Popular Science Monthly/Volume 54/February 1899/General Notices


In Four-Footed Americans and their Kin[1] a similar method is applied by Mabel Osgood Wright to the study of animals to that which was followed with reference to ornithology in Citizen Bird. The subject is taught in the form of a story, with dramatic incident and adventure, and miniature exploration, and the animals are allowed occasionally to converse and express their opinions and feelings. The scene of the action is "Orchard Farm and twenty miles around." Dr. Hunter and his daughter and colored "mammy" have returned there to their home after several years of travel, with two city youths who have been invited to spend the summer at the place and are told the story of the birds. Another family have come to make an autumn visit, but it is arranged that they should spend the winter at the farm. "What they did, and how they became acquainted with the four-footed Americans, is told in this story." Most of the common animals of the United States are met or described in the course of the party's wandering, as creatures of life rather than as in the cold and formal way of treating museum specimens, and a great deal of the lore of other branches of natural history is introduced, as it would naturally come in in such excursions as were taken. The scientific accuracy of the book is assured by the participation of Mr. Frank M. Chapman as editor. At the end a Ladder for climbing the Family Tree of the North American Mammals is furnished in the shape of a table of classification; and an index of English names is given. The illustrations, by Ernest Seton Thompson, give lifelike portraits and attitudes and are very attractive.

St. George Mivart, whose enviable reputation as a specialist in natural history has perhaps given some justification for his attempts at philosophy, has recently published a new philosophical work entitled The Groundwork of Science[2] It is an effort to work out the ultimate facts on which our knowledge, and hence all science, is based. A short preface and introductory chapter are devoted to a statement of the aims of the work and some general remarks regarding the history of the scientific method. An enumeration of the sciences and an indication of some of their logical relations are next given. The third chapter, entitled The Objects of Science, is given up chiefly to a refutation of idealism. The methods of science, its physical, psychical, and intellectual antecedents, language and science, causes of scientific knowledge, and the nature of the groundwork of science are the special topics of the remaining chapters. The general scheme of the inquiry is based on the theory that the groundwork of science consists of three divisions. "The laborers who work, the tools they must employ, and that which constitutes the field of their labor. . . . Science is partly physical and partly psychical. . . . The tools are those first principles and universal, necessary, self-evident truths which lie so frequently unnoticed in the human intellect, and which are absolutely indispensable for valid reasoning. . . . The nature of the workers must also be noticed as necessarily affecting the value of their work. . . . And, last of all, a few words must be devoted to the question whether there is any and, if any, what foundation underlying the whole groundwork of science." The result at which the author arrives is stated as follows: "The groundwork of science is the work of self. conscious material organisms making use of the marvelous first principles which they possess in exploring all the physical and psychical phenomena of the universe, which sense, intuition, and ratiocination can anyhow reveal to them as real existences, whether actual or only possible. . . . The foundation of science can only be sought in that reason which evidently to us pervades the universe, and is that by which our intellect has been both produced and illumined."

A large amount of information, mainly of a practical character, has been gathered by Mr. William J. Clark in his book on Commercial Cuba[3]—information, as Mr. Gould well says in the introduction he has contributed to the work, covering almost the entire field of inquiry regarding Cuba and its resources. The data have been partly gained from the author's personal observation and during his travels on the island, and partly through laborious and painstaking classification of existing material, collected from many and diverse sources. The subject is systematically treated. The first chapter—How to Meet the Resident of Cuba—relates to the behavior of visitors to the island, really a considerably more important matter than it would be in this country, for the Spaniards are strict in their regard for correct etiquette. It is natural that a chapter on the population and its characteristics and occupations should fellow this. Even more important than correct behavior—to any one at least but a Spaniard—is the subject of climate and the preservation of health; and whatever is of moment in relation to these subjects is given in the chapter devoted to them. Next the geographical characteristics of Cuba are described, and the facilities and methods of transportation and communication; also social and political matters, including government, banking, and commercial finance, and legal and administrative systems of the past and future. A chapter is given to Animal and Vegetable Life, another to Sugar and Tobacco, and a third to Some General Statistics, after which the several provinces—rinar del Rio, the city and province of Havana (including the Isle of Pines), and the provinces of Matanzas, Santa Clara, Puerto Principe, and Santiago—are described in detail, with their physical characteristics, their agricultural or mining resources, their various towns, and whatever else in them is of interest to the student of economics. A Cuban Business Directory is given in the appendix.

