Popular Science Monthly/Volume 13/July 1878/Literary Notices
Synoptical Flora of North America. By Asa Gray, LL.D. Vol. II., Part I., Gamopetalæ after Composite. New York: Ivison, Blakeman, Taylor & Co. 8vo. Pp. 402. Price, $6.00.
We can in no way do such excellent justice to this comprehensive and elaborate work, as by quoting, in full, the able review of it that appeared in the New York Tribune:
"One of the illustrious botanists, whose name appeared as joint author of the earlier 'Flora,' and which will ever be identified with North American botany, has passed away; but the results of Dr. Torrey's many years of labor since the first 'Flora' was discontinued will appear in the new work, the pages of which will show how industriously he labored during that long interval.
"We have said that the present is a most fitting time for making a 'Flora of North America';" it is so, not only in the fullness of materials, but especially so that its author is in the fullness of his industrious and useful life. Prepared, as no other can be, by years of study of our plants from every part of the country, and also by the experiences of extended field-observations on two journeys to the Pacific coast, our first botanist presents this, which we may regard as his crowning work. It is fortunate that, just at this time, those eminent botanists Bentham and Hooker have presented in their 'Genera Plantarum' a complete revision of the genera, made, so far as American genera are concerned, in full sympathy and correspondence with Dr. Gray. While, in the 'Flora,' Dr. Gray may not adopt all the views of these gentlemen, it is not the less gratifying to American botanists to know that the genera, so recently elaborated by three such botanists as Gray, Bentham, and Hooker, are likely to be accepted as established for a long while to come.
"With this brief statement of the 'conditions precedent’ to the 'Flora of North America,' which have more interest for the botanist than the general reader, we glance at the work itself.
"The present (first in order of appearance, but not in botanical sequence) is the first part of the second volume, taking up the orders where the former flora left off. It begins with the Goodeniaceæ, and ends with the Plantaginaceæ. Two more parts will be required to complete the second volume; the one to immediately follow this will be devoted to the Apetalous and Gymnospermons Exogens, and the final part will contain the Monocotyledonous plants and the Vascular Cryptogamia. The first volume will include the Polypetalous orders, and the Ganiopetalæ to the end of Compositæ. It is expected that each volume will contain about twelve hundred pages.
"The first thing which will strike the working botanist on opening its pages is the excellent mechanical arrangement of the flora, and especially its compactness as compared with the former 'Flora of North America.' This is attained in part by conciseness of description, but mainly by the omission of extended synonymy. This lack of synonyms is happily supplied by the contemporaneous publication, by the Smithsonian Institution, of the 'Bibliographical Index to North American Botany,' by that most industrious of botanical workers, Mr. Sereno Watson, of the Herbarium of Harvard College. This work gives full references for each species, and, while it is of the greatest importance that its matter should be recorded, it is not of a kind needed by the majority of those who will use the 'Flora,' and its preservation in a separate work is most fortunate, especially as it allows the 'Flora' to be much more compact.
"It is hardly necessary at this day to say anything in praise of Dr. Gray as a systematic botanist. Those familiar with his other works will be prepared for the admirable method which characterizes this; the same conciseness of description, the keen perception which seizes upon and points out the distinctive characters, and the same broad views of the range of genera and species which mark his other works, will be found here. Yet we venture to say that this work will add to his reputation with those who can understand the difficulties of his task, and can appreciate the completeness with which it is executed. Almost any one, familiar with botanical terms, can so describe a species that it may be identified by another. It is the treatment of large genera that puts the systematic botanist to the test. The generic description should give characters which cover every species, while the specific description should not repeat any of the generic characters—a matter simple enough, but its non-observance is very tiresome, even in the works of botanists of distinction. For convenience, large families have in many works an artificial key to the genera, and large genera a similar key to the species. This is well enough in elementary works. In the present 'Flora' the large genera are grouped in subgenera, which, if sufficiently important, have distinctive names; these subgenera are subdivided into sections and subsections, each briefly defined by prominent characters common to all the species it includes. For example, in 'The Flora' (which will soon become its accepted and familiar title), in the now large genus Mimulus, we have the primary divisions or subgenera: 1. Eunanus; 2. Diplacus; 3. Eumimulus; 4. Mimuloides; all except No. 3 having been ranked by one botanist or another as genera. Some of these subgenera include a dozen or more species, which are grouped in subdivisions of two to five, by characters common to all. It is in such grouping that the systematic botanist shows his tact, and we feel sure that those who make use of 'The Flora' will find that the eye of the author has lost none of its early keenness, and that his perception of the essential characters is as acute as ever."While we welcome this installment of the 'Flora of North America' as an important event in the history of American botany, and announce its appearance with no little national pride, we utter the wish of every American botanist when we express the hope that its author may be spared to complete the work so admirably begun."
