Popular Science Monthly/Volume 51/July 1897/Scientific Literature

Scientific Literature.

Among the many manuals of architecture Mr. Mathews's book[1] takes a distinct place. It is a concise history of architectural development through all the various phases of civilization, showing the important modifications produced by location and national life.

Beginning with the time when man longed for something more than mere shelter and strove to make his habitation pleasing to the eye, the author traces the art of construction as it was unfolded in Egypt and. Nubia, India and Java, China and Japan. Then, crossing to the Western hemisphere, which is never reached by some writers, he gives an outline of its evolution among the Toltecs, Aztecs, and Incas. Returning to the Old World, he takes up the record of the ruins in western Asia, Chaldea, Assyria, and Persia. Thence the transition is easily made to Greece, Etruria, and Rome; for, although there is an early period of classical architecture—the Pelasgic, whose Cyclopean masonry and corbeled vaulting betray no foreign influence—the efflorescence of Greek art took place many centuries after the Dorian invasion and subsequent to the Persian conquest, when the Greeks had come into contact with many nations and had assimilated whatever was of worth. They borrowed the fluted pillar and molded lintel from the tombs of the Egyptians, but they increased the proportional height of the column until it formed the stately Doric. The colorettes of Nineveh and the Persian capitals possibly suggested the Ionic order; the Greek architect, however, gave it graceful proportion. So, with all the ideas that may be traced to outside sources, the beauty of the transforming touch is clearly recognized, and it is readily acknowledged that for nobility of purpose and an exquisite sense of harmony the architecture of Athens is still unrivaled. "The artist bowed himself to his task with all the unselfishness attendant on an act of worship. To look at Nature, see only the best, and make it immortal. . . may be justly called the mainspring of all Hellenic thought, taste, and feeling."

Rome was indebted to Etruria and Greece for the elements of her architecture. From the former the arch, vault, and Tuscan order were derived, while the latter contributed the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders. In amphitheaters, aqueducts, and baths she easily surpassed other nations, while in the basilica or law court she furnished a design for Gothic cathedrals and the churches of the Renaissance. Classical ideas prevailed over all countries under Roman rule until the division of the empire. Subsequently the Byzantine style was evolved in the time of Constantine, who spent immense sums in beautifying Byzantium and Constantinople. To this we owe "one of the finest constructive inventions," the pendentive system.

Early Christian architecture was exemplified in the basilicas, which were built in the form of a Latin cross; the introduction of the apse and a great increase of interior decoration were also marked features of the style. This was followed by the round-arched Gothic or Romanesque.

Meanwhile with the Moorish dominion came the Saracenic style, which may be studied in the mosques and tombs of the East and in the palaces of Spain. Although contributing no new principle, "the world owes it a debt of gratitude for its ornamental exuberance controlled by good taste." Interiors were made exquisite with fretwork, mosaics, and jeweled inlays, while minarets and domes of graceful proportions were beautified with tiles "belonging to a lost ceramic art."

Gothic architecture is considered by Mr. Mathews in its two developments, ecclesiastical and secular, the different periods and characteristics being very carefully and clearly explained.

Two chapters are devoted to the Renaissance, which the author has treated in more detail in another volume, and the book concludes with an examination of American architecture. The high buildings of the present day are relegated to the province of engineering; most of them are "attenuated monstrosities." However, "when a whole block is devoted to such a structure, and the design is treated pyramidally, the result may be stately and imposing."

The work is amply illustrated, and a bibliography, index, and glossary add much to its convenience and value.

