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LITERARY NOTICES.

The indoor relief lacks humanity and the outdoor relief encourages improvidence. Mr. Booth therefore suggests a universal compulsory system of state aid supported by taxation—a sort of pension, beginning, at the age of sixty-five, at five shillings per week for the central class of English workingmen, which he computes at one fourth of the whole number. The vagueness of this demand is tacitly admitted by our author when he grants that such questions might be asked as, Have the people at large made any such demand? Have they any grievance on this subject which calls for redress? Would they be willing to be taxed to provide pensions for the old? We all know how thoroughly the social science associations of England have discussed all phases of the pauper question in the United Kingdom, and of the plans of relief past and present proposed. The name is legion. Rich and poor are now taxed to this end, indirectly if not directly; and it were extremely doubtful, if Mr. Booth's plans were not less direct than his well-known zeal and warmth of heart and interest in the cause of humanity, whether it would avail more for the subject he has at heart than this well-written, well-intentioned, but rather imperfect book.

Distinction and the Criticism of Beliefs. By Alfred Sidgwick. London and New York: Longmans, Green & Co. Pp. 279.

The object of this book is chiefly to seek the means of giving more accurate and adequate expression to our thoughts. In the discussion of many questions we come to points where we are at loss concerning the exact significance of the terms we use, or to find words clearly to mark our thought. This is because many important and necessary terms involve ambiguity, leaving, at the best, doubt as to the precise sense in which they are to be taken. One of the first things to ask is, what we shall mean by ambiguity. An ambiguous word may be roughly defined as a word with two or more meanings; it is not, however, the bare fact that a word has two or more meanings that makes it ambiguous in any effectual sense, but the fact that its two or more meanings are in practice confused. The author in his argument attempts, first, to discover the part that is actually played by ambiguity (or rough distinction) in confusing our judgment. In the process of getting to understand exactly the error that rough distinction creates, it becomes necessary to discuss the excuses that may sometimes be made for vagueness. At every level of our thought we are soon brought up against the difficulties that arise out of the attempt to define our words—or to draw sharp distinctions where the things distinguished shade off into one another—difficulties familiar to every one. Hence the author's purpose includes an attempt to find a more philosophical method of dealing with rough distinctions, in place of the happy-go-lucky tact that every one uses, more or less, by the light of Nature; and in connection with this a considerable number of questions arise, and suggest lines of further inquiry. Another interwoven subject is the everlasting struggle that language carries on against, difficulties of expression. A third incidental subject is the way in which language acts as a drag upon the progress of knowledge, doing this through "a certain over-conservative tendency in our thought" that keeps us more under the slavery of words than we need be.

 

Cathcarth's Literary Reader, compiled by George R. Cathcart, and first published eighteen years ago, now appears in a revised edition (American Book Company, $1.15). It combines the function of an advanced reading-book with that of a manual of English literature. Besides the selections from writers of the Elizabethan period, the Commonwealth and the Restoration, the eighteenth century, and the nineteenth century, the book contains introductory remarks on each epoch, biographical and critical information concerning the authors represented, explanatory foot-notes, and a large number of portraits. While poetry, oratory, and fiction make up the body of the selections, history and modern science are not ignored.

 

PUBLICATIONS RECEIVED.

Ayers, Howard. The Ear of Man: its Past, its Present, and its Future. Pp. 44.—The Vertebrate Ear (Journal of Morphology for May, 1892). Pp. 354. with 9 Plates. Both Boston: Ginn & Co.

Benwell, J. Leon. The Religion of Humanity: a Philosophy of Life. Buffalo: H. L. Green. Pp.28.

Bennev, G. E. Induction Coils. New York · Macmillah & Co. Pp. 231. $1.

Burke, Charles G. Cosmography and the Cosmograph. New York: Peck & Snyder. Pp. 24.