There is a general idea expressed in text-books, and more or less freely asserted in practice, but which I shall prove to be a fallacy, that a high-arched palate is so frequently met with in idiocy and imbecility that it may be taken as a sign of their existence. Indeed, when a case of this kind is brought forward the patient is made to open his mouth, under the conviction that a high palate will be found as certainly as a superficial alteration of the tongue in gastric disturbance. We shall see that the connection is an accidental one; and there is, in reality, no relationship between the development of the intellect and the height and width of the palate. If we consider that the bones of the cranium are developed in a different manner from those of the face, and that ossification at the base is complete long before that of the bones forming the palate, it is clear that there can be no primâ facie reason for thinking that because a person has an imperfect brain he should therefore have an imperfect palate; yet such an interdependence is held. It is quite true that a constitutional taint, such as rickets or syphilis, which affects the ossification of the bones generally and the cranial sutures, would probably affect the palatine bones, and hence it is that many idiots and imbeciles are found to have high or imperfect palates: but on the other hand some modifying taint may dwarf the height of the body, may affect the shape of the head to such an extent as to make an idiot of the microcephalic type, and yet leave the palate untouched, perfect in all conditions of width, height, number, quality, and regularity of teeth.
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