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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 49/October 1896/General Notices


In her recent volume, the fourth of the Memoirs of the American Folklore Society, Mrs. Bergen[1] has brought together and classified fourteen hundred and seventy five different superstitions, thus giving us the most complete collection in English. When it is known that this arduous task was accomplished during years of invalidism, and is, moreover, but the first installment of the matter in hand, we marvel at the industry of the author. The items are arranged in nineteen chapters, covering the range of current belief under the headings Babyhood, Childhood, Physical Characteristics, Projects, Halloween and other Festivals, Love and Marriage, Wishes, Dreams, Luck, Money, Visitors, Cures, Warts, Weather, Moon, Sun, Death Omens, Mortuary Customs, and Miscellaneous. What memories of childhood are aroused at the forms of asseveration, such as "Honor bright," "Hope I'll die," etc., used to bolster up some unsteady tale, or the terrible imprecation against disloyalty:

Tell tale tit,
Your tongue shall be slit,
And every dog in our town
It shall have a bit!

A deeper interest is added when we think that these childish formulas are but parallels of the more serious rites of savages, and link the play of the one to the horrible incantations of the other. Of the augury of the daisy petals—

He loves me, he loves me not—

nine variants are given. Other interesting kinds of "projects," or "trying fortunes," are connected with apple seeds, bed, buttons, four-leaved clovers, stars, water, etc. The fifty or more signs and charms for the causes and cures of warts will be welcome to sufferers from that affliction. To the student of comparative mythology the solar and lunar beliefs will offer many links to the Aryan stock. In fact, it is the study of relationships which gives most value to this or any work of folklore. The introduction and notes by Mr. Newell are written with the usual care and clearness of this investigator, and add an invaluable guide to the interpretation of the superstitions. Mr. Newell says: "In commending this collection to the attention of psychologists, and to the continuing industry of students of folklore, I need only express my hope that it may be sufficient to make clear how far reaching are the studies for which folklore supplies material. The history of religion, the theory of mythologies, can not afford to overlook modern popular beliefs, in which ancient conceptions appear as still effective."

Dr. and Mrs. Le Plongeon spent twelve years among the ruined cities of the Mayas in Yucatan, living with the people, and are confident that they have mastered the Maya language, and learned to read the inscriptions traced in it. They have made the study of the subject the chief occupation of their lives. One who talks with Dr. Le Plongeon will hardly doubt that his assertions are sincere. From his studies of the Maya records, and his comparative studies of Eastern archæology and mythology, he draws most startling conclusions. Among those developed in this book[2] are the historic reality of the story of the Atlantis, and the ascription of an extreme antiquity and an extensive and potent influence to Maya civilization. When Egypt and Accad were young, or even before, he believes, the Mayas were living in Yucatan, a civilized people, with arts and architecture as we see them illustrated in the ruins at Chichen and other mysterious cities, while their colonists swarmed in Egypt and Babylonia and all the East, and left imperishable marks on the civilization and the languages of all those countries. This intercourse ceased with the catastrophe of Atlantis, which made the ocean unnavigable for thousands of years, and the story of the Mayas was forgotten. Much space is given in the book to the development of arguments in support of these views from verbal analogies—the most delusive of all bases for the foundation of a theory. What the author claims to derive from the study of Maya documents is entitled to more serious consideration. This is the story of the ancient Maya queen Móo, whose brother and husband, Prince Coh, was treacherously murdered by his brother Aac. Queen Móo built a magnificent mausoleum to her consort at Chichen, the ruins of which still exist and have been explored and studied by Dr. Le Plongeon, who has recovered and possesses the charred heart of the prince, and the stone spear heads with which he was killed. Queen Móo, having refused to marry her husband's murderer, was obliged to flee from her country, and sought refuge on one of the islands of the sunken Atlantis. Here the Maya record stops; but Dr. Le Plongeon infers, from his Egyptian studies, that not finding the refuge she sought, she went on to Egypt, where she was warmly welcomed by Maya colonists and became influential. Her name, the author affirms, is preserved in that of the Egyptian Queen Mau; her story, with that of her murdered husband, became the myth of Isis and Osiris; and she caused the Sphinx to be carved as a memorial to her husband. Dr. Le Plongeon finds the story of Atlantis fully recorded on a stone which is preserved in Chichen, "as intact to-day as when it came from the hands of the sculptor," and also in the manuscript Troano and the Codex Cortesianus; and he further affirms that it was embodied by a Maya living in Greece in the Greek alphabet, the names of the letters of which, as recited by students, each represent one of the lines of the poem. Dr. Le Plongeon's theories are utterly at variance with those of the recognized Americanists; but if he errs, it is not from ignorance, for if he can read ancient Maya, he knows more than all of them, and his other reading has been amazingly wide. There is, however, the possibility that he has been carried away by an unbounded enthusiasm.

