Popular Science Monthly/Volume 5/July 1874/Literary Notices


Tabular Statements, from 1840 to 1870, of the Agricultural Products of the States and Territories of the United States of America. Classified by their Proximity to the Oceans and other Navigable Waters, Natural and Artificial. By Samuel B. Ruggles, Member of the New York Chamber of Commerce. Fifty pages. Price, 50 cents. New York: D. Appleton & Co.

Although this publication takes the form of a pamphlet, and has been made cheap to facilitate its wide circulation, yet we warn our readers not to infer its importance from its form. Carbon is carbon, but an ounce of diamond will outweigh cargoes of coal in value; and so, while knowledge is knowledge, it is possible that a pamphlet may outweigh cart-loads of books in the intrinsic value of what it contains. Until we took up this monograph of Mr. Ruggles on the agricultural resources of the United States, we did not believe it possible to condense in a clear and classified form such a vast array of valuable facts as he has here presented in the compass of fifty pages. To present the resources of a continent, statical and dynamical, the distribution of the elements and the laws of their changes, so as to give us the data for the evolution of a great empire of industry, is an exploit that no man but Samuel B. Ruggles, with his life apprenticeship at the art and mystery of extracting wisdom from statistics, could have performed.

That agriculture is the foundation of society, and necessarily of all that society contains and accomplishes, is a sufficiently commonplace statement, but it is one of the great facts which must never be overlooked. Agriculture not only furnishes the great mass of materials in the transformation and distribution of which numerous classes of society are occupied, but it furnishes the materials out of which human beings themselves are made. The dust of the earth, and the gases of the air, under the magical enchantment of the forces of the universe, are transformed into the substance of life, and the farmers are the superintending priests of the marvelous and mystical change. This continent is destined to feed and to clothe not only its own increasing millions of human beings, but other and numerous millions of people in distant parts of the earth. One of the first great problems, therefore, which press for solution in regard to the future of this country, is that of transportation for the distribution of products to which commercial exchanges give rise. Mr. Ruggles, hence, takes up the question first of all from the point of view of physical geography, or the construction of the continent, by which all possibilities of movement are primarily determined. His presentation of the resources of the country is not made in mere alphabetical order, as in the official census, but topographically by their proximity to oceans, rivers, lakes, and other facilities of transportation. In accordance with this idea, he cuts up the country into seven great districts, which embrace: I. The New England States; II. The Middle Atlantic States; III. The interior States north of the Ohio, and on the Upper Lakes and Upper Mississippi; IV. The Southern Atlantic States; V. The Southwestern States south of the Ohio and on the Gulf of Mexico; VI. The States on the Pacific and adjacent Territories; and VII. The Territories in and east of the Rocky Mountains.

All the products of agriculture in each of the States and Territories are given in detail, and the rates of increase are also presented by showing the amount of each at the end of the three decades closing with 1850, 1860, and 1870. The whole is then considered with reference to the racial diversities of our population, or by "nationalities." We are thus enabled to compare the different States and Territories, side by side, in reference to the amounts and rates of change of their total population, and the various classes of the population, the amount of land in cultivation, the cash value of farms, and its ratio of increase; the kind of products in each locality, and the profits that arise from them; the yearly product of farms, the agricultural capital per head, and average annual income per head of the Germans, Irish, English, Scotch, Swedes, and natives of the United States.

The agricultural population of the American Union was, in 1870, 5,922,741, and had created and acquired a property in agricultural wealth valued at $11,124,985,747, showing an average value of $1,878 per head, yielding a net yearly income of $360, or nearly $1 per day. Ten States, in 1870, produced more than 21,000,000 tons avoirdupois of cereals, and will probably produce, at the end of the century, 40,000,000 or 50,000,000 of tons annually.

These gross results are sufficiently impressive, but the value of Mr. Ruggles's statement is not in his striking array of aggregates, but in that marvelous analysis by which the discriminations are carried down to the utmost details, so as to bring out the conditions, chances, probabilities, and possibilities of individuals. The Frenchman, or the Dane, who wishes to emigrate to this country, by consulting this pamphlet, may inform himself of the condition of his own class of people, where they go, what they do, and how they have got on in the new country. And so any person in Europe, of special aptitudes and industry, desiring to emigrate, may learn where that particular kind of industry is most practised and most profitable.

