Parenthood and Race Culture, by Caleb Williams Saleeby

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Parenthood and Race Culture, by Caleb Williams Saleeby

Postby admin » Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:02 am

Parenthood and Race Culture: An Outline of Eugenics
by Caleb Williams Saleeby, M.D., Ch.B., F.Z.S., F.R.S. Edin.
Fellow of the Obstetrical Society of Edinburgh, Member of Council of the Eugenics Education Society, of the Sociological Society, and of the National League for Physical Education and Improvement; Member of the Royal Institution and of the Society for the Study of Inebriety, etc., etc.



Books by the same author: "Worry: The Disease of the Age" ; "Evolution: The Master Key"; "Health, Strength and Happiness", etc., etc.

Dedicated to Francis Galton, The August Master of All Eugenists


o 1. Introductory
o 2. The Exchequer of Life
o 3. Natural Selection and the Law of Love
o 4. The Selection of Mind
o 5. The Multiplication of Man
o 6. The Growth of Individuality
o 7. Heredity and Race-Culture
o 8. Education and Race-Culture
o 9. The Supremacy of Motherhood
o 10. Marriage and Maternalism
o 11. Negative Eugenics
o 12. Selection through Marriage
o 13. The Racial Poisons: Alcohol
o 14. The Racial Poisons: Lead, Narcotics, Syphilis
o 15. National Eugenics: Race-Culture and History
o 16. National Eugenics: Mr. Balfour on Decadence
o 17. The Promise of Race-Culture
• APPENDIX Concerning Books to Read
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Re: Parenthood and Race Culture, by Caleb Williams Saleeby

Postby admin » Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:03 am


This book, a first attempt to survey and define the whole field of eugenics, appears in the year which finds us celebrating the centenary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the jubilee of the publication of The Origin of Species. It is a humble tribute to that immortal name, for it is based upon the idea of selection for parenthood as determining the nature, fate and worth of living races, which is Darwin's chief contribution to thought, and which finds in eugenics its supreme application. The book is also a tribute to the august pioneer who initiated the modern study of eugenics in the light of his cousin's principle. A few years ago I all but persuaded Mr. Galton himself to write a general introduction to eugenics, but he felt bound to withdraw from that undertaking, and has given us instead his Memories, which we could ill have spared.

The present volume seeks to supply what is undoubtedly a real need at the present day—a general introduction to eugenics which is at least considered and responsible. I am indebted to more than one pair of searching and illustrious eyes, which I may not name, for reading the proofs of this volume. My best hopes for its utility are based upon this fact. If there be any other reason for hope it is that during the last six years I have not only written incessantly on eugenics, but have spoken upon various aspects of it some hundreds of times to audiences as various as one can well imagine—a mainly clerical assembly at Lambeth Palace with the Primate in the[viii] Chair, drawing-rooms of title, working-class audiences from the Clyde to the Thames. It has been my rule to invite questions whenever it was possible. Such a discipline is invaluable. It gives new ideas and points of view, discovers the existing forms of prejudice, sharply corrects the tendency to partial statement. It is my hope that these many hours of cross-examination will be profitable to the present reader.

It has been sought to define the scope of eugenics, and my consistent aim has been, if possible, to preserve its natural unity without falling into the error, which I seem to see almost everywhere, of excluding what is strictly eugenic. Our primary idea, beyond dispute, is selection for parenthood based upon the facts of heredity. This, however, is not an end, but a means. Some eugenists seem to forget the distinction. Our end is a better race. If then, beyond selecting for parenthood, it be desirable to take care of those selected—as, for instance, to protect the expectant mother from alcohol, lead or syphilis—that is strict eugenics on any definition worth a moment's notice. It then appears, of course, that our demands come into contact with those prejudices which political parties call their principles. A given eugenic proposal or argument, for instance, may be stamped as “Socialist” or as “Individualist,” and people who have labelled their eyes with these catchwords, which eugenics will ere long make obsolete, proceed to judge eugenics by them. But the question is not whether a given proposal is socialistic, individualistic or anything else, but whether it is eugenic. If it is eugenic, that is final. To this all parties will come, and by this all parties will be judged. The question is not whether eugenics is, for instance, socialist, but whether socialism is eugenic. I claim for eugenics that it is the final and only judge of all proposals and principles, however labelled, new or old, orthodox or heterodox. Some[ix] years ago I ventured to coin the word eugenist, which is now the accepted term. With that label I believe any man or woman may well be content. If this be granted, the old catchwords and the bias they create forgotten, we may be prepared to consider what the scope of eugenics really is.

Eugenics is not, for instance, a sub-section of applied mathematics. It is at once a science, and a religion, based upon the laws of life, and recognising in them the foundation of society. We shall some day have a eugenic sociology, to which the first part of this volume seeks to contribute: and the sociology and politics which have not yet discovered that man is mortal will go to their own place.

Only when we begin to think and work continuously at eugenics is its range revealed. The present volume is a mere introduction to the principles of the subject: the full elucidation of its practice is a problem for generations to come. Nor is it easy to set logical limits to our inquiry. We may say that eugenics deals with conceptions: and that the care of the expectant mother is outside its scope: but of what use is it to have a eugenic conception if its product is thereafter to be ruined by, for instance, the introduction of lead into the mother's organism? Again, the care of the individual is, in part, a eugenic concern: for if we desire his offspring we desire that he shall not contract transmissible disease nor vitiate his tissues with such a racial poison as alcohol. Plainly, everything that affects every possible parent is a matter of eugenic concern: and not only those factors which affect the choice for parenthood.

It follows that the second portion of this volume, which deals with the practice of eugenics, cannot be more than merely indicative. In the available space it has been attempted to define certain constituents of practical eugenics, but in any case the entire ground has not been[x] surveyed. The concept of the racial poisons may be commended to special consideration. Whether a poison be so-called “chemical,” as lead, or made by a living organism, as the poison of syphilis, is of great practical importance, because of the infection involved in the second case: but, in principle, both cases belong to the same category. Sooner or later, eugenists must face the transmissible infections, and repudiate as hideous and devilish the so-called morality which discountenances any attempt to save unborn innocence from a nameless fate. He or she who would rather leave this matter is placing “religion” or “morality” or “politics” above the welfare of the life to come, and therein continuing the daily prostitution of those great names.

Again, the practice of eugenics may be commended and accepted as the business of the patriot: and two chapters have been devoted to the question as seen from the national point of view. I am of nothing more certain than that the choice for Great Britain to-day is between national eugenics and the fate of all her Imperial predecessors from Babylon to Spain. The whole book might have been written from this standpoint, but such a book would have been beneath the true eugenic plane, which is not national but human. I believe in the patriotism of William Watson, who desires the continuance of his country because, as he addresses her,

“O England, should'st thou one day fall,
Justice were thenceforth weaker throughout all
The world, and truth less passionately free,
And God the poorer for thine overthrow.”

This is a patriotism as splendid and vital as the patriotism of the music-halls and of the political and journalistic makers of wars is foul and fatal: and it is only in terms of such patriotism that the appeal to love of country is permissible in the advocacy of eugenics, which is a concern for all mankind.

The prophet of that kind of Imperialism which has destroyed so many Empires, has lately approved the emigration of our best to the Colonies, on the ground that “it is good to give the second eleven a chance.” But as students of history know, it is at the heart that Empires rot. The case of Ireland is at present an insoluble one because the emigration of the worthiest has had full sway. So with the agricultural intellect: the “first eleven” having gone to the towns. Rome sent her “first eleven” to her Colonies: if you were not good enough to be a Roman soldier you could at least remain and be a Roman father: and the children of such fathers perished in the downfall of the Empire which they could no longer sustain. I can imagine no more foolish or disastrous advice than this of Mr. Kipling's, in commending that transportation of the worthiest which, thoroughly enough persisted in, must inevitably mean our ruin.

The national aspect of eugenics suggests its international aspect, and its inter-racial aspect. Not having spent six weeks rushing through the United States, I am unfortunately dubious as to the worth of any opinions I may possess regarding the most urgent form of this question to-day. I mistrust not merely the brilliant students who, unhampered by biological knowledge, pierce to the bottom of this question in the course of such a tour, but also the humanitarian bias of those who, like M. Finot, or the distinguished American sociologist, Mr. Graham Brooks, would almost have us believe that the negro is mentally and morally the equal of the Caucasian. Least of all does one trust the vulgar opinions of the man in the street. Wisdom on this matter waits for the advent of real knowledge. Similarly in the matter of Caucasian-Mongolian unions. I question whether any living man knows enough to warrant the expression of any decided opinion on this subject. Merely I here recognise[xii] miscegenation in general as a problem in eugenics, to which increasing attention must yearly be devoted. But it would have been ridiculous to attempt to deal with that great subject here. As for the marriage of cousins, to take the opposite case, I always reply to the question, “Should cousins marry?” that it depends upon the cousins. The good qualities of a good stock, the bad qualities of a bad stock, are naturally accentuated by such unions: I doubt whether there is much more to be said about them.

In the following general study of a subject to which no human affair is wholly alien, it has been impossible to deal adequately with the great question of eugenic education—that is to say, education as for parenthood. If only to emphasise its overwhelming importance, one must here insist upon the argument. There is, I believe, no greater need for society to-day than to recognise that education must include, must culminate in, preparation for the supreme duty of parenthood. This involves instruction regarding those bodily functions which exist not for the body nor for the present at all, but for the future life of mankind. The exercise of these functions depends upon an instinct which I have for some time been in the habit of terming the racial instinct—a name which at once suggests to us that we are to represent this instinct, to the boy or girl at puberty, not as something the satisfaction of which is an end in itself—that is the false and degrading assertion which will be made by the teachers whom youth will certainly find, if we fail in our duty—but as existing for what is immeasurably higher than any selfish end. Youth must be taught that it is for man the self-conscious, “made with such large discourse, looking before and after,” as Hamlet says, to deal with his instincts in terms of their purpose, as no creature but man can do. The boy and girl must learn that the[xiii] racial instinct exists for the highest of ends—the continuance and ultimate elevation of the life of mankind. It is a sacred trust for the life of this world to come. We must teach our boys what it is to be really “manly”—the fine word used by the tempter of youth when he means “beast-ly.” To be manly is to be master of this instinct. And the “higher education” of our girls, as we must teach ourselves, will be lower, not higher, if it does not serve and conserve the future mother, both by teaching her how to care for and guard her body, which is the temple of life to come, and how afterwards to be a right educator of her children. The leading idea upon which one would insist is that the key to any of the right and useful methods of eugenic education is to be found in the conception of the racial instinct as existing for parenthood, and to be guarded, reverenced, educated for that supreme end. It is for the reader who may be responsible for youth of either sex with this key to solve the problem on the lines best suited to his or her particular case.

By the application of mathematical methods to statistics we can ascertain their real meaning, if they have any. If, as frequently happens, they have none, mathematical analysis is worse than useless. Mr. Galton is the pioneer of this study, which Professor Karl Pearson has named biometrics. Biometrics is not eugenics, as some have supposed, but is a branch of scientific enquiry which, like genetics, obstetrics and many more, contributes to the foundations of eugenics. In the Appendix reference is made to various publications, mostly inexpensive, which deal with biometrics. In the text I have availed myself of biometric, genetic and other results impartially. Differences of opinion between this school and that of scientific workers are to be regretted by the eugenist; but it is for him to accept and use knowledge of eugenic significance no matter by what method it has been obtained. Directly he fails to do so he ceases to be[xiv] a eugenist and becomes the ordinary partisan. No reference is made in the following pages, for instance, to the law of ancestral inheritance, formulated by the Master to whom the volume is dedicated and of whom all eugenists are the followers. I believe that law, despite its beauty, to be without basis in fact and incompatible with demonstrated Mendelian phenomena: and though the book is dedicated to Mr. Galton, it is more deeply dedicated to the Future. This, indeed, is the Credo of the eugenist: Expecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi saeculi.

Woman is Nature's supreme instrument of the future. The eugenist is therefore deeply concerned with her education, her psychology, the conditions which permit her to exercise her great natural function of choosing the fathers of the future, the age at which she should marry, and the compatibility between the discharge of her incomparable function of motherhood and the lesser functions which some women now assume. Obstetrics, and the modern physiology and psychology of sex, must thus be harnessed to the service of eugenics, and I hope to employ them for the elucidation, in a future volume, of the problems of woman and womanhood, thus regarded.
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Re: Parenthood and Race Culture, by Caleb Williams Saleeby

Postby admin » Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:05 am



“A little child shall lead them”

This book will be mere foolishness to those who repeat the inhuman and animal cry that we have to take the world as we find it—the motto of the impotent, the forgotten, the cowardly and selfish, or the merely vegetable, in all ages. The capital fact of man, as distinguished from the lower animals and from plants, is that he does not have to take the world as he finds it, that he does not merely adapt himself to his environment, but that he himself is a creator of his world. If our ancestors had taken and left the world as they found it, we should be little more than erected monkeys to-day. For none who accept the hopeless dogma is this book written. They are welcome to take and leave the world as they find it; they are of no consequence to the world; and their existence is of interest only in so far as it is another instance of that amazing wastefulness of Nature in her generations, with which this book will be so largely concerned.

Beginning, perhaps, some six million years ago, the fact which we call human life has persisted hitherto, and shows no signs of exhaustion, much less impending extinction, being indeed more abundant numerically and more dominant over other forms of life and over the[2] inanimate world to-day than ever before. It is a continuous phenomenon. The life of every blood corpuscle or skin cell of every human being now alive is absolutely continuous with that of the living cells of the first human beings—if not, indeed, as most biologists appear to believe, of the first life upon the earth. Yet this continuous life has been and apparently always must be lived in a tissue of amazing discontinuity—amazing, at least, to those who can see the wonderful in the commonplace. For though the world-phenomenon which we call Man has been so long continuous, and is at this moment perhaps as much modified by the total past as if it were really a single undying individual, yet only a few decades ago, a mere second in the history of the earth, no human being now alive was in existence. “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.” Indeed, not merely are we individually as grass, but in a few years the hand that writes these words, and the tissues of eye and brain whereby they are perceived, will actually be grass. Here, then, is the colossal paradox: absolute and literal continuity of life, every cell from a preceding cell throughout the ages—omnis cellula e cellula; yet three times in every century the living and only wealth of nations is reduced to dust, and is raised up again from helpless infancy. Where else is such catastrophic continuity?

Each individual enters the world in a fashion the dramatic and sensational character of which can be realised by none who have not witnessed it; and in a few years the individual dies, scarcely less dramatically as a rule, and sometimes more so. This continuous and apparently invincible thing, human life, which began so humbly and to the sound of no trumpets, in Southern Asia or the neighbourhood of the Caspian Sea, but[3] which has never looked back since its birth, and is now the dominant fact of what might well be an astonished earth, depends in every age and from moment to moment upon here a baby, there a baby and there yet another; these curious little objects being of all living things, animal or vegetable, young or old, large or small, the most utterly helpless and incompetent, incapable even of finding for themselves the breasts that were made for them. If but one of all the “hungry generations” that have preceded us had failed to secure the care and love of its predecessor, the curtain would have come down and a not unpromising though hitherto sufficiently grotesque drama would have been ended for ever.

This discontinuity it is which persuades many of us to conceive human life to be not so much a mighty maze without a plan, as a mere stringing of beads on an endless cord of which one end arose in Mother Earth, whilst the other may come at any time—but goes nowhere. The beads, which we call generations, vary in size and colour, no doubt, but on no system; each one makes a fresh start; the average difference between them is merely one of position; and the result is merely to make the string longer. Or the generations might be conceived as the links of an indeterminate chain, necessarily held to each other: but suggesting not at all the idea of a living process such that its every step is fraught with eternal consequence. In a word, we incline to think that History merely goes on repeating itself, and we have to learn that History never repeats itself. Every generation is epoch-making.

It is thus to the conception of parenthood as the vital and organic link of life that we are forced: and the whole of this book is really concerned with parenthood. We shall see, in due course, that no generation, whether of men or animals or plants, determines or provides, as a[4] whole, the future of the race. Only a percentage, as a rule a very small percentage indeed, of any species reach maturity, and fewer still become parents. Amongst ourselves, one-tenth of any generation gives birth to one-half the next. These it is who, in the long run, make History: a Kant or a Spencer, dying childless, may leave what we call immortal works; but unless the parents of each new generation are rightly chosen or “selected”—to use the technical word—a new generation may at any time arise to whom the greatest achievements of the past are nothing. The newcomers will be as swine to these pearls, the immortality of which is always conditional upon the capacity of those who come after to appreciate them. There is here expressed the distinction between two kinds of progress: the traditional progress which is dependent upon transmitted achievement, but in its turn is dependent upon racial progress—this last being the kind of progress of which the history of pre-human life upon the planet is so largely the record and of which mankind is the finest fruit hitherto.

It is possible that a concrete case, common enough, and thus the more significant, may appeal to the reader, and help us to realise afresh the conditions under which human life actually persists.

Forced inside a motor-omnibus one evening, for lack of room outside, I found myself opposite a woman, poorly-clothed, with a wedding-ring upon her finger and a baby in her arms. The child was covered with a black shawl and its face could not be seen. It was evidently asleep. It should have been in its cot at that hour. The mother's face roused feelings which a sonnet of Wordsworth's might have expressed, or a painting by some artist with a soul, a Rembrandt or a Watts, such as we may look for[5] in vain amongst the be-lettered to-day. Here was the spectacle of mother and child, which all the great historic religions, from Buddhism to Christianity, have rightly worshipped; the spectacle which more nearly symbolises the sublime than any other upon which the eye of a man, himself once such a child, can rest; the spectacle which alone epitomises the life of mankind and the unalterable conditions of all human life and all human societies, reminding us at once of our individual mortality, and the immortality of our race—

“While we, the brave, the mighty and the wise,
We Men, who in our morn of youth defied
The Elements, must vanish;—be it so!
Enough, if something from our hands have power
To live, and act, and serve the future hour:”

—the spectacle which alone, if any can, may reconcile us to death; the spectacle of that which alone can sanctify the love of the sexes; the spectacle of motherhood in being, the supreme duty and supreme privilege of womanhood—“a mother is a mother still, the holiest thing alive.”

This woman, utterly unconscious of the dignity of her attitude and of the contrast between herself and the imitation of a woman, elegantly clothed, who sat next her, giving her not a thought nor a glance, nor yet room for the elbow bent in its divine office, was probably some thirty-two or three years old, as time is measured by the revolutions of the earth around the sun. Measured by some more relevant gauge, she was evidently aged, her face grey and drawn, desperately tired, yet placid—not with due exultation but with the calm of one who has no hope. She was too weary to draw the child to her bosom, and her arms lay upon her knees; but instead she bent her body downwards to her baby. She looked straight out in front of her, not at me nor at the passing[6] phantasms beyond, but at nothing. The eyes were open but they were too tired to see. The face had no beauty of feature nor of colour nor of intelligence, but it was wholly beautiful, made so by motherhood; and I think she must have held some faith. The tint of her skin and of her eyeballs spoke of the impoverishment of her blood, her need of sleep and rest and ease of mind. She will probably be killed by consumption within five years and will certainly never hold a grand-child in her arms. The pathologist may lay this crime at the door of the tubercle bacillus; but a prophet would lay it at the reader's door and mine.

While we read and write, play at politics or ping-pong, this woman and myriads like her are doing the essential work of the world. The worm waits for us as well as for her and them: and in a few years her children and theirs will be Mankind. We need a prophet to cry aloud and spare not; to tell us that if this is the fate of mothers in the ranks which supply the overwhelming proportion of our children, our nation may number Shakespeare and Newton amongst the glories of its past, and the lands of ancient empires amongst its present possessions, but it can have no future; that if, worshipping what it is pleased to call success, it has no tears nor even eyes for such failures as these, it may walk in the ways of its insensible heart and in the sight of its blind eyes, yet it is walking not in its sleep but in its death, is already doomed and damned almost past recall; and that, if it is to be saved, there will avail not “broadening the basis of taxation,” nor teaching in churches the worship of the Holy Mother and Holy Child, whilst Motherhood is blasphemed at their very doors, but this and this only—the establishment, not in statutes but in the consciences of men and women, of a true religion based upon these perdurable and evident dogmas—that all human life is[7] holy, all mothers and all children, that history is made in the nursery, that the individual dies, that therefore children determine the destinies of all civilisations, that the race or society which succeeds with its mammoth ships and its manufactures but fails to produce men and women, is on the brink of irretrievable doom; that the body of man is an animal, endowed with the inherited animal instincts necessary for self-preservation and the perpetuation of the race, but that, if the possession of this body by a conscious spirit, “looking before and after,” is anything more than a “sport” of the evolutionary forces, it demands that, the blind animal instincts notwithstanding, the desecration of motherhood, the perennial slaughter and injury of children, the casual unconsidered birth of children for whom there is no room or light or air or food, and of children whose inheritance condemns them to misery, insanity or crime, must cease; and that the recurrent drama of human love and struggle reaches its happy ending not when the protagonists are married, but when they join hands over a little child that promises to be a worthy heir of all the ages. This religion must teach that the spectacle of a prematurely aged and weary and hopeless mother, which he who runs or rides may see, produced by our rude foreshadowings of civilisation, is an affront to all honest and thoughtful eyes: that where there are no mothers, such as mothers should be, the people will assuredly perish, though everything they touch should turn to gold, though science and art and philosophy should flourish as never before. I believe that history, rightly read, teaches these tremendous lessons.

In our own day the bounds of imagination are undoubtedly widening. Means of communication, the press, the camera, the decadence of obsolete dogmas, making[8] room for the simple daily truths of morality which have “the dignity of dateless age” and are too hard for the teeth of time—these account in large measure for the fact that the happier half of the world is at last beginning to realise how the other half lives. There is perhaps more divine discontent with things as they are than ever heretofore: this being due, as has been suggested, perhaps as much to the modern aids of imagination as to any inherent increase of sympathy. Science, too, in the form of sociology and economics, adds warrant to the demand for some radical reform of the conditions of life. It teaches that all forms of life are interdependent; that society is thus an organism in more than merely loose analogy; that the classes pay abundantly for the state of the masses: whilst medicine teaches that the tuberculosis, for instance, which slays so many members of the middle and upper classes, is bred by and in the overcrowding of the lower classes, this and many other diseases promising to resist all measures less radical than the abolition of half our current social practice.

Hence it is that we hear so much of social reform; and the promises of representatives of many political -isms jostle one another at the gates of our ears. The Anarchist at one extreme, and the Collectivist at the other, with the Individualist and the Socialist somewhere between, offer their panaceas. To me, I confess, they seem little better than the scholastic metaphysicians of old days, like them mistaking words for things, incapable of understanding each other, evading precise definition and using terms which never mean the same thing twice as missiles and weapons of abuse: and, above all, mistaking means for ends.

But the leading error common to them all, as I seem to see it, is their conception of society as a stable thing—a piece of machinery which must be properly [9]“assembled,” as the engineers say; forgetful of the extraordinary discontinuity which inheres in the swift-approaching death of all its parts, and their replacement by helpless immaturity. The first fact of society really is that all its individuals are mortal. This we all know, but I question whether even Herbert Spencer fully reckoned with it; and certainly the common run of social speculators have not begun to realise what it means. Human life is made up of generations, and the key to all progress lies in the nature of the relation between one generation and another. Spencer records the case of an Oxford graduate, desirous to be his secretary, who did not know that the population of Great Britain is increasing. Here is a capital present fact of the—merely quantitative—relation between successive generations. So far as any influence on their theory or practice is concerned, it is still unknown to nearly all our advisers. Yet this fact of the ceaseless multiplication of man, which has distinguished him from the first, and is absolutely peculiar to him of all living species, animal or vegetable, as Sir E. Ray Lankester has lately pointed out, is the source of the major facts of history and the besetting condition of every social problem that can be named at this hour.

The professional and dedicated teachers of morality seem to be in little better case. They believe in babies, perhaps, as the prime and only really valid source of the weal and wealth and strength of nations, and as the great moralisers and humanisers of the generation that gives them birth. They are beginning to join in that public outcry against infant mortality which will yet abolish this abominable stain upon our time. But they are lamentably uninformed. They do not know, for instance, that a high infant mortality habitually goes with a high birth-rate, not only in human society but in[10] all living species; and they have yet to appreciate the proposition which I have so often advanced and which, to me at any rate, seems absolutely self-evident, that until we have learnt how to keep alive all the healthy babies now born—that is to say, not less than ninety per cent. of all, the babies in the slums included—it is monstrous to cry for more, to be similarly slain. These bewailings about our mercifully falling birth-rate, uncoupled with any attention to the slaughter of the children actually born, are pitiable in their blindness and would be lamentable if they had any effect—of which there is fortunately no sign whatever, but indeed the contrary.

