Popular Science Monthly/Volume 40/April 1892/Literary Notices
Africa and America. By Alex Cremmell. Springfield, Mass.: Willey & Co. Pp. 466.
It is difficult to finish this volume of addresses without renewed interest in the condition and future of the African people. The author has not only studied the needs of the freedman in America, but through a residence of twenty years on the western coast of Africa has made himself acquainted with the Liberian colonists and many native negro tribes, and can differentiate the natural characteristics of his race from those acquired in years of bondage. He allows no rancor against those who have been its oppressors to obscure his judgment, and writes of slaveholders that they, "like all other sorts of men, were divided into two classes—the good and the bad."
Far worse than any present political injustice is the terrible inheritance of two hundred years of moral and intellectual degradation. To counteract this, an uplifting of character and industrial training are needed. The educational and material progress since emancipation disproves any idea of retrogression. According to the census of 1880, the colored population was assessed for over $91,000,000 of taxable property, and nearly 16,000 school-teachers were credited to them.
The race problem can not be settled by amalgamation nor by absorption. It is not a social question, but one of civil and political equality. Unless this is conferred upon the negro, the democratic idea is a failure. The trend of national affairs, however, is toward a fuller realization of justice, and the dwelling together of various races in amity.
Several papers treat of the condition of the negro in America; others relate to the interests of Liberia; the Congo State; the aims of education and the lives of noted leaders. All are well thought out, and can not fail to be helpful to the people for whom they were written.
Essays upon Heredity and Kindred Biological Problems By August Weismann. Vol. I. New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 471. Price, $2.
The three great names in the history of biologic evolution are those of Lamarck, Darwin, and Weismann. The first edition of this work, which was soon exhausted, appeared as a single volume, and at a much higher price. The present volume is more desirable, as one gets with it a list of references to the numerous discussions that its appearance immediately evoked, and which has continued at a high tension and without interruption in the numbers of Nature and other periodicals ever since. One can understand the cause of the intense feeling shown in these discussions by glancing at the titles of these essays which have appeared at various times since 1881: The Duration of Life, 1881; On Heredity, 1883; Life and Death, 1883; The Continuity of the Germ-plasm as the Foundation of a Theory of Heredity, 1885; The Significance of Sexual Reproduction in the Theory of Natural Selection, 1886; On the Number of Polar Bodies and their Significance in Heredity, 1887; On the Supposed Botanical Proofs of the Transmission of Acquired Characters, 1888; and The Supposed Transmission of Mutilations, 1888.
While any one of these subjects was sufficient to excite endless controversy, the last two essays were bound to bring on an irreconcilable conflict. A principle that we had regarded as settled, namely, that traits acquired by the individual during life could be transmitted to his offspring, is not only denied by Weismann, but this comer-stone of natural selection being knocked away, the edifice, to our astonishment, does not tumble, but remains just as steady without it. The author's judicial and temperate way, his admission of doubt, where doubt exists, inspires confidence in his deductions. In ending his essay on the Duration of Life, he says: "And so, in discussing this question of life and death, we come at last—as in all provinces of human research—upon problems which appear to us to be, at least for the present, insoluble. In fact, it is the quest after perfected truth, not its possession, that falls to our lot, that gladdens us> fills up the measure of our life, nay! hallows it."
In closing his essay on Life and Death he says: "Life is continuous, and not periodically interrupted: ever since its first appearance upon the earth, in the lowest organisms, it has continued without break; the forms in which it is manifested have alone undergone change. Every individual alive to-day—even the very highest—is to be derived in an unbroken line from the first and lowest forms."
It is impossible within the limits of a brief review to make even an abstract of the writer's arguments. The low price of the work enables every student to possess it. To the few remaining opponents of evolution among thoughtful students who are unfamiliar with the facts and details cited, this hot discussion between the Weismannians and the Neo-Lamarckians must seem fratricidal, whereas it may be compared to a band of earnest travelers perfectly united in their efforts to reach the same goal, and, coming to a number of cross-roads, heatedly discuss which is the right road, firmly resolved to follow that when demonstrated, even if many have to finally retrace their steps in order to do so. The acrimony and satire which have been excited by these discussions are in consequence of the fact that there is no half-way ground upon which the combatants can unite. It must end in absolute defeat to one or the other side. Great credit is due to Edward B. Poulton, Selmar Schönland, and Arthur E. Shipley, all accomplished biologists, for their connection with the work as editors.