American Journal of Mathematics, Pure and Applied. Editor-in-Chief, J. J. Sylvester, LL. D., F. R. S.; Associate Editor-in-Charge, William E. Story, Ph. D., with the coöperation of Benjamin Peirce, LL. D., F. R. S., Simon Newcomb, LL. D., F. R. S., and H. A. Rowland, C. E. Published under the Auspices of the Johns Hopkins University. Vol. I., No. 1. Pp. 104. Baltimore: printed by John Murphy & Co. Price, $5 per year; $1.50 single number.
This periodical is to appear quarterly, or as nearly so as may be found practicable, each volume of four numbers containing about 384 quarto pages. It is designed chiefly as a medium of communication between American mathematicians, and has for its primary object the publication of original mathematical investigations. "In addition to this, from time to time concise abstracts will be inserted of subjects to which special interest may attach or which have been developed in memoirs, difficult of access to American students. Critical and bibliographical notices and reviews of the most important recent mathematical publications, American and foreign, will also form part of the plan."
"The editors believe it will materially aid in fostering the study of mathematical science throughout this continent, and they feel it their duty to state that any good which may arise from it will be in a great measure due to the enlightened liberality of the trustees of the Johns Hopkins University, who have prompted the undertaking, and guaranteed a considerable portion of the pecuniary risk attendant upon it."
It is needless to say that this periodical is in no sense popular, and is wholly unintelligible to non-mathematical readers. But it deserves to be sustained in the interest of higher American scholarship, and public spirited men, who can make it of no use to themselves, may nevertheless promote a good work by subscribing for it, and presenting it to libraries, educational institutions, and mathematical students, who are unable to pay for it themselves.
Tropical Nature, and other Essays. By Alfred R Wallace. New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 356. Price, $3.50.
Mr. Wallace's new volume consists of some eight essays, of which the first four only can be strictly considered as coming within the scope of his principal title. Two of the chapters have already appeared in Macmillan’s Magazine; one has been published in the Fortnightly Review, and one was originally delivered as a presidential address to the Biological Section of the British Association in 1876. Hence the whole work comprises a slightly heterogeneous mixture, and the first three essays have rather the appearance of an afterthought, inserted for the purpose of giving a consistent raison d'étre to the publication, than that of a complete and consecutive treatise. But, of course, Mr. Wallace can never be otherwise than ingenious and interesting, nor does the present volume form any exception to the general excellence of his compositions.
The author sets out by stating that, while the luxuriance and beauty of tropical Nature are a well-worn theme, which has often suffered from the undue exaggeration of its exponents, no attempt has yet been made to give a broad sketch of those phenomena which are essentially tropical, and which mark the chief differences between equatorial and temperate climates. This desideratum he seeks to supply, from the exceptional experience of a long residence in the hottest regions of the Eastern and the Western Hemisphere alike. In pursuance of the design thus laid down, the first essay treats of "The Climate and Physical Aspects of the Equatorial Zone," both as regards their actual phenomena and the causes which lead to their production. Though possessing, of course, little absolute novelty, the facts are well arranged, and so displayed or illustrated as to bring the salient points of tropical meteorology in a very vivid manner before the untraveled student. The second essay, on "Equatorial Vegetation," contains an admirable sketch of the tropical flora, viewed in its ensemble, besides a vigorous exposition of the common but fallacious belief that large and brilliant flowers are exceptionally frequent in hot climates. Mr. Wallace succeeds in giving a clear and sufficient notion of the richness and profusion of vegetable growth without rousing any suspicion of that false theatrical glamour which ordinary writers have cast around the subject. The third essay deals with "Animal Life in the Tropical Forests," dwelling especially upon the Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera among insects; the parrots, pigeons, and picarias among birds; and the monkeys and bats among mammalia—all of which form the peculiarly equatorial types of their several classes.
