weights, measures, and temperature, in the decimal and the old system. It has been brought up to the latest established results in its department, and can not fail to be a valuable possession to every one whose business it is to prepare, prescribe, or dispense medicines.
The Possibility of not Dying: a Speculation. By Hyland C. Kirk. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Pp. 112. Price, 75 cents.
The author of this speculation says: "The proposition 'all men are mortal' is an unsound assumption—unsound because not based on actual knowledge. Men subjected to certain conditions are mortal. This is a true proposition. That men subjected to certain other conditions may be immortal, we can not deny. As knowledge is, our subject involves merely a matter of uncertainty, unless data can be procured such as shall afford means of determining the truth." The author then goes back, as usual, to Columbus and Galileo, to show that both in the realms of discovery and invention suppositions generally regarded as absurd have proved to be correct. And as the doctrine of the sphericity of the earth was once held to be absurd, but is now proved to be true, he maintains that the theory of physical immortality, though now regarded as absurd, may yet be found true.
Moreover, it is a great time now for progress of all sorts, and after the telegraph and phonograph and telephone, who shall assume to say what may come next? The secret of earthly immortality has been dreamed about a great deal, and patentable arts of prolonging life indefinitely are no novelty. Paracelsus announced that he had found the elixir of life by which men might be enabled to live forever, but, as he died himself in middle age, the announcement seems to have been premature, the invention, like that of perpetual motion, having been probably not quite perfected. Mr. Kirk offers no contrivance by which death may be escaped, but he is full of ingenious reasonings to show the theoretic possibility that, by a system of right living, earthly life could be made to last forever.
Mr. Kirk argues that the end he proposes is desirable, which is far from certain. The question is very seriously mooted nowadays whether, even in its brevity, "life is worth living" at all; but it is pretty clear, at any rate, that it is only tolerable through its brevity. The experiment of trying life for a time is certainly interesting; but the most beneficent part of the arrangement is, that its eternal continuance can be escaped, at least in this state of being. Mr. Kirk considers the matter from the point of view of evolution, which, as it raises humanity to a plane of higher possibilities, may find everlasting life among them. But evolution seems to be made possible only through death—by constantly getting rid of the less perfect to make room for the more perfect. Shortening life multiplies lives, so that while the vital stream is continuous, in an immortal progress, individuals are replaced in the succession by better ones, and, if there be the slightest advantage in living, it is increased by the indefinite multiplication of separate lives. If any one set could find a way of holding on, would there not be an end of evolution? We are much inclined to think that it would be hard to conceive anything more calamitous than to have Mr. Kirk's reform practically carried out. Even now the "Old Hunker" element in human affairs defies everything but death, but what kind of a world would this be if the Civil Service Commission could confer upon officeholders an immortal tenure?
Bulletin or the United States Fish Commission. Vol. I, for 1881. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 466, with Twenty-one Plates.
To secure a more speedy dissemination of the information collected by the Fish Commission, it has been authorized to publish an annual "Bulletin," of the edition of which a part is to be distributed signature by signature (in the sheets as they are printed), and the rest in bound volumes. The present is the first of the series of volumes. It contains a large number of papers of varied importance on the different aspects of fish-culture and fishing, with a table of contents arranged alphabetically by authors, and an admirable index. Among the papers of more general interest are those on "Recent Contributions to Pond Cultivation," "Treatment of Fish-Eggs at Sea," "The Dry Transmission of Fish-Eggs," "The Destruction of