Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/433

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419
LITERARY NOTICES.

Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture for the Year 1883. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 496.

The commissioner continues the policy of establishing as intimate relations as possible between the department and the associations and institutions of the country which are devoted to the development and improvement of the art of agriculture, and of calling around it those whose knowledge and influence have given them especial authority; and he has perceived beneficial results from his course. Special subjects of investigation within the department have been the examination of microscopic fungi on plants, the chemical examination of cereals, experiments with sorghum, and the investigations in the entomological division on insects injurious to vegetation. The vegetation of the new and undeveloped parts of the country has been studied, especially the grasses, of which those that may promise to be useful for meadows and grazing purposes have been sought. An experiment station for the investigation of the contagious diseases of animals has been established near Washington, under the direction of Dr. D. E. Salmon. The full reports of these several departmental divisions, and of the investigations, are given in the volume.

Geological Survey of New Jersey. Annual Report of the State Geologist for 1883. By George H. Cook, New Brunswick. Pp. 188, with Plates.

Good progress was made, during the year covered by the report, in the topographic survey of the State, and the largest part of the work of the geodetic survey is done. Among the special topics of geological and economical interest discussed are the tertiary and cretaceous formations of the southern part of New Jersey, with accounts of the artesian wells at Ocean Grove and Asbury Park; the red sandstone and trap-rocks; the archæan rocks and iron-ore; the iron-mines; exploring for magnetic iron-ore, and locating mines; the progress of drainage and provisions for water supply at sea-side resorts and in large towns; and notes on native iron, copper, and zinc ores, graphite, plumbago, and black-lead, with statistics of mineral productions, manufactures from clay, bricks. and lime. A part of the matter is in continuation of previous reports; much of it covers new ground.

Our Birds in their Haunts. By Rev. J. Hibbert Langille, M. A, Boston: S. E. Cassino & Co. Pp. 618. Price, $3.

In the descriptions of the birds of Eastern North America, which make up this volume, the author has given especial attention to singing and nesting habits, and has dwelt upon whatever other characteristics were curious in each case. He has aimed to give either a full life-history, or at least a brief sketch, of every species commonly met with east of the Mississippi. The book is mainly a record of personal observation, supplemented by the notes of a correspondent in the Hudson Bay country; it contains many bright anecdotes of bird-life, and is written in a popular style, though giving the scientific name (following Dr. Coues) of each species, with the length of the bird and the dimensions of its egg.

The birds which may be seen in the same season in our Northern States are grouped together. The general reader will probably find most that is surprising in the records of their winter habits, and he will gather also from these accounts that Mr. Langille's love of nature is not torpid in cold weather. "The author addresses himself especially to men of his own profession—the gospel ministry; and would earnestly urge them to become, as far as possible, the interpreters of Nature as well as of the written Word." He has had in view, also, the popularizing of bird-study among farmers; the sportsman as well as the naturalist will recognize him as a fellow; and he has, in short, tried to make "a book on birds for everybody." Cuts of twenty-five species are given. Unfortunately, the errata do not include all the oversights in proof-reading.

The Wonders of Plant-Life under the Microscope. By Sophia Bledsoe Herrick. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Pp. 248. Price, $1.50.

This elegant little volume is a beautifully illustrated and thoroughly popular presentation of some of the most interesting aspects of vegetable life. Mrs. Herrick is not only an enthusiast in her devotion to plant-studies and the microscopical