The Story of the Hills. By Rev. H. N. Hutcinson. New York and London: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 357. Price, $1.50.
The simple description on the title-page of this work—"a book about mountains for general readers"—aptly characterizes the contents and style of the volume. The author has written especially for those who enjoy mountain scenery, and has aimed to heighten their enjoyment by increasing their understanding of what they see. He has not, however, put so strong an infusion of science into the book as to make it distasteful to those who read chiefly for pleasure. The first part of the book is descriptive, dealing with "the mountains as they are," and in the latter part is told "how the mountains were made." Throughout the volume are scattered bits of picturesque description quoted from enthusiastic lovers of mountains, illustrative anecdotes, and fragments of verse. The style is every where clear, and the language is simple, few terms being employed that are not in the vocabulary of every cultivated person. The text is illustrated with sixteen full-page pictures from photographs by W. Donkin, J. Valentine, and others. The Story of the Hills will add much to the reputation which the author has gained through his Autobiography of the Earth.
Geological Sketches at Home and Abroad. By Archibald Geikie. New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 332. Price, $1.50.
These fourteen papers consist of popular accounts of geological explorations, with a few essays and addresses on geological subjects. Several of them have been thought of sufficient general interest for publication in the popular periodicals Good Words and Macmillan's Magazine. The first of these sketches describes the author's earliest geological excursion, and contains some striking testimony as to how science was taught when Prof. Geikie was a boy. Other papers deecribe excursions in Scotland, France, Norway, the Yellowstone Park, and Wyoming. The text is illustrated with views of many of the places visited, and with geological diagrams.
School and College. Edited by Ray Greene Huling. Monthly. Boston: Ginn & Co. Price, $1.50 a year.
The first number of an educational magazine with the above name appeared in January. It starts as a periodical of high grade, under the editorship of the principal of the high school at New Bedford, Ifass., who is well known as an educator and a writer on educational topics. The opening article of the January number is by E. Benjamin Andrews, President of Brown University, on Some of the Next Steps forward in Education, and is characterized by a fullness of progressive spirit. James H. Blodgett, of the Census Office, contributes a statistical paper on Secondary Education in Census Years. There is a descriptive article on The Greek Method of performing Arithmetical Operations, by John Tetlow, head master of the Girls' High and Latin Schools, of Boston, which is illustrated with diagrams. B. C. Burt, of Ann Arbor, discusses the question When should the Study of Philosophy begin? There is also an editorial department, in which Co-operation in Entrance Examinations and Compulsory Greek in England are discussed; departments of News from Abroad, and Home News, the latter containing statistics of college attendance in 1890'91; also departments for Letters and Reviews.
Star-land. By Sir Robert Stawell Ball, F. R. S. New York: Cassell & Co. Pp. 388.
The Royal Institution of Great Britain provides at each Christmas season a course of juvenile lectures. In 1881, and again in 188T, the course was given by the Royal Astronomer of Ireland, who has embodied his lectures in the present volume. The several lectures deal with the sun, the moon, the inner planets, the giant planets, comets and shooting-stars, stars, and to these has been added a chapter, with the title How to name the Stars, telling how to recognize the constellations. Since the lectures were prepared for an audience of children, their style is simple, though not childish, and many adults could get a better understanding of the outlines of astronomy from this little book than from more dignified treatises. The text is illustrated with nearly a hundred pictures.
The Microscope and its Revelations. By the late William B. Carpenter, M. D., F. R. S. Seventh edition. Revised by W. H. Pallinger, F. R. S. Philadelphia: P. Blakiston, Son & Co. Pp. 1117.
