Popular Science Monthly/Volume 52/November 1897/General Notices

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Some volumes[1] of what promises to be an unusually valuable series (even in this day of series) have recently come to us in the shape of two little histories—one of England and one of Germany. They are intended to give a brief general outline of the more salient and striking points in the history of each country, and are written so as to attract and appeal to children, with the hope that the interest thus stimulated by these mere outlines will lead the grown-up child to a perusal of the more extended and complete general historical accounts. The idea is a good one, and it seems to have been carried out fairly well in both of the present volumes.

The volume on England begins its story with the landing of Julius Cæsar. The state of things which he found and the changes brought about by the Roman conquest are discussed in the first chapter. The second chapter takes us to the Norman conquest. The chapters are divided up in this way all through the book, more stress being laid on the striking and important events from the standpoint of the whole people than on the lives of kings and the battles they fought. The growth of the Parliament and the several reform acts receive special attention.

German history is practically nothing but the story of a series of wars up to the time of the Reformation. This period is given about ninety pages in the present volume. Louis XIV and the War of the Spanish Succession are told about in the fifth chapter. The Seven Years' War and the fall of Germany during the Napeolonic epoch are next taken up; and finally there are two chapters—one on the German Confederation, and the last one on the modern German Empire as it stands to-day.

This notable work was projected by Dr. von Tubeuf to fill a gap in the literature relating to diseases of plants.[2] It deals with those diseases produced by the cryptogams and other lower organisms of the vegetable kingdom. The large number of parasites which attack such lower plants as algæ and lichens have, as a rule, been omitted. In the general part of the volume, comprising the first hundred pages, parasitism and the relations between parasite and host are discussed from a botanical standpoint. The subject of parasitism is immensely important on the economic side; for the ravages of scab and rust, of blight and smut, are world-wide and often grievous. Our author has not been indifferent to making his studies useful, but has summarized the preventive and combative agencies available against the more important diseases of economic plants. In the second or systematic part of the book the pathological phenomena are considered along with the description of the organism producing them. Notices of greater length are given to such parasites and diseases as have formed the subjects of special investigations. The list is intended to be complete for Germany and the neighboring countries, but includes also many species occurring only in other parts of the world, notably in America. Much valuable material has been made available to the author by the recent publication of several important works on the cryptogams. The three hundred and thirty illustrations are almost exclusively the author's own work, and a large part of them illustrate the habitus of pathological organisms. The English edition is more than a translation. It contains many additions by the author and by the editor, and the species of fungi that have been recorded for Britain and North America are indicated.

In a volume entitled The Theory of Electricity and Magnetism Dr. Arthur G. Webster, of Clark University, has endeavored to present the mathematics of the subject in a form more assimilable by the student than has been available heretofore (Macmillan, $3.50). Since graduates of American colleges are, as a rule, insufficiently prepared for taking up mathematical physics, the author has prefixed a mathematical introduction and a treatment of the Newtonian potential function to this work. For a similar reason he has included a treatment of the fundamental principles of mechanics. These matters occupy nearly half of the volume. Little or no reference has been made to experimental methods in electricity, these being left to other works. The general purpose of the treatise is to present the results of the electrical theory as it stands to-day, after the labors of Faraday, Maxwell, Helmholtz, Hertz, and Heaviside.

The Bulletin of the Department of Labor for May, 1897 (No. 10), contains a statistical report of one hundred and twelve pages on the Condition of the Negro in Various Cities. The investigation which furnished the data for this report was originally undertaken to ascertain the causes of the excessive mortality of negroes in Chattanooga, Savannah, and Boston. Afterward it was extended to seventeen Southern cities and the city of Cambridge, Mass., and besides statistics of sickness and mortality it has been made to embrace facts concerning sizes of families, number of rooms occupied, rents paid, sanitary condition of houses, occupations, earnings, and the number of defective, maimed, and deformed persons. The statistics do not cover the whole of the cities in which the investigation was made. A representative group of houses was taken in each, as the persons who gave their time to the work could not do more. This bulletin contains also a comparison of figures as to the work of men, women, and children for periods ten years apart, and miscellaneous minor articles.