Humanitarian sentiment, also, is terribly misguided. “Why always the benefit of the future, has the present no claim upon us?” I have been asked. Assuredly all sentient life, and therefore pre-eminently all human life, in which sentiency is so incommensurably intensified by self-consciousness, the power of “looking before and after,” has a claim upon us: but the question could have been asked by no one whose imagination had been worthily employed. Our posterity will in due course be as actual and present as we, their deeds and sufferings and hopes as actual and present as ours. They outnumber us as the ocean outweighs a raindrop; to avert evil from one of them is as much as to relieve evil in one of us,—how much more to prevent the misery of five in the next generation, fifty in the next and unnumbered hosts beyond? To serve the future of the race is not to benefit a fiction: the men and women of a hundred and a thousand years hence will be as real as we. And to serve the future is to put out our talent at compound interest a thousand-fold compounded. The weak imagination would rather build a sanatorium for consumptives and see it filled with grateful patients. This is a palpable,[11] sensible good, for which the meanest visual faculty suffices: but the strong imagination would rather open the closed windows of nurseries or work at the mechanical problems of ventilation, aye, or even at the structure of the bacteriological microscope—finding the spectacle, in the mind's eye, of healthy men and women fifty years hence as grateful and as real a reward as the sight of a sanatorium in the present. The pace of progress will be incalculably hastened when men, whether workers or bequeathers or administrators, enlarge their imaginations so as to perceive that the future will be, and therefore indeed is, as real as the present.[1] I appeal to the reason of the kind-hearted reader. Would you rather make one man or child happy now, or two or a thousand a century hence?

It is, in a word, the idea of continuous causation or evolution that explains the remarkable contrast between our outlook on the future and our fathers'. In older—that is to say, younger—days, men's interest in posterity was most naïvely and quaintly selfish. If they raised a monument or did any piece of work which obviously would endure beyond the span of their own lives, their chief motive seems to have been that we should think well of them, nor forget how well they thought of themselves. They were not concerned with us, but with our opinion of them. They were anxious about the verdict of posterity; and the verdict is that they little realised their responsibility for us, or betrayed it if they did. There is also the frank attitude of Sir Boyle Roche's famous bull, “What has posterity done for us?” This is a quite familiar and conspicuous sentiment—as familiar as any other form of selfishness: but it is as if a father [12]should say, “What have my children done for me?” and is open to the same condemnation. We are assuredly responsible for posterity as any parent for any child. Before the nineteenth century this fact could be realised by very few. To-day, when the truth of organic evolution is a commonplace, and when the plasticity of the forces of evolution is slowly becoming realised, we must face our tremendous responsibility and privilege in a spirit worthy of those to whom such mighty truths have been revealed.

Parenthood and birth—in these the whole is summed. At the mercy of these are all past discovery, all past achievement in art or science, in action or in thought. The human species, secure though it be, is only a race after all; only a sequence of runners who quasi cursores, vitaï lampada tradunt—like runners, hand on the lamp of life, as Lucretius said. This it is which, to the thoughtful observer, makes each birth such an overwhelming event. It is a great event for the mother and the father, but how much greater if its consequences be only half realised. Education in its full sense, “the provision of an environment,” as I would define it, is a mighty and necessary force, for nothing but potentiality is given at birth: but no education, no influence of traditional progress, can avail, unless the potentialities which these must unfold are worthy. The baby comes tumbling headlong into the world. The fate of all the to-morrows depends upon it. Hitherto its happening has depended upon factors animal and casual enough, utterly improvident, concerned but rarely with this tremendous consequence. Fate may be mistress, but she works only too often by Chance, as Goethe remarked. Fate and Chance hitherto have never failed to keep up the supply which the death of the individual makes imperative: and forces have[13] been at work determining for progress, to some extent, but most imperfectly, the parentage of these headlong babies. Yet the human intelligence cannot remain satisfied with their working—and much less so when it realises how they can be controlled, how effectively, and to what high ends. The physician may and must concern himself, on these occasions, with the immediate needs of the mother and the child, and when these are satisfied he may feel that his duty has been done; but, as he journeys homewards, he must surely reflect—that this astonishing thing, then, has happened again, as indeed it has happened many times this very day; that whilst this baby is to become an individual man or woman, an end in himself or herself, in its young loins and in those of its like are the hosts of all the unborn who are yet to be. If, then, these babies differ widely from each other, as they do; if these differences are, on the whole, capable of prediction in terms of heredity; if the future state of mankind is involved in these differences, which will in their turn be transmitted to the children of such as themselves become parents; and if this business of parenthood will be confined to only a small proportion of these babies, of whom one-half will never reach puberty; if these things be so, as they are, cannot these babies be chosen in anticipation, there being thus effected an enormous vital economy, Nature being commanded to the highest ends by the only method, which is to obey her, as Bacon said; and the human intelligence thus making its supreme achievement—the ethical direction and vast acceleration of racial progress? What man can do for animals and plants, can he not do for himself? Give imagination its fleetest and strongest wing, it can never conceive a task so worth the doing.

This, and this alone, is what requires to be brought[14] home to the general reader and the reformer alike. Says Mr. H. G. Wells: “It seemed to me then that to prevent the multiplication of people below a certain standard, and to encourage the multiplication of exceptionally superior people, was the only real and permanent way of mending the ills of the world. I think that still.” And then, in a few sketchy pages, Mr. Wells discredits, as with one glance of great eyes, the very proposal which he thinks to be the only real and permanent way of mending the ills of the world. Not one man in thousands has got so far as to hold this opinion; and it is the more lamentable that Mr. Wells, having reached it, should hold it in the loose, formal, and inoperative fashion in which the man in the street or the woman in the pew holds the dogmas of orthodox theology. We need to educate public opinion—that “chaos of prejudices”—up to Mr. Wells' standard, and then we need to accomplish the much harder task of converting a mere intellectual speculation into a living belief.

But so surely as this belief, the crowning and practical conclusion to which all the teachings of modern biology converge, comes to life in men's minds, so surely the difficulties will be met, not only on paper but also in practice. “Where there's a will there's a way.” Meanwhile men are content to work at the impermanent, if not indeed at measures which directly war against the selection of the best for parenthood: they do not realise the stern necessity of obeying Nature in this respect—for it is Her selection of parents that alone has raised us from the beast and the worm—and since necessity alone, whether inner or outer, whether of character or circumstance, is the mother of invention, they fail to find the methods by which our ideal can be carried out. There is nothing, either in the character of the individual man and woman, or in the structure[15] of society, that makes the ideal of race-culture impossible to-day: nor must action wait for further knowledge of heredity. Little though we surely know so far, we have abundance of assured knowledge for immediate action in many directions—knowledge which is agreed upon by Lamarckians and neo-Lamarckians, Darwinians and Weismannians, Mendelians and biometricians alike. All of these agree, for instance, as to the fact that the insane tendency is transmissible and is transmitted by heredity. We need only public opinion to say, “Then most surely those who have such a tendency must forgo parenthood.”

For it is public opinion that governs the world. If it were, as it will be one day—which may these pages hasten—an elementary and radical truth, as familiar and as cogent to all, man in the House or man in the public-house, as the fact of the earth's gravitation—that racial maintenance, much more racial progress, depends absolutely upon the selection of parents; if the establishment of this selective process in the best and widest manner were the admitted goal of all legislation and all social and political speculation—who can question that the thing would be practicable and indeed easy? Without the formation of public opinion this is as hopelessly Utopian and inaccessible an ideal as words ever framed; public opinion once formed, nothing could be more palpably feasible. Hence Mr. Galton's wisdom in demanding that, before we dictate courses of procedure, and even before we can expect profit from scientific investigation, whether by the biometric method of which he is the founder, or by any other, public opinion must be formed; that the idea of eugenics or good-breeding must be instilled into the conscience of civilisation like a new religion—a religion of the most lofty and austere, because the most unselfish, morality, a religion which[16] sets before it a sublime ideal, terrestrial indeed in its chosen theatre, but celestial in its theme, human in its means, but literally superhuman in its goal. If the intrinsic ennoblement of mankind does not answer to this eulogy, where is the ideal that does?
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Re: Parenthood and Race Culture, by Caleb Williams Saleeby

Postby admin » Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:06 am


“This last lustrum has enabled us to make an astounding discovery, of which neither Adam Smith nor Cobden nor Malthus dreamed—that a nation is composed not of property nor of provinces, but of men.”

—Tille (1904), quoted by Forel.

The main thesis which the last chapter was intended to introduce is, in the words of Ruskin, simply this: “There is no wealth but life.” The assumption throughout this book is that Ruskin is the real founder of political economy, he first of moderns having seen this supreme truth.

We speak of a nation's possessions, but possessions imply a possessor or possessors. Wealth, as Ruskin teaches us, is “the possession of the valuable by the valiant.” If our national possessions were made over to a race of monkeys, “they being inherently and eternally incapable of wealth,” what would they be worth? Furthermore, to possess and to be possessed by, are totally diverse things. Says Ruskin, “Lately in a wreck of a Californian ship, one of the passengers fastened a belt about him with two hundred pounds of gold in it, with which he was found afterwards at the bottom. Now, as he was sinking—had he the gold or had the gold him?”

Vital economics.

We have already alluded to the unique property of mankind in virtue of which the radical character of the essential wealth, which is life, has only too commonly been forgotten. In the case of any animal[18] or vegetable species we should have no difficulty, if asked regarding its “success” and “prospects,” in directing our enquiry to essentials. We should examine the individuals of that species, young and old, its death-rate and its birth-rate, and these would supply us with the answer. In the case of man there is the almost incalculable complication involved in the fact that he is capable of making external acquirements,—material possessions and spiritual possessions which, so long as he remains capable of possessing them, are of real value, and, on account of what they mean for life, are a true though secondary wealth. Amongst civilised mankind, therefore, the essential question as to the breed of men and women is obscured by the secondary question as to their traditional or transmitted possessions or external acquirements. But if we remember the case of the drowning man and his gold we shall realise that, fundamentally, the case is the same for the human as for any other species. No one can openly question this, but not one publicist or politician in a thousand believes it in any living sense. The true function of government, said Ruskin, is the production and recognition of human worth. This has only to be said to be admitted; it is one of the thoughts that shine, as Joubert says. No one denies it and no one acts upon it.

In this sense such a phrase as the National Exchequer begins to take on a new meaning, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer loses every whit of his importance, except in so far as his proceedings tend towards, or away from, the production and recognition of human worth. He plays with money, whereas the Chancellor of the real Exchequer would work for life.

The facts of childhood to-day.

But since human life is discontinuous, since three times in a century the essential wealth of nations is reduced to dust, and raised[19] again from helpless infancy, our urgent business is with the children of the nation. What, then, in general, are the facts of the National Exchequer thus conceived?

We find that, so far as ordinary physical health is concerned, the majority of human babies—including, for instance, so-called Anglo-Saxon babies—are physically healthy at birth. On the other hand, a certain proportion are as definitely and obviously unhealthy at the very start as the more fortunate majority are healthy. If certain influences, such as alcohol and some few diseases, have been in operation, the babies may be already doomed—not national wealth, but national illth. In the absence of these pernicious factors, there is, on the whole, physical fitness. The ratio is perhaps as ninety to ten per cent.

Here then, is, on the whole, a ceaseless supply of essential wealth; physically, at any rate, of good enough quality. As every one knows, or should know, the greater part of it we immediately proceed to deface and destroy. Our mouths are full of argument concerning the principles of what we are pleased to conceive as political economy. The principles of vital economy we do not enquire into but outrage and defy at every turn. So horribly and wastefully are we misguided that in point of fact we actually destroy altogether the greater number, not of all the children merely, but even of the fit and healthy children; and it may forcibly be argued that, before any one proceeds to attempt any choice amongst the children, as to which shall in their turn become parents and which shall not, it would be well, apart from any question of discrimination, to revise radically the methods which at present permit this wholesale destruction. Whilst we kill outright by hundreds of thousands every year, we damage for life far more, including a very large proportion of those who, as things at present are, will in their turn become the parents who alone are the makers[20] of the real wealth of nations. If this destructive process had the effect which common notions of heredity would lead us to expect, then most certainly not merely would Britain, for instance, be doomed, but the very name would long ago have become “one with Nineveh and Tyre.” But though this destructive process (which it is best to describe as resulting in deterioration rather than degeneration) has been long continued, and though, in consequence of the great economic changes of last century and the rush into the cities with their over-crowding, it is perhaps more disastrous now than ever before: yet it remains true that most of the babies born in the slums are splendid little specimens of humanity—so far as physique is concerned—bearing no marks of degeneration to correspond with the deterioration of their parents. In a word, heredity works—the racial poisons apart, as we shall see—so that each generation gets a fresh start. If there be no process of selection, each new generation begins where its predecessor began and is as a whole neither worse nor better, whether physically or psychically.

Eugenics and infant mortality.

In the face of the foregoing, which merely outlines the appalling indictment that ought to be framed against civilisation for its treatment of its children, it is evidently incumbent upon us to answer the objector who should say that the whole purpose and argument of our present enquiry is premature, and that surely our first business should be not to propose any novel and revolutionary doctrine as to the choice of parents and of children, but rather to stop this child slaughter and child damage—in other words, that we should devote ourselves rather, not to providing children with a good heredity, but to providing them with a good environment, it being only too demonstrable that the environment we at present provide for the great majority[21] of them is deadly and abominable in the extreme. This argument is all the stronger because most of the children are admittedly fit physically at birth. It would seem as if there were little to complain of in their heredity, whilst there is certainly almost everything to complain of in their environment.

If this objection is to be met at all, we must be most careful and serious in our going. Whatever conclusions we come to we must at any rate be sure that we do not impugn or deny the instant, immediate and constant law of love which declares that there can be no adequate ideal short of doing our best for all children, once they are born—nay, more, from the very moment, months before, at which their individual history starts. Whoso suggests that, as a present and immediate policy, it is not right to care for all children, healthy or diseased, welcome or unwelcome, nurseried in Park Lane or in the slums, may have plausible and even so-called eugenic arguments on his side, but his proposal is essentially immoral and therefore essentially false. For all children actually in being—whether they await or have passed the particular moment of birth—it is our duty, ideal and real, to do our utmost. The believer in the principle of race-culture or eugenics—whom I shall hereafter, as for some years past, call the eugenist—may believe that it would have been better had some of these children never been born; he may believe that, in the present unorganised state of society, in the present dethroned state of motherhood, it were vastly better had many even of the healthy majority never been born. He may be convinced that, since so many of them will certainly die, failing our feeble efforts to save childhood, their birth is a misfortune: but on no terms and for no objects whatever does, or can, the eugenist propose that any of these children, even though from the moment of birth they be riddled with disease, should be allowed to[22] die. Though some will say that the keeping alive of diseased children, or even of many children at first healthy, is a disaster, I maintain that no such question of choice, selection or discrimination can find any warrant in any form of morality—eugenic or other—from the moment at which the child in question began its individual existence. Those of us who advocate the eugenic idea must be perpetually on our guard against the insidious alliance of any who, agreeing with our premises, declare that it is a mistake, for instance, to prosecute a campaign against infant mortality. I myself have had a share—by a continuous propaganda started in 1902—in making this last a publicly recognised question, whilst, on the other hand, I have done my best to popularise the idea of eugenics. Let me repeat here what I have already said elsewhere: that I strenuously repudiate any suggestion that the eugenic end is legitimately or effectively to be served by permitting the infant mortality to continue. The distinguished Egyptologist, Professor Flinders Petrie, in his recent book Janus in Modern Life, describes as follows the results of the present crusade against infant mortality, as he conceives them:—“We must agree that it would be of the lower or lowest type of careless, thriftless, dirty, and incapable families that the increase [of surviving children] would be obtained. Is it worth while to dilute our increase of population by ten per cent. more of the most inferior kind? Will England be stronger for having one-thirtieth more, and that of the worst stock, added to the population every year? This movement is doing away with one of the few remains of natural weeding out of the unfit that our civilisation has left to us. And it will certainly cause more misery than happiness in the course of a century.”

Here, plainly, is a serious argument. We are bound to sympathise with its underlying assumption, viz.,[23] that not all babies are such as we can desire to carry on the race. Still more must we sympathise with any author whatever who has imagination and foresight enough to write anywhere, on any subject, wrongly or rightly, such a sentence as “and it will certainly cause more misery than happiness in the course of a century.” We need more such authors. But without going into the whole argument here—as, for instance, regarding the singular use of the word “natural”—I do most entirely deny the right of the eugenic idea to any voice or place as to the fate of children once they have come into being. Another writer, arguing on the same lines, says à propos of the abolition of infant mortality: “This last change which, as the Huddersfield experiment shows, is easy of accomplishment, is likely to be completely effected in the next few years, and we shall then have abolished the one factor which in any important degree at present tends to redress the balance between the rates of reproduction of the superior and the inferior classes.” These are the words of Dr. W. McDougall, the distinguished psychologist. Dr. McDougall has subsequently shown that he repudiates the apparent deduction from them, and entirely approves of the present campaign of mercy to childhood. Nevertheless, these arguments, plainly derived from the principle of natural selection, do express a most important truth—viz., that indiscriminate survival must lead to racial decadence, whether in man, microbe or moss. I submit that the difficulty can be solved only by the eugenic principle.

The fittest must become parents, and the unfit[2] must not; then kill the unfit, says Nature. And this indeed, in all living species other than man, is what Nature does. [24]But “thou shalt not kill,” says the moral law—not even the unfit. As the foregoing will have shown, some thinkers to-day propose to avail themselves in this dilemma of the “New Decalogue”:—

“Thou shalt not kill but need'st not strive
Officiously to keep alive.”

This is no solution of the problem. There is only one solution, and that is the eugenic solution. Nature can preserve a race only by destroying the unfit. We who are intelligent must preserve and elevate the race by preventing the unfit from ever coming into existence at all. We must replace Nature's selective death-rate by a selective birth-rate. This is merciful and supremely moral; it means vast economy in life and money and time and suffering; it is natural at bottom, but it is Nature raised to her highest power in that almost supra-natural fact—the moral intelligence of man.

The dilemma defined.

The moral law, and our natural human sympathy, insist that we should seek to preserve all the children that come into the world, to amplify the health of the healthy, and to neutralise, as far as possible, the unfitness of the unfit. A mother brings her malformed baby to the surgeon, and he does his best to patch up the gaps left by the imperfect processes of development. Otherwise the baby will die. Who dares look that mother in the face and say “Ah, but it is better for the race that your child should die!” Such a doctrine, I submit, blasphemes our humanity; it is intolerable to any decent person who will pause to think what it means: and yet, in so saying, we seem to defy Nature with her imperative law of the survival of the fittest only. Pre-eugenic writers on evolution state the case in all its hardness. Dr. Archdall Reid says that [25]“If we wish to improve the individual, we must attend to his acquirements by providing proper shelter, food, and training.” Well, we do wish to improve the individual, and to preserve the individual! We do not wish the super-man on the terms of Nietzsche—the super-man obtained at the cost of love would turn out to be inferior to any brute-beast, an intellectual fiend. But, Dr. Reid goes on to say, “such means will not effect an improvement of the race.... On the contrary, they will cause deterioration[3] by an increased survival of the unfit.” The provision of “proper shelter, food and training” will cause racial decadence! Is it not evident, then, that such provisions must rather be styled improper, and that we must refrain from doing anything for the defects and needs of the individual, lest a worse thing befall the race? This is an outrageous proposition, yet it is offered us as a necessary inference from the principle of natural selection or the survival of the fittest—which no one now dares to dispute.

Herbert Spencer, to whom we owe the phrase “the survival of the fittest,” expresses this critical difficulty as follows: “The law that each creature shall take the benefits and the evils of its own nature has been the law under which life has evolved thus far. Any arrangements which, in a considerable degree, prevent superiority from profiting by the rewards of superiority, or shield inferiority from the evils it entails—any arrangements which tend to make it as well to be inferior as to be superior, are arrangements diametrically opposed to the progress of organisation, and the reaching of a higher life.” This is permanently and necessarily true, and in our care for childhood we have to reckon with it. Yet even Spencer himself did not pursue this supremely important enquiry to what I shall in a moment submit to be its logical and almost incredibly hopeful conclusion.

Huxley, writing his well-known Romanes Lecture, “Evolution and Ethics,” at a time when, unfortunately, he had somewhat parted company with Spencer, and was too ready to accept any argument that made against Spencer's political views, cuts the Gordian knot in an astonishingly unsatisfactory fashion. He declares that “the ethical progress of society depends, not on imitating the cosmic process [that is, the selection of the fittest], still less in running away from it, but in combating it.” This is shallow thinking and very poor philosophy. One wonders how Huxley can have forgotten the great dictum of Bacon that Nature can be commanded only by obeying her. He declares that moral evolution is the direct contradiction and antithesis of the process of organic evolution hitherto. He says, “Social progress means a checking of the cosmic process at every step and the substitution for it of another, which may be called the ethical process;” and he declares it to be a fallacy to suppose “that because on the whole animals and plants have advanced in perfection of organisation, by means of the struggle for existence and the consequent survival of the fittest; therefore men in society, men as ethical beings, must look to the same process to help them towards perfection.”

With all this Huxley offers us no real solution whatever, no hint that he has realised in any degree what must be the consequences of indiscriminate survival. It is astonishing how personal bias, so alien to the whole character of the man as a rule, blinded him to a solution which, as it seems to me, stared him in the face. Assuredly we can transmute and elevate and raise to its highest power what he calls the cosmic process, and can reconcile cosmic with ethical evolution, by extending to the unfit all our sympathy but forbidding them parenthood. I deny that the provision of a proper environment for the individual entails racial[27] deterioration. Cosmic and moral evolution are compatible if, whilst caring for each individual, whether maim, halt, blind, or insane, and whilst admitting the categorical imperative of the law of love which demands our care for him, we continue to obey the indication of Nature, which forbids such an individual to perpetuate his infirmity. Nature has no choice; if she is to avert the coming of the unfit race she must summarily extinguish its potential ancestor, but we can prohibit the reproduction of his infirmity whilst doing all we can for the success of his individual life. This is the ideal course indicated and approved by biology and morality alike.

The eugenic reconciliation.

I submit, then, that there is no inconsistency in fighting simultaneously for the preservation and care of all babies and all children without discrimination of any kind—and, on the other hand, in declaring that, if the degeneration of the race is to be averted, still more if racial, which is the only sure, progress, is to be attained, we must have the worthy and only the worthy to be the parents of the future. I submit further that only the eugenist can maintain his position in this matter at the present day.

On his one hand is the improvident humanitarian with his feeling heart, he who, seeing misery and disease and death, whether in babyhood, childhood, or at any other time of life, seeks to improve the environment and so relieve these evils. Close beside this wholly indiscriminate humanitarianism is that which declares that with childhood is the future and therefore devotes its energies especially to the young, is grateful for every baby born, whatever its state, and when adult years are reached, assumes that all will be well for the future, though the principle of natural selection is thus made of none effect.

On the other side of the eugenists stand those whom we may for short call the Nietzscheans. They see[28] one-half of the truth of natural selection; they see that through struggle and internecine war, species have hitherto maintained themselves or ascended. They declare that all improvement of the environment, or at any rate all humanitarian effort, tends to abrogate the struggle for existence, and even, as is only too often true, to select unworth and let worth go to the wall. This school then declares that infant mortality is a blessing and charity an unmitigated curse. In short, that we must go back as quickly as possible to the order of the beast.

Between these two, surely, the eugenist stands, declaring that each has a great truth, but that his teaching, and his alone, involves their co-ordination and reconciliation. He agrees with the humanitarian that no child should cry or starve or work or die—or at any rate this particular eugenist does—and he agrees with the Nietzschean that to abrogate, and still more, to reverse, the principle of natural selection, is to set our faces for the goal of racial death. But further, the eugenist declares that the indiscriminate humanitarian, blind to the truth which the Nietzschean sees, would heap up, if permitted, disaster upon disaster; whilst he repudiates as horrible and ghastly the Nietzschean doctrine that morality must go by the board if the race is to be raised:—that we must be damned to be saved.

Our age is now awakening, at last, to the cry of the children. The tendency of legislation and opinion in every civilised country is one and the same. For this humanitarianism let only him who thinks of any child as a brat refuse to give thanks. But it is the business of all who, whilst loving children and still in love with love, are yet acquainted with the principles of organic evolution—in short, the business of all humane men of science, men of science who have not ceased to be human—whilst aiding, abetting and directing this[29] humanitarian effort by every means in their power, to teach and preach, in season and out of season, that unless meanwhile we make terms with the principle of selection, the choice of worth for parents, and the rejection of the unworthy, not as individuals but as parents, we shall assuredly breed for posterity, whose lives and happiness and moral welfare are in our hands, evils that can adequately neither be named nor numbered. Already, together with much blessed good, this indiscriminate humanitarianism has done much evil. Many of our most instant and, for this generation, insoluble problems are the lamentable fruit of this inherently good thing. The eugenist declares that this fruit is not necessary, that if it were necessary he could see no way out of our morass and would echo the half-wish of Huxley for some kindly comet that should put a term to human history altogether; and, in short, that only by the eugenic means can the humanitarian end be attained.

During the last year or two of the campaign against infant mortality many things have become clear, and none clearer than the fundamental compatibility between this campaign and the principles of eugenics. As these two efforts wall be predominant in the real politics of all the years to come, a few more words must here be devoted to the relation between them.

Granted that the highest of all objects is the making of worthy human beings, it is quite evident that we must attend equally to the two factors which determine all human life—heredity and environment. Eugenics stands for the principle of heredity—the principle that the right children shall be born. The campaign against infant mortality stands for a good environment[4]—so[30] that children, when born, may survive and thrive. Obviously eugenics would be of no use if the children could not survive, and no human infant can survive unless it be born into a moral environment: no motherhood, no man. The two campaigns, then, are strictly complementary. We must endeavour to rid ourselves of the popular notion that the whole result of the campaign against infant mortality can be measured by the number of babies whose death is prevented. The infant mortality is merely an index of a widespread social disease—an index and an extreme symptom. But for every baby killed many are damaged; and to remove the causes of infant mortality is to remove the causes which at present effect the deterioration of millions of human beings. The eugenic campaign, then, without the other would be almost futile.

