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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 85

Notes on the Bionomic Course. — Elementary Division. — Comprising Physics, Chemistry, Natural History, and Physiology

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Notes on the Bionomic Course.

Elementary Division.

Comprising Physics, Chemistry, Natural History, and Physiology.

N.B. The portions printed in smaller type are suggestive enumerations of subjects which might be embraced by the Elementary Studies of the first Period. They are mostly borrowed from "Science made Easy," a connected and progressive Course, embracing in ten familiar Lectures the elementary Scientific Knowledge which underlies the "Things of Daily Life." For an account of this Course, and of its Pictorial and other Illustrations, see the descriptive Prospectus issued by Messrs. J. J. Griffin & Suns of Garrick Street, Covent Garden.

Mechanical Physics.

Forms of Bodies (These will be taught in the Mathematical Department).

First Principles of Phiysies:—Varieties of Attraction, e.g. Gravity, Cohesion, Adhesion, and Capillarity. Contending Forces resulting in the three conditions of matter, solid, liquid and gaseous.

With young beginners it is desirable to train the mind by an acquaintance with some of the most visible and tangible forms of Bodies, before attempting to make it realize the abstract conception of Matter, and understand the abstruse theories which prevail concerning it. These should be reserved for the second Period.

Distinctive Properties of Bodies:—Compactness, porousness; hardness; brittleness, toughness, malleability, ductility, tena- page 42 city; flexibility; elasticity; sonorousness; opacity, translucidity, transparency.—Crystallization.

Comparative Weight:—Specific Gravity of Solids. Comparative Density of Liquids; Hydrometers. Comparative Density of Gases; Balloons.

It is expedient to associate the Specific Gravity of Solids with their distinctive properties, leaving the mode of determining it for the subject of Hydrostatics.

Rest and Motion:—Inertia; Momentum; Centrifugal Force.

Many phenomena pertaining to this subject, such as Constrained Motion, may be deferred for the second Period.

Gravitation:—Increasing velocity of falling bodies. Centre of Gravity;—suspension, support, line of direction. The Pendulum.

The Mechanical Powers:—The Three Levers and the Wheel and Axle; the Pulley; the Inclined Plane; the Wedge; the Screw.

The foregoing to be shown in action, or dynamically, leaving for the second Period to demonstrate them statically. The students will then be more advanced in Mathematics. Moreover in now seeing the action of these Powers experimentally illustrated, they will have it impressed on the memory far better than can be done by any accurate calculations of equilibrium, whilst a clear notion will be established in their minds of the Inverse Ratio of Power and Speed.

Locomotive Appliances:—The Roller; Wheel Carriages.

Hydrostatics and Aerostatics:—Pressure transmitted in all directions.

"Water seeks the lowest level." Water as a motive power; Undershot and Overshot Wheels, Turbines, Rams, &c.

"Water seeks its own level." Water Supply; Fountains.

"Pressure according to depth."

Floating and submerged bodies. Determination of Specific Gravities.

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Atmospheric Pressure:—The Air Pump. The Diving Bell. The Siphon; Intermittent Fountains. Suction and Force Pumps.—The Hydraulic Press.

Barometers. Measurement of Altitudes.

Notions of Meteorology:—Action of the Sun's heat in producing Wind, and of the latter in determining local temperatures; the Anemometer. Moisture; its measurement; its different forms, e.g. Dew, Clouds, Bain, Hail and Snow.

Acoustics:—Production, transmission, and reflection of Sound. Musical Vibrations and their relation to Pitch; their consonance, dissonance and interference.

Chemical Physics.*

Light:—its production and transmission; Newton's Bays and the Wave Theory. Comparison with Sound. Velocity.—Reflexion. Diffusion. Refraction. Common Optical Instruments. Decomposition of the Solar Bay. The Spectrum. Theory of Colour.

Heat:—its production and transmission.—Expansion of Solids. Expansion of Liquids; Thermometers; the Centigrade as a standard graduation. Expansion of Gases; Ventilation. Convection; Conduction. Radiation; Reflexion and Refraction of Heat Rays; Diathermancy.—Changes in the condition of matter produced by the addition and subtraction of Heat. Latent Heat. Specific Heat. Phenomena connected with Ice, its production by Evaporation. Leading facts connected with Steam, and its uses as a motive power, and for heating, cleansing, &c.

