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In which the Elements of that Science are familiarly
explained and illustrated
TO WHICH ARE ADDED,
BY H. Davr, ESQ.
A Description and Plate of the
of Yale College. -
A short Account of
In the United States.
Coršisting of TREATIŠes on
From Sidney's Press.
IN venturing to offer to the public, and more particularly to the female sex, an Introduction to Chemistry, the author, herself a woman, conceives that some explanation may be required; and she feels it the more necessary to apologize for the present undertaking, as her knowledge of the subject is but recent, and as she can have no real claims to the title of chernist.
On attending for the first time, experimental lectures, the author found it almost impossible to derive any clear or satisfactory information from the rapid demonstrations which are usually, and perhaps necessarily crowded into popular courses of this kind. But frequent opportunities having afterwards occurred of conversing with a friend on the subject of chemistry, and of repeating a variety of experiments, she became better acquainted with the principles of that science, and began to feel highly interested in its pursuit. It was then that she perceived, in attending the excellent lectures delivered at the Royal Institution, by the present Professor of Chemistry, the great advantage which her previous knowledge of the subject, slight as it was, gave her over others who had not enjoyed the same means of private instruction. Every fact or experi. ment, attracted her attention, and served to explain some the. ory to which she was not a total stranger; and she had the gratification to find that the numerous and elegant illustrations, for which that school is so much distinguised, seldom failed to produce on her mind the effect for which they were intended.
Hence it was natural to infer, that familiar conversation was, in studies of this kind, a most useful auxiliary source of information; and more especially to the female sex, whose education is seldom calculated to prepare their minds for ab. stract ideas, or scientific language.
As, however, there are our fesy, womert cho have access to this mode of instrucoon !. and as the autisdr tras not acquainted with any book that could prove a substitute for it, she thought that it might:be useful for begimers, as well as satis. factory to herself, to trace lhe steps by which she had acqui. red her little stock of chemical knowledge, and to record in the form of dialoguç, those ideas wlrich she had first derived from conversation...:::: :
But to do this with sufficient method, and to fix upon a mode of arrangement, was an object of some difficulty. After much hesitation, and a degree of embarrassment, which, probably, the most competent chemical writers have often felt in common vith the most superficial, a mode of division was adopt. ed, which, though the most natural, does not always admit of
being strictly pursued-it is that of treating first of the sim. plest bodies, and then gradually rising to the most intricate compounds.
It is not the author's intention to enter into a minute vindication of this plan. But, whaterer may be its advantages or inconveniences, the method adopted in this work is such, that a young pupil, who should occasionally recur to it, with a view to procure information on particular subjects, might often find it obscure or unintelligible ; for its various parts are so connected with each other as to form an uninterrupted chain of facts and reasonings, which will appear sufficiently clear and consistent to those only who may have patience to go through the whole work, or have previously devoted some attention to the subject.
It will, no doubt, be observed, that in the course of these conversations, remarks are often introduced, which appear much too acute for the young pupils, by whom they are supposed to be made. Of this fault the author is fully aware. But in order to avoid it, it would have been necessary either to omit a variety of useful illustrations, or to submit to such minute explanations and frequent repetitions, as would have ren. dered the work much less suited to its purpose.
In writing these pages, the author was more than once checked in her progress by the apprehension, that such an attempt might be considered by some, either as unsuited to die ordinary pursuits of her sex, or ill justified by her own recent and imperfect knowledge of the subject. But, on the one hand, she felt encouraged by the establishment of those pnh. lic institutions, open to both sexes, for the dissemination of philosophical knowledge, which clearly prove, that the gen. eral opinion no longer excludes women from an acquaintance with the elements of science; and, on the other, she flattercd herself, that whilst the impressions made upon her mind, by the wonders of Nature studied in this new point of view, were still fresh and strong, she might perhaps succeed the better in communicating to others the sentiments she herself experienced. :::::::::: :::
It will be observe it that, from the beginning of the work it is taken for granted, that the reader las previously acquired some slight knowledge of natucatnhidosophy, a circumstance, indeed, which appears.very desirable. The author's original intention was to commence this work, by, a small tract, explaining, on a plan walgono utilithe inost essential rudi. ments of that scienee:Ilis jelca sta bias since abandoned ; but the manuscript was ready, and might perhaps have been printed at some future period, had not an elementary work of å similar description, under the title of “ Scientific Dia. logues,” been lately pointed out to her, which, on a rapid pe. rusal, she thought very ingenious, and well calculated to an.. swer its intended object,