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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 53/August 1898/General Notices


The life and work of Pasteur have been affectionately and appreciatively described from the familiar and the French point of view in M. Vallery Radot's Histolre d'un Savant par un Ignorant and in M. Duclaux's Histoire d'un Esprit, and from a more purely scientific point by Mr. Roux in his article on L'Œuvre Médical de Pasteur. Now, Dr. and Mrs. Percy Frankland[1] acknowledging indebtedness to all these authors, present the subject from the point of view of English students of science. Their purpose is to extend and make more universal the general world's acquaintance with the great master and the methods through which his wonderful discoveries were made. His achievements, they say, "are so interwoven with the circumstances by which our daily life is surrounded, that it is all but impossible to find any one who is not directly or indirectly concerned with some part or other of his great life work." The authors make a straightforward, clear, and attractive presentation of the early life and studies and successive researches by means of which Pasteur achieved the highest point of scientific fame and won the right to be regarded as one of the world's greatest benefactors. A full account is given of the organization and methods of the Institut Pasteur and of the work of Pasteur's associates there and of his students.

The chief aim of Mr. Clark's Laboratory Manual of Practical Botany, we are informed by the publishers,[2] is not to find the names of flowers, but to gain some real knowledge of the life histories of plants. It seeks a new presentation of the subject, making use of the best modern method of study, and giving prominence to laboratory processes. The course of study outlined in it is intended to give the student a general view of the subject, and at the same time to lay a foundation on which more advanced studies may be built. As the length of time given to the study of botany differs widely in different schools, the author has endeavored to furnish a course that may be made very elastic; and room is therefore provided in it for selections, in aid of which a few hints are given. A considerable amount of previous study is supposed to have been given to the gross morphology of the parts of flowering plants, with some attention to the division into groups and classes, and knowledge enough of analysis to find the names of plants. "With this preparation it seems. . . that the pupil can enter with profit upon a course which will give him a general view of the whole plant world, beginning with plants of the simplest organization." Such is the present course. The explanations to the experiments are clear and direct.

Mr. Mallock, in his Aristocracy and Evolution, has submitted the preachings of the socialistic and labor agitators with arguments drawn from philosophy. Mr. Freeman Otis Willey attacks them and disposes of most of them in The Laborer and the Capitalist[3] by subjecting them to the test of plain common sense. He takes them up as they are declared on the street, in the press, from the pulpit, in the legislative halls, and on the stump, and, one after another, exposes the practical fallacies that are in them. Thus he does with the questions of monopoly, the accumulation and concentration of wealth, the relations of capital and labor, railroads, rented homes, wages, taxes, etc.; as to all of which points the practical method of looking at the subject and treating it gives his observations great force.

In the series of Physical and Electrical Engineering Manuals of J. Henderson and S. Joyce, it is the object of the authors to provide a course of instruction for carrying out a progressive series of experiments in the subjects, arranged so that the usual apparatus at the disposal of a laboratory, though not especially designed for any particular experiment, may, nevertheless, be used with advantage in a variety of ways. They have also sought to arrange experiments of such character that a student working alone may be able to obtain satisfactory results. The second volume of the series[4] is devoted entirely to practical work in electricity and magnetism, the department of physical work being reserved for a volume by itself. The introductory chapter contains a most excellent series of instructions as to the methods of observation and the manner of making them. The student "must never be in a hurry. A week spent in discovering and overcoming some source of error will be well-spent time, and may be of more educational value than the performance of the original experiment itself. Above all things, however, the experimenter must be methodical," and more of similar tenor. Exact directions are given, likewise, concerning the management of the instruments. The measurement of resistance is dealt with first in the order of experiments, with a brief account of the methods of measuring in absolute units. In choosing methods for the various measurements it has been the aim to take only those best suited for the purpose. Lists are given, at the end of each chapter, of references to the more important original papers bearing on the subject of the chapter to be found in the scientific periodicals.