Magnetism:—The Lodestone; artificial Magnets; polarity; attraction and repulsion. The Mariner's Compass. Declination and Inclination.

Frictional Electricity:—Positive and Negative; mutual action. Production; Electrical Machines. Storage; the Leyden Jar. Action of Points; Lightning Conductors. Electrometers.

Voltaic Electricity:—The dry Voltaic Pile. The Galvanic Cell; its multiplication forming a Battery. Differences page 44 between Frictional or Static, and Voltaic or Dynamic Electricity. Properties and effects of the latter:—production of Heat (Thermo-Electricity); Chemical action (Electro-Metallurgy).—Electro-Magnetism and Magneto-Electricity:—Galvanometers. The Needle, the Morse, and other Telegraphs. The Telephone.—The Electric Light.

Though the syllabic materials given are, as stated, mainly intended for the first Period, it has been found convenient to place here the whole of the subjects connected with Electricity, albeit many of them will be best taught in the second Period, and some need only be gone into in detail by those youths who in the third Period, are specializing their studies, with a view to becoming Electrical Engineers.

* Though the term "Chemical Physics" has been objected to by some scientists, it is retained here on the authority of eminent authors as designating an intermediary position between Mechanical Physics and Chemistry.



Explanatory examples of common chemical terms and processes, e.g. Chemical Affinity; Difference between Mechanical Mixture and Chemical Combination; Simple and Compound Substances; Synthesis and Analysis.—Solution; Precipitation; Filtration; Decantation; Distillation; Sublimation.—Crystallization.

It is a great comfort to the Teacher, as well as to the uninitiated student, that a free use of the most essential items of chemical phraseology be gained at the outset by appropriate explanations, supported by examples borrowed as far as possible from every-day life.

* See also in reference to this subject, p. 11.

Inorganic Chemistry.

Familiar indications of the properties and uses of select non-metallic and metallic Elements, and of their most notable Compounds.

As it is undesirable to have occasion to use unex- page 45 plained chemical phraseology, so likewise is there an awkwardness in naming chemicals not yet come to, as is too often the case when the Teacher, in introducing the early bodies, wishes to give an account of their preparation. A striking example is given by Oxygen, generally the first of all, of which the preparation involves the use of Potassium Chlorate or Manganese Dioxide. It is not a bad plan to group together a certain number of easy examples of preparation at the end of the elementary Inorganic Chemistry, but the explanation of the more complex processes should be reserved for the second Period, in order to have the benefit of the acquaintance with symbolic equations.

It is rather natural that in arranging an abstract of elementary Chemical Science for the first division of a Course of Bionomy, the classification should be devised in accordance with the utilitarian purpose in view, instead of being based on abstract theory. Thus for instance, the non-metallic bodies may be conveniently impressed on the memory of beginners by taking first the gaseous ones, Oxygen, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Chlorine, and then the most important of the solid ones, Carbon, Phosphorus, Sulphur, and Iodine; Fluorine, Boron and Silicon being represented by their compounds, and Bromine and Selenium being left for the second Period. As for the Metals a popular selection of examples seems to admit of being classed very conveniently according to lines of usefulness. Such at least is the conclusion at which I arrived in organizing an Industrial Course of Chemistry, not published, but of which the Inorganic portion in 8 Lectures, was delivered at two London Institutions. That classification, rather popular than scientific, is given as follows, for the sake of any suggestive use of which it may be susceptible.

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The Metals.

The Common Metals:—Iron, Zinc, Tin, Load, Copper.

The Noble Metals:—Silver, Gold, Platinum.

The Liquid Metal:—Mercury.

The Alloy Metals:—Nickel, Bismuth, Antimony.

Metals of the Alkalies:—Potassium, Sodium.

Metals of the Alkaline Earths:—Calcium, Barium, Magnesium.

Metals of the Earths:—Aluminium.

It would be optional to reserve Arsenic, Manganese, Cobalt and Chromium for the second Period.

Organic Chemistry.

Chemical meaning of the term "Organic Bodies." Proximate and Ultimate analysis illustrated by means of some common article, such as Flour.—Leading characters of the main groups into which Vegetable and Animal Products naturally divide themselves; such as Saccharoids, Fats, Alkaloids, Coloring Matters.—The Alcohol Group. The Fermentations.—Chief Constituents of Animal Food: Albumin, Fibrin, Casein, Gelatin.

