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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 42/January 1893/Literary Notices

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 42‎ | January 1893

LITERARY NOTICES.

Moral Instruction of Children. By Felix Adler. New York: D. Appleton & Co. International Education Series. Pp. 270. Price, $1.50.

This book is a sign of the times. It is one among many responses to the deepening public conviction that character, no less than intellect, demands education if it is to come to its best; education as well reasoned, systematic, and thorough as science and sympathy can make it. In giving this conviction effect, a formidable difficulty is encountered at the very outset. A portion of the American people, neither few in number nor lacking weight in legislation, maintains that the teaching of right conduct can proceed only upon religious sanctions. Hence come the reiterated demands for a division of school-taxes to enable separate schools to be administered by specific churches. On the threshold of his subject Prof. Adler considers these demands, and reviews in particular the example of Germany in uniting church and state education, pressed as it so often is for acceptance in the United States. He points out that in Germany the churches founded the schools; that their control has now passed to the state marks the advance to supremacy of political sentiment. In this country the state it was which founded the schools; were it to admit the churches into partnership in their control, the change would mean a reversal of the current of progress as progress is understood in Germany. Prof. Adler argues that the American nation has a paramount interest in keeping its schools unrestrictedly public, in ignoring the party walls of sects, for in no other way can the diverse elements of its population be fused into unity. And the state in disregarding the sects does not array itself against religion. As to rules of right conduct, all good men are agreed; let these rules be taught in the public schools, leaving their sanctions to be enforced in the churches and Sunday schools, whose work can accompany without antagonism that of secular instruction. In the public school the teacher has a vastly better opportunity to observe character and direct its development than is possible in the brief and casual work of the religious instructor on Sundays. Moreover, education in duty should be dominant in school work, not incidental. An ethical atmosphere should pervade and mold every lesson. Knowledge and skill are valuable; character is priceless; and knowledge and skill take on a new edge when wisely subordinated to ideals of duty.

Taking a rapid survey of the ordinary course of school instruction, Prof. Adler suggestively brings out the moral side of each study. A child is asked to describe a bird placed before it, and the teacher is not satisfied until the description is strictly accurate. In making the eye conscientious science thus begins; it proceeds step by step only as it faithfully keeps to truth, as it brings thought and word to absolute accordance with fact. History, properly taught, also has high moral utility. It presents examples of heroism, of self-sacrifice, of love of country, of unswerving devotion to principle. The best literature, and especially the best poetry, make an appeal not less stirring to rightward impulses. The great creative books—the masterpieces of Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe—touch the deepest springs of character; the student rises from their study ennobled by a new sympathy, with a quickened sense of the dignity of human nature. Music, apart from its subtle power to arouse refined emotion, has distinctive value in socializing the will. Love of home and country made the themes of song are echoed in life. Sentiment can be wisely used to re-enforce the reasoned claims of hearth and country, so that at last public opinion brought to a new breadth and soundness shall deservedly have a profounder influence than ever upon the individual life.

Coming to moral instruction proper, Prof. Adler points out that it should always be suited to the age of the child, and he sketches courses for primary and grammar grades. For young children he holds the best vehicle of instruction to be the fairy tale; the excursions of fancy delight a budding mind; the love of adventure, the delight in disguises, can be made to play a telling part in arousing interest in the faithfulness of a Cinderella, or the merciful traits of the younger brother embalmed in the story of the Queen Bee. A good fable always has interest apart from the lesson it conveys; it is essentially truer than history, for it is history's composite photograph; a judicious teacher can select from Æsop, from the Jataka tales, a great many fables of sterling significance, which, from their point and brevity, can be borne as easily as proverbs in the memory. Advancing to pupils of riper years, our author shows what can be done in adapting the Iliad, the Odyssey, and other great classics to the education of admiration, to the discrimination between motives worthy and unworthy, to the building up of lofty ideals of life. That conduct may be the better practiced as an art, we are next given an outline of morals as a science; the duties which relate to the physical life and the feelings are described and enforced; then, filial and fraternal duties receive attention; third, come the duties to all men of justice and charity; and, lastly, a word regarding the duties of citizenship.

