Page:Melbourne and Mars.djvu/38

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36
MELBOURNE AND MARS.

Fortunately our diarist has much to tell upon these points, and his teachers, finding out that he is living a dual life, give him several standards of comparison that enable him to compare measurements and enable us to understand martial humanity.


CHAPTER VII.


Bertrand's School of Mechanics.

"FOR four days, the working week in all our world, we have been going to Bertrand's school, not to take any lessons, but to see it all and get acquainted with its many wonders. There are about twenty classroom workshops, each adapted to the requirements of one hundred pupils. There are fifty working benches, one for each pair of co-workers. All the tools required for each kind of work are placed in racks within easy reach of the hands using them, and they are all the best of their kind. Wherever running machinery is used power is supplied from a great central engine driven by electricity. The first floor over the workshops contains thousands of models of the best machines in existence for the performance of the various kinds of work that have to be done. Each model is complete in all parts, and can actually do on a small scale the work for which it is intended. These models are not merely intended to stand in cases, but to be freely used by teachers and pupils in the prosecution of their studies. On the first floor there is also a lecture hall, where all the pupils are assembled once a week (four days) to receive instruction from one of the masters or from some travelling specialist. The second floor contains classrooms corresponding with the lower ones. These are used by the pupils for the prosecution of their theoretical studies, drawing of plans, mathematics, etc. On the great, flat roof there were models of all the kinds of machinery driven by wind, and instruments for meteorological purposes.

For four days the great school was open to all who chose to visit it, and the more advanced pupils explained the uses of instruments and machines, and worked hundreds of the models for the benefit of the new pupils and the instruction of people whose studies and labors had been, expended in other directions. At the end of the time there was not a machine out of place, not an article damaged or missing. There are no locks on the school doors; in fact, when I come to think of it, I cannot remember having, seen a lock or bar anywhere.

On the following first day the school was opened for a new annual session, to consist of five hundred working days of five hours each.

The morning was spent in placing the new pupils and preliminary work, and for the last hour we were assembled in the main hall to hear the inaugural address of Headmaster Bertrand.