To what has been said at page 11 of this Pamphlet respecting the growing use made in Chemistry of hard words, I may here add that it is equally desirable to avoid hard things. It is a hard thing when nearly everybody is agreed as to the meaning of the word Aeil, to be told that Acids are Salts, and that their leader, Sulphuric Acid, is a Hydric Sulphate, being a combination of Sulphuric Anhydride with Hydric Oxide, alias Water. So on with Carbonic Acid and the rest. Pedantry like this is but too apt to disgust would-be students, and it is obviously more profitable to grant to each anhydride the modicum of Water which renders its properties available, and gives life to its acidity. There page 47 are many Organic Acids, which in their ordinary condition contain a determinate proportion of Water of Crystallization without being called "Hydrates," any more than we would call "Hydrates," crystallized specimens of Salts.

One of my chief reasons for writing, about 1871, the Industrial Course above mentioned, was that I wished to show that a much fuller account of Chemistry than that squeezed into two Lectures in my "Science made Easy" Course, an account in fact that might suffice for most Working Men, might equally be given without troubling their minds with those equivalents and symbolic notations, which however convenient they may be to a Student acquainted with the chemicals referred to, are stumbling-blocks to a beginner ignorant of them. Their use was accordingly dispensed with, not only in the 8 Lectures on Inorganic Chemistry, but in 12 devoted to Organic Chemistry. Now the same care should be taken in the Chemistry of the first Period of a Bionomic Course for Schools, Equivalents and Symbols being-reserved for the second Period, of which indeed they will constitute one of the chief distinctions. Roscoe, than whom one could not cite a better authority, distinctly says the study of Combining Weights, Symbols and Notations should follow, instead of preceding a visual acquaintance with the bodies to which they apply (Sec Roscoe's Chemical Primer. Macmillan. 1872). Prof. Barff in the Preface to his "Introduction to Scientific Chemistry" says, "I have always found that beginners have great difficulty in conceiving abstract numbers, and that symbols and equations are regarded by many as almost insuperable impediments."

It is a pity that a principle supported on first-rate authority should hitherto have been very little carried into practice, the above Primer for children, by Roscoe, and Rigg's "Easy Introduction to Chemistry," being the only examples to the purpose, that have come page 48 under my notice. It would be a great convenience to teachers of Chemistry at high-class Schools, where that science, if taught in earnest, must almost necessarily be gone through twice, between the ages of 10 and 17, to use a manual purposely written in two parts, or stages, approximately corresponding to our two Periods, and carefully avoiding the various drawbacks to which attention has been directed. The first would give main outlines and fundamental principles without symbolic notations, the second would introduce these, and in going over the ground again, filling in and extending, would make good use of them for explaining what cannot well be made clear without them.—Almost the only plan now available seems to be to select some comprehensive Manual, and to indicate by conventional markings on a standard copy, the subject matter to be taken in the first Period, and repeated in the second, that to be taken in the second only, and perhaps certain portions that may be omitted altogether, or reserved for a third Period. The copies in the hands of the pupils must of course be marked conformably. Trouble might be saved by a work giving in bold type the matter to be studied in the first Period, and in different print that to be taken additionally in the second Period.—When educational series present first and second stages, i.e. Elementary and Advanced Books for each branch of knowledge, it is obviously desirable that the corresponding works be written by the same author, as was the case with the Botanical ones by Balfour in Collins' series.

