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THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 1906.
Among several of the lowest races, including peoples like the Veddahs, Andaman Islanders, and Bushmans,
the female sex is treated with far higher consideration ANTHROPOLOGICAL ETHICS.
than among many of the higher savages and bar
barians. Travellers have not seldom noticed that of The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas.
two neighbouring tribes the less cultured one sets, in By Dr. Edward Westermarck. Vol. i. Pp. xxi +
this respect, an example to the other." 716. (London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1906.) Price 145. net.
The theoretical part of the work calls for a more N one engaging paragraph of this work, its author detailed criticism. Dr. Westermarck interprets his IN
describes how, whilst living in the North of subject-the origin of moral ideas—very literally, and Morocco-where he spent four years studying folk- steadily refuses to discuss validity; in fact, he does lore-he was described as a person with “ propitious not even suggest that there is room or need for a ankles,” because the village where he stayed was larger investigation, a metaphysic of some sort, such frequently visited by favoured and distinguished
as a work on so-called scientific ethics may perhaps guests. Propitiousness is not with us the most
be allowed to omit. His theory is that the moral familiar term in such a context, but the ankles of judgments are based entirely on emotions either of Dr. Westermarck's intellectual endeavour are certainly indignation or approval. Consequently there is no sturdy. The readers of his “ History of Human objective standard; neither the utilitarian principle Marriage"-all of them his debtors—were doubtless
that actions are right in proportion as they tend to
moral prepared for the vast array of footnotes, the excellent promote happiness, nor the “practical ” or way in which long series of facts are arranged, the
reason, nor any other standard that may be suggested. clearness of the style, the sanity and reasonableness “ If moral judgments differ from any others that are of a work which certainly was needed to keep ethical
rooted in the subjective sphere of experience, it is theory abreast of anthropological research, and which largely a difference in degree rather than in kind.” will add greatly to its author's reputation.
No doubt morality may be in a much greater degree This first volume divides itself into two parts. In
than beauty a subject of instruction and of profitable the earlier the author states his theory of moral judg- discussion, but the emotional constitution of man is
not so uniform as the human intellect. Such uniments, and discusses generally the nature of the phenomena which tend to evoke moral blame or
formity as there is certainly suggests objectivity; and moral praise. In the later part he examines the
we are further tempted to objectivise our moral judg
ments by the fact that authority is so widely ascribed particular modes of conduct which are subject to moral valuation, and considers how these are judged moral judgments is a chimæra : for the moral con
to moral rules. But all this presumed objectivity of by different peoples and in different ages. The chief topics dealt with in the later part are
cepts are based upon emotions, and the contents of homicide, human sacrifice, hospitality, the subjection
an emotion fall entirely outside the category of truth.
All that can come under the category of truth, all that of children, and the subjection of wives. It is certainly a great benefit to have the facts so clearly
can be stated as a proposition objectively valid, is that
a given mode of conduct has a tendency to evoke in stated on which inductions may be based, and to
us moral indignation or moral approval. discover, too, how far generalisations are possible;
To all this there are very serious objections. Our to be told, for example, that there does exist a moral
author's position is, of course, very natural for one rule among mankind forbidding people to kill members of their own society, but “ that the stringency of this
to occupy who is able from the serene heights of rule is subject to variations, depending on the special exist among moral judgments, and to doubt the
anthropology to survey the many contradictions that relationship in which persons stand to one another, possibility of unity and objectivity among them. But or on their social status, and that there are which it does not apply at all.” It is profitable, too,
is moral judgment the only sphere in which such
difficulty is found? Truth is objective, says Dr. to have certain lingering prejudices corrected. The
Westermarck. But, not to out-Pilate Pilate, when subjection of wives is a case in point. Dr. Wester
have we got truth? and has the long labour of marck discusses the apparently cruel custom which
science revealed no astonishing contrariety of judgordains (e.g. among the Panama Indians) that
ments even in matters where emotions, moral or " the woman should be burdened with a heavy load, other, have no place? Man constructs one aspect of while the man walks before her carrying nothing experience into knowledge and science : is this intelbut his weapons. But a little reflection will make it. plain that the man has good reason for keeping lectual system less liable to error, is it more certainly himself free and mobile. The little caravan is sur
correct and true than his construction of another rounded with dangers: the man must be on the aspect into morality and ethics? alert and ready in an instant to catch his arms to Some sentences of Dr. Westermarck seem an elabdefend himself and his family against the aggressor.” orate parrying of the point. The best treatment of
Or, again, he contests the frequently repeated state objectivity in morals is probably that of the late Proment that a people's civilisation may be measured by fessor Sidgwick, who argued that there would be the position held by the women.
