Popular Science Monthly/Volume 43/October 1893/Literary Notices

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Hypnotism, Mesmerism, and the New Witchcraft. By Ernest Hart, formerly Surgeon to the West London Hospital. With Twenty Illustrations. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1893.

This little volume consists of papers that have recently appeared in the Nineteenth Century and the British Medical Journal, and it has been published to meet the wishes of those desiring the latest information on topics that are of current interest. Mr. Uart frankly states that he hopes the volume will serve a useful purpose in dissipating some popular errors and a good deal of pseudo-scientific superstition, superimposed on a slender basis of physiological and pathological phenomena.

His first chapter has the suggestive title of Hypnotism and Humbug, and in it he refers to the fact that hypnotism has come down to us through the ages, the lineal descendant of many ancient beliefs. He very truly says that the term "animal magnetism" applied to any of the phenomena of induced sleep, human automatism, hypnotic suggestions, or faith cures is a pure misnomer, being an example of that tendency satirized by Voltaire when he speaks of the custom of "mystics and charlatans to consecrate their ignorance and to impress its conclusions upon others by giving a name that has no meaning to phenomena that they do not understand." Briefly and lucidly the physiological explanation of that more or less complete suspension of the will, known as induced sleep, is portrayed; and reference is made to the various phenomena that may be displayed by an individual under the influence of suggestion. But Mr. Hart emphasizes the fact that the allegation that an individual under the influence of suggestion has powers of clairvoyance, can predict future events, has insight into hidden things, or, in a few words, has developed new powers, is, under any and all circumstances, imposture.

The second chapter briefly refers to the ancient employment of the magnet in medicine, to Mesmer and his methods, to the "possessed" and the "demoniacs," and Mr. Hart shows that all these influences are the result of a condition of disturbed equilibrium of the nervous system and brain apparatus of the person operated on or affected therewith. A number of illustrations of postures and facial expressions of patients in the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris arc inserted and lend force to the author's thesis that most of the phenomena characteristic of the extreme degrees of hypnotization and suggestibility may occur in that condition of disturbed equilibrium of the patient, male or female, known as hysteria. In the latter condition there is often an auto-suggestion that, like the hetero-suggestion inducing hypnotism, abolishes the power of the will; and the brain losing its restraining and controlling powers, emotions may be excited, feelings induced, and intellectual operations set in motion, independently of the will of the individual as well as without individual consciousness being alive to what is going on. As to the treatment of disease by means of what has been termed "suggestive therapeutics," Mr. Hart cites Charcot, Ricker, Babinski, and Dèjerine, who agree that for curative purposes hypnotism is very rarely useful, generally entirely useless, and often injurious.

The third chapter is one of the most interesting in the volume, dealing as it does with Luys's experiments at La Charité Hospital in Paris, that have been given wide publicity in general literature and that have served to originate many misconceptions regarding the phenomena of hypnotism.

Dr. Luys defines hypnotism as an extraphysiological experimental state of the nervous system, or a pseudo-sleep which is imposed and during which the subject under experiment loses the notion of his or her own existence and of the external world. He professes to create experimentally many of the disorders of mental pathology in certain stages of hypnotism, and thus to give a factitious representation of some of the disorders of madness. He presented for Mr. Hart's observation five patients that were, Mr. Hart states, profoundly neuropathic. These patients were extremely sensitive, when hypnotized, to feeble magnetic currents, to residual magnetic impressions, to magnetic effluvia, to the perception of colored luminous atmospheres radiating from and playing around the poles of a magnet or of a faradaic machine, and to flames and effluvia of like character proceeding from the features, the fingers, and the hands of the human subject. These subjects would caress with various manifestations of delight the "north pole" of the magnet, about which they saw blue flames playing, while dread and terror were produced by presenting the "south pole," about which red flames played. Even photograph paper having an impression of the "north" or "south" pole produced similar phenomena in these persons. Around the head of one of the hypnotized persons a circlet of magnetized iron was placed that had been around the head of a person subject to hallucinations of persecution and of black misery; the patient's features became haggard, his expression melancholic, and he struggled, with evident horror and fright, to escape from imaginary persecutors; the removal of the circlet restored him to calmness. These ideas had remained stored in the circlet, as Dr. Luys informed his audience, for six months, and were apparently by no means exhausted notwithstanding frequent use. Small sealed tubes containing various medicinal substances applied to the necks of these hypnotized individuals produced symptoms similar to those caused by the administration of the substances internally. Another series of phenomena was produced by having the hypnotized person hold a glass of water or a wax doll in the hands, and their sensation was transferred to the object held so that if the glass of water or the doll was stroked, pinched, pricked, or tortured at a distance, and presumably where the subject could not see what was done, the sensation was transferred from the object to the person, who would express emotions conforming to what was done to the supposed sensitized object.