But, while this pamphlet is of inestimable value from a practical point of view, and ought to be scattered by millions in Europe, it is no less interesting and important as a contribution of data to political philosophy. The highest form of science is quantitative. We must not only know the fact, but measure it, that is, know it exactly. Until this is done, principles cannot be deduced so as to serve for valuable guidance. Careful statistics are quantitative data for sound social reasoning. Some say that they are dry, but in all such cases the aridity is subjective. Statistics are the intellectual representations in their most precise form of the phenomena and realities to which they apply. Mr. Ruggles's facts are the foundations of important truths, a report of the circumstances of a great people, a register of their advancement, and the basis of prophecy. His pamphlet is not suitable to be read at a tea-party, and cannot be set to music; but, as Mr. Emerson says that the most important part of education is its provocative element, this little digest answers to that character; it is a provocation to endless thought on important questions, and, as such, it may be a valuable help to the education of the American people.

Higher Schools and Universities in Germany. By Matthew Arnold, D. C. L. London: Macmillan & Co. 12mo, 270 pp. Price, $2.00.

Mr. Arnold was, in 1865, charged by the School Inquiry Commission of Great Britain with the work of investigating the system of education for the middle and upper classes of the principal nations on the Continent. In 1868 he published a volume on "Schools and Universities on the Continent," giving the results of his investigation. The present volume is a reproduction in separate form of that part of the original book which related to the German educational system. The Prussian system is taken as an example of what existed throughout Germany. The higher schools of Prussia are gymnasiums and real-schools. There are subordinate branches of each of these, known respectively as pro-gymnasiums and upper burgher schools. They are essentially the same as the former, with the omission of one or more of the higher classes. Gymnasiums lead to the universities, and therefore afford professional training, while real-schools, leading only to business, present a practical course of studies intended to fit the pupil for the ordinary affairs of life. Sometimes the gymnasium has a department corresponding to the realschool, for the advantage of pupils displaying a peculiar fitness for that class of studies. The gymnasium is the stepping-stone to the university. The certificate of having passed the "leaving examination" of the former is an indispensable card of admission into the latter. The gymnasium and real-school have each six classes. Twenty-eight hours for the lower classes, and thirty for the higher, is the required time, per week, for school-work in the gymnasium. This is distributed among the different studies in varying proportions: Latin gets the most—ten hours—natural sciences get two hours in the highest class, and one in the next; religion gets two hours in the four higher classes, and three hours in the two lower ones. The scholastic term constitutes nine years—one year each for the three lower classes, and two each for the higher. The universities have four faculties each—theology, law, medicine, and philosophy. Philosophy embraces the humanities, or languages and their literatures, the mathematical and the natural sciences. Some universities have a distinct faculty for political economy, others embrace it under the general head of philosophy. All schools, both public and private, are under the control of the state. No one wanting the proper qualifications for a teacher is allowed to set up a private school. Private schools of the higher kind are also discouraged, by the fact that a pupil cannot enter a university without having passed the "leaving examination" of the gymnasium. As is well known, school attendance or efficient private instruction is compulsory on the children of all classes. Catholic schools are maintained for Catholic children, and Protestant for Protestants. A small number of either sect attending a school of the opposite persuasion are not compelled to receive the established religious instruction, but may be provided with instruction of their own sect, at the expense of their parents. In schools where the number of Protestants and Catholics is very nearly equal, an instructor for each sect is appointed. For the government of the schools, the state is divided into eight provinces, and subdivided into twenty-six districts. Each province has a school-board composed of a president and a director, with two or three other members, who are usually a Protestant, a Catholic, and a person practically versed in school matters. Each district has also a school-board constructed on the same principles as the provincial board. The latter govern the higher schools of first grade, and the former those of the second grade, and the primary schools. All of these boards are under the control of an educational minister located at Berlin, with whom they are in continual communication, and to whom they make a general report on school affairs once in every two or three years. There are also seven examination commissions whose business it is to examine applicants for the positions of teachers. The Minister of Education appoints the professors of a university, from names suggested to him by the academical senate. The full professors elect a rector, or, in cases where the king is titular rector, a pro-rector, to serve for one year, and an academical senate, also for one year. The senate consists of the actual rector, the retiring rector, and a full professor of each faculty. Besides the full professors, is a class of assistant professors, and another class called privatdocent, which stands partly in the capacity of private tutor and partly as an attaché of the university.