The great advances in the application of mathematical optics to the construction of microscopes since the appearance of the sixth edition of this cyclopedic work have made necessary a recasting of a large part of the treatise. The editor states in the preface, somewhat paradoxically, that the first five chapters of the last edition are represented in this one by seven chapters, two of which "are on subjects not treated in any former edition." In the second chapter, on the Principles and Theory of Vision with the Compound Microscope, the results of the past twenty years' labors of Dr. Abbe, of Jena, have been summarized in a manner that has received Dr. Abbe's hearty commendation. In treating many of the other topics Dr. Dallinger has had the aid of eminent specialists. The book is increased by two hundred and fifty pages over the size of the last edition. Great pains have been taken to bring the text up to the most recent knowledge of experts, and the illustrations have been increased by the addition of nineteen new plates, many being colored, and three hundred woodcuts, making the whole number over eight hundred.
The Phosphates of America. By Francis Wyatt. New York: The Scientific Publishing Company. Pp. 187. Price, $4.
The best evidence of the usefulness of this book is that a second edition was required within a week from the publication of the first. After setting forth the value of phosphates in producing fertility of soils, the author describes in successive chapters the deposits of phosphates and the modes of mining them employed in Canada, South Carolina, and Florida. Lists of companies engaged in phosphate-mining, with their capitalization, are given, also the expenses of working, the equipment required, and the selling prices of the products. These chapters are illustrated with many views of mines, drying-sheds, and machinery for handling and treating the ores. The manufacture of sulphuric acid is then described, after which the making of superphosphates is treated, and a final chapter contains methods of analysis of the materials and products of these manufactures. The author states that the volume embodies many facts, figures, and suggestions resulting from long observation and an extremely varied practical experience, and he trusts that it will prove highly profitable to all classes of persons interested in the production, manufacture, sale, and consumption of commercial fertilizers. He has aimed to couch the information in common language, avoiding, as far as possible, chemical formulas and technical terms.
The first volume of a monograph on The Tannins has been published by Prof. Henry Trimble (Lippincott, $2). It contains chapters on the discovery, general characters, and the detection and estimation of tannins, followed by a detailed treatment of gallotannic acid. An index of authors, an index, or more properly a chronological table, of the literature of tannin, and a general index to the volume, are appended.
The Experiment's arranged for Students in General Chemistry, by Profs. Edgar F. Smith and Harry F. Keller (Blakiston), has reached a second and enlarged edition. It is adapted to beginners, and is not intended to displace the instructor, but rather to assist him. References are made to Richter'a Inorganic Chemistry, but any other suitable book may be used instead. Thirty-seven diagrams of apparatus are given, and questions and problems arc interspersed throughout the directions for experiments. The volume is interleaved with blank leaves for notes.
Radical Wrongs in the Precepts and Practices of Civilized Man, by J. Wilson (the author, Newark, N. J., $1), is devoted to condemning practices of modern social life that, in the opinion of the author, are wrong. Mr. Wilson denounces war, cruelty to animals, capital punishment, private ownership of land, taking payment for the use of money, disposing of property by will, etc., with equal emphasis.
The second volume of the exposition of the Hermetic Philosophy, by an editor who signs himself in an enigma (Styx, of the "H. B. of L."), is published by the J. D. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia ($1). The work as a whole includes lessons, general discourses, and explications of "fragments" from the schools of Egypt, Chaldea, Greece, Italy, Scandinavia, etc., designed for students of the Hermetic, Pythagorean, and Platonic sciences, and Western occultism. The present volume contains the second lesson on the Principles and Elements of Things, and a discourse from Porphyry on Auxiliaries to the Perception of Intelligible Nature. The introduction comprises a notice of Sanchoniathon, the ancient Phœenician philosopher and historian, and the text of the fragment of his Cosmogony and Theogony which has been preserved by Eusebius; and the discourse by Porphyry is preceded by a notice of that writer,
Mr. Andrew J. Rickoff in preparing the First Lessons in Arithmetic (American Book Company, price, 36 cents), has endeavored to promote clear, accurate, and thorough work in the four fundamental rules and the training of the judgment in the proper application of those powers. It is divided into three parts, of which the first is devoted to exercises—each number being studied in all combinations—in numbers not greater than ten. All the processes are graphically illustrated with diagrams arranged so as to resemble the dots on dominoes. Part II deals with units and tens, with the graphic method continued. After the study of the number fifty, equal parts—halves, fourths, and eighths—are considered. Familiar measures are introduced. In Part III the treatment of numbers up to one hundred is completed, the pupil is carried through the four fundamental rules in the higher orders, and is familiarized with their application to simple business transactions. No abstract reasoning or intricate problems are introduced. Training to reckon rapidly and accurately is mainly sought, and the book is intended to systematize and facilitate rather than to supersede oral instruction.
