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Questions and Answers.
EXAMINATION PAPERS. We very much desire to be able to get regularly a full set of at least all those papers on the chief branches of knowledge. They are now sought for more and more, and we cannot properly instruct our Pupil Teachers or ourselves without them.-T. D. A Country Schoolmaster.
Answer.-We have determined to give them ourselves. We had long scrupled to do so for reasons which have been a good deal removed by the improved character of the Papers themselves. We are now satisfied that they will be generally useful to our readers. We shall continue them in our next number and exhaust all those which are the best worth recording, in three successive numbers of the
Journal, viz. for March, April, and May. ORRERY.—Where is the Orrery which you noticed to be had ? Q. Q. Q.
Answer. At the National Society's Depôt, Sanctuary, Westminster. REFORMATORIES.—I and other gentlemen are desirous of starting a Reformatory in a Northern County, to whom can I apply for aid and information J.P.
Answer.—Ask for the Minute of June 2nd, 1856, and for any other documents likely to be useful, of the Secretary of the Committee of Council. Put yourself also in communication with Mr. Browne, H. M. Inspector for the Northern District, and also apply to each of the Managers of the Northern Reformatories. VILLAGE SCHOOL BOOK.—Which is the best for Class Lessons, and the cheapest ?
Answer.—Mr. Martin Doyle's, price 6d., published by Messrs. Groombridge. HOT AIR AND WATER PIPES. --Are not these less expensive than fires ?
Answer.—No doubt they are. So it would be to have no roof to the School Room. They harbour dead vermin in summer, and bake and boil them in winter; giving out very deficient heat and abundance of effluvia. They are both cheap and nasty : and never yet satisfied any one who has a moderate notion of what comfort means, or how essential comfort is to the welfare of a school.
TO CORRESPONDENTS. Exit.-We have read your letter twice without discovering on which side you intend to argue. This is really not useful for instruction.
THE MOON QUESTION.—Mr. Steel's letter is unavoidably postponed. We shall not admit more than one writer on each side. We are aware that the question is now seriously engaging the attention of our highest Mathematicians, who are, in a proper spirit, considering how far their technical mode of treating revolving motions answers the legitimate ends of scientific teaching, however convenient to the initiated few as a mode of expression. It is quite admitted that it is unintelligible to common understandings, and has misled multitudes. This being to our own knowledge the present state of the matter, we do not think we could properly exclude a subject so interesting to the higher branches of education from our columns. At the same time it must be compressed within very moderate limits.
Mr. Steel, of Southampton, espouses the rotation theory. We do not yet know who his antagonist will be. Each shall have two papers inserted, and any suggestions or arguments for either may be handed to us for them, if sent before the 10th of each month. S.G.-On Decimal Coinage next month.
***--Some Book Notices are crowded out by Advertisements.
F instead of reckoning our pence by dozens, which we call shillings, EK and these again by scores, which we designate pounds, we happened U to count up our pence by scores, and the scores by dozens, a coin of
e twenty-pence would be substituted for the shilling in our accounts, Qy and it would simply require the further coinage of the fifth of a penny go to furnish us with a perfect decimal system based on a unit of twenty 9 pence in value.
Such is exactly the principle on which our neighbours the French and the Dutch have decimalised their coinage; the former having already possessed a franc of twenty sous, merely, introduced the fifth of a sou, and the Dutch having had a florin of twenty stivers in circulation, coined the fifth of a stiver, and thus the coinage of each country became decimalised without the slightest loss or difficulty to the community.
Now we in this country are very slow in apprehending a principle, and in consequence most of our improvements are effected in a clumsy and roundabout manner, and very frequently not until a host of serious blunders have been committed in the way of experiment. Perhaps this may in some measure be accounted for by the fact that suggestions with a view to the public benefit commonly depend for their adoption in high quarters, more on the rank and position of their originators, then on their intrinsic merits. There is no small reason to fear that even the selection of a plan out of the many which have been proposed for decimalising our coinage will not prove an exception to this rule. Some of our leading philosophers and large capitalists having committed themselves to the advocacy of the pound sterling as the foundation of a decimal system, (to which also a parliamentary committee has given its support, after, however, only summoning such witnesses as were favourable to that particular proposal,) affect as much as possible to ignore the existence of other plans, and do all in their power to keep them from public notice.