Whilst I highly appreciate the educational value of Laboratory Practice, I feel bound to warn Teachers of Chemistry against allowing beginners too free a use of Chemicals. I speak from experience, having had Chemicals at my free disposal when I was about 12 years old, and a good Laboratory at 13. I had however learnt caution from what I had seen happen to a pharmaceutical friend, from whom I took private lessons at page 49 the time that I was following the course of Chemistry of the celebrated Professor Orfila at the Royal Athenaeum. Paris, in 1818. My friend was showing me the "Philosopher's Lamp," which unfortunately is one of the first experiments that a chemical student arrives at, and without proper apparatus, one of the most dangerous. The flame having become extinct, he took out the cork and tube, replacing them after he had added a little acid. After waiting what he imagined to be sufficient time, he held the point of the tube to a candle, when the bottle exploded in his hand, scattering fragments of glass and acid spurts all over the shop. We were quit for a fright, and this specimen of imprudence had a salutary effect on my mind, and I never had any mishap worth mentioning, though certain narrow escapes warrant me in earnestly recommending that tyros should be specially trained in forethought and caution, and enjoined not to attempt any dubious experiments without the presence of a practised operator.—I used at one time to find entertaining and instructive, the carrying out in the small way of industrial processes, such as the manufacture of scented Soap, Dyeing in various colors, Distillation of Essences, preparation of Cough Lozenges with Liquorice, Guimauve and Tolu; &c. But a better occupation for advanced students would be Food Analysis, of which Bionomy in dealing with Adulteration, Fraud and Impurities in general, suggests so many useful applications.

Natural History.

Comprising Mineralogy, Botany and Zoology.

On referring to the Synopsis, Period I., it will be seen that taking advantage of the proposed Cosmographic Course, I have transferred to it that preparatory study page 50 of the Three Kingdoms which is necessary for understanding the resources of Domestic Economy and Hygiene, thereby lightening a little the studies of the Bionomic Course. Lithology, the branch of Mineralogy which embraces the study of the Rocks, comes in appropriately at the beginning of the second year, after Geology has related their supposed mode of formation,—after Chemistry, in the Bionomic Course, has introduced their constant elements, and before the applied Division of that Course has occasion for studying these rocky masses as Building Stone. It will further be seen that Botany occupies the last term of every school-year, so as to have the benefit of the season when vegetation flourishes, and Practical Diagnosis can be made an entertainment; the preparatory studies of Organography and Physiology having been gone through in the second term of the first school-year.


Bionomy, representing as it does the necessities rather than the refinements of Life, may be said to have less connexion with this than with most other sciences. Lithology has already been selected as the most useful branch, on account of the important materials it supplies for building purposes, among which may be included, besides the common kinds of Stone, most of the ordinary varieties of Marble.

In some cases one may be led into smaller matters by the examination of the ingredients of which compound rocks are composed, as for instance, in distinguishing Granite from Syenite, but their inspection need only be superficial, leaving Crystallography and other technical elements of mineral diagnosis, for the opportunity afforded in the second Period. Even there however, it would be scarcely worth while going seriatim through page 51 the dry pages of a Mineralogical Manual, but a teacher versed in the subject, might unite usefulness with interest, in proceeding upwards through a few groups of his own selection, say for instance:—Stones too expensive for ordinary masonry, but used for decoration; then others choicer still, till he arrived at those costly gems which one has so convenient an opportunity of admiring in the shop windows of the London jewellers. Certain minerals at once peculiar and useful, such as Rock Crystal, Mica, Talc, Steatite, Asbestos and Graphite, might either form a group by themselves, or be relegated to the departments of Domestic Economy where they are used.


The Cell and its growth. Cell Contents. Multiplication of Cells. Cellular Tissue.—Germination. Cotyledons and their functions.—Functions of the Leaves.—Functions of the Flowers.—Morphological review. Exogens, Endogens, and Acrogens. Diagnosis. Principles of Classification.

These syllabic indications, mainly taken from the Botanical Lecture of the "Science made Easy" Course, apply to the first or initiatory Period. It is more particularly in the second Period when a growing acquaintance with the phraseology of Diagnosis, facilitates a review of Economic Botany, that it will be seen how vastly more important, and more diversified than those of Mineralogy, are the educational claims of Botanical Science. Looking at it from an economic point of view, we notice among its teachings, the growth of Endogens and Exogens, Woods of every description for Building purposes and Furniture, Textile Fibres, and Dyeing Materials for coloring them, and above all an endless variety of "Food-stuifs." As for the histological and physiological directions, or the diagnostic, page 52 herborizing and cultural lines in which the students may be taught to pursue Botany on its own account, they will much depend on the resources available for the purpose.

It will at all events be well to take advantage of any facilities afforded by the season purposely selected for Botanical studies, and by the locality of the School, for inspiring the boys with a lively interest in spying with an admiring eye into the secrets of vegetable life, but as for any prospect of future devotion to this Science, it will be prudent to explain to them how much the enjoyment of Botanical pursuits will depend on the opportunities of their respective careers.

