Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/577

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
561
LITERARY NOTICES.

education is idea-growth. lie understands the conditions of this growth, and he knows that the first business of a teacher should be to learn these conditions. So far as we know, the subject of mental growth is not put on this footing in our training-schools, nor are our teachers tested by any such standard. But the circulation of such books as this will hasten the time when the teachers of children will be required to know something of the laws that govern their mental development.

An Address on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Class of 1832, parts of which were read at a Class-Meeting at Union College, June 27, 1882. By Charles E. West. Brooklyn, N. Y.: Tremlett & Co.

This is a volume of unusual interest of its kind. There is of course much in it of local and personal import that will be chiefly prized by the parties in most intimate relation with the scene of the history, but we have found even this portion of Dr. West's monograph very entertaining. We call attention to it here, however, on account of the admirably executed survey of scientific progress in its main departments which has taken place during the fifty years which have elapsed since the organization of the "class of '32." From his wide familiarity with the labors of scientific men, and his clear appreciation of the great drifts of modern thought, Dr. West was well prepared to perform the duty that devolved upon him in sketching the great changes of the last half-century, and he has done it in a most able and attractive manner.

The Life of James Clerk Maxwell, with a Selection from his Correspondence and Occasional Writings, and a Sketch of his Contributions to Science. By Lewis Campbell, M. A., LL. D., and William Garnett, M. A. London: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 662. Price, $6.

No stronger individuality has appeared in recent English science than that illustrated by the present biography. Clerk Maxwell was a man of undoubted genius, as a mathematical physicist among the very ablest, and withal original, versatile, and eccentric. He had a strong sense of humor, and mixed wit, fun, pictures, and poetry, with much of his speculation in science. He was affectionate and interesting as well as adventuresome and refractory as a boy, and was always unconventional, quaint, and simple in his ways. He dipped deeply into logic and metaphysics when in college, and the tendency to subtile speculation is exemplified in all his scientific works. His life furnished much material for the pen of the biographer, and the volume is graphic, spicy, and very readable. Much of it consists of his correspondence and previously unpublished notes, while the course of his mental development is well delineated, and the importance of his researches is clearly presented. He had a very profound admiration for the genius of Faraday, and perhaps his own most important work consists in the mathematical development of physical ideas concerning the constitution of matter, the germs of which are found in the insight of the great electrician. Professor Maxwell's character is thus summed up by the writers of the present volume:

Great as was the range and depth of Maxwell's powers, that which is still more remarkable is the unity of his nature and of his life. This unity came not from circumstance, for there were breaks in his outward career, but from the native strength of the spirit that was in him. In the eyes of those who knew him best, the whole man gained in beauty year by year, as son, friend, lover, husband; in science, in society, in religion; whether buried in retirement or immersed in business, he is absolutely single-hearted. This is true of his mental as well as of his emotional being, for indeed they were inseparably blended. And the fixity of his devotion, both to persons and ideas, was compatible with all but universal sympathies and the most fearless openness of thought. . . . That marvelous interpenetration of scientific industry, philosophic insight, poetic feeling and imagination, and overflowing humor, was closely related to the profound sincerity which, after all is said, is the truest sign alike of his genius and of his inmost nature, and is most apt to make his life instructive beyond the limits of the scientific world.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Poet, Litterateur, Scientist. By William Sloane Kennedy. Boston: S. E. Cassino & Co. Pp. 356.

No doubt the rampage for personal gossip, displayed alike by our newspapers and magazines, is largely shared also by biographical writers who enter upon the delineation of many lives before the life has ceased. As to the gossip, it is of course but an index of the public appetite, and, as to its untimeliness, that must be held as timely which is sufficiently wanted. That