Mr. Hart found that Dr. Luys was unwilling to allow him to make certain tests that would control these experiments and determine whether the "subject" was dissembling or unconscious. Accordingly, he made arrangements to have Dr. Luys's "subjects" come to his chambers, where he had a nonmagnetic bar resembling the magnetized bar that Luys had used, a demagnetized magnet, a set of needles variously and inversely magnetized, sealed tubes containing the medicinal substances used by Luys as well as some containing water, two similar glasses of water and two similar wax dolls. In the presence of a number of credible witnesses he repeated Luys's experiments, and the "subjects" were delighted with the north pole, although there was no current turned on, and false phenomena were obtained with all the magnets employed. The doll or glass of water to which sensation had been transferred from a "subject" was surreptitiously exchanged for the unsensitized glass of water or doll, but that made no difference in the phenomena elicited by the stroking, pinching, etc. The sealed glass tubes containing water produced the tipsy scenes that arose when Luys applied to the neck the tube containing brandy, while one containing the latter produced any symptom that was expected to be obtained from whatever substance was mentioned. In other words the "subjects" were artful and efficient impostors and Dr. Luys was their dupe, as one of the "subjects" herself stated.

We believe that this brief review of the scope of the experiments justifies Mr. Hart's assertion that Luys's experiments were conducted with culpable looseness in his methods, and that there were incredible extravagance and error in the deductions that he allowed himself to make from the false phenomena to which his mode of experimentation inevitably led.

Mr. Hart believes that the alleged advantages of the therapeutic employment of hypnotism in certain neuroses, in alcoholism, and in the cases of backward or naughty children, are untenable, and that the effect of its employment is to weaken the will power that it is desirable to strengthen. In fact, compared with the hypnotist faith-curer of the hospital ward, the balance is in favor of the faith-curer of the chapel and the grotto. The latter strengthens the weaker individuality by playing upon the theme of auto-suggestion; the patient is told to believe that he will be cured, to wish it fervently and he shall be cured. And his cure is quite as real and likely to be quite as lasting as if he had become the puppet of a hypnotizer.

The method in which the subject is presented serves to convince the reader that the phenomena of hypnotism do not transcend the confines of explicable fact, and that those that believe that it contains much that is occult are but the dupes of their own credulity. The volume is written in a style that will enable the lay reader to understand the topic, and it is to be hoped that its wide circulation will correct many of the popular impressions regarding the possibilities as well as the facts of hypnotism.

Electrical Experiments. By G. E. Bonney. London: Whittaker k Co. Pp. 252. Price, 75 cents.

This book has been prepared, Mr. Bonney informs us in his preface, for the instructive amusement of young people in the country whose time hangs heavily on their hands in the winter evenings. It consists of a collection of simple experiments in magnetism and electricity, requiring only such apparatus as the experimenters can construct for themselves. The first class of experiments described are with permanent magnets. These are followed with a number of experiments with electro-magnets. A chapter is devoted to experiments with induction coils, in which various forms of Geissler tubes are shown and described. Most of the simpler experiments with static electricity commonly described in the text-books are given in the chapter devoted to this form of electricity, and the electrolysis of water and other liquids and the method of electro-plating in that on electrolytic experiments. Some miscellaneous experiments in thermo-electricity and with the electric light complete the book. The experiments are, on the whole, well selected to illustrate the characteristic phenomena, and are clearly described in simple terms suitable to the audience to whom the book is addressed.

How to make Inventions, or Inventing as a Science and an Art. By Edward P. Thompson, M. E. Second edition, revised and enlarged. New York: D. Van Nostrand Co. Pp. 181. Price, $1.

In his preface Mr. Thompson says that his object is "to establish inventing as a science." In the first chapter he advances excellent reasons for his claim that this may be done, but he does not carry out his reasoning logically. For instance, in the fourteenth chapter the author says that although "Coster was the first to conceive the idea of replacing handwriting by printing," his discovery was "knowledge, not an invention." Science is knowledge, and the application of it to a hitherto unknown art surely might be construed an invention. Nevertheless, Mr. Thompson has given to the world in this book a fund of useful and interesting information which can not fail to be of benefit. It contains some very excellent advice to those who "have ideas," and if only his suggestions were adopted many a tyro inventor would be saved a good deal of both worry and useless expense.