general agreement in morals, if only the moral con"So far at least as the earlier stages of culture sciousness of men were sufficiently developed. But are concerned, this opinion is not supported by facts. our author replies, “ We may speak of an intellect as
sufficiently developed to grasp a certain truth, because seems perfectly natural and appropriate, and one truth is objective; but it is not proved to be objective might feel assured beforehand that the writer of the by the fact that it is recognised as true by a suffi- charming little biography of Humphry Davy, poet ciently developed’intellect. The objectivity of truth and philosopher, would be equally happy in his treatlies in the recognition of facts as true by all who ment of the present subject. These anticipations have understand them fully, whilst the appeal to a suffi- not been disappointed. The book is not for chemists cient knowledge assumes their objectivity.” How any- only. It will attract a wider circle of readers, and one can understand facts fully without sufficient know- will not fail to add to the literary reputation of its ledge it will puzzle the plain man to discover. And in distinguished author. another passage he writes : “ Far above the vulgar No one has perhaps portrayed his own character in idea that the right is a settled something to which his writings more graphically than Priestley. We everybody has to adjust his opinions, rises the con- know the main events of his life from his own pen; viction that it has existence in each individual mind, we can study his opinions, religious, political and capable of any expansion, proclaiming its own right social, in his numerous brochures; the records of his to exist, if needs be, venturing to make a stand chemical experiments vividly reflect his scientific habit against the whole world." This sentence seems to of thought. All his writings express the same canthe writer of this notice a huge mis-statement, or, if dour and simplicity, the same virile honesty, which true, true only in the sense in which the were the keynotes of his character. sentence must be understood with the words “the Priestley has happily been allowed to tell his story truth” substituted for the words “the right." as far as possible in his own words, and the abstracts
But to linger over the more controversial aspects of from his memoirs, supplemented by others, notably such a book is always an ungrateful task. With the Miss Aikin's account of the life at the Warrington rest of the work there is little fault to be found. The Academy and Miss Russell's thrilling description of account of the moral emotions, the treatment of the Birmingham riots, are skilfully woven into a conpunishment (in which subtle arguments are offered tinuous and delightful narrative. against determent as a sufficient guiding principle), Chemists will naturally turn with special interest the discussion of the various distinctions suggested by to the account of Priestley's scientific labours, and terms like act, agent, motive, intention, the detailed here it must be confessed that the small space, examination of the facts advanced by such authorities unavoidably, no doubt, allotted to this section is the as Lord Avebury, Dr. J. G. Frazer, Dr. Steinmetz, least satisfying part of the volume. are all excellent. On the whole, Dr. Westermarck's The vast accumulation of experiments from their view of the condition of savage races is one flattering discursive treatment and confused arrangement to humanity—if not to civilisation. He points out would have repaid careful editing. But if we have how much more brutal punishment has often been not everything, we have at least a substantial record among the civilised than among the uncivilised. He of what is most valuable among Priestley's disbelieves in the “ noble savage," and thinks that many coveries. accounts of “ savagery among savage races
Priestley was in a sense a follower of Hales. The from a time when they have been affected by a musket-barrel, the trough for collecting gases, the “higher culture," a culture “which almost univers burning-glass for heating substances in vessels standally has proved to exercise a deteriorating influence ing over water, are described in the “Vegetable on the character of the lower races.” One would
Staticks." Hales, moreover, obtained oxygen, like like to see a monograph devoted to this subject, and Priestley, by heating red lead in a gun-barrel, but be learn what the best missionaries have to say.