But it is with the fourth essay, on "Humming-Birds," reprinted from the Fortnightly Review, that the real interest of the work begins. Mr. Wallace gives a short sketch of the structure and habits of these birds, and then takes the species which inhabit the island of Juan Fernandez as illustrations of the action of variation and natural selection. In a bold and successful a priori reconstruction of their history, amply justified by the incidental verifications which crop out during the course of the argument, he traces their origin, with great probability, to two separate accidental migrations, under stress of weather, from the opposite coast of Chili. At the same time he shows the probable causes of the resulting variations, and starts a theory of organic coloration, which is more fully treated in the two succeeding essays. He then points out the strong structural resemblances between swifts and humming-birds, while demolishing the supposed connection between the latter and their Eastern representatives, the sun-birds—a connection based entirely upon adaptive and functional peculiarities, necessarily common to two families whose modes of life are so exactly analogous. No better practical specimen of the new biological methods than that afforded by this essay could possibly come into the hands of readers with good common-sense and little special scientific knowledge.
The fifth and sixth essays, on "The Colors of Animals and Sexual Selection," and on "The Colors of Plants and the Origin of the Color-Sense," lead us at once into the region of controversy. They appeared originally in Macmillan's Magazine, but they have since been enriched by numerous additions and alterations, in accordance with suggestions from Mr. Darwin or other correspondents. In the first of these two papers, Mr. Wallace brings a powerful battery to bear against the accepted doctrine of sexual selection, and it must be confessed not without effect in shaking, if not in demolishing, that stronghold of Darwinism. He contends that color is a natural product of organic forms, which may be checked or intensified by natural selection, but whose occurrence is quite normal, and so stands in need of no separate explanation. All colors in animals may be classified under four heads—protective colors, warning colors, sexual colors, and typical colors. The two former do not now require further definition; but sexual differences of hue he attributes not to conscious selection of mates, the occurrence of which is emphatically doubted, but to. a special necessity for concealment in one or other sex; as, for example, in the incubating females of birds, or in the males among those species in which that sex undertakes the duty of hatching. This explanation would refer the variety in coloring to natural selection alone, acting unequally upon the several sexes, and so causing a partial suppression of bright tints. The vast majority of animal markings Mr. Wallace attributes to typical coloring; that is to say, a conventional or meaningless distribution of pigment, serving mainly for purposes of recognition between the members of the same species. Though it would be rash too readily to accept or reject these careful and well-reasoned conclusions, it seems probable that an intermediate belief will ultimately prevail. Certainly, Mr. Wallace has shown beyond a doubt that natural selection will adequately and simply account for many curious phenomena which Mr. Darwin believed to be due to conscious preference. The partial elimination of this markedly Lamarckian element in the theory of descent cannot but be regarded as a distinct gain, though few readers will be inclined entirely to agree with the author in his total rejection of sexual selection.
The sixth essay applies the same general principles to the colors of plants, and contains some interesting speculations on the beauty of Alpine flowers, and on the difference between succulent fruits and nuts. It also touches briefly on the question of the development in insects and vertebrates of a faculty for the perception of colors, with remarks upon the theories lately advanced by Geiger, Magnus, and Gladstone. This and the succeeding paper are chiefly noticeable for their exposition of the author's opinions upon certain ultimate teleological questions. In his book upon the Malay Archipelago, Mr. Wallace advocated the belief that all the beauty of the external world was due to natural causes, without any divine afterthought as to its effects upon the human mind. But, since that time, the implications contained in the doctrine of evolution seem to have clashed with earlier prejudices, and driven this otherwise acute and vigorous thinker into a coquetry with so-called spiritualism, which has vitiated much of his later work. In the present volume he suggests that the colors of the organic world, though developed by ordinary laws, may have been specially directed by some superior agency with reference to the final enjoyment of their beauty by man. In short, he inclines to the purely gratuitous supposition that butterflies, birds, and flowers, acquired brilliant tints in the Secondary and Tertiary periods, partly in order that men might look upon them in the Quaternary. And the essay which we are now considering concludes with the ominous sentence, "The emotions excited by color and by music, alike, seem to rise above the level or a world developed on purely utilitarian principles." It is greatly to be regretted that the joint discoverer of the theory of natural selection should allow himself to make use of such painfully dyslogistic and unscientific language.
