Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/288

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

and because it describes in their primitive condition and wildness regions and scenes which are being fast invaded and spoiled by civilization. The book is completed by sixty "episodes" or essays and sketches on subjects that came under Audubon's observation or were suggested to him by his adventures, all but one of which were published in the first three volumes of the Ornithological Biographies, but were omitted from the octavo edition of the Birds of America. One—My Style of Drawing Birds—has been added, and two have been omitted as not being of general interest. Of the forty-five pictures and plates, eleven are portraits of Audubon, and nine are facsimiles of diplomas.

Bird Craft—craft about birds; knowledge of them, of their ways, appearance, and song, when and where to look for them, how to approach them, acquaintance with them—these are what Mrs. Mabel Osgood Wright undertakes to convey in the book of that name;[1] and the undertaking will be found to be crowned with a large degree of success by those who go out into the field intelligently, with sharp sight and the book in hand. A "pocket full of patience" is also prescribed by the author in lieu of the salt of the legend. For naming the birds she gives the scientific terms containing their own definition, which lose force when translated, and the common English names, also recognized by science, which remain practically unchanged. Then there are local names, which are confusing and changing, and need not be treasured up. One does not have to give up the pleasures of acquaintance with birds, even if he lives in the city. Seventy species have been seen in Boston Common, and one hundred and thirty in Central Park. Further, the specimens in the museums are accessible, where they are now usually placed in the attitudes of life. The dweller in the suburbs or in the real country has still greater advantages with living birds. The study of the "living bird, in his love songs, his house-building, his haunts, and his migrations," is particularly insisted upon. "The gun that silences the bird voice, and the looting of nests, should be left to the practiced hand of science; you have no excuse for taking life, whether actual or embryonic, as your very ignorance will cause useless slaughter, and the egg-collecting fever of the average boy savors more of the greed of passion than of ornithological ardor." The study of birds is best begun in the spring, when the untrained eye can become gradually accustomed to its new vocation before it is overtaxed, and the birds can be taken in all their moods from the opening of the season on. So Mrs. Wright takes us, and accompanies us in our wanderings in birdland, like a conversing companion, while she does not neglect to give us the technical information we need. It would be hard to speak too well of the almost vitalized bird portraits which Mr. Louis Agassiz Fuertes has furnished in the eighty full-page plates with which the book is adorned.


Inequality and Progress is the title of rather disappointing volume,[2] at any rate to a the scientist, by George Harris, a professor in the Andover Theological Seminary. The position which the author takes—namely, that inequality is an essential to progress,

  1. Bird Craft: A Field Book of Two Hundred Song, Game, and Water Birds. By Mabel Osgood Wright. New York: The Macmillan Company. Pp. 317. Price, $2.50.
  2. Inequality and Progress. By George Harris. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Pp. 104.