Elective Studies in American Colleges.—Most of the leading colleges of the country, according to President Barnard, are admitting the elective principle more or less freely into their courses of study. In 1876 Yale College extended its very limited optional list from a minute fraction of the studies of the junior year to about one fourth of those of both junior and senior years. It was enlarged again last year, so that now, out of sixteen hours weekly, seven only are given to prescribed studies in the junior year, and three hours only in the senior. At Princeton one third of the time is given to prescribed studies in the junior year, and three hours in the senior. At Bowdoin about four fifths of the studies are prescribed during both junior and senior years. At the University of Pennsylvania and at Williams College the published announcements indicate that the time of the two later years of the course is about equally divided between prescribed and optional studies. At Rutgers it is allowed to elect one study during the junior and senior years. At Union one third of the time is given to elective studies during the senior year only; but this institution offers also elective courses, a classical and scientific course running through the entire four years. At Brown electives are offered as early as the sophomore year, when they occupy about one fifth of the time. In the same institution, in the junior year, they extend to one third, in the senior to about one half. At Amherst electives cover about one half the time during the second and third of the three terms of the sophomore year, and during the whole of the two later years. In the University of Michigan all the studies are elective after the close of the freshman year; and at Harvard University there are no prescribed studies at all.
Medicines and Digestion.—Dr. Robert G. Eccles lately called the attention of the Brooklyn Pathological Society to the importance of regarding the effect of medicines to be administered upon digestion. "We never stop," he says, "to question the wisdom of pouring into the stomachs of the sick, in the most promiscuous manner, drugs that inhibit or check the production of life- and health-giving peptone. In all chronic diseases, the paramount consideration is that of the patient's nutrition. Where we can not destroy the pathogenic micro-organisms outright, the patient's only hope in the struggle for life lies in the strength of his cells, and their power to triumph over their foes. The most important consideration at those times is digestion. To interfere with it, or check it, is in many cases criminal. When our remedies are incompatible with the gastric juice, the time of taking is likely to be of far more importance than the medicine itself. To weaken patients by the production of artificial mal-nutrition, gives their diseases the advantage over them, when a little more knowledge would have enabled us to aid the vital forces instead of handicapping them." The author described the properties of various remedies in this light, and gave accounts of a large number of experiments which he had made on the subject.
Coal-Tar Colors and Medicines.—Sir Henry Roscoe lately addressed the Royal Institute on "Recent Progress in the Coal-Tar Industry." He said that the hydrocarbons, the essential elements, or skeletons of all organic compounds, are classified as the paraffinoid—the bases of the fats—and the benzenoid hydrocarbons, which give rise to the essences or aromatic bodies, to which all the coal-tar colors, finer perfumes, and anti-pyretic medicines belong. The natural petroleum-oils consist almost entirely of paraffines, and are therefore commercially inapplicable for the production of colors. Coal may by suitable treatment be made to yield oils of a valuable character; and these products are now extensively obtained from the coal-tar which is a residue of the gas-making process, and of coking, when the conditions of temperature are properly managed. Even to enumerate the different chemical compounds which have been prepared during the last thirty years would be a serious task. To illustrate the amount of coloring-power concealed in coal, Sir Henry Roscoe presents tables showing that one pound of the mineral affords magenta enough to color 500 yards of flannel; aurine sufficient for 120 yards of flannel 27 inches wide; vermilline scarlet for 2,560 yards of flannel or alizarin