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BOOK NOTICES. ALICE's ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND. By Lewis Carroll: with forty-two
Illustrations by John Tenniel. 16mo, pp. 192. London printed. New York: D. Appleton & Co.
Was there ever such a charming bit of nonsense as this! It is better even than our and the children's prime favorites, Mr. Thackeray's The Rose and the Ring, and Mr. Kingsley's Water-Babies. There are two things we like — downright sense and downright nonsense. “ Studies made Easy,” “Science in Sport,” and goody little moral tales, sugar-coated pills and all sorts of false pretences are simple abominations. Let children be taught to work when they do work, and let their amusements be equally sincere. No one has so sharp an eye for all kinds of humbug as a bright child, and no one will sooner resent all attempts at imposition. So we are for the good old fashioned style of story-books — Jack the Giant-Killer, Forty Thieves and all. But, alas! people don't often write such books now. They seem to think that the proper food for the youthful mind is, - twaddle. It rejoices our heart, therefore, to meet such a charmingly absurd little book as this, adorned with such admirably drawn and delightfully funny pictures. Never did a child get into such odd company or meet such strange adventures as dear, solemn-looking little Alice, — the Dodo and the Cheshire Cat who vanishes from the branch of the tree, leaving nothing behind him but his grin, and all the rest. And then poor little Alice's vain attempts to remember things right amid her strange surroundings ! —
"I can't remember things as I used,' said Alice, and I don't keep the same size fok ten minutes together!
66. Can't remember what things ?' said the caterpillar.
“* Well! I've tried to say, “ How doth the little busy bee,” but it all came different,' Alice replied in a very melancholy voice. [" This was how it came:
** How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
On every golden scale!
How neatly spreads his claws,
With gently smiling jaws !']
"You are old, Father William,' the young man said,
* And your hair has become very white; And yet you incessantly stand on your head,
Do you think, at your age, it is right ?' ""In my youth,' Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain; But now that I'm perfectly sure that I've none, Why, I do it again and again.'”
We wish we could reproduce the whole, with its very funny illustrations, and the Mad Tea-party, and the Queen of Hearts, with her extraordinary game of croquet; but we must make room for the Mock Turtle's account of his Education. The mock turtle is very unhappy that he isn't a real turtle, which he is, all but his calf's head and feet.
“• When we were little,' the Mock Turtle went on at last, more calmly, though still sobbing a little now and then, we went to school in the sea. The master was an old turtle. We used to call him “ Tortoise." »
66 * Why did you call him “ Tortoise,” if he wasn't one ?' Alice asked.
“* We called him “ Tortoise ” because he taught us,' said the Mock Turtle angrily; . really you are very dull.' ....
“* We had the best of educations; in fact we went to school every day.'
" " I've been to a day-school, too,' said Alice; you needn't be so proud as all that.'
• With extras ?' asked the Mock Turtle, a little anxiously. "• Yes,' said Alice, we learned French and music.' “ • And washing ?' said the Mock Turtle. " Certainly not,' said Alice, indignantly.
••• Ah ! then yours wasn't a really good school,' said the Mock Turtle, in a tone of great relief. Now, at ours they had at the end of the bill, “ French, music and washing - extra.” »
“ • You couldn't have wanted it much,' said Alice,“ living at the bottom of the sea.'
“ I couldn't afford to learn it,' said the Mock Turtle with a sigh. “I only took the regular course.'
* « What was that ?' inquired Alice.. "• Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with,' the Mock Turtle replied ; and then the different branches of Arithmetic — Ambition, Distraction, Uglification and Derision.' I never heard of “Uglification," • Alice ventured to say; what is it?' The Gryphon lifted up its paws in surprise. • Never heard of uglifying!' it exclaimed. “You know what to beautify is, I suppose ?' • Yes,' said Alice, doubtfully, it means — to — make — anything — prettier.' • Well then,' the Gryphon went on, if you do not know what to uglify is, you are a simpleton.' [How much like school teaching we have all heard in our day !] Alice did not feel encouraged to ask any more questions about it; so she turned to the Mock Turtle and said, “What else had you to learn ?' · ** Well, there was Mystery,' the Mock Turtle replied, counting off the subjects on bis flappers, — • Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seaography: then Drawling – the Drawling-master was an old conger-eel that used to come once a week; he taught us Drawling, Stretching and Fainting in coils.'
