Popular Science Monthly/Volume 13/June 1878/Literary Notices


Stargazing: Past and Present. By J. Norman Lockyer, F.R.S. New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 496. Price, $7.50.

In this elegant volume Mr. Lockyer gives an excellent popular account of the rise and progress of instrumental astronomy. His work is an admirable illustration of the law of mental evolution by which great results have been attained through prolonged periods by minute increments of improvement. There were, of course, many conspicuous cases in which the science went forward, apparently by strides, as when Hipparchus invented the astrolabe, which led to the discovery of the "precession of the equinoxes," or when Galileo discovered the isochronism or equal-time oscillations of the pendulum, or when Dollond invented achromatic lenses for the telescope, or when photography and spectrum analysis were applied to celestial objects. But in all these cases of apparent sudden leaps, there was a previous time of preparation, in which numerous failures, or partial but inadequate successes, led up to the matured result. It is interesting to trace in Mr. Lockyer's pages the intimate and absolute dependence of astronomical progress upon the skill of the mechanic in the workshop. The genius of the inventor was always hampered by mechanical difficulties that could only be resolved by the dexterity and ingenuity of machinists and workers in metals, glass, and other materials. The bold speculator could conjecture, and the mathematician could verify, but all had to wait for the proficiency of the practical manipulator.

Mr. Lockyer opens his book with an account of early star-gazing in the pre-telescopic age, which terminates with Tycho Brahe, who died early in the seventeenth century. The second division of his work is devoted to the development of the telescope; the third, to time and space measurers; the fourth, to modern meridional observations with transit-instruments; the fifth part deals with the equatorial, and the mounting of large telescopes, and modern observatory equipments; and in the last division of the work, astronomical physics, Mr. Lockyer treats of the chemistry of the stars, spectrum analysis, and photography, applied to the heavenly bodies. His book is elaborately illustrated, and is a useful popular contribution to astronomical literature.

International Scientific Series, No. XXIII. Studies in Spectrum Analysis. By J. Norman Lockyer, F.R.S. D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 251.

The name of Mr. Lockyer is eminent in connection with spectrum analysis, and will secure intelligent attention to whatever he writes upon it. But the subject has been so thoroughly sifted and expounded for the last five years, that, in contributing a volume upon it for the International Scientific Series, he had by no means an easy task. Declining to follow in the beaten paths of compilation, and avoiding a mere restatement of rudiments, or the detailed treatment of systematic treatises like those of Schellen and Roscoe, Mr. Lockyer has adopted an intermediate and independent course, and made an instructive volume of moderate size on questions at present most interesting in the theory and practice of spectroscopy. Treating but briefly of the construction of the spectroscope, which is so fully dealt with in the current works, he gives more attention to its uses and results in connection with problems that are now undergoing investigation. Chapter I. contains an excellent statement of the laws of wave-phenomena, that are at the foundation of the theory of spectrum analysis; and, as an example of the style and illustration of the book, as well as the interest of the exposition, we reproduce a portion of it in the present number of the Monthly. Chapter IV., treating of atoms and molecules, presents admirably the views at present held by chemists and physicists respecting the molecular constitution of matter in its relations to spectral phenomena. But the volume of Studies is mainly devoted to topics that concern amateurs and experimenters in the laboratory or the observatory. Besides the numerous woodcuts and the colored map of radiation and absorption spectra, Mr. Lockyer has introduced a series of photographic plates showing actual effects more accurately than would be possible with engravings; and this feature somewhat enhances the cost of the book.

The Epoch of the Mammoth, and the Apparition of Man upon the Earth. By James C. Southall, A. M., LL. D. With Illustrations. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. Pp. 430.