The chapter entitled Suggestive Ideas is full of valuable promptings and advice. So is Chapter VII. In the latter the author lays down four rules which should be observed by inventors. The first rule says, "Do not begin with intricate problems." The others warn inventors against confining themselves to single devices, and exhorts them to "practice medium problems," and study the analysis of the methods by which they desire to accomplish new results.

In the chapters on Principles in Chemistry and Electricity "for making scientific inventions" Mr. Thompson has treated the probabilities of invention with the assistance of these great factors, besides giving a large fund of useful information regarding these elements in the field of invention. The major part of the volume treats of the possibilities of invention in the field of electricity, and consists for the most part of selections from the author's writings upon this subject in the Electrical Engineer and other scientific journals.

Mechanics and Hydrostatics. By S. L. Loney. Cambridge: University Press. 1893. Pp. 304. Price, $1.25.

Prof. Loney has prepared this little manual for the use of beginners, and presumes on only a limited mathematical knowledge by the pupil. The subject-matter comprises statics, dynamics, and hydrostatics, which are treated briefly and concisely, the propositions being illustrated by appropriate examples. A number of selected problems are appended to each chapter for the student to work out, the answers to which are given at the end of the book. In an appendix a sufficient exposition of elementary trigonometry is given to enable the student to follow the text when the mathematical treatment calls for more mathematical knowledge than elementary geometry and algebra.

The Mineral Industry: its Statistics, Technology, and Trade, in the United States and other Countries, from the Earliest Times to the End of 1892. Vol. I. Edited by Richard P. Rothwell. Pp. 628. New York: Scientific Publishing Co., 1893.

This volume is a compilation of statistics, essays, and general information concerning the mineral industries of the United States and of the world, which will be gladly welcomed by all persons interested in the mineral resources of this country.

It is the most comprehensive work of this nature which has ever been put before the public. All puzzling measurements of quantity, etc., are reduced to the metric system, and the student can readily examine the progress of the different industries, from their earliest conception to the present time. The articles on aluminum, tin, chronology of the gold and silver industries, and the platinum group of metals are very important additions to the exhaustive statistical body of the work. The histories of the progress of metallurgy, assaying, etc., are also ably treated; and in the various papers on copper we have a perfect encyclopædia of the history, progress, values, and modes of producing this metal, which can not fail to be of great benefit to everybody interested in industrial progress.

Considering the ambitious plan of the compilation it is somewhat unfortunate that provision was not made for articles upon the uses of the precious and other metals, with a few tables showing their quantitative applications. Iron, lead, and nickel occupy a considerable portion of the work, and a wonderful amount of information can be learned about these metals and the progress of their production from the exhaustive tables that accompany the text. The onyx industry is rather summarily treated; but it appears that a difficulty existed in obtaining sufficient important data to make that article more interesting. Mr. Roth well is to be congratulated upon the very useful volume which he and his assistants, Messrs. Benedict, Ingalls, Church, Hofman, etc., have produced.

Old and New Astronomy. By Richard A. Proctor, completed by A. Cowper Ranyard. London and New York: Longmans, Green & Co. Pp. 816. Price, $12.

