Popular Science Monthly/Volume 10/December 1876/Literary Notices


The Theory of Sound in its Relation to Music. By Pietro Blaserna, of the Royal University of Rome. With numerous Illustrations. Pp. 187. Price, $1.50. International Scientific Series, No. XXII.

Nothing could be more appropriate than that the first Italian contribution to the "International Scientific Series" should take up one of the most interesting relations of science to art. Italy has been long preeminent as the land of artistic genius, although her distinction has been chiefly won by cultivating the arts that appeal to the eye—painting, sculpture, and architecture. Germany leads in the modern development of musical art, and her great physicist, Helmholtz, stands first as the elucidator of the laws of sound applied to musical science. But the great work of Helmholtz is a sealed book to the people. Prof. Blaserna has been first to take the brilliant results of recent acoustical progress and apply them to musical art and theory in so clear and familiar a manner that common readers will follow him with ease and pleasure.

The work is addressed both to scientific students and to musicians, but it is properly a contribution to the science of music. It does not at all cover the ground of Prof. Tyndall's volume on "Sound," which is strictly a text-book of acoustics, but, starting with so much of acoustical principles as is necessary for his purpose, Prof. Blaserna devotes the work to those scientific elucidations of musical art and practice which will have the greatest interest to those concerned in musical study. We cannot better give account of the volume than by quoting freely from the admirable review of it that has just appeared in the London Lancet. The writer says: "This work is an attempt to popularize the theory of music, and so to combine the theoretical with the practical study of this art that instrumentalists may obtain some knowledge of those fundamental laws of sound on which music is based. With this object in view Prof. Blaserna commences his treatise by explaining the laws of vibrations of strings and pipes, and shows how such vibrations may be measured; he then explains the theory of music in reference to the consonant and dissonant intervals, pointing out how the various ratios in the octave have been introduced, together with the nature of the perfect major and minor chords, the inversion of which, he observes, constituted the principal resource of Palestrina and of the composers of his school. This leads him to speak of dissonances, and of the nature of the musical scales. An exceedingly interesting résumé is then given of the history of music from the earliest period to the present day. In the music of all nations, Prof. Blaserna remarks, two unfailing characters are found—rhythmic movement and procedure by determinate intervals. The former appertains to many of the actions of man, but the second belongs exclusively to music. The instrument of Orpheus, however powerful its effects may have been in rendering inanimate objects 'sequacious of the lyre,' was but a poor instrument, consisting only of the following four notes: C, F, G, and the octave C. It is remarkable that this scale contains the most important musical intervals of declamation, the voice rising a fourth in making an interrogation, another a fifth higher in emphasizing a word, while in ending a story it falls a fifth. In speaking of Greek music he explains the difference between the Pythagorean and the modern scale. The ancient Scotch and Chinese scale, in which an enormous number of popular songs are written, consists of a succession of fifths, Bf, F, C, G, D.

"The inventor of the modern system of musical notation was Guido d'Arezzo, and by him and Josquino and Orlando Tasso polyphonic music underwent great development. Then came the Reformation, and church music was greatly simplified to enable the whole congregation to join in it. An elaborate discussion of the characters of the major and minor scales succeeds, with an account of the effects of transposition. The temperate scale in common use is then explained, and its imperfections are declared to be so manifest that the author expresses a hope it will eventually be abolished. It is, in fact, only maintained by the piano-forte, which is essentially the instrument of the temperate scale, and the defects of which have greatly tended to obscure pure melody. The quality or timbre of musical sounds, both vocal and instrumental, is then referred to, and the methods of investigating the vibrations are given, as well as the laws of harmonics and chords. Finally, Italian and German music are compared. The influence of Paris on music, though the French have never been creators, is defined as insisting on the creation of a type of music which should contain the good points of the German and Italian schools without their exaggeration. It has maintained the Italian melody and song, but has also adopted the grand choral and orchestral movements of Germany."

The Races of Man and their Geographical Distribution. By Oscar Peschel. Translated from the revised German edition. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 528. Price, $2.25.

The students of ethnology are to be congratulated on the appearance in English of this admirable manual of ethnological and ethnographical science, which has for some years and in its successive editions been a standard in Germany. While the work is full and systematic, it is at the same time compact and convenient for reading, being a happy medium between the bulky and formidable treatise, and the deficient and unsatisfying compend. Dr. Peschel's work has the great merit of being up to date in the presentation of an extensive and rapidly-developing branch of science, and of dealing fully with those recent and highly-important questions concerning the science of man which have come forward into such prominence in our own generation. The book is exactly what readers of general cultivation require to inform themselves upon a subject of great moment, and which is occupying the close attention of thinkers in all nations; and it will also be of a special value to the scientific students of ethnology, not only for the breadth and care of its discussions, and the immense amount of information condensed in its text, but also for the copious wealth of its references to the literature and authorities of the subject.

