Popular Science Monthly/Volume 3/May 1873/Literary Notices


Education in Japan. A Series of Letters Addressed by Prominent Americans to Arinori Mori. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1873. 255 pages.

And now Japan comes forward to confound the theories of publicists, and give a new problem to political philosophers. An ancient Oriental nation, with a history stretching over 2,500 years, and claiming the oldest dynasty in the world, containing 34,000,000 people, and which has long been shut out from the world by its exclusive system, now throws open its gates to intercourse with other nations, and raises the great question as to how it may best acquire the highest benefits of civilization. Its youths are sent away to be educated (there are some 300 in this country), and learned foreigners are sent for, that the modern arts and sciences may be acquired, and there are even indications that this proud and exclusive people meditate a change of language, and the adoption of English in place of their native speech. The Japanese envoy at Washington, Mr. Arinori Mori, a liberal and well-educated young gentleman twenty seven years of age, has addressed a circular letter to a large number of the distinguished men of this country, asking their views and advice as to how the Japanese can best gain the advantages of education, free commerce, and enlightened industry, and best improve the social, moral, and physical condition of the Japanese people. The present volume embodies the replies which he received from Presidents Woolsey, Stearns, Hopkins, McCosh, Eliot, Profs. Seelye, Henry, Murray, Northrup, Whitney, the Bev. O. Perinchief, and the Honorables G. S. Botwell, J. A. Garfield, and Mr. Peter Cooper. Their replies are not only interesting as furnishing the information required for its practical objects, but they are also interesting as illustrating the way American scholarship engages with this novel and curious sociological problem. Mr. Mori has prepared an introduction to the volume, giving an historical sketch of Japan, and some account of the present condition of its government, religion, language, and people.

Diseases of the Urinary Organs, including Stricture of the Urethra, Affections of the Prostate, and Stone in the Bladder. By John W. S. Gopley, M. D. With One Hundred and Three Wood Engravings. New York: William Wood & Co., 1873.

Amid the flood of medical works annually poured out for the doctor's guidance, it is a pleasure to find occasionally one that deals, in a clear and straightforward way, with the subject in hand, and is not encumbered with the endless theories and speculations of which medical writers are so prolific. The book before us is one of these exceptional productions in medical literature. It is in no sense a compilation, but embodies the results of an extended experience, both in private practice and in the hospitals of this city. Yet, while thus mainly founded on personal observation, the claims and teachings of the many eminent men who have illustrated this department of surgery have not been overlooked. The author does not undertake to go over the whole of this important department of medicine, but modestly limits himself to a few of the graver surgical affections of the male urinary organs, giving the pathology, clinical history, and treatment of each, with full and explicit directions for the various operations involved. Whenever the use of instruments is called for, he urges, with emphatic earnestness, the necessity for the utmost care in their employment; and this, to our minds, is not the least valuable feature of the book, since it is well known that these and other diseases are often seriously aggravated, and not unfrequently put beyond the reach of cure, by the bungling manipulations of over-confident and careless operators. Dr. Gouley's abilities as a practitioner are unquestioned, his success as a teacher has also been amply proved, and the present work gives evidence, both in matter and style, that he is entitled to rank equally high as a clear and instructive writer.

The Microscope and Microscopical Technology. A Text-Book for Physicians and Students. By Dr. Heinrich Frey. Translated from the German, and edited by George R. Cutter, M. D. New York: William Wood & Co., 1872.

We welcome the appearance, in an English dress, of Frey's excellent work. It covers a far wider field than Martin's book, noticed in a recent number of The Popular Science Monthly; indeed, the entire subject of microscopy and microscopical instruments is treated by Dr. Frey. The author devotes one-third of his work to the description of microscopic instruments, the testing of them, and their uses. To the section on "Testing the Microscope," the translator appends a few pages of original matter, giving the history of microscope-manufacture in the United States. He shows that microscopes of American manufacture possess all the excellences of foreign instruments, plus certain mechanical simplifications the product of American inventive genius.

