Popular Science Monthly/Volume 36/November 1889/Literary Notices


The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs. By Charles Darwin. Third Edition, with an Appendix by Prof. T. G. Bonney. With Illustrations, New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 344. Price, $2.

The formation of coral reefs was one of the subjects investigated by Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. The information which he obtained from his own observations and the reports of other investigators, together with the mode of accounting for these structures resulting from his study of this material, are embodied in the present work. The first edition of the book was published in 1842, a brief sketch of the author's views having been read in 1837 before the Geological Society, of London, and published. Darwin's theory of coral reefs speedily won acceptance among men of science, and had been taught in scientific lectures and text-books for a generation before any considerable rival appeared. In 1874 Darwin issued a revision of his book, containing additional facts obtained by later explorers. The only important work on the subject which had appeared since 1842 was Prof. James D. Dana's "Corals and Coral Reefs," issued in 1872. Prof. Dana had accepted Darwin's theory in the main, though objecting very decidedly to some of its minor features. In 1880 Mr. John Murray, one of the naturalists of the Challenger Expedition, advanced a theory widely at variance with that of Darwin, which has found vigorous supporters, and various modifications of both the leading hypotheses have been offered by later investigators. But the majority of those qualified to judge of this difficult question have shown a disinclination to give up Darwin's theory for that of Murray—so much so that the Duke of Argyll, evidently jealous for Scottish honor, in 1887 accused scientific men of disregarding Murray's work from subserviency to their idolized Darwin. The duke's article was entitled "A Conspiracy of Silence," and drew forth a vigorous reply from Prof. Huxley in the review in which it appeared, besides arousing a spirited discussion in the columns of "Nature." The new edition of "Coral Reefs" affords the means of forming an intelligent opinion as to the merits of Darwin's views. It is, by the way, the first edition that has been published in this country. The body of the work has been left as revised by the author for the second edition, but occasional foot-notes, and an appendix comprising a careful summary of the more important memoirs published since 1874, have been added by Prof. T. G. Bonney. In the first three chapters the three chief classes of coral formations—atolls or lagoon islands, barrier reefs, and fringing or shore reefs—are described. The fourth chapter deals with the distribution of coral reefs and conditions favorable to their increase, their rate of growth, and the depths at which reef-building corals can live. Darwin's theory of the formation of the different classes of coral reefs then follows. Coral polyps do not flourish below a depth of twenty or thirty fathoms, but reefs are found rising from much greater depths—how are these to be accounted for? The theory regards barrier reefs and atolls as having been developed successively from fringing reefs. The latter are so named because they closely skirt the shores of islands and continental land, increasing by growth on the outer edge, where the conditions seem to be most favorable for the life of the corals. Imagine such a reef formed around a volcanic island, and the island then to begin sinking beneath the sea. The reef will be carried down with it, but the active growth at the outer edge will still keep this part at the sea-level, while the inshore part where growth has stopped will become deeply submerged. We now have an island surrounded by a deep channel, outside of which is a ring of coral—that is, an island encircled by a barrier reef. Suppose the subsidence to go still further until the highest point of the island disappears, the growth at the outer edge of the reef still keeping it up to the surface, and there results a ring-shaped reef inclosing a lagoon—that is, an atoll. It can not be denied that this theory accounts for the channel within a barrier reef and the ring shape of atolls, besides answering the question asked above, all in a very natural way. But it has been objected to on account of the amount of subsidence in the floor of the Pacific and Indian Oceans which it would imply, and for other reasons. Mr. Murray attempts to find a foundation at a suitable depth for the corals to begin work upon without supposing subsidence. He thinks this could be furnished by the accumulation of skeletons of minute animals and plants, upon natural elevations of the sea-floor, although when such remains fall to greater depths they are mostly dissolved by the aid of the carbon dioxide in the water. He thinks that a coral plantation rising on such a base would tend to assume the atoll form owing to the more abundant supply of food to the outer portions, and the removal of dead coral rock from the inner portions by the force of currents and by solution. He believes that barrier reefs have been built out from the shore, and that the channel within them is hollowed out by the same agencies as the lagoon of an atoll. The death of Darwin occurred so soon after the promulgation of this theory that he did not have an opportunity to publish any examination of it, but to a friend, Mr. T. Mellard Reade, who had expressed the opinion in a letter that it was "a very far-fetched idea," he replied: "I am not a fair judge, but I agree with you exactly that Murray's view is far-fetched. It is astonishing that there should be rapid dissolution of carbonate of lime at great depths and near the surface, but not at intermediate depths where he places his mountain-peaks." Besides a statement of Murray's theory, Prof. Bonney's appendix contains abstracts of the views of Alexander Agassiz, H. B. Guppy, G. C. Bourne, Bayley Balfour, W. O. Crosby, and J. D. Dana, together with an expression of his own opinion as to the value of the various objections to Darwin's theory. The volume contains three folded charts, and has an adequate index. It is bound uniformly with the other works of Darwin issued by the same publishers.