“What was that like ?' said Alice. "Well, I can't show it to you myself,' the Mock Turtle said ; • I'm too stiff, and the Gryphon never learnt it.'
“ Hadn't time,' said the Gryphon; • I went to the classical master though. He was an old crab, he was.'
• • I never went to him,' the Mock Turtle said, with a sigh; he taught Laughing and Grief, they used to say.'
The games are as extraordinary as the studies, and they end with a dance and a song.
“ So the pair began solemnly dancing round and round Alice, every now and then treading on her toes when they passed too close, and waving their fore-paws to mark the time, while the Mock Turtle sang this, very slowly and sadly :
«« Will you walk a little faster ?' said a whiting to a snail,
Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.” Unfortunately the little book, elegantly printed in England, costs two dollars and a half. We wish some publisher would make a cheap edition, but we hope, if he does, he will not spoil the admirably funny pictures. AN Arctic Boat JOURNEY IN THE AUTUMY OF 1864, by Isaac I. Hayes,
M.D. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 12mo, pp. 387.
This handsome second edition of Dr. Hayes' narrative, with its pictures and maps, is just the book to give a boy, or to put into a school or village library. The Last CHRONICLE OF BARSET. By Anthony Trollope. Illustrated. New York: Harpers. 8vo.
We do not know what we shall do. To be deprived at one fell blow of all the agreeable and entertaining friends we have been familiar with through so many novels, is very distressing, and we can hardly forgive Mr. Trollope ; for we know we shall never like his new people balf so well as our old friends, – Dean Arabin and Dr. Grantley and Bishop Proudie and old Lady Lufton, Lily Dale (we are glad she didn't marry Johnny Eames, though we thought Mr. Trollope would be weak enough to let her. We know she will make a charming old maid), and Mr. Crawley, a character quite above Mr. Trollope's ordinary level, and Grace and all the rest.
Mr. Trollope writes an excellent English style, and his novels, though never great or profound, are always life-like and enjoyable, and, as English critics assure us, are excellent pictures of modern English life. This is one of his very best. The illustrations are extremely good. HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WAR. By John William Draper, M.D., LL.D.,
Professor of Chemistry and Physiology in the University of New York. In three volumes. Vol. I. Containing the Causes of the War and the Events Preparatory to it, up to the close of President Buchanan's Administration. 8vo, pp. 567. New York: Harpers.
The remarkable work of Mr. Buckle which startled the reading world a few years ago, though its paradoxes were not, and never will be, generally accepted, yet did a great service by making prominent neglected aspects of the truth and neglected elements in the philosophy of History. It did not convert the world to historic fatalisnı, or prove that physical influences rule the progress of events; but it did show, that physical influences had been too much neglected, and that the character of the planet on which man lives, and the varying influences of the material laws that govern it, could not be overlooked by the philosopbic historian. Dr. Draper, in his recently published History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, and in the present volume, shows himself a writer of the school of Buckle, and is valuable in the same way and to the same extent. We do not believe his thesis that “the national life of the American people has been influenced by uncontrollable causes,” or that “societies advance in a preordained and inevitable course.” We do not believe that slavery was the mere result of climate or the physical conformation of the Southern States. It was born of the sin and wickedness of man, - a wickedness for which the nation was responsible before God, and which has brought upon it a stern and righteous retribution, by the inevitable working of great laws doubtless, but of moral, and not physical laws. We believe that man, as he is a moral and intellectual being, is master of bis situation, not that his situation is master of him; and that, as nations are but aggregates of such beings, they are never at the mercy of soil or climate, forced to commit a wickedness because the wind blows east, or the mountains have a southern slope, or the soil is composed of lime and not of granite. Men were meant to be honest in spite of isothermal lines, and the configuration of the Atlantic slope is as conducive to morality as the configuration of the Mississippi basin.
