صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

uine christian liberality. It is true, that the most learned of the Jesuits are modest and unassuming, and, contrary to the general opinion among protestants, liberal, also. All honor to this class; far be it from us to depreciate their educational labors in the slightest degree; those whom we criticize, and to whom we would present the good example of the Christian Brothers, are neither modest, unassuming, nor liberal as educators, precisely because they are not qualified for their positionsbecause they have not undergone that intellectual discipline which, while it teaches the difference between ignorance and knowledge, at the same time, imparts a wholesome vigor to the mind.

Paris Universal Exposition, 1867. Reports of the United States Commis

sioners., Machinery and Processes of the Industrial Arts and Apparatus of the Exact Sciences.. By FREDERICK A. P. BARNARD, LL.D., United States Commissioner. 8vo, 669. Washington: Government

Printing Office. 1869. We confess that we very seldom even glance at books bearing the government imprint, the reason being that we expect little from such. In general they seem as if it had been their chief object to serve the printer and the paper manufacturer. But the volume now before us forms a remarkable exception, Happening to look at different other parts, before the title page, we did not hesitate to come to the conclusion that it came from the press of the Harpers, as that house had recently, de more,

issued some excellent works, including a fine new edition of Humboldt's “ Cosmos.” And far from dispelling the illusion, the name of Dr. Barnard, of Columbia College, rather strengthened it, for reasons which will be sufficiently obvious to those aware of the scholarly attainments and literary abilities of that gentleman.

All this may imply a confusion of ideas on our part, but, be it so; at all events, an examination of the book has satisfied us that as Boætia has produced a Pindar, so may the government printing office be occasionally expected to produce a learned, valuable, and interesting work, for such is really the character of that now before us.

The briefest way in which we can give our readers an idea of the reason why it is so, is by transcribing the first paragraph of the preface :

" The following report is an attempt to comply with that portion of the instructions issued by the Secretary of State to the Commission of the United States, to the Exposition of 1867, which required a report to be prepared upon the new inventions in the useful arts, illustrated in the Exposition. It need hardly be remarked that an entirely satisfactory execution of a task like that here presented, could be reesonably expected only from the co-operation of a number of individuals, severally qualified, by previous familiarity with the different departments of industry represented, to appreciate the merits of the various objects subjected to their examination. The preparation of the required report was therefore, originally, very properly, confided to a committee ; but the plan of a joint report, at first contemplated, was found in the end to be impracticable, and was accordingly aban

doned. Some members of the committee preferred to direct their attention to the study of special subjects, and the general duties imposed on the committee devolved at length upon the present reporter alone. This statement is felt to be necessary in explanation, or rather, perhaps, in justification of an attempt on the part of the reporter to execute a task not will. ingly assu med by him, and which he found no encouragement to undertake in the consciousness of special qualification."

That the task is ably executed no unprejudiced person, competent to form an intelligent opinion, will deny. Our wonder is that any one of Dr. Barnard's time of life, could have performed such an amount of intellectual labor within so brief a period, and perform at the same time, except while absent from New York, various other duties no less exacting or onerous. It would be impossible to give even a vague idea, in this brief glance, of the multifarious subjects' which are discussed by Dr. Barnard, as only a man familiar with the sciences, and wielding & graphic, lucid pen, could discuss them.

Fourteen elaborate chapters are devoted to the industrial arts, and four chapters to the exact sciences. It is certainly no exaggeration to say that most of these chapters contain more interesting and useful information than an equal number of the scientific lectures generally delivered before large and admiring audiences. The opening chapter, on The relation of invention to industrial progress," is one of the most brilliant and able essays, of its kind, we have read in several years. Some idea may be formed of the numerous topics commented upon, to a greater or less extent, in this volume, from the fact that its alphabetic index extends to eighteen pages in small type.