The seventh essay, the presidential address, bears the title of "By-paths in the Domain of Biology," and consists of two totally distinct portions. The first comprises an excellent monograph, in the author's happiest manner, on the influence of locality upon coloration, and brings together a number of valuable facts upon which future theory may be founded when the time becomes ripe. But the second part is a criticism upon the views generally entertained by the scientific world on the origin and antiquity of man: and the conclusion toward which (though nowhere clearly stated) it implicitly points is the author's favorite dogma that the human intellect has not been evolved by the same natural causes which have developed the human organism. As elsewhere, Mr. Wallace seems disposed to believe in a special and solitary miracle, whereby a new form of consciousness was suddenly and supernaturally foisted upon the human brain. Readers of Mr. Herbert Spencer's "Psychology" will scarcely incline to accept this incongruous and ill digested hypothesis.
The eighth essay treats of the "Distribution of Animals as indicating Geographical Changes." The author here treads again on firmer and more familiar ground, and his conclusions carry considerable weight.
As a whole, the work, in spite of many crudities and a marked increase of the teleological bias, is fully worthy of Mr. Wallace's deservedly high reputation. Every page is laden with fruitful and suggestive ideas; while the same charming and natural style as ever carries on the reader with unflagging interest from the first page to the last. The book is one which will arouse much controversy upon special questions; but it cannot fail to extort praise for its width of view, its subtilty, its firm grasp of principles, and its perfect mastery of facts. It should find a place at once in the library of every thinking naturalist and every general reader who feels an interest in the great and absorbing problem of organic evolution.
The Sugar-Beet in North Carolina. By A. R. Ledoux. Raleigh: Farmer and Mechanic print. Pp. 50.
We have in this pamphlet an account of certain experiments in the cultivation of sugar-beets in North Carolina, together with a statement of the present condition of the sugar-beet industry in the United States. Further, there is a synopsis of the results obtained in beet-culture in Europe. The information here contained would doubtless be of interest to farmers everywhere, though it is addressed primarily to those of North Carolina, the author being chemist to the Department of Agriculture of that State.
A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life. By William Rounseville Alger. Tenth edition, with Six New Chapters, and a Complete Bibliography of the Subject comprising 4,977 Books relating to the Nature, Origin, and Destiny of the Soul. The Titles classified and arranged chronologically, with Notes and Indexes of Authors and Subjects. By Ezra Abbott, Librarian of Harvard College. New York: W. J. Widdleton. 1878. Pp. 913. Price $3.50.
The new and enlarged edition of this erudite and exhaustive work is now especially timely and opportune, as the doctrine of punishment in a future life is undergoing so thorough and searching a scrutiny. Dr. Alger's book is a perfect treasury of history, analysis, and criticism, in relation to the course of human speculation and of religious belief respecting man's future state. We published some strictures not long since, on the doctrine of eternal punishment, and aimed to show that the belief in hell is confined to no religion and no period, but in a great variety of forms is an ancient and universal belief. Our assertion has been feebly contradicted by an eminent Catholic authority, to whom we refer the encyclopedic work now before us. The added chapters in the tenth edition, it may be stated, greatly amplify and strengthen the proofs of the position we assumed—proofs that were already as overwhelming and demonstrative as anything to be found in the history of human opinion. Dr. Alger has contributed a standard and most valuable work to the literature of this interesting subject, which will be made doubly useful to all scholars and inquiring readers by the comprehensive and careful bibliography which has been appended to it, and we are glad to notice that the liberal publisher has issued the book in a handsome form and at a price so extremely low that it may take its place in every private library.