Natural Religion. By F. Max Müller London and New York: Longmans, Green & Co. Pp. 608. Price, $5.

This book includes the first course of Gifford lectures, twenty in number, delivered by Prof. Müller before the University of Glasgow in 1888. The Gifford lectures rest upon a fund of eighty thousand pounds which was left by Lord Adam Gifford by will in 1885, to be applied in specific sums to the establishment in four Scotch universities of chairs for "Promoting, advancing, teaching, and diffusing the study of Natural Theology," or "the knowledge of God, the Infinite, the All, the first and only cause, . . . the knowledge of his nature and attributes, the knowledge of the relations which men and the whole universe bear to him, the knowledge of the nature and foundation of ethics or morals, and of all obligations and duties thence arising." The will provided for changes of lecturers at short intervals, so that the subject might be presented by different minds; that no tests should be required of them save that they be "able, reverent men, true thinkers, sincere lovers of and earnest inquirers after truth"; and that they should treat their subject as a strictly natural science, and under no restraint. Prof. Müller's course naturally assumes the character of an introduction to the courses that are to follow. Much of it is therefore given to laying down the lines and adjusting the bearings; and the discussions comprised in it touch chiefly upon the three points of the definition of natural religion; the proper method of its treatment; and the materials available for its study. The definition is found in the seventh lecture to be, "Religion consists in the perception of the infinite under such manifestations as are able to influence the moral character of man." Of methods, the historical is preferred as the one most likely to lead to results of permanent value. Its object is to connect the present with the past, to interpret the present by the past, and to discover, if possible, the solution of our present difficulties, by tracing them back to the causes from which they arose. It has to be, and is, defended against the common misapprehension that the historian cares only about facts, without attempting to interpret them; and against the opposite school of philosophers who think that our own inner consciousness is the one and only source from which to draw a knowledge and understanding of natural religion—forgetting that their inner consciousness "is but the surface of the human intellect, resting on stratum upon stratum of ancient thought, and often obscured by thick layers of dust and rubbish, formed of the detritus in the historical conflicts between truth and error." The materials for the study are language, myths, customs and laws, and sacred books. In pursuing it, the subject is divided into three branches, according as what is here called the Beyond or the Infinite was perceived, in nature—Physical religion, which was to be the subject of the next course of lectures; in man—Anthropological religion, which meets us again and again in different ages and in widely distant parts of the world; or in the self—Psychological religion, filled with intellectual endeavors after that which lies beyond man, as a self-conscious subject. The last statement corresponds in the Christian religion with the doctrine of the Holy Ghost, by which was meant in the beginning "the Spirit which unites all that is holy within man with the Holy of Holies, or the Infinite beyond the veil of the Ego, or of the merely phenomenal Self."

A Manual of Machine Construction for Engineers, Draughtsmen, and Mechanics, embracing examples, rules, tables, and References. By John Richards. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company. Pp. 306. Price, $5.

The author of this book enjoys the advantage of an experience of thirty-five years in constructive engineering work, at home and abroad. He is a practical mechanic in metal and wood work, and a designer and constructor of machine-work of all kinds. He has prepared original designs for more than a thousand machines now in common use in America and Europe, and is the author of many papers and a number of valuable treatises on various mechanical subjects. The present work is practical; is not for instruction so much as for direct application, and is intended to meet the every-day wants of the engineer, draughtsman, and mechanic in his workshop. The tables are the result of actual practice, and are worked out from complete drawings. The references are such as are constantly required in real work, and the selection is made by noting for a number of years the relative frequency of references to the different subjects. In points of material content and arrangement, each alternate page is left blank, so as to leave a place for receiving the owner's notes and original matter, the constant accumulation of which will, it is believed, make the work a valuable vade mecum. There are other conveniences in arrangement, designed to facilitate the use of the book and the finding of the page, besides helps to the reduction of values. In the general introductory observations, the possibility of determining between what is computable and what not, is considered. Among the particular subjects of the chapters are: "Machine Design," "Bearings for Shafts and Spindles," "Sliding Bearings," "The Transmission of Power," etc., "Steam Machinery" with its details; "Hydraulics," "Mechanical Draughting," "Heat," "Dynamics," "Properties of Materials"; and "Weights, Measures, "etc.