66

Bibliothèque des Merveilles, publiée sous la direction de M. EDOUARD

CHARTON. Les Mercielles Célestes, Lectures du Soir, par CAMILLE FLAMMARION, Auteur de La Pluralité des Mondes habités. · Deus. ième édition, illustrée de 46 vignettes astronomiques, et de deux planches. 8vo., pp. 394. Paris : Librarie de L. Hachette & Cie,

1867. This volume is the seventh of a series of upwards of thirty, devoted to the popularization of several departments of science. The list of subjects is very varied, ranging from balloons to railways, from grottos to • astronomy, from the intelligence of animals to lighthouses. Architect

ure, meteorology, optics, vegetation, parks and gardens, eartlıquakes, volcanoes, the coasts of France, ruins, tombs, glaciers, gold, silver, sound, glass-making, the plastic arts; all find a place in the catalogue, and these topics have been treated by writers who have made cach particular subject their speciality. The names of these professors may be well known in France, but, with one or two exceptions, they have not universal reputation.

M. Flammarion is already known by his treatises on the Plurality of

inbabited World's, Imaginary and Real Worlds, and Studies on Astronomy. The theory of the plurality of worlds finds few opponents at the present day, though received with hostility when Fontenelle brought it forward, and Whiston indulged in speculations thereon, at the beginning of the last century. The late Professor Whewell, master of Trinity College, Cambridge, England, it is true, revived opposition to it, but failed to convince the world that he aimed at anything else than the glorification of his own university. We have not read La Pluralité des Mondes habitės, but we have carefully examined the Merveilles Celestes, and infer from the style of the latter, that the author has thrown into the former all the fervor and enthusiasm which characterizes his last work. It is, in fact, this style that constitutes the charm of the Merveilles Celestes, for, if the truth must be told, the amount of solid information contained in it does not exceed that of any elementary work on the subject that has come before us—and we have seen many. As a rule, elementary works on astronomy are unsatisfactory; they are usually filled with statistics which it is difficult to remember or even to classify. When we are told that the sun is the centre of our system ; that it revolves on its own axis; that the earth and the other planets do the same, and also revolve round the sun; that the satellites revolve round their principals; that this revolution on an axis is the cause of day and night, and partly of the tides, and that the latter are due to the attraction of the sun and moon; we have imbibed the substance of what is to be learned in astronomy, without a knowledge of mathematics.

It has always seemed to us like beginning at the wrong end to dilate upon spheres and ellipses, orbits, periodic times, parallax, radii vectors, Kepler's laws, planetary disturbances, and celestial distances, before the mind of the student has been prepared by a course of mathematics to really co rehend the difficulties of this noblest of all sciences. If it were not for diagrams, most of the elementary works on astronomy would be almost unintelligible. For the most part, they are in the form of question and answer; and the staple of the questions is distances, sizes, and times : - c. g., 1" How far is the earth from the sun?” “In how many days does the earth revolve round the sun ?”

• Which are the inferior, and which the superior planets ?” “How many times is Jupiter larger than Mercury ?" and the like; which the beginner learns by rote, and forgets when he leaves school. M. Flammarion has avoided this tiresome and unprofitable mode of teaching astronomy, and has published his work in the form of lectures to beginners. His object is, as he expresses it, in his preface, rather to create or diffuse a taste for study, than to instruct. To use his own words :

"Notre but ici est moins d'instruire que de répandre le goût de l'étude, et de montrer combien il doit être agréable d'être instruit. Nous le demandons en effet à nos jeunes lecturers : qu'ilş parmettent à leurs intelligences de s'approcher seulement au bord du

panorama révélé par la science, ils ne tarderent pas a deviner que les plus pures jouissances de notre vie sont dans le contemplation de la nature, et bientôt leur ardeur frémissant se sentira capable de comprendre les grandes vérités de la création."

M. Flammarion is an enthusiast, and, if long paragraphıs of rapturous wonder at the power and wisdom of the Almighty (somewhat closely imitating the style of Nichol's “ Architecture of the Heavens ") and frequent quotations from pocts, will achieve the end in view, his work will assuredly prove successful. The first lecture is wholly an apostrophe to Night, flavored with quotations from Byron, Young, Lamartine, and Madame de Girardin! The second is similarly addressed to the heavens, and in it the author takes occasion to impress upon his readers the doctrine that the earth and the heavens are not two separate creations, but one; the earth is in the leavens.

“Le ceil et la Terre ne font pas deux créations séparés, comme en vous l'a répété mille et mille fois ; ils ne sout qu'un. La Terre est dans le Ciel. Le Ciel c'est l'espace immense, l'étendue indefinie, le vide sans bornes.”