Insanity in Ancient and Modern Life. With Chapters on its Prevention. By Daniel Hack Tuke, M. D. New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 226. Price, $1.75.
This is a popular volume by an authority upon the subject which it treats, and which is becoming constantly of greater general interest. Formerly belonging to the medical profession, questions of insanity are now engaging the attention of legislators, educators, and sociologists. The historical chapters are curious and interesting, and those on the management necessary for preventing attacks of mental disorder are instructive and important.
The Boy Engineers. What they did and how they did it. By Rev. J. Lukin. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Pp. 344. Price, $1.75.
The design of the author of this book is to inspire boys with an interest in engineering and mechanical work, and to develop any latent capacity they may possess in that direction. The work is written in the form of a simple autobiography, wherein a boy is supposed to chronicle his own and his brother's labors as amateur mechanicians and engineers. Still the volume contains something more than a record of boy engineering, though at the same time, as the author remarks, there is no work described in it which a persevering and industrious lad might not accomplish. The "Boy Engineers" cannot fail to exert a healthy influence on its youthful readers.
Intercultural Tillage. By Dr. E. Lewis Sturtevant. Reprinted from the "Report of the Secretary of the Connecticut State Board of Agriculture." Pp. 42.
By "Intercultural tillage," Dr. Sturtevant means tilling, stirring the soil while the plant is growing. The value of intercultural tillage has long been understood, but not so its rationale. Hoeing and ploughing serve to remove weeds, also to loosen the soil, and both of these things favor the growth of the plant. But Dr. Sturtevant finds that the main advantage derived from intercultural tillage is the pruning of the roots, causing them to branch out abundantly in every direction, in search of food. He cites sundry experiments made by himself, which go to show that this is the true theory of "intercultural tillage." The pamphlet is well worthy of the attention of farmers.
Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. New Series. Vol. VIII., Part III. Pp. 127, with 14 Plates.
Two paleontological memoirs are contained in this number of the Journal, viz., a "Description of Vertebrate Remains, chiefly from the Phosphate Beds of South Carolina," by Prof. Joseph Leidy, and a "Description of a Collection of Fossils made by Dr. Antonio Raimondi in Peru," by William M. Gabb. The vertebrate remains determined by Prof. Leidy embrace species of Equus, Hipparion, Elephas, Mastodon, Manatus, Cetacea, Fishes, and other land and marine animals. Dr. Raimondi's collection represents the labors of eighteen years, and was described in part by Prof. Leidy, some years ago, in the American Journal of Conchology. The work is now complete, and there is appended a pretty full "Bibliography of South American Paleontology," together with a "Synopsis of South American Paleontology."
Chemical Experimentation: Being a Handbook of Lecture Experiments in Inorganic Chemistry. Systematically arranged for the Use of Lecturers and Teachers in Chemistry, as well as for Students in Normal Schools and Colleges, and for Private Study. By Samual P. Sadtler, Ph. D., Assistant Professor of Chemistry in the University of Pennsylvania. Louisville: J. P. Morton & Co. Pp. 225. Price, $2.50.
This is a hand-book of chemical experiments, and makes no claim to be a chemical text-book. Following the order of Barker's "College Chemistry," the work is designed to give full instructions for the illustration of chemical lectures. A large variety of experiments are fully described, from which teachers may draw for such as are thought best for class-room illustration. It is an excellent compilation for an important purpose, and cannot fail to be useful in institutions which have ample command of chemical apparatus. The illustrations are large, numerous, and admirably executed.
At the Court of King Edwin: A Drama. By William Leighton, Jr. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. Pp. 157. Price, $1.25.
This is said to be considerable of a poem, and we know nothing to the contrary. The author wrote "The Sons of Godwin," which was published a fortnight before Tennyson's "Harold," and the Louisville Courier-Journal said: "It appears at the same time with Tennyson's poem, upon the same theme, and does not suffer by comparison with it; it has more dramatic fire, and moves with brisker step, and has as sweet songs in it, and as much poetry." If all this be true, then there must undoubtedly be excellence in Mr. Leighton's present work.