Mr. R. Floyd Clarke assumes that the law seems to laymen and to some who attempt the study of it a crabbed, difficult, and dry pursuit, and attempts in his Science of Law and Law-making[5] to make clear to average readers some of its truths and introduce them to a correct conception of the system under which they live. While admitting it as true that the detail and doctrines and the applications thereof of any system of law have, to the general student, the forbidding quantities ascribed to them, he maintains that that which is valuable as wheat or gold is to be got out of it. "While the decision of special law cases, petty or otherwise, that arise in daily life may embrace complicated deductions to be made from technical rules, and end in inductions of interest only to the professional man, and which to the unlearned mind appear to have no reason for their existence, yet other special cases may require in their decision the assertion and application of most important general principles—principles of interest to every one, and whose assertion either way reacts upon the future well-being of all." He tries, therefore, to write an introduction to law which shall enlighten the intelligent lay reader as to the beauty and interest of its problems; to reduce the discussion of the code question to a practical, concrete form; to elaborate the idea of the fundamental and intrinsic difference between the two forms of statute and "case" law; and to draw the proper conclusions and apply those principles to actual legislation, judicial or legislative, and to determine by a practical test the province of each and the best way to conserve them.

The late Professor Jowett is credited with having pronounced Italian literature the greatest in the world after Greek, Latin, and English. It is more intimately affiliated to antiquity, Mr. Garnett says in the preface to his History of it,[6] than any other European literature, and may indeed be regarded as a continuation or revival of the Latin. Yet it was long in appearing. This fact is perhaps partly due to the earlier Italian writers of mark having continued to express themselves in Latin, and the vernacular writings having had to fight their way slowly up. This fact, further, worked greatly to the disadvantage of the appreciation of Italian literature, for much that should have belonged to it and which might have helped us estimate the capacity of the Italian mind was in another language. Dante and Petrarch and others, masters and classics in Italian, wrote also much in Latin, and their native language is robbed thereby of much that would otherwise have been its best work. It is another disadvantage to the reputation of the Italian mind that many of its greatest geniuses did not express themselves at all, or at most comparatively little, in writing, but in other fields, especially art and music. So it was with Michelangelo—greatest of all—Leonardo da Vinci, and half a dozen others whom Mr. Garnett names, including Galileo, Columbus, and Napoleon; while Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Benvenuto Cellini have written enough to show that they might have been among the greatest masters of literature if they had not had other things to do. Italian literature has been continuous, abundantly productive in every century, of unequal merit perhaps, but always affording enough of mark to give it standing, and presenting one name at least the peer of the greatest, and it is of this continuous succession of writings that the present history furnishes a view.

Brown Men and Women[7] is the title given by Mr. Edward Reeves to a lively, picturesque account of his voyages through the South Sea Islands and of life as he found it there in 1895 and 1896. Mr. Reeves is a New-Zealander, and living, according to distant American perspective, almost among the South Sea Islands, he goes into them in his book without preliminary ceremony, landing the reader, almost at the first leap, among the cannibals of old, whose customs are contrasted with those which prevail in the same regions now. The spirit with which he passes through his adventures and describes them is revealed in his opening sentence: "The South Sea Islands! To us New-Zealanders, when we were young in the sixties, what a charm they were of mystery, barratry, piracy, kidnapping; of tales of innocent, gentle southern natives torn from the paradises and sold into slavery by English-speaking devils; of more northern fierce cannibals, Fijians, New Hebrideans, and Solomon Islanders, down whose throats disappeared, in most satisfactory retribution, some of our compatriots." In a series of running sketches and stories, like the smoking-saloon yarns of the second chapter, Mr. Reeves gives his experiences and impressions of the Friendly Islands, Tonga and its recent troubled history, "Kava and some Customs," Samoa, the Fijian group, the Cook group, and the Society Islands, adding obiter observations and incidents of various sorts, and not by any means omitting solid information. The last chapter relates to the missionaries, and is unfriendly to them.

In a sermon on The Evolution of a Sentiment—Kindness to Animals in the Christian World, the Rev. Newton M. Mann, of Omaha, argues that the duty of kindness and tenderness to animals is not an original Christian doctrine and is nowhere mentioned in the Scriptures, but is of later development; and that the Hindus long anticipated Christians in enunciating it. (H. S. Mann, Omaha. Five cents.)