The Federal Government of Switzerland. By Bernard Moses, Ph. D. Oakland, Cal.: Pacific Press Publishing Company. Pp. 256. Price, $1.50.

This volume, by the Professor of History and Political Economy in the University of California, comprises a carefully prepared essay on the Constitution of the principal established European republic; one that may give lessons to American citizens, and which is in every way worthy of their study. Prof. Moses approaches the subject with the manner of one who understands it, and treats it philosophically and judiciously, not only describing the provisions of the Swiss Constitution, but investigating their evolution, and finding how they came to be there. In the introduction, having considered the physical conditions of Switzerland and observed the composite character of its population, he draws a contrast between it and the American republics—the United States and those of Spanish origin. The population of Switzerland, various as it is, has grown from prehistoric stock without serious disturbing influences. The populations of the American republics have been formed from elements whose later environment has had little in common with their earlier surroundings, and under conditions where the force of ancient traditions has been weakened by long migrations. Switzerland and the British colonies were predetermined to federation by their geographical positions. Switzerland is the only existing republic that has lived through the period in which religious wars were a part of the order of the day. Notwithstanding this, and the sharp religious divisions between the cantons, union has prevailed, and a federal government has been established under which both Catholics and Protestants live without serious friction. Another peculiar feature of Switzerland is the prevalence of three distinct and official languages (besides the unofficial Romansch), and the maintenance of as many national characteristics, while in the United States there is a tendency to assimilation in all things of this kind. The negro in the South introduces a problem into our political life "of which the population of Switzerland gives no hint." Such class distinctions as may exist there are those that may arise in a homogeneous society under the conditions of modern life, or are a survival from the feudal age; but "they are not such as proceed from the existence in the population of different races regarded as inferior and superior." Illiteracy and general ignorance in any part of the population are wanting in Switzerland; "in fact, in no country of the world are the affairs of education administered more zealously or with greater efficiency. The problem of republican government is, therefore, simpler in Switzerland than in America, in spite of the proximity of the Swiss to the monarchical rule of European states." The analysis of the Swiss Constitution is introduced by a review of the "Antecedents of Swiss Federalism," and is applied in succession to the several departments of the government, its foreign and internal relations, the army and finance, "Rights and Privileges," and "The Common Fraternity."

Kant's Critical Philosophy for English Readers. A New and Completed Edition. By John P. Mahaffy, D. D., and John H. Bernard, B. D. Vol. II. The Prolegomena translated, with Notes and Appendices. London and New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 239. Price, $1.50.

This is the second volume of a work whose first volume was noticed in this magazine several months ago. While in the preceding part of this work the editor has taken the more agreeable task of paraphrasing the original, because the "Kritik" is already accessible in English, he has deemed it "due to Kant to put his 'Prolegomena' in all their homeliness literally before the reader." He has reprinted in the appendix the suppressed passages of Kant's first edition of the "Kritik." The work is unfortunately without an index.

The Modern Chess Instructor, Part I, by W. Steinitz (G. P. Putnam's Sons), contains elementary explanations for beginners, the description of notations, a telegraphic chess code, an essay on the principles of the game, and analyses of six popular openings, with illustrative games to each opening, while the appendix contains the games of the contest between Messrs. Steinitz and Tschigorin which were played at Havana in January and February, 1889, with annotations by the author. Pp. 193. Price, $1.50.

Prof. Charles W. Kent, of the University of Tennessee, has prepared an edition of the old English poem Elene, which is asscribed to Cynewulf, with introduction, Latin original, notes, and a complete glossary. The introduction and notes are designed for the use of students, and not with any view to critical purposes. The glossary has been made more complete than is usual in editions of old English poems. From the historical notice in the introduction, it appears that the manuscript of this poem was found in 1822 in the Cathedral Library in Vercelli, and the question of the way it got there has given rise to considerable discussion, with not very definite results. The author is supposed to have been a Northumbrian, and to have lived in the eighth century. The poem is founded on the story of the search for the cross and its discovery by the Empress Helena, wife of Constantine. While the author has followed the story with considerable fidelity, he has not bound himself too closely to it, and those passages which are all his own are the best in the work. Besides the historical and critical introduction, a metrical introduction and a bibliography are given. We last month published a notice of a translation of this and two other old English poems. Ginn & Co., publishers. Pp. 149. Price, 65 cents.