never knew that the gas he so carefully collected and measured differed from ordinary air. But if Priestley's
experiments were suggested by those of Hales they JOSEPH PRIESTLEY.
served only as a foundation to build upon. The Joseph Priestley. By T. E. Thorpe, F.R.S. English improvement introduced by Priestley into pneumatic Men of Science. Edited by Dr. J. Reynolds Green.
apparatus would alone have earned for him a lasting Pp. viii + 228. (London: J. M. Dent and Co., reputation and the gratitude of subsequent generation1906.) Price 25. 6d. net.
of chemists; but his great discovery was, of course, T is a curious and unaccountable fact that whilst
the recognition of different kinds of air. IT for more than fifty years we have been in posses
As a theorist Priestley's claims are insignificant, for sion of a biography of Cavendish, whose solitary and
he was particularly unfortunate in interpreting his
own observations. Dr. Thorpe says very truly : uneventful existence was chiefly passed within the four walls of his laboratory, a whole century has
“ The contrast between Priestley the social, politicu
and theological reformer, always in advance of his elapsed without the appearance of any worthy record
times, receptive, fearless and insistent, and Priestley of Priestley's life, which was so full of human interest the man of science-timorous and halting when he and dramatic incident. Following closely upon the might well be bold, conservative and orthodox when centenary commemoration of Priestley's death, the almost every other active worker was heterodox anu new volume in the series of English Men of Science progressive-is most striking." comes as a fitting and welcome memorial.
Equally striking is the absence of any well-conThat the task should have fallen to Dr. Thorpe sidered plan in his method of experimenting when his
work is contrasted with that of his three great con- astronomy. The lecturer, if he gave an example at temporaries, Cavendish, Scheele and Lavoisier. | all, would probably work to the nearest tenth of a
One explanation of these defects may be found in degree with four-figure logarithms, and tell the. the fact that he was not, as he said, a practical reader that that sufficiently illustrates the method. chemist," or, as we should say, a trained chemist. Prof. Newcomb's book is for those who may want to This was perfectly true. That he knew little about carry out actually calculations of the kind. He therethe substances which he employed in his experiments fore places before the reader two different computais evident from his habit of applying to his chemical tions of the same problem each with seven-figure friends for such materials as a man like Scheele would logarithms, and knowing that the difficulty is the never have hesitated to prepare himself, and, more- practical one of keeping out numerical blunders, and over, the absorbing interest of his laboratory seems to not in the last degree the theoretical one of underhave obliterated any inclination towards the study of standing the formulæ, he adds a test computation, Icxt-books.
thus forcibly insisting upon the superior value of Priestley, in both his social and scientific life, seems checks by test equations over checks by duplicate to have been pursued by an ironical fate. On the computation. (ne hand his honest zeal in the cause of reform was The fifth chapter of the book, the second of part ii., Turned against him to his undoing; on the other, his is on time, solar and sidereal, mean and apparent, experiments which were founded on his cherished Greenwich and local, the Besselian and Julian year, theory of phlogiston became the weapon which demo
with numerical examples. lished it. Priestley was fortunately endowed with a The sixth chapter is on parallax, naturally subserene disposition, and in spite of his many misfor- divided into figure of the earth, and formulæ for tunes it would be incorrect to suppose that his life was parallax in right ascension and so on. 1100 a source of real happiness and satisfaction. Such The seventh chapter is a very short one on aberraat least may be gathered from the perusal of the
tion, volume before us.
J. B. C. The next chapter is on refraction. "There is
perhaps,” says the author, “no branch of practical
astronomy on which so much has been written . SPHERICAL ASTRONOMY.
and which is still in so unsatisfactory a state.” Prof.