The Chemical Publishing Company, Easton. Pa., publishes Methods for the Analysis of Ores, Pig Iron, and Steel, in Use at the Laboratories of Iron and Steel Works in the Region about Pittsburg, Pa.; contributed by the chemists in charge, and edited by a committee of the Chemical Section, Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania (price, $1). In a circular inviting these articles from chemists the committee defined the aim of the section to be to secure accurate statements of analytical processes, describing with minuteness and clearness the successive steps, in order that the compilation may represent as correctly as possible the present status of analytical chemistry as applied to iron and steel. Sixteen responses were received, detailing the methods pursued at as many furnaces. They are all given in this volume, with an appendix containing various special methods of analysis of ores and furnace products.

Prof. Alfred Fairhurst, of Kentucky University, publishes in the volume entitled Organic Evolution Considered the objections to the theory of organic evolution that have occurred to him from time to time in the course of his discussions of the subject in his college classes. He finds that organic life can not be accounted for as a function of chemistry, energy, or spontaneous generation; that natural selection does not afford an adequate explanation of the varieties of life, the argument for it is inadequate, and the objections to it are forcible; and "that the lack of harmony in the teaching of evolutionists shows that there is much vagueness as to the details of the theory"; that many difficulties beset the argument from paleontology; failure of the argument from embryology to cover the ground sufficiently; and special objections. Under the head of Several Chapters on Other Subjects included in the book may be placed the chapters on Instincts, The Origin of Man, a Future Life, Design in Nature, Evil and Altruism in Nature, and Agnosticism. The author presents his arguments in good shape and with good temper, but they seem to us to relate to a phase in the discussion that has been passed by both sides. (Published by the Christian Publishing Company, St. Louis.)

The Phylogeny and Taxonomy of Angiosperms was the subject of the address of the retiring president, Charles E. Bessey, of the Botanical Society of America, in August, 1897. The author approached the problem by the three lines of investigation—viz., the historical, in which the materials are supplied by phytopaleontology; the ontonogenetic, in which the development of the individual supplies the necessary data; and the morphological, in which the different development of homologous parts supplies our index of relationship.

The principal portion of Part XXXIII of the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research is taken up with Dr. Richard Hodgkin's Further Record of his Observations of Certain Phenomena of Trance (Mrs. Piper's case). The development of automatic handwriting is considered, and the indications are noted of the trnth of the "spirit" hypothesis as against that of telepathy from the living. In a supplementary article Mr. Harlow Gale gives an account of Psychical Research in American Universities.

Another of those clear, practical, wholly readable and wholly comprehensible garden manuals by L. H. Bailey, and published by the Macmillan Company, is The Pruning Book, a monograph of the pruning and training of plants as applied to American conditions. No prefatory ceremony is observed, but the reader is introduced at once to "the fundamentals." The philosophy of pruning is explained and illustrated by recording and picturing the history of a branch, and it is shown that pruning does not devitalize plants, but increases vigor by removing that which would perish or be weak in the struggle for existence, and concentrating the nourishment in the rest. The nature and relations of the fruit bud are described, as to different fruit trees; the nature of wounds and the healing of them are treated of in a separate chapter; the principles of pruning are unfolded; and under the heading of the incidentals the details of the art are described, with its special applications to different trees and in "some specific modes of training," and three chapters are given to the grapevine.

We find The Plant World: a Monthly Journal of Botany, edited by F. H. Knowlton, of the United States National Museum, a work of attractive qualities. The articles in the third number—the only one we have received—are brief, fresh, and to the point, furnished by competent botanists and original observers. The magazine is published by William N. Clute & Co., at Binghamton, N. Y., for one dollar a year.

The Little Pottery Objects of Lake Chapala, Mexico, described by Prof. Frederick Starr, in a bulletin of the Anthropological Department of the University of Chicago, consist of vessels, ladles, spindle-whorls of terra cotta, considerable numbers of which were found in the lake, but none in sites on the land. They are too small for any practical use, but are made with much artistic taste and skill. Professor Starr explains them tentatively as votive offerings let down into the water by cords passed through holes provided in most of them, or in which resin or gum may have been burned, or other offerings placed. They are not unique, for the American Museum of Natural History in New York has similar objects from Tillo, Oaxaca, and others are said to have been found near Palenque and near Tehuantepec.

