Popular Science Monthly/Volume 52/March 1898/General Notices


The authors of the Manual of Bacteriology[1] are both university lecturers; Mr. Muir on pathological bacteriology at Edinburgh, and Mr. Ritchie on pathology at Oxford. They explain that the science has become so extensive that in a book of this size the treatment must be restricted to some special departments, or it will be superficial. The present work being intended first for medical students and practitioners, they have considered in it only those bacteria associated with disease in man. The effort has been made to render the work of practical utility for beginners, and elementary details have been given in the accounts of the more important methods. The evidence of certain bacteria having serological relationships with corresponding diseases, the general laws governing their action as producers of disease and the effects of various modifying circumstances are considered. The subject is treated under the heads of general morphology and biology of bacteria, methods of cultivation, nonpathogenic micro-organisms, the production of toxines, suppuration and allied conditions, the relations of bacteria to disease, and, in detail, the more important diseases in which they have been proved to make their effects felt. In the appendix four diseases—smallpox, hydrophobia, malarial fever, and dysentery—are treated of, in two of which the causal organism is not a bacterium, while in the other two its nature is not yet determined.

Amid the countless impressions which crowd upon the brain, not only by every avenue of sense, but also in connection with organic action, it is not to be wondered at that a large number should escape our recognition. These are faithfully registered, however, no less than the ones to which we attend and in time form a background of memory, a Subconscious Self,[2] which may influence or control the individual. Dr. Waldstein shows how this can be roused to activity by the repetition of some impression, an unobserved odor, a sound, or familiar surrounding, and create in us an emotion, or mood, for which we can not otherwise account. Likes and dislikes, antipathies, "love at sight," even religious feeling may be the offspring of this subconscious self. In the earlier years of life, before consciousness is fully developed, it has its largest growth. It is important, therefore, that the impressions received by the young be carefully guarded. As nervous disorders spring from the predominance of this hidden nature, the inhibiting will and judgment must be cultivated. "It is in every case a grave risk to delegate the educational and directing powers of a mother to any stranger." Life in the country supplies the best conditions for the child. To the subconscious self it furnishes the impressions of restfulness and singleness of purpose, while the conscious intellectual activity is exercised in learning to distinguish the differences in natural objects. In the opinion of the author, the subconscious self is always the basis of the aesthetic mood, and not only in a receptive fashion, empowering us to enjoy music, art, and poetry, but it is also responsible for the creations of genius. He enters here upon debatable ground, for the assertion that "Shakespeare perceived without effort great truths through the subconscious self "is somewhat contradictory. Perception involves classification and implies consciousness. Several antitheses are brought forward which are probably merely casual. That between music and mental analysis suggested by Charles Darwin is amply disproved by the case of Chauvenet, distinguished mathematician and musician; also that "careful observers and those of analytical habits can not abide perfumes" is equally doubtful. It is certainly unscientific to connect two coexistent characteristics as cause and sequence when no causative relation has been proved. The author suggests that "heredity" is often invoked to account for habits that are the effects of early impressions or mimicry. This is credible where there has been contact, but not where a generation has intervened. Neither are inherited tendencies "unalterable," "beyond our influence." If recognized in time they may be modified even as the character of leaves may be changed by varying food and temperature, or seedless oranges produced by culture.

This work,[3] forming a supplement to the Journal of Morphology, vol. xii, No. 2, is the outcome of ten years' study of protoplasmic structure in the Protozoa, Metazoa, and higher forms of life. The author made her observations upon living material although comparing it with various "preserved" forms, and concludes that the original delicacy of structure is altered by the reagents commonly used. One object, therefore, of publishing her researches is to induce the biologist to observe the living substance as the naturalist studies the habit of an organism. Acknowledging her indebtedness to Bütschli's work, she claims that the structure known by his name is not the final constitution of the protoplasmic foam, but only one of a graded series yet undiscovered. She finds that there is not only an external environment, but an internal one which the living substance is ever seeking to control, to render itself more independent. As the result of her investigations, a new biological standpoint is offered, that the true organism is the invisible vesicular substance; all powers, functions, and organs are primarily for this, and only incidentally for the animal and plant. Reflex actions are noted as pointing toward this view, in establishing the fact that activities seemingly of the organism are products of local function. Man thus finds himself but a secondary affair, a mere phase of protoplasm, and it is unquestionably "difficult to overcome the natural egotism of the unit" and persuade him of this as truth without many more facts than are brought forward in the present volume. The plea, however, that the phenomena of life is best observed in living protoplasm is well founded and supported by the circumstance that the chemical properties of dead and living cells are unlike, shown in a pamphlet by Prof. Oscar Loew.[4]

The Eleventh Annual Report of the Commissioner of Labor, 1895-'96 (Washington, Government Printing Office), comprises the results of an investigation relative to the comparative employment of men, women, and children at two periods of time, and is made in accordance with a joint resolution of Congress. The work now being performed by the department is more varied and extensive than at any other period of its existence. It includes an investigation relating to the effect of machinery upon labor and the cost of production; a report upon wages paid in leading countries; inquiries into various aspects of the liquor traffic; and inquiries relative to the municipal ownership of gas, electric, and motor plants; to the condition of the Italians of Chicago; and into the economic progress of the negroes.

