Popular Science Monthly/Volume 51/July 1897/General Notices


In Telepathy and the Subliminal Self we have an attempt to put certain occult phenomena on a scientific basis.[1] The author, rejecting all ideas of the supernatural, approaches his subject from the point of view of a scientific observer who does not speculate with the intangible, but who has a definite theory, that shall account for certain mysterious occurrences. The subjects he takes up are Telepathy, Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Clairvoyance, Double or Multiplex Personality, Somnambulism, Dreams, Automatism, Planchette, Crystal-gazing, and Phantasms. He explains most of these phenomena by means of the subliminal self. This mysterious personality lies hidden away deep down below our ordinary self, coming to the surface only on special occasions, or when called up without our knowledge by the hypnotizer or mesmerist. And it does not seem to be given to every one thus to project this inner being into the outer world of sense; although apparently this other personality is latent in us all, only the "sensitive" can manifest it. The author deduces his theory from a number of experiments and "experiences" recorded by the English Society for Psychical Research, the French therapeutic hypnotists of La Salpêtière, and of Nancy, and others, both physicians and laymen. The chapters on Double or Multiplex Personality and Natural Somnambulism give a number of cases in which the subliminal self stands plainly revealed. Some instances, however, might very well be classed under temporary aberration of mind, as for example that of Ansel Bourne the evangelist, who, leaving his home in Rhode Island, went to Norristown, Pa., and after keeping store there for two months under the name of A. J. Brown, suddenly awoke to find himself in a strange place. One of the most curious chapters in the book is that on Crystal-gazing, a species of divination somewhat akin to clairvoyance. The chapters on Phantasms sustain perhaps most fully the author's theory of the subliminal self. He does not pretend to go over the whole ground of psychic phenomena, leaving untouched, for example, the subject of the return of the departed, and other spiritualistic manifestations. But "confining ourselves within the limits assigned, if the series of alleged facts which has been presented in the preceding chapters be true, then we are in the presence of a momentous reality which, for importance and value, has not been exceeded, if indeed it has been approached, by any of the discoveries of modern times." However far the author's theories and enthusiasms may carry him, the book is an honest effort to explain some more or less tangible occurrences in a rationalistic manner, free from superstitious cant. It is a readable and interesting contribution to the literature of the new psychology.

Two out of the forty-five volumes of the Library of the World's Best Literature[2] have come to hand. This work, unique in scope and character, aims to do for literature what the Encyclopædia Britannica has done for the arts and sciences in general—to give a survey of what the best poets, writers, and thinkers of all ages have thought and felt and expressed in artistic form, from the records indelibly stamped on the baked brick of the Assyrians, the characters traced on the papyrus of the Egyptians and Chinese, the pergamena of the Greeks and Romans, the vellum of the mediæval monks, even down to the type-written manuscript of the present day. The plan, in the words of the editor in chief, Mr. Charles Dudley Warner, "is simple and yet it is novel. In its distinctive features it differs from any compilation that has yet been made. Its main purpose is to present to American households a mass of good reading. But it goes much beyond this; for in selecting this reading it draws upon all literatures of all times and of every race, and thus becomes a conspectus of the thought and intellectual evolution of man from the beginning. Another and scarcely less important purpose is the interpretation of this literature in essays by scholars and authors competent to speak with authority." Many of the best critics, both in this country and abroad, have taken part in the making of the work. Among the American contributors of note to the first two volumes may be named Prof. Toy, of Harvard, who writes on Accadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian Literature; Mr. H. W. Mabie, on Addison; Dr. H. T. Peck, on Æsop and Alciphron; Mr. R. Burton, on Amiel; Prof. E. S. Holden, on Arago;Rabbi Gottheil, on the Arabian Nights and Arabic Literature; and Prof. Woodberry, on Matthew Arnold. The selections thus introduced by critical and biographical essays, and representing the author at his best, are carefully chosen with reference not only to their literary quality, but also to their interest as reading matter, for "the work aims to suit a great variety of tastes, and thus to commend itself as a household companion for any mood and any hour." The names are arranged alphabetically, for ready reference. The volumes are handsomely bound in half morocco, with clear print on good paper, and illustrated with portraits of the authors, colored plates, and photo-gravures.

