Popular Science Monthly/Volume 38/March 1891/Literary Notices

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LITERARY NOTICES.

The Earth and its Inhabitants. By Élisée Reclus. North America, Vol. I. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 496. Price, sheep, $6; half morocco, $7.

The American edition of this great descriptive work, by the eminent French geographer Reclus, has now reached the section devoted to North America. This division will probably require four volumes, the first of which is now before us. A chapter sketching the early discoveries in the New World and the chief features of the Western Continent introduces the volume. This is followed by detailed descriptions of the northern parts of the continent, comprising Greenland, the neighboring islands, Alaska, and the British possessions, including Canada. The physical features, flora, fauna, and inhabitants of each region are fully described. In the account of Greenland the glaciers of that ice-bound land are a prominent feature. Their distribution, extent, rates of movement, and mode of termination are described, and their appearance and arrangement are represented by many pictures and maps. The nature of the illustrations in this work is already known to our readers from the article on Greenland and the Greenlanders, in the Monthly for last July, for which some of them were borrowed. The geography of Alaska is given with much detail so far as it is known, and the progress of exploration in that Territory is sketched. Here, again, the glaciers demand considerable attention. Maps show the zones of temperature and trees, and the distribution of the native tribes and the animals is also pointed out. About three hundred and fifty pages are devoted to Canada and the other British provinces in North America. The reader is led from the rivers and fiords of British Columbia, through the wild Northwest Territory, among the posts of the Hudson Bay Company, and the lakes of the Winnipeg region, then down the St. Lawrence through Ontario and Quebec, to the Maritime Provinces, finally reaching Labrador and Newfoundland. The description deals with—besides the natural features—the social and political conditions, trade, languages, religions, etc., of the several divisions of the country. The full-page pictures, which are liberally scattered through these chapters, represent wild scenery of the central and western regions, the features and dress of the natives, and the large towns on the eastern rivers and seaports. The maps, which arc very numerous, are from actual surveys, and hence contribute to the scientific accuracy which is characteristic of the whole work. Statistics of area, population, trade, etc., are given in appendixes.

The Meteoric Hypothesis: a Statement of the Results of a Spectroscopic Inquiry into the Origin of Cosmical Systems. By J. Norman Lockyer. London and New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 560. Price, $5.25.

The purpose of this volume is to bring together and co-ordinate the observations which have been made up to the present time on the spectra of the various orders of cosmical bodies in connection with laboratory work on which the author has been engaged since 1868. It embodies in a connected form, among other matters, various reports made by him through the Solar Physics Committee to the Royal Society. It is, in fact, a natural sequel to the Chemistry of the Sun, published in 1887, in which were presented researches suggesting that many solar phenomena might owe their origin to falls of meteoric masses on the sun's surface. The theory here presented is substantially an enlargement and extension to the universe of the hypotheses therein set forth. Beginning with a chapter of history and facts on the fall and nature of meteorites, the author treats in successive chapters of the Spectroscopy of Meteorites; Meteorites in the Air, in the Solar System, and in Space; Proposed New Grouping of Cosmical Bodies; the Origin of Binary and Multiple Systems; and the Variability in Light and Color of Cosmical Bodies. Among his principal General Conclusions are: that all self-luminous bodies in the celestial space are composed either of swarms of meteorites or of masses of meteoric vapor produced by beat. The heat is brought about by the condensation of meteor-swarms due to gravity, the vapor being finally condensed into a solid globe. That the existing distinction between stars, comets, and nebulae rests on no physical basis; that stars, the temperatures of which are increasing, do not resemble the sun, but consist chiefly of discrete meteoric particles, just as comets do on Schiaparelli's hypothesis; and that the spectra of all cosmical bodies depend upon either the heat of the meteorites produced by collisions, and the average space between the meteorites in the swarm, or, in the case of swarms wholly volatilized, upon the loss by radiation since complete vaporization.

The Tshi-speaking Peoples of the Gold Coast of West Africa. Pp. 343. The Ewe-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa. Pp. 331. By A. B. Ellis. London: Chapman & Hall.