Nevertheless the truth must not be concealed, that by making the pound the basis, and dividing it into a thousand parts or “mils,” the result to the mass of the community would be extremely injurious, as it would abolish the market standard of value, the penny, which then could only be represented in accounts by the interminable decimal .00416. Some of the mischievous consequences of this were pointed out some time ago, by the writer of this article, in a published letter to Robertson Gladstone, Esq., president of the Liverpool Financial Reform Association. The following is an extract:
Not to dwell at present upon the intolerable inconvenience, at the outset, of abolishing our market standard of value—the penny—and compelling us to purchase our meat, cheese, sugar, and other articles of every-day consumption at the excessively awkward rate of, say, 29 mils or 34 mils a lb., instead of 7d. or 8d., I will proceed to the subject of re-adjustment of prices by retail dealers, being one which has by no means received a tithe of the consideration due to its importance.
VOL. XI. No. 123, N.S.
On this point Mr. Kirkham, in his evidence before the parliamentary committee of 1853, states that he sold in one day, to 230 customers, 400 articles averaging 2 d. each, of which as many as 315 did not exceed 3d. each. Now the nearest adjustment he could make in “mils” (11 for 2 d.) would leave him a gainer of 4s. 8d., or 5 3-5 per cent., at of course the loss to his poor customers, unless his ardour in the cause of decimalism induced him to sacrifice 4 per cent., or 3s. 4d. on his day's sales.
In an example given, the alteration amounts to 7 2-5 per cent. against the purchaser and on the very moderate assumption that in the United Kingdom there are 4,000,000 families who spend each on an average but 6s. 8d. a week on similarly priced articles, the substitution of “mils" for pence would make a difference of not less than £100,000 weekly, or nearly five millions and a quarter annually! I leave it to the advocates of the new system to speculate on the time that would elapse before “things would find their proper level.” The experiment, in the meanwhile, would, under the most favourable circumstances imaginable, prove to be an exceedingly costly one to those least able to bear the expense.
Now, to say nothing of the trouble imposed on the shopkeeper in explaining the change to ignorant and suspicious customers, I ask, would it be justifiable or politic in the Government to force him to the alternative of either sacrificing 4 per cent. of his receipts (not less probably than 25 per cent. of his profits) or overcharging purchasers at the rate of from 5 to 20 per cent.
To avoid this serious tampering with the popular standard of value, it has on the other hand been proposed to make the penny itself the basis of a decimal system, counting upwards by tens. But here we should be met by the important objection, in addition to other disadvantages, that either the pound should be dropped at once and entirely out of use, or else be regarded as a synonym for the awkward multiple 24, being equivalent to 24 tenpences.
In conclusion, it may fearlessly be affirmed of the Dutch system* that if examined without prejudice, and its advantages and disadvantages carefully contrasted with those of other systems, it will be found by far the most feasible, and certain to be attended with the minimum of inconvenience on its introduction.
S. A. GOOD.
SELF-EDUCATION.—Each month's experience tends to prove more surely - it is not how much we try to tell, or teach, our pupils, but how much we enable them to do for themselves, that best promotes their welfare and our own.--Practical Notes of a Plan to combine Education with Instruction, by Sarah Crompton.
SELF-HELP IN EDUCATION.—Every year we see more plainly that in education, as in other matters, self-help is the best help—that a little which men do for themselves is better than a great deal they get the State to do for them.—Lord Stanley on Education.
PRECISE EXPRESSION OF IDEAS.—I hold it as a great point in self-education, that the student should be continually engaged in forming exact ideas, and in expressing them clearly by language. Such practice insensibly opposes any tendency to exaggeration or mistake, and increases the sense and love of truth in every part of life. Those who reflect upon how many hours and days are devoted by a lover of sweet sounds to gain a moderate facility upon a mere mechanical instrument ought to feel the blush of shame if convicted of neglecting the beautiful living instrument wherein play all the powers of the mind.- Professor Faraday on Mental Cultivation.
* Calling 20 pence 1 Cash, we have the following tables :
English....1 Cash.. =20 Pence..=100 Centimes.
MR. LYCETT ON THE LOW TEMPERATURE OF THE MOON.
(COMMUNICATED BY JELINGER SYMONS, ESQ.)