We cannot deal with this book better than to give here a portion of the able article devoted to it in the Saturday Review:

"The advance of prehistoric archæology, the latest of the sciences, is not altogether as yet the continuous onward flow which enthusiasts in the study would have it to be. It is more like that of a tidal river—periods of reaction or reflux alternating with the general progressive set of the current onward. Bound up as it is with the theory of evolution as represented in the main by the views of Mr. Darwin, there is no wonder that the new study is met at times by a certain ebb in popular favor, or even in the acceptance of serious inquirers. None need complain, however, if the ground has to be thus gone over again with increased care and in a more critical spirit, so that the result be to consolidate more thoroughly what has been really gained from the study of the evidences, as well as to put a wholesome check upon tendencies which threaten a dangerous expansion of theory beyond the limits of fact. In this way much good may be done by attempts like that of Mr. Southall, in his 'Epoch of the Mammoth,' to bring to a focus the scattered rays of light which the most recent inquiries have shed upon the chronology of human life, tracing the history of man to the period of its dawn, and seeking to assign to its beginning something like a definite term of years. In the work recently published he urges once more, with the aid of fresh arguments and additional evidences, the views previously advanced in his 'Recent Origin of Man.' There can be no inquiry more important to the interests of science, if not to interests still wider and more sacred, or which more requires to be treated in an open, calm, and candid spirit. Unhappily it is not altogether in such a spirit that we find it approached by Mr. Southall, who soon makes it apparent that his object is to enforce a foregone conclusion rather than to conduct a critical and unbiased inquiry. He holds as it were a brief against a certain school of opinion, instead of taking his seat upon the bench of scientific judgment. In his opening chapters he hastens to lay down the conclusion to which he is desirous of leading the reader, and the issue on which he is prepared to stake his cause. If he can but succeed in bringing down the date of man's origin immensely within the limits assigned to it by geologists and paleontologists in general, there will be no room left for any gradual and slow development of humanity from a low and savage state, still less for man's emerging from relationship with even lower animal forms. The result will be a verdict for what was till lately the received or orthodox belief, that man appeared abruptly upon earth in the plenitude of his powers, stature, and organization, at a definite moment of time not many thousand years ago.

"Undismayed by the long array of distinguished names which he acknowledges to be opposed to his view of man's comparatively recent origin, Mr. Southall boldly proclaims the theory of evolution a failure. As for the existence of man during the Miocene or Pliocene age, he may safely speak of the evidences as speculative at the best, no remains of man or of his works having been actually produced from strata of that period. It is with quaternary man at the furthest that he feels called upon to deal. And he seeks to bring down the proofs of man's existence within limits narrow indeed, compared with the million years inferred by Mr. Wallace, Prof. James Geikie, and Mr. Vivian, from the stalagmitic deposits of the Devonshire and other caves, with the 800,000 years originally assigned by Sir C. Lyell, or with the 200,000 to which that eminent geologist was latterly inclined to reduce his figures, and at which Mr. Croll arrives from elaborate calculations of the successive glacial periods. We fail, however, to see him grapple so directly or tenaciously as we could have wished with the evidences of man's existence during, or even prior to, the last glacial epoch, i. e., at the time when the ice sheet enveloped Northern Europe as far south as latitude 54°; for the glacial stage still lingers in Switzerland and the Pyrenees, and continues in full sway in Greenland and Labrador. We find no adequate reference made to the implements met with in the till or bowlder drift. He is content to set aside many an important issue, such as this, with the assurance that 'physical science has its fashions like metaphysics, that theories are ever changing, and that Darwinism and prehistoric archæology, twenty years from to-day, may be both forgotten.' A great point with him, in opposition to the antiquity of man, is the unity of the human race, for which, beyond denial, a strong case is to be made out, and which, as it stands by itself, must be regarded as the most solid and the best-welded link in his whole chain of argument. But this unity, resting upon the world-wide diffusion of symbols like the pre-Christian cross, the legend of the deluge, or of a terrestrial paradise, with common habits of interment, and domestic usage and similarity of speech—even when pushed to the extreme length which such arguments attain in the hands of enthusiasts like Mr. Southall—is far from compelling the narrow contraction of time within which he would reduce the differences entailed by the disruption of that primary unity. It is true that many arguments brought forward on the side of extreme antiquity have broken down; but what are the few that our author may have disposed of, beside the host of facts which the industry of paleontologists and the critical study of language and of race have verified and correlated? The zodiacs of Dendera and Esne may be given up as works of art more than 5,300 years old. The fossil man of Guadaloupe may be reduced to the status of a commonplace Carib not many centuries back, in company with the fossil man of Denise buried under the lava of Auvergne, and the human remains found, as at first alleged, under the coral limestone of Florida, but since referred to the recent fresh-water sandstone formation. The cone of the Tinière may be brought down from a date of 10,000 years to less than a third of that amount; and the notches in bones from the Pliocene beds of the Val d'Arno, said to bear the marks of knives, may be referred to the gnawings of porcupines or of some extinct rodent. But what is this more than to say that because, for instance, not a few palæolithic implements, so called, have been proved to be fictitious, therefore the countless stores which crowd our museums are to be set aside as worthless? In this easy and high-handed manner are the inferences drawn from the innumerable implements met with in the river-gravels (sometimes, as our author allows, a hundred feet above the present water-level) summarily disposed of. These gravels he admits, whether of higher or lower level, to have been deposited about the close of the Glacial age, and such, therefore, we may regard the date of man. Within the human period then, at least, the valley of the Somme has been hollowed out, and the Thames brought within its existing narrow limits from the wider range to which its beds of gravel, with bones deeply buried, bear record. With the ordinary explanation of valley erosion, as laid down by Sir C. Lyell, and other standard writers upon geology, our author is wholly dissatisfied. Instead thereof, he brings in the portentous hypothesis of a Palæolithic flood, induced either by an inflow of the sea, or (as more in conformity with the fact of the gravels being those of fresh water) a 'pluvial period' on an immense scale following the Glacial period—in fact, the down-pour due to the melting up of the vast ice mass.