Prof. Baldwin's book on School Management is devoted to the practical side fo the subject.[3] It takes up the several divisions of educational work systematically, and gives helpful advice and suggestions on a vast number of topics in each division. Pupil improvement is the keynote of the work, and the author aims to show how this can be secured through better educational conditions and facilities, better school and college organization and correlation, and the most efficient methods of teaching, and how school government and class management can be made educative. Among the elements of educative governing power he names, first, character. "Be what you wish your pupils to become," he says. Next he places culture, and charges the teacher to "cherish the spirit of mastery and broad culture." Other elements whose importance he explains are pupil insight, teaching power, heart power, will power, system, tact, and bearing. Of the possible incentives to school work he points out which are low motives, which higher, and which the best. He shows how school regulations can have an educative effect, and what punishments operate to help and what to harm the pupil. In other chapters he gives advice as to school hygiene, means and methods of administration, methods of teaching the usual school studies, ways of conducting partly graded schools, etc. He is a strong advocate of oral teaching, by which he means something like the Socratic method, with the use of objects for some studies. Prof. Baldwin's teachings are everywhere positive and emphatic, and he ignores any possible difference of opinion on such subjects as corporal punishment, free text-books, and coeducation. The book is intended to be used for systematic study by classes of teachers, and each chapter is accordingly divided into sections and subdivided into paragraphs, each with a number and a heading. There is also a syllabus to each chapter, and a list of topical questions at the end of the volume.

Prof. Wiley has brought to a close his carefully prepared treatise on Agricultural Analysis with a volume devoted to agricultural products.[4] The first chapter relates to methods of preparing samples by grinding, drying, incineration, and extraction. Twenty-six forms of apparatus for these operations are here figured. The first group of substances for which processes of analysis are given consists of the sugars and starches. The specific gravity, the polariscopic, and the reduction methods for sugar analysis are each represented by a number of processes. The author has not undertaken to select the best practice for dealing with every problem, as he has not been writing solely for students, but more for trained analysts who are competent to select for themselves from several carefully described modes. A variety of miscellaneous processes for sugar analysis are also described. The determination of starch requires less space, and from this the author passes to methods for separating and determining sugar, starch, and other carbohydrates in crude or manufactured agricultural products. The fats and oils form the next large group of substances treated, and considerable attention is given to their physical properties, as well as to their chemical behavior. Methods of estimating nitrogenous bodies follow; dairy products have a section by themselves, and a considerable number of substances are grouped as miscellaneous. These include cereals, fodders, meats, fruits, vegetables, tannins, tobacco, tea, coffee, and fermented beverages. In dealing with meats several methods of artificial digestion and of determining nutritive values are described. The volume is indexed, and is illustrated with one hundred and twenty-five figures of apparatus. A list of authorities cited is given at the end of each division of the work.

In his Laboratory Practice for Beginners in Botany, Prof. William A. Setchell has furnished a guide for the application of the laboratory method to the study of plants (Macmillan, 90 cents). . He takes up the seed first, because "it is not only readily obtained, readily studied, and its meaning clear, but it is also one of the most convenient starting points for a study of the life history." His first directions will indicate his method. "Take the ripened pod of a bean plant and, splitting it open, notice: 1. That the seeds (beans) are attached along one edge of each valve (or half) of the pod. 2. That each bean is attached to the pod by a short stalk, the funiculus. 3. Make a sketch of a valve of the bean pod with its inclosed beans, representing and labeling the parts." Drawing is a constant requirement throughout the course. In the advanced lessons questions are asked which it is not practicable to answer otherwise than from consulting books. There is a brief appendix of suggestions to students and one more extended of suggestions to teachers, in which reading for each chapter is specified and various directions as to material and details of instruction are given. Although the author says that his book is intended for the higher grades of primary schools or for secondary schools, he has apparently made no effort to keep his language within the vocabulary understood by children, hence we doubt that the book would be available below the secondary grade. There are no illustrations.

Robert the Bruce and the Struggle for Scottish Independence, by Sir Herbert MaxwellBart. (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1897, $1.50), is one of the scholarly volumes of the Heroes of the Nations Series. It deals with the making of Scotland. The first five chapters give a short survey of the country up to the year 1305, a period of internal discords, and feuds with England because of the latter's claim to the overlordship. The greater portion of the book recounts the deeds of Robert the Bruce, the national hero. His coronation as King of Scots, in 1306, marked an epoch in Scottish history. Become king of a country that was claimed by the English Edward, and surrounded by only a small band of faithful followers, Bruce virtually had to conquer his realm foot by foot, until the decisive battle of Bannockburn, in 1314, forced the English to acknowledge his sovereignty. The many exciting adventures of the landless king, and his daring and personal bravery, are well set forth in some of the most interesting chapters of the book.