In his work on Wages and Capital[3] Prof. Taussig inverts the usual order of proceedings by presenting his own views first, in five chapters, and reviewing the history of the wages-fund discussion from its beginning to the present, in the chapters that follow. This he does because criticism and comment proceed inevitably from the thinker's own point of view, and the proper estimation of their value depends largely on the reader's knowing what that is. In the first five chapters (author's view) it appears that all wages are paid from the products of past labor, and that the supply of products of past labor exists mainly in the form of real capital; that the class of hired laborers derive their wages from capital in this sense, and are dependent for their share of the real income, into which capital steadily ripens, on the funds which the employing class find it advantageous to turn over to them. The inquiry is then made whether the capital from which wages come is rigid or elastic, with a conclusion against rigidity. The inquiry results in the conclusion that the old doctrine of the wages fund had a solid basis in its conception, incomplete yet in essentials just, of the payment of present labor from past product. The theory thus arrived at shows the steps by which the wages get into the laborer's hands, describes the machinery of production and distribution, and so points to the nearest and most obvious causes which affect them; but it does not tell the whole story. In the critical review forming the latter part of the book, which begins with the writers before Adam Smith and includes contemporary discussion, the vogue of Mr. George's Progress and Poverty is declared not due to any solid or consistent reasoning, or to any novelty in principle, and to have excited no great influence on trained students. The author reviews Prof. Francis A. Walker's contributions to the discussion at considerable length, and maintains that they have never touched the essentials of the matter. Finally, while the controversy over the wages fund is acknowledged to be a barren one so far as it is an effort to define the causes which finally distribute wages and settle distribution at large, the author holds that something may still be gained from it as a mode of describing the methods and sequence of production and related points.

Prof. Hadley describes his book on Economics[4] as an attempt to apply the methods of modern science to the problems of modern business. As among the important changes in economic theory that have taken place within the last thirty years, he mentions the application, by different schools of investigators, of the principle of natural selection and of the results of psychological study to account for the aspects of the subject to which they may severally apply. But these things have combined to make the economic science of the present day very different from that which formed the basis of John Stuart Mill's presentation: "Meanwhile, new problems have been developing in modern business life; most conspicuously? perhaps, in connection with large investments of capital in factories and railroads. The time which elapses between the rendering of labor and the utilization of the prod, ucts of labor is now so long that the work of the speculator has far greater importance than it had a generation ago. The size of the units of capital is so large that free competition often becomes an impossibility, and theories of economics which are based upon the existence of such competition prove blind guides in dealing with modern price movements. We have to study, far more closely than we once did, the effect of combinations upon the interests of the consumers on the one hand and the laborers on the other; to examine the results of meeting organizations of capital with organizations of labor, and of controlling them by special legislation, or by direct government ownership. We have to deal with socialism, not as the theory of a few visionaries who try to destroy property rights, but as a series of practical measures, urged by a large and influential body of men who are engaged in extending the functions of government." The endeavor is made to supply the lack of any general work in the English language dealing comprehensively with these problems of modern economics. The book is written for students who are thinkers and for men who are engaged in doing the world's work, and is hardly likely to be found adapted to superficial readers. The special subjects treated are Public and Private Wealth, Economic Responsibility, Competition, Speculation, Investment of Capital, combination of Capital, Money, Credit, Profits, Wages, Machinery and Labor, Co-operation, Protective Legislation, and Government Revenue.

Mr. Thomas S. Blair, taking up the question embodied in the second title of his book on Human Progress,[5] and finding the present state of knowledge inadequate to furnish an answer, reasons that the complexity of the facts of human experience has been too much for the philosophers, seeks for an instance of better results elsewhere, and in the case of the successful man of affairs. In this book he undertakes to present the conclusions he has reached through the application of business methods to his subject. He supposes man himself to have become the chief agency in the furtherance of the Creator's scheme for his evolution, his efficiency as such being brought through the operation of his experience of the natural laws controlling his evolution, whereby he becomes acquainted with them and learns to assist in giving them free play. According to the author's philosophy, human knowledge is limited to the form of working hypotheses as guides of action, but is capable of indefinite expansion within its limitations, and includes a large scope of knowledge of objective realities; the knowledge of the actual existence of the basis of religious sentiment is as unequivocal, direct, and conclusive as the knowledge of our own existence, and thus religion is established on a rigidly scientific foundation; and the active principle in the scheme of human progress is the impulse to satisfy wants, operating under a law of man's being, according to which the satisfaction of a want is followed by the emergence of a new want, which is normally of a higher order than the want which it succeeds. Confirmation of these conclusions is looked for in the provision which Nature has made for the satisfying of wants of various kinds and the awakening of higher ones. The statements of principles and the arguments are overlaid with much verbiage, and this makes the book very hard reading.