A useful manual of Cookery for the Diabetic has been prepared by W. H. and Mrs. Poole, and is published by Longmans, Green & Co. (price, $1). In explanation of its purpose Dr. F. W. Pavy says, in a preface which he has written for it, that it is necessary to frame the dietary in diabetes so as to exclude as far as practicable certain principles of food which enter considerably into the dietary of ordinary persons. The basis or material part of a dish placed upon the table may be permissible, but accessories introduced in the cooking of it may render it objectionable. Diabetics are often in this way deprived of many of the properties which render food palatable and attractive, and reduced to a monotony of a few dishes of the plainest character, Mr. and Mrs, Poole seek to relieve them from this inconvenience by furnishing them with recipes by which their food may be given pleasant seasoning and at the same time harmless to them, and its variety may be increased.
The distinctive features of the Inductive Latin Primer (American Book Company) of William R. Harper and Isaac B. Burgess are that the lessons are shorter than those of the Inductive Method of the same authors} formal grammar is reduced to a minimum, and is introduced more slowly; no reference is made to the grammar during the early lessons; the exercises are easy and copious; prominence is given to conversation upon the text; maps, plans, and pictures are introduced; and a treatment of English grammar, inductive in character and adapted to these who never studied English grammar before and to the needs of those studying Latin, is bound with the Latin lessons. The work is based upon the connected text of Cæsar.
Russian Traits and Terrors are vividly portrayed in a book of that name, which professes to be a faithful picture of the Russia of to-day; published by B. R. Tucker, Boston (85 cents). The author's name, if it can be called that, is E. B. Lanin, which we are told, however, is the collective signature of several writers in the Fortnightly Review. An unpleasant picture enough is given of lying, fatalism, sloth, and dishonesty as Russian characteristics; of the condition of Russian prisons; of a low stage of sexual morality; of the miserable situation of the Jews; of Russian finance, which is represented as a "racking of the peasantry." To all this is added an ode by Swinburne, written after reading the account of the prisons.
Homilies of Science (Open Court Company, Chicago) is a collection of papers on subjects related to religion, which were first contributed by the author, Dr. Paul Carus, as editorial articles in The Open Court. The principle that pervades the papers is to preach an ethics that is based upon truth and upon truth alone. The homilies are declared not hostile toward the established religions of traditional growth, but toward the dogmatic conception only of those religions. They are also not hostile toward free thought, but, standing upon the principle of avowing such truths alone as can be proved by science, they reject that kind of free thought only which refuses to recognize the authority of the moral law. The author accounts for his position on these matters by relating that in childhood he was a devout and pious Christian; on growing up, he resolved to be a missionary; studying for that, he lost his faith in dogmatic Christianity, but found his religious ideals purified, and became a missionary of a religion which knows no dogmas; which is not in conflict with Christianity; which can never come in conflict with science, and is not in conflict with any other religion; "for it is the goal and aim of all religions."
Very different from the reverential spirit of Dr. Carus's Homilies is the tone of Mr, G. H. Martinis Antidotes for Superstition, which comes to us from Watts & Co., London, and which we can only describe as a vehement attack on Christianity, its origins and purport. In the first chapter—on Christian Veracity—the charge is made that the method of teaching biblical history and chronology in the seminaries "is one of organized misrepresentation and systematic concealment of facts," and that the rest of Christian instruction is of the same kind. In the second chapter the essential spirit of Christianity is described as "a most malign, subtle, and Protean spirit." The assignment of other similar traits is followed by attempts to show, in Christianity before Christ and Pre-Christian Gospels, that what is good in Christianity is of more ancient origin and is common to pagan religions; and by "ammunition for our recruits" in the shape of supplied answers for persons unskilled in debate, to the arguments of the apologists for Christianity.
