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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

special title, The Age of Imagination, will appear in our July number. It deals with what the author calls "the play of imagination, the magic transmuting of things through the sheer liveliness and wanton activity of a child's fancy." The mind of the child is still a little-explored country, and an examination of it under Prof. Sully's competent guidance will not only have the charm of novelty but will also furnish much helpful insight to all who have the care of children.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Edward Livingston Youmans, Interpreter of Science for the People: A Sketch of his Life, with Selections from his Published Writings and Extracts from his Correspondence with Spencer, Huxley, Tyndall, and Others. By John Fiske. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1894. Pp. 600. Price, $2.

Few men of this generation in America have better deserved an enduring monument to their memory than the late Prof. Edward L. Youmans. Such a monument, we may trust, is supplied by the ably written biography by Prof. Fiske. The author was intimately acquainted with him for many years, and has produced a most interesting and pleasing sketch of his character and career, one marked, as might have been expected, by ardent and enthusiastic sympathy with his subject, yet equally characterized by moderation and good taste. Let us first glean a few of the biographical details furnished by Mr. Fiske.

Edward Livingston Youmans was born in the town of Coeymans, Albany County, N. Y., on the 3d of June, 1821. His father, Vincent Youmans, is described as "a man of independent character, strong convictions, and perfect moral courage," and his mother, Catherine Scofield, as "notable for balance of judgment, prudence, and tact." Both father and mother belonged to the old Puritan stock of New England, and in Edward Youmans the best and richest qualities of that stock came to the surface—"sagacity and penetration, broad common sense, earnest purpose, veiled but not hidden by a blithe humor, devotion to ends of practical value, and the habit of making in the best sense the most out of life."

A few months after Edward Youmans was born, his father, who pursued the occupation of wagon-maker, removed from Coeymans to Greenfield, in Saratoga County. Here and in the neighboring town of Milton, to which he removed ten years later, five other sons and one daughter were born, and Edward, as the eldest child, took an active and very willing part in looking after the younger ones. Until his sixteenth year he helped his father at work in summer and attended the district school in winter. The most wholesome feature of such schools was an absence of overregulation. It was one that Edward learned early to appreciate, and he always cherished a distrust of excessive organization and a dislike to machine methods.

At the age of thirteen the youth became possessed of a copy of Comstock's Natural Philosophy, and shortly set to work to repeat some of the experiments therein described. He next obtained a copy of Comstock's Manual of Chemistry, which he studied as best he could by himself, for his school-teacher had no knowledge whatever of the subject. From it he gathered the opinion, as Prof. Fiske tells us, that, "when men have once learned how to conduct agriculture upon sound scientific principles, farming will become one of the most wholesome and attractive forms of human industry."

Such was the youth of Edward Youmans, such the stock from which he sprang, such his original habitat and environment. Our narrative up to this point presents no remarkable features, and yet this home-bred youth was destined to do a great work—to be, if we may use the expression, the foster-father of a great system of philosophy on the North American continent, the virtual leader of the intellectual forces that rallied under the banner of evolution. As a man he had these two great qualifications for practical success: he knew a good thing when he saw it, and what his hand found to do he did with his might. But before he entered upon his work as a teacher and champion of evolution and general popularizer of science, he was destined to pass through a very painful period of his life—a period during which he