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


The object of Professor Shaler's Outlines of the Earth's History[1] is to provide the beginner in the study of the subject with a general account of those actions which can be readily comprehended and which will afford him clear understandings as to the nature of the processes that have made this and the other planetary bodies. Those series of facts have been selected that serve to show the continuous operation of energy. The author believes that the progress of science has been much retarded by the prejudices that have grown out of the idea that the existing condition of the earth is the finished product of forces no longer in action—the "static conception of the earth," as he calls it. A special attempt is made to guard the student against such misconception by presenting clear ideas of successions of events that are caused by forces operating in and on the sphere, of which what relates to the work done by the heat of the sun is the most interesting. The influence upon the history of the earth of the fate of man is also made prominent, and the author has sought to show the way in which geological processes and results are related to ourselves. Lastly, writing for the beginner, Mr. Shaler has avoided going beyond his depth. It is greatly to the advantage of the book that the author commands an easy, flowing style that is an attraction in itself. The first chapter opens as An Introduction to the Study of Nature, which the author insists, in the second chapter—Ways and Means of Studying Nature—should be begun outdoors with familiar objects. Next an account is given of the realm of the stars, and this is followed by a general description of the earth. The chapter on the Atmosphere includes so much more than is indicated by the bare title as to embrace all the work by the air, rain, rivers, lakes, the sea, and the geological work of water. The chapter on Glaciers is also correspondingly comprehensive, and could not be passed by without a notice of the Glacial period and the causes of the peculiar phenomena it afforded. In a similar vein are considered The Work of Underground Water, The Soil, and The Rocks and their Order. Here the length of the story already told compelled the author to stop, without presenting the accounts he had contemplated of the geological ages and the succession of organic life. The book is a full one as to all the subjects it covers.

As in the volume on Aristotle of The Great Educators Series Mr. Thomas Davidson tried to give an account of ancient classical and social education, so in the present volume[2] on Rousseau he has endeavored to set forth the nature of modern, romantic, and unsocial education. This education originated with Rousseau. The proper consideration of it involves the necessity of taking Rousseau's life into the review, and this is dwelt upon at considerable length, with the end of showing that his educational structure "rests, not upon any broad and firm foundation of well-generalized and well sifted experience, but upon the private tastes of an exceptionally capricious and self-conceited nature." Hence Mr. Davidson is moved to say that if his estimate of Rousseau's value as an educator proves disappointing to those who believe in his doctrines, he is more disappointed than they are. In estimating the measure of Rousseau's influence, the author finds that upon religion it was incalculable, "supplementing, and in some ways counteracting, that of Voltaire"; in art and literature, it has been "almost paramount throughout Christendom," and, on the whole, beneficial; in the sphere of economics, "though entirely averse to socialism and anarchism, he was in a large degree the parent of both"; in politics he was the father of democracy; and in education his influence has "been powerful beyond measure." He may fairly be called the father of modern pedagogy, despite the fact that most of his positive teachings have been rejected. This has been brought about by the stimulus he gave to thought and to the revision of the old theories and methods, to which extent "his work was invaluable."

A comprehensive and instructive book, and, withal, curious and various, is Prof. Alfred C. Haddorn's The Study of Man[3] which forms one of the volumes of G. P. Putnam's Sons' "Science Series." The author, though accomplished in the sciences does not offer the work as a treatise on anthropology or its methods, but merely as a collection of samples of the way in which parts of the subject are studied. The book is not intended for students or for scientific experts, but for the amateur and the "intelligent reader." The author's wish has been not merely to interest his readers but to induce them to become workers. Accordingly, being so completely versed in the subject that he is able to do so without abating one jot of scientific accuracy, he divests his style of conventional formalities and, becoming a friendly guide, makes various excursions into the subject, "not with the object of attempting to learn something about anthropology, not for the erection of an academic study, but for the simple purpose of explaining ourselves to ourselves. Our immediate object, then, is to try and discover what the immediate significance is of certain of our bodily peculiarities, and of a few of the innumerable objects and actions that we see around us" The theory of evolution throws a bright and far reaching light on the problems of anthropology; and though we may not be able to explain the processes of or the reasons for evolution, there can be no doubt as to the fact of its occurrence. The vast importance of the study of children is recognized. From the nursery we are taken by the author to the school and the playground, endeavoring to discover in them evidence as to the direction of man's upward progress. Then reference is made to primitive survivals in child life, showing the persistence of savage psychological habit in children, and of savage and barbaric practice in their singing games. Other vestiges of the evolutionary pi ogress are found in the backward people among ourselves. These features, after the discussion of the general subject and of the facts given by physical measurements, mark the general outline of the author's treatment. As special features and illustrations, we have chapters, highly suggestive, on the evolution of the cart, the Irish jaunting-car, toys and games, cat's cradle and kites, tops and the tug of-war, the bull-roarer, the singing games of children, courting, funeral, and other games, showing how these severally embody in themselves the history of steps in mane advance from savagery up. The last chapter embodies practical suggestions for conducting ethnological investigations in the British Islands.