The Journal of Osteopathy is a periodical devoted to osteopathy, or a new system of healing without drugs, which seems to have found favor with considerable numbers of people, and has been recognized by law in four States. It is published monthly at the American Institute of Osteopathy, Kirksville, Mo., at $1 a year.

The Story of Oliver Twist, condensed for home and school reading, by Ella Boyce Kirk (Appletons, 60 cts.), has recently come to us. It is part of a series of "home-reading books" designed to supplement the ordinary school work of the child, and is one of the results of what was originally the university extension movement, but which could now more appropriately be called the school-extension movement, as its principles have been applied all along the line down almost to the kindergarten. The author thus describes her book: "I have tried to present one of Dickens's most popular stories as nearly as possible in the form (judging from his Child's History of England) that he would have put it if he had written it for young readers. I have used his language, I have not presumed to change or modify his expression, but everything that a child would be likely to skip has been elided. The action is thus accelerated to suit the most impatient reader."

Education from a Publisher 's Standpoint, an address delivered before the National Educational Association on July 7th, by Mr. Gilman H Tucker, takes the ground that the work of the publisher is closely bound up with that of the teacher, and that cooperation and sympathy are the necessary watchwords. Mr. Tucker is Secretary of the American Book Company, and hence an authority on text-books. The address is published in a small pamphlet of twenty-three pages.

In The Mother's Council, or the Kindergarten in the Nursery, Mrs. Louise Pollock attempts to arrange a course of mental and physical training for use by the mother or nurse in the nursery. It is based on Froebel's Mother Book of Song and Play. The applications begin when the child has reached the age of three months; the first one consisting of the swinging of a yarn ball in front of the child's face, and singing the following inspiring melody:

Here, there, here, there,
Coming, going,
Forward, backward,
The little ball comes, it goes.

The book also contains a number of "Educational Rules," the first of which is, "Be careful what habits a child acquires during the first month of his life. Do not rock or walk him to sleep, unless you wish to do it for years to come." This is undoubtedly good science, but rule 29, which follows, is somewhat doubtful in this respect. "If the house is so constructed that you can not conveniently have your head to the north while sleeping, the next best way is to sleep with your feet to the west. The electrical currents come from the east, and it is best they should reach you from head to foot, rather than vice versa."

The American X-Ray Journal, monthly, Heber Roberts, M. D., editor, is devoted to practical X-ray work and allied arts and sciences, with special reference to the physical improvement of man. Published at St. Louis, Mo., $1 a year.

The Annual Report of the State Geologist of New Jersey for 1896 contains the reports of progress by R. D. Salisbury and G. N. Knapp on the survey of the surface formations, and of H. R. Kümmel on the Newark system or New Red Sandstone; and reports by J. E. Wolff on Archæan Geology (Sussex County), Lewis Woolman on Artesian Wells (Stratigraphy of the Fish House Black Clays); C. C. Vermeule on the Flood of February 6, 1886, in Northern New Jersey; C. C. Vermeule on the Drainage of the Hackensack and Newark Tide Marshes; G. F. Jenkins on the Iron Mining Industry; and John Gifford on Forestry in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, and France; with mineral statistics. The reports are accompanied by excellent maps.

The last volume in Appletons' Home-Reading Series to reach us is entitled Curious Homes and their Tenants. It consists of a popular description of some of the more curious human and animal "homes." The author, James Carter Beard, disclaims any attempt to do more than attract the attention of his readers to the subject in the hope of awakening in them the desire for a more thorough acquaintance with an interesting and instructive study. As the chief function of the animal or plant seems to be the perpetuation of species, we may expect the highest and most perfect qualities and instincts to be manifested in the solution of the cares and duties of parentage. To give some idea of the scope of the book we take the following chapter headings: Cave Dwellers, Birds that build Edible Nests, Moles, Jumping Mice, Bees and Wasps as Miners, Ants at Home, Cliff-dwellers, Butterfly House, Human Nest Builders, Eskimo Homes, Human Lake-dwellers, A City of Birds. Illustrations are numerous and well chosen.