At the time of the author's death, in 1888, about half of this volume had been published in parts, and about one third more was written, though incompletely. Mr. Proctor intended it to be the great work of his life, and to this end had been collecting material for more than twenty years before he began its publication. The chapters which he left in manuscript have been completed by Mr. A. Cowper Ranyard, Mr. Proctor's successor as editor of Knowledge, who has also written the part on the stars needed to fill out the plan of the work. As implied in its title, "Old and New," this treatise essays to give the notions of ancient astronomers as well as the present state of the science. The author has made a practice also of telling when, where, and by whom important discoveries and advances in our knowledge of the heavens have been made, and in this way has added much of the charm of narrative to his book. The large type, many illustrations and maps, and fine paper also contribute to make the volume an attractive one. The frontispiece consists of three views of pyramids, and in the first chapter, devoted to Ancient and Modern Methods of Observing the Heavenly Bodies, the use of the pyramids and other structures of masonry for this purpose is explained. In the same chapter are described the quadrants and astrolabes of the middle ages, and the most modern transit and equatorial instruments as well. The shape of the earth is the first subject taken up after the description of instruments. Under this head the various proofs that the earth is round are given, and the processes employed for measuring its curve are set forth. The third chapter is devoted to Apparent Motions of the Sun, Moon, and Planets, and is copiously illustrated with charts and diagrams. The author next describes the True Mechanism of the Solar System, and here has occasion to dip quite deeply into history in order to give the successive approximations to the truth arrived at by the early astronomers. He follows this account with a statement of the methods that have been devised for measuring and weighing the solar system. The sun, the moon, and each of the planets are fully described, a notably interesting chapter being made on sun-spots and solar prominences under the title The Sun's Surroundings. When his labors were broken off by his unexpected death Mr. Proctor had written nothing on the stars, the nebula?, or the Milky Way, though it was known that he intended to make these sections a special feature of the book. It was in this department of astronomy that his own work was of most original and lasting character. Mr. Ranyard has sought to follow out the author's general plan in the stellar section of this treatise by giving as complete a review as he could of the various theories which have been advocated with regard to the Milky Way and the distribution of stars and nebulæ. A feature of the book is the explanatory notes at the foot of nearly every page, and in these notes, throughout Mr. Proctor's chapters, are often to be found vigorous criticisms of words, things, and men which are notably characteristic of the author. The volume is indexed, and the illustrations comprise 31 plates and 472 wood-cuts.

Handbook of Greek and Latin Palæography. By Edward Maunde Thompson, D. C. L., etc. The International Scientific Series, Vol. LXX; New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 343. Price, $1.75.

The general reader will begin to have some fellow-feeling with the delver among ancient manuscripts after he has read this book, and learned something about the materials and implements used by scribes of different periods, the successive changes in the forms of the alphabetic characters, the various styles of handwriting characterizing different times and localities, and the numerous other features that aid in deciphering, and in deciding as to the age and genuineness of a given document. The author describes the Greek and the Latin alphabets, and gives charts showing the forms of script letters at different periods, and how the Latin alphabet was derived from the Egyptian hieroglyphs, through the hieratic, the Phœnician, and the Greek. Among the materials need to receive writing he enumerates leaves, bark, linen, clay, metals, both plain and waxed wooden tablets, papyrus, skins, parchment, vellum, and finally paper. The letters were scratched on waxen tablets with a sharp-pointed stylus; on papyrus they were traced in ink with a reed. The old form of a book was the roll. After the practice of hinging two or more tablets together in a "codex" arose, vellum books took on this more convenient shape. The further transition to the modern bound volume was easy. Naturally the ancient scribes sought to diminish their toil by abbreviations and contractions of words. These abbreviations form one of the chief difficulties that a person meets with when he begins to read Latin and Greek manuscripts, and a large number of them are explained by Mr. Thompson. In describing the several styles of Greek writing Mr. Thompson divides manuscripts written on papyrus from those on vellum. He considers first the book hand on papyrus, next the cursive hand on the same material, then the uncial hand on vellum, and lastly the mediæval minuscule writing. A similar course is taken in tracing the history of Latin palæography: The two branches of majuscule writing—capitals and uncials—form the first division, then come the modified uncial, mixed hands, and the half-uncial. Roman cursive writing is next taken up, descriptions of the national minuscule hands derived from it follow, and the history is brought down to include English charter hands of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In these chapters, which constitute two thirds of the work, is seen a striking instance of the aid which physical science is giving to all branches of research and endeavor. Photographic engraving, by means of which the author puts before his readers actual facsimiles of a large number of styles of ancient writing, alone makes possible a really instructive book on this subject at a moderate price. These facsimiles enable us to compare, side by side, specimens from manuscripts which lie scattered in the different libraries of Europe, and which could never have been brought together. The volume has an index, and a list of the principal palæographical works used or referred to by the author is appended.

Poole Brothers' Celestial Planisphere. Drawn and compiled by Jules A. Colas. Price, $3.—Poole Brothers' Celestial Handbook. Compiled and edited by Jules A. Colas. Pp. xiv + 110. Price, $2. Chicago: Poole Brothers.

The planisphere published by Messrs. Poole Brothers consists of the usual map of the constellations on a disk nineteen inches and a half in diameter, revolving under a screen. A skeleton screen is used, so that besides the constellations visible in the sky nearly all the others on the map can be seen. Disk and screen are mounted on a heavy sheet of cardboard, which slips into a substantial cardboard case.