Volume XXVIII, Part I, of the Harvard Observatory Annals is a catalogue of Spectra of Bright Stars discussed by Antonia C. Maury. The spectra of six hundred and eighty-one of the brightest stars north of declination -30°, of which about forty eight hundred photographs were obtained, are comprised in this catalogue. As the investigations were made several years ago, they could not take account of the recent discoveries respecting the spectrum of helium, but a discussion of the relation of the spectra of stars of the Orion type to that of helium is contained in supplementary notes. Volume XXXVI of the Annals completes the series of five volumes devoted to Observations of Stars by Prof. William A. Rogers. A list of errata for the whole series of volumes is included.

In the Fifteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology the director, after describing the work of the year, proceeds to outline conclusions that have been reached by the bureau in regard to regimentation, the satisfaction of justice, and related matters in savage society. The chief of the accompanying papers is by William H. Holmes, on Stone Implements of the Potomac-Chesapeake Tidewater. Extensive deposits of rudely flaked stones are found in and about the city of Washington, and careful study of them has shown that they are on the sites of workshops connected with extensive quarries. From examinations of large quantities of rejectage it has been determined that the product of the flaking operations was a leaf-shaped blade. It was further ascertained that such leaf-shaped blades are to be found on Indian village sites in all parts of the surrounding country. Studies of quarries of other materials in the neighboring high land gave similar results, and in order to round out the subject all known classes of implements have been studied. These studies have not revealed the slightest evidence as to the occupancy of the region by any earlier people than the known Indian tribes. Jesse Walter Fewkes contributes a memoir on The Group of Tusayan Ceremonials called Katcinas, which is copiously illustrated with cuts and colored plates showing the masks and other paraphernalia used in these rites. There is a special report on The Repair of Casa Grande Ruin, by Cosmos Mindeleff, and other papers are The Siouan Indians, by W J McGee, and Siouan Sociology, by James O. Dorsey.

The work on Stones for Building and Decoration, by George P. Merrill, originally published in 1891, now appears in a revised and enlarged edition. Reading matter and plates amounting to over fifty pages have been inserted here and there throughout the volume, and the whole book has been brought down to date. By these changes the author believes that its usefulness has been very materially increased.

The third volume, completing the college text-book of Nichols and Franklin on the Elements of Physics, has now been issued (Macmillan, $1.50 net a volume). About three fourths of the two hundred pages are devoted to light and the rest to sound. The calculation of the lengths and velocities of waves of light, of the positions of the foci of lenses and curved mirrors, and similar mathematical exercises in connection with diffraction, photometry, polarization, and radiation constitute the treatment of the former subject. There is more of description and less of mathematics in the chapters on sound, yet here the numerical values of wave motions and of intervals are made prominent. It may be well to repeat that the work, as a whole, is designed as an advanced text-book for colleges where an elementary course in calculus is taught, and whatever of demonstration, illustration, or discussion may seem needful to supplement the text should be supplied from the knowledge of each instructor using the book.

The varying prominence of the female element in religious conceptions is set forth in The God Idea of the Ancients, by Eliza Burt Gamble (Putnams). This is one of the lines of inquiry taken up by the author in preparing an earlier work on The Evolution of Woman, and her intention was to include its results in that work. In the separate volume in which the material has now been embodied she presents evidence to show that mankind construct their own gods and remodel them from the materials supplied by their own developing culture. She finds sex to have been the fundamental fact not only in the operations of Nature but in the construction of a god; that in an early age woman's influence was in the ascendency over that of man, and the religion of the time reflected the altruistic female character, but with the rise of male dominion the god idea took on egoistic qualities. Creative power is the keynote of many ancient religions, whether they take the form of tree, sun, fire, or lingam and yoni worship, and the chief god is represented as male or female, according as man or woman has been regarded as having the more important office in reproduction. The author examines a large number of the ancient religions, and points out the sexual significance of many of their emblems and ceremonies. In two chapters on Christianity a Continuation of Paganism she shows that some of these emblems and ceremonies have been inherited by the Christian religion. The book gives evidence of extended study; it is concisely written, and its statements are well fortified by quotations from authorities.