Mr. William Paul Gerhard, a distinguished sanitary engineer and writer on the subject, has given in a little book entitled Sanitary Engineering, published by himself at 36 Union Square, East, New York, a comprehensive manual of the qualifications and duties of the sanitary engineer, considering the subject wholly from a practical point of view. A course of study in sanitary engineering is described, intended to embrace a general knowledge of civil engineering, architecture, and sanitary science in all their branches; under the head of General Practice of the Sanitary Engineer are given brief directions and hints concerning water supply, sewerage, purity of water courses, sewage disposal, street pavements, street cleaning, removal of ice and snow, removal of refuse, laying out of cities and towns, sanitation of towns and houses, and a variety of kindred subjects; and the appendix includes an article on The Work of the Sanitary Engineer in Time of Epidemics, in Time of War, and in Sudden Calamities in Civic Life.

The Ninth Annual Report of the Interstate Commerce Commission on the Statistics of Railways for the year ending with June, 1896, contains the usual reports and summaries of the statistician, a summary of railways in the hands of receivers, notes of decisions, and detailed statistical tables of mileage, corporate charges, receipts and expenditures, etc. But little change is shown from the conditions that prevailed in the year preceding.

In The Fungous Foes of the Farmer, a more than ordinarily useful contribution to the Bulletins of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Prof. Byron D. Halsted undertakes briefly to describe the worst fungous diseases of the farmer's crops and to give methods that have been successful in contending with them. As far as possible, the fungi have been considered in the order of their importance with each crop, beginning with those of the field and ending with those of the garden.

The first three volumes of the Observations made at the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory were numbered XX, XXX, and XL, the more easily to distinguish them from the other volumes of the Annals of the Astronomical Observatory at Harvard College; but the system could not be continued indefinitely without leaving too many numbers to be assigned to later volumes not yet published, so the report for 1896 is numbered Volume XLII The whole of the Blue Hills having been taken by the Metropolitan Park Commission for a public reservation, a satisfactory arrangement has been made under which the premises of the observatory are reserved to it so far as is necessary for observatory use, so that the continuation of the work is assured, with the expectation that it will ultimately become a part of that carried on directly by Harvard University. At present Mr. A. Lawrence Rotch provides the means for carrying it on. Of the observations recorded in the present report, the most important were those of clouds in co-operation with the international system of cloud observations, and the exploration of the air by means of kites.

The fourth volume, 1896, Studies from the Yale Psychological Laboratory, E. W. Scripture, editor, contains articles on Reaction Time in Abnormal Conditions of the Nervous System; Influence of the Rate Change upon the Perception of Difference in Pressure and Weight, and Weber's Law in Illusions, by C. E. Seashore; and on Reaction Time, Voluntary Effort; New Apparatus and Methods, and Psychological Measurements, by the editor, E. W. Scripture. Published at Yale University, New Haven (pp. 141), for $1.

Owing to the large amount of original matter that has lately appeared in the Pharmaceutical Review, and the consequent reduction in other departments, it has been deemed advisable hereafter to publish the more technical scientific articles under a separate cover, to be known as the Pharmaceutical Archives. This will be supplied for $1 a year, while the price of the Pharmaceutical Review is $2, and both will be sent for $2.50 a year. The first number of the Pharmaceutical Archives consists of 24 pages, and contains four articles. Published at Milwaukee, Wis. Edward Kremers, editor.

In the Thirteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of Connecticut, the scope of the investigations has been enlarged as to the inquiry respecting the conditions of workingmen. The readiness manifested by the people in assisting the agents' bureau is recognized. Of the five parts into which the report is divided, the first relates to the condition of workingmen, the second to the condition of manufacturers, the third to the hours of labor and wages in mercantile establishments, the fourth to the rates of wages paid in municipal employment, and the fifth includes an abstract of bills passed or rejected during the last session of the General Assembly and decisions of courts in various States. The operation of the act concerning alien laborers is represented as having been "most beneficial." The services of the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration were not required during the year covered by the report (1897).