Prof. Adler gives us this book as an outcome of fifteen years' successful work in the class-room, and he intends it to be simply an aid, not a guide, to the teacher. While the founder and leader of the ethical movement, and on fire with the ethical spirit, he is too wise a man not to see the folly of being righteous overmuch. He warns the teacher against that moral microscopy which absorbs itself in trifles, only to find strength lacking when a genuine battle has to be fought. But even strength is not everything. It is, after all, at surfaces mainly that we touch, and so we have emphasis laid on grace, on fine manners, as the true efflorescence of high character, enabling it to win where mere strength would fail. He would not have the aim of the moral teacher too much in evidence, well knowing that it is because the marksman does not point at the bull's-eye that he hits it. While a disciple of Kant and an upholder of a moral law underived from the reckoning of consequences, he is willing to give due credit to the utilitarians. Duty goes further and higher than prudence, yet for a long distance they are companions; righteousness does not work for wages, but why blink the fact that it receives goodly rewards? But, however much character in the making may be aided by prudential considerations, character in its perfection has left them far behind. Duty, at first a matter of conscious purpose, becomes confirmed as the habit of the soul, and flowers at last as impulses from which all sense of effort or calculation of gain has passed away.

On every page this book shows that it comes from a strong, judicious, and richly freighted mind. It demonstrates how the culture of conscience, supplementing and completing the culture of the intellect, can lift education to a plane where it shall address itself not to part of human nature but the whole. Its chapters have been written for the teacher; they contain counsels that every parent in the land would be the better for laying to heart.

The Electric Railway in Theory and Practice. By Oscar T. Crosby and Louis Bell. New York. The W. J. Johnston Company (limited), 1892. Pp. 400. Price, $2.50.

Among the industrial applications of electricity none have attained greater commercial importance in recent years than electric traction. Although experimental work in this field had been carried on both here and abroad for many years, it was not until the great electric revival of a dozen years ago that the subject began to have importance. Even then this form of traction did not take a commercial place comparable with the other applications of electricity. Much detail work had to be done before it could enter upon the industrial stage, and its economy and adaptability to actual service had to be demonstrated by the test of time. Up to about six years ago electric railways may be said to have progressed no further than the experimental stage, but since that time the application of electric traction to street-car service has gone on at an unexampled rate in this country, until now a large number of the cities and towns have one or more electric railways. As is usual in the practical development of a new art, many fruitless experiments had to be made and much money and time wasted. It was early recognized that the method of operation which promised the largest measure of success was that in which the current was conveyed to the moving car by means of a circuit carried along the line, and connection with which was made by some sort of elastic contact carried by the car. But it was not demonstrated until after many trials in just what manner this could be done to provide a reliable and economical service. Attempts were made to use the rails as the conductors, and also to carry the conductor in a conduit laid between the rails, connection being made between this conductor and the moving car by a contact arm carried by the car. The numerous difficulties apparently inherent in all forms of surface or underground conductors have led to their total abandonment in this country in favor of the overhead conductor familiarly known as the trolley system. In this system the conductor carrying the current to supply the moving cars is strung on poles eighteen or twenty feet from the ground, and connection is made between it and the moving car by means of a long arm affixed to the roof of the car, and carrying at its upper end a contaot, generally in the form of a grooved disk. This arm is held against the conductor by springs and is controllable from the car by a rope connection so that it can be pulled down out of connection with the conductor or readily replaced when jolted out of position by the motion of the car. Although this system has encountered much hostility on account of its supposed danger, it has steadily made its way on account of its capacity to adapt itself to all manner and conditions of service, and handle the varying traffic of a street railway expeditiously, economically, and reliably. Inventors are still busy working upon other methods of applying the current, among which probably the most promising is the storage battery. Despite the fact that this method is now in practical service upon two lines in this country, it can not be said to have passed the experimental stage, but it is very generally recognized that this would constitute a final method of electric traction if it can be worked out so as to have the reliability and economy of the trolley system.