"What were the impressions made upon the dwellers by the banks of the Onse, or the fens of East Anglia, as the sea rose a hundred feet higher than it is now, aggravated as it was by the pluvial rainfall which 'overwhelmed the habitations of the contemporaries of the mammoth,' we utterly fail to realize. Paroxysmal effects, on a scale so gigantic as this, have long been removed from the conception of sober geologists of the English school. On continents later known and less thoroughly explored—within whose vast boundaries Nature seems to have carried on, or still to carry on, her operations in the stupendous fashion to which the cañons of America and valleys like the Yosemite bear witness—phenomena of this kind may seem conceivable enough. And it is upon observations and estimates such as those of Prof. Andrews, of Chicago, based upon the aspects of Nature in the great far West, that our author rests his representation of the catastrophes of man's early history. It is with limited, settled, old-world countries like England that we for our part have to do. And are we to conceive our quiet little island, within the scanty ten thousand years or so doled out by our author as the 'age of the mammoth,' raised up some hundreds, if not thousands, of feet—for Mr. Southall concurs with established geology as to the fact of oscillations to this extent and swept by pluvial storms till the gravel was piled up a hundred feet in places? Are we to believe that within the same period the British Islands were still joined by a broad tract of land to France and Holland, 'the waters of the Thames and the Rhine forming a common trunk, discharging itself into the North Sea, and the rivers of our south coast uniting with the Seine and the Somme to run westward into the Atlantic?' Why, the period since the Roman invasion carries us back to very nearly a fifth of this range of time, and in all these years we find the general level of the southern coast not disturbed one inch, the apparent local changes being due to erosion of the land by tide and storm, as at Winchelsea and Reculver, or to heaping up of shingle and sand, as at Pevensey and Sandwich. It may do in the New World to quote Humboldt for 'Jorullo in Mexico being seen to rise from a level plain, on September 14, 1759, to a height of 1,681 feet,' as a proof that 'force, no less than time, is an element in geological action.' But our dull imaginations have too much in common with the sluggish physical movements of our island-home for us to soar to the heights of calculation which seem so easy to Mr. Southall.

"It is in dealing with the age of the great extinct mammals that our author shows most conspicuously this tendency to shirk (unconsciously, of course) the difficulties with which the problem is surrounded in Europe. That early man was contemporary—in what is now England, Southern France, and Germany—with the lion, the bear, the hyena, the gigantic elk, the reindeer, and the mammoth, the conditions under which their bones are found intermingled have long placed beyond reasonable doubt. In the case of the reindeer and the mammoth, the evidence is raised to certainty by the discovery of outlines of those animals etched, with rude but highly-expressive art, upon fragments of bone."

Chemical and Geological Essays. By Thomas Sterry Hunt, LL. D. Second edition. Salem: S. E. Cassino. Pp. 536. Price, $2.50.

