Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 7.djvu/641

This page has been validated.

record of his normal structures, osteology, and nervous system, with all the deviations, rudimentary, excessive, or abnormal, that methodical observation might furnish. He demanded that man shall be inductively studied throughout his whole nature; and he classified his history with the history of the organic world, as, by unity of organization, connected with all life, past, present, and to come. Dr. Knox took the ground, bold ground half a century ago, of the vast antiquity of man, and, though holding to the Cuvierean view of the immutability of species, he shrank from no opprobrium of beliefs denounced at that time as spurious science, immoral in their influence and destructive of religion, lie defended these unpopular views with pungency and power, as was his wont, and as a matter of course called down upon himself the reproachful epithets of "infidel" and "atheist." Where sufficient mud is thrown, some of it is sure to stick. The doctor became obnoxious to the theologians, and was looked upon with dread by the people on account of his horrible opinions; and, when the occurrences took place which are described elsewhere in our pages, he became the ready victim of malignant aspersion. Nearly half a century has now passed since the Edinburgh excitements; "Knox the incomparable," as he was styled by his admiring students, has been years in his grave, and the time has at length come when justice should be done to his memory.



The Aërial World. A Popular Account of the Phenomena and Life of the Atmosphere. By G. Hartwig, M. & P.D. New York; D. Appleton & Co., 1875. Price, $6.00.

As a compend of interesting and valuable information concerning the atmosphere and its phenomena, this book deserves favorable mention. The reading public is familiar with previous publications by Dr. Hartwig, in which he has succeeded in presenting the results of inquiry in several departments of science in a manner at once popular, entertaining, and instructive. It is quite evident that his success as a writer lies in the judicious selection and arrangement of facts and incidents in science rather than in original investigation; and that he is doing excellent service in this direction will be conceded by all acquainted with his books. The time seems to have not yet arrived when scientific knowledge is sought by the general reading public, unless it be made attractive by skillful manipulations.

The present volume is a popular exposition of the science of meteorology, without being a scientific treatise on that subject. The amount of information in it is immense, but it is classified with excellent judgment, and, so far as we have examined it, is accurate in its science. The style is easy, perspicuous, sometimes florid, but always appropriate and pleasing.

The chapters on "Clouds," "Colors of the Sky." "Aërial Navigation," "The St. Elmo's Fire," "Snow," and some others, are brilliant with descriptive passages. Chapters relating to topics of especial scientific interest are those on "The Magnitude, Pressure, and Ingredients of the Atmosphere," "The Propagation of Sound through it," "Echoes," "Winds," "Fogs," "Dew," "Rain," "Thunder-storms," "Aërolites," etc.

The volume is handsomely illustrated with plates and woodcuts, and a meteorological map.

To the specialist in the science of meteorology, this work may be of comparatively little value. It is not designed for such, and the author modestly observes that his aim has been less ambitious, and that he will not consider his time ill-spent if the perusal of it awakens in the mind of the reader a keener interest in the pages of Nature.

On British Wild-Flowers, considered in Relation to Insects. By Sir John Lubbock, Bart., F.R.S. With numerous Illustrations. London: Macmillan & Co., 18 75. Price, $1.50.

This is the seventh volume in "Nature Series," and is a product of a wonderfully