A Collection of Essays is the modest designation which Professors J. C. Arthur and D. T. MacDougal give to the scientific papers included in their book on Living Plants and their Properties[4] The authors deserve all praise for having taken the pains without which no book composed of occasional pieces can be made complete and symmetrical, to revise and rewrite the articles, omitting parts "less relevant in the present connection," and amplifying others "to meet the demands of continuity, clearness, and harmony with current botanical thought." Of the twelve papers, those on the Special Senses of Plants, Wild Lettuce, Universality of Consciousness and Pain, Two Opposing Factors of Increase, The Right to Live, and Distinction between Plants and Animals, are by Professor Arthur; and those on The Development of Irritability, Mimosa—a Typical Sensitive Plant, The Effect of Cold, Chlorophyll and Growth, Leaves in Spring, Summer, and Autumn, and the Significance of Color, are by Professor MacDougal. Based to a large extent on original investigations or careful studies, they present many novel thoughts and aspects, and constitute an acceptable addition to popular botanical literature.

Having described the great and growing interest taken in child study, President A. R. Taylor announces as the principal aim of his book, The Study of the Child,[5] to bring the subject within the average comprehension of the teacher and parent. Besides avoiding as much as possible technical terms and scientific formulas, the author has made the desire to announce new principles subservient to that of assisting his fellow-workers to a closer relationship with the child. As teachers and parents generally think it extremely difficult to pursue the study of the child without at least a fair understanding of the elements of psychology, the author intimates that they often forget that the study will give them that very knowledge, and that, properly pursued, it is the best possible introduction to psychology in general. Every chapter in the present book, he says, is an attempt to organize the knowledge already possessed by those who know little or nothing of scientific psychology, and to assist them to inquiries which will give a clearer apprehension of the nature and possibilities of the child. The treatise begins with the wakening of the child to conscious life through the senses, the nature and workings of each of which are described. The bridge over from the physical to the mental is found in consciousness, which for the present purpose is defined as the self knowing its own states or activities. The idea of identity and difference arises, symbols are invented or suggested, and language is made possible. The features of language peculiar to children are considered. Muscular or motor control, the feelings, and the will are treated as phases or factors in development, and their functions are defined. The intellect and its various functions are discussed with considerable fullness; and chapters on The Self, Habit, and Character; Children's Instincts and Plays; Manners and Morals; Normals and Abnormals; and Stages of Growth, Fatigue Point, etc., follow. A very satisfactory bibliography is appended.

The Discharge of Electricity through Gases[6] is an expansion of four lectures given by the author, Prof. J. J. Thomson, of the University of Cambridge, at Princeton University in October, 1896. Some results published between the delivery and printing of the lectures are added. The author begins by noticing the contrast between the variety and complexity of electrical phenomena that occur when matter is present in the field with their simplicity when the ether alone is involved; thus the idea of a charge of electricity, which is probably in many classes of phenomena the most prominent idea of all, need not arise, and in fact does not arise, so long as we deal with the ether alone. The questions that occur when we consider the relation between matter and the electrical charge carried by it—such as the state of the matter when carrying the charge, and the effect produced on this state when the sign of the charge is changed—are regarded as among the most important in the whole range of physics. The close connection that exists between chemical and electrical phenomena indicates that a knowledge of the relation between matter and electricity would lead to an increase of our knowledge of electricity, and further of that of chemical action, and, indeed, to an extension of the domain of electricity over that of chemistry. For the study of this relation the most promising course is to begin with that between electricity and matter in the gaseous or simpler state; and that is what is undertaken in this book. The subject is presented under the three general headings with numerous subheadings of The Discharge of Electricity through Gases, Photo Electric Effects, and Cathode Pays.

For a clear and concise presentation of the framework of psychology and its basal truths, the Story of the Mind[7] may be commended. Although the space afforded is only that of a bird's-eye view, no skeleton bristling with technical terms confronts us, but an attractive and well-furnished structure with glimpses of various divisions that tempt us to further examination. The text is simply and charmingly written, and may induce many to search the recesses of psychology who, under a less skillful guide, would be frightened away. A bibliography at the end of the volume supplies what other direction may be needed for more advanced study. Admirable in construction and treatment as the book is, there are, however, paths in which we can not follow where Professor Baldwin would lead, and in others that we undertake with him we do not recognize our surroundings as those he describes. This is especially the case with the environment of the genius. We do not find that "he and society agree in regard to the fitness of his thoughts," nor that "for the most part his judgment is at once also the social judgment." If such were the case, how would he "wait for recognition," or be "muzzled" for expressing his thoughts? In almost all cases it is the story of Galileo over again. In art, science, and social reform he sees far beyond his fellows. Society can not accept him because it has not the vision of a genius. He contradicts its judgment and is fortunate when he escapes with the name of "crank." The military hero does not enter into this category: he glorifies the past rather than the future; he justifies the multitude in a good opinion of itself and, is therefore always received.