This brief epitome of the work in electric traction is set forth in detail by the authors of the present volume. As they state, their work is the first systematic presentation of the subject, and it is therefore a welcome addition to the current literature of the applications of electricity, the more so that it is an extremely well executed one. One of the editors is the editor of the Electrical World, and has, therefore, been in a position to keep himself informed on the history of the subject and to realize what the practical difficulties have been in the development of the art. The authors begin their exposition with a brief consideration of the general electrical principles involved in the dynamo and electric motor, and then pass to a consideration of prime movers, in which they devote considerable space to the theory of the steam engine as well as to a description of the best types of engine to perform the work required in electric traction. They also consider the theory and best forms of water-wheels available. The forms of motors suitable, and the method of mounting them upon the car so as to apply the motion of the armature to the driving of the wheels, are given an amount of space commensurate with their importance, as it is here that the largest amount of detail labor has been necessary in working out the practical problems of the system. A chapter is given to the line, the track, and the power stations, which deal with the practical considerations to be taken into account in this part of the equipment. In the chapter on the efficiency of electric traction there is a very excellent discussion of the subject, ranging from the efficiency of the engine to that of the complete system. A chapter is given to storage-battery traction, in which the authors describe the best forms of battery which have been devised, and point out clearly the difficulties encountered with this form of apparatus, and the large amount of work that yet remains to be done before the storage battery can take its place in economic competition with the trolley. In a chapter on high-speed service an account is given of the experiments conducted by Mr. Crosby at Laurel, Md., with an electric car driven at a speed of over a hundred miles an hour. The authors believe that it is quite practicable to establish an electric railway service in which speeds of one hundred and fifty miles an hour may be maintained, and give calculations of the power required and designs of the electric apparatus and cars. The authors conclude their volume with a chapter on historical notes in which they detail the early experiments in electric traction in which the broad principles were worked out, at a time when the electric battery was the only source of current. Owing to a lack of any economical source of electricity, these early attempts resulted in nothing practical in the way of the establishment of actual roads, but they served the purpose of laying the subject open to future workers and prevented that pre-empting of the field which would have been given by controlling patents at a time when the art was ripe for development. Various miscellaneous matters, that could not well find a place in the body of the work, are treated in an appendix.

Silk Dyeing, Printing, and Finishing. By George H. Hurst. London and New York: George Bell and Sons, 1892. Pp. 226. Price, $2.

This is one of the series of technological handbooks, edited by Sir Trueman Wood, Secretary of the Society of Arts, and, like the rest of the series to which it belongs, is excellently done. It is addressed especially to those concerned with the art of which it treats, but is of interest as well to the general reader who may care to know something about an extensive and important industry. The book is made up of a series of papers contributed by the author to the Dyer and Calico Printer, which have been largely recast, and of additional chapters on silk printing and finishing, and testing dyed silks. The author treats of silk fibers, how they are produced by the silkworm, the method of handling the fiber and reeling it, how it is dyed, and now printing is performed. In an appendix he gives a number of recipes for the preparation of color compositions and in a number of plates at the end of the volume he gives samples of dyed materials both of the fiber and the woven goods.

The Science of Nutrition. By Edward Atkinson. Pp. 179.