The time for eugenics.

On our principles the eugenic question can be decently raised only before conception. The unyoked germ-cells of any individual, though alive, are not entitled to claim protection from the principle that life is sacred. It is permitted to allow them to die; but from the moment of conception a new individual has been formed—a new living human individual, even though it only consists of a single cell, product of the union of the parental germ-cells: and we shall not be safe unless we regard this being as sacred and its destruction—except in order to save the life of the mother—as murder, even at this as at any later stage. If the eugenist should raise his voice, and say that this individual should not be born, he must be regarded exactly as if he were to recommend infanticide or the lethal chamber for unfit individuals. In such a case he would have entirely mistaken the whole principle of (negative) eugenics, which is not to elevate the race by the destruction of the unfit, at any stage, ante-natal or post-natal, but to do so by[31] prohibiting the conception of the unfit. Directly the new human individual is formed the eugenic question is too late in that case. It is now the eugenist's duty, because it is every one's duty, to regard the new individual, whether born or yet unborn, as an end in himself or herself. But when the question arises whether that individual is to become a parent, then the eugenic question can and must be raised.

Circumstances might arise in which “case-law” might be applicable. It might be thought better to destroy the syphilitic child rather than allow it to come into the world. But we cannot make these distinctions. The question is simply one of expediency, and the only expedient thing is that there shall be no paltering with the principle that when a new human life is conceived our duty is to preserve it, whether it were conceived only twenty-four hours ago or whether it be a decrepit and helpless centenarian. The instant we let this principle go we are proposing to revert to Nature's method of keeping up the level of a race by murder. It is improper, then, for any one on eugenic grounds to protest against proposals for the arrest of infant mortality. He should have spoken sooner; at this stage he must hold his peace.

The two campaigns complementary.

Yet further: not only is it evident that the campaign against infant mortality (which is, in a word, the campaign for the provision of a proper environment for the young) is obviously necessary for the fulfilment of the eugenic ideal—since what would be the good of choosing the right parents if their children are then to be slain?—but it can be shown conversely that the object of those who are working against infant mortality can never be fully attained except by means of eugenics. Eugenics apart, we can and shall reduce the infant mortality to a mere fraction of what it is at present, by preventing the destruction[32] of that great majority of babies who are born healthy. Even, however, when we have provided an ideal environment for every baby that comes into the world, we shall not have abolished infant mortality, since there will always remain a proportion, say ten per cent., whom not even an ideal environment can save. They should never have been conceived. At the Infantile Mortality Conference held in London in 1908, this was clearly recognised by more than one speaker. The maternalist must have the eugenist to help him if his ideal is to be attained.

Not only is the ideal of the two campaigns one and the same; not only is each necessary for the other, but their methods are the same. It is true that at first this was not evident, since when we began to fight against infant mortality many temporary expedients of no eugenic relevance were adopted, such as the crèche and the infant milk depot. But in the interval between the Conferences of 1906 and 1908 many things became clear: so that, whereas the papers at the first Conference were only accidentally connected, the programme of the second proceeded upon a principle—the principle of the supremacy of motherhood. We see now that the one fundamental method by which infantile mortality may be checked is by the elevation of motherhood. In the words of our President, Mr. John Burns, “you must glorify, dignify, and purify motherhood by every means in your power.” Thus the first two papers read at the first morning's meeting of the Conference—a brief paper by the present writer on “The Human Mother,” and an admirable paper by Miss Alice Ravenhill on “Education for Motherhood”—might equally well have been read at a Eugenics Conference. The opponent of infant mortality and the eugenist appeal to the same principle and avow the same creed: that parenthood is[33] sacred, that it must not be casually undertaken, that it demands the most assiduous preparation of body and intellect and emotions. When, at last, these principles are believed and acted upon, infant mortality will be a thing of the past and national eugenics a thing of the present.

It is essential in this first general study of the subject to state the true nature of the relation between these two campaigns, to which every succeeding year of the present century will find more and more attention devoted. Between them they succeed in beginning at the beginning, and it would be a disaster, indeed, if they were incompatible. On the contrary, they are complementary and mutually indispensable. As the years go on they will engage between them the sympathy and the assistance of all serious people. In the year 1907 infant mortality was first named in a speech by a Prime Minister, and in that same year it was first mentioned in the Christmas-Day sermon at St. Paul's Cathedral; in that year also Parliament passed the Early Notification of Births Act, the first substantial legislative provision which sets our feet on the road towards the goal of a true national estimate of the value of parenthood. We are about to discover that the true politics is domestics, since there is no wealth but life and life begins at home. We are going to have the right kind of life born, and we are going to take care of it when it is born. We shall raise a generation which looks upon the ordinary money-changing politician as an impudent public nuisance, and the brutal, blood-stained Imperialist, shouting about the Empire which his very existence almost suffices to condemn, whilst he battens on the cannibal sale of alcoholic poison to babies and the mothers of future babies, as the very type of those traitors—they of its own household—who have helped to destroy every Empire in history. We propose to rebuild[34] the living foundations of empire. To this end we shall preach a New Imperialism, warning England to beware lest her veins become choked with yellow dirt, and demanding that over all her legislative chambers there be carved the more than golden words, “There is no Wealth but Life.”
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Re: Parenthood and Race Culture, by Caleb Williams Saleeby

Postby admin » Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:07 am


“Truth justifies herself; and as she dwells
With hope, who would not follow where she leads?”

-- Wordsworth.

“La plus haute tâche de l'action morale est le travail pour le bien des générations futures.”

-- Forel.

Before looking more closely than we are commonly apt to do at the meaning of the phrases “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest,” let us exercise the right of man the moral being, as distinguished from man the scientist or observer of Nature, to pass ethical judgments upon the facts which it is the business of all the sciences, except ethics itself, merely to record and interpret in and for themselves. We are beginning at last, half a century after the publication of the Origin of Species in 1859, to realise the power of the law of selection; what is the moral judgment which is to be passed upon it? In a passage from the last page of Herbert Spencer's Autobiography, we find words which may be quoted on both sides: “When we think of the myriads of years of the Earth's past, during which have arisen and passed away low forms of creatures, small and great, which, murdering and being murdered, have gradually evolved,[5] how shall we answer the question—To what end?”

“Murdering and being murdered” suggests the adverse, and “have gradually evolved,” the favourable, ethical judgment.

Many thinkers, finding Nature “so careless of the single life,” finding the murderous struggle for existence the dominant fact of the history of the living world, return an adverse verdict. Amongst them are to be found not merely those who are inclined, by temperament or imperfect education, to rebellion against any conclusions of science, but also, as we saw in the second chapter, such a great biologist as Huxley. In another part of the lecture already cited he says that the Stoics failed to see

“... that cosmic nature is no school of virtue, but the headquarters of the enemy of ethical nature. The logic of facts was necessary to convince them that the cosmos works through the lower nature of man, not for righteousness, but against it.... The practice of that which is ethically best—what we call goodness or virtue—involves a course of conduct which, in all respects, is opposed to that which leads to success in the cosmic struggle for existence.”

In other words, honesty is the worst policy: and to worship natural selection is to deify the devil.

The reader will realise that, if we are to succeed in establishing the claim of natural selection to be the natural model upon which those who desire the progress of society are to base their policy, it is necessary to controvert the doctrine that natural selection is an anti-moral process. But let us hear the other side.

The directly contrary view, then, is taken that though, truly enough, there has been and is much “murdering and being murdered,” yet organisms “have gradually evolved” towards fitness for their surroundings, or the milieu environnant of Lamarck, which we translate environment; and that since fitness or adaptation obviously makes for happiness, and since the moral being man has himself been thus evolved, the process of natural selection, “murdering and being murdered” notwithstanding, is essentially beneficent.

The controversy is embittered and complicated by the fact that ultimate questions of religion and philosophy are involved. Is the Universe moral, as Emerson asserted it was, or is it immoral? A recent opponent of the orthodox creed of a benevolent Deity teaches that “The Lesson of Evolution” is to disprove the idea of benevolence behind or in Nature: “The story of life has been a story of pain and cruelty of the most ghastly description.” The age-long fact of “murdering and being murdered” is the weapon with which he attacks the theist: who, per contra, points to the beneficent result, the exquisite adaptation of all species to the circumstances of their life, and the evolution of love itself.

We may remind ourselves of those great lines of Mr. George Meredith,

“... sure reward
We have whom knowledge crowns;
Who see in mould the rose unfold,
The soul through blood and tears.”

The one camp points to the “blood and tears” and asks for a verdict accordingly. The other points to “the soul” as their product, and asks for a verdict accordingly. But surely we need only to have the case fairly stated, in order to realise that the “blood and tears” are true but only half the truth, “the soul” true but only half the truth. Natural Selection is a colossal paradox—the doing evil that good may come. The evil is undoubtedly done, and the good undoubtedly comes. Is not this the only verdict that is in consonance with all the facts? Is it not less than philosophic to look at the process alone, or to look at the result alone? Is any real end to be served by the incessant cry that we should keep our eyes fixed on the “blood and tears” alone, or on “the soul” alone? Is not the poet right when he says that the sure reward of knowledge is not to[38] see either half of the truth as if it were the whole, but to see unfold “the soul through blood and tears?”

Any attempt to cast up accounts between the evil of the process and the good of the result—especially any attempt based on the assumption that the process has yet achieved its final result—would be not only premature in the eyes of those who can look forwards, but would be irrelevant to our present enquiry. I certainly am with those who repudiate as misleading Mill's description of Nature as a “vast slaughter-house,” and will declare that, apart from self-conscious and supremely sensitive man, it is easy to exaggerate the misery and to minimise the joy of the sub-human world. But our business here is with the process and its results in man himself, in whom alone are possible the heights of ecstasy and the depths of agony: and the thesis—the sublime thesis, we may avouch—of the present discussion is that, whatever the balance between the evil of the process of Natural Selection and the good of its results in the natural state, yet when it is transmuted, as it may be, by the moral intelligence of man, according to the principles of race-culture or eugenics, the good of the result can be attained, more abundantly and incomparably more rapidly, than ever heretofore, whilst the evil of the process can be abolished altogether. True or false, is this not a sublime thesis?

Nature must be cruel to be kind.

If organic fitness or adaptation to the circumstances of life is to be secured, Nature must choose for future parents, out of every new generation, only those whose inborn characters make for this adaptation, and who, in virtue of the fact we call heredity, will tend to transmit this fitness to their offspring. Now it is often convenient to personify Nature, but we must not be misled. The process is really an automatic, not an intelligently directed one. In order that it shall be possible, certain conditions must obtain.[39] The choice or selection depends not merely upon the provision of a variety from which to choose—this being afforded by what is called variation, which is the correlative of heredity, both being obvious facts in any well-filled nursery—but also upon the production of more young creatures than there is or will be room for. (If there be room for all, so that all survive, there can be no selection, and instead of survival of the fittest there will be indiscriminate survival.) The choice is effected amongst this superfluity by an internecine “struggle for existence”: hence the “murdering and being murdered,” hence the “blood and tears.” The motor force of the whole process may be symbolised as the “will to life,” ever seeking to realise itself in more abundance and with more success—with more and more approximation to perfect adaptation. The will to death is no ingredient of the will to life. Nature is, so to say, by no means desirous of the process of “murdering and being murdered”: very much on the contrary. It is life, more life, and fitter life, that is her desire: the “murdering and being murdered,” the “blood and tears” are no part of her aim. But they are inevitable, though lamentable, if her aim is to be realised. She must be cruel to be kind—a little cruel to be very kind.[6]

It is imaginable, though no more, that natural selection, in certain circumstances, might have worked otherwise: the penalty for less as against greater fitness might imaginably have been not death but merely sterility—the denial of future parenthood. This is the ideal of race-culture. Had this been possible, Nature could have effected her end, which is fitter and fuller life, without having incidentally to mete out premature death to such an overwhelming majority of all her creatures. But, actually, this was not possible: and, unless the end was to be sacrificed, Nature was compelled—to keep up the figure—summarily to kill right and left. Permitted to reach maturity, the unfit as well as the fit would multiply; and since, in general, the lower the form of life the greater its fertility, the species could not possibly advance, or even maintain itself at the level already gained.

To drop the figure, the process is a mechanical and automatic one, and its appalling wastefulness and indisputable cruelty are inevitably involved, whilst it so remains.

Intelligence may be kind to be kinder.

But—and here is the great event—this mechanical, automatic, non-intelligent process has latterly given birth to intelligence, the moral intelligence of man: and the question now to be answered is, what modification can intelligence effect in the moral-immoral process that has created it? Must intelligence abrogate that process altogether, as Huxley declares, on the grounds of its murderous methods? Must intelligence simply look on, recognise, but not reconstruct? Must intelligence reverse the process—as indeed it is now doing in many cases—so that in the new environment of which itself is a factor, that which formerly was unfitness shall become fitness, and vice versâ? Or is it conceivable that intelligence can transmute the process, so that, whilst hitherto[41] mechanical, automatic, and therefore inevitably murderous, it shall become intelligent, pressing towards the sublime end, and reforming the murderous means?

Hear Mr. Galton himself (Sociological Papers, 1905, p. 52):—

“Purely passive, or what may be styled mechanical evolution, displays the awe-inspiring spectacle of a vast eddy of organic turmoil ... it is moulded by blind and wasteful processes, namely, by an extravagant production of raw material and the ruthless rejection of all that is superfluous, through the blundering steps of trial and error.... Evolution is in any case a grand phantasmagoria, but it assumes an infinitely more interesting aspect under the knowledge that the intelligent action of the human will is, in some small measure, capable of directing its course. Man has the power of doing this largely so far as the evolution of humanity is concerned; he has already affected the quality and distribution of organic life so widely that the changes on the surface of the earth, merely through his disforestings and agriculture, would be recognisable from a distance as great as that of the moon.”

Hear also Sir E. Ray Lankester, in the Romanes Lecture[7] for 1905: “Man is ... a product of the definite and orderly evolution which is universal, a being resulting from and driven by the one great nexus of mechanism which we call Nature. He stands alone, face to face with that relentless mechanism. It is his destiny to understand and to control it.”

“Nature's insurgent son,” Professor Lankester calls man in this lecture: and yet again there recurs that mighty aphorism of Bacon, which might well be printed on every page of these chapters, “Nature is to be commanded only by obeying her.” The struggle for existence is the terrible fact of Nature, but is only a means to an end. It is our destiny to command the end whilst humanising the means.

The struggle for existence.

The ideal of eugenics or race-culture is to abolish the brutal elements of the struggle for existence whilst gaining its great end. The nature of this struggle is commonly misapprehended and, as I cannot improve upon the words of Professor Lankester, I shall freely use them in the attempt to show what it really is. He says:—

“The world, the earth's surface, is practically full, that is to say, fully occupied. Only one pair of young can grow up to take the place of the pair—male and female—which have launched a dozen, or it may be as many as a hundred thousand, young individuals on the world.... The ‘struggle for existence’ of Darwin is the struggle amongst all the superabundant young of a given species, in a given area, to gain the necessary food, to escape voracious enemies, and gain protection from excesses of heat, cold, moisture, and dryness. One pair in the new generation—only one pair—survive for every parental pair. Animal population does not increase: ‘Increase and multiply’ has never been said by Nature to her lower creatures. Locally, and from time to time, owing to exceptional changes, a species may multiply here and decrease there; but it is important to realise that the ‘struggle for existence’ in Nature—that is to say, among the animals and plants of this earth untouched by man—is a desperate one, however tranquil and peaceful the battlefield may appear to us. The struggle for existence takes place, not as a clever French writer glibly informs his readers, between different species, but between individuals of the same species, brothers and sisters and cousins.... In Nature's struggle for existence, death, immediate obliteration, is the fate of the vanquished, whilst the only reward to the victors—few, very few, but rare and beautiful in the fitness which has carried them to victory—is the permission to reproduce their kind—to carry on by heredity to another generation the specific qualities by which they triumphed.

“It is not generally realised how severe is the pressure and competition in Nature—not between different species, but between the immature population of one and the same species, precisely because they are of the same species and have exactly the same needs.... A distinctive quality in the beauty of natural productions (in which man delights) is due to the unobtrusive yet tremendous slaughter of the unfit which is incessantly going on [43]and the absolute restriction of the privilege of parentage to the happy few who attain to the standard described as ‘the fittest.’”

The survival of the fittest.

Now let us look closely at this most famous of all Spencer's phrases, “the survival of the fittest,” and try to understand its full and exact meaning. There is no phrase in any language so frequently misinterpreted. Even a writer who should know better makes this mistake. Mr. H. G. Wells speaks[8] of “that same lack of a fine appreciation of facts that enabled Herbert Spencer to coin those two most unfortunate terms Evolution and the Survival of the Fittest. The implication is that the best reproduces and survives. Now really it is the better that survives and not the best.” What the correction is supposed to signify I do not know, but the whole passage is nonsense. The implication is neither that the best nor the better survive, but the fittest—or if Mr. Wells prefers, for it matters not one whit—the fitter. This lack of a fine appreciation of words is not, unfortunately, peculiar to Mr. Wells. There is no word in the language that more exactly expresses the fact than the word fittest: as Darwin recognised when he promptly incorporated Spencer's phrase in the second edition of the Origin of Species as the best interpretation of his own phrase “natural selection”![9] Fitness is the capacity to fit: a thing that is fit is a thing that fits. A living creature survives in proportion as it fits its environment—the physical environment in the case of vegetables and the lower animals, the physical, social, intellectual and moral environment in the case of man. The kind of glove that most perfectly fits the hand is the fittest glove [44]and will survive in the struggle for existence between gloves. If, instead of a glove, we take a living creature, say a microbe, the kind of microbe that best fits into the environment provided by, say, human blood, is the fittest and will survive and be the cause of our commonest disease. Thus the tubercle bacillus is at once the fittest microbe and, not the best, but the worst. Among ourselves, the newspaper devoted to yesterday's murder is the fittest and survives, ousting the newspaper which reckons with the crucifixion, or the murder of Socrates or Bruno. In a society of blackguardism, the biggest blackguard is the fittest man and will survive: he is also the worst. In another society the best man is the fittest and survives. The capacity to fit into the environment is the capacity that determines survival: it has no moral connotation whatever. If Herbert Spencer had written the survival of the better, as Mr. Wells desires, he would have written palpable nonsense: as it was he used the fittest word—in this case also the best, because the truest. Referring to the queen-bee, who destroys her own daughters, Darwin says, “undoubtedly this is for the good of the community; maternal love or maternal hatred, though the latter fortunately is most rare, is all the same to the inexorable principle of natural selection.”

If natural selection were the survival of the better, as Mr. Wells would have us believe, there would be nothing for eugenics or race-culture to do: and heaven would long ago have come to earth. If in all ages the better men and women had survived and become parents, earth would long ago have become a demi-paradise indeed, there would have been no arrests, no reversals in the history of human progress, and life would be already what, some day, it will be, when there is achieved the eugenic ideal—which is precisely that the best or better members of our race shall be the selected for the supreme profession of[45] parenthood. In other words, the eugenic ideal, the ideal of race-culture, is to ensure that the fittest shall be the best. Always, everywhere, without a solitary exception, human, animal or vegetable, the fittest have ultimately survived and must survive. Once realise what is the meaning of the word fit—best seen in the verb “to fit”—and we shall see that, as Herbert Spencer pointed out in his overwhelming reply to the late Lord Salisbury's attack on evolution, the idea of the survival of the fittest is a necessity of thought.[10]

But, alas, the idea of the survival of the best or the better is not a necessity of thought! The fittest microbes are the worst from our point of view, because they are most inimical to the highest forms of life; the fittest newspaper may be the worst, because it panders to the worst but most widespread and irresponsible elements in human nature; everything and every one that succeeds, succeeds because it or he fits the conditions: but to succeed is not necessarily to be good. Indeed everything that exists at all, living or lifeless, an atom or an animal, a molecule or a moon, exists because it can exist, because it fits the conditions of existence: there is no moral question involved, but only a mechanical one. The business of eugenics or race-culture is to make an environment, conditions of law and public opinion, such that the fittest shall be the best and the best the fittest therein.

If memory may be trusted, the primary meaning of the word fit has not hitherto been called in by any one to elucidate the meaning of Spencer's phrase: perhaps it may be hoped that we shall at last begin to understand it, if we remember that a thing is fit because it fits. It is best not to be too sanguine, however, and therefore we may attempt to illustrate the case from another aspect.


Every living thing and nearly every character or feature of a living thing that survives, survives because it has value or capacity for life—which may be called, in Professor Lloyd Morgan's phrase, survival-value. The character that gives an organism survival-value, or value for life, the character that enables it to fit its environment, may be of any order. The atom, as I have said elsewhere, is an organism writ small. The kinds of atoms that have survived in the age-long struggle for existence between atoms are those that have survival-value on account of their internal stability: as Empedocles argued ages ago. In the case of living things, which individually die, it is evident that the capacity to reproduce themselves is one of supreme survival-value. If mankind lost this capacity, all its other characters of survival-value, such as intelligence, would obviously avail it nought. Certain valuable members of society may fall short in this cardinal respect, and therefore become extinct. Indeed, other forms of survival-value, as we shall see, seem to be in large measure inimical to fertility: and this is perhaps the chief obstacle to eugenics.[11]

Fertility apart, the character having survival-value may take a thousand forms. In the case of the parasitic microbe it is an evil character, the power to produce toxins or poisons. In the case of the tiger it is the possession of large and powerful bones and claws and muscles and teeth. In the case of the ox it is a complicated and efficient digestive apparatus, enabling it to fit into a food-environment which is too innutritious to sustain the life of creatures not so endowed. Nature seeks only the fittest; not the best but the best-adapted; she asks no moral questions. A Keats, a Spinoza, or a Schubert must go under if his factors of survival-value do not enable[47] him to resist those of the tubercle bacillus, its toxins or poisons. She welcomes the parasitic tapeworm, all hooks and mouth or stomach, because these give it survival-value; and so on.

The business of eugenics or race-culture, then, is to create an environment such that those characters which we desire as moral and intelligent beings shall be endowed with the highest possible survival-value, as against those which ally so many men with the microbe and the tapeworm. There are those who live in society to-day, and reproduce their like, in virtue of the poisons they produce, in virtue of their tenacious hooks and voracious stomachs. If society be organised so that these are factors of more survival-value than the disinterested search for truth, or mother-love, or the power to create great poetry or music—then, according to the inevitable and universal law of the survival of the fittest, our parasites will oust our poets and our poisoners our philosophers. These things have happened and may happen again at any time. It does not matter that the good thing, in virtue of survival-value then superior, has been evolved. Nature never gives a final verdict in favour of good or bad but only and always in favour of the fit. Let the conditions change, so that rapacity fits them better than righteousness, or—as in a completely “collectivist” state—vegetableness rather than virility, and the thing we call high will go under before the thing we call low. Nature recognises neither high nor low but only fitness or value for life in the conditions that actually obtain. These laws enthroned and dethroned the civilisations of the past: they have enthroned and may dethrone us. But this end is not inevitable, since man—and this is his great character—not merely reacts to his environment, as all creatures must, but can create and recreate it. The business of eugenics or race-culture is to create an environment such[48] that the human characters of which the human spirit approves shall in it outweigh those of which we disapprove. Make it fittest to be best and the best will win—not because it is the best, but because it is the fittest: had the worst been the fittest it would have won. In society to-day both forms of the process may be observed. The balance between them determines its destiny. It is the business of eugenics to throw the whole weight of human purpose into the scale of the good.

Evolution not necessarily progress.

No excessive space has been devoted to this distinction between the fittest and the best and to the real meaning of Spencer's famous phrase, if perchance it should avail in any degree to dispel one of the commonest of the many common delusions regarding the nature of organic evolution and its outcome. This delusion is that progress is an inevitable law of nature.[12] The great process of history, as revealed by biology, displays as its supreme fact the occurrence of progress. The principles of evolution teach that this progress—as, for instance, in the evolution of man—is a product of the survival of the fittest; whilst we are also reminded that the survival of the fittest is a necessary truth: but it does not follow that progress is inevitable.

In the first place, natural selection involves selection. Where all the young members of a new generation of any species survive, and parenthood becomes not a privilege but a common and universal function, plainly the process is in abeyance: and, in the second place, since the survival of the fittest is not the survival of the best, but only the survival of the best adapted, the process may at any time take the form of retrogression rather than that of progress. The assumption that, because progress has[49] been effected through natural selection, we need do no more than fold our hands, or unfold them merely to applaud, involves the denial of one of the most familiar facts of natural history—the fact of racial degeneration. The parasitic microbes, the parasitic worms, the barnacles, innumerable living creatures both animal and vegetable, individuals and races of mankind, to-day as in all ages—these prove only too clearly that the process of the survival of the fittest may make as definitely for retrogression in one case as for progress in another.

