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of geological study, and the constitution of the sky, the aim of astronomical research. These two parts of human knowledge reflect complementary lights upon one another.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue des Deux Mondes.


By Professor AMBROSE L. RANNEY, M. D.

THERE is a natural tendency on the part of most parents to aim at precocity in their first child. They love to boast of its progress, and to draw favorable comparisons between it and the children of friends. Sometimes, as we all know, they overdo the matter, and produce a mental deformity, or a mental dwarf, or an idiot, or a grave in which their hopes as well as their error are buried.

No question is more difficult for a parent to decide than this: "When and how shall I begin to train the mind of my child?"

Unfortunately, the advice of teachers or physicians upon this topic is not always the same. Some answer such a question hastily; some from preconceived opinions that are not always free from bias. Others, again, fail to investigate, before answering, the hereditary tendencies of the child, whose future they are called upon to be instrumental in molding. Finally, most teachers and some of the medical fraternity are more or less ignorant themselves of the later discoveries made in cerebral physiology, and are therefore not always well fitted to be advisers respecting the best means to develop the organ of the mind properly.

The human brain is more wonderful and delicate in its construction than any invention of man. Few of those who have children seem to appreciate the care that should properly be exercised in promoting its natural growth and the best development of that organ—especially during the early years of life.

Parents who watch with anxiety against the possibility of bodily deformities in their children are often unaware of the harm that may be done to young brains by ignorance or neglect on the part of those who have them in charge. They know nothing themselves of the organ of the mind, but they think themselves justified in believing that a system of training which has produced good results in some children is applicable to each and every one.

Now, it should be remembered that minds, like faces, are not cast by Nature in the same mold. The quality of workmanship and the material is finer, so to speak, in some brains than in others. Some children are congenitally predisposed to nervous excitability or debility. Certain of the component parts of the brain become perfected during their development before others. Some of these parts are capable of