Krüsi's Drawing. By Hermann Krüsi, A. M. New York: D. Appleton & Co.

The art of Drawing and the art of thinking are based alike upon two simple principles. The crude leaf-picture of the novice and the accurate landscape of the experienced draughtsman are the results of one and the same process—the combination of straight and curved lines. The only difference between them lies in the degree of skill with which the lines are combined. The infant, recognizing its mother, displays the same mental process that Newton employed to produce his "Principia." The child recognizes its mother by perceiving her unlikeness, to the other persons around her. Newton discovered the law of gravitation by detecting the likeness displayed in the movements of falling bodies. The art of thinking, in its rudest as well as its most perfect state, is simply the detection of likenesses and unlikenesses displayed in things. The only rational method, therefore, of cultivating the art of thinking—in other words, of education—is to teach the mind to seek for and trace out those likenesses and unlikenesses. To cultivate the art of Drawing, the pupil is taught to distinguish between straight and curved lines, between the effect produced by drawing a straight line in one direction, and that produced by drawing it in another; and further, to distinguish between the effects of combining both kinds of lines in various ways. To draw a leaf, a flower, or a house, he must first recognize the differences in the various major parts and minor parts, and then the difference in the character and direction of the lines required to represent those parts. But that is learning to discriminate between different things and different parts of the same thing, is learning to recognize likenesses and unlikenesses––is learning to think. The child who maps off in his mind the various like and unlike parts of a leaf or a flower with a view to reproducing them on the paper before him, is learning to think in botany, and soon begins to classify leaves, flowers, plants, and trees, according to their peculiarities of form and structure. He that observes the differences and similarities in the various parts of an insect or an animal, for the purpose of making a drawing of that insect or animal, is learning his first lessons in zoology. And he that is able to represent the different forms and structures of rocks and minerals has learned his first lessons in geology and mineralogy. In short, there is scarcely a science that cannot be taught, well taught, and agreeably taught, by the aid of Drawing. For, in teaching a pupil to draw, you cultivate his observation, quicken his perception, and strengthen his judgment. He forms a habit of scrutinizing objects with a view to discerning their component parts, which is an act of observation; of separating the like and unlike parts from each other, and these again into their respective smaller parts, which is an act of perception; and, in comparing the features of the parts with each other for the purpose of ascertaining their likeness or unlikeness, he performs an act of judgment. Thus drawing awakens and develops the three most important faculties of the mind; upon them rests the whole fabric of Thought. By observation of things, we perceive their differences from some things and likeness to others, and we judge or classify them accordingly; and from observation of things we step naturally and certainly to the observation, perception, and classification, of principles which constitute the highest exercise of thought. Drawing, therefore, should be cultivated primarily as a means of developing the mind; secondarily, as an accomplishment or a profession. Instruction in it should begin in early childhood, and continue until education is accomplished; and, instead of being given to a few, it should be given to all.

The work before us appears preeminently adapted to produce natural and rational mental development. The pupil has his attention directed first to straight lines, and, being shown the difference between horizontal, perpendicular, and oblique, he is required to invent forms that can be represented by the combination of two lines. In order to give direction to his efforts, he is furnished with a book containing representations of a few such combinations, but he is not allowed to confine himself to the imitation of these; he is taught to observe in things around him suggestions for other forms. In like manner he is taught to combine three, four, and as many as eight lines. Next, he is led through the same process in the combination of two or more right, acute, and obtuse angles, squares, oblongs, rhombs, etc. Being thoroughly versed in rectilinear forms, he is introduced to curved lines, circles, etc., and taught to combine them in the same manner that he followed with straight lines. As the pupil is herein taught to construct forms from simple lines, it is called the Synthetic Series. And, in order to give the development of his mind a scientific turn, the examples given in the various combinations lead with straight lines to the construction of crystalline forms, and with curved lines to the simpler vegetable and animal forms.

