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H IS, in our opinion, is by far the best treatise on Popular Astronomy
in existence. Herschel's work on the same subject in “Lardner's
Cyclopædia” is an able treatise, and may be usefully studied by every young astronomer, but it is not to be compared to this in lucidity of arrangement and explanation. The bulk of the work, comprising two rather thick octavo volumes, may perhaps a little alarm a learner, but let him boldly settle to the perusal, and we will venture to predict that he will be charmed with the clearness of the style and the new ideas that will be continually unfolded to him. In fact there are few parts of it, which an intelligent pupil teacher in his fourth year would not readily understand.
The work does not simply comprise the subject of Astronomy, but all that it is necessary to know in order to comprehend this magnificent science. Thus the book commences with short treatises on the elements of geometry, mechanics, horology, and optics, all explained with unsurpassed ability.
There are however a few things in the work which we think might be improved. The chart of the heavens is by no means clear, and is calculated we fear in some points to puzzle students in our latitudes. Thus a youthful astronomer would naturally look for Orion, the brightest constellation of the heavens, but he will only find the two top stars, which of course are unintelligible without the rest. Again, if he looks for Sirius, the brightest star in the heavens, he will not find it. Of course he will find them in the southern hemisphere, but from the change in the points of the compass, they are much more difficult to discover, and, in all probability, would not be discovered by an unassisted tyro at all. Hence we would recommend purchasers to furnish themselves with a good English map (not a globe) of the heavens, which, aided by this work, will enable them to become acquainted with the entire aspect of the northern hemisphere. We would earnestly press upon the Society of Arts, which has already done so much in this way, the production of a good cheap astronomical telescope. With such an assistant and “Arago’s Popular Astronomy," we will venture to assert that cultivators of this fascinating science would be multiplied throughout the country to a very large extent.
A Practical Dictionary of the French and English Languages. By Leon
Contanseau. Pp. 529. London: Longmans, 1857. M ONSIEUR Contanseau, Professor of French at the Military College,
M Addiscombe, has, after a laborious work of seven years, presented to the public a valuable French and English and English and French Dictionary, which will materially assist the learner. The author has inserted “all the new words that have come into use in each language within the last half century.” He has also introduced the compound words not translated literally: and great care has been taken to discriminate between words with different meanings, of which he gives some good examples, as for instance“ That young lady is the richest match in the town!” which sentence, the author says, was thus translated to him—“Cette jeune demoiselle est la plus riche allumette de la ville.” Can any one conceive a more stupid blunder? The means of distinguishing between such words is a great point gained : and not less important is the introduction into this volume of the most familiar idioms and phrases in daily use.
Pains have been taken to give effect to prepositions or adverbs, which, when annexed to our verbs, so frequently alter their sense. They are printed in Clarendon type and easily catch the eye. The verb “set” affords a good instance: and no dictionary that we have ever seen is so complete in this respect.
In some few points however the work is overdone. An attempt is sometimes made to translate words and phrases which have in fact no synonyms in the other language: and there a complete failure results, such e. g. as changer for shift about. Changer means to change and nothing more. “To shift about” means, firstly, to change one's place and to do so moreover in an unsettled or vacillating spirit. The word changer utterly fails in expressing any thing of the surt. Occasionally we have the converse fault; the French expression e. g. “tomber en morceaux," means more than " to shiver.” It is to fall to pieces — a very different thing. There are also some mistakes which are great blemishes. “Uxorious" is not esclave de sa femme. A man may be extravagantly fond of his wife without being her slave in any sense of the word. Some technical words of common use are omitted, such as “rake," applied to the masts of a ship: “raking masts” is a common enough phrase, but " enfiler" certainly does not express it.
This is a work which, notwithstanding these defects, deserves high commendation, and is very far from being a mere compilation, which is the prevailing defect of all text books. It is now the best French Dictionary.
Logic in its Application to Language. By R. G. Latham, M.A. Pp. 282.