The Dictionary of Chemical Solubilities of Prof. Arthur M. Comey (Macmillan, $5) was an undertaking German in laboriousness and American in enterprise, and the finished volume is a monument of able and persevering effort. Although this work is nominally limited to the inorganic substances, exceptions have been made by iocluding in it CO2, CO, CS2, the carbonates, cyanides, ferrocyanides, etc. Prof. Comey acknowledges receiving much aid from the earlier dictionary of Prof. Storer, but he found the material that has accumulated since 1860, the limit of that work, to be far greater than that previously extant. Different results given by different observers have been set down in many cases, with the authority for each, as it would have been manifestly impossible to verify all such conflicting statements experimentally. Under each title the solubility of the substance in water is first given, the date being arranged chronologically in the longer articles. Then follow the specific gravities of the aqueous solutions, and also any data obtainable regarding their boiling points. Following this is the solubility of the substance in other solvents—first the inorganic acids, then alkali and salt solutions, and finally organic substances. While many of the rarer substances are disposed of in a couple of lines, some of the more important occupy several pages: thus ammonia has five and a fourth pages, glass over three and a half, potassium nitrate nearly as much, and sulphuric acid over four. In putting the material together many puzzling problems of nomenclature and arrangement had to be solved, but Dr. Comey's own practical sense has been supplemented by wise counsel, and when the user of the volume reflects that the dictionary plan can give the maximum of convenience only by sometimes disregarding logic and relationship he will agree that these questions have been well decided.

The University of the State of New York has issued Museum Bulletin 14 on the Geology of Moriah and Westport Townships, Essex County. Besides describing the general geology of these townships, this pamphlet gives the latest information on the important iron-ore deposits of that region, and reviews the probable hypotheses as to their origin. It contains a geologic map of the two townships, a map of Mineville iron region, and half-tone views of the mining district and sections of the ore bodies. The bulletin is mailed by the State Library on receipt of ten cents.

The Natural Science Association of Staten Island has performed a commendable service to local geography and history by publishing the collection of Staten Island Names, compiled by William T. Davis, and the accompanying map prepared by Charles W. Leng. Names for natural features of the island and the waters surrounding it, and for ferries, roads, and villages are included in the collection. With each name is given the location of the place to which it was applied, and in many cases a quotation from some old advertisement, deed, or map is added as authority. With some a legend connected with the place is inserted. The list makes a pamphlet of fifty-seven pages, which may be had for 50 cents from Arthur Hollick, secretary of the association, at New Brighton, N. Y.

A new and enlarged edition of Hypnotism, Mesmerism, and the New Witchcraft, by Ernest Hart, M. D., has been issued recently (Appletons, $1.50). The original edition was noticed fully in our number for October, 1893. Dr. Hart's general conclusions in regard to hypnotism are that it is very rarely useful for curative purposes, and is dangerous for platform performances and private amusement. In a new chapter entitled The Eternal Gullible, Dr. Hart gives the confessions of a professional "subject" who had appeared in performances with a number of well-known "professors" in London. An appendix contains some lively controversial letters contributed to the British press by Dr. Hart, Dr. Luys, and Prof. Sidgwick.

With this may be mentioned A Study in Hypnotism, by Sydney Flower, which is a story of a hypnotizer's courtship with one of his subjects (Psychic Publishing Co., Chicago).

Hypnotism and its Relation to Witchcraft, Ghostology, and Mind-cure is the subject of a lecture by J. H. Fisher, which is published as a pamphlet (Seymour & Muir Printing Co., Grand Rapids). Mr. Fisher expresses himself in a vigorous and humorous style, and brushes away the nonsense from the popular idea of hypnotism with an unsparing hand, exposing as he goes along many of the tricks of platform "professors." He maintains that good subjects, when not confederates, are hypnotized by their own faith in the power of the operator, that the healing by saintly relics and Christian science is due to just such faith, and that ghosts and witches have had their only existence in a similarly strong belief.

