Popular Science Monthly/Volume 55/August 1899/General Notices


The qualification of Mr. Frederick A. Ober to write a book about Puerto Rico and its Resources[1] is indicated by the facts that he visited every point of importance on the island in 1880, and revisited it as West Indian Commissioner for the Columbian Exposition. To the fruits of observations made during these two visits he has added information gathered from the books that have been written about Puerto Rico by Spanish and other officers. A plain, concise account of the island is presented, without sensational exaggerations and free from apparent padding. It begins with the consideration and estimation of the commercial and strategic value of the island. Next its coastal features, rivers—of which it seems to have a relatively good supply—and harbors are described. Then the climate, which is "hot and moist, yet in the main less injurious to the health of white people than that of adjacent islands"; seasons, which are not very variable; and hurricanes, which appear to be rather an important feature. As to products, they are of course tropical, and grow, as in Mexico, in three zones of climate and vegetation. Considering these more specially a chapter is given to Sugar, Tobacco, Coffee, and Cacao; another to Fruits, Spices, Cereals, and Food Plants; and a third to Dyes, Drugs, Woods, and Minerals. The chapter on Natural History includes accounts of game and insect pests. The topographic description begins with San Juan, the capital, and takes in the cities and towns of the coast and the inland towns and routes of travel. A few words are devoted to the government as it has been, and the general characteristics of the people are briefly sketched. Accounts of their foods, drinks, diversions, etc., are given, after which the author passes to the Indians of Puerto Rico. Two chapters relate to the general and the recent history of the island respectively. Considerable information of a statistical character is included in an appendix.

President D. S. Jordan's Footnotes to Evolution[2] is made up of popular essays or addresses on the general subject of organic evolution which were given originally as oral lectures before University Extension Societies. Three of them have been also published in this Monthly, and as many in another magazine. Besides the author's own twelve essays, he has inserted in this volume three other papers of special importance, setting forth the present state of knowledge concerning the methods of evolution and of heredity. These are on the Factors of Organic Evolution as displayed in the Process of Development, by Prof. E. G. Conklin; the Physical Basis of Heredity, by Prof. F. M. McFarland; on The Testimony from Paleontology, by Prof. J. P. Smith. President Jordan's own essays begin with a discussion of the kinship of life. This is followed by three articles on evolution, relating to its nature, elements, and factors from the point of view of embryology, and an application of the subject in the paper on The Heredity of Richard Roe, in which the rise of race types from the survival of the existing race with its best results modified and preserved by the survival of the fittest is illustrated. In the seventh essay certain facts of animal distribution as related to the origin of species are considered; in the eighth (Latitude and Vertebrata) the curious biological problem of the possession of more numerous vertebræ by northern than by tropical fishes is considered—a problem the solution of which on any other hypothesis than that of the derivation of species would be impossible. The evolution of mind is then taken up as the sum total of all psychic changes, actions, and reactions, and this development is extended to nations the laws of whose greatness "expand themselves from the laws which govern the growth of the single cell." In the essay on Degeneration a lesson is drawn in favor of individual initiative. Hereditary Inefficiency is discussed in view of the danger from pauperism. Some of the aspects of the woman question are considered in another of the essays. In the paper on The Stability of Truth some recent enunciations of Lord Salisbury, Mr. Balfour, and Haeckel respecting science are criticised. The last essay is on The Struggle for Realities, and concerns the relations of science and conservatism, the Church, etc.

Mr. Robert P. Porter's volume on Industrial Cuba[3] deals with living questions of the island. It aims to give a description of Cuba as it appeared to the author when he visited it in the fall of 1898 as special commissioner of the United States to report on its industrial, commercial, and financial condition. It is the result of nearly seven months' inquiry and hard work, in which the island was visited three times, more than five hundred witnesses were examined, and "numerous statements" were studied and analyzed. Among the special subjects treated of are the political and economical condition of Cuba, the outlook for labor, the population, sanitary work, Colonel Waring's report, municipal problems in Havana, banks and currency, the revenue and tariffs, commerce, sugar, tobacco, mines and mining, agriculture and stock, timber and fruit, transportation, navigation, education and religion, and the outlook for the future.