London : Walton and Maberly. 1856. W E confess that although this book evinces much of the learning and
Y analytical power of the author, it has, upon the whole, disappointed us. Even the title of the book misleads ; indeed, the author begins his preface by pointing out that fact, and telling us that instead of passing for a work upon logic as applied to language, it expounds the amount of grammar which applies to logic. It is designed to show how far language should develope logic, but if so why is a title taken which exactly reverses and mis-states the subject matter of the book ? The author very justly says, that logic can be taught as early as grammar, and that it is not, if properly taught, more difficult for beginners. We quite agree, and we should hail a logic made easy as a very great desideratum: but this book is not logic made easy with the exception of some of the remarks on propositions, such as paragraph 54, et sequitur and on the middle term. It is rather logic made
difficult. The chapter on parts of speech is one in which easy rules for using and regarding them logically might easily have been given. Essentially they are there ; nor do we quarrel with the philosophy of the learned author: but in the first place he amplifies to an extent which often confuses what is simple: as for example—his explanation of substance and attribute exemplified by an orange. We also object to his terminology which is often far fetched and vague, expressing no very distinct idea to the scholar, and unintelligible to the child. Thus the terse canons which might be landmarks of language become pitfalls and puzzles. Here are examples “A word which can by itself form a tense is called categorematic.” Just before we have been told, that category and its compounds are themselves terms, we are not therefore much the wiser by being informed that a word itself forming a term, is categorematic. “Hyper-categorematic words are verbs.” The explanation is, that " they can form by themselves predicates and copulas at once!” Rather a complex mode of describing the little word thinks” in the sentence “ the woman thinks.”
Altogether, the distinctions and refinements are carried to a pitch which spoils its usefulness, and the writer in some cases evinces a singular misconception of the established usages of language. Imagine his deliberately printing that “few will call hope, patience, health, &c., things." We undertake to say, that not a single writer but himself, would hesitate to do so : Nothing more valuable than health, is a correct sentence, nor is it less so to say, that health is a valuable thing.
This book broaches a useful subject, but is spoiled by too much subtle learning, and is not practical and will scarcely be popular.
LITTLE BOOKS. Bible Emblems, by David Stow. This, like all Mr. Stow's books, is both useful and instructive, and calculated to lead children to reflect on what they read and learn, and not simply to go on in the old track of learning without thinking. We quite agree with Mr. Stowe that “the time spent by many Sabbath School teachers in delivering addresses would be more profitably spent in questioning, or otherwise teaching and training the children.” Mr. Stowe first gives a text, then the natural picture derived from part of the text, which is followed by the lesson deduced from both text and natural picture. The book concludes with notes on practical examples of bible training. It will be a valuable addition to the library of all school teachers.--Reading without Tears. This is not quite so easily effected as the title would lead one to suppose : e.g. in the illustrated alphabet at the beginning we read “A has an acorn," “B has a butterfly,' “C has a cow," “E has a dog," &c. &c. Thus, young beginners will naturally think whenever they see A, that the word that follows it must necessarily be acorn, B a butterfly, and so on. The type and execution are good. We quite agree with many of the ideas expressed in the preface, especially in not beginning to teach children to read and study too early in life. How frequently the health, happiness, and future prospects of children have been blighted by the selfish ambition of weak-minded parents, who, regardless of their children's health, have begun the drudgery of school life at four years of age, and thus overtaxed the brain and disgusted the child. Moral training can not be begun too early, but reading, writing, and arithmetic had better be delayed till the child feels a desire to learn, and some shame at ignorance. The tales are true, and prettily told.— Try: a book for boys, by “Old Jonathan.” Who “Old Jonathan" is we do not know, but we do know that his motto is a very good one and his tales very well told and his advice sound. We would recommend it to all young boys. - Mr. Gompertz contributes the second and improved edition of his thoroughly practical and ingenious little book on Mechanical Inventions. It is a useful manual of valuable machines, of various kinds. The phraseology of the book is, however, defective, and many of the descriptions require to be more plainly stated. --Mr. Waddingham presents us with a Geometrical Treatise on Conic Sections. It is an attempt to apply Algebraic symbols with Geometrical definitions to this subject in a manner which, we think, perplexes rather than elucidates it. The work is too terse to be useful: and the difficulties of dealing with the ultimate equalties of vanishing quantities are nowise abated.