A New and Important Cook-Book.—D. Appleton & Co. will shortly publish the "Hand-Book of the National Training-School of Cookery" at South Kensington, London. These practical "lessons in cookery" are the result of years of careful experience in training pupils of all grades and capacities in the art of preparing food in the best manner. The English press are unanimous in declaring that, in point of simplicity, clearness, and fullness of directions, in presupposing complete ignorance on the part of the learner, and adopting a method that is easy to follow, this book is greatly superior to any work upon the subject hitherto produced.
Manual of the Vertebrates of the Northern United States. By D. S. Jordan, Ph.D., M.D. Second edition, revised and enlarged. Chicago: Janson, McClurg & Co. Pp. 406. $2.50.
Machine Construction. By E. Tomkins. Vol. I., Text, pp. 368, $1.50; Vol. II., Plates (XLVIIL), $4.50. New York: Putnams.
Report of the United States Fish Commissioner (1875, 1876). Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 1024.
Science Lectures at South Kensington. Vol. I. London and New York: Macmillan. Pp. 290. $1.75.
Current Discussion. Vol. II., Questions of Belief. New York: Putnams. Pp. 370.
Art Hand-books—Sketching from Nature. Pp. 74.—Landscape Painting. Pp. 74. New York: Putnams. 50 cents each.
Encyclopædia of Chemistry. (Parts 26 to 30 inclusive.) Philadelphia: Lippincott.
Iron-Works of the United States. Pp. 136. Report of the Iron and Steel Association. Pp. 89. Philadelphia: The Association.
Flowering Plants and Higher Cryptogams growing without Cultivation near Yale College. New Haven: The Berzelius Society. Pp. 71.
Pacific Coast Minerals, Ores, etc., in the Paris Exposition. San Francisco: E. Borqui & Co. print. Pp. 99.
Abstract of Statement of the Board appointed to test Iron, Steel, and other Metals. Salem: Printed at the Salem Press. Pp. 20.
Metric System of Weights and Measures. Philadelphia: The Engineers' Club Pp. 5.
Mental and Moral Science. By H. Howard, M.D. From Canada Medical Journal. Pp. 15.
The Kirografer and Stenografer. Quarterly. Amherst, Mass.: J. B. & E. G. Smith. Pp. 32. $1 per annum.
Report on the State Asylum for Insane Criminals. Auburn, N.Y.: Moses print. Pp. 23.
Remarkable Case of Morphine Tolerance. By J. L. Little, M.D. From American Journal of Obstetrics. Pp. 6.
Vital Magnetism in the Treatment of Disease. By F. T. Parson. Brooklyn: The Author. Pp. 32.
Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture. Raleigh, N. C.: Farmer and Mechanic print. Pp. 18.
Perception of Color. By G. S. Hall. From "Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences." Pp. 12.
Color-Blindness in Railroad Employés and Pilots. By B. J. Jeffries, M.D. Boston: Rand, Avery & Co. print. Pp. 40.
Medical Jurisprudence. By S. E. Chaillé, M.D. Philadelphia: Reported for "Transactions of the International Medical Congress." Pp. 40.
Filtration of Potable Water. By W. R. Nichols. From the "Massachusetts Health Report." Pp. 90.
Our Revenue System. By A. L. Earle. Pp. 47: France and the United States. Pp. 44; Suffrage in Cities. By S. Sterne. Pp. 41; Protection and Revenue. By W. G. Sumner. Pp. 38. New York: Free-Trade Club, 25 cts. each.
Report on the Retreat for the Insane. Hartford, Conn.: Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co. print. Pp. 27.
Report of the Zoölogical Society of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: The Society. Pp. 28.
The Medical Expert. By W. J. Conklin. M.D. From the Ohio Medical and Surgical Journal. Pp. 20.
New Method of planning Researches, etc. By R. H. Thurston. Salem: Printed at the Salem Press. Pp. 7.
The Psycho-Physiological Sciences and their Assailants. Boston: Colby & Rich. Pp. 216.
Contributions to Paleontology. By S. A. Miller and C. B. Dyer. With 2 Plates. From the Journal of the Cincinnati Society of Natural History. Pp. 16.
Petrography of Quincy and Rockport. By M. E. Wadsworth. From the Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History. Pp. 8.