Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/865

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

a greater predominance than has usually obtained of late years of those that are of real scientific or practical value, with a corresponding absence of the vagaries of such persons as President Morse described as "cranks." Retiring President Newton selected meteorites as the topic of his official address, which we publish entire in this number of the "Monthly," the subject with the investigation of which his fame is most closely associated. With a few plain, common-sense considerations which everybody could comprehend, expressed in language intelligible to the most unlearned of his possible hearers, he disposed of most of the theories which have been devised to account for these phenomena, showing how inadequate they are, and then considered, without committing himself definitely to what no one knows, the only one yet advanced which is plausible in the present condition of science. Of the vice-presidential sectional addresses, that of the Hon. Horatio Hale, in the Anthropological Section, presented the subject of "The Origin of Languages and the Antiquity of Speaking Man," in a somewhat different light from that in which it has been regarded by the majority of anthropologists of the present generation. Professor Wiley's address on the "Economical Aspects of Agricultural Chemistry" is of practical interest, and will probably attract more general attention. Professor Bracken's address in physics, and Professor Bowditch's in biology, are of technical interest. In geology, Vice-President Chamberlain presented "An Inventory of our Glacial Drift." Vice-President Chanute, in the Mechanical Section, showed how inventors are indebted to science; and in the Economical Section Vice-President Cummings considered the well-worn questions of the improvement of the condition of laborers, the causes of discontent among them, and their errors. The Association meeting so near to Niagara, the geological origin and character of the Niagara River and Falls naturally claimed a large share of attention. A graceful recognition was made of the approaching completion of the hundredth year of the veteran chemist, Chevreul. In commenting upon the meeting of the Association in Buffalo ten years ago, we spoke of a seeming lack of papers and discussions suited to the wants of the citizens at large who attended the sessions in expectant interest. We observe in the proceedings of the present meeting an improvement in this respect. While the technical side was not over-looked, and little that was unscientific; was presented, the addresses of President Newton and Vice-President Wiley, the Niagara discussion, and other papers to which we have referred, were, both in matter and manner of presentation, well adapted to a popular audience.



Outlines of the History of Ethics for English Readers. By Henry Sidgwick. London: Macmillan & Co. 1886. Pp. 271. Price, $1.50.

Leaving Herbert Spencer out of consideration, no living or recent writer has made an impression on ethical thought equal to that of Professor Sidgwick. Whatever he produces, then, might naturally be expected to be of value. Our anticipations are not disappointed in this little volume. As far as it goes, it is, without doubt, the most thoroughly admirable treatise upon the history of ethics extant. This praise is due for its conciseness, for its impartiality, and for its accuracy. It is an excellent college text-book, and also full enough to give the general student a better idea than he can elsewhere obtain of that portion of ethical history which it covers.

This book is by no means a mere chronology. It is full of the evidences of careful critical study. The essential features of the different ethical systems are grasped with certainty and presented with remarkable clearness. We get from this presentation many new ideas, both of the tenets