The purpose of the author in these books, which constitute part of a series, is to show by examples taken from the negro peoples the subjects of them, how the evolution of religion may proceed. Four peoples have been had in view: the Tshi-speaking peoples of the Gold Coast; the Gaspeaking peoples of the Gold Coast; the Ewe-speaking peoples of the Slave Coast; and the Yoruba-speaking peoples of the Slave Coast. Their languages all belong to one family, indicating, apparently, that they have all sprung from a common stock. They occupy territories on the west coast of Africa contiguous in the order in which they are named, from west to east, and exhibit, on the whole, a gradual advance in civilization, in the same order. The author suggests that the differences in civilization may be due to differences in local conditions and surroundings and in the character of the country, which opens up from the forest regions of the west, where density of population is discouraged and communication is difficult, to the open plains of the Yoruba country. The religious beliefs of the Gaspeaking people resemble those of the Tshis, and are not considered for the present. Those of the Yorubas are reserved for a future volume. The best-known representatives of the Tshi-speaking tribes are perhaps the Fantis and Ashantis. Throughout the vast tract of forest inhabited by them, they live in insignificant villages and hamlets, built in small clearings in the forest, between which communication is kept up by narrow forest paths. Ideas permeate among them but slowly; and notwithstanding an intercourse on the part of the inhabitants of the sea-coast with Europeans, which has existed for more than four hundred years, they are much in the same social and moral condition as they were at the time of the Portuguese discoveries. The Ewespeaking peoples, among whom are the Dahomis, present the ordinary characteristics of the uncivilized negro. In early life they evince a degree of intelligence which, compared with that of the European child, appears precocious, and they acquire knowledge with facility till they arrive at the age of puberty, when the physical nature masters the intellect, and frequently deadens it. Like most inhabitants of the tropics, they have more spontaneity and less application, more intuition and less reasoning power, than the inhabitants of temperate climes. These traits, of both peoples, are ascribed partly to the climate, partly to physical peculiarities, and partly to the social condition and the general sense of insecurity. As a result of all the inimical influences, the energy of all has degenerated into idleness and sensual enjoyment, "and it will take centuries to raise them." Incidentally, in collecting information concerning the religion of these peoples, the author also gathered facts concerning other matters—their laws, government, various customs, proverbs, folk-lore, etc.—and these subjects are also presented, not as in a full record, but to fix a starting-point from which a systematic and more complete study may be made.

Geological Survey of New Jersey. Final Report of the State Geologist. Vol. II, Part II. Zoölogy. Trenton. Pp. 824.

The present "part" of the final report of the late Prof. Cook contains two papers: A Catalogue of Insects found in New Jersey, by John B. Smith; and a Descriptive Catalogue of Vertebrates, by Julius Nelson. Mr. Smith confesses to having had to encounter many difficulties in preparing his catalogue of insects. The contrasts in the geological features of the State influence the botany, and this affects the character of the insect forms. There are no large collections of insects in the State. Collectors are few. Some aid was got from collectors in New York and Philadelphia, but their excursions into New Jersey covered only a limited area, and were mainly directed in special lines. Except in Coleoptera and Lepidoptera, New Jersey is practically unexplored, and the northern and northwestern regions are not represented, even in the collected orders. The author himself, collecting in all orders, in different parts of the State, though for too short a time, has been able to add considerably to all the lists, from his own experience. His catalogue includes 6,093 species, of 2,307 genera and 238 families, and is arranged after the Linnæan system. Mr. Nelson's catalogue of vertebrates is a revision of Dr. Abbott's catalogue of 1868, and it has been found a laborious task merely to incorporate the changes in nomenclature and classification which have been made within the last twenty years. Mr. Nelson has added descriptions of each species, with particular reference to features distinguishing it from its allies; and the descriptions have been made most complete for birds and fishes.

Principles of General Organic Chemistry. By Prof. E. Hjelt, Helsingfors. Translated by J. B. Tingle, Ph. D. London and New York: Longmans, Green & Co. Pp. 220.