Mr. Edward Atkinson, the well-known writer on economic and kindred subjects, has in recent years been devoting his attention to the subject of cooking, and has reached some startling conclusions. He contends that the present method of quick cooking at high temperatures is a fundamental mistake; that cooking should be done slowly at temperatures of from 300° to 400°, and in closed vessels which will retain all the vapors and juices. He has found by extended experimenting that when this is done the amount of heat required is but a fraction of that now used, and has in consequence devised an oven in which a meal for six or eight persons can be cooked over an ordinary kerosene lamp, such as the Rochester. His apparatus, which he terms "the Aladdin oven," is simplicity itself. It consists of a box made of non-conducting material, such as paper or wood, in the upper part of which is placed an oven of thin sheet metal. The oven is smaller than the box, so that there is a space all around it for the circulation of the hot products of combustion from the lamp, which sets in the oven portion of the box. The oven is provided with trays upon which different articles may be placed. Mr. Atkinson claims that bread may be baked, meat roasted, fish and vegetables cooked in a much superior manner than by current methods. Cereals, such as oatmeal, hominy, etc., can be cooked overnight, so that the longer time required is not a feature that presents any difficulties.

The present volume is made up of an address by Mr. Atkinson at Columbia College on The Science of Nutrition, of description of the oven and the work it does, and elaborate data upon the value of foods, and the quantities of the different classes of foods necessary for healthy adults. If Mr. Atkinson's contention is well founded, and it appears to be abundantly so by the data he submits, he has made a very distinct step in advance in the important field of domestic economy, and his labor is one with which every housewife should make it a point of becoming acquainted.

Questions and Answers about Electricity. A First Book for Students. Edited by E. T. Bubier. Bubier Publishing Co., Lynn, Mass., 1892. Pp. 100. Price, 50 cents.

Of the making of popular books upon electricity and its applications there appears to be no end. Many of these are of value and of real help to the readers to whom they are addressed, while many more are quite useless. To this latter class belongs the present book. Although four writers have contributed to its make-up, and the entire work has probably undergone the scrutiny of each of its authors, they have failed in producing anything approaching an adequate treatment of the subject. The book is addressed to beginners, presumably those who know nothing of the subject, and consequently should be a clear and concise presentation of the subject, beginning with the simplest phenomena and advancing by steps to the more complex. Instead of this, subjects are treated in no particular logical order, and the reader could only get a very confused jumble of ideas after going over the book. The authors start out with a brief discussion of the theory of electricity, which, even if clearly stated, which it is not, could be comprehended only after some acquaintance with electrical phenomena. The Holtz and Topler static electric machines are described, so far as their mechanical construction is concerned, before the reader is acquainted with any of the phenomena of static electricity, and no attempt is made to explain the principles of their action.

The meaning of electric terms is in many cases not explained until after they have been used in the description of apparatus, and even then in the most cursory way. On the whole the beginner could read the book with but little profit, and it is too scrappy and incomplete to be of much service to any one at all acquainted with the subject.

Pictures from Roman Life and Story. By the Rev. A. J. Church, M. A., lately Professor of Latin in University College, London. Illustrated. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 344. Price, $1.50.

In this series of sketches, Prof. Church, the author of Stories from Homer, Stories from Virgil, has depicted various phases of life at Rome under the emperors. We are introduced to the friends of Mæcenas at his villa; pass a day at the home of Horace; attend the elder Pliny at his studies, and follow Martial about the shops of Rome and to the poet's club. Not very different was this early institution from its modern namesake. It included thirty members, but might have had three hundred, and the only drawback to enjoyment was that the poets had to listen to each other's verses! Overwork was not suspected in those vigorous days, and the indefatigable author limits his hours of study only by his capacity to keep awake. He listens to reading at the bath and a short-hand writer accompanies him in his carriage journeys. By such remarkable industry, during a life of fifty-six years, the elder Pliny accomplished a history in twenty-one volumes, a natural history in thirty-seven, and one hundred and sixty note-books. But there are stirring sights to be witnessed in Rome as well as marvels of literary labor—the great fire, the gladiatorial contests, the burning of the Capitol. These, and pictures of conquest, intrigue, and cruelty, fill the darker spaces of the panorama. However, we learn "there were noble men and women even in the worst days of Rome," and their fidelity to high purpose and true heroism challenge the admiration of all ages.