Newcomb gives an excellent account of the various | Compendium of Spherical Astronomy with its
hypotheses as to the state of the upper regions of the applications to the Determination and Reduction of atmosphere. We have not found any allusion to the Positions of the Fixed Stars. By Prof. Simon
way in which observed refractions are mixed up with Newcomb. Pp. xviii +444. (London: Macmillan division error, and R-D discordance. The question and Co., Ltd., 1906.) Price 12s.6d. net.
of systematic corrections has been reserved for a later A S Prof. Newcomb has been in close touch with all
chapter. branches of the astronomy of position during
The ninth chapter, the last of part ii., is devoted to the last forty years, and as so much of the progress precession and nutation. This chapter, in particular, that has been made is his work, a text-book by him is full of formulæ and data for practical use, and, on spherical astronomy will be eagerly examined by like the previous chapter, it concludes with an excelall who are interested in the subject.
lent bibliography. With such qualifications we may be sure, before Part iii. is devoted to the “ reduction and deteropening his book, that we shall be conducted to the mination of positions of the fixed stars." It is the various points on the frontiers of the subject, some of part of the book where the author at length closes which it is necessary to occupy before an advance can with the observations, and to which the previous parts be made in any direction; and we are also certain are in fact merely introductory. But even now two to be spared those tiresome digressions into problems more chapters of an introductory kind still remain, such as * To find the season of the year, when twilight chapter x., on the application of precession and proper is shortest in a given latitude," which serve
to motion, chapter xi., on star corrections. In chapter degrade astronomy into a mere examination subject.
xii. we come to a description of the methods of obserLet us examine Prof. Newcomb's arrangements. vation and allusion to the systematic errors to which His first three chapters, forming part i., are intro- observation is liable. ductory. They serve to equip the reader with a Chapter xiii. may be regarded as the real purpose competent knowledge of spherical trigonometry, inter- of the book. It describes how individual catalogues polation, and least squares. A pleasing feature at the are corrected so as to reduce them to an adopted end of each chapter is a page or wo of bibliography. system, and thus render them comparable with one
Part ii. opens with a chapter on spherical co- another. At the end of the chapter is given a list ordinates. Practical illustration is given of the of star catalogues. problem, so simple in theory and so laborious in The book concludes with an appendix giving tables practict, of turning latitude and longitude into right and precepts for their use. We are inclined to conascension and declination; and here we find a striking sider some of these tables a mistake, or, at least, írature differentiating Prof. Newcomb's book from their inclusion in this book a mistake. The fact is one that would be written by a mere lecturer on that tables in constant use wear out very fast, and we
viii + 119.
are none of us rich enough to care to throw aside a We rather fear that the ordinary man will be repelled copy of a three-dollar book when four or five pages by a certain lack of unity, coherence, systematic of it have become too dirty or too tattered to please statement, and logical proof. Thus, for example, we
have a chapter full of irrelevancy on " hysteria and our fastidiousness. We do not know a more excellent book on its sophistry, the deadly evils of civilisation."
too, we have a small appendix on the notion of life, subject.
P. H. C.
which explains that everything in the world is in a
certain sense alive, and seems to regard it as a valid OUR BOOK SHELF.
argument that “the language of the skilled artisan
is full of anthropomorphic expressions." A five-page Die neueren Wandlungen der elektrischen Theorien statement of first principles at the end has certain
einschiesslich der Elektronentheorie zwei Vortrage. of the merits that are so conspicuously lacking in the By Dr. Gustave Holzmüller.
main body of the volume. (Berlin : Julius Springer, 1906.)
Diet and Dietetics. By A. Gautier. Edited and In this little book the author publishes some lectures delivered before a society of German engineers. The
translated by Dr. A. J. Rice-Oxley. Pp. xii + 532. subjects for discussion do not seem to have been
(London : A. Constable and Co., Ltd., 1906.) Price
18s. net. selected on any principle, and are inadequately represented by the title. The first chapter deals with This is a translation of the second edition of Prof. Newtonian potential, the second with logarithmic Gautier's book published in Paris in 1904. It contains potential; neither of these topics can be described as a vast mass of useful information, and is a laudable * neueren Wandlungen.”. We then proceed to the attempt to be an exhaustive treatise on diet. It deals theories of electromagnetism based on “ action at a with the individual articles of food, animal, vegetable, distance," and are informed at the conclusion that and mineral; with the combinations of these that conthese developments are also not new, having been stitute dietaries; it contains (inter alia) discussions, superseded by the Faraday-Maxwell theory, to which lightened by homely phrases and apt illustrations, on the next chapter is devoted. The author devotes a the dietaries of different races, on vegetarianism, on considerable amount of space to analogical represents the part played by food as a source of heat and ations of the electric field, but the electromagnetic energy, on the alcohol question; and finally treats of theory of light is considered beyond his scope.
