AN unbeliever in the possibilities of an exact historical science. Mr. Goldwin Smith, has said that history is like a child’s box of letters, out of which we may spell whatsoever we please. As illustrative of his meaning, he might have taken the works of any of the old jurists, say Domat or Blackstone, for instance, and shown that that which they called history was too apt to be nothing more than a succession of ingenious but not always happy guesses.
FOR ten years we have been busy organizing national education. A vigorous use of bricks and mortar is not generally accompanied by a careful examination of first principles,* but now that we have built our buildings and spent our millions of public money, and civilized our children in as speedy a fashion as that in which the great Frank Christianized his soldiers, we may perhaps find time to ask a question which is waiting to be discussed by every nation that is free enough to think, whether a state education is or is not favorable to progress ?
IN reception of food, animals have been compared to plants turned outside in. The plant absorbs nourishment by pores in the foliage and rootlets. Higher animals absorb food by similar closed tubes which line a cavity of the body. This interior cavity, the food-tract or alimentary canal, is the most important and the most nearly universal organ of the animal structure.
ASTRONOMERS say that this world of ours, which seems to us so large, is in fact so small in comparison with the sun and stars, that its presence or absence is, to the universe, a matter of inconceivably small importance ; and that, even in its own system, it would hardly be noticed by an eye capable of taking in at one view the sun and its attendant planets.
AMONG the strange practices of olden times nothing can be conceived more truly absurd than the trial, by legal proceedings, of animals accused of high crimes and misdemeanors, which prevailed, more or less, from the twelfth to the seventeenth centuries, and present a curious picture of the habits of thought during those periods.
WHOEVER would watch the growth of the human mind must first make the soul of the child the object of a methodical investigation. The new-born child in its pitiful helplessness is already an object of extraordinary interest for the psychologist ; yet it seems incomprehensible that the progressive unfolding of the senses of the infant—of his will, his reason, his passions, his virtues—has not engaged the attention of any but his relatives.
I THINK most people have a general idea of what a climbing plant is. Even in the smoky air of London two representatives of the class flourish. A certain house in Portman Square shows how well the Virginian creeper will grow ; and the ivy may be seen making a window-screen for some London dining-rooms.
THERE is no portion of Mr. Darwin’s great superstructure which has been subjected to more searching criticism than his theory of sexual selection—the theory that beauty in animals is dependent, in part at least, upon the choice of brightly colored, ornamented, or musically endowed mates by one or other sex among all the more highly developed classes, such as insects, crustaceans, birds, and mammals.
M.L. GRANDEAU, Professor in the School of Forestry, of • France, was the first to point out definitely the influence of atmospheric electricity on the nutrition of vegetation. His labors are described in the “ Annales de Chimie et de Physique,” for February, 1879, and he there gives the results of experiments carried out in 1876-’78.
IT is the office of education to direct the mental growth of the individual ; and this should be by a developing and not by a cramming process. In our present system there is too much burdening of the verbal memory, and too little of what may be called the objective memory, resulting from the exercise of the mind upon actual objects.
THE seventeenth century must be regarded as the most memorable in the history of science ; our own age has been remarkable for the skillful application of scientific analysis, but it has not produced a Bacon and a Galileo, a Harvey and a Newton.
THE system of night instruction is so widely different in Europe and America that the following statistics are given with a view to show which of the two methods, as represented by the schools of New York and Paris, has been most successful and of most practical utility to its students.
IN 1849, Dr. Harvey, the author of the “ Phycologia Britannica,” describing his visit to the University of Pennsylvania, remarked, “ There I met several persons, among whom was Dr. Leidy, a young man who will be famous if he lives and goes ahead according to present promises.” The promises have been fulfilled.
IN an article published in the July number of your magazine, I said, in speaking of the red-bellied nuthatch, The author of ‘ Land and Game Birds of New England ’ notes that a nest was found in Roxbury in 1866.” This reference should have been to the “ Birds of New England,” by Samuels.
THE American Association for the Advancement of Science will hold its twenty-ninth annual meeting in Boston, commencing Wednesday, August 25th, and continuing perhaps a week. It is expected that this will be the largest and probably the most important scientific gathering yet held in this country ; and ample arrangements have been made, by a large and efficient local committee, both for the business accommodation of the body in all its departments and for the convenience and pleasant entertainment of the members and guests who may be present.
EARLY MAN IN BRITAIN, AND HIS PLACE IN THE TERTIARY PERIOD. By W. BOYD DAWKINS, F. R. S. New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 537. Price, $6.50.