The Celestial Handbook is intended as a companion to the planisphere, and has been compiled especially for the use of amateurs in the study of astronomy. An introduction containing explanations and definitions is followed by systematically arranged data concerning the constellations. The data are accompanied by diagrams and illustrations, and consist of a short history of each constellation, a catalogue of the stars, with their designations, magnitudes, and positions, and notes on the principal curiosities contained in the constellations. Following this portion of the book are tables of old and new constellations, names given to the principal stars, etc. There are also brief chapters on shooting stars, star showers, comets, and the planets. The text is illustrated with one hundred and forty cuts.

Some Hints on Learning to Draw. By G. W. Caldwell Hutchinson. London and New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 199. Price, $2.25.

The first "hints" given in this book relate to the reasons why drawing is an art that every one should desire to be acquainted with. There is the story of James Nasmyth, who, being in Sweden, where the party of either side could not understand the language of the other, secured a good supper by drawing its principal features, and got his other wants satisfied in a like way, with great admiration on the part of his hosts. The "graphic" language is thus evidently a universal one. Drawing is of first importance to architects, in teaching them to see artistically, without which they can not build artistically. It is a momentous aid in the cultivation of the observing powers, and "practically the first step in drawing is to learn to see accurately." One of the earliest lessons to be learned is "how very untrustworthy is the testimony of the untrained eyesight; when this is realized, the importance of keen observation becomes apparent." Erroneous conceptions, which are among the great difficulties in the way of good drawing, must be got rid of, for which purpose the student should be placed face to face with the object as soon as possible. Care should be taken to have the best specimens of the model obtainable. Freehand outline copies from the flat may, with advantage, be alternated every now and then with outline drawings from objects, so that we, by seeing and working from good copies, may have a high standard before us to show what our own work should be like. From the drawing of such common objects we may pass to outline drawings from casts of leaves or fruit, and thence to outlines from natural leaves and growing plants and shells, and casts from the antique. The time is not wasted that is spent in striving to do everything as thoroughly as possible, even the smallest thing. It follows from any fair consideration of the subject that there is no simple road, no one process or rule by which success may be obtained in drawing. Another important reason why every one should learn to draw and so learn to see, is in order that our taste for what is really good may be improved. The student is led from the opening story and these interesting considerations to the practical maxims and their application, which are given in a plain style, and are illustrated by numerous diagrams and by drawings from a group of living artists of the first rank.

Report of the United States National Museum. For the Year ending June 30, 1891. Washington: Government Printing Office. Pp. 869.

The catalogued collections in the museum now number 3,028,714 specimens, having increased about nineteen fold during the past ten years. It is observed, however, that a large portion of the material catalogued in 1884 and in later years has been in the custody of the Smithsonian Institution for several years, but in storage. There are now thirty-three organized departments and sections in the museum, under the care of curators, including honorary and acting curators and assistant curators. In the division of anthropology progress in the ethnological department has been satisfactory; the collection in prehistoric anthropology has been reclassified and rearranged according to locality, and special researches have been pursued in many directions. In forestry a systematic display of the more important lumber trees by means of maps showing their distribution, photographs of typical trees, and photomicrographs, has been begun. The zoölogical, botanical, mineralogical, and geological collections have been increased in nearly every department. The largest gift to the library during the year was from the Rev. John Crumbie Brown, of Scotland, of the professional library of his brother, the late Dr. Samuel Brown, who has been called "the last of the alchemists," from his advocacy of a belief in the transmutability of the elements. The work of issuing the publications is now more punctually performed than heretofore. One of the aims of the museum—to aid students and others engaged in scientific work by lending them material to be used in their researches—has been carried out in a number of loans; and other students have availed themselves of the privilege of examining the collections. A summary is given in the report of the cases of co-operation with the work of the museum by various departments and bureaus of the Government, from which many valuable results have accrued. The papers contributed by members of the museum staff describing and illustrating the collections include The Genesis of the National Museum, by G. Brown Goode; Ethnological Collections in the United States National Museum from Kilimandjaro, East Africa, by Dr. W. L. Abbott; The Bernadon, Allen, and Jony Korean Collections in the United States National Museum, by Walter Hough; Shinto, or the Mythology of the Japanese, The Ancient Burial Mounds of Japan, and Some Ancient Relics in Japan, by Romyn Hitchcock; Prehistoric Naval Architecture of the North of Europe, by George H. Boehmer; and First Draft of a System of Classification for the World's Columbian Exposition, by G. Brown Goode.