Among the papers submitted in competition for the Hodgkins Fund prizes and published by the Smithsonian Institution is one on Atmospheric Actinometry, by E. Duclaux. The chemical radiations of the sun do not behave within our atmosphere in the same way as the heat and light rays. This is indicated by the differing effects on the photographer's plate on days equally luminous, and by the rapid progress of vegetation in high latitudes as compared with temperate regions. The investigations which M. Duclaux describes are based upon determinations of the oxidation of solutions of oxalic acid exposed to the sunshine under a wide variety of conditions.

In the introduction to The Story of the Birds, by James Newton Baskett, M. A., Associate Member of the American Ornithological Union (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1897, 65 cents), one of Appletons' Home-Reading Books, the editor of the series. Dr. W. T. Harris, points out the two movements of the new education—original observation and verifying by experiment on the part of the pupil, and systematic home reading to supplement class-room instruction. "A library of home reading should contain books that stimulate to self-activity and arouse the spirit of inquiry. The books should treat of methods of discovery and evolution. All Nature is unified by the discovery of the law of evolution." In keeping with the aims here set forth, The Story of the Birds gives a brief account of the evolution of the bird, as far as such can be traced by means of the present characteristics of the feathered race. Beginning with the bird's fore leg, popularly known as the wing, which is an important factor in determining its past history, the author goes on to the discussion of the bird's raiment, its outer wraps and its underwear, its "frills and furbelows." We have chapters devoted to the wooing and mating of birds, to nest-building and nesting habits, to birds' eggs and the rearing of the young. Various habits of grown-up birds are touched upon, their expedients in getting a living, their tools and tasks, the way they go to bed, and their manner of travel. In the last two chapters hints are given for recognizing and classifying the different species. Scientifically accurate, yet free from technicalities forbidding to the uninitiated, the book, written in a pleasing style, recommends itself not only to the young student, but also to the general reader who, as a lover of birds, wants more than a passing acquaintance with them. It is profusely illustrated. An analysis of the chapters, with study hints, and an index, add to its usefulness.

In a pamphlet entitled A New Dairy Industry a process for preparing sterilized milk for infants is described by James Fred. Sarg (the author, Kempsville, Va., 80 cents). Mr. Sarg writes for the farmer, who, he says, is best situated for preparing a suitable infants' milk and should have the profit of the industry. Whether discoursing of the operation of milking, the mortality of infants, or the details and apparatus of the process that he describes, Mr. Sarg writes with vigor and an evident mastery of his subject. His pamphlet is illustrated with figures of machines and other appliances.

An inaugural discourse before the Royal Academy of Sciences of Havana, on the study of spectroscopy (Introducción al Estudio de la Espectroscopia), by Dr. Gastón Alonso Cuadrado, of the medical corps of the Spanish army, presents a clear and carefully elaborate summary of the theory and properties of light as illustrated by the latest discoveries, including a brief account of the Rontgen rays.

Rules for Regulating Nomenclature in Entomological Work, compiled by Lord Walsingham and John Hartley Durrant, of Merton Hall, Thetford, England, and published by Longmans & Co. (20 cents), have been prepared with a view to securing a strict application of the law of priority. One of the objects of the authors has been to define a method by which the recognition of antecedent work can be consistently secured. They propose that this rule be designated as "Merton rules" for convenience of reference.

Convinced that physical science awaits its next greatest elucidations from the side of biology, Dr. Ernst Mach has made from time to time various researches on sensation, the results of which he states in a volume under the title Contributions to the Analysis of the Sensations (Open Court Publishing Company, $1.25). He here discusses the space sensations of the eye in connection with the innervation of that organ and the physiological aspects of sensations of time and sensations of tone. The conclusions which he has arrived at on these topics show, he affirms, that "there is no rift between the psychical and the physical, no within and without, no sensation to which an outward, different thing corresponds. There is but one kind of elements, out of which this supposititious within and without is formed."

  1. Telepathy and the Subliminal Self. An Account of Recent Investigations regarding Hypnotism, Automatism, Dreams, Phantasms, and Related Phenomena. By R. Osgood Mason, A. M., M. D. New York: Henry Holt and Company. Pp. 343, 12mo. Price, $1.50.
  2. A Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern. In 45 volumes. New York: The International Society. Price, cloth, $3 a volume; half morocco, $4 a volume.
  3. School Management and School Methods. By Joseph Baldwin. International Education Series, Vol. XL. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 395, 12 mo. Price, $1.50
  4. Principles and Practice of Agricultural Analysis. Vol III. By Harvey W. Wiley. Easton, Pa.: Chemical Publishing Company. Pp. 666, 8vo. Price, $3.75; complete work, $9.50.