Imágenes de páginas

and his successors,' Mr. Newton does not allude to Mr. Stamataki's opinion (quoted by Prof. Jebb) that the tombs in the oval space by the Acropolis are probably anterior to the Achæan dynasty, and the substructions of the house on the hill-top decidedly non-Hellenic in character. It is chiefly, however, for its admirable survey of the successive forms that Greek art assumed, from its most archaic semi-Oriental type to the almost purely imitative period of Roman ascendancy, that Mr. Newton's present volume will be welcomed. And from this point of view it will be not more useful to the professed archæologist than to the unlearned multitude, who merely wish to acquire an intelligent understanding of the details and motif of the priceless treasures of Greek art in the great galleries of our national museum.

The Spirit of Nature: being a Series of Interpretative Essays on the History of Matter, from the Atom to the Flower. By HENRY BELLYSE BAILDON, B.A. Cantab. J. and A. Churchill.

[ocr errors]

The first thought which occurs to a reader of this book who knows anything of its author's previous work is, perhaps, 'Ne sutor ultra crepidam.' Mr. Baildon has already evinced no small power as a poetic interpreter of Nature, and here we have still further evidence that his strength lies in this direction. By far the finest parts of The Spirit of Nature' are those in which the imaginative-and generally the æsthetic -elements come into play: for instance, in chapter v., where the author talks and dreams of the leaf and the flower, or in the passages in which he characterizes the mission and appearance of the fern, or gives utterance to the delight which one feels in the study of the grass. Here he is at home, and we are at home with him. Indeed, although he follows far behind his master, we discern here and there echoes of a Ruskin-like voice there is the same horror of what we may call automatizing and the same reverence for Nature's inward and spiritual being. Is Mr. Baildon equally strong in his dealing with scientific theories? We do not think he is. There is proof enough that he has made the works of Mr. Darwin, Professor Tyndall, and others, the subject of very earnest study; and the fact of his carefully distinguishing between evolution and materialism, and expressing his sympathy with the former, while he discards the latter, points at least to freedom of judgment. But we have an impression that those against whom he strikes out most lustily will not feel very sorely wounded; and we say this although in regard to the materialistic school we are in entire accord with him.

One distinct value the book has to our mind-it shows how utterly materialism fails in the presence of non-materialistic minds. Its doctrines find no single loophole by which they may enter into the world of the transcendentalist, which is a very real world, none the less. And to most of us, who are neither materialist nor transcendentalist, but men to whom matter and spirit are both intensely real, materialism is a

thing which touches us, but does not come within sight of our inmost being. The two closing chapters on Poetry and Science' and 'The Cruelty of Nature' are very suggestive. Mr. Baildon meets the assertion that poetry and science are mutually destructive by a frank denial, and shows that there is a Science with which poetry finds itself in deepest harmony. He likewise denies that Nature is 'cruel,' and endeavours to show that pain may be neither unjust, unnecessary, nor useless.

To sum up, as a scientific answer to materialism the book is not triumphantly successful; but, as affording evidence for the reality of a domain into which materialism does not enter, it is valuable, as well as striking. The style is somewhat too ambitious, the plan is too diffuse; but the virtues which we have indicated will serve in some measure to counterbalance these defects.

Nature's Byepaths: a Series of Recreative Papers in Natural History. By J. E. TAYLOR, Ph.D., F.L.S., &c. David Bogue.

