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


We have already, in our sketch of James Croll (Popular Science Monthly, August, 1897), given a picture, however inadequate, of the heroic struggles of that student who, to use the words of Lord Kelvin, "presented in his life a rare case of inborn passion for philosophy and science conquering all obstacles and attaining to the object of lifelong devotion in scientific research and philosophic speculation"; and can hardly have failed to convey some idea of the incidents which his life developed, and which are set forth more in detail and consecutively in the autobiographical sketch and memoir of his life and work prepared by his friend James Campbell Irons[1] to which we were most largely indebted for the material for our sketch. It is only necessary here to call attention to this book for the information of all persons who would like to know more of Dr. Croll's life and work, as well as of those who would exalt the noble qualities displayed by the hero of the story, and laud his successful achievement. The autobiographical sketch, which was never completed, occupies thirty-two pages of the volume, and is given as Dr. Croll left it, upon the advice of Professor Masson, that "it is so characteristic that it would be best to preserve it entire, as it would be a pity to lose anything of the simple and pleasant peculiarities of the autobiographical original." To this has been added the more detailed account of Croll's life and scientific work, making up the rest of the book. Mr. Irons has been assisted in his work by many of the distinguished scientific men of Great Britain, who have furnished Dr. Croll's correspondence with them, criticisms, suggestions, etc. To the biography are added obituary notices by Lord Kelvin, Nature, and J. Home, of the Geological Survey of Scotland; a letter from Prof. R. W. McFarland, formerly of Ohio State University, on Croll's relations with America and its geologists; and a list of Dr. Croll's publications.

In Mr. Ramsey's Philosophy of Phenomena[2] all phenomena are classified as physical and metaphysical (matter phenomena and life phenomena). The cosmic forces of gravity, heat, and life are recognized as chief factors of all phenomena. The author's method is to present his views—which are usually very peremptory—in maxims or detached sentences; and we have not been able to perceive that the book as a whole leads up to anything in particular. His observations cover most of the branches of knowledge, and embrace general statements of reviews or opinions on the several points, with his own verdicts. He seems to apprehend that he will arouse animosity; but the world is more likely to respect the independent thinker who is not afraid to utter his views in plain language, and will simply take the liberty of differing from him where it does not agree.

M. Félix Le Dantec, whose publisher styles him "a young zoölogist of great promise for the future," confesses to having no new facts to present in his book on Individual Evolution and Heredity[3] The important feature of his present study is to him the method, which he believes is different from that employed by any other author who has written upon the subject. His object is to account for the inheritance of acquired characteristics, and this he endeavors to do by purely deductive methods. He believes that the sole difference between living bodies or plastids and crude substances lies in the presence or absence of the property of assimilation. This property, then, should be the basis of all biological study, and all that is general in biology should be deducible from it. Heredity is therefore a form and the work of assimilation—assimilation of the traits of ancestors transmitted to posterity and perpetuated through them.

"One approaches Hegel for the first time," says the author of The Secret of Hegel,[4] "as one might approach some enchanted palace of Arabian story. New powers, imagination is assured (were but the entrance gained), await one there—secrets—as it were the ring of Solomon and the passkeys of the universe. But very truly, if thus magical is the promise, no less magical is the difficulty; and one wanders round the book—as Aboulfaouris round the palace—irrito, without success, but not without a sufficiency of vexation. Book—palace—is absolutely inaccessible, for the known can show no bridge to it; or, if accessible, then it is absolutely impregnable, for it begins not, it enters not. What seems the doorway receives but to reject, and every attempt at a window is baffled by a fall. This is the universal experience." We are not disposed to question the appositeness of the figure as illustrating Hegel's style of thought. What now is the student to do when he finds the expositor whom he hopes to use as the passkey to this strange palace falling into the same way of inaccessibility and impenetrability as his master? Dr. Stirling's chapters on Hegel consist for the most part of certain members of a series of notes "which, as it were, fell by the way during the writer's own struggle to the Logik and the Encyclopaedie. The thought of publishing them was not entertained at the time, but, while some of them were destroyed before any such thought occurred, what remain are given unchanged; and the hope is entertained that "they may assist, or, should they fail to assist, they may succeed to encourage; for, representing various stages of success or unsuccess in the study of Hegel, they may be allowably expected to have peculiar meaning for more than one student, who, finding his own difficulties reflected in what claims to have passed them, may feel himself stimulated afresh to a renewed attempt."