DN the occasion of a lecture at a Literary Institution lately on the
Phenomena of the Moon, I happened to mention the generally accepted opinion, that owing to the absence or extreme tenuity of
atmosphere on this side of the moon, there would be scorching heat By during its long day. Mr. Lycett, the distinguished geologist, was
o among the audience, and he has since favoured me with this letter:
9 which as it seems to me to establish his theory, is well worth public attention. He says :
"Whether you refer the alleged heat to volcanism proper to the satellite, or to solar heat, (the result of the 14 days' exposure to the sun's rays,) in either case, I think there are good grounds for drawing an opposite inference, and for concluding that the surface of the moon is cold; perhaps intensely cold.
“Firstly as to volcanism, we know that all the products of terrestrial volcanoes, lavas (vasaltic and porous) crystalline aggregates, tuffs, trachytes, and muddy deposits are all very bad conductors of heat; that after they have flowed for a few months they become cold upon their surfaces, although their interior mass may still be in a fluid state from intense heat, so that it is a common thing for a guide at Etna or Vesuvius to thrust a stick into a crevice and withdraw it ignited, when the surface may be traversed without inconvenience. Now as the volcanic regions of the moon do not exhibit any general indications of intense recent activity, but may be in a dormant condition and some portions even extinct, it does not seem a justifiable inference to assign a great surface heat to a cause of this kind however extensive may be the volcanic surface.
"With respect to the other assumed cause, solar heat, our experience at and near to the earth's surface should lead us to assign extreme cold to the surface of the moon. We know that the solar warmth is produced only in the lower or denser portion of our atmosphere, and that in this latitude it is only necessary to go a mile into outer space (that is, into a lighter atmosphere) or if in the torrid zone three miles, to attain the region of perpetual frost; or if a portion of the earth's surface pierces through the lower dense atmosphere as in a mountainous region, the result is the same. How intense then must be the cold at the surface of the moon where there is either no atmosphere or only one of extreme tenuity! In either case then our experience entitles us, I think, to infer that the surface of the moon is cold. If any valid objections occur to you with respect to the above theory, perhaps you will be kind enough to favour me with them. I fear that some of the educational books have not yet thrown aside the old dogma that regards the sun as a mere intensely heated mass, and proportions the heat received by the planets upon the ratio of their distance from the sun, Mercury having to endure a heat exceeding that of red hot iron and so forth. A short time since, I heard a lecturer give forth this dogma to an audience exactly similar to the one you addressed last week, thereby losing sight of all the beautiful arrangements of the Creator for warming and regulating the heat at the distant planets by the means of atmospheres, &c.”
Having stated my entire concurrence with this argument, I expressed to Mr. Lycett a wish that he would permit me to publish his opinion, and I
at the same time suggested that the absence of snow on the moon might be explained by the fact that atmosphere is essential to its formation. Here is his answer :
“Minchinhampton, Jan. 29, 1857. “My dear Sir,
“I feel gratified by the opinion you express of the value of my remarks; there is nothing absolutely new about them, and it is only by their application to the moon that they deserve attention; they were thrown together in a very concise manner and not intended for the press, but if you feel disposed to publish them I have not the least objection to your doing so. Your remark upon the absence of snow upon the moon reminds me of a conversation I lately had with a gentleman who has passed a large portion of his life in India : he assured me that some of the highest peaks of the Himalayas, which have an altitude of 29,000 feet, are always bare as they rise above the stratum of snow, of clouds, and moisture, or in fact into an attenuated atmosphere nearly such perhaps as the moon may possess. I have not seen such a statement in print, but feel confident that he would not have made such an assertion unsupported by proof. The entire absence of moisture upon the moon will of course account for that remarkable sharpness of outlines ;—that angularity of the mountain ridges so unlike any region of the earth's surface, and indicating an entire absence of that degradation of rock from the freezing and expansion of water which forms so important a part of the changes of surface upon our planet.
"I remain, my dear Sir, yours very truly, To J. SYMONS, Esq.
READING.-" There are many,” said Dr. Chalmers, addressing a meeting of his own parishioners “who have been two or three quarters at school, and have even got on as far as the Bible ; but when I come to examine them, I am struck with their slovenly and imperfect mode of reading, obliged as they are to stop and to spell and to blunder on their way through every verse in such a manner as to make it palpable to those who hear them that it had been very little worse for them though they had never been at school at all. Now, be assured that those who cannot read with fluency and readiness to the satisfaction of others, cannot read with satisfaction, or any real understanding of what they do read to themselves. They may go through the form of reading their Bibles, but I am sure that they do not understand them, and what is this to say but that the Bible is still a sealed book to them that they want the key by which it is to be opened.”-Chalmers.