Mr. Taylor has thrown together under this title a series of papers of varied character-papers which presumably have been, in the first instance, contributed to some of our periodicals. Variety strikes us as one of their most prominent features, their subjects being chosen from almost. every field of study which could be classed under natural history;' but we must admit that the author has the gift of writing pleasantly on whatever theme he discusses. Under the title, ' Over an Old Land-surface,' he succeeds in giving a very fair idea of the discoveries which have been made at Montauban and elsewhere in working the phosphate mines; and he does not fail to show the bearings of these discoveries upon prehistoric life. In the chapters which bear the name,‘A Naturalist on the Tramp,' he takes his readers upon several interesting journeys-first, to Ireland, whose main geological characteristics he indicates and briefly describes ; next, to Wales, with its slate-quarries, the working of which he explains; again, to the Black Country' and to the northern counties, with their seams of coal and iron. His descriptions of the coal-mines and of the way in which their wonders are explored are so graphic that one who never saw a coal-pit might almost fancy he had been down in the 'cage.' The chapter, Vulcan's Forge,' will serve to supply the ordinary reader with much information regarding earthquakes and volcanic energy. Under the somewhat vague title, 'The Story of a Recent Scare,' Mr. Taylor tells us of the 'Colorado Beetle,' and he seems to have little fear of any invasion from that mysterious troubler. We confess that we have some difficulty in understanding how certain parts of this book have found a place in it; surely, to give an example, the relation of that entitled 'Old Wine in New Bottles' to natural history is somewhat distant.

[ocr errors]

The book is one for popular use; to the scientific student it would afford little information, but to the general reader it will explain, in a very clear

[ocr errors]

and lively fashion, many facts in nature of which he is as yet ignorant. The author, we see, is editor of Science Gossip;' and no two words could better indicate the character of the work before us.

The Brain as an Organ of Mind. By H. CHARLTON BASTIAN, M.A., M.D., F.R.S. C. Kegan Paul and Co.

We are not sure that any previous volume of this series has had to deal with a more difficult subject than that which Dr. Bastian handles here. Its interrelations are so wide that only a many-sided mind could have treated it throughout with equal success; and as we have read Dr. Bastian's volume, we have been conscious here and there of the disadvantage at which he must have found himself. His powers are most clearly shown in the closing parts of the book, and notably in chapter xxix., on the Cerebral Relations of Speech and Thought." Indeed, we can scarcely conceive that any writer who comes after the author in this particular field could dispense with a reference to the remarkable body of facts which he has here gathered together. These are drawn from cases which have come under his own observation as a physician, as well as from others which have been investigated by other eminent authorities upon cerebral disease; together, they amply serve the purpose for which they are used, viz., 'to throw some little light upon the extremely complex processes which have been superadded, or that have grown out of the processes immediately excited in the cerebral cortex by the incidence of ingoing impressions—and, as a result of which, outgoing stimuli pass over to motor centres, for the performance of voluntary acts, and for intellectual expression generally.' One very important deduction, which, in this connection, the author draws somewhat tentatively from his study of cerebral disease, is so far-reaching that more attention might be devoted to it than has yet been given. He says: The process of thought seems to be in a measure independent of the words in which the thought is expressed, so that, perhaps, we think in words less than is generally supposed. Its partial independence appears indicated by the fact that we "select" our expressions.' This aspect of the matter has indeed received considerable attention from those who have studied mind from the metaphysical side; but it is much to be desired that experientialists, who are anything but metaphysical, would bring it to the test of experience more carefully than they have hitherto done.


[ocr errors]

We do not think that Dr. Bastian has been equally successful in his treatment of those parts of his subject which touch upon what we should call the supra-physical domain; the reason is probably to be found in the position which he maintains with regard to the nature of mind,' a position with which we cannot accord. In chapter x., for instance, on 'The Scope of Mind,' he has a serious quarrel with almost all previous definitions of the term, popular and other. It has been used most frequently as though it corresponded to a real and positive something, existing of and by itself,'

