Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/283

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
271
LITERARY NOTICES.

cal specialists and exclusive students of the human body. Human physiology of some sort is as old as the practice of medicine, but it became a new science under the influence of modern biology. The human body is only to be understood in connection with the general system of life in nature, and, as this subject has recently been greatly developed, its results should contribute much interesting interpretation to human physiology. Dr. Martin, we think, has written bis work from this point of view, and that it may be taken as embodying all the latest assured advances of science in their bearing upon his subject. But, as there is no sharp boundary where accredited science stops, the author, in posting up his work, necessarily encountered the perplexity of dealing with facts and principles not yet settled, for physiology is still an actively progressive science. Dr. Martin does not avoid "disputed matters," but simply aims to do justice to the present state of his subject. He says in his preface: "This was deliberately done, as the result of an experience in teaching physiology, which now extends over more than ten years. It would have been comparatively easy to slip over things still uncertain, and subjects as yet uninvestigated, and to represent our knowledge of the workings of the animal body as neatly rounded off at all its contours, and complete in all its details—totus, teres, et rotundis. But, by so doing, no adequate idea of the present state of physiological science would have been conveyed; in many directions it is much further traveled and more completely known than in others; and, as ever, exactly the most interesting points are those which lie on the boundary between what we know and what we hope to know. In gross anatomy there arc now but few points calling for a suspension of judgment; with respect to microscopic anatomy there are more; but a treatise on physiology which would pass by, unmentioned, all things not known but sought, would convey an utterly unfaithful and untrue idea. Physiology has not finished its course; it is not cut and dried, and ready to be laid aside for reference like a specimen in an herbarium, but is comparable rather to a living, growing plant, with some stout and useful branches well raised into the light, others but part-grown, and many still represented by unfolded buds."

We have no space to go into the method or classification of Dr. Martin's work, which seems to be lucid and convenient, while the share given to the leading subjects is well proportioned to their importance.

In one respect this manual is better than we expected to find it: it is more thoroughly practical than we were prepared to expect from an experimental biologist, and such a devotee of original scientific study as Dr. Martin is well known to be. We anticipated a valuable and trustworthy scientific treatise, but we are glad to see that the science is constantly and effectively applied to the hygienic art. The application of physiological principles for the preservation of health, the care of the body, and the improvement of the conditions of life, are copiously interspersed through the text, and they will have the effect both of increasing the student's interest in the study and of securing the first object of all education—the acquisition of knowledge indispensable to self-preservation.

Victor Hugo: His Life and Works. From the French of Alfred Barbou. By Frances A. Shaw. Chicago: S. C. Griggs & Co. Pp. 207. Price, 1.

The life of a man who has acquired such a hold upon a nation as Victor Hugo has gained upon the French people can not fail to be full of interest and instruction, and well deserves to be written. The great French poet and patriot has found a competent and appreciative biographer in M. Barbou, who seems to be one of his most enthusiastic admirers, and has associated with him intimately.

The Telescope: The Principles involved in the Construction of Refracting and Reflecting Telescopes. By Thomas Nolan, B. S., Reprinted from "Van Nostrand's Magazine." New York: D. Van Nostrand. Pp. 75. Price, 50 cents.

This little book presents a brief exposition of the optical principles of lenses and mirrors, and their application to the construction of refracting and reflecting telescopes, illustrated by several figures and plates.