Every one who has had anything to do with the teaching of organic chemistry will assent to the statement of Prof. Hjelt that students are very apt to overlook general principles and relations in their endeavor to remember particulars concerning single substances. To remedy this defect he has made a book, intended as a supplement to ordinary text-books, which is devoted to the chemical philosophy of the carbon compounds. Its object is to extend and systematize the knowledge of these substances which the student has obtained from other sources. In Part I the composition, constitution, and classification of organic. compounds are discussed and explained. Part II is devoted to illustrating the connection between the constitution of organic compounds and their chief physical properties. Part III deals with the chemical behavior of organic compounds. The reactions described in this section are arranged according to the results—dehydration processes, for instance, being all classed together. Two editions of the work having been received favorably in Swedish, a German version was prepared by the author, and from the latter the English translation has been made.

The Coast Indians of Southern Alaska and Northern British Columbia. By Ensign Albert P. Niblack, U. S. N. Washington: Smithsonian Institution. Pp. 161.

There is much to tell about the Alaskan "wards of the nation" and their relatives in the British dominions. Sufficient, evidence is given in this monograph to show that the Indians of the Northwest coast have a high degree of skill in many arts, industries, and pursuits, a systematic tribal organization, interesting customs and ceremonies, and traditions and folk-lore which are instructive to the student. The information here presented is based on the collections of objects in the United States National Museum, and on the personal observation of the author in connection with the survey of Alaska. Subdivisions of the above topics are treated with varying fullness in fifteen chapters, the text being illustrated with seventy full-page plates. The carvings in wood and slate, and the woven garments and baskets here figured, display much ingenuity, while the accounts of the way in which these peoples have adapted themselves to the ways of civilization give proof of much mental strength.

Inorganic Chemistry, Theoretical and Practical. By William Jago, F. C. S. London and New York: Longmans, Green & Co. Pp. 458.

The author of this work is an experienced writer of chemical textbooks. The present volume is described as a manual for students in advanced classes—that is,for those who have some acquaintance with the common elements, and some knowledge of chemical reactions. It does not omit any essential subject, but elementary matters are treated briefly, while larger space is given to the laws of chemistry and to manufacturing processes. A feature of the book is a brief statement of the industrial applications of all substances that have important uses. The volume is well printed, and contains seventy-eight illustrations and a colored plate of spectra.

 

A very attractive and well-made textbook for beginners is the Elementary Geology, by Charles Bird, which is one of Longmans' Elementary Science Manuals (Longmans, 80 cents). It is written in a simple and easy style, giving a vivid idea of how geological changes have taken place, and with examples, mostly English, of the formations described. The economic use of each rock mentioned is also generally stated, and there are 247 helpful illustrations, and a colored geological map of the British Isles. The sort of teaching that the author gives is well indicated in his preface. He reports the successful use of the lessons in this book before they were printed, saying that they sent many town boys on long walks into the country, and enabled practically the whole class to pass the South Kensington elementary examination. But he deems the abiding interest aroused in natural phenomena and outdoor objects "a more valuable and useful possession than even a South Kensington certificate."

A Text-Book of Practical Plane and Solid Geometry, by I. H. Morris, has been added to the same series (Longmans, 80 cents). It is devoted to the construction of geometrical figures or geometrical drawing, and contains several hundred problems, which range from the simplest to those of considerable complexity. The part of the volume dealing with plane geometry leads up to the drawing of spirals of different kinds and other curves. This is followed by a chapter on the application of geometry to the construction of patterns and simple tracery, including geometrical tracery windows. The drawing of plans, elevations, and sections of solids, such as prisms, pyramids, and cones, in simple positions is then taken up. The second section of the book deals with the projection of points and lines, and the representation of planes by their traces on co-ordinate planes, and also the projections of solid objects of simple form. Lists of exercises consisting of problems taken from the examination papers cf various English colleges are introduced at intervals. The diagrams appear in all cases on the page opposite the problems.

The Geography of Europe, by James Sime, corresponds in character with the preceding volumes of Macmillan's Geographical Series, to which it belongs (Macmillan, 80 cents). The chief feature of the book is the attention it gives to the past evolution of political divisions. The historic associations of towns have also been made prominent. The author states, as to the information he has aimed to include in the volume: "In the case of each country the physical features arc first described; then an attempt is made to mark the stages of its history, so far as they are related to geography. Next I have brought together some of the leading facts relating to government, population, and national character, religion and education, and industry and trade. Finally, an account is given of the principal towns, these being generally grouped under the historic divisions to which they respectively belong." As there is a volume devoted to the British Isles in this series, only a short chapter on the United Kingdom is included in the present work. There are thirty-three cuts representing characteristic buildings and places.