A new feature presents itself at first sight in the volume on metals of Mr. Bailey's Tutorial Chemistry[5] Chemical physics is given prominence, and the first place. Yet the author has sought to include only such topics as are essential to a due appreciation of the modern science. The section, however, contains many subjects that are not commonly brought before the student at so early a stage. The elements are taken in the order suggested by the periodic system, and the characteristic properties of each family are summarized. This has been done, the author says, so as to bring out the relationships which exist between the different members of the same family, and so as to represent (by a consideration of these summaries progressively) the whole of the chemical elements in a continuous series. A list of experiments is given in the appendix. The literary style of the book is concise and clear.

Professor Ladd has written his Outlines of Descriptive Psychology[6] with the definite intention constantly in view of adapting it to certain beginners—students in colleges and normal schools—with an average grade of culture and the average amount of time at disposal. He has therefore had in mind throughout both the pupil and the teacher in their mutual relations, and has taken all pains so to present the subject that it can be "intelligently and 'economically' yet thoroughly studied and successfully taught." The subject, the phenomena of human mental life, is treated from the different points of view, and with the aid of all the methods of research, particularly those of experimental and physiological investigations, which belong to modern psychology. These investigations are, however, at least for the present, liable to the criticism that they are unable to deal with the later and more complex developments of the mind. "Unless we describe, and as far as possible explain, the growth of intellect, the knowledge of self and of things, the formation of the higher sentiments and emotions, and the conditions for the attainment of character, we neglect the main part of the task of the psychologist." Without overlooking the treatment of more fundamental processes, the author has tried to give these "higher faculties" the amount of space they deserve and require. Admitting that the value and success of the experimental method ought not to be questioned. Professor Ladd believes that its representatives are tempted to exaggerate its promise and its superior productiveness, and maintains that it can never be pursued without dependence upon introspection. Both the analytic and the genetic methods of treating the subject are followed. In the first part of the work. The Processes of Mental Life, those elementary forms of functioning which analysis discovers as entering into all mental life are described. In the second part. The Development of Mental Life, the evolution of the principal faculties of mind is traced as much as possible in their combined and interdependent action. Clearness, conciseness, and order are sought in the presentation.

Mr. Edward Bradford Titchener aims in his Primer of Psychology[7] to outline, with as little of technical detail as is compatible with accuracy of statement, the methods and results of modern psychology, and to stimulate the reader by means of questions and exercises and of references to more advanced treatises to further study of the subject. The primer stands in close relation to the author's previously published Outline of Psychology, but, being intended as a first book, its exposition is simpler, while its range is wider. Greater emphasis is laid throughout upon the fact of mental evolution. The definition of psychology and its work are discussed in the first chapter and its method in the second; and after these follow the several chapters on the conditions, operations, and powers of the mind, advancing from the simpler, sensation, etc., to the more complex, memory and imagination, thought and self-consciousness, sentiment, etc. The treatise ends with the discussion of abnormal psychology and an exposition of the province and relations of the science. The whole discussion goes, as the author believes, to show that psychology, so far as it has gone, makes up an orderly and systematic body of knowledge.

