Popular Science Monthly/Volume 12/April 1878/Literary Notices
Physiography: An Introduction to the Study of Nature. By T. H. Huxley, F.R.S. With Illustrations and Colored Plates. Second edition. Pp. 377. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Price, $2.50.
This volume has been prepared as a school text-book on the subject hitherto known as physical geography, but in its method it is very different from the usual works upon that subject. Of course, Prof. Huxley could not enter upon this field without taking his own view of its method of treatment, and making an original book, but beyond this he has unquestionably made a very valuable contribution to educational literature. In the following passage from the preface he puts the subject upon its rational and proper basis. He says:
Prof. Huxley was led to the preparation of this volume in consequence of having been invited, several years ago, to give a course of lectures before the London Institution, which were intended to initiate young people into the elements of physical science. Prof. Huxley took the opportunity thus afforded to put into practical shape ideas long entertained respecting the proper method of approaching the study of Nature. Twelve lectures were given, not on any particular branch of knowledge, but on natural phenomena in general, and the title "Physiography" was taken to distinguish both as to matter and method between the subject and what is commonly understood as physical geography. The ideas which Prof. Huxley aimed to embody in these lectures, and which characterize the present work, are thus happily presented by himself:
Prof. Huxley fulfilled this idea with great approval in his lectures. He began by ideally placing his audience upon London Bridge to observe and consider the river phenomena of the Thames. From this point, step by step, he worked over the field, constantly using illustrations and explaining effects that were familiar to his hearers. In this aspect, therefore, the book has a flavor of locality, but the thoughtful teacher in using it will simply transfer its applications to his own region. The book is beautifully illustrated, and should find its place, if not as a class-book, at least as a book for reading and reference, in every school.
Letters of Chauncey Wright. With Some Account of his Life. By James Bradley Thayer. Privately printed. Pp. 383. Cambridge: Little, Brown & Co. Price, $2.50.
We have found this volume very pleasant reading, as it delineates the features of a marked personality, and makes us acquainted with the somewhat peculiar life of a man who was thoroughly appreciated and much beloved by his friends. His printed letters are most readable, and, though not brilliant, they seem to us quite superior in simplicity and clearness of style to his more elaborate published essays; and this too when he is treating of the same subjects. He was born at Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1830, entered Harvard College in 1848, passed the rest of his life at Cambridge, and died suddenly of apoplexy in 1875. He was employed in the office of the Nautical Almanac, took occasional private pupils, taught in Prof. Agassiz's school for young ladies, was an instructor in the college, and one of the university lecturers. His literary work consists of articles contributed to the North American Review and the Nation. The following passages from his biographer's description of his character will give the reader a good idea of some of. its aspects:
Freethinking and Plain Speaking. By Leslie Stephen. Pp. 362. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Price, $2.50.
This is an able vindication of what surely needs to be vindicated—the duty of plain speaking. The peril of it is chiefly maintained by those who are skeptical at the core about things to which they give a public adhesion. There has been a great advance in the liberty of plain speaking, and almost a corresponding advance in the liberality with which it is received. And, with this increasing toleration of it, plain speaking has grown more civil, and no longer means, as too often it used, violent and ill-tempered assaults on decent and cherished, though antiquated, theories of life here and hereafter. This book is itself an excellent example of the lesson it inculcates. The first essay is entitled "The Broad Church." It examines the position of those who adopt the formularies of the Church as being the expression of their deepest conviction, who repeat the creeds, who subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles as often as desired, but who at the same time express their desire to discover and follow the truth, and do actually hold rationalistic views. The various arguments by which this course is sustained are considered, and attention is given to the ingenious devices by which these gentlemen, who are given the fullest credit for honesty and sincerity, endeavor to reconcile the difficulties of their position. The conclusion is reached that the attitude is a perilous one, and that the efforts to maintain it are painful and humiliating. We have a good illustration of this in the recent discussion of eternal punishment.
In the excellent chapter on "Darwinism and Divinity" is shown, among other things, the utter fallacy of the notion that existing creeds are the sole bulwarks of morality. Of course, if it be admitted that God gave the Commandments directly to man; that he proclaimed from Sinai the existence of a heaven and a hell; and that these are the foundation, instead of the outgrowths, of our moral nature—then their overthrow might imperil morality. But this radical ground is seldom taken now, and, if it be conceded that beliefs are generated from within, the argument disappears. The virtuous instincts which have contributed the best which is in theology may safely be intrusted with the care of morality when theological dogmas have become obsolete.
