THE wonders of nature! The book would be worth having that would help us to realise, however imperfectly, what it is that underlies this hackneyed phrase. But the book that shall create and satisfy a craving for this result will not be easy to build up. It must be encyclopædic, but (need it be said?) not an encyclopædia. It must be accurate to the last degree of accuracy, but must have nothing of the pedant about it. Human interests must, wherever an opportunity offers, be interwoven with its narrative. The narrative itself must be, not the heavy didactic prosing of an old-fashioned schoolmaster, but the congenial living talk of a friend. Sound judgment must pick out what is to be told and what left unsaid. So far from looking upon all facts as of equal value, the utmost care must be exercised to present those only which are within the grasp of the lay mind; all that has significance for the specialist only will be out of place. Nothing will be inserted merely because it is curious or marvellous, for the object will be not to make the reader gape like an astonished clown at something which looks very extraordinary because he does not understand it; rather to use the emotion of wonder as a means to something beyond, as an inducement to look below the surface and find out how results so startling have been brought about. The right book must be neither shallow nor deep; fascinating as a poem, but sound as a scientific treatise; and it will be well if there run through all of it some one leading idea, which, will serve to give it unity and string together into a connected whole the sections of which it is made up.
“A.E. Brehm. Les Merveilles de la Nature.” La Terre, les Mers, et les Continents; Géographie Physique, Géologie et Minéralogie.
Par Fernand Priem. (Paris: J. B. Baillière et Fils, 1892.)
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GREEN, A. “A.E. Brehm Les Merveilles de la Nature” La Terre, les Mers, et les Continents; Géographie Physique, Géologie et Minéralogie. Nature 48, 25–26 (1893). https://doi.org/10.1038/048025a0