His efforts to give an idea of the immensity of universal space (Lecture 3) are more successful than any we have met with elsewhere. He does not attempt to define space and duration, as many philosohers have tried to do, but says, wisely : “Toute definition ne pourrait qu'obscureir l'idée primitive qui est en nous.” Starting from the earth as a point of departure, and travelling with the velocity of light in a straight line for a century, by which time the figures required to express the distance in leagues that we had travelled would have become so many as to cease to convey any idea to the mind—we should then discover the marvel of the problem—“nous n'avous pas avancé d'un seul pas deus l'espace.” ....

monter on ciel, descendre sous la terre, ces expressions sout fausses en elles mêmes, car étant situés au sein de l'infini, nous ne pouvous ni monter ni descendre il y a ni haut ni bas."

The work is divided into five arts, designated respectively, “L'Ensemble," "Notre Univers," "LeDomaine du Soleil," La Terre," and "Aspect philosophique de la creation.” The first treats of the general appearance of the heavens, the milky way, the nebula, the distribution of the stars by “agglomerations,” and the operation of a spiral movement among them, an idea suggested by an anonymous writer in 1702, and subsequently advocated by Swedenborg, to whom the world is indebted for many valuable discoveries in science, among them the atomic theory, usually attributed to Dalton. The second part treats of the sidereal world, the constellations, the zodiac, the number of the stars, the variable, temporary, binary, trinary, &c., stars, and is beautifully illustrated, as indeed, the whole work is, with engravings. The third part comprises the planetary system and comets. The fourth part discusses the movements and features of the earth and the moon and eclipses. The fifth and last comments on the doctrine of the plurality of worlds, and concludes with some reflections suggested by the contemplation of the

heavens. M. Flammarion is an elegant scholar as well as writer. He is familiar with the poetry of England and of America, and is profuse of quotations from it.

Popular Science; addressed to the American Association for the Advance

ment of Science (For the Salem, Mass., Meeting, August, 1869). By

Mrs. LINCOLN PHELPs, member of the Association. Baltimore: 1869. In this slender pamphlet we have an eloquent defence of the Lindæan system in botany, together with an earnest and convincing appeal in favor of the study of that beautiful science. In order to satisfy our readers that the brochure deserves to be read, especially by educators, we extract a paragraph or two:

"Since the days of Linnæus, there have been great advances in the science of Botany, but this very progress has, perhaps, been the cause of a retrograde movement in another direction. While there has been an enlargement of the knowledge of the laws which govern the vegetable kingdom among the few who devote themselves to the study of the science, there has been a loss of enthusiasm for botanical pursuits among students in our schools and colleges: this is to be deprecated, since such pursuits, combined with severer study, conduced greatly to heallh, and elevated and refined the taste and imagination."

The part we have italicised is particularly true. We should be glad to transcribe the paragraphs immediately following; but we can only make room for another brief passage, and this we take from the next page:

" It is a fact which can be substantiated upon inquiry, that in many female schools where botany was once a favorite study and amusement, and botanising a recreation, the science is no longer cultivated. Teachers, fearing to be behind the age, have attempted to begin with the so-called natural system, laying aside the simple method of Linnæus. Instead of begin. ning with the flower, as taught by that method, they grope among the many facts which make up what is called the natural classification, until, like the college student we have mentioned, the pupils are glad to escape from the web of tissues and the dark purlieus of cells."

-P. 5.

To the correctness of the first sentence, which is, perhaps, the most remarkable, we can, ourselves, bear testimony. We have often wondered why so little attention is paid to botany in our female schools, seminaries, colleges, &c. ; but what has surprised us most in relation to the subject is, that those schools, seminaries, and colleges, situated in the country, or in small cities and towns, pay, in general, far less attention to botany than our city institutions. Nay, in some instances, we have observed a striking contrast in this respect, for at some of the schools which we have had the pleasure of visiting in this city, from time to time, we have found some accomplished botanists among the young ladies, but never one at the country institutions, which claim to be of equal, it not superior rank! Thus, for example, the young ladies at Vassar College seemed fond enough of horseriding and certain other “field sports ; ” but if tney paid any attention to botany, we neither heard nor saw any cvidence of the fact during our late visit to that institution.

Most of our readers are aware that Mre. Phelps is an eminent educator

« السابقةمتابعة »