Elementary Lessons in Heat. By S. E. Tillman. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1892. Second edition. Pp. 162.

These lessons have been prepared by Prof. Tillman to meet the requirements of his class-room at the West Point Military Academy, and are designed for the use of teachers and students generally. They cover the usual subjects of a text-book on heat put in a clear and consise form, and, besides this, Prof. Tillman has given special attention to meteorological phenomena, following Prof. Ferrel in the subject of atmospheric circulation, and the theories of tornadoes and storms.

Sunshine. By Amy Johnson, LL. A. London and New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 502. Price, $1.75.

It may be judged that the author of this work, a teacher of science at South Kensington, has been extremely successful in holding the interest of her audiences. The material of this volume is mainly a reproduction of lectures to her classes upon the subject of light. These are given in the form of stories, and the experiments to which they naturally lead are performed conjointly by teacher and children, while suggestions are added for other tests to be made at home. Sun images, shadows, and photographs are studied in turn. The laws of reflection and refraction, lenses and their uses, the spectrum and the rainbow are explained and variously illustrated. The beautiful phenomena of fluorescence and phosphorescence and the action of sunlight upon the leaf-green form interesting chapters. Soap-bubbles are treated in four lectures. The films are shown in the shapes of windmill, mushroom, and liquid prism. A bubble is blown within a bubble, one tinted with aniline green being seen plainly within another of ordinary color, and a letter-weight is constructed with a film to test its elasticity. One lecture is devoted to a journey to Moonland which the children take seated at their desks, and two others give information about the sun, related in the form of a dream.

Many of the experiments are novel, and all can be performed with simple apparatus.

The author states that her aim has been to write so that any child who reads the words can understand their meaning; and although children may thus use the book alone, its purpose will be more nearly fulfilled when parent or teacher, thoroughly familiar with the text, tells it in story-fashion to the hearer. The work is also adapted for lectures before evening classes and reading circles, and to this end 127 of the illustrations have been prepared as lantern slides. The practical hints and appendix furnish directions for apparatus and contain further explanation of the principles involved in the lectures, so that a novice in science may begin to learn by teaching others. According to the preface, the author "looks most particularly to the lanternist as the future exponent of popular science."

The Footpath Way. By Bradford Torrey. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Pp. 242. Price, $1.25.

Those who follow Mr. Torrey in his rambles through grove and pasture will surely return with sharpened vision. Even in December there are wild flowers to be found in Massachusetts. Not only the belated aster and dandelion, but mallows, groundsels, shepherd's-purse, and cinquefoil, sixteen kinds in all, blossom at this bleak season. In the same month and locality are noted thirty varieties of birds. Not more than ten of these would probably be seen from a window. They, as well as the flowers, must be traced to their haunts. What patience is needed to know the ways of humming-birds can be gathered from the papers entitled A Widow and Twins and The Male Ruby-throat.

But, whether on mountain-top or in the hollow, there is more to be learned than the habits and genealogy of bird and flower. The author gleans much philosophy by the way. The borer gnawing beneath the fallen spruce teaches him content; the pine tree shows him a brave example; while in the diversity of flowers he reads the advantage of individuality, and in the distinguishing excellence of leaf, bark, and fruit he finds the value of specializations.

Calmire. New York: Macmillan & Co., 1892. Pp. 742.

The aim of this anonymous novel is somewhat complex, including both social morality and the influence of scientific thought upon religion. It is shown in the progress of the story that loose notions result in a ragged character, and the author makes an original effort to patch the hero creditably before the close of the scene. The greatness of to-day and the novelty of ideas no longer new exhale from much of the dialogue. The main part of the book consists of lectures upon the conservation of energy and the principles of evolution, relieved by a generous use of slang.

Those who are eager for the story may not care to swallow this diluted science, while those who are in search of science will scarcely look for it here.