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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

markable when we recall the fact that in Continental Europe the confidence in banks of deposit has never attained the strength that it has in this country and in England. Outside of strictly commercial circles and people of large means the practice of depositing money with a banker is comparatively unknown. Small dealers, mechanics, and farmers, still adhere, in the main, to the old custom of hoarding, in feather-beds or underground, that has descended from the troublous days of the middle ages. That men should go from the extreme of unfounded distrust of stable and well-managed institutions into the incredible folly of pouring their money like water into the tills of a barefaced swindler, would seem to show that the springs of human action have not been raised very much; that a love of great gains, a desire to get more than our money's worth, a credulous faith in the performance of impossible promises are still deeply rooted, and need but the stimulus of some new and untried humbug to develop an amazing number of credulous fools.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Knight's American Mechanical Dictionary. A Description of Tools, Instruments, Machines, Processes, and Engineering; History of Inventions; General Technological Vocabulary; and Digest of Mechanical Appliances in Science and the Arts. By Edward H. Knight, Civil and Mechanical Engineer. 3 vols. Pp. 2831; 7395 cuts. New York: Hurd & Houghton. Price (cloth), $8 per vol.

This comprehensive and valuable work belongs in the rank of the cyclopædias, although its author has seen fit to choose for it the less ambitious title of a dictionary. It is qualified as mechanical, and answers to this description, but mechanics goes deep and sweeps wide in the field of Nature and art. Indeed, philosophers are split into factions over the question how far mechanics actually extends in the economy of the world, some maintaining that even cerebral action in processes of thought is resolvable into mechanical elements and conditions. But, without going so far as this, it is indisputable that mechanical changes are extensively and profoundly involved in the on-goings of the material universe. It is a vulgar notion that the term mechanics is restricted to cog-work and belting, wheels, levers, and pulleys, and a glance at Mr. Knight's voluminous exposition of the present state of knowledge on mechanical subjects will quickly dispel the narrow notions that may have hitherto prevailed regarding it. As stated in his prospectus, "the work deals with the mechanical side of every subject that can be known or mentioned, and, as almost everything in the universe has a mechanical side, the work becomes encyclopedical."

Mr. Knight seems to be a man cut out for such an enterprise. He began it twenty-five years ago, and as the volumes, in their vast and accurate detail, abundantly show, he must have had an enthusiasm for the work that kept him at it with untiring patience and perseverance; but as mere industry, although a prime factor in the result, must have been insufficient unless acting in the most favorable circumstances, he went to the headquarters of opportunity in this country, the Patent-Office at Washington. He was here "engaged in the editing the Patent-Office Report" and classifying patents; and subsequently editing the Official Gazette and systematizing for examination the twenty thousand applications for patents which are yearly presented at the office. Sitting at the very centre and focus of the mechanical thought of the country, he had both the stimulus and the facilities for carrying out his long-cherished purpose, and the "Dictionary" no doubt owes its exhaustive completeness to the free command of facilities afforded by his position.

We know of nothing that more impressively illustrates both the great advance of knowledge in this sphere of science and art, and the great activity with which it is at present cultivated in all civilized countries, than a critical glance at the pages of this elaborate work. And its statements are so presented as to bring out this view most impressively. Mr. Knight has introduced a subsidiary feature of "special indexes," which is not only very useful to those who consult his work, but shows in a striking way the extent to which inventive