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EMBRACING POLITICAL, MILITARY, AND ECCLESIASTICAL AFFAIRS;
AND MECHANICAL INDUSTRY
The present volume has a peculiar interest in that it records the history of the closing year of the greatest of all the centuries—the century of steam, electricity, photography, and anæsthetics; of railways and telegraphs, sewing machines, typewriters, telephones, phonographs, armored ships, and smokeless powder. Many readers, on opening the volume, will naturally turn first to the article entitled “Nineteenth Century, Important Events of the," where they will find a rapid chronological survey, showing—not, indeed, everything that has happened since the death of George Washington, but the principal significant and suggestive events. And this is supplemented by a review of the events of Queen Victoria's long reign, which closed with the century.
Among the beneficent advances of the closing years of the century none is more worthy of note than the now widespread practice in the care of the sick of supplementing the skill of the physician with the skill of a specially educated nurse. This subject is treated fully in the present volume under the title “Nurses, Trained.” And a similar interest attaches to the growing habit of giving liberally for the endowment of charitable, religious, and educational institutions. What was done in this way in 1900 may be seen by a glance at the article “ Gifts and Bequests.” Another advance of recent years is set forth in “Visual Instruction,” a subject here presented in cyclopædic form for the first time. The greatest examples of visual instruction are afforded by the world's fairs, now so common that not many years pass without one. The beautiful exposition held in Paris in 1900 is here described, with illustrations.
At the same time, instruction by alphabetical means has progressed at its usual pace, and we present an interesting article on the public libraries of the United States, written by a veteran in the service, which is full of significant statistics, and is illustrated with portraits of some of our most eminent librarians. Our circulating libraries still show a preponderance of fiction, though the proportion of this to more solid reading is steadily decreasing; and in the book world the past year has been marked by phenomenal sales of half a dozen novels. This curious occurrence is discussed by an able critic under the title “ Fiction, American.” There is also a development of education which is attained by reaching backward through the centuries and reading the monuments of vanished races. Those who take an interest in this will look at our regular article on “ Archæology" and also at the special article on the “ Congress of Christian Archæology."
The regular articles on the great religious denominations, showing their growth and work in the year, are full as usual, and to them is now added the new one on “Christian Science.” Whatever any one may think of this manifestation, its believers and supporters are now so numerous and so definitely organized that it can
not be ignored by a faithful chronicler of the time. Those who are curious as to its history should read not only the article “Christian Science,” but that entitled “Metaphysics, American,” which also is in this volume.
The material and scientific advances are recorded in the regular articles on “Chemistry,” “Metallurgy,” “ Physics,” and “Physiology”; and the reader should look also at the special articles on “ Explosives,” “Steel Cars,” and “Voting. Machines,” and perhaps at the curious array of information under “Gold Nuggets.”
The notable event of the year in the United States was the presidential election, of which a full account is presented, with the platforms of all the parties that entered into the contest. The usual decennial Federal census was taken in June, and the population figures will be found in the articles on the several States, showing the population of each county. Very few of the other results of the census have been compiled, and therefore they can not be presented in this volume. From this subject we are naturally led to the Australian colonies, which have just federated themselves in a union closely modeled on that of the United States. The story of the federation, which went into effect Jan. 1, 1901, is told at length in “ Australasia."
England has a new monarch, and we give a full-page portrait of him and a brief sketch of his life in the article on his kingdom. And last year England lost one of the most picturesque and original of all her authors and one of the most interesting of men—John Ruskin, of whom we present an extended biographical sketch, largely in his own words, and a beautiful portrait. Our own country lost one of its ablest statesmen and financiers in John Sherman, and the story of his life is here told by his friend and assistant secretary of the treasury, with a full-page portrait engraved for this work. There are also sketches and portraits of the new Vice-President and the new Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Among the eminent dead of the year, of whom sketches may be found in this volume, accompanied in some instances by portraits, are the actors Charles H. Hoyt, Edward S. Marble, and Frank Mayo; the artists William H. Beard, Francis B. Carpenter, Frederick E. Church, Jasper F. Cropsey, Thomas Faed, John S. Sargent, and William L. Sonntag; the authors Richard D. Blackmore, Clarence Cook, Stephen Crane, Archibald Forbes, Lucretia Hale, Richard Hovey, James Martineau, Moses Coit Tyler, and Charles Dudley Warner; the clergymen Cyrus A. Bartol, Thomas K. Beecher, A. J. F. Behrends, Edward McGlynn, Richard S. Storrs, and Richard H. Wilmer; the educators Henry Barnard, Charles F. Dunbar, Sigmund Fritchel, Burke A. Hinsdale, Joseph Jessing, George W. Northrup, Olaf Olsson, and William L. Wilson; the jurists Cushman K. Davis, William C. Endicott, and David M. Key; the naval officers John W. Philip and Montgomery Sicard; the physicians William A. Hammond, Oliver P. Hubbard, Lewis A. Sayre, Edwin 0. Shakespeare, and Alfred Stillé; the scientists Frank H. Cushing, Thomas Egleston, James E. Keeler, St. George Mivart, and Fairman Rogers; the soldiers William W. Averell, Zenas R. Bliss, Gustave P. Cluseret, Jacob D. Cox, Petrus Joubert, Emerson H. Liscum, and John G. Parke; the statesmen Count Benedetti, John A. Bingham, Paul Falk, John J. Ingalls, Edward John Phelps, and the Duke of Argyll; the capitalists Collis P. Huntington and Henry Villard; the journalist Oswald Ottendorfer, the circus performer Dan Rice, the chess player William Steinitz, and King Humbert of Italy.
The illustrations include two colored plates, four full-page pictures in black and white, and an unusual number in the text.
The volume closes with an index covering this and the four that preceded it.