31 AUGUST 1878, Page 21

Economical and Financial Science. By W. M. Halbert. (Remington

and Co.)—This is an odd little hook. One is surprised to find chapters on meteorology and on suu-spots in such a connection. Wo must ex- plain, or try to explain. The study of those subjects can furnish us with an array of data and statistics which, if reduced under the law of averages, have a most important bearing on economic science, and may ultimately raise it into the domain of exact truth. Every ono knows that the rainfall, the harvest, and the bank-rate of discount are inter-related ; so the author tries to show that the "dismal science," as political economy has been called, may, by calcula- tions of averages based on "a cycle of seasons in each decade," be made an exact science. After all the books that have been written about it, it still presents, he says, a poor appearance, but the time is now at band for it to pass triumphantly out of" the position of the contingent into the realms of necessary truth." This is nonsense. Statistics and laws of averages can never make empirical truths "necessary." We must demur, too, to the author's description of his style as "a plain and prosaic" treatment of his complex subject, as we observe that he is rather fond of quoting poetry, and is himself now and then somewhat too poetic and magniloquent. The effect, to our mind, is often grotesque. Sonic of his sentences we cannot construe, and many we cannot under- stand. It appears from the extracts from letters prefixed to his volume, that several eminent men have politely snubbed him. In the case of Professor Airey, he candidly admits as much.