Naturalists and bibliophiles have reason to be grateful to Mr. Call for his verbatim reproduction of Rafinesque's Ichthyologia Ohioensis.[4] The book is of importance as constituting, in the language of the editor, the foundation of fresh-water ichthyology in America. No book dealing specifically with the Ohio Valley area as a region has since been published. The original description of many fish forms which are now recognized by ichthyologists as good species were first given in this book, and many have not since been reprinted. Further, the book contains the first and most complete description, to date, of the Ohio River from Pittsburg down, with notices of all its tributaries. Its value as a book about fishes is not limited to the Ohio River, for the species of that stream are found, to a greater or less extent, throughout the Mississippi Valley, so that it is in effect a necessity to all students of the fresh-water fishes of that territory. The editor regrets that Rafinesque did not preserve in some manner the types of his genera, instead of which, when the technical description was completed and some common form, if one was known, was referred to, the specimen was discarded or rejected. Hence his descriptions can not be compared conveniently with prepared specimens in cabinets or with descriptions made from them, but the student must go to the river and look up the living fish. The original papers of Rafinesque on fishes were published in The Western Review and Miscellaneous Magazine, Lexington, Ky., in 1819, 1820, and 1821. The matter was then arranged in book form from the same type. Two different systems of pagination resulted. These have both been indicated in the present edition by the insertion of the numbers at their proper places. The reprint is an exact copy of the original, including even typographical errors, excepting only the style of type. Of the original edition only eight copies are known to exist, so that the republication was desirable to preserve the book, as well as for the facilitation of reference, and of this only two hundred and fifty numbered copies are printed for the market.

Mr. Douglas Houghton Campbell has endeavored, in his Lectures on the Evolution of Plants,[5] to present in as untechnical a manner as seemed feasible the more striking facts bearing upon the evolution of plant forms, believing that it will fill an existing want among English text-books. The substance of the work was given originally in the form of lectures to classes in Leland Stanford Junior University. After an introduction, in which a few fundamental principles are presented, elementary structures are defined, and accepted classification is mentioned, the conditions of plant life are treated of as relating to food substances, water, life, division of labor, and movements, of which all plants exhibit more or less marked ones, that may be spontaneous. While in the simple unicellular plants all the functions are performed by a single cell, a gradual division of labor takes place as we go up, first in a separation of the vegetative and reproductive cells, and later a further specialization of both vegetative and reproductive functions, culminating in the seed plant. This course is described as exemplified in the simplest forms of life, algæ, fungi, mosses and liverworts, ferns, and seed plants of the different classes. The study of the geological relations, fragmentary as their teachings are, has yielded most important evidence for tracing the succession of plant forms. Observation of geographical distribution casts much light on the subject. The relations of animals and plants have an important bearing. The influence of the environment embraces many factors, and is often shown in conspicuous features of form and structure adapting plants to certain sorts of conditions and enabling them to resist others. Plants have thus succeeded in adapting themselves to almost every environment.

Prof. Augustus de Morgan's book On the Study and Difficulties of Mathematics,[6] though originally published more than sixty years ago, is still fresh and suggestive and full of matter valuable alike to students and teachers, and possesses qualities of clearness of reasoning and intelligibility from which many mathematical treatises are unfortunately free. Its purpose is to notice particularly several important points in the principles of algebra and geometry which have not obtained their due importance in elementary works in those sciences. Metaphysical points are avoided, and the method of explaining by reference to some particular problem, with hints as to more general adaptation, is adopted. Among the points taken up and classified are the nature and objects of mathematics, arithmetical and algebraic notation, rules and principles, equations, the negative sign, roots and logarithms, geometrical subjects, and application of algebra to measurements. The editor of the present edition, Mr. Thomas J. McCormack, has corrected the errata of the old edition and incorporated such changes as the progress of time and mathematical literature have made seem proper. An excellent portrait of De Morgan is given.

The purpose of Carpenter's Geographical Reader, North America (American Book Company), is to give its readers a living knowledge of some of the wonders of the country and continent in which they live. They are taken by the author, Mr. Frank G. Carpenter, on a personally conducted tour through the most characteristic parts of the American continent, studying the most interesting features of life and work among the people, learning how they are governed, and how they make their living. Much information is also given concerning the natural resources and the physical features of the countries visited.