The last essay, called "An Apology for Plain Speaking," is an appeal to those who agree with Mr. Stephen in his conclusions to state their agreement in plain terms, and meets the questions, "Why attack a system of beliefs which is crumbling away quite fast enough without your help?" "Why try to shake beliefs which, whether true or false, are infinitely consoling to the weaker brethren?" For the answer to these questions, we must refer the reader to the book itself, commending its closing passage: "Let us think freely and speak plainly, and we shall have the highest satisfaction man can enjoy—the consciousness that we have done what little lies in ourselves to do for the maintenance of the truths on which the moral improvement and the happiness of our race depend."
The Source of Muscular Power. Arguments and Conclusions drawn from Observations upon the Human Subject under Conditions of Rest and of Muscular Exercise. By Austin Flint, Jr., M. D. Pp. 103. D. Appleton & Co. Price, $1.
Dr. Flint here attacks one of the most interesting questions in physiology—one which has attracted much recent attention, and given rise to earnest controversy. The issue discussed in this volume was first brought prominently forward and closely investigated by Prof. Liebig nearly forty years ago. It received a new impulse in 1866 by the researches of Professors Fick and Wislicenus, and the views put forth by these savants have been brought under critical scrutiny in later observations upon the expenditure of force by celebrated pedestrians. Prof. Flint had a hand in this work, and, after the publication of Dr. Pavy's experiments upon Perkins and Weston in London, he reviews the whole subject for the purpose of determining how the question stands at present. The problem is so important that we print an article giving a compact presentation of his reasonings and conclusions; but those who desire to become familiar with the complete inquiry will find the volume indispensable.
The Kabala: or, The True Science of Light; an Introduction to the Philosophy and Theosophy of the Ancient Sages, together with a Chapter on Light in the Vegetable Kingdom. By S. Pancoast, M. D. Pp. 304. Philadelphia: J. M. Stoddart & Co. Price $2.
There is an old mystical Jewish tradition in regard to occult meanings of Scripture which is called the Kabala. An amazing amount of learned ingenuity has been expended upon it, and many books written of kabalistic lore, designed to solve these enigmas, and bring out their mysterious meanings. It has been held, indeed, that the Kabala is nothing less than a profound science, which, if opened up, would explain numberless hidden things in regard to prophecy, Scriptural interpretation, theosophy, and the order of Nature itself.
Dr. Pancoast calls his book the Kabala, and says he has been working at it for thirty years, and has found the keys that open its mysteries; and he says, furthermore, that it is a great thing, and is all that has been claimed for it. Nor does he suppose that its benefits are to be confined merely to the explanations of old riddles, or the development of a fruitless philosophy; he holds its results to be of a very practical kind in influencing modern opinion. One of these important advantages is stated to be that "a just appreciation and knowledge of the Kabala would stop infidelity, that is defiantly stalking through the world, uprooting, tearing down, razing, actually burying faith in God and his salvation." So potent an instrumentality is certain to be well appreciated, but expectation is dampened when we are informed that this book is not designed to contain the presentation that will work such important effects. Dr. Pancoast proposes, therefore, to make another, saying, "We have in contemplation the publication of a large, full, candid exhibit of what the Kabala is, has done, is doing, and shall do for the world." If it is to be as efficacious in composing men's distracted beliefs as is here proclaimed, we say, let the doctor hurry up his big book with all dispatch.
But let nobody buy the present volume in the hope of getting any help from it in the direction indicated. It is in fact as remote as possible from any such end. It is nothing less than a kind of doctor's book on light, which the author proposes to substitute for pills. He is a collaborator in the curious field, cultivated with such brilliant but transitory results by General Pleasonton. He believes in the remedial efficacy of blue light, and prints his book in blue ink; but he goes further than General Pleasonton, and holds also to the therapeutic virtues of red light. He talks a great deal about the science of light, and his discourse is quite in the Pleasonton strain. That is, his science is his own, and is very much freed from the trammels and limitations of the common kind of science that goes current in the textbooks. His view of the luminiferous agent is thus stated: "Light is the original source of Life. Motion is Life, and Light is the Universal Motor. There is no force in Nature that is not directly derived from Light; the Physical Forces, Attraction and Repulsion, with all their modifications, are the positive and negative principles of Light, acting in matter—they are the objective Forces of Light as they operate in creating and dissolving inorganic material forms." The author has given us a book full of such kabalistic conundrums in the science of optics.
What was He? Or, Jesus in the Light of the Nineteenth Century. By William Denton. Pp. 259. Wellesley (near Boston): The Author. Price, $1.