Diagnosis is of course best studied with the aid of fresh plants; the dried specimens of an Herbarium soon get injured by being repeatedly handled for close inspection; and good leones with critical details clearly given, and if necessary enlarged, are preferable for class instruction. Such are Henslow's Illustrations of the Natural Orders, and the costlier ones executed with artistic skill by Miss Elizabeth Twining.*

If there is any branch of knowledge that can console a boy for an early infliction of Latin, it is Botany. It is true that its glossology has been vernacularized with excellent results as far as indigenous diagnosis is concerned; but the substitution of English for Latin names, particularly as regards the generic ones is fraught with incongruities. It is an acknowledged rule that generic names ought not to be descriptive, and the popular English ones mostly present a misleading generalization of the properties of certain species. A standard international Latin nomenclature is the best means of reducing the confusion of synonymy to a minimum, and it would be a pity not to keep up the practice of Latin diagnosis in important works.

* A Pamphlet entitled "The Botanic Stand" (T. T. 1883) describes a miniature Botanic Garden for the study of the Natural Orders of Plants.

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Man. Monkeys. Bats. Insect-Eaters. Flesh-Eaters. Gnawers. The Toothless Tribe. Cud-Chewers. Thick-Skins. Pouch-Bearers. Water-Moles. Seals and the like. Whales and the like. Birds, Reptiles. Frogs and the like. Fishes. Insects. Spiders and the like. Crabs and the like. Worms and the like. Soft-bodied Animals. Rayed Animals. Primary Animals.

It may be seen by the foregoing, taken from the Syllabus of Lecture VIII. of the "Science made Easy" series, that in so rudimentary a course, I found it expedient to begin Zoology with the Human Species, and to progress downwards, as is usually done in Botany, instead of adopting the modern plan of an upward progression, and I am convinced that as regards the teaching of our proposed first Period, addressed to boys from 10 to 12 years of age, the same downward plan will be found the best. In fact the Human Type, leaving details of the structure and functions for Physiology, but introducing the chief physiognomic distinctions of Race with the aid of striking Diagrams, like those of the Working Men's Educational Union, can scarcely fail to excite in juvenile minds, an interest as lively as that evinced by the Mechanics, who used to flock to ray Lectures at the London Institutions. That interest is moreover well kept up by the remainder of the Mammalia, not to say of the Vertebrata generally. Very different would be the effect of beginning with an uninviting disquisition on Protoplasm and the Amoeba. In the second Period the ascending progression may have its turn. Additional interest and instruction will be gained by travelling in an opposite direction through the same scenery, or in other words, working one's way back again from the mysterious depths of the ocean to the daylight of familiar forms.

Pictorial Illustrations of Animals suited for class-use page 54 abound, including besides the English, some good German and French sets; but in order to have a uniform series, I have found it best to adopt a selection of those published by the S.P.C.K., grouping them in due sequence on sheets of stout cardboard. This plan has answered so well, and the epitome of information contained in Lecture VIII., which they serve to illustrate, approaches so nearly to what school-boys are likely to want in the first Period, that I may venture to suggest its use, the more so as boys classically educated would find the Latin names added in brackets to the English ones. For the second Period, it would be desirable to select from the copious stock of zoological literature, some standard work popularly written, and well supplied with woodcuts, which after serving for eclectic study, might be permanently useful as a repertory of Economic Zoology.


The Human Skeleton. The Composition and Structure of Bone. Histological details.

The Nervous System.—The Blood; Circulation. Respiration.—Nutrition; Food in the Mouth, in the Stomach, and in the Intestinal Canal. Digestive Secretions. Action of the Liver. Absorption and Assimilation. The Lymphatic System.—The function of the Kidneys.

The Senses:—The Organs of Sight, of Hearing, of Smell, of Taste and of Touch.—The Skin as an Organ of Secretion.—The Nails and the Hair.—Concluding remarks.

Considering the favorable success of the two Lectures on Physiology which conclude my "Science made Easy" series, and the convenience of having a corresponding set of 16 Diagrams, I think I may venture to propose their use in the first Period. For the second, a more authoritative, as well as more comprehensive work will be desirable.