To the Concise Knowledge Library Maps D. Appleton and Company have added Astronomy, by Agnes M. Clerke and two other well-known students and writers on the subject.[8] The aim of the work is to present in concise form a popular synopsis of astronomical knowledge to date. For this purpose authors are employed who are thoroughly conversant with the science and its literature, with the present theories and with current observations and their results, and who have earned a reputation for ability to present these things in a style intelligible and interesting to the general reader; and the reports of the most recent work in astronomy in the United States and abroad have been consulted. The work of authorship is systematically divided among the three writers whose names stand as sponsors for the book. Miss Clerke gives a brief historical sketch of the science from Hipparchus to the present time and furnishes the account of the solar system. Mr. Fowler, demonstrator of astronomical physics to the Royal College of Science, briefly outlines the general principles of spherical and gravitational astronomy, and describes the instrumental means now at the command of observers in the various branches of astronomical research; and Mr. Gore treats of the sidereal heavens. The work is illustrated by a large number of diagrams, and other designs prepared expressly for it, and by a number of reproductions of photographs and drawings made by distinguished astronomers in Europe and America. Among the observers and others to whom acknowledgments are made we find the names of American astronomers frequent and conspicuous.

A great deal of useful information and as much good taste are embodied in Mr. Bailey's little book on Garden Making,[9] and it is further full of suggestions for readers who may be able and disposed to plan and carry out gardening enterprises beyond the limits of the immediate teachings of the book. It deals with the kitchen garden and the ornamental grounds, their laying out, the tools to be used upon them and the best methods of operating, what to put into them, and all matters pertaining to their care and cultivation. The first section is General Advice, the second on the Plan of the Place. Then follow hints and instructions on Planting the Ornamental Grounds, the Fruit Plantation, the Vegetable Garden, lists of trees, shrubs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, and calendars of operations for the North and the South. The author has been aided by L. R. Taft, F. A. Waugh, and Ernest Walker, professors of horticulture in Michigan, Vermont, and South Carolina.

A manual of Laboratory Experiments on the Class Reactions and Identification of Organic Substances, prepared by Prof. Arthur A. Noyes and Prof. Samuel P. Mulliken and published by the Chemical Publishing Company, Easton, Pa. (50 cents), describes experiments upon the class reactions of organic compounds; experiments illustrating the methods of detection of nitrogen, sulphur, and halogens in organic compounds; and methods of identification and separation of unknown organic substances. While the primary purpose of the experiments described is to illustrate the characteristic reactions of organic compounds, the importance of their analytical features is insisted upon, and that side has been made prominent; and an important part of the course consists in the identification of unknown compounds and the quantitative separation of mixtures by methods devised by the student himself with the help of the knowledge gained from the experiments with known substances.

In his book on the Freezing Point, Boiling Point, and Conductivity Methods of chemical laboratory work (Easton, Pa.: Chemical Publishing Company, 75 cents). Prof. Harry C. Jones aims chiefly to give an account of the operations involved in carrying out these methods in the laboratory. But, observing that they are rarely treated in a single work from the points of view of both theory and practice, and regarding the mere mechanical application of any scientific method as a matter of comparatively little significance, he has sought also to give enough of the theoretical ground on which each of them rests to enable the student to work with them intelligently, and to see clearly their scientific significance and use.

Another addition to D. Appleton and Company's series of Home-Reading Books is The Animal World, its Romances and Realities, a reading book of zoölogy, prepared by Frank Vincent on a similar plan with his book on The Plant World, which has found much favor. As in the other book, the subject has been approached from as many conspicuous and characteristic points as possible. The selections are made with a view to the entertainment they may give as well as to the instruction, and to their fitness to awaken the curiosity of readers and stimulate them to independent observation and investigation. Poetical extracts are admitted, Wordsworth, Emerson, Ferdinand Freiligrath, Shelley, Procter, Matthew Arnold, Holmes, Charles Lamb, and William Blake being represented among them. Something is given about every grand division of the animal kingdom; and articles are inserted on The Task of Classification and The Distribution of Animals.

The Forester, a valuable journal advocating the preservation and care of forests, arboriculture, and the economical management of timber, formerly published and edited by Mr. John Gifford at Princeton, N. J., has passed under the control of the American Forestry Association, which, enlarging and improving it, will make it its organ. It is intended to give prominent attention in each number to some one phase; as the White Pine Situation in the January number of 1898, the National Forest Reserves in the February, the Spruce Supply in the March, and Tree-planting in the April numbers.