Any philosophy of history, therefore, which attemps to shift man's responsibility for his own wickedness over upon nature's laws, or even maintains, as Mr. Buckle endeavored so unsuccessfully to maintain, that human progress is measured simply by man's intellectual and not his moral improvement, is in our view fundamentally false. And yet Mr. Buckle and his school do a service by pointing out, even if they exaggerate, the influence on the world's history of the physical characteristics of man's dwelling place, the properties and scenery, as it were, of the stage on which the bistorical drama is acted. So we are very glad to bare Dr. Draper, in telling the story of the slaveholders' abortive rebellion, go back, not merely to Columbus and Noah's Ark, but far back of them to the history of the geological formation of the crust of America, for the beginnings of his story; for the geological formation and the climatic influences of the continent are doubtless elements influencing the bistory of the country. Slavery was not boru of climatic influence, or geological conformation — did not die of them. It was born of wickedness in the heart of man, and nourished by his tyranny and his greed. It was swept from the earth by the growth and final uprising of the moral sense of the nation which will soon sweep its miserable relics into complete oblivion.
We believe, therefore, that Dr. Draper's philosophy of history is wrong — but inasmuch as it makes prominent, if it exaggerates the importance of considerations which are apt to be too much overlooked by other writers, and as Dr. Draper is a very able man, his book will prove valuable and interesting reading.
CHEMISTRY OF THE FARM AND THE SEA, with other Familiar Chemical
Essars. By James R. Nichols, M. D. Boston : A. Williams & Co. 16mo, pp. 123. On Food, by Dr. Edwin Lankester. On the Uses of Animals, by the same. Announced by A. Simpson & Co., New York.
These are the kind of books which we hope to see multiplied for the benefit of common-school teachers. Such teachers are often deterred from attempting any sort of instruction in science or natural history by the fact that they have never themselves had regular systematic instruction in such branches. They should understand that there is a vast field of practical elementary information, of the utmost importance and utmost value to teacher and pupil, which requires only comnion intelligence and good sense to master without any technical training at all. The specialist in science cannot be too thorough or too scientific; but that need not bar common people from the wide field of general information, or from reaping the practical fruits of the seed which the man of science sows. We will not call the reading or study of such little books as these the study of chemistry
- the proper study of chemistry can only be pursued in a well-appointed laboratory, and is a very serious business indeed. We will call this Reading, or the acquirement of Useful Information, or by whatever other name is more suitable. But we believe that the majority of teachers, as teachers are commonly situated, would do far better to limit their endeavors to the imparting of such information than to launch into the study of chemistry in a manner that can only be thoroughly carried out in a college or a scientific school. To gather such practical information is not to be a smatterer. He is the smatterer who attempts an ambitious scientific course, and only half carries it out. And, on the other hand, nothing would add more to the value and interest of elementary schools, even of primary schools, ihan the introduction of a knowledge of the wonders and beauties of science by ways which are perfectly open to every teacher who has ordinary intelligence and a conscientious desire to improve himself by reading.
There is a special art required in popularizing science successfully. It is better that elementary books should not be too systematic. The attempts to make text-books for children by cutting down larger treatises always prove failures. If we wanted to interest children in natural history, we would begin with anything rather than a dry classification. We would read to them from the old Journal of a Naturalist, or Rennie's Insect Architecture, or good old Kirby and Spence, or the charming description of birds in Wilson's Ornithology, or that classic White's Selborne. We wish we could name American books instead, but Dr. Harris's treatise on Insects, and the recently published Ornithology of Mr. Samuels ought to be, at least, in every town library. So we have always valued highly the Chemistry of Common Life of the late Prof. Johnston, and have wondered that the admirable popular lectures by Dr. Edwin Lankester, were not reprinted before. Our English brethren are far in advance of us in successful efforts at popularizing science. When shall we sustain such an institution as the Industrial Museum at South Kensington, or the Museum of Economic Botany at Kew? The very catalogue of the latter is an instructive text-book.