Of two text-books in Greek published by Ginn & Co., Mr. Isaac Flagg's edition, with notes, of Euripides's Iphigenia among the Taurians commends itself, not only on account of the superlative literary merit of the tragedy, but also for the editor's excellent critical introductions, in which he gives an account of the growth of the legend of Iphigenia, an analysis of the plot and artistic structure of the work, and a dissertation on the meters and technique. The volume is one of the publishers' "College Series of Greek Authors," edited under the supervision of J. W. White and T. D. Seymour. Pp. 197. Price, $1.50.—Mr. Addison Hague's Irregular Verbs of Attic Prose gives, after the regular verbs, pure, mute, and liquid, the irregular verbs in alphabetical order, with prominent meanings and special uses of frequent occurrence, often illustrated by translated examples, the most important compounds, many related words, and some four hundred and fifty English derivatives. The volume constitutes a helpful bridge over a most difficult passage in the study of Greek. Pp. 268. Price, $1.60.

Prof. S. E. Tillman's Elementary Lessons on Heat (J. B. Lippincott Company) have been prepared to meet the necessities of a short course of seventy hours at the United States Military Academy. The selection of material has been guided by considerations of the sub-course of studies and of what is essential and most useful for the students to know. A logical arrangement is sought, and clearness and conciseness in relation are aimed at. Most of the experimental illustrations described or referred to are such as can be performed in the lecture-room. The special topics treated of are "Thermometry," "Dilatation of Bodies," "Calorimetry," "Production and Condensation of Vapor," "Change of State," "Hygrometry," "Conduction," "Eradiation," "Thermo-Dynamics," and the "Meteorological Aspects of Heat." Pp. 160. Price, $1.80.

The Manual of Chemistry for the Use of Medical Students of Dr. Brandreth Symonds (P. Blakiston, Son & Co., Philadelphia) is not designed to be a medical chemistry, but takes up those parts of general chemistry which it is necessary for medical students to know. The author, having prepared students for several years in this branch, believes that he knows their needs, and has made this effort, in the light of that knowledge, to supply them. Besides the elements, a large share of the space is allotted to the chemistry of water and air and the substances by which they are polluted; and for this acknowledgment is made to the lectures and articles of Prof. C. F. Chandler. A chapter is given to the tests for the important substances, and another chapter to the tests for urine and the substances that occur in it. The theories of to-day concerning chemical action are briefly presented. The metric weights and measures are also noticed, and the rules are given for converting degrees of temperature. Pp. 154. Price, $2.00.

In an attractive-looking volume of convenient pocket size, entitled Great Words from Great Americans, G. P. Putnam's Sons have grouped the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, Washington's inaugural and farewell addresses, Lincoln's inaugural and farewell addresses and his great Gettysburg speech, and Washington's circular letter of congratulation and advice to the Governors of the thirteen States, with historical notices on some of the papers, and portraits of Washington and Lincoln. These papers all embody principles and enunciate truths the observance of which is essential to the maintenance of our Government, and which it is important that all citizens should cherish and keep in vigorous life. Pp. 199. Price, 75 cents.

The Kingdom of the Unselfish; or, the Empire of the Wise (Empire Book Bureau, 28 Lafayette Place, New York), has been written by Mr. John Lord Peck with reference to the existing stage of social evolution. If not suited to the present state of opinion, it may find a reading in the next century. The purpose of the book is unfolded in the introductory chapter, which is headed "The Reliable and Unreliable in Thought." Of the unreliable are all religious systems founded on tradition and revelation, dogma, and speculative philosophy, including all the systems that have followed one another from Plato and the ancients down to the pessimism of Schopenhauer and Hartmann and the agnosticism of Comte, Huxley, and Spencer. Neither of these last systems "is sufficiently near the final truth to long satisfy the human mind, and the prediction is here ventured that both of them will give way to a system of ontology more perfect than the evolution philosophy as represented by Herbert Spencer." The class of ideas that is most positive and reliable is found in modern science, which acknowledges nothing as beyond candid criticism, has nothing sacred but the truth, and investigates every part of the universe and of man with equal impartiality; and is not an extreme or antagonistic of all former knowledge and opinion, but "is a more complete, thorough, and systematic knowledge of the same kind as any imperfect knowledge preceding it that has a real basis of fact."

