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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/878

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

therefore, do not embody the results of his long and varied studies, but they have the interest of being his first and freshest intellectual work. "Ranthorpe" was written at the age of twenty-five, though it was published five years later, in 1847. He says, in the preface, after acknowledging the defects of the book: "That the faults are not more numerous is owing to the admirable criticisms of two eminent friends, who paid me the compliment of being frankly severe on the work submitted to their judgment. Sensible of the kindness in their severity, I have made them what, for an author, must be considered as a magnificent acknowledgment—I have adopted all their suggestions"!

It is not difficult to explain why "Ranthorpe" was not a success in the ordinary sense of a popular novel; but the explanation will probably give the reason why it has been since recalled to the attention of the reading world. It was of too didactic a quality to suit the tastes of novel-readers in search of mere sensation. It is full of moralizings, and, although the topics are secular enough, it is rather preachy. But there is a good deal of wisdom in it that is not without its use. The hero of the book runs a literary career, goes first into poetry and fails, then into the drama, and his tragedy is d——d. The main interest of the volume is in the copious side discussions on the causes of failure in literary adventure, and we have a vivid and readable illustration of ideas which the author subsequently developed in his review articles on "The Principles of Success in Literature." From this point of view the book is instructive, while the plot keeps up the reader's interest in the usual way.

Sewer-Gas and its Dangers; with an Exposition of Common Defects in House Drainage, and Practical Information relating to their Remedy. By George Preston Brown. Chicago: Jansen, McClurg & Co. Pp. 242. Price, $1.25.

This work is the result of investigations made by an impartial inquirer in the city of Chicago into the extent to which sewer-gas is responsible for sickness and discomfort. An amazing prevalence of defects of all kinds in the construction and working of the house-drains was discovered, of which the dwellers in the houses generally seemed unconscious. The conditions were not exceptional or peculiar to Chicago, but may be considered as general and common to all large towns in which the improvements suggested by the most recent experience and knowledge have not been adopted. Many particular defects are described, and cases of sickness that were traced to them noticed. Illustrations are given of bad drainage in actual houses whose appearance promised a better condition. The dangers which bad sewers and drains entail are forcibly presented; and suggestions are given for remedying and preventing the evils which they occasion.

The Wilderness-Cure. By Marc Cook, author of "Camp Lou." New York: William Wood & Co. Pp. 153. Price, $1.

"Camp Lou" was a magazine article which related how the author, being in a decline with lung-disease, was restored to health by camping in the Adirondacks. It called out more inquiries for minor details than the writer could answer individually, and he has therefore put all the information that was sought in the questions in this little volume. The book describes the "Wilderness" country and the conditions of the camp; considers the practicability of weak persons wintering in the region described, furnishes a summary of several cases that have been treated in the method recommended, or one like it, and considers the questions of necessary outfit and expense.

A Text-Book of Anatomy, Physiology, and Hygiene. By J. T. Scovell. Terre Haute, Indiana: Moore & Langen, Printers. Pp. 88, with six plates.

This work is designed as a text-book, to be supplemented with the study of other works more completely discussing the points considered, of which a partial list is given. It presents the principles of the science plainly, clearly, and briefly, in well-framed sentences, and is arranged after a logical classification of the divisions and subdivisions of the subject. In addition to this, the section on hygiene is practical. The illustrations are given in engravings in separate plates.