The purpose of the work Opposites of the Universe is explained by the author, Mamie Sands, as to demonstrate that the universe is a whirl of opposites, and that these opposites are eternal, "which implies that they are neither creatable nor destroyable when the whole kosmos is considered." The book is to be in six parts. The first part, now before us, is a Discourse about Immortality, in which "opposites in special" are considered. They are arranged under numerous headings, such as chemiological, astrological, electrological, etc., opposites; and the theses are enforced by citations from philosophical and other writers of all ages. (Peter Eckler, New York, publisher. Price, 50 cents.)

Mr. J. Wilson, in common with most of his human brothers, is not satisfied with the present management of "things," so he has written a book on the rights and wrongs of men, under the title Self-control, or Life without a Master. He states its aim to be the bringing of the reader to a realizing sense of the fact that "no man has a right, under any circumstances or under any conditions, to be the master of another man." He contends that under the existing order the child is a slave to his nurse, then to his parents until he is twenty-one, and from this time until his death to the state. "He does not believe in masters or governments in any form." He claims no originality for his thoughts; "he would not deny for a moment that such thoughts have come or will come to other men." And further he says: "If the reader has not full confidence in his" (the author's) "ability to discuss this question fully and fairly, and if he is not confident that the author knows just what he is saying and what he is talking about, he ought to select some other book for perusal," which is certainly fair enough. The closing paragraph of the volume contains the following prediction: "What happened in Paris in the eighteenth century is liable, I may say is certain, to happen in America some time during the twentieth." (Lemcke & Buechuer, New York.)

We have received from C. W. Bardeen (Syracuse) A Government Class-book of the State of Michigan. It is a review of the form of State, county, city, and township government which prevails in Michigan, stating the function and powers of the various governing bodies and officials, and containing as two appendices the Constitutions of the State of Michigan and of the United States.

Not In It, by Anna Olcott Commelin, is a story intended to show the obligation under which the rich man is to aid his poorer neighbors. It recounts the history of several individuals in varying conditions of life, showing the value of well-timed aid and the great suffering which poverty entails on those who are suddenly reduced to it from comparative wealth. (Fowler & Wells, New York, 75 cents.)

The first series of lectures by A. D. Waller on physiology, which was delivered at the Royal Institution in the spring of 1897, has just appeared in book form under the title Animal Electricity. The material consists of six lectures. The first is a demonstration of the phenomenon of animal electricity, the second describes the methods of experimentation, and the remainder deal chiefly with experiments bringing out the various laws and phenomena which have thus far been ascertained. The printed lectures contain considerable matter which was not considered appropriate for the popular lectures, "but which is nevertheless essential to the further study of the subject." Three of the lectures in the original course on the action of nitrous oxide are not included, but are announced as reserved for a "second series." There are a number of explanatory diagrams and illustrations. (Longmans, Green & Co., New York. $1.50.)

The arguments in favor of the vertical system of handwriting have been set forth in the Popular Science Monthly. We are glad to see that it is attracting the attention of publishers of school books. One of the simplest and most convenient applications of it is made in The Natural System of Vertical Handwriting, by A. F. Newlands and R. K. Row, which is published by D. C. Heath & Co. The authors are represented to have been the first to advocate the new system in America, and to have made the first and longest-continued experiments in it. With them legibility is the first consideration, and they believe that handwriting should be as much as possible like print, consistently with convenient manipulation. The course consists of six books of progressive lessons, presenting a beautiful, plain, open hand, to which two books of social and business forms are to be added.

Stewart's Telegraphic Code consists of a system in which numbers are represented by combinations of letters. Telegraph companies in transmitting numbers charge for each figure as a separate word. By means of this system Mr. Stewart represents any number from 1 to 999,999 in a word of ten letters or less. For instance, 74,013, which, if sent as it stands, would be charged for as six words, is in the system represented by "rulidoka," which would, of course, go as one word. (Author, St. Paul, Minn.)

  1. Manual of Bacteriology. By Robert Muir and James Ritchie. With 108 Illustrations. Edinburgh and London: Young J. Pentland. New York: The Macmillan Company. Pp. 519. Price, $3.25.
  2. The Subconscious Self and its Relation to Education and Health. By Louis Waldstein, M. D. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Pp. 171. Price, $1.25.
  3. The Living Substance, as such and as Organism. By Gwendolen Foulke Andrews. Boston: Ginn & Co. Pp. 176. Price, $1.50.
  4. Popular Science Monthly, vol. li, p. 711.