By all means let us infer from the facts of organic evolution the conclusion that further progress must surely be possible, so much progress having already been achieved as is represented by the difference between inorganic matter or the amœba or microbe on the one hand, and man on the other hand. But let us most earnestly beware of the false and disastrous optimism which should suppose that because the survival of the fittest has often, and indeed most often, meant the survival of the best, it means always that and nothing else. On the contrary, we must learn that, even in natural circumstances, apart from any interference by man, the survival of the fittest often means racial degeneration—a tapeworm kept in spirits should stand upon the study mantelpiece of all who think with Mr. Wells that the survival of the fittest means the survival of the better; and still more notably we must learn that the interference of man in the case of his own species, sometimes of evil intent, sometimes for the highest ends, with the process of natural selection, has repeatedly led, and is now in large part leading, to nothing other than that process of racial degeneration of which the tapeworm and the barnacle should be our perpetual reminders. The case becomes serious enough when man interferes with the process of selection merely with the effect of suspending it, wholly or in part: but it becomes[50] far more serious when his interference constitutes a reversal of the process. This most supremely disastrous of all conceivable consequences of man's intelligence and moral sense is known as reversed selection, and must be carefully studied hereafter. Meanwhile, we must devote some space to a most important consideration—namely, that though Nature is impartial in her choice, and will, for instance, allow the poisons of a microbe such as the tubercle bacillus to destroy the life of a Spinoza or a Keats or a Schubert, yet, on the whole, the survival-value of the mental, spiritual, or psychical in all its forms does persistently tend to outweigh that of the physical or material—of this great truth the evolution and dominance of man himself being the supreme example.

The very fact of progress, which I would define as the emergence and increasing dominance of mind, demonstrates—it being remembered that natural selection has no moral prejudices—that even in a world of claws and toxins the psychical must have possessed sufficient survival-value to survive. It is quite evident that even the lowliest psychical characters, such as sharpness of sensation, discrimination, and memory, must be of value in the struggle for life. More and more we might expect to find, and do actually find in the course of evolution, that creatures live by their wits, rather than by force of bone or muscle. The psychical was certainly given no unfair start—on the contrary. It has had to struggle for its emergence; it has emerged only where there has been struggle and has done so because it could—because of its superior survival-value. It has the right which belongs to might—in the world of life there is no other.[13]

By no means less evident is the inherently superior survival-value of the psychical, if we turn from its aspects of sensation and intelligence to those which are all summed up under the word love. Notwithstanding Nietzsche's mad misconception of the Darwinian theory, no one who has studied the facts of reproduction and its conditions in the world of life can question the incalculable survival-value of love in animal history. The success of those most ancient of all societies, of which the ant-heap and the bee-hive are the types, depends absolutely upon the self-sacrifice of the individual. If we pass upwards from the insects to the lowest vertebrates, we find the survival-value of love proved by the comparison between various species of fish, and its increasing importance may be traced upwards through amphibia, reptiles, birds and mammals in succession, up to man. Natural selection thus actually selects morality. Without love no baby could live for twenty-four hours. Every human being that exists or ever has existed or ever will exist is a product of mother-love or foster-mother-love, and I am well entitled to say, as I have so often said, no morals, no man. The creature in whom organic morality is at its height has become the lord of the earth in virtue of that morality which natural selection has selected, not from any moral bias, but because of its superior survival-value.
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Re: Parenthood and Race Culture, by Caleb Williams Saleeby

Postby admin » Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:09 am


“Many are the mighty things, but none is mightier than man.... He conquers by his devices the tenant of the fields.”


“L'homme n'est qu'un roseau, le plus faible de la Nature; mais c'est un roseau pensant.”


“The soul of all improvement is the improvement of the soul.”


Whereas, in its beginning, mind, or the psychical in all its aspects, was merely a useful property of body, all organic progress may be conceived in terms of a change in this original relation between them. In man, the mental or psychical has become the essential thing, and the body its servant. We are well prepared, then, to accept the proposition that in our own day and for our own species, the plane upon which natural selection works has largely been transferred, and, indeed, if any further progress is to be effected, must be transferred, from the bodily or physical to the mental or psychical. A certain most remarkable fact in the anatomy of man may be cited, as we shall see, in support of this proposition.

We need not venture upon the controversial ground of the relation or ultimate unity of mind and body; nor need we set up any suggestion of antagonism between them. All, however, are absolutely agreed that the psychical in all its forms, whatever it really be, has a consistent relation of the most intimate kind with that part of the body which we call the nervous system.[53] For our present purposes the nature of this relation matters nothing at all, and in place of the phrase, the “selection of mind,” I should be quite content, if the reader so prefers, to speak of the selection of nerve or nervous selection. And if I may for a moment anticipate the conclusion, we may say that, in and for the future, the process of selection for life and parenthood, as it occurs in mankind, must be based, if the highest results are to be obtained, upon the principle that the selection of bodily qualities other than those of the nervous system is of value only in so far as these serve the nervous or psychical qualities. For practical and for theoretical purposes we must accept the dictum of Professor Forel that “the brain is the man”—or, to be more accurate and less epigrammatic, the nervous system is the man. If, then, we counsel or approve of any selection of bone or muscle or digestion, or any other bodily organ or function; if we select for physical health, physical energy, longevity, or immunity from disease—our estimate of these things, one and all, must be wholly determined by the services which they can perform for the nervous system, whether as its instruments, its guarantors of health and persistence, or otherwise. But we are not to regard any of these things as ends in themselves—notwithstanding the fact that this temptation will constantly beset us. So to do is implicitly to deny and renounce the supreme character of man—which is that, in him, mind or nervous system is the master, and the rest of the body, with all its attributes, the servant.

The body still necessary.

Should anyone suppose that the principles here laid down would speedily involve us, if executed, in a host of disasters, let him reconsider that conclusion. Utterly ignorant or jocose persons have hinted, more or less definitely, that if a race of mankind were to be bred for brains, the product would be a most[54] misbegotten creature approaching as near as possible—and that imperfectly enough—to the ideal of disembodied thought, a creature monstrous as to head, impotent and puny as to limbs, and, in effect, the least effective of living creatures. This supposition may be commended as the last word in the way of nonsense. It depends upon an abysmal ignorance of the necessary and permanent relations which subsist between mind and body. It assumes that the healthy mind can be obtained without the healthy body; it is totally unaware that the nervous system cannot work properly unless the blood be well aerated by active lungs and distributed by a healthy heart; that unless certain glands, of which these people have never heard, are acting properly, the nervous system falls into decadence, and the man becomes an imbecile. To breed for brains is most assuredly to breed for body too: only that the end in view will guide us as to what points of body to breed for. For instance, it would prevent us from having any foolish ambitions as to increasing the stature of the race, or the average weight of its muscular apparatus. Stature may be a point to breed for in the race-culture of giraffes and muscle in the race-culture of the hippopotamus: but such bodily characters are of no moment for man, who is above all things a mind. Whilst we shall pay little attention to these, we or our descendants will be abundantly concerned with the preservation and culture of those many bodily characters upon which the health and vigour and sanity and durability of the nervous system depend.

Further, notwithstanding all the nonsense that has been written concerning the man of the future, with bald and swollen head, be-goggled eyes, toothless gums, and wicker-work skeleton, those who know the alphabet of physiology and psychology are warranted in believing[55] that wisely to breed for brains will be to breed for beauty too—not of the skin-deep but of the mind-deep variety—and also for grace and energy and versatility of physique. Those who worship brawn as brawn may be commended to the ox; those who respect brawn as the instrument of brain, and value it not by its horse-power but by its capacity as the agent of purpose, will find nothing to complain of in the kinds of men and women whom a wise eugenics has for its ideal.

The erect attitude.

And now we must briefly consider that “most remarkable fact in the anatomy of man” to which allusion was made in the first paragraph. It is that, as the most philosophic anatomists are now coming to believe, the body of man actually represents the goal of physical evolution. Of course the common opinion is, quite apart from science, that man is the highest of creatures, and that there is no more to be expected. But the doctrine of evolution regards man as the latest, not necessarily the last, term in an age-long process which is by no means completed, and from the evolutionary point of view it is thus a daring and, at first hearing, a preposterous thing to say that, so far as the physical aspects of organic evolution are concerned, the body of man apparently represents the logical and final conclusion of the age-long process which has produced it. Let us attempt very briefly to outline the argument.

We may say that a great step was taken when from the chaos of the invertebrate or backbone-less animals there emerged the first vertebrates. This unquestionably occurred in the sea, the first backbone being evolved in a fish-like creature which, in the course of time, developed two lateral fins. These became modified into two pairs of limbs, the sole function of which was locomotion. In the next group of vertebrates, the amphibia—such[56] as the frog—we see these limbs terminating each in five digits. (The frog, so to say, decided that we should count in tens.) Now some creatures have specialised their limbs at the cost of certain fingers. The horse, for instance, walks on the nails (the hoofs) of its middle fingers and its middle toes. In the main line of ascent, however, none of these precious fingers (and toes)—how precious let the typist or the pianist say—have been sacrificed. There has been, however, in later ages a tendency towards the specialisation of the front limbs. Used for locomotion at times, they are also used for grasping and tearing and holding, as in the case of the tiger, a member of the carnivora, a relatively late and high group of mammals. But the carnivore does not carry its food to its mouth, and the cat carries her kittens in her mouth and not with her paws. In the apes and monkeys, however, this specialisation goes further, and things are actually carried by the hands to the mouth—a very great advance on the tiger, who fixes his food with his “hands,” and then carries his mouth to it. Food to mouth instead of mouth to food is a much later stage in evolution, a fact which may be recalled when we watch the table manners of certain people. Finally, in man the specialisation reaches its natural limit by the complete liberation of the fore-limbs from the purposes of locomotion—though the crawling gait of a child recalls the base degrees by which we did ascend.

This great change depends upon an alteration in the axis of the body. The first fishes, like present fishes, were horizontal animals, but gradually the axis has become altered, in the main line of progress, until the semi-erect apes yield to man the erect, or “man the erected,” as Stevenson called him. The son of horizontal animals, he is himself vertical: the [57]“pronograde” has become “orthograde.” Thus the phrase, “the ascent of man,” may be read in two senses. This capital fact has depended upon a shifting of the centre of gravity of the body, which in adult man lies behind the hip-joints, whereas in his ancestors and in the small baby (still in the four-footed stage) it lies in front of the hip-joints. Thus, whilst other creatures tend naturally to fall forwards, so that they must use their fore-limbs for support and locomotion, the whole body of man above the hip-joints tends naturally to fall backwards, being prevented from doing so by two great ligaments which lie in front of the hip-joints and have a unique development in man. The complete erection of the spine means that the skull, instead of being suspended in front, is now poised upon the top of the spinal column. The field of vision is enormously enlarged, and it is possible to sweep a great extent of horizon at a moment's notice. But the complete discharge of the fore-limbs from the function of locomotion has far vaster consequences, especially as they now assume the function of educating their master, the brain, and enabling him to employ them for higher and higher purposes.

Thus, when we ask ourselves whether there is any further goal for physical evolution, the answer is that none can be seen. So far as physical evolution is concerned the goal has been attained with the erect attitude. Future changes in the anatomy of man will not be positive but negative. There doubtless will be a certain lightening of the ship, the casting overboard of inherited superfluities, but that is all: except that we may hope for certain modifications in the way of increasing the adaptation of the body to the erect attitude, which at present bears very hardly in many ways upon the body of man, and much more so upon the body of woman.

Thus race-culture will certainly not aim at the breeding[58] of physical freaks of any kind, nor yet at such things as stature. It must begin by clearly recognising what are the factors which in man possess supreme survival-value, and it must aim at their reinforcement rather than at the maintenance of those factors which, of dominant value in lower forms of life, have been superseded in him. A few words will suffice to show in what fashion man has already shed vital characters which, superfluous and burdensome for him, have in former times been of the utmost survival-value.

The denudation of man.

As contrasted with the whole mass of his predecessors, man comes into the world denuded of defensive armour, destitute of offensive weapons, possessed alone of the potentialities of the psychical. So far as defence is concerned, he has neither fur nor feathers nor scales, but is the most naked and thinnest skinned of animals. In his Autobiography, Spencer tells us how he and Huxley, sitting on the cliff at St. Andrews and watching some boys bathing, “marvelled over the fact, seeming especially strange when they are no longer disguised by clothes, that human beings should dominate over all other creatures and play the wonderful part they do on the earth.”[14] But man is not only without armour against either living enemies or cold; he is also without weapons of attack. His teeth are practically worthless in this respect, not only on account of their small size but also because his chin, a unique possession, and the shape of his jaws, make them singularly unfit for catching or grasping. For claws he has merely nails, capable only of the feeblest scratching; he can discharge no[59] poisons from his mouth; he cannot envelop himself in darkness in order to hide himself; his speediest and most enduring runner is a breathless laggard. And, lastly, he is at first almost bereft of instinct, has to be burnt in order to dread the fire, and cannot find his own way to the breast. His sole instrument of dominance is his mind in all its attributes.

On the grounds thus indicated, we must be wholly opposed to all proposals for race education and race-culture, and to all social practices, which assume more or less consciously that, for all his boasting, man is after all only an animal: whilst we must applaud the selection and culture of the physical exactly in so far as, but no further than, it makes for health and strength of the psychical—or, if the reader dislikes these expressions, the health and strength of that particular part of the physical which we call the nervous system.

It used to be generally asserted that whilst, in a civilised community, we do not expect to find the biggest or most muscular man King or Prime Minister, yet amongst savage tribes it is the physical, muscle and bone and brutality, that determines leadership. This, however, we now know to be untrue even for the earliest stages of society that anthropologists can recognise. The leader of the savage tribe is not the biggest man but the cleverest. The suggestion is therefore that, even in the earliest stages of human society, the plane of selection has already been largely transferred from brawn to brain or from physique to psyche. It has always been so, we may be well sure. The Drift men of Taubach, living in the inter-glacial period, could kill the full-grown elephant and rhinoceros. Says Professor Ranke: “It is the mind of man that shows itself superior to the most powerful brute force, even where we meet him for the first time.” This remains true whether the brute force be displayed in brutes or in other men.

The great fact of intelligence, as against material apparatus of any kind and even as against rigid instinct, is its limitless applicability. With this one instrument man achieves what without it could be achieved only by a creature who combined in his own person every kind of material apparatus, offensive and defensive, locomotor or what not, which animal life, and vegetable life too, have invented in the past—and not even by such a creature. Man is a poor pedestrian, but his mind makes locomotives which rival or surpass the fish of the sea, the antelope on land, if not yet the bird of the air; his teeth are of poor quality, but his mind supplies him with artificial ones and enables him to cook and otherwise to prepare his food. All the physical methods are self-limited, but the method of mind has no limits; it is even more than cumulative, and multiplies its capacities by geometrical progression.

The cult of muscle.

A word must really be said here, in accordance with all the foregoing argument, against the recent revival of what may be called the Cult of Muscle. This cult of muscle, or belief in physical culture, so called, as the true means of race-culture, undoubtedly requires to have its absurd pretensions censured. We now have many flourishing schools of physical culture which desire to persuade us to a belief in the monstrous anachronism that, even in man, muscle and bone are still pre-eminent. They want as many people as possible to believe that the only thing really worth aiming at is what they understand by physical culture. They pride themselves upon knowing the names and positions of all the muscles in the body, and on being able to provide us with instruments to develop all these muscles: they are there and they ought to be developed, and you are a mere parody of what a man ought to be unless they are developed—none[61] of them must be neglected. Many people have been persuaded of these doctrines, and there is no doubt that the physical culture schools do thus develop a large number of muscles which have no present service for man and would otherwise have been allowed to rest in a decent obscurity.

In order to prove this point, let us instance a few muscles which it is utterly absurd to regard as still possessing any survival-value for man. In the sole of the foot there are four distinct layers of muscles, by means of which it is theoretically possible to turn each individual toe to the left or the right, independently of its neighbours, and to move the various parts of each toe upon themselves, just as in the case of the fingers. All this muscular apparatus is a mere survival, worth nothing at all for the special purposes of the human foot. In point of fact the human foot is now decadent, and probably not more than two or three specimens of feet in a hundred contain the complete normal equipment of muscles, bones and joints—as Sir William Turner showed many years ago. Thus many feet are possessed of muscles designed to act upon joints which have not been developed at all in the feet in question and which, if they were there, would not be of the smallest use. To take another instance, we do not now use our external ears for the purpose of catching sound, though we still possess muscles which, if thrown into action, would move the external ear in various directions. Again, there is a flat, thin stratum of muscle on the front of the neck, corresponding to a muscle which in the dog and the horse is quite important, but which is of no use to us. All would be agreed as to the absurdity of devoting continued conscious effort to the development of these particular muscles; but in point of fact we have a whole host of muscles which are in a similar case, and which are nevertheless[62] objects of the most tender solicitude on the part of the physical culturist. In general, this modern craze, whilst highly profitable to those who foster it, is most misguided and reactionary. Modern knowledge of heredity teaches us that our descendants will not profit muscularly in the slightest degree because of our devotion to these relics: the blacksmith's baby has promise of no bigger biceps than any one else's. Further, the over-doing of muscular culture is responsible for the consumption of a large amount of energy. A muscle is a highly vital and active organ, requiring a large amount of nourishment, which its possessor has to obtain, consume, digest and distribute. The more time and energy spent in sustaining useless muscles, the less is available for immeasurably more important concerns. Man does not live by brawn alone: he does live by brain alone.

Strength versus skill.

So far as true race-culture is concerned, we should regard our muscles merely as servants or instruments of the will. Since we have learnt to employ external forces for our purposes, the mere bulk of a muscle is now a matter of little importance. Of the utmost importance, on the other hand, is the power to co-ordinate and graduate the activity of our muscles, so that they may become highly trained servants. This is a matter, however, not of muscle at all but of nervous education. Its foundation cannot be laid by mechanical things like dumb-bells and exercises, but by games, in which will and purpose and co-ordination are incessantly employed. In other words, the only physical culture worth talking about is nervous culture.

The principles here laid down are daily defied in very large measure in our nurseries, our schools, and our barrack yards. The play of a child, spontaneous and purposeful, is supremely human and characteristic.[63] Although, when considered from the outside, it is simply a means of muscular development, properly considered it is really the means of nervous development. Here we see muscles used as human muscles should alone be used—as instruments of mind. In schools the same principles should be recognised. From the biological and psychological point of view the playing-field is immeasurably superior to the gymnasium. But it is in the barrack yard that the pitiable confusion between the survival-value of mind and muscle respectively in man is most ludicrously and disastrously exemplified.

The glorious truth upon which we appear to act is that man is an animated machine; that the business of the soldier is not to think, not to be an individual, but to be an assemblage of muscles. We see the marks of this idea even in a fine poem: “Their's not to reason why, their's but to do or die”—which, of course, might just as well be said of a stud of horses or motor-cars. Further, our worship of the machine is, consistently enough, an unintelligent worship. We do not even recognise the best conditions for its action. Every year hundreds of young soldiers, originally healthy, have their hearts and lungs and other vital organs permanently injured by the imbecile attitude of chest—that of abnormal expansion—which they are required to adopt during hard work. Army doctors are now protesting against this, but it is in accordance with the fitness of things that the cult of muscle as against intelligence should be unintelligent.

I repeat that whilst in the study of race-culture the physical cannot be ignored, since the psychical is so largely dependent upon it, yet the physical is of worth to us only in so far as it serves the psychical. The race the culture of which we propose to undertake has long ago determined to abandon the physical in itself as an instrument of success. We are not attempting the[64] culture of the cretaceous reptiles, which staked their all upon muscle, and finally, having become as large as houses—and as agile—suffered extinction. We are attempting the culture of a species which, so far as the physical is concerned, has long ago crossed the Rubicon or burnt its boats. Even if Mr. Sandow and the drill-sergeant had their way to the utmost, and, having finally eliminated all traces of mind, succeeded in producing the strongest and most perfect physical machine that could be made from the human body, the species so produced would go down in a generation before the elements or before any living species that may be named. Man has staked his all upon mind. The only physical development that is really worth anything to such a race is that which educates intelligence and morality, on the one hand, and serves for their expression, on the other.

If there is any salient and irresistible tendency in our civilisation to-day, it is the persistent decadence of muscle and of all of which muscle is the type, as an instrument of survival-value. The development of machinery, much deplored by the short-sighted, is in the direct line of progress, because it reduces the importance of muscle and throws all its weight into the scale of mind. Hewers of wood and drawers of water are becoming less and less necessary, not because mechanical force is not needed but because the human intelligence is learning how to supersede the human machine as its source. Every development of machinery makes the man who can merely offer his muscles of less value to the community. Long ago—not so very long ago in some cases—it was quite sufficient for a man to be able to say “I am a good machine:” he was worth his keep and had his chance of becoming a parent; but the man whom society wants now-a-days is not the man who is a good machine but the man who can make one. These elementary truths[65] are hidden, however, from the political quacks who discourse to us upon unemployment.

Herbert Spencer's remark that it is necessary to be a good animal has an element of truth in it which was utterly ignored and needed proclamation at that time; but it is necessary to be a good animal only in so far as that state makes for being a good man—and not an iota further.

The present interest in many most important aspects of physical education, such as may be summed up under the phrase “school hygiene,” must not blind us to the great principle that physical education is a means and not an end. Our present educational system, which permits schooling to end just when it should begin, or rather sooner, and which, even through our Government Departments, permits boys to be used as little more than animated machines, such as telegraph boys—is very largely responsible for the great national evil of unemployment, which we treat with soup-kitchens. We shall revise a large proportion of our educational, political and social methods just so soon as—but not before—we get into our heads the idea that in human society, and pre-eminently in society to-day, the survival-value of mind and consequently the selection of mind must predominate over the survival-value and consequent selection of muscle. Further, whatever factors tend to enhance the survival-value of the physical are ipso facto making for retrogression and a return to the order of the beast. Whatever tend to enhance the survival-value of the psychical—by which I most assuredly include not only intelligence but, for instance, motherhood—are ipso facto forces of progress. The products of progress are not machinery but men, and the well-drilled-machine idea of a man ought to be as obsolete as more than one recent war has proved it disastrous.

There is here to be read no pessimistic suggestion that the psychical is in any permanent danger. No one can think so who knows its strength and the relative impotence of the physical, but it is certainly possible that the course of progress may be greatly delayed in any given nation or race by worship of the physical, or even, as Sparta shows, by worship of what may be called the physical virtues as against the moral and intellectual virtues. But those who are interested in the survival of any particular race or nation have to remember that arrest or retardation of progress therein, relatively to its wiser neighbours, must, before long, result in its utter downfall.

What are we to choose?

The argument that the selection of mind has been dominant throughout human history is reinforced by such knowledge of that history as we possess. There is no record of any race that established itself in virtue of great stature or exceptional muscular strength. Even in cases of the most purely military dominance, it was not force as such, but discipline and method, that determined success; whilst some of the greatest soldiers in history have been physically the smallest. The statement of the anthropologists, already alluded to, regarding the selection of the leading men in primitive tribes, may safely be taken as always true: selection in human society has always been, in the main, selection of that which, for survival-value, is the dominant character of man, mind in its widest sense. We shall see, later, that physical eugenics can by no means be ignored: but our guiding principle must be that the physical is of worth only in so far as it serves the psychical, and is worse than worthless in so far as it does not. It would surely be well, for instance, that we should breed for “energy,” to use[67] Mr. Galton's term: but the energy we desire, and the energy he commends, is nervous, not muscular. The confusion between two radically different things, vitality and muscularity, is, however, almost universal, though it will not stand a moment's examination. In a volume devoted to personal hygiene I have discussed this point, which is of real moment both for the individual and for the theory of eugenics.[15]

It is of interest to note, in passing from this question, that inherent facts of the human constitution would interdict us if we thought it a fit ideal to breed for stature or bulk. Giants are essentially morbid—not favourable but unfavourable variations. They are very frequently childless and almost constantly slow-witted. Their condition is really a mild form of a well-marked and highly characteristic disease known as acromegaly, and distinguished by great enlargement of the face and extremities. The malady depends upon peculiarities in the glandular activities of the body: and the state of these which makes for great stature and bulk makes against intelligence. It is suggested, then, that any considerable increase of human bulk and stature could only be obtained at the cost of intelligence. It would be very dear at the price.

When we come to the subject of selection for parenthood in man through the preferences exhibited by individuals for members of the opposite sex, we shall see that what Darwin called “sexual selection” is certainly a reality in the case of man, whether or not it be so in the case of[68] the lower animals. We shall see that this most potent factor in human evolution acts even now very favourably, and is capable of having its value enormously enhanced. In the selection of husbands, nervous or psychical factors are notably of high survival-value in civilised communities. In the selection of wives the survival-value of the physical is still very high: but it may be hoped and believed that the present tendency is to attach relatively less importance to them and more to the psychical elements of the chosen. This tendency must be furthered to the utmost point beyond which the physical requisites for motherhood would suffer weakening—but no further.

How are we to estimate civic worth?

We have already observed that it is incorrect to use the word “fit” as if it were synonymous with “worthy.” If we insist on using this term, which means only “adapted to conditions,” we must define those conditions. We must say that we desire to further the production of those who are fit for citizenship, and to disfavour the production of those who are unfit for citizenship. We shall thereby dispose at least of those vexatious objectors who tell us that many eminent criminals are individually superior to many eminent judges. The statement is doubtless untrue, but if it were true it would still be irrelevant. A criminal may be individually a remarkable personality, but in so far as he is a criminal he is unfit for citizenship.

It is far better to use consistently Mr. Galton's phrase, “civic worth,” or, for short, “worth.” We may here note Mr. Galton's most recent remarks on what he means by worth:—

“By this I mean the civic worthiness, or the Value to the State of a person, as it would probably be assessed by experts or, say, by such of his fellow-workers as have earned the respect of the community in the midst of which they live. Thus the worth of soldiers would be such as it would be rated by respected soldiers, students by students, business men by business men, artists by artists, and so on. The State is a vastly complex organism, and the hope of obtaining a Proportional Representation of its best parts should be an avowed object of issuing invitations to these gatherings.