Prof. David P. Todd insists, in his New Astronomy for Beginners, on the value and adaptability of astronomy as a laboratory study. It is pre-eminently a science of observation, and there is no sufficient reason why it should not be so pursued. "Although the pupil's equipment be but a yardstick, a pinhole, and the rule of three, will he not reap greater benefit from measuring the sun himself than from learning mere detail of methods employed by astronomers?" The science is presented, not as a mere sequence of isolated and imperfectly connected facts, but as an interrelated series of philosophical principles; rudimental principles of navigation in which astronomy is concerned are explained; observatories and their instruments are described; the law of universal gravitation is more fully expounded than is usual in elementary books; various questions receive special attention; while mathematical results are given, the beauty and interest of the study are not obscured by unnecessary mathematical processes; and the importance of the student's thinking rather than memorizing has been everywhere kept in mind. The book is commendable in its matter and manner. (Published by the American Book Company. Price, $1.30.)

The principal subject mentioned in the Records of the American Society of Naturalists for December, 1896, is the report of the committee on the practicability and the ways and means of further prosecuting antarctic research. The committee had given the matter some time and consideration, but was not yet in a position to state definitely the possibilities of the undertaking in question.

Under the title of Parasitic Wealth, or Money Reform (Chicago, Charles H. Kerr & Co., $1), John Brown issues "a manifesto to the people of the United States and to the workers of the whole world," calling attention to financial and social reforms which he thinks are needed and proposes. He thinks it a monstrous wrong that so few men should hold so vast a proportion of the property and domain of the country as is in the possession of the corporations and the relatively small group of wealthiest men; that the system of interest is wrong; that the monetization of gold is a mistake and contributes to the growth of parasitism; and that the protective system is unjustly oppressive. His plan of reform includes nationalization of land, railroads, waterways, and telegraphs by purchase, the certificates issued in payment for these franchises to constitute our money; the value of the money to be regulated by a land-tax rate, and its volume to be maintained on a uniform per capita basis and to be of such amplitude as to avoid premiums; the demonetization of money metals and the redemption of all coin money and paper obligations in the new lawful money; the nationalization of banks and the establishment of a bank service charge in lieu of interest; the repeal of all tariff, excise, and internal revenues, to be replaced by the land tax; maintenance of a public improvement fund; the removal of all public service out of the reach of partisan influence or interference; and selective immigration.

From a study of The True Route of Coronado's March (1540) through New Mexico and the intervening districts to the Arkansas River, in the light of the writings of the period, F. S. Dellenbach has come to conclusions entirely at variance with those of all previous investigators. His paper is very interesting for this reason and in itself.

  1. Autobiographical Sketch of James Croll, LL. D., F. R. S., etc. By James Campbell Irons. London: Edward Stanford. Pp. 553.
  2. Philosophy of Phenomena. By George M. Ramsey. Boston: Banner of Light Publishing Company. Pp. 208.
  3. Evolution individuelle et hérédite; Théorie de la Variation qualitative. By F. Le Dantec. Paris: Félix Alcan
  4. The Secret of Hegel. Being the Hegelian System in Orioin, Principle, Form, and Matter. By James Hutchison Stirling. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Pp. 751.
  5. The University Tutorial Series. The Tutorial Chemistry. Part II, Metals. By G. H. Bailey. Edited by William Briggs. London: W. B. Clive, University Correspondence Press. New York: Hinds & Noble, Cooper Institute. Pp. 300
  6. Outlines cf Descriptive Psychology. A Textbook of Mental Science for Colleges and Normal Schools. By George Trumbull Ladd. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Pp. 428. Price, $1.50.
  7. A Primer of Psychology. By Edward Bradford Titchener. New York: The Macmillan Company. Pp. 314. Price, $1.
  8. The Concise Knowledge Library. Astronomy. By Agnes M Clerke, A. Fowler, and J. Ellard Gore. New York: D. Appleton and Company. Pp. 581, with plates. Price, $8.
  9. Garden Making; Suggestions for the Utilization of Home Grounds. By L. H. Bailey. New York: The Macmillan Company. Pp.417. Price, $1.