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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 9/October 1876/Literary Notices

LITERARY NOTICES.

The Five Senses of Man. By Julius Bernstein, Professor of Physiology in the University of Halle. With Numerous Illustrations. No. XXI. of the "International Scientific Series." Pp. 304.

The work intrusted to the accomplished Professor of Physiology at Halle, Dr. Bernstein, has been admirably performed. Aware of the importance of his undertaking, and that his work would promptly reappear in all civilized countries, the author has taken his time, and produced a volume second to none in the series to which it belongs, and which will be valued as an able and permanent contribution to physiological literature. Many works have appeared upon this general subject, of varied merit, but they have generally been more anatomical than physiological, and have dealt rather with the mechanism of sensation than with its processes and philosophy. Prof. Wilson's book, published several years ago, was a pleasant piece of rhetorical work, but wholly inadequate as a scientific discussion of the subject, even at that time. Dr. Bernstein has taken up the problem of the senses of man from the latest point of view reached by physiology and psychology, and, while very full and clear in his description of the instruments and apparatus of sensation, the strength of his book and its more especial claim to attention will be found in the lucid analysis which he gives of what may be called the psychical aspect of sense-activity. He views the senses as the biological gateways where impressions from the external world pass into the organism, and are transformed, through the wonderful endowments of the nervous system, into consciousness in the mental sphere. This is unquestionably the profoundest mystery in the realm of life, and the ultimate how of this transformation will probably forever remain one of Nature's impenetrable secrets. But all ultimate explanations are beyond the grasp of science, which completes its work when it has analyzed and established the conditions of phenomena. No doubt it would be interesting to solve the ultimate problems of Nature, were such a thing possible to the human mind, but it is only of importance to find out that which is capable of being known. Even this field is inexhaustible, and whatever explanation may be reached we are never certain that a deeper explanation is not still attainable. In this matter of the nature and operation of the senses great progress has recently been made, and physics, chemistry, physiology, histology, and psychology, have all contributed their separate rays to the illumination of the subject. Many points are unsettled, and many perplexities and obscurities remain to be cleared up; but there has still been an immense amount of efficient and successful work of research that required to be digested by some master-hand so as to be available for the common reader who has no time to master elaborate scientific treatises. It was not an easy thing to find a man competent, interested, and willing to undertake this, task; but it fortunately fell into the right hands. Dr. Bernstein has proved himself to be not only possessed of the requisite knowledge, but to be an adept in the art of presenting it, as will be seen by the extract from his work given in the present number of the Monthly. He had a reputation as a clear and skillful writer, which the present volume will enhance; while the translation does him justice, and presents his exposition in an attractive English form. This volume is one that might be well adopted as a text-book for our schools.

Similarities of Physical and Religious Knowledge. By James Thompson Bixby. Pp. 266. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Price, $1.50.

Our readers will be interested in the article on "Religion and Science as Allies," by Mr. J. T. Bixby. This gentleman is author of the volume under the foregoing title—a work written in a liberal spirit, with much discrimination and judicial fairness, and which aims to get down to the radical harmonies of religion and science. There is a steadily-deepening interest in the thinking world on the question of the relations of these two subjects which relates to both their analytical and historical aspects. Mr. Bixby' s book-is one of the best representatives of a large class of works that are devoted to working out the fundamental relations of science and religion. The inquiry goes deep, and still involves the most radical disagreements among thinkers of different schools. Partial views must still be expected while thinkers remain partisans, for current scholarship is not yet broad enough to deal with a problem so comprehensive in a thoroughly synthetic and unifying way. But there is compensation from the number of earnest and vigorous minds that are taking it up on its various sides, and, from the thorough sifting which the subject will thus receive, we may expect a wider agreement and more pacific relations among the parties interested. The present work is written in the interest of peace, but the author does not shirk its difficulties, and is aware how large must be the mutual concessions before lasting concord can be gained. He is an independent thinker, who has studied carefully the later products of scientific literature, and treats them with marked critical ability. The volume is full of instruction, well presented, and we cordially recommend it to readers interested in this line of inquiry.