The Japan-American Commercial Journal is a monthly periodical started with the beginning of the year, with an especial view to the opening of the empire of Japan to unrestricted foreign trade and residence, for the advancement of the reciprocal interests of Japan and the United States. It is printed in English and Japanese, and is published at Tokio by the Japan-American Commercial and Industrial Association, for $2.50 a year.

The Anglo-Saxon is a monthly magazine, the first number of which is dated November, 1898, "devoted to the identity of the Anglo-Saxon race with the house of Israel." It is edited by George E. Inglin, and published by the Anglo-Saxon Publishing Company, Chicago. The title of the first paragraph—"Cui bono"—seems to us to suggest a very appropriate question. The argument seems to be that the house of Israel was appointed to universal dominion, and the Anglo-Saxon race, between England and the United States, with its late war "as nearly a Christian war as any war might be," is getting it.

Among the general papers in the second volume, containing Parts II and III, of the Report of the Commissioner of Education for 1896-'97 are those on Federal and State Aid to Higher Education, the First Common Schools of New England, the Learned Professions and Social Control, and the Beginnings of the Common-School System in the South. Statistics of foreign universities are given, with a paper on the Teaching of Geography in certain foreign countries, and consular reports on educational topics. Professor Boas's paper on the Growth of Toronto Children is included. Educational matters of interest in various States are reported upon. An Eskimo vocabulary is introduced. A special report on education in Alaska appears. Part III is devoted to statistical matter.

The Occult Science Library is a course of seven essays on the subject of practical occultism by Ernest Loomis. The author assumes that the rules based on the occult principles of Nature would, if fully applied, enable any person to invoke the assistance of occult forces in every practical rule of life, and that they may with like success be applied in matters of health, the acquisition of knowledge, the formation of plans, and the solution of religious and ethical enigmas. The publishers claim that the maxims of the book have proved their efficiency to the satisfaction of thousands who have read them. (Published by Ernest Loomis & Co., Chicago.)

Mr. James G. Needham has furnished, in Outdoor Studies (American Book Company), one of the fullest and most systematic guides or "reading books," as he calls this one, for Nature study that we have seen. Recognizing that there is no lack, in numbers, of books offering object lessons, etc., for children of the earlier years intervening between the primary and the high school, he has prepared this book to supply for the later years of that period "a few lessons of greater continuity, calling for more persistence of observation and introducing a few of the simpler of our modern conceptions of Nature at large." The lessons presuppose some years of experience of life and some previous training in observation; they are given simply for the sake of the interest and educative value of the facts and phenomena of Nature which they set forth; and they have been written more for the boys and girls than for the teachers. The things described—birds, insects, plants, etc.—are such as can be seen anywhere. Mr. Needham tells how to study them and learn what they mean.

In Commissioner Hume, a Story of New York Schools, a sequel to Roderick Hume, the Story of a New York Teacher, Mr. C. W. Dardeen has undertaken to give a picture of rural New York schools, or rather of the administration of school affairs by commissioners as they were in 1875, and he declares it to be accurate. He represents, however, that the general tone of the commissioners has vastly changed in the period that has intervened since then, and the conditions described in the volume no longer prevail. The book is offered, therefore, as a contribution to educational history. (Published by C. W. Bardeen, Syracuse, N. Y.)

The southern half of Missouri and the Black Hills of South Dakota offer exceptionally delightful regions for the study of caves, or speleology, as well as of geology and geography. Each of these regions has its peculiar geological history and its own scenery, and possesses a number of truly wonderful caves. Some of the more important of these caves and the scenery amid which they lie are described by Mrs. Luella Agnes Owen in the book Cave Regions of the Black Hills (Cincinnati: the Editor Publishing Company), and we have been much interested in reading the accounts. The descriptions are introduced by summaries of the methods of the formation of caves and of the results of the geological and topographical explorations of the regions in which they are situated, as presented in official reports and scientific memoirs. The descriptions are for the most part relations of the author's personal explorations of the caves. The most important of these caves are Marble Cave, "the finest yet explored in Missouri," and Wind Cave, in South Dakota, said to be the largest known after the Mammoth Cave. Others are Fairy, Powell, Stone County, Oregon County Caves and the Grand Gulf in Missouri, and the Onyx and Crystal Caves in South Dakota. Many illustrations are given. The author has fine descriptive powers, but her literary style needs discipline. She is the first American, and the only woman, so far, elected to membership in the Société de Speleologie of Paris.