For several years much interest has been taken in American schools by British and Canadian educationists. Ontario has repeatedly found it profitable during the past twenty-five years to take notice of the school work done in many of the neighboring States; and our educational men have frequently been invited to address conventions of teachers in the province. In furtherance of the acquaintance thus sought, the author of this book[4] visited various places in New York for the purpose of gaining a knowledge of the schools of the State, and also studied the methods of some of the more important centers. Besides reporting what he saw of the work of the normal schools, high schools, manual training schools, and kindergartens, he has thought it well to combine with that object some description of the educational system under which they are conducted. The author thinks that no part of the republic presents a more valuable study to one interested in education than New York, and that no other part of the Union has made so much progress in education within the past dozen years. Yet the Canadians generally, and some others, regard their system of education as, upon the whole, superior to the system which prevails in any one of the States. But the educational methods of both countries are closely associated with features of their political systems; and "neither the United States nor Canada can adopt, without radical changes of another kind, some of the admirable features of the educational system which exists on the opposite side of the international boundary line."

The office of education is, according to Dr. Harris,[5] "to bring the child most expeditiously into a correct understanding of his relation to the race and into a helpful activity within civilization. The school with its various courses furnishes only one factor in this process; the institutions of family, church, and state, art and religion, play and work, each help in the development. The study of this mental unfolding and the influence of each modifying force is one of the provinces of psychology and one of great value to the educator. But of more importance to him than any theory of growth or classification of faculties is the profounder task accomplished by this science "in showing the ability of the mind to grasp ultimate reality." The old and new psychologies are sharply distinguished in methods and results. The former, whether rational or empirical, proceeds by introspection, and finds an independent self-activity with three modes of knowing: that of sense perception, which dwells upon things as realities; the understanding, which investigates relations; the reason, or insight, which apprehends absolute principles. The "new psychology," including physiological investigation and child study, exhibits the conditioning of man. As the old philosophies teach him what he is and should be, the new explain how he may grow to his full stature. There is also the dangerous possibility of arrested development, which further experiment may show him how to avoid. Too much memorizing or calculating at an early age brings the child into a rut of thought from which it is not easily extricated. Even scientific study may accomplish this by sharpening the mind to notice mere likeness or difference, and to search for causal relations. The new psychology has this field of research, and can also instruct in regard to the care of the nervous system, and give us a store of pathological knowledge, but Dr. Harris considers it "safe to assert that no positive results in pure psychology will ever be reached in its laboratories." It is by means of introspect tion alone that we arrive at the highest stage of thinking, θεωρεἳν, philosophic or theologic knowing. The old psychology thus attains the ideas of God, freedom, and immortality, "knows that the absolute is a person," and furnishes ideals of education, religion, and life. Unfortunately for the majority of scientific people, they flounder in the quagmire of the understanding and never reach the height of "angelic knowing." Isaac Newton is called the great schoolmaster in this secondary stage of thinking, which is exemplified in later times by the doctrine of the correlation of forces. Mr. Herbert Spencer, following the lead of Mansell and Sir William Hamilton, is dragged down by his theory of the relativity of knowledge and inconceivability of the infinite into an abyss of false psychology. Dr. Harris states that the trouble is "the confusion of mental images with logical thought." Agnostics, relativists, and all others must agree with him, "if we really can know the infinity of space and time and the absoluteness implied in causality, it is a matter of great concern." In his doctrine of persistent force, Mr. Spencer attains almost to the stage of insight, "it is the highest reach of the understanding, and a logical investigation would prove that Personal Being is presupposed as its true form. It is another phase of the negative unity of Spinoza and the Eleatics, and to fully realize it is to know its own futility." Among other conclusions which are doubtless reached through the higher knowing are the affirmations that man has "two selves," "is a spiritual being existing in opposition to Nature," "fate rules in Nature, but man emerges out of Nature in time and space into human nature," "human society is founded on the deep mystery of vicarious atonement which is announced in the creeds of Christendom." If these and similar dogmas prove difficult for the scientific mind to assimilate, it is not without warning from Dr. Harris. He tells us that methods of science study have not a spiritualizing tendency, and that the analytic stage of mind holds itself back determinedly from thinking the totality. In more metaphysical language, we are content with the category of otherness. In somewhat fatalistic fashion he predicts for us: "Renounce teleology and you find nothing but teleology in everything. Renounce introspection, and you are to find introspection the fundamental moving principle of all Nature." It is, however, just to say that the book is a strong, consistent exposition of the a priori philosophy and its applications, and has the saving grace of compelling its opponents to examine the ground whereon they stand.