The Analytic Series, which is the next above, begins like the other, with straight lines, the difference being that, instead of constructing forms as in that case, the pupil is here required to pull them to pieces. He is first shown how to bisect and trisect a single line, and then to treat similarly the various sections thus formed. He is next given a square, and required to form designs on the bisection of it; next. on the trisection, and so on, until he becomes perfectly familiar with the innumerable forms that can be produced on the basis of a square, an octagon, or a hexagon. And he is led to observe on which of these bases the objects around him can be represented. He is instructed in the same manner with regard to the circles and ellipses. Thus, by an easy and interesting process, the pupil is brought to perceive and understand what is indispensable alike to drawing and to scientific thinking, the relation of parts to the whole. The examples in this series lead to landscape-gardening, architecture, and descriptive anatomy.

A Perspective and Geometric Series, based on the same plan as the two published series, will follow, to complete the system.

The Doctrine of Evolution: Its Data, its Principles, its Speculations, and its Theistic Bearings. By Alexander Winchell, LL. D. 148 pages. Price, $1, Harper & Bros.

Within the compass of this little volume, Chancellor Winchell has summed up with great fairness, although, of course, with brevity, the leading arguments that are offered both for and against the theory of evolution. He has certainly not failed to do justice to its objectors; and his book is especially valuable as presenting very fully certain arguments against Darwinism that are not readily accessible. As to his own position upon the subject he says: "Should the reader demand categorically whether the author holds to the doctrine of evolution or not, he replies that this seems clearly the law of universal intelligence under which complex results are brought into existence. The existence and universality of a law operating upon materials so various, and under circumstances so diverse, but always evolving a succession of terms having the same values relatively to each other, is a fact which, to the ear of reason, proclaims intelligence more loudly than any possible array of isolated phenomena. But the diversity of the materials with which the law has to deal, brings out a variety of special values for the general terms of the evolutionary series. Mechanical force acts with uniformity, symmetry, and always in one direction, producing results congeric with itself; hence, in the world of mechanical force, the series are complete, calculable, and demonstrative. But, obviously, other modes of activity are possible and probable to intelligent will. When acting in the organic instead of the mechanical world, though conforming still to a fundamental law of evolution, its results may not present series which shall be complete, calculable, and demonstrative, but incomplete, contingent, and suggestive. Such seems to be the character of the succession of animals and plants. The series, as an evolution, lacks its first terms; it presents regressions; it yields to the demands of physical correlations and ideal concepts; it betrays everywhere the activity of a force whose law is not that which dominates in the mechanical world.

"Mr. Spencer, in stating, in substance, that the efficient cause of evolution is a mode of the Unknowable, expresses our idea exactly in relegating this effect to a Power without the sphere of sensible things. But we differ from Mr. Spencer, toto cælo, in respect to his dogma of the Unknowable, holding that the causa causarum is revealed qualitatively to every rational being. The cause of evolution is therefore a mode or volition of the incomprehensible Mind."

Dr. Winchell's book will well repay perusal to those who are interested in the literature of the subject; and the addition of Barrande's argument against Darwinism, in the Appendix, will augment its value to scientific students.

Field Ornithology: Comprising a Manual of Instruction for procuring, preparing, and preserving Birds, and a Check List of North American Birds. By Dr. Elliot Coues. Salem Naturalist Agency, 1874. Price $2.50.