The Scientific Bases of Faith. By Joseph John Murphy, author of "Habit and Intelligence." Pp. xliv-474. 8vo. London: Macmillan & Co. 1873. Price $5.00.

We regard this work as of unusual interest and value, and taken in connection with its predecessor, "Habit and Intelligence," it should be welcomed by those who desire a more harmonious adjustment of the relations among the thinkers and believers (often coexistent in the same person) of the present time. It is an attempt to "harmonize Scripture with science," that is say, to "try by how little distortion of the sense of Scripture, and by how little misrepresentation of the facts of science, the narratives of the Old Testament may be made to coincide with the facts disclosed by scientific research." Through twenty-nine chapters, with an "introduction" and a "conclusion," Mr. Murphy discusses such subjects as the relations of "Metaphysical and Positive Philosophy," "The Metaphysical Interpretation of Nature," "The Bases of Knowledge," "The Limits of our Knowledge," "The Proof of Deity from Intelligence and Design," "The Structure of the Universe," "Nature and the Religious Sense," "Immortality," "The Relation of History to Religion."

The author is, we believe, a clergyman of the lately disestablished Church of Ireland, and his views of Scripture inspiration and interpretation may fairly be called "broad," as that word is now understood in the English Church; but we rarely find a man who seems more reverent in spirit: courteous, critical, and fair, he is worthy of a patient, candid hearing, alike from those who hold very "conservative" views of the Bible and of orthodoxy on the one hand, and on the other from those who are inclined to think that the "age of faith" has passed away before the more certain and substantial things of the "age of science."

Mr. Murphy asserts it to be "as certain as history and philosophy can make it that science is absolutely independent of theology;" yet he insists that science and faith are closely related, and that no treaty of peace can be established on the assumption that they have nothing to do with each other. His view of their mutual relation is illustrated by reference to that between matter and life, and life and mind, life presupposing matter as its basis, mind presupposing life as its basis. So science (using the word in its largest meaning and application) is presupposed as the basis of religion, which he believes will ultimately be recognized as the summit and crown of all knowledge. His plea for the validity and value of consciousness as a base of knowledge, and his demand for a place for the metaphysical method coördinate with the inductive, are suggestive and able. Belief in the past, trust in the reality of memory, in personal identity, in the uniformity of the order of Nature, and in an external world, is metaphysical—is made known by consciousness only, and is of the nature of faith.

We are reminded here from time to time, as we read, of Bixby's lately-published work on "Similarities of Physical and Religious Knowledge," but we have no space to attempt even an approach to a complete synopsis of the work, and must commend it to the personal examination of those interested.

Hay-Fever; or, Summer Catarrh: its Nature and Treatment: Including the Early Form, or "Rose Cold;" the Later Form, or "Autumnal Catarrh;" and a Middle Form, or "July Cold," hitherto undescribed; based on Original Researches and Observations, and containing Statistics and Details of Several Hundred Cases. By Geo. M. Beard, A. M., M. D., Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, etc. New York: Harpers. Pp. 266. Price, $2.00.

This is a painstaking book, that will hardly fail to prove instructive to the class of sufferers for whose benefit it has been prepared. Dr. Beard has supplemented his medical observations and experience of the disease, which he says is incorrectly termed "Hay-Fever," by an extensive series of inquiries put to patients in regard to numerous facts which it seemed impossible to get in any other way. He sent a circular containing fifty-five questions to a large number of persons, and received reports of some two hundred cases, giving much valuable information; and this, with his considerable personal practice, is made the basis of his treatment of the subject. In regard to the nature of the malady, he observes in the preface:

"The theory taught in this book, that this disease is a complex resultant of a nervous system especially sensitive in this direction, acted upon by the enervating influence of heat, and by one or several of a large number of vegetable and other irritants, has the advantage over other theories that it accounts for all the phenomena exhibited by the disease in this or in any other country.