Lectures on Sanitary Law. By A. Wynter Blyth. New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 287. Price, $2.50.

These twelve lectures were delivered by the author at the College of State Medicine, as part of the usual course of instruction in sanitary science. They are republished on account of their possible value to those who desire to obtain, in a small compass, a general view of the powers and duties of (English) local authorities in relation to the public health. Having described the division into sanitary districts and the functions of authorities, the lectures concern Nuisance; Sewerage and Drainage; Water; Sanitary Appliances, Regulations, and By-laws; Statutory Provisions with Regard to the Prevention of Disease; the Law under the Infectious Diseases Notification and Prevention Acts; Port Sanitary Law; the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890; Canal Boats and Metropolitan Sanitary Law. In the appendix are given examples of by-laws relating to offensive trades, with other matters, and the statutes specially treating of the inspection and examination of food.

The eighth volume of the Mineral Resources of the United Slates, compiled by David T. Day, Chief of the Division of Mining Statistics and Technology, contains 630 pages of statistical data relative to the progress made from year to year in the production of minerals. A complete statement of the mineral products of 1891, with comparative tables, occupies the greater portion of the volume, the remainder being devoted to a very important examination of the new discoveries of mineral deposits and explanations of improved technical processes by which minerals have been made more available and the yield increased, etc. The summary shows an increase in value in the entire mineral products of $9,501,1.39 over 1890, chiefly in silver, copper, lead, and coal, the iron and steel production having fallen off nearly one million tons in 1891. Washington, 1893.

In Bulletin No. 3 of the United States Department of Agriculture, 1893, A. K. Fisher, M. D., Assistant Ornithologist, contributes an interesting report upon the Hawks and Owls of the United States. From an examination of seventy-three species and subspecies of these birds. Dr. Fisher has arrived at the conclusion that instead of their being pests or enemies, all except six species of the hawks and owls of this country are really among the farmer's best friends. This conclusion was arrived at after an examination of the stomachs of 2,700 of these birds, when it was found that the principal food of sixty-seven of the species examined, comprising 2,212 birds, consisted of "mice and other small mammals" which are a constant source of annoyance and loss to the farmer. The work, which is illustrated with twenty-six colored plates, is a valuable contribution to the natural history literature of the country, and can not fail to be widely appreciated l)y ornithologists and lovers of the feathered tribe. The color, food, locality, and habits of each of the seventy-three species are described. Pp. 210. Department of Agriculture, Washington.

Mr. Marsden Manson, C. E., has published an interesting little book entitled Geological and Solar Climates, their Causes and Variations. In it he attacks the published opinions of some of the most eminent students and writers of geology, and, although he admits that the direct cause of the Glacial epoch or Ice age was a decrease in the original heat of the globe, he scores those scientists whose researches established that fact because they failed "to account for all the phenomena accompanying the Ice age, or to account for the disappearance of that age." Mr. Manson's theory is that the direct cause of the glaciation was the exclusion of solar heat from those regions where the ice development was taking place, and that the disappearance of the ice northward and southward was caused by the natural earth heat breaking through the ice crust, after which, assisted by the solar agencies, it began to gather heat and dispersed the cold toward the arctic and antarctic regions relatively as the land area predominated. The book is for sale by William Doxey, 631 Market Street, San Francisco. Price, 75 cents.

Volume X of the United States Fish Commission Bulletin is an important contribution to the scientific and industrial literature of the fishes and fisheries of the country. Besides articles on The Oyster and Oyster-culture, by Bashford Dean, which have already been noticed in these pages, it contains a valuable paper on the Fishing Vessels and Boats of the Pacific Coast, by Captain J. W. Collins; a report on the fisheries of the New England States; and various articles and reports on the aquaria of the United States Fish Commission and the conditions of the fisheries of Kentucky, Iowa, Lake Ontario, etc.

In the article on the Fishing Craft of the Pacific Coast, besides a fund of useful information and suggestion, Captain Collins describes the appearance, construction, and sea-going qualities, as well as their general adaptability to the several fisheries, of all kinds of boats and vessels, from the Alaskan kaiak (canoe) to the perfectly appointed whaler, and illustrates the text by thirteen plates and four figures. The fisheries of the New England States are also exhaustively treated, the report chiefly consisting of statistical tables of their condition, with an analysis of the quantities of the various fishes captured, the number of men and boats engaged, and the amount of capital invested.

