Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/579

This page has been validated.
563
LITERARY NOTICES.

. The whole history of the middle ages is, indeed, the history of a long war against Nature.

But Nature has at last prevailed. Delusions are clouds, and the storm of the Thirty Years' War has cleared our sky. The real secret of the astounding success of modern science and industry is a general renaissance of naturalism, and the same revival begins to manifest its influence in the tendencies of modern literature. Ghost-stories are going out of fashion. Like scrofula and other bequests of the middle ages, the sickly pessimism of the sentimental school is yielding to the influence of a revived taste for the pleasures of out-door life. Books of travel, of sports and adventure, historical, zoological, and even biological and cosmological studies, are fast superseding the historical romances of the last generation. Even the pariahs of our reading-rooms have advanced from ghost-hunts to scalp hunts, from impossibilities to improbabilities. And, moreover, the progress of natural science tends to supersede fiction by making it superfluous—even for romantic purposes. There is more romance in the travels of Humboldt, more magic in the idyls of Thoreau and the revelations of Darwin and Haeckel, than in all the fancies of the mediæval miracle-mongers. The wonders of nature begin to eclipse the wonders of supernaturalism. A Zoölogical Garden attracts more sight-seers than the best Passion-play. Pan has revived.

The plan of the present volume is modest enough: its theories are mere suggestions; its limits have often obliged me to reduce a chapter of zoölogical adventures to a page of zoölogical anecdotes. But, in offering it as a contribution to the entertaining literature of the English language, my diffidence arises from a distrust in my own abilities rather than from the deficient interest of the subject itself, for the history of that literature has repeatedly proved that natural science can be made more attractive than the products of fiction or mysticism—by just as much as the resources of Nature exceed the resources of her rivals.

The Coues Check List of North American Birds. Second edition, revised to date. With a Dictionary of the Etymology, Orthography, and Orthoëpy of the Scientific Names. Boston: Estes & Lauriat. Pp. 165.

The first edition of the "Check List" was published in 1874, and was a bare catalogue of the scientific and vernacular names. It contained seven hundred and seventy-eight names of species and sub-species, and was prepared with a degree of accuracy that is exhibited by the fact that it has been found necessary in the revision to remove only ten names of duplicates or extra-limital species, while a hundred and twenty names have been added. The large majority of the additions are bona fide species, and actual acquisitions to the North American list—birds discovered since 1873 in Texas, Arizona, and Alaska, together with several long known to inhabit Greenland. Except in Mr. Ridgway's National Museum catalogue, which was published after Mr. Coues's list was written, the full list of Greenland birds has never before been incorporated with the North American list. The field of North American fauna is generally bounded by the northern boundary of Mexico. The objection is made that this is a political rather than a scientific limit; and Mr. Coues suggests that it would be more exact to extend the limit, along the highlands at least, to about the Tropic of Cancer. In revising the list, particular attention has been paid to the matter of nomenclature, not only as a part of scientific classification, but also as an affair of writing and speaking the names of birds correctly; and the work includes, besides the list of the names, a full and scholarly treatise on the etymology, orthography, and orthoëpy of all the scientific and many of the vernacular words employed in the nomenclature, the work in great part of Mrs. S. Olivia Weston-Aiken.

New Check-List of North American Moths. By August R. Grote, President of the New York Entomological Club. Pp. 75. Price, $1.

This list contains about four thousand names of species, synonyms, and varieties of the North American Sphingidæ, Bombycidæ, Ægeriadæ, Thyridæ, Noctuidæ, Geometridæ, Pyralidæ and Tortricidæ. It will be welcome and useful to the student and collector of the interesting insects which it enumerates. The list embraces all recent discoveries and replaces the former catalogues of the author, as it takes in all the species. It also contains some of the results of a partial re-examination of the British Museum collections made by Mr. Grote last winter, and it includes the Tortricidæ published by Lord Walsingham, and Professor Fernald's recent arrangement of that family. It is well printed, on good paper, uniform in style, with "Papilio," the journal of the New York Entomological Club, and it may be had of the secretary of the club, Mr. Henry Edwards, No. 185 East One Hundred and Sixteenth Street.