Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/507

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491
BACKGAMMON AMONG THE AZTECS.

that of the speech-center, there is no reason, as Dr. Ferrier remarks, apart from heredity and education, why this should necessarily be so. "It is quite conceivable," says this author, "that a person who has become aphasic by reason of total and permanent destruction of the left speech-center may reacquire the faculty of speech by education of the right articulatory centers." We speak with the left side of our brains, in short, not because we are unable to do so with the right side, but simply because habit and the law of likeness together strengthen and perpetuate the custom of speaking with the left. But it may be also supposed that, as a left-handed person must regulate the movements of his arms chiefly by the right side of his brain, so there may exist subjects who naturally use the right instead of the left speech-center.

Whatever results may in future accrue to human knowledge from researches into the functions of the brain, no one may doubt the all-important nature of the knowledge which literally enables man to know himself, and to understand in some degree the mainsprings of the actions which constitute his daily existence. The subject is also no less instructive in the sense in which it shows the displacement of erroneous ideas by new and higher thoughts founded on accurate observation of the facts of life; while in a very direct fashion such higher knowledge may affect suffering humanity, since an educated medical science, furnished with secure data regarding the causes of mental affections, may successfully "minister to minds diseased," and even in due time raze out the troubles which perplex many a weary soul.—Gentleman's Magazine.

 

BACKGAMMON AMONG THE AZTECS.
By EDWARD B. TYLOR.

BY backgammon we usually mean one particular game played with dice and thirty draughts, on a board with twelve points on each side. But this is only one of a family of games, whose general definition is that they consist in moving pieces on a diagram, not at the player's free choice, as in draught-playing, but conformably to the throws of lots or dice. It can hardly be doubted that the set of games thus combining chance and skill are all, whether ancient or modern, the descendants of one original game. By a stretch of imagination, it may be possible to fancy draughts or dice to have been fresh invented more than once. But, when it comes to a game which combines the two ideas, it seems to pass the bounds of ordinary probability to suppose, for instance, that a Greek and an Arab and a Birmese were separately seized by the same happy thought, and said, "Go to, let us cast lots, and count them to play at draughts by." If indeed any reader should think such a combination might have happened twice over, he