The author of the Story of Photography[6] has high hopes for the future of photography and its capacity for continued development and production, and writes with the enthusiasm which they inspire within him. He specially seeks to present the subject in the light of a fine art and as a source of æsthetic and refined enjoyment—"not so much with the object of producing a manual to teach photography as an art, but, while giving due weight to that side of the subject, to present it in its most scientific aspects." The order of arrangement of the topics is largely historical. In the detail of "the first steps toward photography," the earliest hints perceived by experimenters of the power of the sun to produce pictures are recorded. Then the steps are followed by which the art became real, and its development, with accounts of modern processes and inventions—printing presses, color photography, the Telegraph and Photography, and Photography and Art, of which the author says in conclusion that the one who takes up the combined science and art with the motto "All that there is in it or nothing," "will find but little cause to complain of the limitations, in view of the almost boundless possibilities of photography."

In La Culture des Mers en Europe[7] (The Cultivation of the Seas in Europe), by Georges Roché, inspector general of maritime fisheries, the several branches of the propagation of fishes and oysters and the development of fisheries are treated, under the heads of piscifacture, or propagation, pisciculture, and ostreiculture. While not assuming to write a work on aqriculture, as he calls it, the author endeavors to instruct his readers concerning the working of maritime industries and the technics of the methods of fish and oyster culture. He first explains the modern methods of fishing and their results as applied to the European seas; then the methods of propagation and cultivation practiced in different countries and experiments in the reproduction of lobsters and crabs; the development of oyster culture in France since the natural supply became insufficient; and, in the last chapter, the cultivation of sponges.

The third volume of the Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada, and the British Possessions[8] completes a work of the very highest value to American students. The number of species figured in the whole work is 4,162, comprising 177 families and 1,103 genera. Eighty-one of these species, being new determinations or new discoveries made while the book was going through the press, and too late for insertion in their proper places, are figured in the appendix. A conservative course has been pursued as to the admission of new species, and only those are inserted that have passed the test of continuous observation. It has nevertheless been thought better to err in the direction of illustrating too many forms rather than in giving too few. A general key of the orders and families is placed at the beginning of the volume, preceded by a table of abbreviations of the names of the botanical authors cited. A glossary of the botanical terms used is added. The orders are not described in the work itself, but their principal distinguishing characters are given in the key. The authors are sturdy advocates of the recognition and the use, in ordinary talk and work, of the English names, and a list of all the popular names of plants belonging to our area, so far as they could be obtained, compiled by Judge Brown, is given in the general English index. A considerable number of the popular names occur in the text, in connection with the leading English names, or in the notes; and several thousand others, which could not appear in the text, are given in the index in Italics. The authors believe that no similar compilation of American plant names has ever been published.

The American Agriculturist Yearbook and Almanac for 1898 is the third number of that publication, the plan of which is to make each annual volume valuable of itself, and properly supplementary of its predecessors. It proposes to be a cyclopaedia of events, a market guide, a treasury of statistics, and a reference work on subjects of timely interest. The present number contains, first, almanac matter, general notes, and agricultural miscellany; an article on Our own Country and Government, with notices of all the States and portraits of their governors; Our Neighbors North and South of Us (Canada, Mexico, and North and South America); The Great Problems of 1898 (a summary of the present condition of important questions and interests); For the Whole Family (in which a variety of useful or curious things are considered); The Agriculturist's Guide, Commercial Agriculture, Irrigation, Lumber and Forestry, and a number of miscellaneous paragraphs. (Orange Judd Company, New York. Price, 50 cents.)

Part XII, March 7, 1898, of Minnesota Botanical Studies, Conway MacMillan, State Botanist, embraces the title-page and tables of contents and the index of a series of original, most competent, and highly valuable and interesting studies of plant phenomena published as Bulletin No. 9 of the Geology and Natural History of the State, and forming a volume of 1081 pages.