In the same series has just appeared a volume on India, Burmah, and Ceylon, by Henry F. Blanford (price, 70 cents). The subject-matter of this book may be described as wholly geographical, and the author says that, in order to bring so large a subject within lcs3 than two hundred pages, it has been necessary to restrict the description to the most important features. But few historical allusions are to be met with in these pages. The text is illustrated with twenty-seven cuts. Neither this nor the preceding book contains maps, as both are designed to be used with an atlas.

From the Smithsonian Institution we have received a number of monographs, in pamphlet form, which are to constitute parts of volumes soon to be issued. The Report on the National Museum for 1888, by G. Brown Goode, assistant secretary in charge, contains some facts in regard to the history and organization of the museum, a review of the work of the year, a list of the more important accessions, and other information. During the year a Department of Living Animals was organized, which the secretary hopes will develop into a national zoölogical garden. Among these pamphlets is a paper by Walter Hough, on Fire-making Apparatus in the United States National Museum. It contains descriptions of a large number of ways of making fire, with sixty cuts of apparatus. The methods are classified and arranged in their presumed order of development as follows: Fire-making by twirling one stick on another, by sawing and by plowing one stick with another, by striking flint and pyrites together, and flint and steel. Most of these methods have been used by the Indians or Eskimos of America. A Study of Prehistoric Anthropology, designed as a hand-book for students beginning this science, has been prepared by Thomas Wilson, curator of this department in the National Museum. It is a general view of the subject, with a bibliography and many cuts representing implements of stone, bone, bronze, etc., dolmens, vessels, ornaments, and human representations. Frederic A. Lucas has prepared an account of The Expedition to the Funk Island, which he made in 1887, to procure bones of the great auk. The bones obtained equaled in number all other collections combined, and a thorough exploration was made of the island. The paper is illustrated with a picture of the bird and one of its egg, a sketch map of Funk Island, and diagrams. A popular account of this expedition was contributed by Mr. Lucas to the Monthly for August, 1888. A Catalogue of the Hippisley Collection of Chinese Porcelains, with a Sketch of the History of Ceramic Art in China, prepared by Alfred E. Hippisley, is now published. In 1887 this large collection was deposited in the National Museum, with the understanding that it should be allowed to remain on exhibition for at least two years, and that the museum should print a descriptive catalogue. The catalogue occupies some fifty pages, containing 438 numbers, and the history of ceramic art is quite extended.

Several Bulletins of the Geological Survey have reached us together. No. 58 contains a paper on The Glacial Boundary in the Central States, by Prof. G. F. Wright, with an introduction by T. C. Chamberlin. It is occupied mostly with observations on the distribution of the till, but contains also some facts in relation to striated surfaces of rocks in place. The paper contains also the evidence for and against the hypothesis of a glacial dam at Cincinnati. Recent finds of palæoliths pointing to the probable existence of interglacial man in Ohio are here reported; the relation of the loess to the glacial drift, and the finding of gold near the glacial margin, are also touched upon. Eight plates and ten figures illustrate this monograph. No. 59 is by Frederick D. Chester, on The Gabbros and Associated Rocks in Delaware, the massive gabbro being the most prominent formation in the northern part of that State. The paper is illustrated by a map and five figures. A Report of Work done in the Division of Chemistry and Physics for the year 1887-'88, by F. W. Clarke, forms No. 60. It contains an extended account of the occurrence and utilization of natural soda, by Thomas M. Chatard, analyses of various rocks, ores, waters, and meteorites, and notes on a number of other subjects. No. 64 is a similar report for l888-'89, and is occupied largely with examinations of minerals. No. 61 is Contributions to the Mineralogy of the Pacific Coast, by William H. Melville and Waldemar Lindgren, the objects of study being cinnabar crystals and other specimens collected during a recent examination of the quicksilver deposits of California. A Bibliography of Palæozoic Crustacea, by Anthony W. Vogdes, forms No. 63. It comprises a list of authors, a catalogue of trilobites, and a catalogue of non-trilobites. No. 66 is On a Group of Volcanic Rocks from the Tewan Mountains, New Mexico, and on the Occurrence of Primary Quartz in Certain Basalts, by Joseph P. Iddings. We have also received a paper by Charles A. White, entitled On the Geology and Physiography of a Portion of Northwestern Colorado and Adjacent Parts of Utah and Wyoming, which is to form a part of the report of the Geological Survey for 1887-'88. The district here described lies round about the Uintah Mountains, and the phenomena specially considered relate to its geological structure and to surface drainage. A colored geological map of the region and a number of diagrams are given.