The "light of the nineteenth century," in which the author studies Jesus of Nazareth, is the "new light" of spiritism. In this light, supplemented with scintillations of "psychometry," Mr. Denton proves (to his own satisfaction) that Jesus was a "medium" of considerable power—a clairvoyant, and a natural healer. In the latter capacity, however, he was hardly the equal, in this author's opinion, of a certain notorious "magnetic physician" whom he names, and whose "testimonials from the people" he reproduces.
Contributions to North American Ethnology. Vol. I., pp. 361, with numerous Plates. Washington: Government Printing-Office.
For many years Prof. J. W. Powell, geologist in charge of the United States survey of the Rocky Mountain region, has made the languages of the Indian tribes an object of special study, the result being the collection of a large number of vocabularies. Having decided to prepare this material for publication, he invited the cooperation of the Smithsonian Institution, whose collections of similar materials are very extensive. Prof. Henry, secretary of the Institution, promptly consented to place in the hands of Prof. Powell all this material, consisting of several hundred MS. vocabularies, together with voluminous grammatical notes on the dialects of the Indians throughout the greater part of North America. This first volume of the "Contributions" is made up of two parts, the first, by William H. Dall, treating of the "Distribution, Population, Origin, and Condition, past and present, of the Native Races inhabiting our Extreme Northwestern Territory;" and the second by Dr. George Gibbs, on "The Indians of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon."
A Manual of Heating and Ventilation. By F. Schumann, C. E. Pp. 89. New York: Van Nostrand. Price, $1.50.
The design of this manual is to furnish to the hand of the engineer and the architect, in such shape as to be fitted for practical application, the formulae and data necessary for computing the dimensions and determining the other conditions of heating and ventilating appliances. A manual of this kind is simply indispensable to the professions for whose use the work was compiled.
A Manual of Inorganic Chemistry. Vol. II. The Metals. By T. E. Thorpe, Ph. D. Pp. 406. New York: Putnams. Price, $1.50.
The properties and combinations of the metals are here fully and clearly described, the text being very efficiently supplemented by numerous well-executed wood engravings. The volume belongs to the excellent "Advanced Science Series," published simultaneously in Glasgow and New York.
The Bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club has been enlarged, the number of pages being now 48, whereas formerly it was only 24. It is gratifying to observe this sign of prosperity, and we have no doubt that the Bulletin is now on the highroad to assured success. It is eminently deserving of support from all lovers of the delightful branch of zoölogical science to which it is devoted. The Bulletin is edited by Mr. J. A. Allen, with the active assistance of Prof. S. F. Baird, and Dr. Elliott Coues, and the foremost ornithologists of the United States are frequent contributors either of set articles, or of brief notes of observation. For the scientific ornithologist, no less than the amateur, it is indispensable. Subscription, $2 a year. Address, Ruthven Deane, Cambridge, Mass.
The Silver Country, or the Great Southwest. By A. D. Anderson. Pp. 221, with Map. New York: Putnams. Price, $1.75.
The "Great Southwest" of this author is the "New Spain" of the period of Spanish power in America. In successive chapters the author describes the physical and political geography of this region; its wealth in silver and gold; other wealth than the precious metals, i. e., its agricultural productions, luxuries, and attractions, with sections on such topics as facilities for acquiring wealth, scenery, and wonders, antiquities, etc.; foreign commerce of Mexico; advance of railways. Finally, there is a very full bibliographical chapter on the "authorities" whose works have been of service in collecting materials for the work.
A Guide to the Determination of Rocks. By Edward Jannettas. Translated from the French by George W. Plympton, C. E, A. M. Pp. 161. New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1877. Price, $1.50.
This is a plain, brief, but comprehensive introduction to the study of the more common rocks, and of the minerals of which they are composed. The English synonyms for the rock-names are from Von Cotta's "Rocks classified."
Part III., giving the method to be followed in the practical determination of rocks, will be found of especial value to beginners.
A System of Volumetric Analysis. By Dr. Emil Fleischer. Translated from the German by Prof. Pattison Muir. Pp. 274. Macmillan & Co. Price, $2.50.