"The transmissibility of the disease from parents to children; the temperaments of the subjects; the capricious interchanging of the early, the middle, and the later forms; the periodicity and persistence of the attacks, and their paroxysmal character; the points of resemblance between the symptoms and those of ordinary asthma; the strange idiosyncrasies of different individuals in relation to the different irritants; the fact that it is a modern disease, peculiar to civilization; the fact that it abounds where functional nervous disorders are most frequent, and is apparently on the increase pari passu with other nervous diseases; and, finally, the fact that it is best relieved by those remedies that act on the nervous system—all these otherwise opposing and inconsistent phenomena are by this hypothesis fully harmonized. Those, however, who are unwilling to accept this interpretation will in this work find a résumé that is meant to be both impartial and exhaustive of other theories, and of all known facts relating to this affection, wherever observed. . . . Bearing in mind that this work will find its readers mostly among the laity, and chiefly among the sufferers from the disease, the aim has been to avoid, so far as might be, purely technical words and phrases, and, while keeping strictly within the limits of science, to bring every point within the comprehension of those who know little or nothing of medicine, save what has been wrought into them by their own painful experiences with this distressing malady."

Report on the Hygiene of the United States Army, with Descriptions of Military Posts. By John S. Billings, Assistant Surgeon, U. S. A. Washington: Government Printing-Office. 1875. Pp. 567.

The author begins his report with an allusion to the difficulty experienced by army medical men in getting their recommendations on sanitary matters attended to by the officers in charge of the posts, and follows this with the order of 1874, defining the duties of the medical officer so far as they relate to the hygienic management of the soldiers. This order seems broad enough for all practical purposes, and, could the officers be got to coöperate in carrying out its provisions, the result would undoubtedly be a material lessening of disease and mortality in the army. But, as now managed, both disease and mortality are largely in excess of what they should be. From a table showing the ratio per thousand of mortality in the United States Army as compared with the mortality of males between twenty and forty years of age in civil life, it appears that the death-rate from disease among the soldiers is from twice to three times as great per thousand as among civilians. The author ascribes this partly to the character of the food, which is often deficient in fresh vegetables, but mainly to the habitations in which the soldiers are obliged to live. In many instances these are without provision for ventilation, are often much overcrowded, and are rarely furnished with adequate appliances for bathing and the maintenance of cleanliness of person. In the matters of clothing and hospital service the author considers the troops generally well provided for. The bulk of the report is taken up with descriptions of military posts, furnished by different members of the army medical corps.

Eighth Annual Report on the Noxious, Beneficial, and Other Insects of Missouri. By C. V. Riley, State Entomologist. Pp. 196. Jefferson City: Regan & Carter print.

The noxious insects considered in this volume are the Colorado potato-beetle, canker-worm, army-worm, Rocky Mountain locust, and the grape phylloxera. One innoxious insect, the yucca-borer, is treated of. The loss sustained in the State of Missouri in 1875 from injury done to grains alone by the Rocky Mountain locust is estimated by Prof. Riley at $15,000,000. Accordingly, we are not surprised that the greater part of the annual report should be devoted to this insect. Several interesting questions regarding the natural history of the locust are discussed, such as its transformations, the habits of the unfledged locusts, the directions in which the young locusts travel, etc. It has been asserted that young locusts are led in their marches by "kings" or "queens," but this Prof. Riley declares to be an error. "Certain large locusts," he writes, "belonging to the genera Acridinia and Œdipus hibernate in the full-grown, winged state, and not in the egg-state, like the Rocky Mountain species always with us; their presence was simply more manifest last spring, when the face or the earth was bare. Hopping with the others, or falling into ditches with them, they gave rise to this false notion, and it is an interesting fact, as showing how the same circumstances at times give rise to similar erroneous ideas in widely-separate parts of the world, that the same idea prevails in parts of Europe and Asia."

The Geological Agency of Lateral Pressure exhibited by Certain Movements of Rocks. By W. H. Niles. Pp. 15. Boston: Kingman print.

Prof. Niles has studied, in five different localities, the evidences proving the continued action of the lateral pressure occasioned by the earth's contraction. His general conclusions are 1.—That the rock at these localities has been brought into a compressed condition by a powerful lateral pressure, acting only in a northerly and southerly direction; and, 2. That, when opportunity is presented, the compressed rock expands with great energy.