and in this use he finds grave error; nor has he more patience with the related view that the sphere of 'mental phenomena' is identical with that of consciousness. This latter he attempts to refute by a reference to mental actions, in which consciousness has no [apparent] part; e.g., he appeals to such a frequent experience as this :-We try to recall some forgotten word; we make the effort consciously, and we fail; but by and by, when consciousness is exercised about other things, the lost word comes to mind. To him this seems to prove that a physical process has been going on of which we had no consciousness; but this does not quite satisfy us. Most likely the new theme to which consciousness has turned has some direct, though obscure, relation to the word which has been consciously sought, and may thus lead up to the recovery of that word. Nor is it superfluous to bear in mind that, when we are consciously straining after an expression, the thought to be expressed, and hence, in some sense, the word also is potentially present. Whatever worth—or worthlessness-there may be in these conjectures, however, this at least we maintain, that such instances as Professor Bastian quotes would not be sufficient to disprove the old metaphysical position. It is plain that the term 'consciousness must be used in a wider sense than it sometimes is, even, perhaps, so far as to admit Professor Bain's dictum that with nervous action feeling begins.' Dr. Bastian takes the opposite course, and proposes to enlarge the scope of the term 'mind,' so as to comprise under its new and more ample signification the results of all nerve actions, other than those of outgoing currents.' Our main objection to this position is that it is one at which it is impossible to stop. Let us refuse to accord to mind anything akin to a distinct entity; let us deny the identity of the spheres in which mind and consciousness work; let us, as a natural consequence, admit that the mind may work automatically, or almost so; then we must finally proceed to resolve every mental process into a series of merely physical or mechanical acts.


We have not attempted to enter into many of the interesting discussions which the author holds in this book; they are indeed too important and too ably conducted to be treated in the brief way which the exigencies of our remaining space permit. We must in a word, however, testify to the remarkable ability and clearness with which Professor Bastian handles the morphology of the subject. To many this will be by far the most interesting part; and it is evident that it is so to the author, from the large proportion of space which he devotes to it. Those parts which we have noticed more fully are small fragments in comparison. But, immensely important as it is, this is the portion of such works which must always receive scanty treatment in any brief notice; it would be simply impossible, for instance, to give any fair idea of a chapter like that on The Internal Structure of the Human Brain,' and yet it contains the very heart of the matter.' We can only refer the reader to the book itself. To all students of Brain,' it will be of immense value; indeed, the ability and wide practical experience of the author, his lucid style, the excellence of the arrangement, and, let us add, the abundance and minute perfection of the illustrations, will

[ocr errors]

serve to make this one of the best manuals which we have upon the subject; and we say this with none the less heartiness that we have expressed our dissent from some of the views which are advanced.

English Trees and Tree-planting. By WILLIAM H. ABLETT. Smith, Elder, and Co.

There is in English no lack of treatises on trees, cast in a half-poetic and sentimental vein. Mr. Heath recently reproduced one old volume of great merit, and were the same thing done judiciously by Evelyn's Sylva,' the two would form a good specimen of the old mode of dealing with the subject. Sir J. Dick Lauder might have written a great work on trees and tree-planting, but he let his opportunity pass. Mr. Ablett has found or has made his opportunity, and has written by far the best book on the subject that we have yet seen. It is evident that he speaks from a large experience, and that he has travelled widely, and has observed and remembered. There is much behind the book, and the book is the more valuable. We are glad to see that Mr. Ablett does the common Scotch pine full justice; that he is in favour of cedars as common trees; and that he has practical and much-needed words to say of coppice-wood. His calculations seem to have been carefully made and tested; he takes little at second-hand. He has literary power enough to impart an interest of a general and liberal kind; so that, while the book is one that may become essential to large landed proprietors and their agents, it will be found instructive and interesting by the ordinary reader. We observe that Mr. Ablett has made no reference to Thoreau's admirable observations of American trees, some of which are also common to England, and as Thoreau's observations are at once so wise and so practical, we are inclined to regret this. Nor do we find that he says anything special about lightning and trees, which might have afforded a subject for a passage or two. The book, we are sorry to see, wants an index, which in the second edition should be made exhaustive.


A History of Classical Greek Literature. By the Rev. J. P. MAHAFFY, M.A., Professor of Ancient History in Trinity College, Dublin, &c. Two Vols. Longmans, Green,

and Co.

This is an able work, evidently the result of much thought, reading, and inquiry, and exhibiting throughout an intimate knowledge of the most recent German literature bearing on the questions discussed. The first volume is devoted to the Greek Poets, from Homer to Menander, the close of the New Comedy;' the second to the Prose Writers, up to the death of Alexander, in 323. This is a very convenient division; it at

« AnteriorContinuar »