The first edition of Professor Bolton's Catalogue of Scientific and Technical Periodicals[8] was issued in 1885, and was intended to embrace the principal independent periodicals of every branch of pure and applied science, published in all countries from the rise of this literature to the present time, with full titles, names of editors, sequence of series, and other bibliographical details, arranged on a simple plan convenient for reference; omitting, with a few exceptions, serials constituting transactions of learned societies. In cases where the scientific character of the journal or its right to be classed as a periodical was doubtful, and in other debatable cases, the compiler followed Zuchold's maxim, that "in a bibliography it is much better that a book should be found which is not sought, than that one should be sought for and not found." The new edition contains as Part I a reprint from the plates of the first edition, with such changes necessary to bring the titles down to date as could be made without overrunning the plates; and in Part II additions to the titles of Part I that could not be inserted in the plates, together with about 3,600 new titles, bringing the whole number of titles up to 8,4*77, together with addenda, raising this number to 8,603, minus the numbers 4,955 to 5,000, which are skipped between the first and second parts. Chronological tables give the dates of the publication of each volume of the periodicals entered. A library check list shows in what American libraries the periodicals may be found. Cross-references are freely introduced. The material for the work has been gathered from all available bibliographies, and by personal examination of the shelves and catalogues of many libraries in the United States and Europe, and from responses to circulars sent out by the Smithsonian Institution. The whole work is a monument of prodigious labor industriously and faithfully performed.

In Theories of the Will in the History of Philosophy[9] a concise account is given by Archibald Alexander of the development of the theory of the will from the early days of Greek thought down to about the middle of the present century; including, however, only the theories of the more important philosophers. In addition to contributing something to the history of philosophy, it has been the author's purpose to introduce in this way a constructive explanation of voluntary action. The account closes with the theory of Lotze; since the publication of which the methods of psychology have been greatly modified, if not revolutionized, by the development of the evolutional and physiological systems of study. The particular subjects considered are the theories of the will in the Socratic period, the Stoic and Epicurean theories; the theories in Christian theology, in British philosophy from Bacon to Reid, Continental theories from Descartes to Leibnitz, and theories in German philosophy from Kant to Lotze. The author has tried to avoid obtruding his own opinions, expressing an individual judgment only on matters of doubtful interpretation; and he recognizes that speculation and the introspective method of studying the will appear to have almost reached their limits.

Dr. Frank Overton's textbook of Applied Physiology[10] makes a new departure from the old methods of teaching physiology, in that it begins with the cells as the units of life and shows their relations to all the elements of the body and all the processes of human action. The fact of their fundamental nature and importance is emphasized throughout. The relation of oxidation—oxidation within the cells—as the essential act of respiration—to the disappearance of food, the production of waste matters, and the development of force, is dwelt upon. The influence of alcohol is discussed in all its aspects, not in a separate chapter, but whenever it comes in place in connection with the several topics and subjects treated. Other narcotics are dealt with. A chapter on inflammation and taking cold is believed to be an entirely new feature in a school textbook. Summaries and review topics are arranged at the end of each chapter; subjects from original demonstrations and the use of the microscope are listed; and many hygienic topics, such as air, ventilation, drinking water, clothing, bathing, bacteria, etc., are specially treated.

The prominent characteristic of Professors F. P. Venable and J. L. Howe's textbook on Inorganic Chemistry according to the Periodic Law[11] is expressed in the title, and is the adoption of the periodic law as the guiding principle of the treatment, and the keeping of it in the foreground throughout. So far as the authors have noticed, the complete introduction of this system has not been attempted before in any textbook. They have made the experiment of following it closely in their classes, and their success through several years has convinced them of its value. "In no other way have we been able to secure such thorough results, both as to thorough, systematic instruction and economy of time. The task is rendered easier for both student and teacher." After the setting forth of definitions and general principles in the introduction, the elements are taken up and described according to their places and relations in the periodic groups, and then their compounds are described successively, with hydrogen, the halogens, oxy> gen, sulphur, and the nitrides, phosphides, carbides, silicides, and the alloys. The treatment is systematic, condensed, and clear.