The present work is a supplement to Dr. Coues's admirable treatise entitled "Key to North American Birds," published in 1872, and contains matter originally intended for that volume, but which, owing to lack of space, was left for future publication. The first half of the book consists of eight chapters, in which the reader is told in an easy, entertaining way how to proceed in the collection, preparation, and preservation of birds. As you must "first catch your hare," the author very appropriately devotes the opening chapter to the subject of implements of capture, and, the gun being the chief of these, minute directions for guidance in its selection, care, and use, are given. A short chapter on the employment of the dog as an aid in collecting comes next; and is followed in Chapter III. with directions for general field-work, such as the time of year to make collections, the manner of approaching birds, their recovery after being wounded or killed, and how to dispose them for carriage homeward. The last section of this chapter, on "The Hygiene of Collectorship," contains a good many valuable suggestions that apply with equal force outside the business of bird-collecting. The fourth chapter deals with the subject of notes and labeling; the fifth is on instruments, materials, and fixtures, for preparing bird-skins; the sixth contains directions for skinning, and the preparation of skins; and the seventh treats of miscellaneous matters, such as the determination of sex and age, the study of osteological characters, and the collection and preservation of eggs and nests. The last chapter is on the care of a collection, and gives directions for the construction of cabinets, and the exclusion of insect pests. Drawn from the writer's own experience, which has been most varied and extensive, these instructions cannot fail to be of great use to those proposing the study of birds at first hand.

The second part of the book consists of a check-list of North American birds, intended to replace the one now in use, which, owing to the rapid advance of the science of ornithology, has become defective in many ways. A notable feature of the new list is the reduction of the number of genera, and especially of the number of species given in the old one, in accordance with the growing conviction that naturalists long ago got ahead of Nature in the formation of specific distinctions.

Proceedings of the Georgia Teachers' Association.

It is an encouraging sign to the friends of progress that school-teachers are awakening to the necessity of scientific education. At the seventh annual meeting of the Association, whose report we have before us, held at Atlanta, Georgia, April, 1873, Mr. W. Leconte Stevens, of the Boys' High School of Savannah, delivered an address on "Scientific School Studies," which has in it the ring of the true metal. Scientific education is justly prized, not only for the practical knowledge that it imparts, but also for the discipline it affords to the mind in drawing out and strengthening the perceptive faculties, and inducing clear and accurate habits of thought.

The Great Ice Age and its Relation to the Antiquity of Man. By James Geikie, F. R. S. E., etc. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 8vo., 525 pp. Price $2.50.

There are many persons who would listen with an air of scornful incredulity to the statement that the hills and valleys of New York and New England, which summer now clothes with a mantle of luxuriant verdure, were once a dreary, desolate waste, covered up by a crust of ice many hundred feet thick. Nevertheless, the fact is indisputable; the mountains, the rocks, the configuration of the soil, even the fragmentary stones that lie upon the surface, point silently, eloquently, and immovably, to the fact. Geologists had long noticed, in valleys adjoining mountainous districts, certain long, low ridges, called "sow-backs," running parallel to each other and trending down the valley. They had dug into these ridges and picked out flat, oblong stones, with strange scratches upon their surfaces. They had noticed that, while the mountainsides looked jagged and rugged from below, from above they presented a rounded and undulating outline to the very base of the mountain. It was also noticed that the rocks on the mountain-sides displayed on their undulating or upper surface the same mysterious scratches or striæ that were observed on the stones embedded in the ridges below. All of these signs greatly puzzled the geologists, and various theories were invented to account for them, but their true significance was not dreamed of until the late Prof. Agassiz, from the study of Alpine geology, announced that they were the results of one and the same cause—glacial action; that is, that the whole face of the country was covered to the depth of two or three thousand feet with solid ice, which, in gradually creeping toward the ocean to shed its bergs, had worn the mountain-sides into waves; broken, scratched, and transported the rock to distant points, and furrowed up the soil of the valleys through which it continued to crawl seaward. Unmistakable evidence existed that this arctic condition of climate prevailed all over Europe, Asia, and America, northward of 45° north latitude; that is to say, that the vast area comprehended within that circle was once covered with ice as completely as parts of Greenland and the rest of the country immediately around the north-pole is now covered. Of course no life could exist under such conditions, and it was therefore supposed that the advent of man, within that circle at least, must have occurred subsequent to their passing away. It is on this point that Mr. Geikie's book throws a flood of light. He describes the evidences of the glacial condition with admirable skill and clearness, and then proceeds to consider its bearing on the antiquity of man. The earth and stones, or "rubbish," that covers the rocky foundation of the countries comprehended in the circle described, is called the "Drift or Glacial Formation," to indicate that it was deposited thereon by glacial action. The drift is divided into two parts, the upper drift and the lower drift. The lower is, of course, the oldest formation. It is composed of a "tough, stony clay," colored like the rocks about which it lies, and small, fragmentary stones, flattened and scratched. The mass of clay and stones is called "till." The till is not laminated, but pressed down in a confused mass, and its coloring shows it to have been produced by comminution of the rock upon which it lies, while the rock itself corroborates that testimony by being scratched and polished like the stones in the till. Thus the till was formed by the grinding of the ice against the rock. Deeply embedded within the till, occur at intervals deposits of sand and gravel, such as we find at the bottom of lakes and rivers. But how could there be lakes and rivers to deposit sediment, while the whole country was covered by a crust of ice more than a thousand feet thick? This is a question that has long puzzled geologists. But only because the true significance of these sand and gravel deposits was not before seen. Mr. Geikie has pointed out that the deposits occurred during an intermission of the Great Ice Age, when the ice melted and disappeared from the land, which became clothed, instead, with trees and plants, and peopled with animal forms. In the course of ages the arctic conditions returned and covered the land again with ice. He has also pointed out that this alternation of temperate and arctic climate has certainly occurred more than once, probably several times. Mr. Geikie's inference becomes still stronger when viewed in the light of Mr. Croll's new theory of a periodic change of climate resulting from the precession of the equinoxes and the increase of eccentricity in the earth's orbit. We have no room for an explanation of Mr. Croll's theory, but must content ourselves with referring the reader to Mr. Geikie's book, where he will find it lucidly stated.