In the report of the fisheries of Lake Ontario, Hugh M. Smith, M. D., gives an interesting account of his investigations, which were made with a view to the establishment of a fish-hatching station on the lake. The volume is fully illustrated with ninety-four full-page plates and ten figures in the text. Pp. 436. Washington, 1892.

A Concise History of Religion has been prepared by F. J. Gould for the issues of the Rationalist Press Committee of London. In the first volume, the only one that yet appeared, are given brief accounts of the principal religions of the world except Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism, preceded by an analysis exhibiting the chief phases of primitive worship, and the main lines of religious development. The list of religions treated include about fifty. The author proposes to follow this volume with other parts dealing with the Bible, Judaism, Christianity (from the point of view of a purely human origin), and modern Rationalism. (London: Watts &Co.)

The book Hermetic Philosophy, vol. iii, "A comedy founded on Plato's Meno, applied to modern discoveries in theosophy. Christian science, magic, etc., and to those who are seeking these discoveries," bearing the signature of Styx, and published by the J. B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, discusses the question, "Can virtue and science be taught?" There is a vein of levity running through the whole, yet the author's purpose appears to be serious. He has taken Plato for his pattern and applied his mode of illustration to modern mental phenomena—to the discussion of "the merits of a few self-appointed leaders among the thousands of those who feel that there is a call in the mind for them to begin on the 'mighty work.'" Among these pretenders are named "Adepts, Hon. Magi, Mahatmas, Children of the Sun, the Divinely anointed," and Christian scientists. The author's point of view is indicated by the question, "Is not the man who presents himself for common spectacle as one possessing gifts direct from the hand of God, for which he is a specially selected and ordained recipient, either a fool, a fanatic, or a rascal?"

The Religious Herald (Hartford, Conn.) presents to its subscribers as a souvenir of fifty years' publication of the paper, a large and profusely illustrated volume entitled Picturesque Chicago and Guide to the World's Fair. It consists of descriptions of the city, its parks, benevolences, business houses, institutions, and other peculiar features, illustrated by more than fifty photographic reproductions. The mechanical execution is of the most pleasing character.

A view of what some socialistic agitators might do if they had opportunity is given in a little book entitled Is it Right to rob Robbers? by Morrison L. Swift, published by the Commonwealth Society, Boston. The "robbers" of the story are capitalist employers. A plot formed by <a few clerks to steal regularly from the moneys of their concerns and distribute the sums among the needy, spreads till it includes nearly all the employed and vast corporative concerns have been built up out of the proceeds, "labor" has found its level as high as capital, and all of society—manufacturers, the legal profession, education, and what not—are affected by the conditions developed. Detection comes at last; capital shows its cruel hand in the prosecution of the thieves, now numbering many thousands; convulsions and almost revolution follow, till at last insolent capital is forced to yield and share in the universal partnership.

No. 10 of the third volume of Werner's Readings and Recitations, compiled and arranged by Caroline B. Le Row, (quarterly, Edgar S. Werner, 28 West Twenty-third Street, New York), is known as America's Recitation Book, and includes pieces, by American authors only, on great events in the history of our country, arranged according to the chronology. The pieces are classified as relating to Discoveries, Settlements, French and Indian Wars, Revolutionary War and Declaration of Independence, the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, and the Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation.

The Conversations on some of the Old Poets were published by Mr. J. R. Lowell in 1845, and again in a revised edition in 1846; and were reprinted in London in 1845. They were afterward allowed to pass out of print. Mr. Lowell did not include them in his collected works, regarding them as in a measure superseded by his later and more mature writings on like subjects. They have, however, a value and interest that have not been lessened by time or by the author's growth in fame; and although a self-restraint with which we can find no fault may have prevented the author from pressing his thoughts on the same subjects twice upon the public, often greatly modified the second time and perhaps contradictory of the first impression such scruple need not now exist to exclude the reading public from what is really a very enjoyable and instructive series of essays. The conversational form was adopted partly because the essays were discursive, and partly to enable them to be so without violation of the canons of literary propriety. They have their faults, which appertain to the youthfulness of the author at the time he wrote them; but, as the present publishers well say, Mr. Lowell's reputation can better afford the faults than our literature can afford the suppression of the work. The present edition is published, with an introduction by Robert Ellis Thompson, by David McKay, Philadelphia.