No just idea of its broad range of interesting topics pertaining to the nature, characters, habits, and diversities of man, can be conveyed in a brief notice of the work. But, as its materials are derived from the most instructive portions of history, from the descriptions of races furnished by travelers, from wide geographical observation, and from the various sciences which illustrate the constitution of man and his intercourse with surrounding Nature, the facts brought forward have a very wide diversity of interest, so that we cannot dip into the volume anywhere without becoming quickly absorbed in the question under consideration.

The book is divided into two parts. In the introduction to the first part the author devotes himself to the question of man's place in creation, of the unity or plurality of the human race, of the place of its origin and the problem of its antiquity; then follows a series of disquisitions on the physical characters and the linguistic characters of man, and the industrial, social, and religious phases of his development. The second part is descriptive of the races of mankind, which are taken up in their leading divisions, and in their geographical distribution, and considered with as much detail as the limits of the work will allow. The book, of course, has nothing like the comprehensiveness or strictness of method and classification that characterizes Mr. Spencer's great work, "Descriptive Sociology;" nor has it the depth and completeness of analysis of social phenomena that mark the "Principles of Sociology" by the same author; but, as a résumé of the subject in a single handy volume, we have probably nothing so good in the language.

Report of the Geological Survey of Ohio. Published by authority of the Legislature of Ohio. 4 vols. Columbus: Nevins & Myers, State Printers.

The first geological information obtained concerning the State of Ohio was derived from a report made by a committee which took its observations in the summer of 1836. Geology was then a science in a preliminary stage of development, and the application of the existing knowledge was impeded by ignorance of the general outlines of the country. Paleontology was in much greater obscurity, and it is natural that the report of that period should seem imperfect at the present time.

In March, 1869, the Legislature passed a bill authorizing a complete survey of the State by a committee of competent men. In addition to a minute geological investigation, they were to make a careful chemical analysis, including a classification of the various soils, and the best means for promoting their utility; and were to take observations to determine the local causes producing variations of climate, etc.

The officers appointed were Prof. J. S. Newberry, chief geologist; Edward Orton and E. B. Andrews, assistant geologists; T. G. Wormley, chemist; F. B. Meek, paleontologist, besides a number of local assistants. They entered upon their work June 1, 1869, and finished it June 1, 1874, at a cost of $256,000, including the publication of four volumes of reports. For rapidity of action, thoroughness of results, and moderation in the expense, this survey contrasts most favorably with those made in other States. Thus far there have been published two volumes on geology and two on paleontology, with maps of some of the counties. In the volumes on paleontology there are a large number of plates and illustrations, which are admirable specimens of careful work and beauty. Ohio is rich in fossil remains, having contributed largely to the cabinets of other States, and this is the first occasion on which they have been presented to the public. The plan of the corps was to publish six volumes, two on geology, two on paleontology, one on economic geology, and one on zoölogy, botany, and agriculture. The last two volumes have not yet been published, though the work of composition is far advanced.

Surveys had been made previous to this one in many of the other States, which presented discrepancies that had given rise to much bitter discussion. It was, therefore, of importance that Ohio should be thoroughly explored, as it formed the keystone in the arch reaching from the Alleghanies to the Mississippi, and offered the probable means of solving the perplexing difficulties.

According to Prof. Newberry, "the topographical features may be described as those of a plain slightly raised along a line traversing it from northeast to southwest, and worn in the lapse of time by the draining streams into broad valleys, which impart a pleasing variety to the surface, afford free and healthful drainage, and yet leave unimpaired all the productiveness of its original monotony; in fact, exhibiting perhaps the most perfect adaptation to the wants of man which any surface affected by such climatic influences can present." The climate is one of extremes. The soil over much more than half the State is of foreign origin, being transported by Drift agencies frequently from a great distance. The physical substructure is not simple like the surface, but is diversified in different places, both as to the number, character, and thickness of the strata, and the position which they occupy relative to each other and to the horizon. The coal-measures underlie the surface of the southeastern third of the State, there being an aggregate of about 12,000 square miles over which the coal is unequally distributed. All the coals are classed as bituminous, and are divided into dry or furnace coals, coking-coals, and cannel-coals, by far the greater portion being of the coking variety. It is proposed to discuss the distribution, qualities, and uses of the coals in the volume on economic geology.