A valuable paper on Sympathetic Strikes and Sympathetic Lockouts is published by Mr. Fred S. Hall as the first number of the eleventh volume of the Columbia University Studies in History, Economics, and Public Law. In it, the author having fixed the definition of sympathetic strikes and lockouts as distinguished from those not sympathetic, and having found the difference between a strike and a lockout, discusses the origin and development of the two sympathetic movements, analyzes them, and forecasts the future as it is indicated by the past. Illustrations are freely drawn from the important strikes and lockouts that have occurred in the United States and abroad for a number of years past.

The Year Book of Colorists and Dyers, in the opinion of the author, Mr. Harwood Huntington, supplies a want, for, so far as he is aware, there are no other portable works in the English language to which the color-chemist can refer and find the information which he requires the oftenest. The object of the present publication is to meet the demand for a review of the advances made annually in the special field worked in by dyers and colorists—in the bleaching, dyeing, printing, and finishing of textiles—and it endeavors to do this with accuracy and brevity. (Published by the author, New York.)

The first number of The Socialist Almanac and Treasury of Facts has been issued in accordance with a decision of the National Convention of the Socialist Labor Party, held in New York in July, 1896. It has been prepared by Lucien Sanial, to whom the task was assigned by the National Executive Committee. A large proportion of it is historical, and consists mainly of monographs presenting views of the movements and condition of "militant socialism" in Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Belgium, from its beginning to the present day. Special attention is invited by the author to the monographs on Italy and Spain as tracing the struggle between socialism and anarchism to its beginning. The second part of the book contains statistical matter and comments on economical and social conditions, which, if the argument on "Who owns the Savings?" is a specimen of its quality, must be accepted with many reservations.

Prof. William Wadden Turner, a native of England who came to this country at an early age, became an eminent scholar in Oriental literature, and in 1842 a professor of that subject in Union Theological Seminary. He was called thence to Washington in 1852 to organize the library of the Patent Office, where his work was of great value. Thence he was taken by Professor Baird to catalogue and arrange the library of the Smithsonian Institution. He associated his sister with him in this work and as recorder of scientific collections and exchanges in 1858. She continued there after his death the next year, and served the library faithfully and efficiently, going with it to the Congressional Library when it was removed there, till 1886, when she resigned on account of age. She died in 1896. A Memorial of the two and of their elder sister Susan has been prepared by Mrs. Caroline H. Dall and has been printed privately.

The author of What is This? after a brief discussion of the personality of Jesus and the present degenerate condition of Christianity, goes on to say: "We must have another revelation, therefore. It seems to be a necessity. But what troubles me is this: can it be possible that any part of this revelation can come through one as humble as myself? What have I seen and what have I heard? . . . I have often pondered the great questions of man's origin and future; never until now, never until I heard this voice, have I had any glimmer of a solution of this great puzzle. I know I am nothing, but can not the Supreme Being use a mere nothing to accomplish his purpose?" Notwithstanding the author's avowed unworthiness, he seems to have been selected, and we have from his pen a new and considerably detailed book of genesis.

  1. Puerto Rico and its Resources. By Frederick A. Ober. New York: D. Appleton and Company. Pp. 282, with Map.
  2. Footnotes to Evolution. By David Starr Jordan. With Supplementary Essays by Edwin Grant Conklin, Frank Mace McFarland, and James Perrin Smith. New York: D. Appleton and Company. Pp. 392. Price, $1.
  3. Industrial Cuba. Being a Study of Present Commercial and Industrial Conditions, with Suggestions as to the Opportunities presented in the Island for American Capital, Enterprise, and Labor. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Pp. 428. Price, $3.50.
  4. Ichthyologia Ohioensis: or Natural History of the Fishes inhabiting the River Ohio and its Tributary Streams. By C. S. Rafinesque. A Verbatim and Literatim Reprint of the Original, with a Sketch of the Life, the Ichthyologic Work, and the Ichthyologic Bibliography of Rafinesque. By Richard Ellsworth Call. Cleveland: The Burrows Brothers Company. Pp. 175. Price, $4.
  5. Lectures on the Evolution of Plants. By Douglas Houghton Campbell. New York: The Macmillan Company. Pp. 319. Price, $1.25.
  6. On the Study and Difficulties of Mathematics. By Augustus De Morgan New edition. Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Company. Pp. 288.