The purpose of Mr. John W. Troeger's series of Nature-Study Readers is declared by the editor to be to supply supplementary reading for pupils who have been two years or more at school. They are composed, moreover, with a view to facilitating the recognition in the printed form of words already familiar to the ear, and to making the child at home with them. In carrying out this purpose the author takes advantage of the child's fondness for making observations, especially when attended by his companions or elders. In doing this the aim has been kept in view not to weary the child with details, and yet to give sufficient information to lead to accurate and complete observations. Most of the chapters in the present volume, Harold's Rambles, the second of the series, contain the information gleaned during walks and short excursions. Among the subjects concerned are birds, mammals, insects, earthworms, snails, astronomy, minerals, plants, grasses, vegetables, physics, and features connected with the farm. These Naturestudy readers are published as a branch of Appletons' Home-Reading series. (New York: D. Appleton and Company. Price, 40 cents.)

Another of Appletons' Home-Reading Books is News from the Birds, which the author, Leander S. Keyser, explains has been written with two purposes in mind: first, to furnish actual instruction, to tell some new facts about bird life that have not yet been recited; and, second, to inspire in readers a taste for Nature study. It is by no means a key for the. identification of the birds; but, instead of telling all that is or may be known respecting a particular bird, the author has sought only to recite such incidents as will spur the reader to go out into the fields and woods and study the birds in their native haunts. For the most part the author has given a record of his own observations, and not a reiteration of what others have said. He has gone to the birds themselves for his facts, and has made very little use of books.

It has been Mr. Ernest A. Congdon's aim, in preparing his Brief Course in Qualitative Analysis (New York: Henry Holt; 60 cents), to render it as concise as possible while making the least sacrifice of a study of reactions and solubilities of chemical importance. The manual covers the points of preliminary reactions on bases and acids; schemes of analysis for bases and acids; explanatory notes I on the analyses; treatment of solid substances (powders, alloys, or metals); and tables of solubilities of salts of the bases studied. A comprehensive list of questions, stimulative of thought, is appended. The book is intended merely as a laboratory guide, and should be supplemented by frequent "quiz classes" and by constant personal attention. The course has been satisfactorily given in the Drexel Institute within the allotted time of one laboratory period of four hours, and one hour for a lecture or quiz per week, during the school year of thirty-two weeks.

Lest we Forget is the title which President David Starr Jordan has given to his address before the graduating class of Leland Stanford Junior University, May 25, 1898—"lest we forget" the dangers and duties and responsibilities laid upon us by the war with Spain. Though delivered before the "policy of expansion" was fully developed, the address describes with prophetic accuracy the dream of imperialism with which the minds even of men usually sane and honest have become infected, and points out a few of the logical results to which they would lead, and the dangers which will have to be incurred in gratifying them. We cite a few of the strong points made by the author: "Our question is not what we shall do with Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines; it is what these prizes will do to us" "Shall the war for Cuba Libre come to an inglorious end? If we make anything by it, it will be most inglorious." "I believe that the movement toward broad dominion, so eloquently outlined by Mr. Olney, would be a step downward."

  1. Pour-Footed Americans and their Kin. By Mabel Osgood Wright. Edited by Frank M. Chapman. New York: The Macmillan Company. Pp. 432, with plates. Price, $1.50.
  2. The Groundwork of Science. A Study of Epistemology. By St. George Mivart. Pp. 328. Price, $1.75. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. London; Bliss, Sands & Co.
  3. Commercial Cuba. A Book for Business Men. By William J. Clark. Illustrated. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Pp. 514, with maps.
  4. Living Plants and their Properties. A Collection of Essays. By Joseph Charles Arthur (Purdue University) and Daniel Trembly MacDougal (University of Minnesota). New York: Baker & Taylor. Minneapolis: Morris & Wilson. Pp. 234.
  5. The Study of the Child. A Brief Treatise on the Psychology of the Child, with Suggestions for Teachers, Students, and Parents. By A. R. Taylor. New York: D. Appleton and Company. (International Education Series.) Pp. 215. Price, $1.50.
  6. The Discharge of Electricity through Gases. Lectures delivered on the occasion of the Sesquicentennial Celebration of Princeton University. By J. J. Thomson. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Pp. 303. Price, $1.
  7. The Story of the Mind. By James Mark Baldwin. New York: D. Appleton and Company. Pp. 232. Price, 40 cents.
  8. A Catalogue of Scientific and Technical Periodicals, 1665-1895, together with Chronological Tables and a Library Check List. By Henry Carrington Bolton. Second edition. City of Washington: Published by the Smithsonian Institution. Pp. 1247.
  9. Theories of the Will in the History of Philosophy. By Archibald Alexander. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Pp. 357. Price, $1.50
  10. Applied Physiology for Advanced G ades. Including the Effects of Alcohol and Narcotics. American Book Company. Pp. 432. Price, 80 cents.
  11. Inorganic Chemistry according to the Periodic Law. By F. P. Venable and James Lewis Howe. Easton, Pa: The Chemical Publishing Company. Pp. 266. Price, $1.50.