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THE HISTORY OF A MOUTHFUL OF BREAD: And Its Effect on the Organization of Men and Animals.
BY JEAN MACÉ.
Translated Prom the Eighth French Edition, By Mrs. Alfred Gatty.
EXTRACTS FROM THE PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION.
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. In the same way the chapter on "Atmospheric Pressure," where, owing to the difference between French and English weights and measures, several alterations of illustrations, etc., had to be made, has received similar kind offices from the hands of a competent mathematician.
* * * * *
Ecclesfield, June, 1864.
NOTE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.
In May '66, the seventeenth edition of this work was on sale in Paris. The date of Mrs. Gatty's preface, it will be observed, is June '64, and at that time, the eighth French edition only had been reached. That it should be a popular book and command large sale wherever it is known, will not surprise any one who reads it: the only remarkable circumstance about it is, that it should not have been republished here long ere this. Even this may probably be accounted for, on the supposition that the title under which the translation was published in England, was so unmeaning--conveying not the slightest idea of the contents of the book--that none of our publishers even ventured to hand it over to their "readers" to examine.
The author's title, _The History of a Mouthful of Bread_, while falling far short of giving a clear notion of the entire scope of the work, is shockingly diluted and meaningless, when translated _The History of a Bit of Bread!_
To the translation of Mrs. Gatty, which is in the main an excellent one, for she has generally seized upon the idea of the author and rendered it with singular felicity, it may be very properly objected that she has taken some liberties with the text when there was any conflict of opinion between herself and her author, and has given her own ideas instead of his, which is, probably, what she refers to when she calls herself "to some extent editor."
The reader of this edition will, in all these cases, find the thought of the author and not that of his translator; for the reason that a careful examination of the original has convinced the publisher that in every instance the author was to be preferred to the translator, to say nothing of the right an author may have to be faithfully translated.
Besides making these restorations, the copy from which this edition was printed has been carefully compared with the last edition of the author and a vast number of corrections made, and in its present shape it is respectfully submitted and dedicated to every one (whose name is legion, of course) who numbers among his young friends a "_my dear child_" to present it to.
FIRST PART MAN.
II.--THE HAND III.--THE TONGUE IV.--THE TEETH V.--THE TEETH (_continued_) VI.--THE TEETH (_continued_) VII.--THE THROAT VIII.--THE STOMACH IX.--THE STOMACH (_continued_) X.--THE INTESTINAL CANAL XI.--THE LIVER XII.--THE CHYLE XIII.--THE HEART XIV.--THE ARTERIES XV.--THE NOURISHMENT OF THE ORGANS XVI.--THE ORGANS XVII.--ARTERIAL AND VENOUS BLOOD XVIII.--ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE XIX.--THE ACTION OF THE LUNGS XX.--CARBON AND OXYGEN XXI.--COMBUSTION XXII.--ANIMAL HEAT XXIII.--ACTION OF THE BLOOD UPON THE ORGANS XXIV.--THE WORK OF THE ORGANS XXV.--CARBONIC ACID XXVI.--ALIMENTS OF COMBUSTION XXVII.--ALIMENTS OF NUTRITION (_continued_)--NITROGEN OR AZOTE XXVIII.--COMPOSITION OF THE BLOOD
XXIX.--CLASSIFICATION OF ANIMALS XXX.--MAMMALIA (_Mammals_) XXXI.--MAMMALIA. (_Mammals_)--_continued_ XXXII.--MAMMALIA--_continued_ XXXIII.--MAMMALIA--_continued_ XXXIV.--AVES. (_Birds_) XXXV.--REPTILIA. (_Reptiles_) XXXVI.--PISCES. (_Fishes_) XXXVII.--INSECTA. (_Insects_) XXXVIII.--CRUSTACEA--MOLLUSKA. (_Crustaceans and Mollusks_) XXXIX.--VERMES--ZOOPHYTA. (_Worms and Zoophytes_) XL.--THE NOURISHMENT OF PLANTS CONCLUSION
I am going to tell you, my dear child, something of the life and nature of men and animals, believing the information may be of use to you in after-life, besides being an amusement to you now.
Of course, I shall have to explain to you a great many particulars which are generally considered very difficult to understand, and which are not always taught even to grown-up people. But if we work together, and between us succeed in getting them clearly into your head, it will be a great triumph to me, and you will find out that the science of
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