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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/278

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

its basis and causation is bodily disease, and the multitudinous forms of mental weakness, degeneracy, and aberration are to be studied as effects of corporeal infirmity or disease of the nerve-structure. The light thrown upon the science of mind through the manifestations of mental failure has been of great importance, and physiological investigation has now brought us to another and very significant aspect of the subject.

For all scientific men the doctrine of evolution is established, and its highest interest to them is that it is constantly giving new clews to the interpretation of nature and opening new avenues to productive research. This doctrine teaches that the grades of life have arisen in past ages through the operation of laws by which the higher have been derived from the lower. But if this be true, then the nervous systems of animated beings are to be regarded as products of evolution, so that the hierarchy of nervous centers of which we have spoken has been built up by the successive attainment of higher and higher levels of organization. Man, as the latest product and highest term of evolution, combines in his organism the various automatic systems successively reached in the long course of organic development. Biology works out the great laws of upward and divergent unfolding, but there is another side to the phenomena which it is the business of pathology to investigate. Corresponding to the progressive and upward changes of evolution, there are the downward and retrogressive changes of dissolution, by which the constructive work is reversed and undone. But, if we have a true theory of the way the nervous system of man has been evolved, will not that theory afford guidance concerning the order of dissolution, and throw light upon the nature of nervous maladies and mental derangement? This question has been answered affirmatively. We print a lecture by Dr. J. Hughlings Jackson, the first of a course before the Royal College of Physicians in London, on the "Evolution and Dissolution of the Nervous System," in which the subject is treated from the point of view here indicated. Dr. Hughlings Jackson is not only an eminent practitioner in the department of nervous diseases, but he is an able philosophical student of medical subjects, and, although the Croonian lectures are addressed to medical men, the one we print will be found of general interest as opening a new chapter of original investigation in this important field of research.

 

 

A MODEL BENEFACTION.

It is announced in the papers that Mr. Andrew Carnegie has given the sum of fifty thousand dollars to the Bellevue Hospital Medical College of this city, for the erection and equipment of a building to be devoted to original investigations on subjects connected with the progress of medicine and the prevention of disease. Mr. Carnegie is well known as a man of large liberality who has accumualted a fortune by his own enterprise, and uses it generously in the promotion of projects of public and private beneficence. We have before had occasion to observe the wise discrimination of his contributions, but in this case he has undoubtedly devoted his money to the noblest use for which money can ever be expended. The endowment of hospitals and dispensaries for the immediate relief of suffering is, of course, highly commendable, and they are so obviously necessary, and their benign results are so direct and palpable, that sympathetic charity is ever ready to lend them support. But that is a more far-sighted and efficient benevolence which provides for the extension of medical knowledge, the research into the causes and conditions of disease, and the increase in the resources of medical art, by the systematic scien-