Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/829

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795
LEARNING TO WRITE.

leech, Astacobdella, or Branchiobdella, while it is quite abundant on the A. fluviatilis, at any rate in some rivers (e. g., the Saale, in North Germany).

A. fluviatilis is largely eaten in France, attaining to the very respectable size of five inches or so in length, while our smaller A. torrentium is neglected from this point of view. We can recommend it, however, when boiled in salt and water, as nearly if not quite equaling the prawn. The poisonous properties of the flesh of crayfish might perhaps be considered as justly falling within the scope of the first chapter of Professor Huxley's treatise. As in the case of many mollusca and some true fishes, there appears to be a substance present which acts as an irritant poison upon the human organism, and to its action some persons are more liable than are others, while certain conditions of the crayfish seem to favor the development of a large amount of this poisonous body. A case was recently reported, in a French medical journal, of the poisoning of six persons who partook of a dish of crayfishes—in one case with fatal result.—Nature.

 
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LEARNING TO WRITE.

WE wonder sometimes, as we wade through a mass of correspondence, whether it is possible to teach good writing. The doubt may seem absurd, considering that the majority of civilized mankind can write, that every qualified teacher among one or two hundred thousand in Western Europe thinks himself or herself competent to teach the art, and that there must be some hundreds of men in England, or possibly some thousands, who make a living of some sort by practicing this specialty. Everybody, we shall be told, is taught, and some few people write well, and consequently to teach people to write well must be possible. Still, we have this little bit of evidence in favor of hesitation. Nobody ever saw anybody who wrote a thoroughly good hand, and who had been regularly taught to do it. Good handwritings exist, undoubtedly, and are, we should say, rapidly on the increase; but the possessors of the art never admit that they acquired it through teaching, and, in the majority of cases, never were taught. When cross-examined, they always affirm that some man or woman taught them to write, and that then a certain inclination or compulsion of circumstance, or desire to do everything well, or, in frequent instances, a caste feeling, provoked them to teach themselves to write well. They were not taught, except in the most rudimentary sense of the word, and we do not know how they should be. Tutors and governesses have all caught up a system from the professional writing-masters, and the professional writing-masters are all dominated