The object of the series of reports on the Mineral Resources of the United States, of which Mr. David T. Day, Chief of Division of Mining Statistics and Technology, is the editor, is to record annually the most important facts concerning the development of the minerals found in the country. The present, the sixth volume, is for the year 1888. The method of treatment pursued in the previous volumes is continued in this. The report opens with a summary statement as to the condition of each mineral industry at the close of the period under review—the calendar year. At the end of this summary is a table in which the values of the various products are added, so as to furnish an estimate of the relative importance of the mining industry as a whole. Following the summary each important mineral industry is discussed in a separate chapter. The statistical tables given in former reports are extended to include 1888, but otherwise the material in each chapter is intended to show the developments in 1888 only and not in previous years. To facilitate the consultation of all the volumes of the series, an index to the six is in preparation. (Government Printing-Office, Washington)

Volume XXIV of the Annals of the Harvard Observatory is devoted to Results of Observations with the Meridian Photometer, from 1882 to 1888, by Edward C. Pickering and Oliver O. Wendell. The measurements are of stars having magnitudes brighter than 9·l of the Durchmusterung. The objects observed number 20,982. Four photometric settings were made upon each object, and these were repeated on the average between three and four times. The total number of settings is 267,092.

The Elements of the Differential and Integral Calculus of Prof. Arthur Sherburne Hardy (Ginn & Co.) is based on the system of rates which, in the author's experience, has proved most satisfactory in a first presentation of the object and scope of the science. The object of the Differential Calculus is the measurement and comparison of rates of change when the change is not uniform. The rate at any instant is determined by ascertaining what the change of a quantity would have been in a unit of time had its rate remained what it was at the instant in question. This change the Calculus enables us to determine, however complicated the law of variation may be.

The Bureau of Education has issued, among its Circulars of Information for 1890, a book of some four hundred pages on The Teaching and History of Mathematics in the United States, by Prof. Florian Cajori. The first chapter, dealing with elementary schools, the colleges then existing, and self-taught mathematicians in colonial times, describes persons and ways of teaching, many of which seem very quaint to modern eyes. The next two periods treated cover respectively, the influx of English mathematics and the influx of French mathematics. The list of colleges grows longer in these two chapters, and among the other topics which now enter into the history are the surveying of Government lands, mathematical journals, and the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. A chapter on mathematical teaching at the present time contains the answers obtained by sending a list of questions to several hundred colleges, normal schools, academics, etc. This is followed by several historical essays on mathematical subjects, and a bibliography of fluxions and the calculus.

The Laboratory Manual of Chemistry, Medical and Pharmaceutical, by Oldberg and Long, which we noticed in July, 1888, has come out in a revised and enlarged edition (Keener, $3.50). The preface states that the greater part of this edition is an exact reprint of the first, but that the chapter on the chemical analysis of urine has been entirely rewritten, and a new chapter has been added on the microscopic examination of the sediment.

 

Mr. Westel W. Willoughby, in his monograph on the Supreme Court of the United States (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Press), holds up that tribunal as an illustration of the maxim that in America, as elsewhere, institutions are the result of an evolution, and not an invention; and that constitutions, whether written or unwritten, are but the results of the gradual recognition of those laws and methods which are the best suited for the government of a politically organized people. The history of the Supreme Court begins with accounts of the judiciaries in the colonies and under the Confederation, and is carried on through the Convention, the State Conventions, the establishment and jurisdiction of the Federal Courts; with reviews of the relations of the Supreme Court with Congress, the State Legislatures and Judiciaries, and the Executive; the Supreme Court and politics; the present condition and needs of the Supreme Court; and the conclusion, resulting in the assertion that it should be a matter of special congratulation that "of all our great institutions the Supreme Court is most distinctly the product of American genius, and that its success is a direct testimony to the high political ability of our American people."

