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CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE.

1. Chinese Immigration in its Social and Economical Aspects. By George F. Seward, Late United States Minister to China. Charles Scribner's Sons. $2.50.

This is probably the ablest and most authoritative book on the Chinese question which has as yet appeared. The author has appropriated the results of study and daily contact with the Chinese on the part of their employers in this country, and coufirmed his statement step by step with the multitudinous facts embodied in the Report of the Congressional Committee sent to California. The volume, therefore, is so far, as we have said, authority; as to Mr. Seward's reasoning therefrom, of the soundness of it the reader, after being put in possession of the facts, must judge for himself. The author is counsel for the defendant in the case, and marshals his facts and arguments on that side; but he endeavors to meet fairly the facts and objections of the plaintiff, and for the most part does it.

When in California we had some opportunities to note the workings of “Chinese cheap labor" in several directions, as the laundry, marketgardening, &c; and we could not but see that those directly affected by it had reason for their feeling against the foreigners. We remember in our letters to the Leader to have stated the reasons at some length, but we have no room to repeat them here. This, however, we will say to Mr. Seward – it can not be expected that the native workman who depends on his daily labor for his daily bread, and finds the Chinaman taking it out of his mouth by doing for twenty-five or fifty cents what he had previously received from one to two dollars for doing, and found it hard at that to support his family — it cannot be expected that he will look at the matter from the highest level of political economy, or be reconciled to the change by statistics concerning the general good, the extraordinary prosperity, and the far-off cheapening of all products of labor, and the consequent cheapening of all the things he must purchase, &c., &c. He has no time to go into ail that; he only knows that now “ Chinese cheap labor” has reduced his wages fifty per cent., and taken so much out of the few meagre comforts of his wife and children. That point only is clear to him ; and is it strange that he does not feel specially amiable toward those who have done this?

But we cannot enlarge. The author has presented the subject in all its bearings, and shown the utter foolishness and falsehood of most of the accusations brought against the Chinese and their labor. At the same time he has impartially exposed the abominations of their prostitution, gambling and criminal compacts ; for the existence of which, however, the municipal authorities and a corrupt police have been largely responsible — though now under a new administration this is improving. He has also, from incontrovertible facts and statistics, proved how much their “cheap labor" in Railroad-building, Agriculture, Manufactures, &c., has added to the wealth of California ; and furnished ample evidence of the industry, honesty and fidelity of the better classes in every station to which they are called. It is pitiful, in view of the facts in its possession, that our government should have humiliated itself oy asking a revision of the Chinese treaty at the bidding of blatant 'political Kearneyism.

2. The Power of Movement in Plants. By Charles Darwin, LL.D., F.R.S. Assisted by Francis Darwin. D. Appleton & Co. $2.00.

Looking over the pages of this book, and noting the labor of observation it must have cost, we cannot help asking the old question, Cui bono? What is the good of it? The author himself seems conscious that it is dry reading, inasmuch as he kindly notifies us that we “need not read all the details," and indeed may, if we “think fit, read the last chapter first, as it contains a summary of the whole volume.”

We have followed his advice, and we think we discover here the secret of the volume in such statements as these : “It is impossible not to be struck with the resemblance between these movements of plants, and many actions performed unconscicusly by the lower animals "-" the tip of the radicle thus endowed, and having the power of directing the movements of the adjoining parts, acts like the brain of one of the lower animals." Well, if plants have a brain, or the equivalent of it, directing all their movements, then we suppose, along the line of evolution, the distance between a squash-vine and Mr. Darwin isn't worth talking about. Is that the direction and the aim of the argument ?

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3. Duty, with Illustrations of Courage Patience, and Endurance. By Samuel Smiles, LL.D., Author of “Self-Help," ** Thrift," &c. Harper & Brothers. $1.00.

Whoever thinks this book is a dry and juiceless discussion of the obligations of Duty in the abstract, will find himself pleasantly mistaken as soon as he begins reading. It has all the freshness and fascination which belong to the conversation of one who has travelled the world over, who has seen life in all its varying phases, and talked familiarly with the wisest and noblest men of all conditions ; and is therefore able to enforce and adorn every truth he utters, and every lesson he inculcates, with lively and instructive anecdotes, illustrations and examples. Four hundred pages alive with inspirations to duty, integrity, patriotism, patient endurance, true heroism and Christian manliness!

Old and young, rich and poor, men and women of every profession and in every sphere of life, will find something here to help, encourage and guide them in the way of life and conduct. The preacher, the lawyer, the lecturer, all public speakers, will find abundant incident and narrative with waich to enliven their arguments, quicken the thought, touch the heart, and persuade the understanding of their hearers. No book can be placed upon the home table, or in the Sunday School Library, more likely to be read with avidity than “Duty”; and no book that we know of is so sure to exert a healthy influence in forming the character and principles of young people just passing out from home into the temptations, and perils, and business activities of Life.