“Speaking only for myself, if I had to classify persons according to Worth, I should consider each of them under the three heads of Physique, Ability, and Character, subject to the provision that inferiority in any one of the three should outweigh superiority in the other two. I rank Physique first, because it is not only very valuable in itself and allied to many other good qualities, but has the additional merit of being easily rated. Ability I should place second on similar grounds, and Character third, though in real importance it stands first of all.”[16]

We shall certainly misunderstand this quotation unless we clearly realise that Mr. Galton is speaking of eugenic worth—that is to say, of worth in relation to parenthood and heredity. No one, of course, would assert for a moment that inferiority in the matter of physique outweighed superiority in ability and character, so far as our estimate of an individual as an individual is concerned, nor yet so far as our estimate of him as a citizen is concerned. But from the eugenic standpoint, as a parent of citizens to come, such a person, though he may have himself saved the State, is on the average rightly to be regarded as unworthy on the eugenic scale—it being assumed, of course, that the inferiority of physique in the person in question is either native and therefore transmissible, or else due to forms of disease, or poisoning, such as, according to our knowledge of ante-natal pathology, will probably involve degeneracy on the part of his children. I would add that love is as precious as ability, if not more so, and that we should aim at its increase by making parenthood the most[70] responsible act in life, so that children are born only to those who love children and who will transmit their high measure of the parental instinct and the tender emotion which is its correlate.[17]
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Re: Parenthood and Race Culture, by Caleb Williams Saleeby

Postby admin » Thu Apr 09, 2020 7:17 am


“Increase and multiply”

The ceaseless multiplication of man is one of the facts which distinguish him from all other living species, animal or vegetable.[18]

We must not be misled by such a case as that of the multiplication of rabbits in Australia. Apart from such circumstances as human interference, the earth is already crammed with life of a kind, not the highest life nor the most intense life, but at any rate fully extended life. Man alone multiplies persistently, irresistibly, and has done so from the very first, so that, arising locally, he is now diffused over the whole surface of the earth. To quote from Professor Lankester again: “Man is Nature's rebel. Where Nature says Die! Man says I will live! According to the law previously in universal operation man should have been limited in geographical area, killed by extremes of cold or of heat, subject to starvation if one kind of diet were unobtainable, and should have been unable to increase and multiply, just as are his animal relatives, without losing his specific structure.... But man's wits and his will have enabled him ... to ‘increase and multiply,’ as no other animal, without change of form.”

Not only has man made himself the only animal which constantly increases in numbers, but this increase, as Professor Lankester points out in another part of his lecture,[72] already threatening certain difficulties, will be much more rapid than at present, assuming the birth-rate to remain where it is, when disease is controlled. It is within our power, as Pasteur declared long ago, to abolish all parasitic, infectious or epidemic disease. This must be and will be done—within a century, I have little doubt. The problem of the increase of human population will become more pressing than ever. Professor Lankester suggests that in one or five centuries the difficulty raised by our multiplication “would, if let alone, force itself upon a desperate humanity, brutalised by over-crowding and the struggle for food. A return to Nature's terrible selection of the fittest may, it is conceivable, be in this way in store for us. But it is more probable that humanity will submit to a restriction by the community in respect of the right to multiply.” The lecturer added that we must therefore perfect our knowledge of heredity in man, as to which “there is absolutely no provision in any civilised community, and no conception among the people or their leaders, that it is a matter which concerns anyone but farmers.”

The secret of multiplication.

Professor Lankester, however, omits to point out the astonishing paradox involved in the fact that—as I pointed out at the Royal Institution in 1907—man, the only ceaselessly multiplying animal, has the lowest birth-rate of any living creature.[19] From the purely arithmetical point of view, what does it mean? We may defer at present any deeper interpretation.

It means necessarily and obviously that the effective means of multiplication is not a high birth-rate but a low death-rate. It is a necessary inference from the paradox in question that the infant death-rate and the general death-rate in man are the lowest anywhere to be found. Producing fewer young he alone multiplies.[20] It follows that a smaller proportion of those young must die. Unless it is supposed by bishops and others, then, that a peculiar value attaches to the production of a baby shortly to be buried, the suggestion evidently is the same as that to which every humanitarian and social and patriotic impulse guides us, namely, the reduction of the death-rate and especially the infant mortality. This is the true way in which to insure the more rapid multiplication of man, if that be desired. I believe it is not to be desired, but in any case the reduction of the death-rate and especially of the infant mortality is a worthy and necessary end in itself, and need not inevitably lead to our undue multiplication provided that the birth-rate falls. Hence the eugenists and the Episcopal Bench may join hands so far as the reduction of the death-rate is concerned, and the only persons with whom a practical quarrel remains are those who—in effect—applaud the mother who boasts that she has buried twelve.

The facts of human multiplication.

Human population continues to increase notwithstanding any changes in the birth-rate. This fact remains true, as shown by the latest obtainable figures. It should be one of the dogmas never absent from the foreground of the statesman's mind. Apparently nothing, however, will induce us to take this little forethought. When we build a bridge across the Thames, we ignore[74] it; when we widen a bridge we ignore it likewise. When we make a new street we ignore it; when we build railways and railway stations we ignore it—excusably, perhaps, in this case; when we build hospitals we ignore it: four times out of five there is no room for the addition of a single ward in time to come. We have not yet even learnt, as they are learning in America and Germany, how to acquire the outlying lands of cities for the public possession, so that they may be properly employed as the city grows. The man who builds himself a villa on the outskirts of a city, ignores it, and is staggered by it in ten years. The lover of nature and the country ignores it: “Just look at this,” he says, “this was in the country when first I knew it, look at these horrible rows of villas!” The only possible reply to such a person is simply, “Well, my dear sir, what do you propose? General infanticide?” Most important of all, this fact, that, to take the case of Great Britain, some half million babies are born every year in excess over the number of all who die at all ages, is forgotten by our statesmen—or rather by our politicians. It could, of course, not be forgotten by a statesman. Quite apart from remoter consequences, especially in relation to the wheat supply, this persistent multiplication—which one has actually heard denied on the ground that the birth-rate is falling—is of urgent moment to all of us.

In 1907 the Census Bureau of Washington published some figures on the mortality statistics of nations, a summary of which may be quoted: [75]“In all parts of the civilised world both the birth-rates and the death-rates tend to decrease, and, as a rule, those countries having the lowest death-rates have also the lowest birth-rates. In Europe the lowest birth-rate is that of France, the highest those of Servia and Roumania. The lowest death-rates are in Sweden and Norway; the highest in Russia and Spain. The downward tendency of the birth- and death-rates is best shown by diagrams prepared by the French Government, and it is probable that the downward tendency is actually steeper than the diagrams show, because both births and deaths are more accurately registered than formerly.”

But these statements are by no means necessarily incompatible with steady increase of population, which, of course, increases so long as the birth-rate exceeds the death-rate. I quote a few figures from the Science Year Book of 1908:

In 1890 the total population of the world was estimated at 1,487,900,000.

Aryan (Europe, Persia, India, etc.) / 545,000,000
Mongolian (N. and E. Asia) / 630,000,000
Semitic (N. Africa) / 65,000,000
Negro (C. Africa) / 150,000,000
Malay and Polynesian / 35,000,000
American Indian / 15,000,000

The total figure now must be something like sixteen hundred millions at least.

Density of population, in so far as it means what is commonly called over-crowding, is an important factor in the death-rate, and has a most inimical influence upon race-culture—in virtue of the opportunity afforded to the racial poisons—syphilis, alcohol, etc. Thus Sweden has the lowest death-rate in Europe, and has much the least density of population—only 29 per square mile as compared with our own 341. If now the fact of the increase of population, with all that it means and will mean, may be taken as dealt with and accepted, there will be no danger of leading the reader to false conclusions if we insist upon the fall of the birth-rate, which in Great Britain in 1908 was the lowest on record.[76] The death-rate, however, persistently falls also. The reader who thinks that the birth-rate alone determines the increase of population, and those who believe in polygamy on the ground that it necessarily makes for the rapid multiplication and therefore strength of a nation, should compare the death-rate of London, which is under 16, with that of Bombay, which is just under 79. It is asserted that in many large Indian cities the infant mortality approaches one-half of all the children born. What it amounts to in such cities as Canton and Pekin we can only surmise with horror.

Notwithstanding the persistent fall in the birth-rate of London the rate of increase in population remains stupendous, according to the calculations of Mr. Cottrell, which may be quoted from the Science Year Book of 1908. He estimates the population of Greater London in 1910 at about 7½ millions, and in 1920 at well over 8½ millions—the falling birth-rate notwithstanding.

The increase of population of five great countries may be briefly noted here. In all, with the possible exception of Russia, the birth-rate is rapidly falling. In the course of the nineteenth century the population of

Russia (in Europe) rose from 38 to 105,000,000
France " " 26 " 38,000,000
Germany " " 23 " 55,000,000
Great Britain " " 15 " 40,000,000
United States " " 5 " 75,000,000

These are merely approximate figures, but accurate enough to be of value. It need hardly be pointed out that immigration accounts for the disproportionate increase of population in the United States. But it may be added that the imminent arrest or control of this immigration will assuredly have the most serious and pressing[77] consequences for Europe. Plainly it must hasten the coming of national eugenics.

The case of Germany.

Especial interest and importance attach for many reasons to the case of Germany in this connection, and, as might be expected, many precise facts are available. Here I shall avail myself freely of the paper contributed by Dr. Sombart to the International for December, 1907. In the first seven years of this century the population of Germany increased almost ten per cent. The figure in 1870 was 40.8 millions and in 1907 61 millions. The population is increasing yearly at the rate of about 800,000, as compared with about half a million in the case of Great Britain. In France in 1907 the population actually declined by a few thousands. In regard to the growth of population Germany is now at the head of all civilised countries, excepting those cases in which immigration has augmented the number of inhabitants. Does this expansion of population depend upon an increasing birth-rate or a diminishing death-rate? The fact, in strict parallel with the biological generalisation already made, is that “Germany's population is increasing so swiftly because the death-rate has been falling steadily. At the beginning of the period, 1870–1880, there were nearly 30 deaths per thousand inhabitants, while in recent years only about 20 deaths in every thousand inhabitants have taken place each year.... Notwithstanding, the birth-rate during the last ten years, during which the principal growth of population occurs, has not in anywise increased in Germany. Indeed, by careful investigation it becomes apparent that it has declined almost unintermittently for a generation.” The average birth-rate for the ten years 1871–1880 was 40.7, for 1891–1900 the average was 37.4. Since then it has fallen further, and in 1905 the figure was 34, the lowest on record. As Dr. Sombart observes, we shall only appreciate these[78] figures if we regard them as an expression of a tendency which will continue, and that this is so he proves. He observes that “the more highly advanced the country, the lower its birth-rate.... From this we may already draw the conclusion that a diminution of births is a concomitant of our progress in civilisation. Secondly, this is confirmed by the fact that the falling-off in the birth-rate must be attributed largely to the big cities.... As a third statistical argument that the birth-rate declines with the advance of civilisation, the fact may be cited that in the quarters of the well-to-do still fewer children are born than in those of the poor.” (In London, as we have seen, the birth-rate is highest in Stepney and lowest in Hampstead).

Dr. Sombart finally points out what must never be forgotten—that an increase in population, dependent upon a fall in the death-rate, whilst the birth-rate also falls, is necessarily self-limited. The decrease of the death-rate is limited by definite natural age-limits, and “this indicates that the increase of population in Germany is gradually entering upon a period of less activity, and will perhaps quite cease within a conceivable period unless other causes operate in the opposite direction.”

The yellow peril.

The facts regarding the yellow races are extremely difficult to ascertain. It appears, however, that the birth-rate in Japan has almost doubled in 27 years—rising from 17.1 to 31. (I doubt the accuracy of the earlier figure.) In China the population is largely controlled by infanticide, but there is little doubt that the main contention of Pearson was correct, and that the yellow races are multiplying much more rapidly than the white races. It does not necessarily follow, however, as we shall see, that this means yellow ascendancy, any more than a similar comparison would mean microbic ascendancy. It is not quantity but[79] quality of life that gives survival-value and dominance. This disparity between white and yellow rates of increase is by far the most pregnant of contemporary phenomena. In the present introductory volume it can merely be named. But since we shall not survive in virtue of quantity, I, for one, am well assured that the choice for Western civilisation will ere long be the final one between eugenics or extinction.

The wheat problem.

Meanwhile, we must consider briefly the question evidently raised by this fact of human multiplication. As an expert has lately said, the rise in the price of wheat “is not the transitory result of market manipulation and ‘corners,’ forcing prices up to an unnatural level, but of perfectly natural and irresistible causes which, for all that, are the more anxious and disquieting. The truth is we are for the first time beginning to feel individually the effect of a great natural process—the race which started long ago between the population of the world and the growth of the world's wheat supply. In this race the growth of the world's population has been outstripping the growth of its wheat-food production, and the consequence has been a total growing shortage, in spite of the opening of vast new areas in Canada and the Argentina.” In this connection one of the best papers in Great Britain—the Westminster Gazette—cheerfully remarked in a leading article that, after all, we need not be alarmed as to the difficulty in increasing the supply of wheat, since population would, in any case, adapt itself to the food-supply. This is true, indeed: there will never be more human beings than there is food to feed. But the question is, how will the population be kept down? In a word, is it to be by the awful and bloody processes of Nature or by the conscious, provident and humane methods of man?

We are reminded of the argument advanced by Sir William Crookes in his Presidential Address to the British Association in 1898. The distinguished author has himself written an invaluable book on the subject which has been carefully revised and supplemented, and must be read by the serious student.[21] We may note from the point of view of the student of dietetics that wheat is and remains, on physiological examination, what the proverb suggests. Bread is the staff of life, wheat being, in proportion to its price, by far the best and cheapest of all foods.

The argument of Sir William Crookes was advanced exactly a century after the publication of the great essay of Malthus which we must soon consider. In the whole intervening century no one, capable of being heard, had considered the question. The relation of Crookes to the earlier thinker remains, though it is curious that Malthus was not mentioned by his successor. Writing now, a decade later, I wish merely to point out that Sir William's argument is found valid. He observed that “the actual and potential wheat-producing capacity of the United States is—and will be, for years to come—the dominant factor in the world's bread-supply.” Now the recent expert from whom we have already quoted declares that “former great wheat exporting countries like the United States, as well as Russia and India, while their production remains as high, are sending far less abroad under the pressure of their own increasing needs. In this connection it may be recorded that a great American corn expert declares that in twenty-five years the United States will want all, or very nearly all, of her wheat production for herself, and will have very little indeed to send us.” In 1898 Sir William said,[81] “A permanently higher price for wheat is, I fear, a calamity that ere long must be faced.” As everyone knows, this prophecy is now being fulfilled. Sir William declared that “the augmentation of the world's eating population in a geometrical ratio” is a proved fact. The phrase means, of course, simply that the yearly increase increases. On the other hand, the wheat supply is subject to a yearly increase which does not itself increase—in other words the increase is in an arithmetical ratio. This, a century later, precisely illustrates the principle of Malthus. Sir William also declared that exports of wheat from the United States are only of present interest, and that “within a generation the ever-increasing population of the United States will consume all the wheat grown within its borders, and will be driven to import, and, like ourselves, will scramble for the lion's share of the wheat crop of the world.”

Next to the United States Russia is the greatest wheat exporter, but the Russian peasant population increases more rapidly than any other in Europe, even though it is inadequately fed, and this source of supply must fail ere very long. As Sir William points out, the Caucasian civilisation is indeed founded upon bread. “Other races vastly superior to us in numbers, but differing widely in material and intellectual progress, are eaters of Indian corn, rice, millet and other grains; but none of these grains have the food-value, concentrated health-sustaining power of wheat.” Sir William's argument was, and is, that we must learn how to fix the nitrogen of the atmosphere—that is to say, how to combine it in forms on which the plant can feed. [82]“The fixation of nitrogen is a question of the not far distant future. Unless we can class it among certainties to come, the great Caucasian race will cease to be foremost in the world, and will be squeezed out of existence by races to whom wheat and bread is not the staff of life.”

Sir William Crookes was himself the pioneer in the discovery of the electric method of fixing the atmospheric nitrogen, and now, a decade after the delivery of his address, this method is in successful commercial employment in Scandinavia. There is also a method of sowing the bacteria which are capable of fixing nitrogen and this, according to some, has been already proved practicable. Further, the Mendelians offer us the possibility of new varieties of wheat having more grains to the stalk than we obtain at present. By these methods the output of the land devoted to wheat may be doubled or trebled, but it is evident that even then there will be an impassable limit. We have to face, indeed, the evident but unconsidered fact that there must be a maximum possible human population for this finite earth, whether a bread-eating population or any other. I do not propose to speculate regarding this evident truth. If human life is worth living and is the highest life we know, we may desire to obtain that maximum population, but it must be obtained, and its limits observed, by the humane and decent processes which man is capable of putting into practice, and not by the check of starvation.

It is of great interest to the British reader to look at the question briefly from his point of view. At the present time our wheat production is no more than one-eighth of our needs, and in twenty-five years, when the supply from the United States will probably have ceased, we shall require 40,000,000 quarters of wheat per annum. Yet already, in time of peace, careful observers such as the Rt. Hon. Charles Booth and Mr. Seebohm Rowntree declare that thirty per cent. of our own population are living on the verge of starvation. Our available supply of food of all kinds at any moment would last us about three[83] weeks. How many of us realise what a war would mean for this country? Yet in the face of facts such as these, the majority of those who attempt to guide public opinion are urging us to increase our birth-rate and still pin their faith to quantity rather than quality of population as our great need.

The theory of Malthus.

The reader who is interested in general biology will realise, of course, that we are here back to the great argument of Malthus, advanced in 1798 in his Essay on the Principle of Population. Malthus was a great and sincere thinker, a high and true moralist, and the people who have a vague notion that his name has some connection with immoral principles of any kind have no acquaintance with the subject. It is of the deepest interest for the history of thought to know that it was the work of Malthus which suggested, independently, both to Charles Darwin and to Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, that principle of natural selection, the survival of the fittest and their choice for parenthood, the discovery of which constituted one of the great epochs in the history of human knowledge, and which is the cardinal principle underlying the whole modern conception of eugenics or race-culture.

Malthus found in all life the constant tendency to increase beyond the nourishment available. In a given area, not even the utmost imaginable improvement in developing the resources of the soil can or could keep pace with the unchecked increase of population.[22] This applies alike to Great Britain and to the whole world. At bottom, then, the check to population—and this is true of microbes or men—is want of food, notwithstanding that this is never the immediate and obvious check except in cases of actual famine. There must therefore be a “struggle for existence,” and as Darwin and Wallace[84] saw, it follows as a necessary truth that, to use Spencer's term, the fittest must survive. The question is whether we are to accept starvation as, at bottom, the factor controlling population (which, in any case, must be and is controlled) or whether we can substitute something better—as for instance, the moral self-control which Malthus recommended. The single precept of this much maligned thinker was “Do not marry till you have a fair prospect of supporting a family”—a fairly decent and respectable doctrine. In the words of Mr. Kirkup, “the greatest and highest moral result of his principle is that it clearly and emphatically teaches the responsibility of parentage, and it declares the sin of those who bring human beings into the world for whose physical, intellectual, and moral well-being no satisfactory provision is made.” Who, alas, will declare that even after a century and a decade this great lesson is yet learnt?

It is to be added, first, that though improvement in agriculture is to be commended on every conceivable ground, and though it may in some degree relieve and postpone the difficulty, it is infinitely incapable of abolishing it. Nothing but necessity can check the prolificness of life. To this doctrine, however, there is, as we shall shortly see, a great excepting principle, unrecognised by Malthus, discovered by Herbert Spencer, and of vast and universal importance. Secondly, it is to be noted that emigration—a real remedy for over-population—is so only for a time. It cannot possibly abolish the problem—short of the development of interplanetary communication, if then; and the observer of contemporary politics must be well aware, as Germany, for instance, is well aware already, that its effectiveness as a practical remedy for over-population in some European countries is already being arrested by the invaded states.

The references already made to the work of Sir William Crookes will suffice to show that the teaching of Malthus is of practical importance to us to-day, and not least to the population of Great Britain. I am tempted to quote the actual case in this connection of a young student of biology who applied for Malthus's book at one of the greatest official libraries in this country. He was looked at as a shameless young rascal, and the librarian curtly said, “We have no books of that kind here.” I commend this exquisite instance of misapplied and perfectly ignorant British prudery to Mr. Bernard Shaw: not even he could imagine anything to surpass it. No more impeccably decent book than this of “Parson Malthus” has ever been written, and I have no adequate comment for the fact that its nature and contents were not merely wholly unknown but grossly misimagined by this responsible official, and that it could not be obtained in the great library of science in question.

We pass in the following chapter to the momentous discovery of Herbert Spencer that the great truth seen by Malthus was not a whole but a half-truth, and that there is a compensating principle, which is at once a source of inspiration and of difficulty to the eugenist. It is in general the principle that as life ascends it becomes less prolific, and its consequences are infinitely more vast than the phrase at first suggests. Had this principle been discovered by a Continental thinker or by a member of a British University instead of by a man who never passed an examination, it would not now need the discussion which we shall have to give it.
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Re: Parenthood and Race Culture, by Caleb Williams Saleeby

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The laws of multiplication.

Implicit or explicit approval of a falling birth-rate involves opposition to the opinion of the man in the street, the general opinion of the medical profession,[23] the bench of bishops and the social prophet and publicist in general. Nevertheless a fall in the birth-rate is a factor in organic progress, and, in general, the level of any species is in inverse proportion to its birth-rate, from bacteria to the most civilised classes of men in the most civilised countries of to-day. But in truth the uninformed opinion, totally contrary to the whole history of life and to the most obvious comparative facts of the birth-rate amongst and within present day human societies, was utterly disposed of forty years ago in the closing chapter of the greatest contribution yet made to philosophic biology—Herbert Spencer's Principles of Biology. The last chapter of that masterpiece is entitled “The Laws of Multiplication.” Unfortunately it has not been read by one in ten thousand of those who think themselves entitled to hold, and even to express, opinions about the birth-rate. Spencer's discovery is the complementary half-truth to the discovery of Malthus, and just as the law of Malthus is pessimistic, so the law of Spencer is optimistic. In a word, Malthus assumed—indeed, formally declared—that there was no natural factor of an internal kind tending to limit the rate of[87] vital fertility. Spencer discovered that there is such a factor, which can and does limit and has been limiting vegetable, animal, and human fertility since the dawn of life.

All reproduction involves an expenditure of energy in some degree on the part of the parent. Now the energy available by any individual is finite. If he expends it all upon reproduction, he himself, or she herself, must cease to exist. This happens in all the lowest forms of life, which multiply by fission or simple splitting. The young bacteria are their sub-divided parent. At the other extreme is the case of the individual who retains the whole of his energy for his own development and life, and has no offspring at all. Such consummate bachelor philosophers as Kant and Spencer may be quoted, and the list of childless men of genius might be extended quite indefinitely. This is not to declare this last state to be the ideal, but merely to point out the logical extremes.

Spencer's principle is that there is an “Antagonism,” or, as we may rather say, an inverse ratio, between “Individuation” and “Genesis”—between the proportion of energy expended upon the individual and the proportion expended upon the continuance of the race. Thus “Individuation,” meaning all those processes which maintain and expand the life of the individual, and “Genesis,” meaning all those processes which involve the formation of new individuals—are necessarily antagonistic. Every higher degree of individual evolution is followed by a lower degree of race multiplication, and vice versâ. Increase in bulk (cf. the elephant), complexity or activity involves diminution in fertility, and vice versâ. This is an obvious à priori principle.

Should the reader declare that there must be something the matter with an asserted principle of progress which[88] leads in theory or in practice to the production of a childless generation, and therefore the end of all progress, and that this principle suggests that the most completely developed man and woman cannot be parents—then I would join in the chorus of fathers and mothers generally, who would say that, in human parenthood, if not, indeed, in sub-human parenthood, the antagonism is reconciled in a higher unity; that the best and most complete development of the individual is effected only through parenthood, in due degree—as Spencer, himself childless, formally declared.

It is impossible here to show how complete is the evidence for Spencer's law, both from the side of logical necessity and from the side of observation. In order to indicate the overwhelming character of the evidence, one would have to transcribe the whole of his long chapter, and to add to it all our modern knowledge of human birth-rates. This cannot be done, but even without it we may venture to say that people who regard a falling birth-rate as in itself, and obviously, a sign of racial degeneration or immorality, or approaching weakness or failure of any kind, can have made no substantial additions to their knowledge of the subject since they themselves formed items in the birth-rate.

Spencer goes on to show, with profound insight, that, in general, greater individuality, or, to put it in other words, the more highly evolved organism, “though less fertile absolutely, is the more fertile relatively.” The supreme instance of this truth is, of course, the case of man, in whom individuation has reached its unprecedented height, who is absolutely the least fertile of creatures,[24] and yet who is relatively the most fertile—unique in his actual and persistent multiplication.

Their action in man.

Within the human species the laws of multiplication hold. It is still worth while, after half a century, to quote Spencer's remark as to infertility in women due to mental labour carried to excess—“most of the flat-chested girls who survive their high-pressure education are incompetent to bear a well-developed infant and to supply it with the natural food for the natural period.” On all hands people with opened eyes are rightly urging this truth upon us to-day. In the United States the so-called higher education of girls has been proved in effect to sterilise them—and these the flower of the nation's girlhood, and therefore, rightly, the very elect for motherhood. Here is simply an instance of the Spencerian principle in its most unfortunate misdirection by man.