Hypnotism is treated more respectfully in a little pamphlet by Prof. G. A. Keene (the author. Masonic Temple, Chicago, 15 cents), who gives a general exposition of the subject, and firmly maintains its value in medicine and surgery. All of these publications except the second are illustrated.

The Examination of Weismannism, by Dr. G. J. Romanes (Open Court Publishing Co., 35 cents), consists of a series of essays discussing the phases of Weismann's theory of evolution as they have appeared in that investigator's successive publications. The first chapter is a statement of Weismann's system up to the year 1886, and the second supplies additions bringing it up to 1892. Then follow examinations of Weismann's theories of heredity and evolution as they stood in 1891, and a final chapter brings the subject up to 1893. From this discussion Dr. Romanes excludes the doctrine of non-inheritance of acquired characters, and deals only with "the elaborate system of theories which Weismann has reared upon his fundamental postulate." He represents these theories as being in a continual flux and change, and he had intended to add supplementary chapters to future editions of this book in order to keep pace with further developments which he expected to appear. In his opposition to Weismann, Romanes was largely on common ground with Spencer, but there were points upon which he took issue with the latter, some of which are set forth in an appendix. Another appendix contains certain supplementary suggestions on Weismann's theory of germ-plasm.

One important way in which the fingers of primitive man assisted his wits is impressed upon our attention by Dr. Levi L. Conant's study of The Number Concept (Macmillan, $2). The number systems of nearly all existing peoples evidently arose from counting on the fingers—some using one, some both bands, and others supplementing the fingers by the toes. Dr. Conant mentions, however, a few tribes who have numeral words only for one, two, and many, and some even whose only numeral seems to be one. He shows from a large number of numeral vocabularies that number words have been suggested in very many languages by the act of telling off the fingers in counting. Examples are words meaning "the end is bent" for 1, "the notched off" or "one hand" for 5, "one on the foot" for 11, and "one man" (all the fingers and toes) for 20. While most peoples have five or ten as their number base, a few have two, going on with words meaning two-one, two-two, etc. Four is also used as a base, but Dr. Conant has found no recorded instance of a number system formed on 6, 7, 8, or 9. It has been announced recently that the Aphos, an African tribe, have the best of all systems, the duodecimal, but the report has yet to be verified. The vigesimal system, either alone or combined with the quinary, appears in many places and persists even in the French quatre-vingts. The author believes that he has brought together for this discussion the largest existing collection of numeral systems.

Among the publications issued by the Soimd Money League of Pennsylvania is No. 13, A Dissatified Farmer, which shows that most of the depression under which agriculture in the United States now labors is due to competition, and especially to the competition of the wholesale operations carried on in the West. The little pamphlet is illustrated with excellent photo-engravings showing old and new methods of agriculture, stock-raising, and transportation, (Room 248, The Bourse, Philadelphia.)

Under the title The Union College Practical Lectures there have been collected in a volume thirteen lectures delivered at Union College in a course instituted by General Daniel Butterfield. The plan of the course has been evidently to get men prominent in affairs to talk about their respective specialties to the students of the college. Thus the first lecture on the list is an account of the Military Academy at West Point by General P. S. Michie, dean of the faculty of the academy, and the late A. H. Rice, ex-Governor of Massachusetts, gave Some Inside Views of the Gubernatorial Office. Six of the addresses were on public affairs; Henry W. Cannon spoke on Banking and Currency, Montgomery Schuyler on Architecture, Andrew Carnegie on Wealth and its Uses, while pure and applied science were represented by the lecture of Albon Man on Electricity, of General William A. Hammond on Brains and Muscles, of ex-Governor Alonzo B. Cornell on The Electro-magnetic Telegraph, and of Colonel F. V. Greene on Roads. The volume contains the portrait and a short biographical sketch of each lecturer. (F. T. Neely.)

The summary and index of Legislation by States in 1895, issued by the New York State Library (University of the State of New York, 35 cents), contains 4,847 entries. This bulletin, which has now been published for six years, is of great service in putting State legislators in possession of the recent work done in other States, and thereby promoting progress and uniformity. A new feature this year is a separate table of constitutional amendments arranged by States, showing the result of the vote on all amendments in 1894 and 1895, and giving also those to be submitted to future vote.