There are two methods of chemical analysis, when the operation is carried to its highest result for the purpose of establishing quantities in chemical composition. The first, and older method, is that by weighing; it involves the use of the balance, and is called the gravimetric method. The second, and newer mode, is by measurement of bulk; instead of the balance, it employs the burette, a graduated glass tube, and it is called the volumetric method. There are certain advantages in the newer process which are becoming more marked as it is more practised and developed. The superiority claimed is greater simplification and quickness of operation, with an equal and sometimes a greater degree of accuracy. Dr. Fleischer's treatise has been translated into English because it is a systematic work upon the subject, accepted as a standard in Germany, and believed to be much better for students than any original contribution to the subject in our own language. The present transitional state of chemical science, in regard to theories and the modes of expression that follow them, is well illustrated by the fact that the author of the book adopts the old notation, while his translator adopts the new. The consequence is, that both methods are given, which is a good feature of the work, and the translator thinks that the putting of the two notations, side by side, will be useful as disclosing the superiority of the newer plan.
Philosophic Ideas. By J. Wilmshurst. Pp. 151. Boston: Colby & Rich.
The precise nature of this author's "philosophic ideas" may be inferred from his highly-satisfactory explanation of Newton's law of gravitation. "Why," he asks, "does matter tend to approach other matter, and why should it approach with constantly accelerating speed?" And his answer is: "This action is the necessary outflow of the deific attributes essential to matter. Its love and intelligence are shown in approximating, so that it can mutually impart and receive more of each other's beautiful and pleasing varieties of motion by sympathetic action." And so on.
Tenth Annual Report of the Peabody Museum of American Archæology and Ethnology. Cambridge, 1877. Price, $1.
Besides the report of additions made to the museum and library in 1876, which were large and valuable, this volume contains reports of explorations in American archaeology, made by Dr. Charles C. Abbott, Prof. N. S. Shaler, Prof. E. B. Andrews, and Lucien Carr, Assistant Curator; also, an elaborate paper, by Ad. F. Bandelier, "On the Art of War and Mode of Warfare of the Ancient Mexicans."
Dr. Abbott's report is specially interesting, as containing an account of his discoveries of rude stone implements in the drift gravels of the Atlantic border in New Jersey. These implements were found at various depths, mingled with the gravels, near Trenton and along the banks of the Delaware. In the opinion of both Dr. Abbott and Prof. Shaler these gravels are of glacial origin, and the implements obtained were wrought by man, who inhabited the region at the close of the ice age, or during interglacial periods, where the climate favored their existence.
This is in striking accord with the previously-expressed views of Prof. Grote, who, in a paper read at the Detroit meeting of the American Association in 1875, and later in an address entitled "Early Man in North America," published in this Journal for March, 1877, takes the ground that man lived here during the glacial period. In this address, alluding to the implements discovered by Dr. Abbott, he says: "To me it seems clear that the men who used these rough tools dwelt on the edge of the glacier, and their implements have become buried in the moraines which were forming at many different points during the ice period."
The Relations of Pain to Weather. By S. Weir Mitchell, M. D. Pp. 25. Philadelphia.
Dr. Mitchell's reputation as an original investigator will secure for this paper careful attention. It was first published in the American Journal of Medical Sciences for April, 1877, being a study of a case of traumatic neuralgia, considered especially in its relations to atmospheric conditions. This is probably the first attempt to study the subject in so thorough and systematic a manner as was done in the instance given. The observations extended through a period of three years, and fully justify the conclusion that neuralgic conditions have a close and very direct relation to atmospheric states or changes. Precisely what conditions of the atmosphere excite neuralgic pain is by no means determined. Dr. Mitchell says, "Either it is the combination (of conditions) which works the mischief, or else there is in times of storms some as yet unknown agency productive of evil."
A Review of the Birds of Connecticut. By C. Hart Merriam. New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor, 1877.
This catalogue of 165 pages is from No. 4 of the "Transactions of the Connecticut Academy," 1877, and is a valuable addition to the ornithology of New England. We are informed by it that 291 species of birds are found in the State. These are grouped in 47 families. Of these the scientific and common names are given, with copious notes on their habits and characteristics: 135 species are summer residents, 90 species are migratory only. The now familiar English sparrow is found in most parts of the State, and, so far as the author is aware, was first introduced into New England in the fall of 1858. At that time six birds were liberated in a large garden at Portland, Maine. The catalogue contains a list of works relating to New England ornithology, and is thoroughly indexed.
The Glacial Period in the Southern Hemisphere. By Thomas Belt, F. G. S. London, 1877.
In this pamphlet Mr. Belt presents many facts to show that extensive glaciation occurred in the Southern as well as in the Northern Hemisphere. It occurred in the southern part of Africa and of Australia, extensively in New Zealand and South America. His views in regard to elevation and subsidence of land in glacial times, and the development of ice, filling the beds of Northern and Southern oceans, so that the drainage of continents was arrested, the waters of rivers being "pounded back," probably will not be immediately accepted by practical geologists.