Geographical Variation among North American Mammals. Also, Sexual, Individual, and Geographical Variation in Leucosticte tephrocotis. By J. A. Allen. Pp. 41. Washington: Government Printing-Office.

Mr. Allen finds the variation in size, with latitude, to be surprisingly great in wolves and foxes, amounting in some species to twenty-five per cent, of the average size of the species, while in other species of the Feræ it is almost nil. Contrary to the general impression, the variation in size among representatives of the same species is not always a decrease with the decrease of the latitude of the locality, but is in some cases exactly the reverse.

Transactions of the Kansas State Horticultural Society (1875). Pp. 277. Topeka: G. W. Martin print.

The State Horticultural Society of Kansas appears to be a very industrious and efficient body. Two meetings were held during the year 1875, and the proceedings are here fully reported. An important feature of the volume before us is the reports of the county vice-presidents. These officers are charged with the duty of organizing local horticultural societies, and of reporting annually to the society upon horticultural matters in their localities.

The Constants of Nature. By F. W. Clarke, S. B. Washington: The Smithsonian Institution.

In 1873 the Smithsonian Institution published Part I. of the above-named work, and we have now before us Parts II. and III., as also a first supplement to Part I. In this first part are given tables of specific gravities, boiling-points, and melting-points. Part II. is a table of specific heats for solids and liquids, and Part III. gives tables of expansion by heat for solids and liquids. In compiling these tables Prof. Clarke has expended a vast amount of labor—a labor of love, inasmuch as his services are rendered gratuitously.

Archivos do Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Industrial. Pp. 30, quarto, with Plates.

The Archivos is published quarterly, and is the organ of the National Museum of Brazil. Its first object is to give an account of the contributions to science made by that institution, but it will also from time to time contain essays on scientific subjects from other sources. In the present number (which is the first) there are three articles, viz.: "Studies of the Shellheaps (Sambaquis) of Southern Brazil," by Carlos Wiener; "On Some Tangas" (well translated "fig-leaves" in the Nation) "of Baked Clay used by the Ancient Inhabitants of the Island of Marajō," by Ch. Fred. Hartt; and "Studies upon the Morphological Evolution of the Tissues in Sarmentose Caules," by Ladislau Netto.

 

 
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The Kinematics of Machinery. By F. Reuleaux. Pp. 638. New York: Macmillan. Price, $7.50.

Elements of Latin Grammar. By G. Fischer, LL. D. Pp. 236. New York: Schermerhorn. Price, $1.25.

Forest Culture and Eucalyptus-Trees. By E. Cooper. Pp. 237. San Francisco: Cubery & Co.

Exploring Expedition from Santa Fe to the Junction of Grand and Green Rivers. By J. S. Newberry. Pp. 148. With Plates. Washington: Government Printing Office.

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The Ultimate Generalization. Pp. 56. New York: Somerby.

Chorea. By G. T. Stevens, M. D. Pp. 19. New York: Appletons.

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Plastic Dressing in Fractures of Lower Extremity. By D. W. Yandell, M. D. Pp. 10. Indianapolis: Journal print.

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Guide to the Museum of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Pp. 128.

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Explorations of Mounds near Davenport, Iowa. By R. J. Farquharson, M. D. Pp. 18. With Plates. Salem (Mass.): Press.

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Mask of Comus. Edited by H. B. Sprague, A. M. Pp. 35. New York: Schermerhorn.

English Grammar. By S. W. Whitney, A. M. Pp. 160. New York: Schermerhorn.

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Report on the State Lunatic Asylum. Pp. 72. Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co. print.

American Shakespeare Bibliography. By K. Knortz. Pp. 16. Boston: Schoenhof & Moeller.

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Human Rights and the Natural Laws of Marriage. By G. J. Ziegler, M. D. Pp. 263. Philadelphia: The Author.

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Geological Survey of Minnesota. By N. H. Winchell. Pp. 162. With Maps. St. Paul: Pioneer Press print.

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