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ultimate object of calligraphy. He would not have received from a foreign scientist, full of wit and 
waggery, after he became a member of the academy, an invitation to dinner written in the first 
letter of his signature. He would have known that to write a running hand rapidly and easily, a 
movement of the fingers, and not the arm, is required – a knowledge which would have saved him, 
during his whole life, much bodily exertion and intolerable annoyance. Ampère’s school-fellows, 
much less forbearing than father or mother, would have roughly checked his incessant restlessness. 
He would have learned to control those paroxysms of rage which, later in life, rendered him so 
unhappy – called by his friends lamb-like wrath; and which to excite was rather a subject of 
congratulation, so spontaneous, candid, and unreserved was his repentance. He would have known how 
to confine himself to regular work. The necessity of performing his tasks at fixed hours would have 
taught him, as an author very clever in such matters said, to make his thoughts flow rapidly from 
the nib of his pen, and not to drown them afterwards in an ink-stand. Borrowing the beautiful image 
of Cleanthe, preserved by Seneca, Ampère’s thoughts, once repressed, would resemble the voice, 
which, confined to the narrow channel of a trumpet, bursts forth at length the more clear and the 
more powerful. Composition would then have been of secondary importance to him, and he could have 
exclaimed triumphantly with Racine, "My work is finished; nothing now remains but to write it out." 
The success of this mode of investigation would have induced him to give up handling a thousand 
different subjects at once and yielding to the nervous excitement provoked by it. If he had 
considered the time lost in useless discussions, he would not now sadly exclaim with the poet cited 
not long since – 

Je ne fais pas le bien que j’aime,
Et je fais le mal que je hais.

("I do not do the good I love, but the evil that I hate.")
Here I must stop; for instead of maintaining an even balance between the two contrary systems, as I 
had intended, I find myself almost pleading in favor of public education. 


Ampère often lent the aid of his imposing authority to the adepts of animal magnetism. His 
imperfect vision, his want of bodily dexterity, and his great credulity, rendered him a fitting 
subject for the tricks and legerdemains which ought to have induced him to consider magnetism a 
branch of the art of jugglery. At certain reunions, where the love of the marvelous, a desire to 
fathom the mysteries of animal organization, and especially the hope of discovering some new means 
of alleviating human suffering, brought many estimable people together, Ampère was often fascinated 
by legerdemains only suitable for the amusement of children, such as the sudden increase of little 
balls, multiplied almost 
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