Manual of the Vertebrates of the Northern United States, including the District east of the Mississippi River and north of North Carolina and Tennessee, exclusive of Marine Species. By David Starr Jordan, M. S., M. D., Professor of Natural History in N. W. C. University, and in Indiana State Medical College. Chicago: Jansen, McClurg & Co. 12mo, pp. 342. Price, $2.00.

The object of this work is to facilitate the classification of vertebrate animals by means of artificial keys, such as have been used in the study of botany. It has been prepared for the use of collectors and students who are not specialists, and has been compressed within the narrowest limits in order to render it as cheap a handbook as possible. There are descriptions of 817 species, representing 116 families. It is the only work containing arranged descriptions of the reptiles and fresh-water fishes of this country.

The Centennial Situation of Woman. A Commencement Address at Mount Holyoke Seminary, by Hon. Alexander Bullock. Charles Hamilton, Worcester, Massachusetts. Pp. 45.

Governor Bullock made an eloquent speech to the South Hadley ladies, but whether he was quite equal to the occasion may be a question depending upon the view taken of the duties of such an opportunity. Some may think that, in reviewing a hundred years of progress in public or social affairs, it is most suitable to take note of what has been gained; to dwell upon the triumphs, the causes of congratulation, and give indulgence to the more complacent feelings. Others may regard it as the most fitting time to be on our guard against this ever besetting tendency, the time to survey closely and critically the position that has been reached, to sift current claims, to look sharply after mistakes, and utilize an impressive occasion to forecast the best course of action for the future. Governor Bullock took the most agreeable alternative, and discoursed pleasantly, and with commendable gallantry, of what woman has done to improve her condition in various ways, and what civilization has accomplished for her in furtherance of the same end. He points out the progress that woman has made toward the independence of self-dependence through the opening to her of modern industries; sketches the changes that have taken place in the recognition of her civil rights; and dwells upon the great advance that has been made in the work of female elevation, and in opening to woman a wide opportunity in the vocation of teaching. He touches lightly the vexed question of the intellectual equality of the sexes, saying it has been settled that there is no question at all about it, and deftly quotes a woman—Mrs. Jameson—as expressing the opinion that "the intellect of woman bears the same relation to that of man as her physical organization; it is inferior in power and different in kind. In men the intellectual faculties exist more self-poised and self-directed, more independent of the rest of the character, than we find them in women, with whom talent, however predominant, is in much greater degree modified by the sympathies and by moral causes." The Governor evades the question of suffrage for woman, but is adverse to her participation in public affairs. He cites Franklin as saying that "women should not meddle with party politics, except in the endeavor to reconcile their husbands, brothers, and friends, who happen to be of contrary sides;" and he reminds the listening ladies of the pleasantry of Addison, who remarked: "There is nothing so bad for the face as party zeal. It gives an ill-natured cast to the eye, and a disagreeable sourness to the look; besides that, it makes the lines too strong, and flushes them more than brandy."

The Kinematics of Machinery: Outlines of a Theory of Machines. By F. Reuleaux, Member of the Royal Trade Commission. Translated and edited by Alexander B. W. Kennedy, C. E., Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering in University College, London. With numerous Illustrations. London: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 622. Price, $7. 50.

The number of inventions during recent years has been so great that it is almost impossible to classify the different machines, or to observe any regular system connecting them. This country possesses no systematized instruction or extended literature in regard to machinery, and, although it has been peculiarly rich in inventions, the results would undoubtedly have been more satisfactory if they had been effected according to an arranged method. In this book the theoretical part of machinery alone is treated. The author attempts to give a thorough understanding of its essential nature, by which problems previously unsolvable may be made clear, and by which greater practical results may be reached. In his own words, his purpose is "to determine the conditions which are common to all machines in order to decide what it is, among its great variety of forms, that essentially constitutes a machine. . . . The book is intended, not so much to add to the positive knowledge of the mechanician, as to increase his understanding of what he already knows, so that it may become more 'thoroughly his own property.'" In the old books, each machine was taken up as a whole, and treated by itself. But, as it was discovered that similar parts occur in different machines, the method continually grew more simple. Prof. Reuleaux endeavors to place the science in a position in which it may become deductive, and in which the study may depend upon a few fundamental truths. With him, motion is but a change of position, and the changes are conditioned simply by the geometric form of the moving bodies.