Poisonous Mushrooms. By J. Ott, M. D. Pp. 5.
The author's conclusions are that at least one species of mushrooms (Agaricus muscarius) contains a poisonous alkaloid, muscarine, which is probably the poisonous principle of all noxious mushrooms; and that, in cases of mushroom-poisoning, in addition to the usual treatment—emetics, stomach-pump, purgatives, and gallic acid—atropine should be administered subcutaneously.
Map of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, from Walling's Map of the State. Boston: Publication-Office of H. F. Walling, 1877.
This map is drawn to a scale of 22 miles to an inch, and comprises the principal part of the White Mountain region. It gives in detail the routes, principal villages, streams, and elevations, which are indicated by color, and points of special interest accessible to tourists. The topographical features are well defined. As a pocket-guide for travelers the map is indispensable.
The Young Scientist is a monthly magazine designed to interest young persons in scientific subjects, and to familiarize them with scientific experiments and habits of thought. But, while it addresses mainly a juvenile audience, the Young Scientist is not in the least puerile, and may be read with no little profit by older heads. We wish it success. New York: Published at 176 Broadway. Subscription, fifty cents per year.
Compendious German-and-English Dictionary. By William Dwight Whitney. New York: Henry Holt & Co. Pp. 905. $3.50.
Pottery: How it is made. By G. W. Nichols. With Illustrations. New York: Putnams. Pp. 142. $1.25.
The Boy Engineers. By Rev. J. Lukin. Same publishers. Pp. 344. With Illustrations. $.175.
Transmission; or, Variation of Character through the Mother. By G. B. Kirby. New York: S. R. Wells. Pp. 68. 25 cents.
Geographical Surveys west of the 100th Meridian. Vol. IV., Paleontology. Lieutenant G. W. Wheeler in charge. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 365 of Letter-press and numerous Lithographic Plates.
Transactions of the American Fish-Culturists' Association, 1876-77. New York: J. M. Davis print. Pp. 131.
A Plea for Candor in Bible-Reading. By a Citizen of Jackson. Jackson, Tenn.: J. G. Cisco. Pp. 44.
Wisconsin Geological Survey. Report for the Year 1877. By T. C. Chamberlain. Madison, Wis.: D. At wood print. Pp. 93.
Variation s of the Leaf-Scars of Lepidodendron aculeatum. Pp. 15. Also of Certain Sigillariæ. Pp 5, with Plates. By H. L. Fairchild. From "Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences."
Transactions of the American Entomological Society. Vol. VI., Nos. 3 and 4. With Plates. Philadelphia: The Society. Pp. 174.
Twelfth Annual Report of the Sheffield Scientific School. New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor print. Pp. 53.
Discovery of Stone Implements in Glacial Drift, in North America. By T. Belt. From Quarterly Journal of Science. Pp. 22.
Willard's Method of treating Ores. Plymouth, Mass.: Avery & Doten print. Pp. 15.
Bulletin of the University of California, No. 28. Pp. 72.
Dental School of Harvard University. Cambridge: C. W. Lever print. Pp. 9.
Memorial to Congress for the Improvement of the Mississippi River. St. Louis: J. J. Daly & Co. print. Pp. 38.
Froward to the Froward. By E. A. Beaman. New York: E. H. Swinney. Pp. 28.
Methods of Arithmetical Instruction. By F. W. Bardwell. New York: Putnams. Pp. 34. 15 cents.
The Glycogenic Function of the Liver. By J. Le Conte. From American Journal of Science. Pp. 9.
Nature and Possibilities of Social Science. By P. Burton. Aurora, III.: Herald print. Pp. 8.
On a Branch Naval Observatory. By Rear-Admiral Rodgers. Pp. 6.
The Kirografer and Stenografer Monthly. $1 per year. Amherst, Mass.: J. B. & E. G. Smith.
Is the Universe governed by a Devil? By J. F. Smith. Oak Lawn, R.I.: Home Publishing Co. Pp. 14. 15 cents.
Contributions from the Chemical Laboratory of Harvard College. By J. P. Cooke, Jr. Pp. 132.
Hereditary Epilepsy. By Dr. E. Dupuy. On the Seat of the Vaso-Motor Centres. By the same. New York: Reprinted from the "Transactions of the American Neurological Association."
Researches into the Physiology of the Brain. By the same. New York: Putnams. Pp. 31.