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The History of a Mouthful of Bread And its effect on the organization of men and animals   By: (1815-1894)

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Juliet Sutherland, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

THE HISTORY OF A MOUTHFUL OF BREAD: And Its Effect on the Organization of Men and Animals.


Translated Prom the Eighth French Edition, By Mrs. Alfred Gatty.


The volume of which the following pages are a translation, has been adopted by the University Commission at Paris among their prize books, and has reached an eighth edition. Perhaps these facts speak sufficiently in its favor; but as translator, and to some extent editor, I wish to add my testimony to the great charm as well as merit of the little work. I sat down to it, I must own, with no special predilection in favor of the subject as a suitable one for young people; but in the course of the labor have become a thorough convert to the author's views that such a study perhaps I ought to add, so pursued as he has enabled it to be is likely to prove a most useful and most desirable one.

The precise age at which the interest of a young mind can be turned towards this practical branch of natural history is an open question, and not worth disputing about. It may vary even in different individuals. The letters are addressed to a child in the original even to a little girl and most undoubtedly, as the book stands, it is fit for any child's perusal who can find amusement in its pages: while to the rather older readers, of whom I trust there will be a great many, I will venture to say that the advantage they will gain in the subject having been so treated as to be brought within the comprehension and adapted to the tastes of a child, is pretty nearly incalculable. The quaintness and drollery of the illustrations with which difficult scientific facts are set forth will provoke many a smile, no doubt, and in some young people perhaps a tendency to feel themselves treated babyishly ; but if in the course of the babyish treatment they find themselves almost unexpectedly becoming masters of an amount of valuable information on very difficult subjects, they will have nothing to complain of. Let such young readers refer to even a popular Encyclopaedia for an insight into any of the subjects of the twenty eight chapters of this volume "The Heart," "The Lungs," "The Stomach," "Atmospheric Pressure," no matter which, and see how much they can understand of it without an amount of preliminary instruction which would require half a year's study, and they will then thoroughly appreciate the quite marvellous ingenuity and beautiful skill with which M. Macé has brought the great leading anatomical and physical facts of life out of the depths of scientific learning, and made them literally comprehensible by a child.

There is one point (independent of the scientific teaching) and that, happily, the only really important one, in which the English translator has had no change to make or desire. The religious teaching of the book is unexceptionable. There is no strained introduction of the subject, but there is throughout the volume an acknowledgment of the Great Creator of this marvellous work of the human frame, of the daily and hourly gratitude we owe to Him, and of the utter impossibility of our tracing out half his wonders, even in the things nearest to our senses, and most constantly subject to observation. M. Macé will help, and not hinder the humility with which the Christian naturalist lifts one veil only to recognise another beyond.

It will be satisfactory to any one who may be inclined to wonder how a lady can feel sure of having correctly translated the various scientific and anatomical statements contained in the volume, to know that the whole has been submitted to the careful revision of a medical friend, to whom I have reason to be very grateful for valuable explanations and corrections whenever they were necessary... Continue reading book >>

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