In this volume fluids also take their place as forming a part of machinery, and instances are given in what forms engineers may use them to the greatest advantage. The work, which was written in German, has been published in Italian, and is now being translated into French.

The Ethics of Benedict de Spinoza. From the Latin, with an Introductory Sketch of his Life and Writings. New York: Van Nostrand. Pp. 375. Price, $3.00.

This volume has a peculiar interest in being the first American translation of the "Ethics" offered to the public. As it has been preceded by only one English translation, the book will supply a want in this country, and meet the demand of those who desire to obtain a clear idea of Spinoza's philosophy. The object which Spinoza had, in developing his system, was to discover certain rules by which he might govern his own actions. To accomplish this, he begins with a number of definitions and axioms from which his principles are evolved in regular geometrical order. The work is divided into five parts. In the first part is set forth his conception of God—an absolutely Infinite Being or substance, without beginning or end, and causa sui. Nothing can be thought of outside of God, and everything which exists does so through God. In the second part are treated the origin and nature of the human mind and soul. In the third, fourth, and fifth parts, an investigation is made of the passions, their causes and effects, their force and the manner in which they should be governed. The end arrived at is, that the pleasures of sense and intellect should balance each other, and in this manner the greatest happiness be secured. Thus, by a different process of reasoning, he arrives at a result similar to that reached by the Christian religion. Whatever may be thought of this as a religious or logical system, yet, taken as a whole, it is a work of the purest morality. The "Ethics" is the product of the reasoning powers and not of the imagination. Its general style and literary character are at great variance with the smooth disquisitions of modern times, but, if these mechanical effects are overlooked, the thoughtful reader will find the truths as new and striking as when they were first written.

In the preface is given an outline of the author's life, with the effect produced by his writings. The translation has been made with care and skill, and differs from the English translation in being somewhat more concise, while it is at the same time equally clear.

Comparative Zoölogy, Structural and Systematic. For Use in Schools and Colleges. By James Orton, A. M., Professor of Natural History in Vassar College; Corresponding Member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and of the Lyceum of Natural History, New York; author of "The Andes and the Amazon," etc. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1876. Price, $3.00.

This volume, as we are informed by the author in the preface, is "designed solely as a manual for instruction, and to present clearly, and in a somewhat new form, the established facts and principles of zoölogy." It is claimed for it "that the selection and arrangement of essential principles and typical illustrations are from the standpoint of the teacher.... and that a distinctive character of the work consists in treating of the whole animal kingdom as a unit, and in the comparative study of the development and variation of organs and functions from the simplest to the most complex state."

The work is divided into two parts, the first of which treats of structure, the second of systematic zoölogy, the plan of the author being to withhold from students the study of the classification of animals until "they have mastered those structural affinities upon which true classification is founded."

In both divisions of the work the synthetic method is employed, as being the most natural one, a study of simple structures and forms being first introduced.

The plan of the work is comprehensive, and claims to represent the latest phases of the science of zoölogy. Comparative zoölogy is defined as "the comparison of the anatomy and physiology of all animals existing and extinct, to discover the fundamental likeness underneath the superficial differences, and to trace the adaptation of organs to the habits and spheres of life."

The style is usually clear and attractive, and the book may be read with interest and profit by others than teachers and students. But we notice some passages which are obscure from brevity, others from inadvertence; and there are several inaccuracies, all of which it will be found more easy to correct in a second edition than it was to avoid in the first.

One feature of the work will neither be overlooked nor excused by naturalists. Of about 350 illustrations, a very large number, probably 300, are old, and have done service several times before. If some of these cuts are excellent and appropriate, others could have been omitted without detriment, while new ones illustrating American types are needed.

The value of the work is enhanced by copious notes, 220 in number, at the close of the volume.

What Young People should know. The Reproductive Function in Man and the Lower Animals. By Burt G. Wilder. With Twenty-six Illustrations. Boston: Estes & Lauriat. Pp. 212. Price, $1.50.

Prof. Wilder, being convinced that there are greater evils caused by ignorance of the legitimate and illegitimate uses of the reproductive organs than by the perversion of any other human propensity, has written this book to dispel the ignorance. If there were real knowledge upon such subjects, he thinks there would be no exercise of the imagination in regard to them. Few will agree with him in this idea, however excellent his work may be as a physiological treatise for the young in this special branch.

Practical Botany, Structural and Systematic, etc. By August Koehler, M. D., Professor of Botany in the College of Pharmacy of the City of New York. Copiously illustrated. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 12mo, pp. 400. Price, $3.00.