Much interesting information is well packed in a small space in Prof. Sydney J. Hickson's Story of Life in the Seas (D. Appleton and Company's Library of Useful Stories; price, 40 cents). Without presuming to treat in full any of the aspects in which marine life may be regarded, the author's purpose has been only to give a sketch of some of the most important lines of scientific researches pursued by zoölogists in many parts of the world; to compress into small compass and describe in language intelligible to the laity discoveries of the deepest interest which are in many cases described in books and periodicals that do not come within reach of the general public. The first chapter relates the progress and describes the more prominent facts of oceanography. The succeeding chapters are given to accounts of shallow-water fauna, the shallow-water fauna of the tropics, invertebrate and vertebrate surface-swimming fauna, deep-sea fauna (in which many new and remarkable discoveries are recorded), commensalism and parasitism; and in the final chapter the origin of the marine fauna is considered and the reasons are mentioned for supposing that life originated in the sea.

Prof. Dean C Worcester, of the University of Michigan, and Frank A. Bourns publish in the Proceedings of the United States National Museum lists of the birds that inhabit the Philippine and Palawan Islands, which show their distribution within the limits of the two groups.

The investigations and explorations connected with the Hopkins Seaside Laboratory, adjunct to the Biological Laboratory of Leland Stanford Junior University, have been carried on by means of assistance given by Mr. Timothy Hopkins, of Menlo Park, Cal. The tenth memoir of this series is a paper on Scientific Names of Greek and Latin Derivation, prepared by Prof. Walter Miller, and furnishing rules and hints to aid in giving such names an etymologically correct shaping. The memoirs are published as a part of the proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences.

The Centralization of Administration in New York State is a valuable political study contributed by John Archibald Fairlie to series of Studies in History, Economics, and Public Law of Columbia University. It shows how power, all centralized in the hands of the Governor in the early history of the country, was gradually taken away from him during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the towns gained a practical independence in local affairs, recognized under English rule by the Duke of York's laws; the cities of New York and Albany received a large degree of autonomy; the creation of an elected county authority immediately followed the establishment of a legislature in 1691; and the powers of the legislature and the county supervisors were both increased at the expense of the central executive during the next one hundred years. This power seems to have reached its culmination in the Constitution of 1821, after which an isolated movement or two in the reverse direction may be perceived, the beginning of a tendency that became more evident about the middle of the century. Since then the return toward centralization has become more and more marked and rapid, and has now gained great force, the tendency toward State control and direct State administration being accompanied by a marked development of what may be called local centralization. Mr. Fairlie's paper is a careful study of the causes and influences that have contributed to this later movement.

The fifteenth volume of the Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science contains the minutes of the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth annual meetings, 1895, 1896, with eight of the papers read at the former meeting, and a considerably larger number of those read at the latter. In all, forty-two papers were read at the twenty-eighth annual meeting, and forty at the twenty-ninth. Measures have been taken by the academy for the publication of scientific monographs on the resources of the State.

The Bibliography of the Metals of the Platinum Group (platinum, palladium, iridium, rhodium, osmium, and ruthenium), 17481896, prepared by Prof. J. Lewis Howe, was recommended to the Smithsonian Institution for publication by the American Association's committee for indexing chemical literature. The compiler has tried to make the record of the chemistry of the metals in question as complete as possible, and it is believed that few references of importance are omitted.

  1. Outlines of the Earth's History. A Popular Study in Physiography. By Nathanial Southgate Shaler. New York: D. Appleton and Company. Pp. 417. Price, $1.75.
  2. Rousseau and Education according to Nature. By Thomas Davidson. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Pp. 253. Price, $1.
  3. The Study of Man. By Prof. Alfred C. Haddon. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. London: Bliss, Sands & Co., pp. 410.
  4. The School System of the State of New York (as viewed by a Canadian), Prepared under the Authority of the Honorable the Minister of Education, as an Appendix to his Report. By John Millar, Deputy Minister of Education. Toronto: Warwick Brothers & Rutter. Pp. 204.
  5. Psychologic Foundations of Education. By W. T. Harris, A. M., LL. D. New York: D. Appleton and Company. Pp. 400. Price, $1.50.
  6. The Story of Photography. By Alfred T. Story. New York: D. Appleton and Company (Library of Useful Stories). Pp. 165. Price, 40 cents.
  7. La Culture des Mers en Europe. Piscifacture, Pisciculture, Ostreiculture. By Georges Roché. Paris: Felix Alcan.
  8. An Illustrated Flora of the United States, Canada, and the British Possessions; from Newfoundland to the Parallel of the Southern Boundary of Virginia, and from the Atlantic Ocean westward to the One Hundred and Second Meridian. By Nathaniel Lord Britton and the Hon. Addi on Brown. In three volumes. Vol. III, Apocynaceæ to Compositæ—Dogbane to Thistle. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Pp. 588. Price, $3 net.