Before leaving Spencer, we must refer briefly to the predictions, based upon the foregoing principles, with which he concluded his great work. The further evolution of man, he declares, must take mainly the direction of a higher intellectual and emotional development. Hitherto, and even to-day, pressure of population is the original cause of human competition, application, discipline, expenditure of energy—and one may add, the possibility of continued selection. Excess of fertility, then, says Spencer, is the cause of man's evolution, but “man's further evolution itself necessitates a decline in his fertility.” The future progress of civilisation will be accompanied by increased development of individuality, emotional and intellectual. As Spencer observes, this does not necessarily mean a mentally laborious life, for as mental activity “gradually becomes organic, it will become spontaneous and pleasurable.”

Finally, the necessary antagonism between individuality and parenthood ensures the ultimate attainment of the highest form of the maintenance of the race—[90]“... a form in which the amount of life shall be the greatest possible, and the births and deaths the fewest possible.”

If now we look back at the law of Malthus we shall realise the enormous significance of the law of Spencer. In this respect we have the advantage over Malthus that we are aware, as he was not, of the great fact of organic evolution. We discover, then, that an actual consequence of the pressure of population, leading as it does to the struggle for existence, and, in the main, the survival of higher types, is that the rate of fertility falls. This conception of the fall in the birth-rate—which, it is maintained, has been a great factor in all organic progress—was entirely absent from the mind of Malthus. In a word, the unlimited multiplication which Malthus observed leads to its own correction. It provides abundance of material for natural selection to work upon, and then the survival-value of individuation, wherever it appears, asserts itself, with the consequence that the rate of multiplication declines. This is actually to be observed to-day. Malthus desired that we should postpone marriage to later ages so as to lower the birth-rate. The increasing necessity and demand for individuation is effecting that which Malthus desired. The average age at marriage has been rising in our own country in both sexes during the last thirty years: and the evidence shows that as civilisation advances the age of marriage becomes later and later. Professor Metchnikoff has discussed some aspects of this question in his book The Nature of Man.

The intensive culture of life.

For every student of progress, and not least for the eugenist, Spencer's law is a warrant of hope and a promise of better things to come. It teaches that in the development of higher—that is to say, more specialised—that is to say, more individualised—organic[91] types, Nature is working already, and has been working for ages, towards the elimination of the brutal elements in the struggle for existence. This is, of course, what every worker for progress, and every eugenist in especial, desires. Spencer's discovery teaches also that individuality compensates a species for loss of high fertility. The survival-value of individuation is greater than the survival-value of rapid multiplication. The very fact of progress is the replacement of lower by higher life, the supersession of the quantitative by the qualitative criterion of survival-value, the increasing dominance of mind over matter, the substitution of the intensive for the merely extensive cultivation of life. These various phrases express, I believe, various aspects of one and the same great fact, and I only wish it were possible to include here an exhaustive study of the conception which may be expressed by the phrase “the intensity of life”—as distinguished from its mere extension. There is, I believe, a real and significant analogy between the introduction of what is called intensive cultivation in agriculture, and the eugenic principle which seeks to replace the extensive by the intensive cultivation of human life.

The eugenic difficulty.

But it will be already evident to the reader that, though Spencer's law offers hope and warrant to the eugenist, it also poses him with a permanent and ineradicable difficulty which is inherent in natural necessity—viz., the difficulty that, in consequence of the operation of this law, those very classes or members of a society whose parenthood he most desires must be, in general, the least fertile. Throughout the animal world the lesser fertility of higher species is no real handicap to them, as we know; but where the conditions of selection are so profoundly modified as in human society, the case is very different. Furthermore, amongst mankind individuality has often grown, and does grow, to such an[92] extent that parenthood disappears altogether. Indeed, Spencer's law expresses itself—and the eugenist must qualify his hopes by the fact—in the practical infertility of many[25] of the most highly individualised and even unique personalities, that is to say, in the ranks of what we call genius. To this subject we must return.

A notable section in Mr. Galton's great work, Inquiries into Human Faculty, states very plainly the difficulty for the eugenist involved in Spencer's law, under its more statistical aspect. What are the relative effects of early and late marriages? Mr. Galton proves, mathematically, that in a very few generations a group of persons who marry late will be simply bred down and more than supplanted by those who marry early. Now no one will dispute that the less individualised, the lower types, the more nearly animal, do in general marry earlier, and are more fertile. Here, then, is an anti-eugenic tendency in human society, depending really upon Spencer's law and requiring us to recognise and counteract it by throwing all the weight we can upon the side of progress, which means increasing to our utmost the survival-value and the effective fertility of the higher types.

Much more space might be spent upon this gravest of problems for the eugenist—the fact that the very persons from whom he desires to recruit the future on account of their greater individuality are also on that very account the persons who, by natural necessity, tend to be less fertile. The difficulty shows itself in the male sex, but it shows itself still more conspicuously in the female sex, where the proportion of the individual energy devoted to the race, as compared with that devoted to individuation, is necessarily far higher, and must so remain if the race is to persist. Primarily, the body of woman is the temple[93] of life to come—and therefore, as we shall some day teach our girls, the holy of holies. Without going further into this matter now, it may be suggested that a cardinal principle of practical importance is involved. It is that the individual development of women, their higher education, their self-expression in works of art and thought and practice, cannot safely be carried to the point at which motherhood is compromised; else the race in question will necessarily disappear and be replaced by any race whatsoever, the women of which continue to be mothers. There are women of the worker bee type whom this argument annoys intensely. No one wants them to be mothers.

The proposition that all progress in the psychical world depends upon individuality, just as all organic progress, and indeed, all organic evolution, depends upon the physical individuality which biologists call variation, may suggest to the reader the importance which must attach to our study of talent and genius, and the possibility of aiding their production. Meanwhile, we must look a little further at the general question of individuality or quality versus quantity from the international point of view.

Quantity versus quality.

The reader will understand how it is that anyone writing from the biological standpoint must view with something like contempt the common assumption that, in international competition, mere statistics of population furnish, as such, final and adequate data for prophecy. Let us remind ourselves once more that, according to these crude criteria, which were really superseded untold æons ago, the dominance of the world must belong in the near future not to Russia, with its balance of more than two million births per annum, rather than to France, with its approximately stationary population, but to the bacteria, the growth[94] of population amongst which, if it be not controlled by the less fertile creature we call man, may be of simply inexpressible magnitude. But the world is not, and will not be, ruled by bacteria, their fertility notwithstanding. Indeed, the disease-producing bacteria have already had sentence of death pronounced upon them by the higher intelligence of man, and that sentence will be carried out within a century. Similarly within the bounds of humanity we must recognise the limitations of mere statistics. The population of France, some forty years ago, consisted of so many millions of units. The figure does not matter,—let us put it at 30,000,001. Now that 1, so to say, was called Louis Pasteur, and from the point of view of statistics or those who think they can predict history by counting heads, he was only an almost infinitesimal fraction, about one-thirty-millionth part, of the French people. Yet, as Huxley pointed out long ago, his mind sufficed to pay the entire indemnity exacted from France after the Franco-Prussian war. This single unit was worth more than a host of soldiers of the merely mechanical kind. Or take Athens, with its population of 30,000 people, mostly slaves, and consider its influence upon the world. Or, indeed, go where you please, whether to the history of nations or the history of religion or science or art, and ask whether the counting of heads, the ordinary census taking which indeed amounts merely to weighing nations by the ton, is an adequate one. In estimating national capital by the methods of vital statistics alone, we are in a far worse case than he would be who estimated monetary wealth by numbers of coins, without considering whether they were pounds, shillings or pence, whether they were genuine or counterfeit. The illustration is ludicrously inadequate, as every illustration must be, simply because the human case is unique. In the units of a population,[95] which many prophets treat as if they were all of equal value, there are not merely differences to which the difference between a sovereign and a penny offers no parallel; there is not merely an enormous quantity of bogus or counterfeit units, but there is a very large number of units in every population which, so far from adding to the value of the rest, subtract from it, are parasitic upon it. Students of money will find no parallel to this. Yet in the face of facts which ought to be common intellectual property amongst school-children, we find many writers, bishops, socialist economists, moralists, schoolboy Imperialists, and the rest, pointing merely to the quantitative question of population as if it were everything, though they must surely know that, if international competition were the highest state of mankind, and if the work of Kelvin and Lister had been sold at its real worth by us to the rest of the world, those two men alone, in their services to life, and in the power which they give us over life, would be equal in value to, shall we say, the lower four-fifths of the whole birth-rate during the last generation. All human history teaches, as all animal history teaches in lesser degree, that quality and individuality is everything, that quantity is nothing or far worse than nothing except in so far as it is quantity of quality: yet though this lesson is written upon every page of the past, the greater number of our publicists and our public advisers still implicitly deny it. As Mr. Crackanthorpe put it, speaking of the figures for 1907, it is not the defective numbers, but the numbers of defectives, that should give us concern.

Mass versus mind.

John Ruskin called Darwin “a dim comet, wagging its tail of phosphorescent nothing against the steadfast stars”—a description as delightful as it is foolish. Yet the conception of eugenics, which is indeed a necessary deduction from Darwin's great[96] discovery, finds abundant warrant and support in Ruskin's own wonderful writings, and here I quote, from Time and Tide, some sentences which still require to be read and remembered by the majority of our present advisers. He says:—

“And the question of numbers is wholly immaterial, compared with that of character; or rather, its own materialness depends on the prior determination of character. Make your nation consist of knaves, and, as Emerson said long ago, it is but the case of any other vermin—the more, the worse. Or, to put the matter in narrower limits, it is a matter of no final concern to any parent whether he shall have two children, or four; but matter of quite final concern whether those he has shall, or shall not, deserve to be hanged.... You have to consider first, by what methods of land distribution you can maintain the greatest number of healthy persons; and secondly whether, if, by any other mode of distribution and relative ethical laws, you can raise their character, while you diminish their numbers, such sacrifices should be made, and to what extent?... The French and British public may and will, with many other publics, be at last brought ... to see farther that a nation's real strength and happiness do not depend upon properties and territories, nor on machinery for their defence, but on their getting such territory as they have, well filled with none but respectable persons, which is a way of infinitely enlarging one's territory, feasible to every potentate.”

Surely it is not necessary, one feels, and yet one knows it is necessary, again to lay down propositions of such shining truth, and one wonders whether they shine so brightly as to blind those who should see them: or what can conceivably be the explanation of such arguments as those of the Bishop of London and others who, in the face of our monstrous infant and child mortality, the awful pressure of population and over-crowding in our great cities, where every year a larger and larger proportion of the population lives, and is born and dies—plead for a higher birth-rate on moral grounds, of all amazing grounds conceivable; and those also who, from[97] the military or so-called Imperial point of view, regarding men primarily as “food for powder,” in Shakespeare's phrase, read and quote statistics of population in order to promulgate the same advice?

To the moralist we need make no reply except simply to name the infant mortality which is at last coming to be recognised everywhere as, perhaps, the most abominable of all our scandals. To the militarist I would quote the case of our ally, Japan. He recalls the war between China and Japan, and its issue, and has some idea, perhaps, of the population ratio of those two Empires. How was it that Providence was on the side of the small battalions? He recalls also the Russo-Japanese war and its issue; and the population ratio of the two Empires in that case. How many other instances does not military history afford of the truth that in the human species mind is the master of matter? One would suppose that a critical historical enquiry had been made, proving that the results of all past wars could have been predicted by the simple method of estimating the total aggregate weight of the combatant nations in flesh and blood and bone! More than this, if the development of the art of warfare means anything, if there has been any such development since the days of fists and stones, it means, as all human development in every sphere means, the increasing dominance of mind over matter, character and initiative over machinery, dead or alive. Meanwhile, the estimate of warriors in terms of the scale and the foot rule are still accepted just as if they had not been rendered obsolete for ever with the passing of the “dragons of the prime.”

As regards the psychical worth of the soldier, is it not recognised, though too commonly forgotten, when we applaud the value of the veteran or of seasoned troops? Physically the veteran is, on the average, inferior to[98] the younger man. It is the psychical that gives him his worth, just as it was patriotism and sobriety that enabled the few sober Japanese to beat the many drunken Russians. It is safe to prophesy that, in all future war, the numerical criterion, which in effect weighs armies by the ton, as if war were merely a tug-of-war, will become less and less important—if, indeed, it is not already negligible; whilst the purely psychical qualities, from generalship and strategy and hygiene to initiative, judgment, accuracy, memory, and down finally to mere brutal red-blooded courage, will determine the issue.

Platitude, of course, but if true, why ignored? Why cannot our military advisers learn, in this respect, from the Navy? Owing to the very nature of the sea as compared with the land, in relation to the merely physical capacities of man, a Navy must be more intelligent than an Army, just as it requires more intelligence to make a boat than to walk; and it is in the Navy that the mechanical factor has been most completely transferred, so that the human machinery is at a discount and the steel machinery made by the human mind is much, whilst the value of the psychical in all its aspects dominates and controls the whole. Great Britain, as the foremost naval power in the world, should long ago have left to its ultimate fate amongst other nations the idea that quantity—so many tons of soldiers and so many tons of sailors—affords an estimate of the warring force of a nation: even if the whole history of this little isle and the possession of our present Empire did not teach, as the history of Rome taught and as the history of Athens teaches in another sphere, that not mass but mind makes a nation great.
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Re: Parenthood and Race Culture, by Caleb Williams Saleeby

Postby admin » Thu Apr 09, 2020 7:22 am


“We cannot but feel that the application of biological results is only beginning, and beginning with a tardiness which is a reproach to human foresight. There can be no doubt that it would pay the British nation to put aside a million a year for research on eugenics, or the improvement of the human breed.”

-- Prof. J. A. Thomson, Heredity, 1908.

It is evident that the facts and principles of heredity lie at the very basis of eugenics or race-culture in any of its forms, practical or impractical, scientific or unscientific. Our continual assumption throughout is that like tends to beget like, and it is on this ground that we desire to make parenthood the privilege of those whom we regard as inherently the best. If there were no such thing as heredity there could be no possibility of race-culture—nor indeed should we be here to discuss it. If a man's children were equally likely to be acorns or babies or tadpoles, the living world would not be the living world we know.

The potency of heredity is obscured to uncritical examination by the fact that that which is inheritable is that which was innate, inherent or germinal in the parent, as we shall shortly see. We, however, are apt to compare the child with the parent, who has perhaps been much modified by circumstances, so that the resemblance between father and child may seem to be slight. Yet if we could bring back before us that father, as he was, say at the age of two, and compare him with his two-year-old child, we should perhaps be[100] astonished by the resemblance. But we see the acquirements or acquired characters of the parent; make no distinction between them and his inherent characters; fail to discover these acquired characters in his child;—and discount the importance of heredity. Then, again, the eugenist may be utterly confounded if he estimates the parental value of an individual without reference to this limitation of heredity. Here is a man of culture and accomplishment; his children, then, will presumably tend to be cultured and accomplished. But every kind of advantage that forethought and love and money can afford may have been showered upon that man. So far as native endowment was concerned, he may have indeed been far below mediocrity. Now it is native endowment alone that he can transmit, and our eugenic estimate of him is therefore erroneous and will lead to disappointment. It is impossible to lay too great stress upon the truth that in all eugenic plans or demands or practices we are assuming the fact of inheritance, and that therefore it is our first business to distinguish absolutely between that which tends to be inherited and that which, on the other hand, is never inherited.

Yet again, this distinction is of almost incalculable social moment in so far as it affects the process of selection actually occurring in society. This, perhaps, has not been adequately recognised. One may repeat a former statement of this point, which is cardinal for the eugenist:—

“Even supposing that we were all identical at birth, yet, since we would come to differ from one another in virtue of different acquirements, due to our adaptation to differing environments, natural selection would ultimately have different individuals from which to select. Those who had made the most advantageous acquirements, such as industry or great knowledge, would tend to survive and prosper, whilst those who had made disadvantageous acquirements, such as laziness or the loss of sight or limbs, would be pushed to the wall. That process, of course, occurs in society at the present day to a greater or less degree, but it has only immediate and temporary or contemporary consequences. For if we recall the assertion that acquirements cannot be transmitted, we shall see that the selection of those who have made advantageous acquirements cannot benefit the next generation, since these acquirements die with their makers. The only process of natural selection which can result in progress is one which consists in the selection of favourable ... inborn and therefore transmissible characters, such as good digestion, the musical sense, exceptional intelligence, the sympathetic temperament or what not (in so far as these are inborn)—the reason being that such are transmissible and that the children of persons so selected will tend to inherit their parents' good fortune. There is a fictitious way in which we speak of a child inheriting his father's acquirements, as when his father has acquired a fortune; but the child does much better to inherit his father's good sense or good health, which were characters inborn in him. Acquirements, then, are all very well for the day, but it is inborn characters that alone count for the morrow.”[26]

It may be added that the time is coming when there will be a radical “transvaluation,” as Nietzsche would say, of the two fashions in which a father “leaves” something to his children. When a question is asked on this head now-a-days, we mean, foolishly enough, to enquire how much money the father left his child, and we say of a man that he has “inherited” a fortune. We can see plainly enough, as Theognis did two thousand five hundred years ago, that such an “inheritance” may and often does work in an anti-eugenic fashion. The gilded fool is swallowed by the maiden whose native sense would have rejected such a pill without its coat, and so the most pitiable degenerate becomes the father of his like. This point will be alluded to later. The present argument is that when we ask what a father[102] “left” his children, we should really desire to learn what he gave them when he was still alive and begot them. These vital, or mortal, characters which they inherit—shall we say good health or insanity—are of incalculably more moment to them as individuals than any monetary fortune, and of incalculably more moment for the future. Yet again is it true that there is no wealth but life, and the best “fortune” or wealth that you can leave your children is sane and vigorous life.

The case of slum childhood.

We have already seen that even in the slums the children make a fresh start in a wonderful way, that their stunted growth, their proneness to disease, are mainly due to their environment, which it is therefore our duty to improve. This is in general true, and depends evidently upon the fact that the acquired deterioration of the parents—e.g., dental decay—is not transmitted to their children—poisonings apart—so that the children make a fresh start where their parents did. It is necessary to point this out again and again, as the present writer for one has long been weary of doing, because it indicates our immediate duty in this respect, and forbids us to shirk it with any too-comprehensive phrases about “national degeneration.” Now who could have predicted that this plain and simple truth would be regarded by some people as constituting a denial—on strict scientific grounds, and as the very latest scientific pronouncement—of the principle of heredity? “The bubble of heredity has been pricked,” says Mr. Bernard Shaw.

But popular muddleheadedness does not affect the palpable and universal truth that the inherent characters of parents do tend to be inherited by their children; nor yet that these inherent characters differ profoundly in different individuals; nor yet the eugenic argument, which is that for purposes of parenthood, which means[103] for the entire future, some of these should be taken and others left.

“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?... Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” These classical words surely have a special value for the eugenist. As we have said, it is his particular necessity, alike in theory and in practice, to “know” the real nature, the innate, inherent, germinal characters, of the individuals who may or may not be parents: and these, as we have seen, are frequently obscured by the action of the environment—as, for instance, in the population of the slums on the one hand, or the man of factitious culture on the other hand. But “by their fruits ye shall know them.” In general, the children inherit what was innate in their parents, and in many an instance the surest way in which you could ascertain what the parent really was by nature—what, as we say, Nature “meant” him to be—is by a study of his children. Only, of course, we must take the children very young indeed, before environment has made its mark upon them also, for better or for worse. Thus, when we find the new-born baby of some pallid, half-starved, stunted mother in the slums, to be healthy and vigorous and beautiful,[27] by this fruit we shall know what the mother might and should have been. A healthy baby goes far to demonstrate that the stock is healthy. This is one of the cardinal truths which emerge from the study of infant mortality, and it may be perhaps permitted to warn some students of race-culture of the errors into which they are bound to fall if they do not reckon with what the student of infant mortality is constantly asserting: viz., that the babies of the slums, seen early, before ignorance and[104] neglect have had their way with them, are physically vigorous and promising in certainly not less than ninety per cent. of cases. This primarily demonstrates, of course, the murderous nature of our infant mortality; but it also demonstrates to the eugenist that these classes are perhaps not so unworthy as he may fancy. By their new-born babies ye shall know them. It is under the influence of such considerations that the present writer, for one, is somewhat chary of predictions and proposals based upon the relative fertility of different classes of the community or of the masses as compared with the classes. Directly the eugenist begins to talk in terms of social classes (as Mr. Galton has never done), he is skating on thin ice, and if it lets him through, he will find the remains of many of his rash predecessors beneath it.[28]

In fine, then, if we observe the distinction between the innate and the acquired, which is the distinction between the transmissible and the intransmissible, this is so far from denying the fact of heredity at all as in reality to emphasise its potency whilst undoubtedly diminishing its range.

A criticism of terms.

In order that this distinction may be clear and never forgotten, it is well to look to our vocabulary—words being good servants but bad masters. We should certainly have this vocabulary purged altogether of a certain word in common and uncritical employment, especially by the medical profession. This is the thoroughly misleading, indeterminate[105] and useless word “congenital.” Not on one occasion in a hundred of its use does any examined meaning attach to it. The word is commonly used as the equivalent of innate, inherent, inborn or germinal. Now nothing is truly innate or inborn save what was present in the germ. But with childish confusion of thought, we persist in attaching quite undeserved importance to the birth of those animals which are brought forth “alive”—as if a bird's egg were not alive. Hence we speak of any character present at birth as congenital, and then we assume that congenital is synonymous with inherent or germinal. But it is an irrelevant detail that a young mammal happens to leave its mother at the ninth week or month. During the whole period that it spends within its mother, it is to be regarded as an individual organism with its own environment. If that environment so affects it as to strangle a limb, the result is an acquirement, though it may be present at birth. An acquirement is an acquirement, whether it be acquired five minutes or months before, or five minutes or months after, the change of environment which we call birth. Thus a character may be congenital—that is, present at birth—but not inherent or germinal, not inborn at the real birth, which was the union of the maternal and paternal germ-cells at conception. Such congenital characters are really acquirements, and—poisonings apart—are not transmissible. In common discussion this distinction is wholly ignored; and two distinct things, fundamentally different in origin and in potency, are lumped together under the blessed word “congenital.”

This word is equally foolish and useless in an opposite direction. It constantly leads those who use it to suppose that the inherent characters of an individual are conterminous with his congenital characters or his characters at birth, and that thus any characters which he[106] displays at a later age are acquired. All this comes of the absurdly delusive significance attached to the change of environment called birth, and may doubtless be traced historically to the remotest superstitions which imagined that a baby is not alive until it is born and breathes, or that the soul or breath or pneuma or “vital principle” is breathed into it at the moment of birth. We know, however, that a man may display for the first time at the age of twenty or sixty a character which was as truly inherent in his constitution as his nose or his spinal column—perhaps a beard, perhaps a mental character, perhaps a disease, or what not. Now this was not congenital though it was inherent. But as long as the stupid[29] word “congenital” is used as it is, we shall fail to realise that inherent characters may display themselves in an individual at any time after birth as at any time before birth. Thus, to sum up, a character may be congenital or rather pre-congenital, yet not inherent but acquired: a character may be post-congenital, yet not acquired but inherent. Now the all-important question as regards heredity is not at what date in the history of an individual a character appears—as, for instance, before birth or after birth; but, whether that character is inherent and therefore transmissible and therefore a possible architect of the future of mankind; or merely an acquirement, with which—the racial poisons apart—heredity has no concern.

It is suggested, then, that the word congenital be expunged from the vocabulary of science, or that, if it be retained, some meaning or other—any will do—be attached to it. If the word is to be retained, and if it be agreed to attach a meaning to it, probably “at birth” would be the most convenient. If this were agreed upon,[107] then the phrase “congenital blindness,” now in common use, could be retained, as it would then accurately indicate the nature of the blindness in question, which is due almost invariably, if not invariably, to an infection acquired at the moment of birth.

Yet further. When we say that a man's intelligence or length of limb or whatever it be is hereditary, we mean in ordinary speech that this character can be traced in one or more of his ancestors; and that is, of course, an accurate use of the term. But Shakespeare, for instance, had unremarkable ancestors, so that no one would say that his genius was hereditary; are we, then, to say that it was acquired? Every one would protest at once that a poet is born and not made—than which there is certainly no truer popular saying. What, then, is to be said of it if it was neither hereditary nor acquired? The truth is that language is again at fault. Shakespeare's genius was of inherent or germinal origin—the poet is born and not made: or, more accurately, the poet is conceived and not made, either before birth or after it. Therefore, though Shakespeare did not inherit his mother's genius or his father's genius, neither of them having such a gift to transmit, yet his genius was certainly potential either in the maternal or paternal germ-cell which united to form him, or in both; or at the least arose in consequence of that compromise or rearrangement or settlement, shall we say, which is in effect always agreed upon by the two germ-cells in bi-parental reproduction. Now the two germ-cells are the hereditary material. They were given to Shakespeare by his parents; nay more, they made him. His genius, then, was hereditary in an absolutely correct sense of the word, yet not in the sense of ordinary speech, nor even in the sense in which it is employed by Mr. Galton in his book on Hereditary Genius. This confusion of terms is responsible for much[108] confusion of thought. It must the more urgently be cleared up because of the discoveries in heredity initiated by the Abbot Mendel, forty years ago, and now included in the department of the science of heredity which is called Mendelism. We learn from this that highly definite characters may appear in offspring though there was no sign of them in either parent. These, then, are not hereditary in the sense of ordinary speech. Yet, in a more accurate sense of the word they can be proved to be hereditary—nay more, the manner and proportion of their transmission can be predicted in the most exact mathematical terms. These characters were not present in the parent's body; they did not lie open to view in the parent; they were not patent in the parent. They were latent, however, they lay hid, in the parent, or rather in the germ-plasm of which that parent was the host. In many such cases, if we go back a generation further we find that the character in question was patent in a grand-parent. A mother's son may suffer from hæmophilia or the bleeding disease, yet she is not a “bleeder,” nor is the boy's father; but her father was a bleeder, and the disease is, of course, hereditary in her son, though neither of his parents displayed a trace of it.