We noticed this admirable volume upon its first appearance three or four years ago, and are glad to observe that it has passed to a second edition. The plan of the work is not changed, as its essays have something of an historical import, which it was thought inexpedient to disturb, so that in the work of revision the author has confined himself to the correction of typographical errors in the text. But he has prefixed to the volume an elaborate essay of very great interest upon questions connected with the general scope of the work, upon which decided progress has been made since the first publication, and these additions are well worth the price of the new edition. We quote a portion of this preliminary essay, which treats of the ancient constitution of the air, and from which the author rises to the consideration of cosmical atmospheres and the diffused medium of celestial space:

"On pages 46-48 is a suggestion, made many years since, regarding the question of the temperature of the earth's surface in former geological periods, which, from its bearings, both direct and indirect, on some recent geological theories, calls for further notice. From the great amount of carbon and hydrocarbons of organic origin found in the rocky strata of the earth, it has long been inferred that the atmosphere of earlier times must have contained a large quantity of carbonic dioxide (carbonic acid) which yielded up its carbon for the nutrition of the ancient floras. From this the late Major Edwin B. Hunt concluded that, the atmosphere in former periods being much denser than at present, the temperature at the earth's surface, due to solar radiation, would be greater than now. It was subsequently pointed out by the present writer that, as already shown by Tyndall, the relations of carbonic acid to radiant heat are such that a quantity of this gas too small to affect considerably the weight of the atmospheric column would, by preventing the loss of heat, suffice to produce a tropical temperature over the earth at the sea-level.

"The quantity of carbon which has been removed from the air by vegetation in past ages is, however, very considerable. In a communication by the writer to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at Buffalo, in 1866, it was stated that the whole amount of free oxygen in the present atmosphere is no more than sufficient to form carbonic acid with the carbon of a layer of coal covering the globe one metre in thickness, and that the aggregate of carbonaceous matter in the earth's crust would probably much exceed this. Such a layer of coal, of specific gravity 1.25, would have a weight equal to 3,160,000 gross tons to the square mile; while Mr. J. L. Mott, in a communication to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, in 1877, estimates the total amount of carbonaceous substances in the earth at not less than 3,000,000 tons of carbon to the square mile, and probably many times greater. This minimum amount of pure carbon is equal to 600 times the present amount of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, or to nearly one-fourth its entire volume; and, inasmuch as the fixation of carbon by vegetation liberates a corresponding volume of oxygen, would represent, according to him, a greater amount of this gas than the present atmosphere contains. In addition to this, it must be considered that the composition of the various hydrocarbonaceous minerals shows a deoxidation not only of carbonic acid but of water. The amount of liberated oxygen derived from water equals, for the various coals and asphalts, from one-eighth to one-fourth, and for the petroleums one-half of that set free in the deoxidation of the carbon which these hydrocarbonaceous bodies contain. To this must be added also the oxygen set free in the generation of metallic sulphides by the deoxidation of sulphates, which is effected through the agency of organic matters, and indirectly liberates oxygen. Against this we must, however, set the unknown but very considerable amount of oxygen absorbed in the peroxidation of ferrous oxide liberated in the decay of the silicates of crystalline rocks; which may, perhaps, serve to explain the disappearance from the air of the whole of this excess of oxygen.

