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The tutor, fearing the characters on the black-board are not sufficiently distinct to be seen by the 
more distant members of the class, very naturally endeavors to remedy the evil by increasing their 
size. In the discussion which usually follows the lesson, with the young men gathered around him, 
several of them, in a spirit of mischief, exaggerating their want of sight, induce the benevolent 
professor to increase the size of the figures by degrees, until the immense black-board, far from 
affording room for intricate calculations, can scarcely give place to a few figures. 
Absorbed finally in the elucidation of a difficult theory, in the heat of demonstration he mistakes 
the rubber covered with chalk for his handkerchief. The account of this certainly very innocent 
mistake, amplified and magnified, passes from rank to rank, until, when he appeared again before 
them, he was no longer the learned analyst of their admiration, but the innocent object of their 
mirth; his moments of abstraction, so eagerly watched for, being but signals for ridicule too long 
anticipated to be willingly relinquished. 
You now know, gentlemen, the rocks upon which the knowledge and zeal of the worthy professor were 
so often wrecked. 


At the same time as geometrician and metaphysician, Ampère, from his first arrival in Paris, moved 
in two distinct societies; the only feature of resemblance being the celebrity of their members. In 
one, were to be found the first-class of the ancient Institute, the professors and examiners of the 
Polytechnic school, and the professors of the college of France. In the other, Cabanis, Destutt de 
Tracy, Maine de Biran, Degérando, &c. 
Here the effort was to fathom and analyze the mysteries of the mind. There this mind, in such 
measure as nature has bestowed it, and as education has improved and enlarged it, was each day 
producing new marvels. The psychologists sought the paths that lead to discovery; the geometers, 
chemists, and physicists were actually making discoveries. Without devoting too much time to the 
manner in which it was done, they discovered sometimes the analytical formulae now actually 
including the laws of the movements of the stars; sometimes the subtle rules of molecular actions, 
which, while giving us the clue to the causes of a great number of natural phenomena, throw light 
upon the operations of art, and developed national wealth. They made themselves masters finally, of 
the new properties of light, electricity and magnetism, which have given so much brilliancy to the 
first years of this century. Vibrating between these two schools, if the term may be allowed, 
Ampère’s ardent imagination daily endured the severest trials. I am not able to say, with any 
certainty, how the exact sciences were regarded by metaphysicians; but I know that geometers and 
chemists held in very slight esteem, investigations purely psychological. 
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