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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/542

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

closing exercises of the examination of the pupils of the academy, which took place at the Opera-House before a large audience, the following were the results from the chemical class of fourteen students: Samples were taken at random from the bottles of different commercial salts (single bases and acids) by one of the trustees and given to each student. Of the fifty analyses made in a little over one hour, not a single failure was made. The class had studied theoretical chemistry for seven months three times a week, one hours recitation each; after which they had table-practice for eight weeks, or twenty-four school-hours; to which as many more were voluntarily added by the students after school, making forty-eight hours in all of analytical work."

This brief statement is full of important suggestions. The preliminary study of theoretical chemistry for seven months, probably in the ordinary way of lesson-learning, was, no doubt, somewhat helpful; and it would be well for all pupils, in entering upon a course of exercises in analysis, to be possessed of some elementary chemical ideas. But the practical experience of actual investigation is so much a thing by itself, that those who have read up do not really have the great advantage over beginners that might be supposed. The pupil who goes to work fresh will very soon get the elementary conceptions needed, and he will then read chemistry with redoubled interest, and to better purpose.

But what is significant in this case is that, when the pupils came to practical work, they voluntarily doubled their tasks, and this, too, notwithstanding the "hardness" of exercises that had to be mastered un-helped. The mode of study was attractive because there is no pleasure like the sense of power that comes from conquest. There is, moreover, a fine satisfaction in that free play of the faculties which self-instruction implies; and Professor Rains says, "The students are allowed entire freedom while at work." The superiority of this mode of study can no longer be questioned; and Professor Rains has done a very important service to education in thus facilitating the thorough and at the same time pleasurable pursuit of one of its most useful branches.

 

THE EXTREME RARITY OF PREMATURE BURIALS.
By Professor WILLIAM SEE, M. D.

THE article on "Premature Burials," in the January (1880) number of this journal, from its tendency to magnify the importance of the probabilities of premature burial in cases of trance and suspended animation, and from its assertion that, in effect, the ordinary physician or general practitioner is not capable of reaching a