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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/722

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the retail trade is not, as a rule, in the hands of men of commanding ability and enterprise, alert to seize every opportunity to extend their business. If they do possess these qualities, they either go into some other business or move to a larger town. The consequence is, that in the smaller towns the business of the general merchant does not grow beyond his limited capacity. If it does, there are differentiation and segregation. Men more capable in certain lines set up drug stores, grocery stores, hardware stores, etc. But when there is a large concentration of population, making a concentration of trade so profitable as to attract men of the highest ability, then the department store proper is certain to make its appearance. It should be remembered, moreover, that such a store, like any valuable labor-saving appliance effecting important economies, has to be discovered by some superior mind. Only within recent years has any one thought it possible to unite deliberately under one management a large number of forms of retail business. But, as we pointed out in the article criticised, there appears to be a certain limit to this phase of industrial development, thus making superfluous the efforts of the "new" social reformers to cure the "evil." Even if it were due to heavy taxation, as our correspondent suggests, the remedy would be simply a reduction in public expenditures.

 


Scientific Literature.
SPECIAL BOOKS.

The author of Bird-life[1] will not be offended if we begin our description of his book by a mention of the illustrations, for he has himself expressed his high appreciation of Mr. Thompson's remarkably spirited and accurate portraits. There are seventy-five full-page plates representing birds described in the text, with natural surroundings and in characteristic poses. Twenty-five smaller figures are scattered through the preliminary chapters. Mr. Chapman begins by pointing out the position of the birds with respect to the other classes of the animal kingdom. The different forms of the chief external organs in different birds he shows to be adapted each to a special habit, thus affording confirmation of the doctrine of evolution. He represents the interest of man in birds as threefold—scientific, economic, and æsthetic—and presents definite evidence as to the value of the small birds in destroying insects and the seeds of weeds, and of hawks and owls in keeping down field mice and other vermin. Some of the scientific aspects of the coloration of birds are pointed out in another chapter, and the migrating and nesting habits are similarly treated. Coming to the subject for which the book will be most in request, Mr. Chapman insists on definite observation of a bird as the first requisite to its identification. Having noted down the form, color, and markings of the bird, and such added facts as to its voice and actions as may be obtained, the amateur should be able, by means of the author's field key of eight pages and the detailed descriptions that follow, to identify the specimen without


  1. Bird-life. A Guide to the Study of Our Common Birds. By Frank M. Chapman. With Drawings by Ernest S. Thompson. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 269, 12mo. Price, $1.75.