The Story of Germ Life, in D. Appleton and Company's Library of Useful Stories, has been prepared by Prof. H. W. Conn, of Wesleyan University, one of our most expert bacteriologists, in view of the fact that bacteria are associated in most minds chiefly with disease. "The last few years have, however, emphasized the importance of these organisms in many relations independent of disease, but this side of the subject has not yet attracted very general attention, nor does it yet appeal to the reader with any special force." His purpose, therefore, is to give a brief outline of our knowledge of bacteria and their importance in the world, including, besides their well-known agency in promoting disease, their even greater importance as agents in other natural phenomena. Their nature as plants is described, and their uses in the arts, the dairy, and natural processes are discussed, and the relations of parasitic bacteria to disease and the method of combating them are considered.

The Economic Relations of Life Insurance to Society and State is the subject of Publication No. 218 of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. It includes papers on the subject, read at a meeting of the academy, held in December, 1897, by L. G. Fouse and M. M. Dawson, with discussions by W. D. Whiting, G. E. Freyer, and R. P. Falkner. Published by the academy at Philadelphia, for .55 cents.

N. W. Ayer & Son's American Newspaper Annual for 1898, including its catalogue and accounts of American newspapers and descriptions of towns, etc., in which newspapers are published, forms a volume of 1366 pages, besides those devoted to advertisements. It contains the names of 2,142 publications not found in the previous volume, yet the total net gain is only 137—the smallest, with one exception, ever yet recorded. Reasons are adduced to show why the gain should not naturally have been larger, but, making full allowance for these, there still seems to have been an unusually large mortality in the newspaper world during 189*7. A growing conviction of publishers is noted, "that in a very large number of cases there have been too many newspapers, and that one strong paper is better than two or three weak concerns struggling for existence."

The Passing of Plato, a commencement address by Prof. O. P. Jenkins, of Leland Stanford Junior University, celebrates the decay of the scholastic methods and teaching, and the advance of the scientific method to supremacy.

We have received the first number of the Journal of Applied Microscopy, L. B. Elliott, editor, published monthly by the Bausch and Lomb Optical Company, Rochester, N. Y. It is intended to supply what is believed to be a want of the country, of a journal devoted to microscopical instruments and technics, regarded from the practical point of view. It is to be conducted on an entirely independent basis. Subscription price, $1 a year.

An important paper on Road Materials and Road Building has been prepared by Dr. Frederick H. Merrill, director of the New York State Museum, and is published by the University of the State of New York. In it the problem of road improvement in New York, and the character and value of the material in the State available for road making, are discussed, directories of producers of road material and quarrymen are given, and liberal citations are made, largely as to the methods of construction, from the reports of the Massachusetts Highway Commission. Two pocket maps show the distribution of rocks in New York suitable for road material and the location of quarries; and more than a dozen photographs illustrate what has been done in Massachusetts.

  1. Pasteur. By Percy Frankland and Mrs. Percy Frankland. New York: The Macmillan Company (Century Science Series). Pp. 234. Price, $1.25.
  2. A Laboratory Manual of Practical Botany. By Charles H. Clark. American Book Company. Pp. 271. Price, 93 cents.
  3. The Laborer and the Capitalist. By Freeman Otis Willey. New York: Equitable Publishing Company. Price, $1.25.
  4. Practical Electricity and Magnetism. By John Henderson. Vol. II. New York: Longmans, Green & Co. Pp 488.
  5. The Science of Law and Law-making. Being an Introduction to Law, a General View of its Forms and Substance, and a Discussion of the Question of Codification. By R. Floyd Clarke, of the New York Bar. New York: The Macmillan Company. Pp. 473. Price, $4.
  6. A History of Italian Literature. By Richard Garnett. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 431. Price, $1.50.
  7. Brown Men and Women; or, The South Sea Islands in 1895 and 1896. By Edward Peeves. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co. New York: The Macmillan Company. Pp. 294. Price, $3.50.