Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/218

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204
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

nuclei of blighted cells. The so-called "reëducation" is only in a limited and scarcely physiological sense educationary. It is a repetition of the training, not so much to teach as to stimulate the growth of new organic elements from preëxistent germs imbued with formative forces and characteristics which must themselves determine the physico-mental result. If new cells are produced, they will be found already educated, that is, endowed with inherited characteristics which constitute the physical bases of memory. The educated germ naturally produces an educated cell. Upon this hypothesis rests the whole theory of heredity, species, and transmission.

In the third class of cases, recovery occurs as an accident of treatment, except when in the presence of a constitutional cachexia like syphilis, specific medication may remove the grip of disease which, so to say, holds the mental organism in fetters that its energy can not act. It will, I think, be often found that the seemingly permanent losses of memory which occur after acute disease are due to the isolation of special strata of cerebral tissue by the stasis of syphilitic or gouty disease. Mercury, iodide of potassium, or colchicum may in this way serve as a "memory-powder," and work a cure.

The two points I am chiefly anxious to place on record, without any claim to novelty of suggestion, are, first, that what is called reeducation is often simply the fostering of a natural growth—never harmful unless overdone, but of less value than may at first sight be supposed; second, that, in the absence of special indications that what seems to be helpless dementia is actually what it seems, i. e., a physical destruction of brain-cells, it is always possible the patient may recover, and therefore never justifiable to write a case off as incurable, and leave it to drift unnoticed and unhelped.—Brain.

 
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EARLY METHODS IN ARITHMETIC.
By E. O. VAILE.

IN our day arithmetic is looked upon as a science of which every boy at fourteen ought to be master. Such was not the case a century or so back. In England, as well as upon the Continent, arithmetic was long considered a higher branch of science, and a university study, like geometry. In part, this is accounted for by the strong conviction which has always possessed mankind until within the last two hundred years, that numbers have about them very potent and mystical properties. During the middle ages this science had its skilled professors. The partial title of a work gives an idea of its exalted claims even after the time of Shakespeare and Bacon. The book appeared in London in 1624. Its title-page read thus: "The Secrets of Numbers