Thus an individual may inherit or may have inherent in the germ-cells from which he was formed characters which were not present in either parent. They were, however, potentially present in the germ-cells of which those parents were the trustees.

But, the reader will say, do we find in the case of every “sport” or “transilient variation,” such as Shakespeare, that the new character was, after all, present in some one or other of his ancestors though absent in his immediate parents? The answer is negative, certainly. But genius, to take this case, is a combination of qualities. And the Mendelians are now able to call into existence organisms[109] of new kinds by combination of qualities derived from one parent, or rather from one parental line, with other qualities, formerly apparently incompatible with them derived from the other parental line. Thus Professor Biffen of Cambridge has called into existence a new kind of wheat such as never existed before—a wheat combining the quality technically called “strength,” hitherto lacking in all kinds of wheat capable of being profitably grown in Great Britain, with the power of yielding a large crop and other good qualities found in home-grown wheat. He has also produced a wheat which, together with other desirable qualities, is immune from the disease known as “rust,” this immunity having never been found before associated with the other good qualities in question. These advances will not long be limited to the vegetable world merely. Perhaps it requires no very great imagination, after all, to suppose that even something like that combination of qualities which we call genius may some day be produced at will in mankind.

Such a new wheat, then,—I will not say such a Shakespeare—owes its unique and unprecedented properties to heredity, and yet there was never anything like it before. Its “genius” is not “hereditary.”

The words innate and inborn are harmless and may be employed, though the apparent emphasis on birth is rather unfortunate. We mean, however, by innate or inborn qualities, qualities which were potential in the germ. The genius of Shakespeare was innate or inborn. It was present potentially at his real birth, the union of the parental cells. It preceded his “birth” in the ordinary sense of the word: Shakespeare, when only in embryo, was a Shakespeare in embryo.

Better still is the word inherent, which, of course, literally means “sticking in.” By anything inherent we mean that which was there from the first as part and[110] parcel of, as indeed essential to, the entity to which we refer. Now inherent characters are always inherited in the accurate sense that they inhere in the germ-cells, which are the inherited material. As these germ-cells make us or as we are made out of them, it follows, of course, that all our potentialities whatsoever, our ultimate fates in every particular, partly depend upon inheritance.[30]

Nature and nurture are antithetic terms of Shakespearean origin which are in frequent use and much favoured by Mr. Galton. That which comes by nature is the inborn, inherent, or germinal; and that is due to nurture which is the result of the converse of the germinal with the environment—a man's accent, for instance.

Perhaps, in some ways, germinal is the most useful word of all, though inherent is so convenient and familiar, as well as being accurate etymologically, that it has been employed throughout this book. Not only is the word germinal strictly accurate, but also it suggests the idea of the germ-plasm, and has the particular virtue of avoiding all reference to the change of environment to which young mammals are subjected and which is called birth.

There remains the terminological difficulty that, as I have tried to show, the individual may display characters which were potential in the germ, inherent and necessarily inherited, though they did not appear in the parent nor yet in any ancestor. We have to face the paradox, then, that in natural inheritance a parent can transmit what he has not got, though this does not apply to the unnatural inheritance of property in human society. Now what word is there which shall indicate the origin or at[111] least the time and conditions of origin, of such characters as these? They are germinal, yet they are—in some cases—not wholly present in either of the germ-cells which united to form the new individual in question. They are present, however, in the new single cell from which this individual, like every living organism, takes its origin.[31] The terms “congerminal” or “conceptional” might be employed.

“Acquired character,” even, is a bad term. It replaced “functionally-produced modification,” which was long employed by Spencer. The blacksmith's biceps answers to this phrase. It is this and other such modifications that are non-transmissible. Alcoholic degeneration is not a “functionally-produced modification,” but it is an “acquired character,” as is lead poisoning. These do produce results in offspring—naturally enough. If the older phrase were still the one employed, we should see that the Weismannian argument as to non-transmission does not apply to such “acquired characters.”

The word “reversion,” also, not to say “atavism,” may well be dropped. The attempted justification of its older meaning by Professor Thomson has led to severe and conclusive Mendelian criticism. The “reversion” of fancy pigeons to the blue ancestor is simply due to the coming together of Mendelian units long separated. The “reversion” of the feeble-minded is not reversion but the result of poisoning—diversion, or perversion, if you like. Primitive man was not feeble-minded, nor is the ape. Science has no further use for the word as it is at present employed.

Maternal impressions.

We are now, at last, after our attempt to clear up the vocabulary of heredity, in[112] a position to consider certain doctrines and popular beliefs which bear very directly upon race-culture. Realising, for instance, that “congenital” means nothing; realising as perhaps some of us have not so clearly realised before, when exactly it is that the new human being comes into existence, we shall be prepared to understand how definite and indisputable are the denials which science offers to certain popular ideas.

Thus, for instance, in the interests of race-culture, or, to be more particular, in the interests of her unborn baby, the expectant mother may faithfully follow the example of Lucy in The Ordeal of Richard Feverel.[32] Does this have its intended effect? The answer is an unqualified negative. Consider the case. The baby is at this time already a baby, though rather small and uncanny, floating in a fluid of its own manufacture. Its sole connection with its mother is by means of its umbilical cord—that is to say, blood vessels, arterial and venous. There is no nervous connection whatever: absolutely nothing but the blood-stream, carried along a system of tubes. This blood is the child's blood, which it sends forth from itself along the umbilical cord to a special organ, the placenta or after-birth, half made by itself and half made by the mother, in which the child's blood travels in thin vessels so close to the mother's blood that their contents can be interchanged. Yet the two streams never actually mix. The child's blood, having disposed of its carbonic acid and waste-products to the mother's blood, and having received therefrom oxygen and food, returns so laden to the child. Pray how is the mother's reading of history to make the child a historian? If, after birth, a small operation were[113] performed, so that some of the mother's blood should run along an artificial tube into one of her baby's veins, the effective connection between the two organisms would in a sense be actually closer than it was before birth, when, as has been said, the two streams are always kept apart. Should we expect such an operation to serve the child for education? If the mother then acquired a scar should we expect it to give the child a similar scar?

We see now why the learning of geometry on the part of the mother before its birth will not set her baby upon that royal road to geometry of which Euclid rightly denied the existence—any more than after its birth. Such a thing does not happen, and there is no conceivable means by which it could happen—unless we are to call in telepathy. All maternal hopes and efforts of this kind are utterly misguided: as misguided as if the father entertained similar hopes. Let the devoted mother acquaint herself not with what historians are pleased to call history, but with the history of the developing human mind and body, so that she may be a fit educator of her child when it is born.

Let her also realise that her blood is everything to her child. It is food and air and organ of excretion. If she introduces alcohol into her blood in any considerable quantity she is feeding her child on poisoned food. Surely the reader must see the distinction between a case like this and the supposed transmission of historical knowledge or even historical aptitude from mother to baby by the diligent perusal of histories. Yet though the distinction is so palpable and evident, there are extremists who believe and even print their beliefs that the denial of the one (supposed) possibility, which is palpably inconceivable, logically carries with it a denial of the other possibility, which is indeed a palpable necessity. Or, to state the criticism in another way, there are those who,[114] if we protest that the introduction of poisons into the mother's organism must surely involve risk to the child who is nourished by her blood, will retort, “Oh, well, I suppose you believe that if you learn a number of languages before your next child is born, he or she will be a linguist!”[33]

Hereditary genius.

Mr. Galton's world-famous work on Hereditary Genius was published in 1869 and reprinted with a most valuable additional chapter in 1892. It has long been out of print, however, and for the definite purpose of attempting to arouse the reader's interest in it so that he may somehow or other obtain a copy to read, I may here go over one or two points, chosen to that end. The argument, of course, is that ability is hereditary.[34]

This, in the judgment of most unbiassed people, Mr. Galton conclusively proved: and we do not at all realise to-day how repugnant and revolutionary this doctrine appeared to popular opinion some forty years ago. Mr. Galton has, however, followed up his citation of facts on more than one occasion since,[35] and those who now deny his view belong to that very large majority of any population which finds itself able to pronounce confidently upon the value of an author's work without [115]the labour, found necessary by less fortunate people, of reading it.

The following quotation states the question of national eugenics in final form:—

“As an example of what could be sought with advantage, let us suppose that we take a number, sufficient for statistical purposes, of persons occupying different social classes, those who are the least efficient in physical, intellectual, and moral grounds forming our lowest class, and those who are the most efficient forming our highest class. The question to be solved relates to the hereditary permanence of the several classes. What proportion of each class is descended from parents who belong to the same class, and what proportion is descended from parents who belong to each of the other classes? Do those persons who have honourably succeeded in life, and who are presumably, on the whole, the most valuable portion of our human stock, contribute on the aggregate their fair share of posterity to the next generation? If not, do they contribute more or less than their fair share, and in what degree? In other words, is the evolution of man in each particular country favourably or injuriously affected by its special form of civilisation?

“Enough is already known to make it certain that the productiveness of both the extreme classes, the best and the worst, falls short of the average of the nation as a whole. Therefore, the most prolific class necessarily lies between the two extremes, but at what intermediate point does it lie? Taken altogether, on any reasonable principle, are the natural gifts of the most prolific class, bodily, intellectual, and moral, above or below the line of national mediocrity? If above that line, then the existing conditions are favourable to the improvement of the race. If they are below that line, they must work towards its degradation.”

The main body of the book deals with enquiries in special cases—the judges of England between 1660 and 1865, statesmen, commanders, authors, men of science, poets, musicians, painters, divines, senior classics of Cambridge, oarsmen and wrestlers.

The concluding chapters should be printed in gold. Only one or two notes can here be made. Mr. Galton[116] believes that the dark ages were largely due to the celibacy enjoined by religious orders on their votaries:—

“Whenever a man or woman was possessed of a gentle nature that fitted him or her to deeds of charity, to meditation, to literature or to art, the social condition of the time was such that they had no refuge elsewhere than in the bosom of the Church. But the Church chose to preach and exact celibacy, and the consequence was that these gentle natures had no continuance, and thus, by a policy so singularly unwise and suicidal that I am hardly able to speak of it without impatience, the Church brutalised the breed of our forefathers. She acted precisely as if she had aimed at selecting the rudest portion of the community to be, alone, parents of future generations. She practised the arts which breeders would use, who aimed at creating ferocious, currish, and stupid natures. No wonder that club law prevailed for centuries over Europe; the wonder rather is that enough good remained in the veins of Europeans to enable their race to rise to its present very moderate level of natural morality.”

Yet further:—

“The policy of the religious world in Europe was exerted in another direction, with hardly less cruel effect on the nature of future generations, by means of persecutions which brought thousands of the foremost thinkers and men of political aptitudes to the scaffold, or imprisoned them during a large part of their manhood, or drove them as emigrants into other lands. In every one of these cases the check upon their leaving issue was very considerable. Hence the Church, having first captured all the gentle natures and condemned them to celibacy, made another sweep of her huge nets, this time fishing in stirring waters, to catch those who were the most fearless, truth-seeking, and intelligent, in their modes of thought, and therefore the most suitable parents of a high civilisation, and put a strong check, if not a direct stop, to their progeny. Those she reserved on these occasions, to breed the generations of the future, were the servile, the indifferent, and, again, the stupid. Thus, as she—to repeat my expression—brutalised human nature by her system of celibacy applied to the gentle, she demoralised it by her system of persecution of the intelligent, the sincere, and the free. It is enough to make the blood boil to think of the blind folly that has caused[117] the foremost nations of struggling humanity to be the heirs of such hateful ancestry, and that has so bred our instincts as to keep them in an unnecessarily long-continued antagonism with the essential requirements of a steadily advancing civilisation.”

For this final quotation no apology is needed:—

“The best form of civilisation in respect to the improvement of the race, would be one in which society was not costly; where incomes were chiefly derived from professional sources, and not much through inheritance; where every lad had a chance of showing his abilities, and, if highly gifted, was enabled to achieve a first-class education and entrance into professional life, by the liberal help of the exhibitions and scholarships which he had gained in his early youth; where marriage was held in as high honour as in ancient Jewish times; where the pride of race was encouraged (of course I do not refer to the nonsensical sentiment of the present day, that goes under that name); where the weak could find a welcome and a refuge in celibate monasteries or sisterhoods, and lastly, where the better sort of emigrants and refugees from other lands were invited and welcomed, and their descendants naturalised.”

The study of psychical inheritance.

This early work of Mr. Galton has been followed by much more on the same lines. Contemporary psychology, however, is just beginning to indicate the lines on which new enquiry is needed. The naïve assertions of the actuary as to the inheritance of, say, “conscientiousness” are not useful to the psychologist, who has some idea of the structure and history of that most complex social product we call conscience. The psychologists must analyse out for us those elementary units of the mind upon which experience and the social state, education and suggestion act, to make human nature as we know it. The reader may be directed to Dr. McDougall's recent work on Social Psychology—written at the present writer's suggestion—for an outline analysis of what is really inherent, and therefore alone transmissible, in the human mind—certain instincts and[118] impulses, together with native varieties in capacity of memory, and so on. Recently the Mendelians have entered this field, and they have the advantage of realising the importance of dealing with real primary units. Their law seems to apply to the musical sense in man and to the brooding instinct in the hen.[36] The line of study here suggested is earnestly commended to the psychologists for their indispensable help.

Eugenics and parties.

Let us once again consider the fashion in which men and women are classified to the eugenic eye. We have already realised that the most essential division of fact is that between those who will and those who will not be parents. The most essential division of ideal is of those who are worthy and those who are not worthy to be parents. It is the object of eugenics to make the real and the ideal divisions coincide. And let us here say with all possible force that before such classifications as these all others are trivial and nearly all others impudent. The eugenist has nothing to do with the low game called party politics: terms like socialism and so forth mean very little for him. He may or may not be a socialist, but if he be, at least he does not subscribe to what, so far as I can judge, is the first article in the creed of socialism—that all evil is of economic origin; he knows that there is much evil of germinal origin. As for conservatism and liberalism, he might have some use for these terms if the creed of conservatism were that there is no wealth but life, which must be conserved; and the creed of liberalism that life has not yet reached its zenith, and there must be liberty for all progressive variations of body and mind and thought and practice. As it is, all these things are somewhat nauseating. If and when there is a thinking party, and that party will have the eugenist, he will doubtless join it. Meanwhile he appeals to that[119] great and growing section of the community which knows party-politics for the humbug and sham that it is, and the House of Commons as a lethal chamber for souls.

Similarly, the eugenic classification of mankind cuts right across the ordinary social classification. The parasite and the parent of parasites must be branded, whether he be at the top or the bottom of the social scale. The quality of the germ-plasm which men and women carry is the supremely important thing. Its architecture is the architect of all empires. Year by year we shall more surely be able to infer the nature and the worth of the germ-plasm in particular cases, though its host may have been veneered or, on the other hand, repressed; and year by year the basal facts of heredity will furnish ever surer criteria for the theory and practice of a New Imperialism which knows, for instance, what militarism did for Rome and Napoleon for France, and which will some day sweep all the money changers out of the Temple of Life.[37]
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Re: Parenthood and Race Culture, by Caleb Williams Saleeby

Postby admin » Thu Apr 09, 2020 7:27 am


“Education is but the giving or withholding of opportunity.”


It is true that education can seem to accomplish miracles; that in a single generation the results of an ideal education would be amazing. It is true, also, that in certain epochs of history, when wise counsels have prevailed, great results have been attained. It is true that at present scarcely a man or woman amongst us, if any, has reached the full stature which would have been attained under an ideal system of education. It is true, finally, that no system of race-culture can ignore education or be effective without it. Though the general question of education is not the specific question of the present volume, yet there is only too good reason for some brief allusion to the subject here, especially since it bears on the question of the measure of importance which we ascribe to heredity.

Modern education—the destruction of mind.

When we observe in such contrasted cases as those of Herbert Spencer and Wordsworth, for instance, that absence of early education, especially in the first septennium, has co-existed with the subsequent efflorescence of the mightiest genius, we may almost be inclined to enquire whether genius could not in effect be made to order even in the very next generation by the simple device of suspending the process which we are pleased to call education. Doubtless that is scarcely so, though every one who has any knowledge of the subject is well assured that mere[121] suspension of the present destructive process might suffice to produce a population that would wonder at its ancestors.

A simple analogy will show the disastrous character of the present process, which may be briefly described as “education” by cram and emetic. It is as if you filled a child's stomach to repletion with marbles, pieces of coal and similar material incapable of digestion—the more worthless the material the more accurate the analogy: then applied an emetic and estimated your success by the completeness with which everything was returned, more especially if it was returned “unchanged,” as the doctors say. Just so do we cram the child's mental stomach, its memory, with a selection of dead facts of history and the like (at least when they are not fictions) and then apply a violent emetic called an examination (which like most other emetics causes much depression) and estimate our success by the number of statements which the child vomits on to the examination paper—if the reader will excuse me. Further, if we are what we usually are, we prefer that the statements shall come back “unchanged”—showing no signs of mental digestion. We call this “training the memory.”

Such a process as one has imagined in the physical case would assuredly ruin the physical digestion for life. In the mental case, which is not imaginary but actual, a similar result ensues. It is thus unfair to the Anglo-Saxon germ-plasm to credit it with the abundant stupidity of its products. Much of this stupidity is factitious and artificial. We shall continue to produce it so long as by education or drawing forth we understand intrusion or thrusting in, and so long as the only drawing forth which we practise is by means of the emetics we call examinations. The present type of education is a curse to modern childhood and a menace to the future. The teacher who cannot tell whether a child is doing well without formally[122] examining it, should be heaving bricks; but such a teacher does not exist. In Berlin they are now learning that the depression caused by these emetics, for which the best physical parallel is antimony, often leads to child suicide—a steadily-increasing phenomenon mainly due to educational over-pressure and worry about examinations.

Short of such appalling disasters, however, we have to reckon with the existence of this enormous amount of stupidity, which those who fortunately escaped such education in childhood have to drag along with them in the long struggle towards the stars. This dead weight of inertia lamentably retards progress.

Our factitious stupidity is injurious both in the governing and the governed. As Professor Patrick Geddes once remarked to the present writer, there are three kinds of governments: the government of the future—as yet only ideal, which believes that there are ideas and that they may be worth acting upon: the second is instanced by the Russian government, which believes that there are ideas, but fears and suppresses them: the third by the British government, which denies that there are ideas at all, and prefers the method of “muddling through”—to use a Cabinet Minister's contented phrase—though truth is one and error infinite, though there are a million ways of going wrong for one of going right. This characteristic is not to be attributed to any germinal stupidity of the ruling classes in England. If it were we should of course look upon the decadence of their birth-rate with the utmost gratitude. It is a factitious product of their education. If you have been treated with marbles and emetics long enough, you may begin to question whether there is such a thing as nourishing food; if you have been crammed with dead facts, and then compelled to disgorge them, you may well question whether there are such things as nourishing facts or ideas.

Not less disastrous is this factitious stupidity amongst the governed. It produces, of course, the kind of man with whom we are all familiar. Having at great labour been taught to read, he is incapable of reading anything but rubbish. He never thinks for himself, and if he does you wish he had not, so inadequate is his machinery and so deplorable the result. He believes in politicians. He is, as we have said, so much dead weight for the reformer, whose energy is diverted from the discovery of new truth by the need of directing the eyes of stupidity to the old, though it shines as the sun in his strength.

Therefore, let not the reader suppose that in the advocacy of eugenics or race-culture we have become blinded to the possibilities offered us by reasonable education even of the very heterogeneous material offered us by heredity.

The limits of education—individual and racial.

Yet it must be maintained that, though we cannot do without education, and though something infinitely better than we practise at present will be necessary if the ideal of race-culture is ever to be realised, yet education alone, however good, can never enable us to achieve our end. It must be maintained, in the first place, that education is limited in its powers by the inherent nature of the educated material—it is a process of drawing out, and you cannot draw out what is not there: and secondly, that its value, so far as the nature of individuals is concerned, is confined to the individuals in question and is not reproduced or maintained in their children. Thus education alone would have similar material to act upon from age to age, would have to make a fresh beginning in each generation, and its results, however good, relatively, would still be limited and finite. We shall do well, perhaps, to obtain and retain an adequate definition of education. No true conception of education was possible, notwithstanding the derivation of the word, so long as the child's mind was likened to a[124] piece of “pure white paper” for us to write upon: or an empty box waiting to be filled. The tabula rasa of Locke is, we now know, the last thing in the world to resemble a child's mind. Indeed, if any such figure be demanded, the child's mind is a piece of mosaic—made of ancestral pieces—and education is the process of realising what is so given. Or, if a child's mind is a portmanteau, to educate is not to pack but to unpack it. We understand, at least, that education never can begin at the beginning, nor anywhere near it—that, as Professor MacCunn says in his admirable book, The Making of Character, “the page of the youngest life is so far from being blank that it bears upon it characters in comparison with which the faded ink of palæography is as recent history.”

We are learning, too, though none but the very few know this, that the process by which the “faded ink” is made visible must not be credited with having done the writing: any more than the fire to which you hold a paper written upon with ink that fire makes visible. Still less do we realise that what really seems to be the product of education is often the result of an inherent mechanism now developed, which was not yet formed when we began the educational process. One reason why the baby cannot walk is that it has not the nervous apparatus. A child may walk at the first attempt, if that attempt be delayed until the machinery is developed. A child may similarly speak sentences at the first attempt. Very commonly we start teaching a child something, which, after some years, it learns. We have done nothing but interfere. The learning is none of our doing: merely the mental apparatus is now evolved—and lo! the result. At birth the sucking apparatus is perfect. If we could, doubtless we should start teaching the unborn infant to suck long before the machinery was ready—and should applaud ourselves for its facility at birth; only that probably this facility would[125] be impaired by our efforts, as many capacities of later development are damaged by our interference. What we understand, or misunderstand, by education should begin approximately when a child is seven. The first seven years of life should really have the term of childhood confined to them, for there is a natural term so indicated. The growth of the brain is a matter of the first seven years almost wholly. It grows relatively little after that period; and until that is completed the physical apparatus of mind is not ready for educational interference. Without any such interference, and with merely the provision of conditions, physical and mental, for its spontaneous development, the brain of the seven year old will suffice for surprising things—so surprising that if their evolution were possible under any system of schooling practised before that date, we should applaud it as ideal. Probably there is no such system—much less any that will improve on the spontaneous process.

Education the provision of an environment.

We are prepared, then, to realise the limits to the action of education upon the individual. We shall not confuse this great and many-sided thing with such of its factors as instruction or schooling. It is not intrusion but education: “the guidance of growth,” to use Sir James Crichton-Browne's phrase. This guidance, this process of unpacking, educing or realising, is accomplished by the action of circumstances or the environment. Environment is a large word and is invariably abused when it is used in less than the large sense. Here it includes, for instance, air and food, mother-love and the schoolmaster. I therefore define education as the provision of an environment. This definition prepares us to understand the limitations of the process. If we think of education as a packing or cramming process, we shall err in this respect; we shall expect limitless[126] results from education provided that one packs early and tightly and carefully enough. It is this erroneous conception which rules us and daily betrays us in practice. If, however, we think of education as the provision of an environment, capable of creating nothing, but merely of causing the expression or the repression of potential characters inherent in the individual educated, then we shall begin to recast our methods on the lines determined by this truth. Yet, further, we shall begin to understand the cardinal truth, one of the many platitudes which we have yet to appreciate, that “you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.”

Heredity and environment.

Let us consider the question in general terms. The characters of any living thing are determined by two factors—heredity and environment. The old phrases were character and circumstances, but they were less than useful, since character is modified by circumstances. Now one of the most important questions in the world, and not least for the eugenist, is as to the relative importance of these two factors. The technical terms may not be in our mouths, but we discuss this instance or that of the question in point almost every day of our lives. One part of the business of philosophy and of science is not only to answer questions but to ask them correctly. This question is always wrongly asked, and therefore cannot be answered, or is incorrectly answered. We persist in using the mathematical idea of addition, and we seek to show that, say, seventy per cent. of the result is due to the innate factor and thirty per cent. to the acquired. But the truth is that so long as we begin with this idea we may prove what we please. If we keep our attention fixed upon the environmental or educational factor we can easily and correctly demonstrate that in certain circumstances Mozart would have been tone-deaf and Shakespeare[127] a gibbering idiot—hence, but incorrectly, we argue that environment is practically everything. Per contra, we can easily and correctly demonstrate that no education in the world could enable a door-mat or a cabbage or ourselves to write Don Giovanni or Hamlet—hence, but incorrectly, we argue that the material to be operated upon is everything. We have to learn, however, that the analogy is one not of addition but of multiplication. Neither inheritance nor environment, as such, gives anything. The environmental factor may be potentially one hundred—an ideal education—but the innate or inherited factor may be nothing, as when the pupil is a door-mat or a fool. The result then is nothing. Darwin had the trombone played to a plant, but he did not make a Palestrina. No academy of music will make a beetroot into a Beethoven, though I dare say a well-trained beetroot might write a musical comedy. The point is that one hundred multiplied by nothing equals nothing. Similarly, the innate factor may be one hundred, as in the case of a potential genius, but he may be brought up upon alcohol and curses amongst savages, and the result again is nothing. Keep the idea of multiplication in the mind, and the facts are seen rightly. No matter how big either factor be, if it be multiplied by nothing it yields nothing, or if it be multiplied by a fraction, as in the ordinary education of a genius, it yields less than it should. But in this controversy people persist in assuming that inheritance or education gives definitely so much which is there anyhow, whereas, really, it only supplies a potential figure, which may realise infinity or nothing, according to what it is multiplied by. With all deference, I submit this as a real answer to these endless disputes.