"The terrestrial vegetation and the air-breathing fauna, which we find from Palæozoic ages, are, it is unnecessary to remark, incompatible with an atmosphere holding one-fourth its volume of carbonic acid, and the difficulty of the problem is greatly increased when we consider that this amount, corresponding to the carbon fixed in the earth's crust in deoxidized forms, is insignificant when compared with that which has been absorbed during the decomposition of silicated rocks and is now fixed in the form of limestones. The magnitude of this process is seen when we consider that all the argillaceous rocks and clays of the stratified formations have come from the decay of the feldspars and other silicates of the earlier eozoic terrenes through the intervention of carbonic acid, and that the resulting alkaline and earthy carbonates are now represented by the limestones so abundant in the earth's crust. It was shown, in the author's communication already quoted, that a layer of pure limestone covering the earth's surface to a depth of about twenty-eight feet (8.61 metres) corresponds to an amount of carbonic acid which, if set free, would double the weight of the present atmosphere, and the existence of great limestone and dolomite formations, many hundred feet in thickness, at different geological horizons over wide areas, will, it is believed, justify the conclusion that the earth's crust contains, fixed in the form of carbonates, an amount of carbonic acid which, if liberated in a gaseous form, would be equal in weight to at least two hundred atmospheres like the present one. A portion of this carbonic acid was doubtless separated at an early period in the history of our globe, since the limestones of eozoic rocks are of considerable thickness, and those of more recent times are in part derived from the solution and redeposition of the older limestones. The only known source of carbonic acid, apart from combustion and respiration, are certain terrestrial exhalations of the gas, probably due to chemical reactions liberating small portions which had long before been fixed in the form of carbonates. We are thus forced to one of two conclusions: either the wholly improbable one that the atmosphere, since the appearance of organic life on the earth, has been one of nearly pure, carbonic acid, and of such immense extent that the pressure at the surface would have sufficed, at ordinary temperatures, for its liquefaction; or else, the atmosphere being so constituted as to permit vital processes, that carbonic acid, as fast as removed by chemical action at the earth's surface, was supplied from some extra-terrestrial source. We may, in accordance with this last hypothesis, admit that the atmosphere is not terrestrial but cosmical, and that the air, together with the water surrounding our globe (whether in a liquid or a vaporous state), belongs to a common elastic medium, which, extending throughout the interstellary spaces, is condensed around attracting bodies in amounts proportional to their mass and temperature, while in the regions most distant from these centres of attraction this universal atmosphere would exist in the state of greatest tenuity. Such being the case, a change in the atmosphere of any globe, whether by the absorption or disengagement of any gas or vapor, would, by the laws of diffusion and of static equilibrium, be felt everywhere throughout the universe; and the fixation of carbonic acid at the surface of our planet would not only bring in a supply of this gas from the worlds beyond, but, by reducing the total amount of it in the universal atmosphere, would diminish the atmospheric pressure at the surface of our own and of other worlds.

"This hypothesis is not altogether new. Sir William R. Grove, in 1842, put forth the notion that the medium of heat and light may be 'a universally diffused matter,' and, subsequently, in 1843, in his celebrated 'Essay on the Correlation of Physical Forces,' in the chapter on Light, concludes, with regard to the atmosphere of the sun and the planets, that there is no reason why these atmospheres should not be, with reference to each other, in a state of equilibrium. Ether, which term we may apply to the highly-attenuated matter existing in the interplanetary spaces, being an expansion of some or all of these atmospheres, or of the more volatile portions of them, would thus furnish matter for the transmission of the modes of motion which we call light, heat, etc., and possiby minute portions of these atmospheres may, by gradual accretions and subtractions, pass from planet to planet, forming a link of material communication between the distant monads of the universe.' Subsequently, in his address as President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, in 1866, Grove further suggested that this diffused matter might be a source of solar heat, inasmuch as the sun may 'condense gaseous matter as it travels in space, and so heat may be produced.' "

Pottery: How it is made, its Shape and Decoration. With a Full Bibliography of Standard Works upon the Ceramic Art, and 42 Illustrations. By George Ward Nichols. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Pp. 142. Price, $1.25.

This seems to be a useful little manual, on a subject that is now attracting a good deal of attention. It is elegantly illustrated and beautifully printed, and it will be especially prized by many on account of its copious bibliography of the principal works upon the ceramic art. The volume is thus characterized by the author, in a few words of preface:

"It is the object of this book to show that the manufacture of pottery may become one of the great art-industries in the United States; to describe the laws which govern the form and decoration of pottery; and to give practical instruction in the art of painting, either with vitrifiable or common oil colors, upon hard or soft porcelain, or upon earthenware. It is the result of long and careful study, and is intended not only for the benefit of professional potters and decorators, but for that large class of persons who are seeking to acquire this art, either for entertainment or as a remunerative occupation."

Primitive Property. Translated from the French of Emile de Laveleye. By G. R. L. Marriott, B. A., LL. B. With an Introduction, byT. E. Cliffe Leslie, LL. B. New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 356. Price, $4.50.