SUPERFICIAL KNOWLEDGE DANGEROUS WHEN MADE THE GROUND OF ACTION.—A smattering of knowledge becomes dangerous only when it is made the ground of action; so long as it remains in the speculative or sublimated condition it is altogether innocuous. There can be no reason whatsoever, for instance, for witholding from the English gentleman who finds that he cannot pass muster in society unless he be supposed to possess a competent knowledge of everything, that modicum of science which he can collect from reviews or lectures and coin into small talk. Still less should we desire to place any obstacle in the way of those, whether they be men of labour, of business, or of leisure, who, in the pursuit of relaxation or amusement, pass an idle hour from time to time in sauntering along the royal road to learning. It is only when smatterers, relying on their own infallibility, or the gullibility of others, proceed to turn their presumed knowledge to account in practice, that it becomes necessary that we should put ourselves on our guard against them. How often, for example, has it happened to myself in my younger days to receive from aged and anxious friends of the gentler sex, affectionate warnings, couched in language such as this--“Remember the fate of Mr. A.; a most valuable succession fell to him -a banker's account overflowing—an estate replete with treasure above and below ground. But—infatuated man !—by way of bettering his fortunes, he betook himself to geology-and from that evil hour he has gone on from one folly to another till you behold him what he is—a beggar!”-or "Only think what a millionaire Mr. B. would have been if he had never heard that detestable word mechanics !”—or again, “ Observe Mr. C.'s emaciated form -he inherited from his parents, on both sides of the house, an iron frame and a vigorous constitution, and see what physiology has brought him to!” And my kind friends, concluded by saying, “If you have an attachment for science which you cannot restrain, stick to astronomy, for the stars will at any rate take care of themselves, and they will neither hurt you nor allow themselves to be injured by you.” I remember meeting, some years ago, in a life of Watt which I was then reading, with a statement to the effect that, on looking over specifications for patents which had turned out to be failures, entailing on the projectors heartbreaking and ruin, that great man found many which were the embodiment of ideas that had suggested themselves to his own mind, and which, after exposing them to the test of severe examination and analysis to which he subjected the offspring of his brain, he had rejected. Does not this incident illustrate in a very striking manner the respective fate of the profound man and the smatterer when they are brought together to wrestle on the field of action ?--Lord Elgin.
EDUCATIONAL MUSEUM.—The Committee of Council on Education intend to establish a Museum at South Kensington in which will be placed the objects exhibited at St. Martin's Hall in 1854, and presented to the Society of Arts. It will also embrace all important Books, Diagrams, Plans of School Buildings, and Apparatus, anywise applicable to Education, grouped under eleven heads. The Museum will be open to the public on three days weekly, and on other days to students.
EDUCATION BILL.-Sir John Pakington has had another meeting with the Manchester committee, who have agreed to certain resolutions as the basis of a Bill which they have requested Sir John Pakington and Mr. Cobden (queer alliance) to “bring in.” So far from surmounting the religious difficulty,' the committee runs foul of it; and leaves religious instruction in the Scriptures to be given to the whole children, exempting dissentients only from attendance when catechisms or sectarian formularies are taught. Now distinctive doctrinal teaching occurs just as much in Bible lessons as in catechism lessons. This compromise, therefore, will probably satisfy neither party, and offend both. Mr. Milner Gibson, we hear, declines to be a party to it. It is much to be desired that experimental devices for the unnecessary achievement of impossible junctions should be abandoned. Why not let each body educate its own children in its own way?
EASTERN LANGUAGES.—It has come to light that letters and dispatches written in Eastern tongues cannot be read in England, and that we need schools for the purpose, such as there are at St. Petersburg and Paris; and an effort will be made to establish some.
DR. JAIN.—We regret to announce the death of this distinguished German astronomer at Leipsig.
BOSWELL'S LETTERS.—Some sensation has been excited by the discovery some years ago of some old letters, purporting to be James Boswell's, sold as waste paper at the shop of Madame Noel, a grocer and wine merchant, at Boulogne : and the Leader casts doubts on their genuineness : we think with little reason. We perfectly recollect Madame Noel's shop twenty-eight years ago. She had been celebrated in her youth for extreme beauty; and had acted in the processions during the reign of Terror as the impersonation of the “Goddess of Reason.” There was some time after Reverend Mr. Temple living at Boulogne, who was, we think, from Devon, and from whom it is not improbable that these letters (originally addressed to a Mr. Temple, of Devon) came. They bear internal evidence of authenticity. They are full of the silly gossiping twaddle that Johnson's toady would be likely to have written. Besides, who would be at the pains of forging imitations of his productions. The same talent for forging might be turned to better account.