But further, granted that neither factor in itself produces any actuality, which is normally the weightier of[128] the two factors? We must make the qualification, “normally,” because such a thing as disease or poison, included in the environmental factor, will dominate the result, completely overshadowing the importance of whatever heredity gave. Such things apart, however, we may be thoroughly assured that heredity is the weightier of the two factors. The more we study education, the more we recognise its true nature. Indeed, the more we realise its ideal, the more do we realise its limitations. The more we study education the more important does heredity appear. If the reader has not had opportunities of observing children for himself let him refer to such a book as Mr. Galton's Inquiries into Human Faculty, and he will begin to realise how large is the factor given by inheritance and how relatively small is the factor given by education.

Education can educate only what heredity gives.

Heredity, as the eugenist must never forget, gives not actualities but only potentialities. It depends upon circumstances whether they shall become actualities. That, however, we all know. No one supposes that education is superfluous or impotent. We do, however, persistently forget the converse truth that education, on the other hand, makes no definite contribution, but merely multiplies—or alas, divides—the potentialities given by inheritance. These potentialities constitute a limiting condition which no education can transcend. Education can educate only what heredity gives. Long ago Helvetius thought, as did Kant, that the differences between men were due to differences in education. But it is not so. We make, of course, the most ridiculous claims for education. The remark wrongly attributed to the Duke of Wellington, that “the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton,” is an instance in point. Recently, when Francis Thompson, the poet, died, the local[129] newspaper of his birthplace said that it should be proud to have produced him. We may laugh at this conception of the genesis of genius, but we all talk in this fashion. A genius was educated at Eton, and we say that Eton produced him. The truth is, of course, that Eton failed to destroy him. (One says Eton for convenience, but the name of any accepted school will do.) If Eton produced him, why does not it produce thousands like him? There is plenty of material: but it is not the right material. We should cease to speak, in our pride for our own Alma Mater or our own methods, as if education created genius or anything else. Men are born unequal. To realise the nature of education is not only to avoid the popular assumption that an ideal education will do everything for us, forgetting that no amount of polishing will make pewter shine like silver; it is not only to send us back to the principle of selection in recognition of the power of inheritance; it is not merely to dispose of the idea that men are born inherently equal; but it is also to combat the idea that education is a levelling process. On the contrary, it accentuates the differences between men. You may confuse the unpolished pebble and the diamond, but not when education has done its utmost for both. If education were a process of addition to what inheritance gives, it would almost level men: the addition of a large sum to figures such as, say, 1, 2, and 3, would almost obliterate their original disproportion. But the analogy is with multiplication, as I have suggested: and the larger the sum by which 1, 2 and 3 are multiplied, the greater is the disparity between the products. This is, perhaps, one of the truths of vast importance which the common rim of contemporary Socialism implicitly denies: though it is of course abundantly recognised by such a socialist as that master-thinker Professor Forel. The socialist's[130] panacea, ideal education for all, is much to be desired, and will accomplish much, as we began by admitting; but it is not a panacea. Those who believe it to be such do not understand the nature of education nor its limitations. They should remember the remark of Epictetus, “the condition and characteristic of a fool is this: he never expects from himself profit nor harm, but from externals.” The dogma of the unthinking socialist—who exists, though he is doubtless rarer than the unthinking individualist—is that all evil is of economic origin: correct your economics and your education and you obliterate evil. But it is not so. As Lowell said, “A great part of human suffering has its root in the nature of man, and not in that of his institutions.” When by means of eugenics we can give education the right material to work upon, we shall have a Utopia, and as for forms of government they may be left for fools to contest. Forel, incomparably the greatest socialist thinker of the day, sees this. He makes his Utopian predictions not so much as to mere externals, like clothing and language, but as regards the kind of man and woman: and, unlike some writers, he entitles himself to paint these pictures, for in that great eugenic treatise Die Sexuel Frage, he tells us how to realise them by pedagogic reform working upon the materials provided by human selection. A paragraph may be quoted from Forel:—

“Malgré tout l'enthousiasme qu'on doit montrer pour une pédagogie rationelle, il ne faut jamais oublier qu'elle est incapable de remplacer la sélection. Elle sert au but immédiat et rapproché, qui est d'utiliser le mieux possible le matérial humain tel qu'il existe maintenant. Mais, par elle-même, elle n'améliore en rien la qualité des germes à venir. Elle peut, néanmoins, grâce à l'instruction donnée à la jeunesse sur la valeur sociale de la sélection, la préparer à mettre cette dernière en œuvre.”

and another from Spencer:—

“We are not among those who believe in Lord Palmerston's dogma, that all children are born good. On the whole, the opposite dogma, untenable as it is, seems to us less wide of the truth. Nor do we agree with those who think that, by skilful discipline, children may be made altogether what they should be. Contrariwise, we are satisfied that though imperfections of nature may be diminished by wise management, they cannot be removed by it. The notion that an ideal humanity might be forthwith produced by a perfect system of education, is near akin to that implied in the poems of Shelley, that would make mankind give up their old institutions and prejudices, all the evils in the world would at once disappear; neither notion being acceptable to such as have dispassionately studied human affairs.”

Ruskin on education and inequality.

Three great paragraphs may be quoted from Ruskin's Time and Tide:—

“... Education was desired by the lower orders because they thought it would make them upper orders, and be a leveller and effacer of distinctions. They will be mightily astonished, when they really get it, to find that it is, on the contrary, the fatallest of all discerners and enforcers of distinctions; piercing, even to the division of the joints and marrow, to find out wherein your body and soul are less, or greater, than other bodies and souls, and to sign deed of separation with unequivocal seal.

“171. Education is, indeed, of all differences not divinely appointed, an instant effacer and reconciler. Whatever is undivinely poor, it will make rich; whatever is undivinely maimed, and halt, and blind, it will make whole, and equal, and seeing. The blind and the lame are to it as to David at the siege of the Tower of the Kings, ‘hated of David's soul.’ But there are other divinely-appointed differences, eternal as the ranks of the everlasting hills, and as the strength of their ceaseless waters. And these, education does not do away with; but measures, manifests, and employs.

“In the handful of shingle which you gather from the sea-beach, which the indiscriminate sea, with equality of fraternal foam, has only educated to be, every one, round, you will see[132] little difference between the noble and the mean stones. But the jeweller's trenchant education of them will tell you another story. Even the meanest will be the better for it, but the noblest so much better that you can class the two together no more. The fair veins and colours are all clear now, and so stern is nature's intent regarding this, that not only will the polish show which is best, but the best will take most polish. You shall not merely see they have more virtue than the others, but see that more of virtue more clearly; and the less virtue there is, the more dimly you shall see what there is of it.

“172. And the law about education, which is sorrowfullest to vulgar pride, is this—that all its gains are at compound interest; so that, as our work proceeds, every hour throws us farther behind the greater men with whom we began on equal terms. Two children go to school hand in hand, and spell for half an hour over the same page. Through all their lives, never shall they spell from the same page more. One is presently a page a-head, two pages, ten pages—and evermore, though each toils equally, the interval enlarges—at birth nothing, at death infinite.”

So much for one relation of this question to Socialism. Quite lately (The New Age, April 11th, 1908) Mr. Havelock Ellis has summed the matter up as follows:—

“Education has been put at the beginning, when it ought to have been put at the end. It matters comparatively little what sort of education we give children; the primary matter is what sort of children we have got to educate. That is the most fundamental of questions. It lies deeper even than the great question of Socialism versus Individualism, and indeed touches a foundation that is common to both. The best organised social system is only a house of cards if it cannot be constructed with sound individuals; and no individualism worth the name is possible, unless a sound social organisation permits the breeding of individuals who count. On this plane Socialism and Individualism move in the same circle.”

We cannot agree with Socialism when, as we think, it assumes that all evil is of economic or of educational origin. The student of heredity finds elements of evil[133] abundant in poisoned germ-plasm and not absent from the best. Surely, surely, the products of progress are not mechanisms but men; and surely no economic system as such can be the only mechanism worth naming—which would be one that made men. The germ-plasm is such a mechanism, indeed; and hence its quality is all important.

But if Socialism, sooner than any other party, is going to identify itself with the economic principle of Ruskin that “there is no wealth but life”; and if in its discussion of the conditions of industry it will concern itself primarily with the culture of the racial life, which is the vital industry of any people (and basis enough for a New Imperialism, or at least a New Patriotism, that might be quite decent); if so, then it seems to me that we must look to the socialists for salvation. But books which describe future externals, books which assume that education is a panacea, forgetting that education can educate only what heredity gives, turn us away again when we are almost persuaded. The economic panacea must fail (at least as a panacea); the educational panacea must fail; the eugenic panacea may not fail.

Education, then, cannot achieve our ideal of race-culture. No matter how good our polishing, we must have silver and diamonds to work upon, not pewter and pebbles. When we have the right material to work upon, our labour will not be wasted, or far worse than wasted, as it now too often is.

Education a Sisyphean task.

But the belief in education as in itself an adequate instrument of race-culture chiefly depends upon the popular doctrine as to its influence upon the race. It is supposed, in a word, that if we educate the parents, the child will begin[134] where the parents left off. This is the doctrine of Lamarck, who said that if the necks of the parent giraffe were educated or drawn out, the baby giraffe would have this anatomical acquirement transmitted to it, and, so to speak, when it grew up, would be able to begin feeding on the leaves of trees at the level where its parents had to leave off. In the course of its life its own neck would become elongated or educated, and its children would outstretch both itself and their grand-parents. This doctrine of the transmission of acquired characters by heredity, as we have seen, is, at the present day, repudiated by biologists. It is generally believed by the medical profession and by the public, notwithstanding the fact that, for instance, the skin of the heel of every new baby is almost as thin and delicate as it is anywhere else, though for unthinkable generations all the ancestors of that baby on both sides have greatly thickened the skin of both heels by the act of walking.

It is quite evident that, if the Lamarckian theory were true, education would be a completely adequate instrument of race-culture, incomparable in its rapidity and certainty. It would not reform the world in a single generation because, as we have seen, its results would be limited by the inherent nature of its material; but since those results would involve the vast amelioration of the material upon which it worked in the second generation, mankind would be little lower than the angels in a century. The good habits acquired by one generation would be innate in the next. If the father learnt one language in addition to his own, the child would start with the knowledge of two, waiting only for opportunity, and could accumulate more and hand them on to its child. “My father's environment would be my heredity.” If we desired muscular strength we could in two generations produce a race amongst whom[135] Sandow would be a puny weakling. We should not need to discuss any question of selection for parenthood. Without any such process we could answer Browning's prayer and “elevate the race at once”—physically, mentally and morally.

But the Lamarckian theory does not correspond with facts. The results of education, physical, mental, or moral, are limited to the individuals educated. The children do not begin where the parents left off, but they make a fresh start where the parents did. Thus even though we had and employed an ideal method of education, we should make no permanent improvement by its means alone in the breed of mankind, any more than the breeder of race-horses could attain his end by the same means. In each generation the same problem, the same difficulties, the same limitations inherent in the nature of the new material, would have to be faced. We must learn from the horse-breeder, who knows that the blood of a single horse, Eclipse, runs in the veins of the great majority of winners since his time.

It is exceedingly difficult to dispossess the popular mind of the Lamarckian idea, the more especially as members of the medical profession, who are regarded as authorities on heredity, contentedly accept this idea themselves. Yet the advocates of eugenics or race-culture have to recognise that, so long as the Lamarckian idea obtains, their crusade will fail to find a hearing. We believe that nothing can really be accomplished in the way of race-culture until public opinion—that “chaos of prejudices,” as Huxley called it—is marshalled on our side. But the popular notion of heredity is a most formidable obstacle. The Lamarckian idea seems to provide a method for the improvement of a species which cannot be surpassed for simplicity, rapidity and certainty. It even excludes the possibility of mistakes.[136] You cannot go wrong if you simply educate every one to the utmost. Doubtless some persons are more suited for parenthood than others, but only let education be wise and universal, and any question of selection by marriage or otherwise will be superfluous. A thousand difficulties offered by public sentiment, by convention, by the churches, by the large measure of uncertainty which attends the working of heredity, could be ignored, if race-culture were simply a matter of education.

Nevertheless, these difficulties have to be faced by the eugenist. The popular misconception of heredity—instanced by Sir James Simpson's belief, not inexcusable sixty years ago, that the education of a future mother will enlarge her child's brain—must be removed. It can scarcely be doubted that the sway of the Lamarckian idea will soon be diminished, and then, at last, those who are interested in the future will discover that only by the process of selection for parenthood, which has brought mankind thus far, can further progress be assured.

Real functions of education for race-culture.

Nevertheless education has a true function for race-culture in addition to the obvious fact of its necessity in order to realise the inherent potentialities of the individual. One of its functions is to provide a level of public opinion and public taste such that the finer specimens of each generation shall receive their due reward and shall not be crushed out of existence or perverted. There is a passage in Goethe which suggests the true function of education, and makes us suspect that, so far as many kinds of genius and talent are concerned, our immediate business is perhaps less to endeavour to produce them by breeding—if that be possible—than to make the most of them when they are vouchsafed us. Says Goethe:—

“We admire the Tragedies of the ancient Greeks; but to take a correct view of the case, we ought to admire the period and the nation in which their production was possible rather than the individual authors; for though these pieces differ in some points from each other, and though one of these poets appears somewhat greater and more finished than the other, still, taking all things together, only one decided character runs through the whole.

“This is the character of grandeur, fitness, soundness, human perfection, elevated wisdom, sublime thought, pure, strong intuition, and whatever other qualities one might enumerate. But when we find all these qualities, not only in the dramatic works which have come down to us, but also in lyrical and epic works—in the philosophers, orators, and historians, and in an equally high degree in the works of plastic art that have come down to us—we must feel convinced that such qualities did not merely belong to individuals, but were the current property of the nation and the whole period.”

Education as to the principle of selection.

Further, the hope may be warranted that, though education, as such, will not achieve the ideal of true race-culture, and though it has never hitherto averted the ultimate failure of all civilisations, yet the case may be different to-day, in that our acquired or traditional progress, transmitted by the process of education accumulating from age to age—not in our blood and bone and brain, but mainly in books, whereby the non-transmission of the results of education is circumvented in a sense—has reached the point at which the laws of racial or inherent progress have been revealed to us, as to none of our predecessors.[38] Having the knowledge of these laws it is possible that we may avert our predecessors' fate by putting them into force. If we do not, we must ultimately become “one with Nineveh and Tyre.” Fifty years have now elapsed since the principle of natural selection was demonstrated for all time by the genius of Darwin. We must not be guilty of starting to tell the story of organic evolution and leaving out the point. So long as we supposed that man was created as he is, the idea of racial progress was an[138] absurdity. It is the correct thing now-a-days to decry the possibility of human perfection. This possibility is rightly to be decried if it be assumed that ideal education of the present material or anything like it would realise perfection. We have seen that it would not. It is the principle of selection, in which Darwin has educated us, that must be taught to all mankind, and thus education may indeed become the factor of an effective race-culture.

The power of individual opinion.

Since ultimately opinion rules the world, it is for us to create sound opinion. That is the purpose of this book. But every individual may be a centre of eugenic opinion, and the time has assuredly come for attempting to realise this ideal, though a thousand years should pass before the facts of heredity are completely ascertained and understood. The main principles are of the simplest character, and can be readily imparted to a child. Especially does the responsibility fall upon parents and those who are in charge of childhood.

The young people of the next and all succeeding generations must be taught the supreme sanctity of parenthood. The little boy who asks what he is to become when he grows up, must be taught that the highest profession and privilege he can aspire to is responsible fatherhood; the little girl may less frequently ask these questions, the answer to which has been imparted to her by her own Mother-Nature—as the doll instinct, so little appreciated or utilised, sufficiently demonstrates; but she likewise must be taught reverence for Motherhood. As childhood gives place to youth, what may be called the eugenic sense must be cultivated as a cardinal aspect of the moral sense itself; so that even personal inclination—at the controllable and self-controllable stage which precedes[139] “head over ears” affection—will wither when it is directed to some one who, on any ground, offends the educated eugenic sense. There is here a field for moral education of the highest and most valuable kind, both for the individual and for the race. Is there any other aspect of duty which can claim a higher warrant? Is there any hitherto so wholly ignored?

The preceding paragraph is re-printed from a brief account of its objects written for the Eugenics Education Society, as a Society which amongst other purposes exists “to further eugenic teaching at home and in the schools and elsewhere.” The difficulties of teaching this subject to children are more apparent than real. I may freely confess that though I have been speaking, writing, and thinking about eugenics for six years, I did not realise the importance of eugenic education until I heard the views of some of the women who belong to this Society, and even then I was at first sceptical as to its practicability. The subject has been entirely ignored by the pioneers of this matter. But if we turn to such a work as Forel's masterpiece we begin to realise that the eugenic education of children is the real beginning at the beginning, that it is in fact indispensable, and must be antecedent to all legislation in the direction of positive eugenics, though not to certain forms of legislation in the direction of negative eugenics.[39] In the earlier chapters of his great work Professor Forel offers the parent and the guardian abundant, detailed and accurate guidance as to the lines and methods of this teaching. It is urgently necessary for both sexes, but more especially for girls, who may suffer incredibly from the cruel prudery ordained by Mrs. Grundy, the only old woman to whom the word “hag” should be applied. We must remove the reproach[140] of Herbert Spencer, made nearly fifty years ago in words which may well be quoted:—

“The greatest defect in our programmes of education is entirely overlooked. While much is being done in the detailed improvement of our systems in respect both of matter and manner, the most pressing desideratum, to prepare the young for the duties of life, is tacitly admitted to be the end which parents and schoolmasters should have in view; and happily, the value of the things taught, and the goodness of the methods followed in teaching them, are now ostensibly judged by their fitness to this end. The propriety of substituting for an exclusively classical training, a training in which the modern languages shall have a share, is argued on this ground. The necessity of increasing the amount of science is urged for like reasons. But though some care is taken to fit youth of both sexes for society and citizenship, no care whatever is taken to fit them for the position of parents. While it is seen that for the purpose of gaining a livelihood, an elaborate preparation is needed, it appears to be thought that for the bringing up of children, no preparation whatever is needed. While many years are spent by a boy in gaining knowledge of which the chief value is that it constitutes ‘the education of a gentleman’; and while many years are spent by a girl in those decorative acquirements which fit her for evening parties; not an hour is spent by either in preparation for that gravest of all responsibilities—the management of a family. Is it that this responsibility is but a remote contingency? On the contrary, it is sure to devolve on nine out of ten. Is it that the discharge of it is easy? Certainly not; of all functions which the adult has to fulfil, this is the most difficult. Is it that each may be trusted by self-instruction to fit himself, or herself, for the office of parent? No; not only is the need for such self-instruction unrecognised, but the complexity of the subject renders it the one of all others in which self-instruction is least likely to succeed.”

The lines of eugenic education.

The teaching of the main facts of heredity must come first in order to the end of eugenic education. The vegetable world is at our service in this regard, the products of horticulture with their beauty and grace and novelty are illustrations one[141] and all of what heredity means and what the due choice of parents will effect. There need be no personal allusions at this stage; the thing can be presented in an impersonal biological setting. And as heredity produces these wonderful results in plants, so also does it in the animal world. Numberless domestic forms are at our service. You take your children and your dog to the Zoological gardens, and show the resemblance between wolf and dog. What easier, then, than to point out that by consistent choosing for many generations of the least ferocious wolves, you may make a domesticated race?[40]

The mind of any child that has fortunately escaped “education” will make the transition for itself from sub-human races to mankind, and instances will occur, say, where extreme short-sightedness or deafness appears in children whose parents were similarly afflicted, and were perhaps closely related. At yet a later age a boy or girl may learn the doom which often falls upon the children of drunkards.

And then may it not be possible, when a little boy asks what he is to be when he grows up, to suggest that the highest profession to which he can be called, for which he may strive to make himself worthy, is fatherhood? And when the racial instinct awakes, would it be wrong, improper, indecent, to teach that it has a purpose, that no attribute of mind or body has a higher purpose, that this is holy ground? Or is it better that by silence, both as to the fact and as to its meaning, we should make it unmentionable, indecent, dishonourable? The Bible is used now-a-days as an instrument of political immorality, but if and when it should be employed for the function of other great literature, there is a passage sufficiently relevant to our present argument.[41]

Perhaps we are wrong in regarding and treating the racial instinct as if it were animal and low, a thing as far as possible to be ignored, repressed, treated with silent contempt in education and elsewhere. We may be wrong in practice because the method is not successful, because the development of this instinct is inevitable and little short of imperious in every normal child if that child is ever to become a man or a woman, and because our silence does not involve the silence of less responsible persons who are less likely even than we ourselves to teach the young enquirer that this thing exists for parenthood, and is therefore holy and to be treated as such.

Perhaps we are wrong in principle also, since that which exists for parenthood, and without which the continuance and future terrestrial hope of mankind is impossible, cannot be animal and low, unless human life, even at its best attained or attainable, be animal and low. Our business rather is to treat this great fact in a spirit worthy of the purpose for which it exists; and therefore, as part of that process of education by which we desire to make the young into reasonable, moral and fully human beings, to teach explicitly, without unworthy shame, that this thing exists for the highest of purposes that nothing which the future holds for boy or girl can conceivably be higher or happier than worthy parenthood, however commonplace that may appear to common eyes, and that accordingly this instinct is to be guarded, treated, used, honoured as for parenthood, a fact which immediately raises it from the egoistic to the altruistic plane. We have to learn and to teach that worthy parenthood is the highest end which education can achieve—highest alike on the ground of its services to the individual and its services to the future, and the relation of the racial instinct to parenthood being what[143] it is, we have to look upon it in that light, at once austere and splendid.

In the teaching of girls, only a false and disastrous prudery offers any great obstacle. The idea of motherhood is essentially natural to the normal girl. It is the eugenic education of boys that is more difficult, and the possibility of which will be questioned in some quarters, especially by those who regard the type of boy evolved in semi-monastic institutions, devoid of feminine influence, as a normal and unchangeable being. Co-educationists, however, are teaching us to revise that opinion, and will yet demonstrate, perhaps, that the inculcation of the idea of fatherhood is not so impossible nor so alien to the boy nature as some would suppose. If such a duty devolved upon the present writer, he would feel inclined, perhaps, to present his teaching in terms of patriotism. He would urge that “there is no wealth but life”; that nations are made not of provinces nor property but of people; that modern biology is teaching historians to explain such phenomena as the fall of Rome in terms of the quality of the national life; that therefore, individuals being mortal, parenthood necessarily takes its place as the supreme factor of national destiny; that the true patriotism must therefore concern itself with the conditions and the quality of parenthood—much less with its quantity; that the patriotism which ignores these truths is ignorant and must be disastrous; that we must turn our attention therefore from flag waving to questions of individual conduct; that if alcohol and syphilis, for instance, can be demonstrated to be what I would call racial poisons, the young patriot must make himself aware of their relation to parenthood, and must act upon his knowledge of that relation. It can thus be demonstrated that righteousness exalteth a nation not only in the spiritual but also in the most concrete sense.

To this we shall come. We may even recognise eugenic education as the most urgent need of the day, as the most radical and rational, perhaps even the most hopeful, of the methods by which the cleansing of the city, and much more, is to be achieved. We must create a eugenic aspect for the moral sense. We can associate this alike with individual and civic duty, and with those very ideals to which, as we all know, the young most readily respond. Thus I believe it shall be said of us in the after time that we have raised up the foundations of many generations.

And so, finally, the unselfish significance of marriage might conceivably be taught, alike to boys and girls, and especially in the case of undoubtedly good stocks might we inculcate, as Mr. Galton has pointed out, a rational pride in ancestry—that is to say, a rational pride in the quality of the germ-plasm which has been entrusted to us. And so may be cultivated a eugenic aspect of the moral sense—which is immeasurably more plastic than any but the student of moral ideas knows—and, thus endowed, the young man or woman will be prepared for the possibility of marriage. It is perfectly conceivable that in days to come the argument—in any case false—that affection never brooks control, may become wholly irrelevant, when there arises a generation in whose members there has been cultivated or created the eugenic sense. It is conceivable that, just as to-day the mere possibility of falling in love is arrested by any of a thousand trivial considerations, so misplaced affection may be incapable of arising because its possible object affronts the educated eugenic sense. The natural basis for such education already exists. But the natural eugenic sense still works mainly on the physical plane, and although we owe to it the maintenance of our present modest standard of physical beauty, we aim at higher ideals—and will one day thus attain them.
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