The second volume of the Report for 1838 of the Geological Survey of Arkansas, under the direction of State Geologist John C. Branner, comprises a review of the Neozoic Geology of Southwestern Arkansas, by Robert T. Hill. It is the result of the joint work of the United States and the State Surveys, in which the latter was able to avail itself of Prof. Hill's knowledge of the mesozoic geology of other parts of the Union. The region embraced in the present survey may be said roughly to lie between the Ouachita and Red Rivers, extending a little east of the Ouachita, including Little Missouri and Little Rivers, and to consist most largely of the Trinity, Lower and Upper Cretaceous, and Tertiary formations, with plateau gravel and associated deposits, and the flood plains of the rivers, of the Post-tertiary or Quaternary. In determining the relations of the Upper Cretaceous beds, the author concludes that they are identical with those of Texas, more obscurely so with those of New Jersey, and the equivalent of the Upper Cretaceous of Europe. The relations of the Lower Cretaceous and Trinity with formations east of the Mississippi are at present only conjectural. Prof. Hill's review is supplemented by papers on "The Northern Limits of the Mesozoic Rocks in Arkansas," by Prof. O. P. Hay, and "On the Manufacture of Portland Cement," by Prof. Branner.—The third volume of the series is a preliminary report on the Geology of the Coal Regions, by Arthur Winslow. It contains only a part of the coal regions of the State, representing an area of nearly two thousand square miles and extending about seventy-five miles along the Arkansas River from the Indian Territory to Dardanelle. Chapters are devoted to the "Distribution of the Coal," a review of the coal industry of the State, and the composition and adaptabilities of the coals.

The Commissioner of Agriculture, in his Report for 1888, represents the year as having been one of much greater activity in the department than it had ever before experienced. The investigations made have excited popular interest, and the results obtained have been helpful to the farming class. A good record was made of the work of the experiment stations. A clearing-house or exchange is called for through which they can co-operate. The most important duty devolving upon the Bureau was the work for eradicating contagious pleuro-pneumonia in cattle; and, in connection with this, the need of a laboratory is suggested where persons can qualify themselves by experiment for practice in the diseases of animals. The division of entomology pursued investigations on the cottony-cushion scale of California, the hop-louse, the root-infesting nematode worms, the cotton and boll worm, which attacked the tomato; the Rocky Mountain locust, the buffalo gnat, and various other insects injurious to vegetation. It is giving attention to the introduction of parasites destructive of such insects. Experiments of silk-culture have not yet given promise of a profitable industry. The chemical division interested itself in the study of food adulterations and processes for making sugar from sorghum. The statistical department had to meet large demands for supplying information. The botanical division was busy in experiments on the adaptation of various plants, and in studies in vegetable pathology. Attention was given to the habits of different birds, and the depredations on crops of various small mammals. The seed division was active in sending out seeds to experimental cultivators and the constituents of members of Congress. The forestry division reported progress, but not much encouragement as yet for the restoration of the forests, or even for the preservation of what of them are left. Microscopical investigations were made in various directions. In pomology experiments are reported on tropical and semitropical fruits and on hardy Russian fruits for the Northwest; and an excellent paper, by Mr. W. H. Ragan, is published on our wild fruits and the desirability and feasibility of perpetuating, cultivating, and improving them.

Sun and Shade is the name of a monthly "picture periodical without letterpress," published by the Photo-Gravure Company, 853 Broadway, New York, which has lately completed its first year. In its growth it has found the taste of its patrons preferring pictures of the higher class, and quality rather than quantity, and announces its purpose in the selection of subjects to respond to this demand. Among its plans for the future are to reproduce the leading pictures in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the works of American artists; to encourage the artistic side of direct photography in all its phases; and to add examples of sculpture, architecture, and industrial art. The subjects of "Ecce Homo," "The Return," "Sunshine," "From the Land of Sleepy Hollow," and others, in the August number, each executed in its peculiar style, could hardly be improved upon. Price, 40 cents, a number; $4 a year.