In his recent work on economics Prof. H. J. Davenport makes large use of the suggestive mode of imparting knowledge.[2] He asks suggestive questions at the beginning of each chapter, review questions at the end, and topical questions in the margins. In preparing the book he has evidently had college students in mind for whom the instructor would be available to supplement the text with lectures and answers to questions. The vigorous thinker might dispense with such aid, but the average learner is very often left by suggestive teaching encumbered with many hazy ideas and exasperated with many unanswered queries. Our author generally avoids short and precise definitions. He seeks to give an understanding of the nature of utility, wealth, value, capital, etc., by leading the reader to look at each from different points of view and thus to build up in his mind a composite picture, as it were, of the thing or quality. In discussing wages and profits he represents these two terms as essentially identical and makes compensation for risk a separate thing. They are paid with the residue of production after the service of land and capital are requited. The wage-earner's assurance, he says, of receiving the approximate value of his product rests solely upon the effectiveness of competition among employers. His wage is, however, guaranteed from falling very low by his own power of producing directly for the market. This in turn is limited by his lack of capital. Prof. Davenport accounts for international trade like exchanges between individuals on the theory that each party finds he can satisfy his desires at less sacrifice by making one kind of goods and exchanging the surplus for the surplus of the different kind of goods produced by the other party. In measuring the "sacrifice" or cost, however, other than material things often have weight. The latter portion of the work is devoted to practical economic questions of the day. Here he discusses the competitive system and the remedy which is claimed to lie in socialism. He sees a promising field of usefulness for trades unions in establishing emergency workshops between which exchanges could take place by barter. Other topics that receive attention are State ownership of transportation and other industries, the social function of the rich, race improvement, the economic influence of fashion, taxation, various labor topics, and the currency. His general method of treating these matters is to point out the conflicting considerations that bear upon them, but without assuming to declare which outweighs the other. If the work resembled many others, in presenting one view of each topic as the only correct one, it would be much easier to describe, but we can not say that it would be as useful to its readers.

While fully appreciating the value of Froebel's kindergarten work, Mr. Hughes wishes teachers to realize that Froebel laid down principles of the greatest worth in more advanced education.[3] He has accordingly, in this volume, set forth the philosophy of Froebel's system, giving a chapter to each of its most prominent features. Comparing Froebel with Pestalozzi and Herbart, Mr. Hughes says: "Pestalozzi was instinctive and inspirational, Froebel was philosophical and investigative. . . . Pestalozzi's pupils were reproductive; Froebel's were creative. . . . Herbart studied the child to mold it; Froebel studied it to guide it in its growth. . . . Herbart saw the need of control much more clearly than the need of freedom; Froebel saw the harmony between freedom and control." Froebel's fundamental law, according to our author, is that of unity or inner connection." He saw the unity between knowing, feeling, and willing, between analysis and synthesis, between thought and life. He saw the unity or inner connection of all created things so clearly, that he made the reconciliation of opposites an important element of his system. He believed this law of unity, inner connection, or vital interrelationship to be universal, and made it the fundamental law and the ultimate aim of all true educational effort." The most fruitful of Froebel's principles was that of self-activity on the part of the child—"the spontaneous effort of the child to make manifest to itself and others the inner conceptions and operations of its own mind." This is very different from action initiated by the teacher. While he insisted that the child's individuality should be respected, he did not advocate giving the child license to do wrong. The teacher should be able to transfer the child's interest from what is wrong to what is right. He wished to banish coercion; he "would have the control of the mother and kindergarten so thoroughly in harmony with the spontaneity of the child as not to be felt by it." He fully recognized the educational value of play, and was the first to use it systematically as a means of mental and moral training. His profound sense of interrelationships made him a pioneer in the correlation of studies. The same characteristic caused him to look beyond mere perception on the part of the learner, and to insist on apperception. Froebel was an evolutionist before Spencer and Darwin, and he was the first to make systematic use of manual training in distinction from industrial training. The supreme aim of his educational system is character-building, and "he applied precisely the same laws to the revelation of ideals of right, justice, duty, and will that he applied in the general development of the child." In stating Froebel's views Mr. Hughes makes large use of quotations from Froebel's Education of Man and Autobiography, and from the Baroness von Marenholz-Bülow's Reminiscences of Froebel. The book is eminently one to stimulate the teacher's growth.

  1. The Story of Architecture. By Charles Thompson Mathews, M. A. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 468. Price, $3.
  2. Outlines of Economic Theory. By Herbert Joseph Davenport. New York: The Macmillan Co. Pp. 381, 8vo. Price, $2
  3. Froebel's Education Laws for All Teachers. By James L. Hughes. International Education Series, Vol. XLI. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 890, 12mo. Price, $1.50.