Bulletin No. 6 of the Eleventh Census is a preliminary statement of the Financial Condition of Counties. It has been prepared by Special Agent T. C. Copeland, and shows the bonded, floating, gross, and net debt, sinking fund, available resources, and annual interest charge of each county in the United States. The Bulletin contains also a series of maps illustrating the geographical distribution of county debt and resources. Bulletin No. 19 gives partial results of an inquiry into the Vital Statistics of the Jews in the United Stales, conducted by Dr. John S. Billings. A discussion of the tables by Dr. Billings brings out the apparent fact that the birth-rate is decreasing and the death-rate increasing among the Jews with prolonged residence in this country.

Economic subjects are being written upon to-day by thoughtful men in every calling. A recent addition to the volume of literature thus produced is The Distribution of Wealth, by Rufus Cope (Lippincott, $2). It embodies the author's opinions on the production of wealth, its division between labor and capital, savings, interest, taxation, protection and free trade, monopolies, and allied topics, closing with a chapter on education of the people, secular and religious. It also contains full and free comments on certain recent books and magazine articles, and in some cases the writers are criticised as well as their published views. On the question at present most prominent—the tariff—the author takes the position of an apologist for protection. Throughout the volume his statistics are for the most part those of the census of 1880, although his table of tariff revenues is only three years old. From education, he hopes that the working classes will gain much in the way of bettering their condition.

A quarterly magazine called The Monist has been established, with the stated object of continuing a portion of the work hitherto done by The Open Court (The Open Court Publishing Company, $2 a year), or of developing "a unitary conception of the world, free from contradictions and based upon the facts of life." A result which is expected to flow from the. accomplishment of this task is a purification of our religious ideals. The opening article of the first number is a reply by G. J. Romanes to certain statements of A. R. Wallace on Physiological Selection. The line of this reply is that Mr. Wallace has professed hostility to the views of Mr. Romanes and Mr. Gulick, and afterward reproduced them as original. Prof. Cope contributes an analysis of The Material Relations of Sex in Human Society, from which he draws the conclusion that, while woman is under some social disadvantages in respect to man, these are based on facts of nature which can not be changed, and that she has a full equivalent in advantages which are also derived from the natural order of things. Other articles in the number are The Immortality of Infusoria, by Alfred Binet; The Analysis of the Sensations—Anti-metaphysical, by Prof. Ernst Mach; The Origin of Mind, by Dr. Paul Carus; The Magic Mirror, by Max Dessoir; and Höffding on the Relation of the Mind to the Body, by W. M. Salter. There is also an installment of Literary Correspondence from France, by Lucien Arreat, a department of book reviews, a conspectus of the instruction in philosophy given at leading American colleges, and a list of psychological and philosophical articles in other periodicals.

Inquirendo Island, by Hudor Genone (Twentieth Century Publishing Company, $1), is a satirical story dealing with theological matters. Extracts from reviews on the slip sent out by the publishers show the religious press to be divided as to whether the book is religious or irreligious.

 

The Standard Dictionary of the English Language, to be published by Funk & Wagnalls, is intended to be such a dictionary as the people will find most useful for daily consultation. While the wants of scholars will not be overlooked in its preparation, those of lay readers will be preferred. For this reason some departures will be introduced in it from the usual custom of dictionaries. Besides the spelling and pronunciation of the word, the first thing sought by the average man is its most common present meaning. For that reason, the meaning now most generally accepted is given first, while the less usual meanings and the obsolescent and obsolete meanings are remanded to back places. The etymologies are given after the definitions. The quotations by which the meanings are illustrated will be verified by reference to the particular work, chapter, and page of the author cited, in which the word is found. A large proportion of the verifying quotations are from the standard writers of the day; and, as between a foreign and an American author of equal authority, the American will be preferred. Pronunciations will be indicated in the alphabet suggested by the American Philological Association. The various departments of the work are to be prepared under the direction of scholars eminent in their respective specialties. The dictionary will be published in a single volume of more than twenty-one hundred pages, a little larger than the pages of the unabridged dictionaries, will be illustrated, will contain the usual supplements, and will be sold for $10 a copy, with a special discount to advance subscribers.