The "Preparation of Microscopic Objects" has nearly 250 pages devoted to its treatment. This is a very important branch of the technique of microscopy, and the student will find here all the practical directions he needs, derived from the experience of the most eminent microscopists. The purpose of this portion of the work, as also of the section on "Mounting," is to save the student countless mortifying failures. Every microscopist may discover for his own use the best processes for preparing and mounting; but the time so spent is better spared, and devoted to practical investigation. The work of the microscopist is at all times exceedingly laborious, requiring a degree of patience and application that is almost incredible. The author aims in this part of his book to smooth away some of the difficulties attending the first approaches to this fascinating study; but, if any dilettante expects to find here a royal road to microscopy, he will be most assuredly disappointed. Of this branch of knowledge, it is preeminently true that only by hard work can any progress be made. This portion of the work is of high value, and the information it contains is nowhere else accessible, at least in the English language.

The remaining 400 pages are devoted to explaining the mode of investigating the fluids and tissues of organisms, etc. The author's method here is, first, to ascertain the normal conditions of tissues, organs, etc., and then to study diseased conditions, the pathological structure always more or less repeating the normal. As far as we have had an opportunity of judging, the translator's work appears to be well done.

The Depths of the Sea. By C. Wyville Thompson, LL. D., etc. London and New York: Macmillan & Co., 1873.

Certain new and very interesting results, in regard to the distribution of life, have been arrived at within the last few years, by dredging the bottom of the sea. Twenty years ago it was believed that at certain depths the greatness of the pressure, the lowness of the temperature, and the deficiency of light and aeration, made it impossible for life to subsist. The alleged cases of living creatures being drawn up from these great depths were discredited. The operations of cable-laying and cable-raising have, however, increased our familiarity with the bottom of the sea, and the improved manipulations have been turned to account in exploring its life. The result was, the establishment of the truth that there is an order of life belonging to the sea-bed in the profound abysess of the ocean. The recognition of this fact led to systematic attempts to carry on deep-sea explorations. In 1868 the steamer Lightning was placed by the British Government at the disposal of Dr. Carpenter and Mr. Wyville Thompson for the express purpose of submarine research, and the Porcupine was afterward assigned, for a more extensive series of surveys, to the same gentlemen, with the addition of Mr Gwyn Jeffreys, in the summers of 1869 and 1870. In the first of these cruises the greatest depth reached was 1,500 fathoms, but in the second they went to the depth of 2,500 or 3,000 fathoms. The present volume is a record of the results attained in these expeditions. It gives an account of the apparatus and instruments employed, of the forms of organization discovered, and much information regarding the physics of the ocean. It is splendidly illustrated and popularly written, with much humor, and the treatment, like the subject, is any thing but dry; it is a volume altogether worthy the interest and importance of its subject.

Van Nostrand's Eclectic Engineering Magazine. New York: D. Van Nostrand, 23 Murray Street.

We call the attention of mechanics, engineers, manufacturers, and scientific students, to this able and valuable periodical, now in its eighth volume. It treats of the applications of science, constructions, mining, and technical processes, and gives the solid literature of these subjects from all sources. It is edited with excellent discrimination, and the bound volumes of the series would form a most useful cyclopaedia of recent authentic information upon the subjects to which it is devoted.

Historical Statement of the Business and Condition of the Mutual LifeInsurance Company, of New York, for Thirty Years, from 1843 to 1872.

The company did well to state, in the beginning of this pamphlet, that its matter is important; since, owing to the style in which it is presented, few will be likely to discover that fact in any other way. Its contents are put in the shape of a facsimile of the original statement, signatures and all, a form to which probably not one in a hundred will attach any special value, and that involves a useless waste of time and patience on the part of the reader. What policy-holders and the public want is clear and explicit information that is readily accessible, and this appears to be just what the insurance companies are unable or unwilling to furnish.

Hygiene: a Fortnightly Journal of Sanitary Science. New York: Putnam. Two dollars per year.

This is a publication that was much needed, for the first of all our interests, that of health, is the one concerning which people are most careless and indifferent. It is amazing the amount of ignorance displayed, even by cultured people, with regard to the most evident precepts of sanitary prudence. This journal will, no doubt, do a good work in helping to diffuse abroad something like rational views as to the conditions of health. This periodical has nothing directly to do with medicine, nor will it attempt to make doctors of its readers. Hygiene is handsomely printed and carefully edited.