REPORTS OF THE PEABODY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ARCHÆOLOGY AND ETHNOLOGY, IN CONNECTION WITH HARVARD UNIVERSITY. Vol. II. 1876-’79. Cambridge : printed by order of the Board of Trustees. 1880. Pp. 775.
THE TAXIDERMIST’S MANUAL. By Captain THOMAS BROWN, F. L. S. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. 1879. Pp. 199. Price, $1.25.
SPECTRES FUGITIFS OBSERVÉS PRÈS DU LIMB SOLAIRE (Fugitive Spectra observed near the Solar Limb). By M. L. TROUVELOT.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE DAVENPORT ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCES, Vol. ii., Part II. July, 1877, to December, 1878. Davenport, Iowa : published by J. D. Putnam, March, 1880.
HEALTH AND HEALTHY HOMES ; A GUIDE TO DOMESTIC HYGIENE. By GEORGE WILSON, M. A., M. D. With Notes and Additions by J. G. RICHARDSON, M. D. Philadelphia : Presley Blakiston. 1880. Pp. 307. Price, $1.50.
WATER ANALYSES FOR SANITARY PURPOSES, WITH HINTS FOR THE INTERPRETATION OF THE RESULTS. By E. FRANKLAND, Ph. D., D. C. L., F. R. S. Philadelphia : Presley Blakiston. 1880. Pp. 149. Price, $1.
HEALTH. By W. H. CORFIELD, M. D., Professor of Hygiene and Public Health at University College, London. New York : D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 361. Price, $1.25.
THE CHILD’S CATECHISM OF COMMON THINGS. By JOHN D. CHAMPLIN, Jr. New York : Henry Holt & Co. 1879. Pp. 289. Price, 60 cents.
FREE LAND AND FREE TRADE : THE LESSONS OF THE ENGLISH CORN-LAWS APPLIED TO THE UNITED STATES. By SAMUEL S. Cox. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. 1880. Pp. 126. Price, $1.25.
SEA-AIR AND SEA-BATHING. By JOHN H. PACKARD, M. D. Philadelphia: Presley Blakiston. 1880. Pp. 121. Price, 50 cents.
RADICAL MECHANICS OF ANIMAL LOCOMOTION. With Remarks on the setting up of Soldiers, Horse and Foot, and on the supplying of Cavalry-Horses. By Colonel WILLIAM PRATT WAINWRIGHT. New York: D. Van Nostrand. Pp. 294. Price, $1.50.
THE MICROSCOPE IN MEDICINE. By LIONEL S. BEALE, M. B., F. R. S. Fourth edition. With more than 500 Illustrations, most of them drawn on wood by the author. Philadelphia : Presley Blakiston. 1878. Pp. 539. Price, $7.50.
THE FIELD ENGINEER. By WILLIAM FINDLAY SIIUNK, C. E. New York : D. Van Nostrand. 1880. Pp. 325. Price, $2.50
HYGIENIC AND THERAPEUTIC RELATIONS OF HOUSE-PLANTS. By J. M. ANDERS, M. D., Ph. D. Philadelphia : J. B. Lippincott & Co. 1880. Pp. 16.
THE FABULOUS GODS DENOUNCED IN THE BIBLE. Translated from Selden’s “ Syrian Deities.” By W. A. HAUSER. Philadelphia : J. B. Lippincott & Co. 1880. Pp. 178. Price, $1.25.
PRACTICAL KERAMICS FOR STUDENTS. By C. A. JANVIER. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 1880. Pp. 258. Price, $2.50.
SCHILLER’S COMPLETE WORKS, IN ENGLISH. Edited by CHARLES J. HEMPEL, M. D. Philadelphia: J. Kohle. 1879. Pp. 1282.
THE subject of primitive man and his history, as obscurely traced by archæological research, has now come to be so extensive that is has become necessary to concentrate research in special directions, as the whole field is too large for any one man to cultivate.
American Climate and Character.—Mr. C. Edward Young, of Hartford, Connecticut, has given in “ The Sanitarian ” a summary of the opinions which several distinguished European hygienists have expressed respecting the influence of our climate upon the temperament and civilization of the American people.
PROFESSOR WILLIAM LEE, M. I)., of Washington, is the author of the article entitled “ The Extreme Rarity of Premature Burials,” published in the August “ Monthly.” The misspelling of the name was an editorial blunder, for which we beg to apologize both to Dr. Lee and to our readers.