This is an able work on land-tenure from the point of view of modern investigation into early social conditions. The author holds radical views upon the subject, which differ widely from those that prevail in this country: "He is of opinion that the dangers of democracy lie in the inequality of conditions, and that, unless the catastrophe can be prevented by measures of state on a large scale, the same struggle between rich and poor which destroyed the republics of antiquity will destroy the modern states also. He holds that the economists have made a fatal mistake in pressing the advantages of individual property in land, and that the abstract arguments by which private property is explained and defended as an institution are in favor, not of private and exclusive ownership, but of a form of tenure under which each man, as he comes into the world, shall be a proprietor." M. de Laveleye assumes the law of evolution of property in land, and traces the history of its development in England, China, Italy, Holland, France, Belgium, Russia, India, Switzerland, and Germany. The questions opened by Sir Henry Sumner Maine, in his "Village Communities," are here vigorously pursued, with large accessions of new and interesting matter.

Syllabus of Lectures in Anatomy and Physiology, for Students of the State Normal and Training School at Cortland, N. Y. By T. B. Stowell, A. M. Syracuse, N. Y.: Davis, Bardeen & Co. Pp. 82. Price, 50 cents.

This book is prepared merely as an aid to students in anatomy and physiology. The author does not assume for it that it is in any sense a substitute for a text-book, or other book of reference, but that economy of time and greater thoroughness may be secured by thus directing the attention to matters of chief importance. It is intended to be used in connection with anatomical demonstrations, charts, diagrams, and the microscope. Terms which are merely technical, as the names of the muscles and the bones, have been omitted.


Walks in London. By A. J. C. Hare. New York: Routledge. Two vols, in one, pp. 480 and 511. $3.50.

Arguments before the Committee on Patents of the Senate and House of Representatives. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 454.

American Journal of Mathematics, Pure and Applied. Vol. I., No. 1. Published under the auspices of the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. Pp. 104. $5 per vol., $1.50 per single number.

Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Part II. London and New York: Macmillan. $1.25.

Incrustation on Brick Walls. By W. Trautwine. Philadelphia: W. P. Kildare print. Pp. 8.

Fifty-sixth Annual Commencement of the National Medical College. Washington: Darby & Duvall print. Pp. 30.

Free Ships. By J. Codman. New York: Putnams. Pp. 38. 25 cents.

Carbonic Oxide. By H. Morton, Ph. D. Reprinted from the American Gas-Light Journal. Pp. 12.

Metasomatic Development of the Copper bearing Rocks of Lake Superior. By R. Pumpelly. From "Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences." Pp. 57.

Bulletin of Hayden's Survey of the Territories. Vol. IV., No. 1. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 311.

Instruction in Physiology for School-Teachers. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. Pp. 74.

The Chinese Question. By J. H. Boalt. Pp. 16.

Report of the Citizens' Committee on the Nuisances of New York City. New York: S. Hamilton's Son print. Pp. 17.

The American Mountain Sanitarium for Consumption. By Dr. S. E. Chaille. From New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal. Pp. 16.

Principles of Breeding. By W. H. Brewer. From "Report of New Hampshire Board of Agriculture." Pp. 20.

Micrometrical Measurements of Double Stars. (Cincinnati Observatory.) Pp. 83.

House Air the Cause and Promoter of Disease. By Dr. F. Donaldson. From "Maryland Board of Health Reports." Pp. 23.

Water-Supply of New Jersey. By A. R. Leeds. From Journal of the Franklin Institute. Pp. 17.

Contributions to North American Ethnology. Vol. III. (Powell's Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region), "Tribes of California." By Stephen Powers. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 635, with Plates and Map.

Hayden's Survey of the Territories. Vol. VII. Contributions to the Fossil Flora of the Western Territories. By L. Lesquereux. Washington: Government Printing-Office Pp. 366, with 65 Plates.

Proceedings of the American Chemical Society. Vol. II. . No. 1. New York: Baker & Godwin. Pp. 50.

Nursing of the Insane. By A. E. Macdonald, M. D. New York: Bellevue press. Pp. 24.

Geological Investigations along the Line of the Cleveland, Canton, Coshocton & Straitsville R. E. By E. B. Andrews. Cleveland, O.: Robison, Savage & Co.'s print. Pp. 29.