the part played by diet in the cure and alleviation of No doubt the author knows best what is likely disease. Prof, Gautier's large experience would lead to interest his hearers; it is sufficient for our purpose one to anticipate a useful book; the arrangement of to note that his treatment is undeniably accurate. subjects appears, however, to be rather confusing, But it should be pointed out that the information and the translator, although as a rule he has done which he assumes that his readers possess is rather his work ably, is not always happy in rendering the heterogeneous. The training of German engineers original into acceptable English. must be very different from that of their English colleagues if they require a lengthy proof that the German Grammar for Science Students. By Prof. conservation of mechanical energy is a consequence
W. A. Osborne and Ethel E. Osborne. Pp. viii + of the Newtonian law of attraction, and yet are ready
106. (London: Whittaker and Co.) Price 25. 6d.
net. to plunge, on the next page, into a discussion of the dimensions of electrical units.
SCIENCE students who have not been taught German The final chapter deals with the theory of electrons; in schoois will find this volume very useful in enabling it is really a description of some of the more important them to read scientific papers published in that properties of kathode and Becquerel rays. The language. The essential parts of German grammar mathematical aspects are hardly mentioned, so that are described in sixteen lessons, and the exercises, the term “electromagnetic mass” is used without a | instead of being of the “ Have-you-seen-the-hat-ofword of explanation as to its meaning. It is to be my-uncle? type, deal with scientific work and regretted that in this part of his work, where phrases-chiefly relating to chemistry—from the beaccuracy is especially desirable in the absence of com- ginning to the end. Lists of words commonly met plete text-books, there are to be found many state- with in scientific German, and terms of frequent ments which require considerable revision. In fact,
papers anatomical, botanical, when we find the author stating that the diameter chemical, physical, mathematical, and physiological of an electron has been determined by the application subjects are given in an appendix. The book should of the kinetic theory of gases, and accounting for be particularly valuable to private students. the ionisation of a gas by the adherence of a slowmoving electron to the neutral molecule, we begin to doubt his competency to lecture or write at all on
LETTER TO THE EDITOR. these subjects.
N. R. C. [The Editor does not hold himself responsible for opinions
expressed by his correspondents. Neither can he undertake The Unity of Will. Studies of an Irrationalist. By
to return, or to correspond with the writers of, rejected George Ainslie Hight. Pp. XV + 244 (London: manuscripts intended for this or any other part of NATURE.
Chapman and Hall, Ltd., 1906.) Price 10s. 6d. No notice is taken of anonymous communications.)
Colour Phenomena in " Boletus cærulescens.' would seem a somewhat expensive morsel at half the
IN reply to the query by Edgar Trevithick respecting price; and its thinking is not of the best. It pro
the blue coloration in Boletus, Bourquelot and Bertrand fesses to be an exposition of the leading doctrine of (Bull. Soc. Mye, 1896, P. 18) have recently investigatel Schopenhauer, that in self-consciousness the primacy of an oxidising ferment they have named tyrosinase. This
the subject, and consider the action due to the presence belongs to will. The author is at the same time ferment acts on certain chromogenous materials presest careful to explain that he is a Vedântist while
in the fungus when exposed to the air. Schopenhauer is a Buddhist, but we doubt if the
Geo, Messee. ordinary man will appreciate these fine distinctions. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Folge broecken land
Het nieuwe land
THE EARLY HISTORY OF SPITSBERGEN. The Spitsbergen settlements declined after 1644, as “ I NASMUCH as industrie, and diligence are two the whales abandoned the fiords and had to be fol