4. Appletons' International Scientific Series. The Atomic Theory. By Ad. Wurtz, Membre de L'Institute; Honoraire de la Faculté de Médicine; Professeur à la Faculté des Sciences de Paris. Translated by E. Cleminshaw, M.A., F.C.S., F.I.C., Assistant Master at Sherborne School. $1.50.

As regards the Atomic Theory, this volume undoubtedly is, both historically and scientifically, authority; though it is adapted in the last particular only to the advanced scholar in Chemistry. The historical portion is of interest to all intelligent readers, and it will certainly convince them that scientific theories, as well as Biblical Interpretations, have again and again been adopted as orthodox, fiercely defended, and afterward abandoned as false. In the progress of thought and investigation scientists are no more agreed, are no sweeter in temper, nor charitable in judgment, than theologians ; as every one can witness who is familiar with the history of scientific inquiry and theory-building,

The general reader will find most interest and instruction in the chapter concerning “Hypothesis upon the Constitution of Matter.” It is fresh, stimulating, and provocative of many curious questions. We would make special mention, in this connection, of the interesting discussion of the vortex theory of Atoms. The facts, if they be facts, must lead to further experiment and inquiry regarding the constitution of matter. The statement concerning the "smoke-rings " and their movements is truly marvellous. We had marked the paragraphs for quotation, but are obliged to omit them for want of space.

5. Gleanings from the fields of Art. By Ednah D. Cheney. Lee & Shepherd.

It has long seemed to us that the matter of art criticism is overdone. Every college sophomore and sentimental school-girl, every newspaper correspondent, and every donkey which happens to have his ears a little longer than his neighbors', must set up for an art critic, and weary common sense with their loose fustian about Turner and Ruskin, foreshortening and perspective, chiaro oscuro, &c., &c. As specimens of what mav be found in some educational class-books, take the following: “Refined voluptuousness and impassioned sombreness”; “A universe of thought and broad imminent shadows of calm contemplation, and majestic pain”; “Abrupt severity of the prime of manhood”; A refined sense of beauty over-ruled by cold calculation, and developed into a mere abstract conception of empty grace"; “ self-conscious veil of forced stillness” – and so on, through pages of such meaningless stuff, for school-girls who only understand English!

In contrast with this nonsense, it is refreshing to come upon such a book as this of Mrs. Cheney, who has something to say about art and artists that is informing and pleasing; and writes in plain and graceful English, never drowning her meaning in a flood of inanities from the boarding school dialect. The first chapter on Art, its true principles, characteristics and aims, and its relation to national life and culture, furnishes an excellent introduction to the historical and critical sketches which follow; and is marked by the delicate sentiment and discriminating taste of the writer, and enriched by the ripened thoughts and carefully considered verdicts of recognized authorities. That on Greek Art we have read with patience, because it is so full of good sense ; with pleasure, because we have been instructed at every page, and helped to more truly appreciate the debt which we owe to the genius of Phidias, Praxitiles, and the other great masters of that wonder land which has blessed the world in so many ways.

The sketches of early Christian and Byzantine Art will interest all classes of readers. “For a long time objection was made to any portraiture of Jesus. St. Eusebius refused, on religious grounds, to procure a picture of Christ for the sister of Constantine the Great.” “The few instances of the historic representation of Jesus in the Catacombs are of a mild, pleasant type.” “ The suffering Christ was not represented in these earlier pictures.” “There is no picture of the passion or of the crucifixion until the 8th century." These brief sentences are examples of the historical items embodied in these sketches, which at the same time furnish so much material for cultivating a critical taste in

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the study of arts, and in judging of the merits of pictures. The explanation of the rudeness of the early sketches in the Catacombs as the effect of Pagan art and Jewish opinions on the Christians, seems natural

We have not space for notes on the various schools and galleries, and on Michael Angelo, Durer, &c. ; but we can heartily commend Mrs. Cheney's “Gleanings” to all sensible people, as one that will tell them a great deal that it is pleasant to know about art and artists at home and abroad.

6. ' Appletons' Health Primers. The Heart and its Function. 40 cts.

Useful, as are all its fellow volumes. Chapter V., “How to Maintain the Integrity of the Heart's Function,” should be committed to memory by every parent, having the least regard for the health and usefulness of their sons and daughters. In the present blind rage for rowing, baseball, foot-ball, swimming, running, walking, and gymnastics and calisthenics in general, it is well that father and mother, and the young people themselves, should know something of the dangers and life-lasting injuries which may follow over-exertion, or too violent, and too long protracted physical exercise. We have some sad examples of what is possible in this respect, and the warnings of this little book come in good time.