In Lectures on Appendicitis (Putnams) Dr. Robert T. Morris has given a general description of this disease, including symptoms, both general and local, and the method of treatment which his own experience has led him to believe the most satisfactory. The preparation of surgeon and patient is the subject of Chapter I. In Chapter II the appendix is described and pictured. Appendicitis, its symptoms and complications, is the subject of Chapter III, and finally in Chapter IV its surgical treatment is taken up. This comprises about half of the book. The remainder consists of a number of unrelated essays on such topics as the action of various solvents on gallstones, the drainage wick, and a last-resort hernia operation. Illustrations are freely used.

Water and Public Health, by James H. Fuertes (John Wiley & Sons, $1.50), is an attempt to make a comparative study of the mortality statistics of the principal cities of the world with reference to their water supplies. The undertaking is obviously a large one, and the annual mortality in a city is determined by so many different factors that a comparison based on water supply alone can not fail to be misleading. Notwithstanding this unavoidable incompleteness, however, the book contains some valuable suggestions.

The Development of the Frog's Egg, by Thomas Hunt Morgan (Macmillan, $1.60), is intended as an introduction to experimental embryology. Owing to the wide distribution and rather regular habits, despite its name, of Rana temporaria, its eggs are always easy to obtain; and as it has both tenacity of life and suitability for experimental purposes, it has always been the mainstay of the elementary embryologist. Hence we know more about the processes and transformations by means of which its egg develops than we do about these same occurrences in any other egg; and, as it is believed that the process which goes on in one egg is, in a general way, a counterpart of that which goes on in all other eggs, we can, by studying the development of the frog's egg, get a fairly good idea of the embryology of all the other animals hatched from eggs. This book is a careful microscopic following of the process of development in a frog's egg from the time when the egg is forming to the moment when the young tadpole issues from the jelly membranes. Especial weight, however, is laid on the results of experimental work, tending to modify in various ways the normal process. Illustrations are used wherever they tend to simplify the text.

An essay on The Psychical Correlation of Religious Emotion and Sexual Desire has been published by Dr. James Weir, Jr., in a tastefully got up pamphlet. He shows the connection between erato-mania and religious mania by facts drawn from Greek and Roman history, the history of celibate religious orders, and various anthropological investigations. The author believes that upon this correlation depends, in a great measure, the stability of sexual morality. (The author, Owensboro, Ky.)

Art Education, the True Industrial Education, by W. T. Harris (second edition, Bardeen, 50 cents), is an address delivered before the National Educational Association at the meeting in Nashville in 1889. Dr. Harris contends that æsthetic education—the cultivation of taste, the acquirement of knowledge on the subject of the origin of the idea of beauty (both its historic origin and the philosophical account of its source in human nature), the practice of producing the outlines of the beautiful by the arts of drawing, painting, and modeling, the criticism of works of art—all these things we must claim form the true foundation of the highest success in the industries of any modern nation." Dr. Harris, with his well-known clear and incisive reasoning, supports this thesis through twenty-two pages.

  1. History for Young Readers. Germany, by Kate Freiligrath Kroeker. Pp. 251. England, by Francis E. Cooke. Pp 358. Both, New York: D. Appleton and Company. Price, 60 cents each.
  2. Diseases of Plants induced by Cryptogamic Parasites. By Dr Karl Freiherr von Tubeuf. English edition by William G. Smith, B. Sc, Ph. D. Longmans, Green & Co.: London, New York, and Bombay. Pp. 598, 8vo. Price, $5.50 net.