principall steps to atchieve great enterprises, lowed into the Greenland Sea, and there killed and and negligence and idlenesse are enemies to the same; treated. The Dutch kept up the fishing somewhat we would have you in this charge committed unto you, later than the English whalers, who abandoned the to embrace the one, and to avoide the other.” Such industry in 1670, and only resumed it, and then not were the instructions of the Muscovy Company to from Spitsbergen, after 1770. Thomas Edge, the commander of its third expedition The land animals on Spitsbergen must have been very lo Spitsbergen, in 1610. By these same steps to abundant on its first discovery, for in 1613 Fotherby's success Sir Martin Conway has collected the widely- party, in addition to as many whales as he could use, scattered materials of Spitsbergen history, and by wise secured a bag of “ 400 deare," and " also good store selection and with high literary skill has wrought of wild fowle" and "manie young foxes, which wee them into an addition to Arctic literature of unusual made as tame and familiar as spaniell-whelpes." interest. The volume tells us in greater detail than The walrus has shared in the same reduction in has ever before been possible the history of Spits- ' range and numbers as the rest of the fauna. It has bergen from its discovery by Barents in 1596, to the now abandoned the western coast of Spitsbergen, but, beginning of its scientific exploration by the expedi- | as the author reminds us, a walrus was killed in the tion of Sven Loven in 1837. It is, on its own lines, an “ Netherlandish Sea,” as recorded by the drawing of ideal geographical monograph, from its bibliographic it, now in the British Museum, by Dürer in 1521. thoroughness, its sound literary judgment, and its evidence of exhaustive research in British and Continental libraries. It contains much of interest
84 to naturalists, with its fresh information regarding the early whale fishery in the Greenland seas. Geographical exploration in the
83 Spitsbergen area was begun as a business enterprise, and the keen commercial competition led to serious poli
821 tical complications. Though discovered by a Dutchman, Spitsbergerf was formally annexed by England in 1614;
Grooten inwyck but we were forced to agree to a par
817 tition of the territory with the Dutch, and after 1670 both nations abandoned it. Though now the only ownerless.
nwyck piece of Europe, it is claimed as being
801 within the Russian sphere of influence, owing to its occupation by Russian trappers in the nineteenth century. The main part of the his
797 tory is political; but the adventures of the whalers and walrus-hunters, and the tragic fate of various parties left to winter there contribute the most stirring incidents in the narrative. The chapters of most scientific in
T'veere terest are those dealing with the fishery
JON for Balaena mysticetus, the Greeniand right whale, which begun by some Biscay whalers in
Fig. 1.-Spitsbergen from Barents' Chart (1598). From "No Man's Land." the employment of the Muscovy Company of London in 1611. The European whaling The early narratives say little about the interior industry was founded by the Basques, and, as the of Spitsbergen, but the records are of value in referauthor tells us, the British and Dutch whalers retained ence to the reported emergence of land during the many Basque methods, regulations and terms, as, past three centuries. Sir M. Conway remarks that e.g., harpoon. The Dutch, having established their Poole's record of 1611 shows that there has been no claim to join in the whale fishery, founded Smeeren- change since then in the level of the shallow bar off burg, or Blubbertown, in 1614, on Amsterdam Island, “ Bear Island.” off the north-eastern corner of Spitsbergen. This, The value of the book as a permanent work of referthe most northern town on record, flourished from ence is enhanced by its full bibliography of the his1633 to 1643. The whale oil was prepared on shore, tory and geography of Spitsbergen (pp. 305-327), a and, according to Sir Martin Conway's estimate, the chronological list of the maps (pp. 342–346), and a town was occupied in the season by from 1000 to history of the geographical nomenclature. There is 2000 people-a number far below the exaggerated also á valuable series of reprints of the early maps, reports of 20,000 which are so often quoted. The from Barents in 1598 to that after Edge in 1662, book includes some interesting contemporary accounts and that after Doncker in 1663, which was the first of the whaling industry, of which perhaps the most of the series which “ really begins to resemble the valuable is Fotherby's description, written in 1615, of form of the country it professes to depict.” The the method of whale capture adopted at that period. volume is accompanied by a map, of which the outline
is taken from the Admiralty chart, and the names are 1 "No Man's Land: a History of Spitsbergen from its Discovery in 1556 to the beginning of the Scientific Exploration of the Country." By given according to the results of Sir Martin Conway's Sur Martin Conway. Pp. xii+378. (Cambridge : University Press, 1906.) study of the nomenclature.
J. W. G