To the author, "the proof that this bacillus is unlike any other form, and is peculiar to cholera, seems conclusive." And further on he states, "That it is the cause of the disease seems to me scarcely less so."

Considerable comfort will be derived from the statement that cholera is a disease not contagious as small-pox and measles are; it is only caused by the bacillus gaining entrance to the intestinal canal, and can therefore, by simple precautions, be readily guarded against. Moreover, the germ is easily destroyed; exposure to superheated steam for half an hour or so will, it is claimed, cause its death. Cold will retard the development of these organisms, but does not kill them.

An article on "Poisonous Dried Beef," by H. J. Ditmers, seeks to ascribe to the presence of certain micrococci, of which a great number were found in the meat examined, the sickness caused by its consumption. That is to say, to these micrococci is ascribed the formation of the poisonous principle present.

From the fact that nearly all pathogenic bacteria are powerless to cause harm unless conditions suitable for their development are offered by the animal organism, the writer further infers that the beef in question was the flesh of some animal or animals that were in a dying, or else in a highly frenzied, condition when slaughtered. That the meat of an animal in such a condition is sometimes—not always—very poisonous, is a matter of record, and meat obtained from such a source should be condemned as unfit for food.

Studies in General History. By Mary D. Sheldon, formerly Professor of History in Wellesley College and Teacher of History in Oswego Normal School, New York. Students' Edition. Boston: D. C. Heath & Co. 1885. Pp. 656. $1.60.

This text-book is not designed for children, but for pupils well on in their teens and twenties. It is an attempt to apply what is known as the "Objective Method" of teaching science to the study of history. To this end, instead of memorizing the conclusions of others, the pupil is put in such relations to the data of history that he will draw his own conclusions. Temples, walls, aqueducts, pyramids, men have built; countries they have conquered, settled, abandoned; their laws, arts, literature, amusements, their heroes, enemies, gods, are the sort of "historical realities presented, with accompanying pictures, maps, stories, quotations, and facts. Questions and problems, such as will compel thought upon these data and their relations, are an important part of this unique plan of converting one of the last strongholds of rote-learning into a training of the reflective faculties."

Second Report on the Injurious and other Insects of the State of New York. By J. A. Lintner, State Entomologist. Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co. Pp. 265.

The present publication presents mainly studies and observations that were made in the years 1882 and 1883, with a few of a later date. The insect depredations during these two years were less than for the preceding year, and no formidable new pest was remarked as threatening any principal crops. The years, of late, the report adds, in which such additions have not been made, are unfortunately exceptional ones. The zebra-caterpillar was unusually destructive on mangold-beets. While the grasslands were relieved from the Vagabond Crambus which had visited them in 1881, and the corn-worm was absent, the clover seed midge has covered a more extensive territory, although its ravages do not appear to be increasing where it has been abundant, and the punctured cloverleaf weevil has steadily and rapidly extended its area of operations. The Colorado potato-beetle seems to be diminishing. The chinch-bug was remarked for the first time in injurious numbers in the State of New York. The substance of the report consists chiefly of full descriptions of the injurious species of insects, accompanied by as many illustrations as the State printers found it convenient to insert. On this subject, Dr. Lintner well remarks that many years must elapse before good figures of any of our common and more destructive insect pests can be repeated so often that a general familiarity with them and the species that they represent in nature shall render their further repetition useless.



Aliette. By Octave Feuillet. Translated from the French by J. Henry Hager. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1886. Pp. 250. 50 cents.

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