The heart is an exceedingly delicate piece of mechanism, and the only wonder is that this “harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long.” Any one who will consider how great labor is imposed on it, since on its healthy condition depends the action of every nerve and muscle of the entire body, will easily see how great is the peril when this labor is increased from thirty to fifty per cent. by persistent, violent, unnatural exertion. And then, when it is once injured, or thoroughly deranged, it is so difficult to restore it to its normal condition !

7. Life and her Children: Glimpses of Animal Lise from the Amoeba to the Insects. By Arabella B. Buckley, author of the Fairyland of Science," etc. With upwards of One Hundred Illustrations. D. Appleton & Co. $1.50.

We had no thought of being interested in this book, though the “Fairy-Land of Science,” by the same author, is one of the most delightful volumes that ever came to our table. But this book about grubs, beetles, cockroaches, sand-feas, mollusks, shrimps, crabs, spiders, and all manner of small animals of the earth and the sea, some not very pleasing to look upon,- we took it up only for the purpose of getting an idea of its contents that we might say a word regarding them for the information of our readers. We soon found, however, that it was a book to be read, not as an editorial duty, but for enjoyment and information. Certainly Miss Buckley, who is well known as an enthusiast in natural science, has the faculty of throwing a charm around all her presentations and expositions of animal life. Even the smallest insect grows into magnitude under her hands, and a worm or a beetle becomes as attractive as a butterfly or a golden robin.

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8. Old Times in the Colonies. By Charles Carleton Coffin. Author of "The Boys of '76," &c. Harper & Brothers. $4.00.

"Old Times in the Colonies !” the very title has a charm in it — the Pilgrims, the stern old Puritans, the Quakers, the Witches, the French and Indian Wars; Dutch and Swedes, Kings and Charters, Governors and People ; Churches, Heresies and Religious Persecutions; Perilous Adventures in the Wilderness with Savages and wild beasts ; the Stroggle for Liberty, wise Statesmen, great' Captains, and heroic Soldiers ; powerful Preachers, and accomplished Scholars; the patience, perseverance, courage and faith which overcame all things, planted the seed of civilization in this Western World, and built up the magnificent empire which is the glory of our age, and opens the door of its privileges and opportunities to "all the nations and families and kindreds of the earth "

- who can read of these things without being stirred with a generous admiration for the men and women of the old Colonial Era, and for the grand work which they did so bravely and faithfully in those dark days, when the struggle for bare life seemed sufficient to absorb all their thoughts and activities?

The story of all this is told in a very pleasing way in Mr. Coffin's book, and some of his paragraphs are as good pictures of the scenes described as any of the accompanying engravings. The tone and evident purpose of the work. and the many brief but fitting and instructive observations mingled in the narrative, can scarcely fail to inspire the young with patriotism, reverence for principle and religion, and show them how certain it is that at last selfishness, injustice and wickedness work out their own destruction.

If one would know what horrible atrocities have been wrought by fanaticism and bigotry, Catholic and Protestant, he will find plenty of information here, showing him the tremendous chasm which often separates the Christianity of Creeds from the Christianity of the Sermon on the Mount. If he would see the difference between a government of selfishness and despotism, and a government by the people for the people, and understand how at last Truth, Education, Liberty, are sure to secure the supremacy and control the destinies of a people, of the world ; this book, so full of significant facts presented in most picturesque style, will help him to discover the causes and subtle forces by which these results are attained. One excellent feature of the work is that the author not only describes incidents, events and revolutions in America, but often goes over the sea with the reader, and shows him the beginnings of these in the complications of European politics and church quarrels. We must add that there are nearly 350 illustrations ; and what that means all familiar with the Harper periodicals well know.

9.

The Church of the Living God, and Other Sermons. By E. H. Chapin, D.D. God's Requirements, and Other Sermons. By E. H. Chapin, D.D. Published by James Miller. New York. $1.00 each.

It would be idle for us to attempt a criticism of these utterances of the great pulpit orator, or an analysis of the peculiar elements of his power, and of that marvellous eloquence of speech and heart and earnestness which held the thousands who listened to him in magnetic condition, powerless, immovable, until, closing, he let them down from the height to which he had lifted them, with a clear understanding of the inspiration of a consecrated genius. All our readers, probably, have some time heard Dr. Chapin in the pulpit or on the platform, when, as some great thought lifted above the horizon like the coming of the sun, or some grand truth of God suddenly filled his soul anew with its splendor and power, there followed an outburst of eloquence which seemed to transfigure the man, and flooded the souls of the listening multitude till they too entered into the glory of his vision, and, like Paul, were hardly able to tell whether they were in the body or out of it. With

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