Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/726

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roundings, communing with Nature, and then drawing from the hidden stores of his mind what he has absorbed from her, independent in thought and thoroughly American, and pithy and vigorous in expression, he found an audience as soon as he took the platform from which he was best fitted to speak; and that audience has been growing ever since. In the "Egotistical Chapter," which forms one of the "studies," he relates how, like many other authors who have afterward achieved success, he groped in unlucky experiments before he found his proper place. He began by reading books of essays and trying to catch their style; and wrote essayish papers on subjects whose interest was so universal that it was spread out very thin, to have them sent back by the journals to which he offered them; and finally took to outdoor themes "to break the spell of Emerson's influence, and get upon ground of his own." His style, which is of the most forcible, and in which strong thoughts are condensed into few words of most direct meaning, is the result of much study and discipline, in which, he says, "I have taught myself always to get down to the quick of my mind at once, and not fumble about amid the husks at the surface." Of late years he has been giving more attention to literary topics and subjects of scientific discussion, although in these also the nature-side appears most prominent to his view. The present volume is largely made up of articles of this character. In them he displays the same independence that characterized his earlier work—a determination to say what he thinks, without giving himself worry concerning what others may have said or thought. In two of the longer essays—"Matthew Arnold's Criticism" and "Arnold's View of Emerson and Carlyle"—the literary side is alone conspicuous; in two others, "Henry D. Thoreau" and "Gilbert White's Book," we have the student of nature appreciating and criticising his two most illustrious co-workers in the same line. "Science and Literature" is an attempt to measure the value of science in culture, in which the author indicates that "the final value of physical science is its capability to foster in us noble ideals, and to lead us to new and larger views of moral and spiritual truths. The extent to which it is able to do this measures its value to the spirit—measures its value to the educator. That the great sciences can do this, that they are capable of becoming instruments of pure culture, instruments to refine and spiritualize the whole moral nature, is no doubt true; but that they can ever usurp the place of the humanities or general literature in this respect is one of those mistaken notions which seem to be gaining ground so fast in our time." In "Science and the Poets" Emerson is held up as the poet whose work has been most influenced by science. "A Malformed Giant" is a brave criticism of Victor Hugo's excesses of style and manner. Of the eight "Brief Essays," "The Biologist's Tree of Life" touches a scientific subject, and "An Open Door" relates to the question of a superintending Providence.

Riverside Library for Young People. No. 3. Birds through an Opera-Glass. By Florence A. Merriam. Pp. 223. Up annd Down the Brooks. By Mary E. Bamford. Pp. 222. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Price, 75 cents each.

The "Riverside Library" series is designed especially for boys and girls who are laying the foundation of private libraries, and is intended to consist not of ephemeral publications, but of "books that will last." It will comprise principally books of history, biography, mechanics, travel, natural history, adventure, and kindred themes, with fiction not excluded, presenting the various subjects in an attractive manner, but not in the "Childese dialect." The author of "Birds through an Opera-Glass," recognizing the perplexities of young observers, has tried to supply their wants, the chief of which in studying birds is the means of distinguishing and identifying them without having to become ornithologists or to grapple with the technical terms in the text-books. The opera-glass supplies a means of looking at the creatures as if from a shorter distance than it is possible to approach them, and will or should supply the points by which they are to be recognized. To these points are added such facts as lie within reach of the young observer's opportunities respecting the song, nesting, and general behavior of the bird. The robin supplies the standard by which all the other birds are com-