The author, believing that "the study of botany cannot become truly profitable until a number of plants have been identified by the student, and their images received into his memory," has constructed a book which is an artificial key to "stimulate the unlearned," and act as a labor-saver to those already somewhat acquainted with the science. It departs from the ordinary system of classification, in being arranged according to the old dichotomal method. The natural tendency of this might, perhaps, be to suggest names rather than the association of principles. Those, however, who are desirous of rapid action, and speedy results, will find here a book for their purpose in a neat and convenient form.

Theory of Medical Science: The Doctrine of an Inherent Power in Medicine a Fallacy. The Ultimate Special Properties of Vitality and the Laws of Vital Force constitute the Fundamental Basis of Medical Philosophy and Science. By William R. Dunham, M. D. Boston: James Campbell. Pp. 150. Price, $1.25.

The title-page speaks for itself, and indicates the theory on which this book was written. The work was published with the hope that it might recover the "fundamental principles involved in a correct theory of medical science," assist the profession in the details of practice, and enable the non-professional to distinguish between quackery and rational practice. The author finds fault with the medical profession because it continues to follow the ancient interpretations of the science, but seems unwilling himself to adopt the results of those who are doing most for the furtherance of correct principles in regard to mind and body.

California Notes. By Charles B. Turkill. San Francisco: Bosqui & Co. Price, $1.50.

The "Notes" is a description or guide through different sections of California, in which the author conducts his readers to the places visited by him. Among the subjects represented in the book are, "San Francisco," "Into the Heart of the FootHills," "Calaveras County," "Gold-Mines," "The Yosemite Valley," etc. This volume is the initial number of a series.

Elements of Physical Manipulation. By Edward C. Pickering, Thayer Professor of Physics in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Part II., pp. 316. Price, both parts, $4.00.

This second volume, like the first, is designed as a special text-book for the laboratory. The text is made up principally of experiments, giving a description of the instruments to be used, and a plan of what is to be done. Among the subjects discussed are "Electricity," "Meteorology," and "Astronomy." The latter is a new feature in laboratory practice, but there is no reason why it should not be taught practically, as well as chemistry or physics.


The Religion of Evolution. By M. J. Savage. Pp. 253. Boston: Lockwood, Brooks & Co. Price, $1.50.

The Symbolical Language of Art and Mythology. By R. P. Knight. Pp. 267. New York: J. W. Bouton. Price, $3.00.

Essays on Mind, Matter, Forces, etc. By Charles E. Townsend. Pp. 404. New York: Somerby.

Chemia Coarctata. By A. H. Kollmyer. Pp. 111. Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakiston. Price, $2.25.

Matter and Force. By J. K. Macomber. Pp. 100. Ames, Iowa: Agricultural College print.

Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism. By Thomas Inman, M. D. Pp. 187. New York: Bouton. Price, $3.00.

Elementary Hand-book of Applied Mechanics. By W. Rossiter. Pp. 150. New York: Putnams. Price, 75 cents.

Elementary Hand-book of Theoretical Mechanics. Pp. 146. Same author and publisher. Price, 75 cents.

Geological Survey of Indiana (1875). By E. T. Cox. Pp. 600. Indianapolis Sentinel print.

Public Libraries in the United States. Part I., pp. 1222; Part II., pp. 89. Washington: Government Printing-Office.

Essays in Literary Criticism. By R. H. Hutton. Pp. 344. Philadelphia: J. H. Coates. Price, $1.50.

Vaccination as a Preventive of Small-pox. By W. C. Chapman, M.D. Pp. 91. Toledo, Ohio: Brown & Faunce.

German and American Brewers' Journal. Semi-monthly. $5.00 per year. Brewers' Publishing Company, 20 Park Place, New York.

On Cephalization. By James D. Dana. Part V., pp. 7. From American Journal of Science and Arts.

Report of the Condition of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. By W. S. W. Russhenberger. Pp. 56. Philadelphia: Collins print.

Essential Piety of Modern Science: a Sermon. By J. W. Chadwick. Pp. 31. New York: Somerby.

Surface Drainage of the Metropolitan (Boston) District. By C. W. Folsom, C. E. Pp. 4. From Report of Massachusetts Board of Health.

A List of Orthoptera. By Dr. Cyrus Thomas. Pp. 20. From Proc. D.A.N.S., vol. i.

American Library Journal. Monthly. Pp. 27. $5.00 per year. New York: Leypoldt.