Having made a thorough lexicographic study of mineral names for the new dictionary of the Philological Society, Prof. Albert H. Chester has recently issued the results of his labors separately as A Dictionary of the Names of Minerals (New York: Wiley, $3.50; London: Chapman & Hall). He has aimed to give with each name its correct spelling, its author, a reference to its first publication, its original spelling, its derivation, the reason for choosing this particular name, and a short description of the mineral to which it belongs. In a few cases he was unable to determine one or more of these points, and he sends out with the volume a circular asking aid in securing the lacking information. Nearly five thousand names are included in the dictionary, and many of the facts concerning them are now given in a vocabulary for the first time, having been gathered from little known books or from private communications. A considerable number of imaginary derivations and other errors are corrected in this work. An introduction contains an interesting history of attempts to systematize mineralogical names, accounts of the introduction of some errors, and other similar matter. A list of works cited fills nineteen pages, and an index to the authors of mineral names occupies twenty-four more.

The Annual Literary Index, edited by W. I. Fletcher and R. R. Bowker (The Publishers' Weekly, $3.50), is an annual supplement to Poole's valuable index to periodicals and, by the addition of one feature after another, has become much more than that. The volume for 1895 contains besides the Index to Periodicals an Index to General Literature, which rather ambitious title denotes an index to the contents of one hundred and thirty or forty volumes of essays, biographical sketches, etc., published in 1895. There is an Author-index covering these two lists, which is followed by a list of the American and English bibliographies that have appeared (in treatises or separately) in the course of the year, a Necrology of Writers, and an Index to Dates of Principal Events. This last is a new feature, and besides its independent historical value it is practically an index to the files of any newspaper.

The second annual volume of MM. H, Beaunis and A. Binet's Année Psychologique (Psychological Annual) for 1895 is much larger than the first, and forms a book of 1010 pages. The volume, which is published from the Laboratory of Physiological Psychology of the Sorbonne, contains, under the heading of Memoirs of Collaborators, papers on Abnormal and Morbid Characters, by Prof. Ribot; A Glance at Comparative Psychology, by M. Fosel; An Experiment in Reading in which Certain Categories of Words are omitted, by M. Flourney; On Intellectual Phenomena, by M. Bererdon; A Note on the Conditions favoring Hypnotism, by M. Gley; and Illusions of Weight, by M. Biernleet. Other papers are given under the headings Works from the Laboratory and General Reviews. The second part of the volume contains analyses of publications and papers that fills fourteen chapters, each covering its separate department, with subdivisions; four Études d'ensemble, or General Studies, by Charlin, Maudsley, Morselli, and Wernicke; Necrological Notices; and a bibliography embracing 1,394 titles, with an index of authors—these credited to the Psychological Review. (Published in Paris by Félix Alcan. Price, 15 francs.)

Home Study is a new illustrated monthly intended for elementary students of the various engineering and architectural branches. Vol. I, No. 3, contains several interesting and instructive articles, among which may be mentioned Stability of Vessels, Electric Currents, Chokage of Drains, Foul Air of Rooms, The Modern Theory of Heat, and Circulating Decimals. (Scranton, Pa. $1.50; 15 cents.)

The Bamboo Garden, by A. B. Freeman-Mitford (Macmillan, $3), is an attempt to give a descriptive list of the hardy bamboos in cultivation in England, and to focus such information in regard to them as could be obtained from Japanese as well as from European sources. The methods of propagation, and choice of position and soil, are considered in the early chapters. Chapter IV deals with the manifold uses to which the bamboo is put, and the curious customs and superstitions connected with the plant in Eastern countries. The remainder of the book consists of a classification and description of species. A few illustrations accompany the text.

Press Working of Metals, by Oberlin Smith (New York: Wiley; London: Chapman & Hall), is a treatise upon the principles of shaping metals in dies, and a description of these dies, both those in present use and of past stages in the art of metal-working. The body of the work is prefaced by a short historical sketch on the probable origin of the art, and the crude methods which were at first employed. The book is essentially technical and of interest to only a special class. Good illustrations are quite numerous.

  1. Current Superstitions. Edited by Fanny D. Bergen. With Notes, and an Introduction by William Wells Newell. Pp. 161, 8vo. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Price, $3.25.
  2. Queen Móo and the Egyptian Sphinx. By Augustus Le Plongeon. New York: The author, and the Metaphysical Publishing Company, 503 Fifth Avenue. London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. Pp. 277, 4to, with two portraits and 73 photographic plates.
  3. Wages and Capital: An Examination of the Wages-Fund Doctrine. By F. W. Taussig. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 325. Price, $1.50.
  4. Economics: An Account of the Relations between Private Property and Public Welfare. By Arthur Twining Hadley. New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Pp. 490. Price, $2.50.
  5. Human Progress: What can Man do to Further it? By Thomas S. Blair. New York: William R. Jenkins. Pp. 573. Price, $1.50.