The Commission of Fish and Fisheries has issued the Report of the Commission for 1887, which covers the whole of that year and the first half of 1888. Future reports will cover the fiscal year of the Government instead of the calendar year, as heretofore. In the summer of 1887 occurred the death of Prof. Baird, who had been commissioner since 1871. The duties of the office were performed for about six months by Dr. G. Brown Goode, and the Hon. Marshall McDonald was then appointed commissioner. The work of the eighteen months covered by this volume is reviewed in the commissioner's report, and to it are appended an account of the Fisheries of the Great Lakes, by H. M. Smith, M. M. Snell, and J. W. Collins; a Report upon the Division of Fisheries, by J. W. Collins; reports on the distribution of fish and eggs by the commission, and on the work of the steamer Albatross; reports on the construction and equipment of the schooner Grampus, by J. W. Collins; on the operations of the Grampus, by J. W. and D. E. Collins; a Review of the Labroid Fishes of America and Europe, by David Starr Jordan; a paper on Lake Superior Entomostraca, by S. A. Forbes; and one on Entozoa of Marine Fishes of New England, by Edwin Linton. All these papers are fully illustrated.
The Sixth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Labor, being the report for 1890, is devoted to statistics of the cost of producing iron and steel. It makes a volume of fourteen hundred pages, and is divided into three parts, of which the first gives the cost of labor, raw materials, and other elements that enter into the total cost of production; the second is devoted to the time and earnings of laborers, and the efficiency of labor; while the third part, comprising eight hundred pages, shows the cost of the laborers' living, in detail. Establishments in Great Britain and on the continent of Europe, as well as in the United States, were included in the investigation. This is one of the reports on the cost of producing dutiable articles which are called for in the act of Congress establishing the Department of Labor, and throws a vast amount of light upon the question of how much protection the iron and steel industries need in order to continue the present wages of American workmen.
The fifth of the lists of special classes of novels, compiled by W. M. Griswold, is a Descriptive list of British Novels (the author, Cambridge, Mass., $2), comprising over nine hundred titles. Each entry is accompanied by from a few lines to half a page of description, which in most cases is taken from a review in some prominent literary periodical. We can join heartily with Mr Griswold in the hope that "the publication of this and similar lists will lessen, in some measure, the disposition to read an inferior new book when superior old books, equally fresh to most readers, are at hand." There are no antiquated books in the list before us—the oldest that we note arc some of George Eliot's which appeared in 1859 and 1860. Surely no apology is needed for going back far enough to include these.
The Bacteriological World and Modern Medicine, formed by the fusion of the two journals whose united names it bears, issued the first number of its new series in November, 1891. It is edited by Paul Paquin, M. D., and J. H. Kellogg, M. D., with a large staff of collaborators (Battle Creek, Mich. $2 a year). Among the contents of the three numbers before us are continued articles on Influence of the Continuous Current on Microbes, by MM. Apostoli and Laguerrière, with illustrations; The Influence of Dress in producing the Physical Decadence of American Women, by J. H. Kellogg, M. D., illustrated with pneumographic tracings, outlines of natural and constricted forms, etc.; Lessons in Bacteriology, by Paul Paquin, M. D.; and The Application of the Microscope in Medical, Medico-legal, and Legal Difficulties, by Frederick Gaertner, M. D. There are also shorter articles, notes, reviews, editorials, etc. The journal has as a department the bulletins of the Medical and Surgical Sanitarium, and of the Laboratory of Hygiene connected with it. In addition to the other illustrations, each number contains one or two colored plates.
A History of Circumcision has been published by P. C. Remondino, M. D. (F. A. Davis, $1.25 and 50 cents), extending from the earliest times to the present. The author describes the Hebraic and other modes of performing this operation, and argues strongly in favor of the practice, setting forth a great many annoyances and diseases to which the presence of the prepuce contributes, both in early and in later life. The book contains also descriptions of infibulation, muzzling, and other operations that have been practiced on the prepuce, and histories of castration, eunuchism, hermaphrodism, and hypospadias. The work gives abundant evidence of having been carefully prepared, and can not fail to be of service to the surgeon. It contains much information, moreover, that would benefit lay readers, and the author's declared intention of making the volume "readable" has been very successfully carried out. Over a hundred notes to the text, a list of works quoted, and an index are appended; there are also two illustrations, one of Hebraic and the other of Egyptian circumcision.