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Sea and Land, Features of Coasts and Oceans, with special reference to the Life of Man


    IN more than one sense this book is a thinner one than “Aspects of the Earth.” Of the seven essays which it contains—in the main re publications—the first four deal with familiar subjects—the work of the sea, its beaches, its depths, and icebergs; the last three treat of harbours, and introduce some questions which are less hackneyed and more interesting. Prof. Shaler writes pleasantly, and his sentences flow easily, but it is sometimes possible to read through several paragraphs without much progress in knowledge, or to find a rather large number of well-turned phrases expended in stating what amounts to a truism. But as the preface informs us that the object of the book is “to introduce unprofessional students of nature to certain interesting phenomena of the sea-shore and of the depths of the ocean,” it is very pos sible that babes in science will find well-sweetened pap more digestible than strong meat. We must, however, protest against the liberties which Prof. Shaler takes occasionally with our mother-tongue. He is too fond of ”telephonese” or “telegraphese,” as it might be called This tongue may be good American, but it is not good English. We do not mean to assert that no improvements could be made in the latter, or to pose as prudes of etymological purity, but we object to the coinage of new words, or, rather, the misuse of old words, where grammatical expressions already exist, longer only by a few more letters or, at most, syllables. Brevity may be the soul of wit, but it is not always an adornment in speech. Is there any real gain (to take a few examples) in such an adjective as “pivotal,” such participles as “fiorded,” “forested,” “peninsulated,” “well-harboured”(i.e. with many harbours), and such a verb as to “raft off” in the sense of transport or carry off like a raft.

    Sea and Land, Features of Coasts and Oceans, with special reference to the Life of Man.

    By N. S. Shaler, Professor of Geology in Harvard University. Illustrated. (London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1895.)

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