Now, these facts have a very important bearing on the history of man. The remains that we have gathered of primitive man are divided into paleolithic, or those belonging to the Old Stone Period, and neolithic, or these belonging to the New Stone Period. The paleolithic remains are characterized by the rudest kind of stone implements, implements merely chipped out of stone, without any attempt at finish, and from first to last there is no evidence of improvement in their make. The neolithic implements, on the other hand, are much better made at the starting-point, and they gradually improve, until they give place to implements of bronze. Again, the paleolithic remains are accompanied with the remains of mammalia, such as the mammoth, etc., which are now wholly or locally extinct, while the mammalian remains found with those of neolithic man are of existing species. Lastly, the paleolithic remains are found in the deposits of sand and gravel we have described as imbedded within the till, while the neolithic remains are found only in the upper drift. Thus in one and the same way the existence of man is shown to extend to inter-glacial, probably to preglacial times, and the meaning of the apparent gap in his history between the paleolithic and neolithic ages is explained. The paleolithic, or interglacial, perhaps pre-glacial man, was driven from the country, or destroyed by the change from a mild to an arctic climate; and, when the arctic conditions passed away for the last time, his place was filled by the neolithic, or post-glacial man, from more southern latitudes. We have indicated in a necessarily general manner the central idea of Mr. Geikie's book; it contains a great deal of very interesting information of a subordinate character, which will amply repay perusal.

My Visit to the Sun; or, Critical Essays on Physics, Metaphysics, and Ethics. By Lawrence S. Benson, author of "Benson's Geometry." New York: James S. Burnton. 8vo, 157 pp. Price, $1.50.

If we were called upon to state the object for which this book was written, we should say that it was to display what the author evidently fancies to be a very wide and accurate knowledge of science. With all the flourish and clatter of a Don Quixote charging the windmill, he impinges the mighty lance of querulousness against the feeble form of gravitation, utterly annihilating that venerable body. The atomic theory in chemistry, and the Fayian and Franklinian theories in electricity share the same fate, as do many kindred absurdities long fostered by the ignorance of man. And, as if those blows did not inflict punishment enough on the physicists, they are utterly crushed by the entirely new and astonishing revelation that final causes are unknowable. The present volume is on physics, and the most appalling fact that it contains is the announcement that it is to be followed by similar volumes on metaphysics, ethics, etc.

The Principles of Science: A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method. By Prof. Jevons. Macmillan. Price, $5.00.

We recently noticed this important and valuable work, and we now again refer to it simply to inform such of our readers as may be interested, that the publishers have issued a special American edition (in one volume) at a reduced price, which will make it more accessible to that large class of students to whom it makes a serious difference whether the price of a book is nine dollars or five dollars.