# Solve these Word Problems from Arithmetic Made Familiar and Easy (1748).

Yesterday I was looking at the three editions of Arithmetic Made Familiar and Easy to Young Gentlemen and Ladies, the second volume in The Circle of  the Sciences published by the famous 18th-century English children’s book publisher, John Newbery. Arithmetic is written in the form of a catechism, or a series of questions and answers.  Contemporary educators considered the catechism a more lively way to communicate information than a lecture because it was a kind of conversation.  To engage the young reader, the compiler also included information about the abacus and change ringing as a kind of arithmetical progression.  There were instructions for adding up an invoice for the purchase of apples, gingerbread, marbles, and oranges or for calculating the costs of x number of yards of lace so children knew how to check bills for mistakes or overcharges.

On to the puzzlers in Arithmetic Made Familiar.   The first is in verse and was a golden oldie, having been in circulation at least since 1708, where it appeared as an example of “vulgar arithmetic” in The Ladies Diary or Womens Almanack.

When first the Marriage-Knot was ty’d / Betwixt my Wife and me, /  My Age did hers as far exceed / As three times three does three: / But after ten and half ten Years /  We Man and Wife had been, / Her Age came up as near to mine, / As eight is to sixteen.

Now try the second puzzler:

A Man overtaking a Maid who was driving a Flock of Geese, said to her, Good-morrow, Sweetheart, whether are you going with your 99 Geese?  Sir, said she, you mistake the Number; for if I had as many more, and half as many more and one fourth Part as many, then I should have but 99.  The Question is, how many Geese she had?

The answers will be posted next week.

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