Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/564

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observations it seems as if the scallop might be fit for market in the winter after it is two years old, but not before. How long it may live after that it is impossible to say, further than to judge by the age of oysters and other animals that may attach to the shell of the living scallop, and it is more than likely that their attachment may cause its early death. Blackfish (tautog) eat them, the sheepshead crunches them, and they are often taken from the stomach of the cod and other fishes. The starfish, that devourer of all the shell-bearing mollusks and great enemy of the oyster, destroys them from the time the shell begins to form until the limit of growth is attained, and never desists while life is left in this interesting and useful bivalve.



IT is a pretty widespread opinion that nervous diseases, and especially hysteria, have alarmingly increased during the last decades, and that they are about to increase much more. In all civilized countries, we are told, and in every stratum of the population, a weakness of the nervous system manifests itself of which our forefathers had no knowledge. Neurasthenia and hysteria spread wider and wider, like a devastating epidemic, attacking not merely the lower classes but just the "upper ten thousand." It is educated society which is threatened with total overthrow by utter derangement of the nerves. "Whither is this to lead, and how is it to end?" lament some solicitous prophets who already see yawning before them the gulf by which the enervated human race is about to be swallowed up.

Let us weigh the reasons which occasion this apprehension. What real proof is there of this enormous increase of nervous diseases and of the continually progressive degeneration of civilized man? First of all, there are the statistics. "Numbers," we have been told, "can not lie." Perhaps not; but those who collect them may fasten upon them very seriously mistaken labels.

The assiduous statistician ascertains that the insane asylums contain more women than men. So far, so good. But if he tells us that more women are insane than men, he labels those numbers erroneously, for the inequality is really due to the fact that insane males die off, while insane females survive, relatively speaking. Suppose the statistics of different countries do show that the number of inmates of insane asylums is increasing out

  1. From Genius and Degeneration. In press of D. Appleton & Co.