Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 68.djvu/364

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360 POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

cernible in other directions. The children reared in towns are on the average at all ages, shorter, lighter and of inferior chest-girth when compared with those brought up in the country. They suffer in a larger degree — and in some towns to a very alarming degree — from rickets, decayed teeth, defects of vision, deafness, adenoids, glandular enlargements and affections of the heart and lungs, and again it is demonstrable that all these degenerative changes are more numerous in children living in houses of one or two rooms than in those living in houses with three or more apartments.

I need not proceed with the sanitary indictment against town life as now constituted. Its misdeeds are written in characters unmis- takable to any one with half an eye in the pale faces, and stunted and misshapen bodies seen in swarms in slum areas; and are recorded in family Bibles, if such pious mementoes are still in vogue, for Mr. Cantlie, after prolonged and careful search, could not find a single person whose ancestors, from their grandfathers downwards, had been born and bred in London. But I should like to say a word or two about one of the countervailing advantages of town life, which is often insisted on and that is, that by the mobility and stimulus it affords, it encourages that ascent of individuals from the lower to the upper social ranks upon which the salvation of society depends. It is, we are told, the concentration of population in cities which best promotes the process of bringing capable men to the front, and recruits the real aristocracy of ability and character amongst us. And if that is so then we must be content to put up with a good deal of destruction of human vigor, in return for the work done by cities as instruments of natural selection in weeding out the incapable and inefficient and advancing the more capable members of society, and in providing us with intellectual leaders. But is city life likely to accomplish all this?

Professor Karl Pearson, a very thoughtful and cautious anthro- pologist, has told us that decadence of character and of intelligent leadership is to be noted alike in the British merchant, the professional man and the workman. There is a paucity, he says, not only of the better intelligence to guide, but of the moderate intelligence to be guided. And this he attributes to the fact that the intellectual classes are not reproducing their numbers as they did fifty or a hundred years ago. And in this view Professor Pearson is supported by the Prime Minister, who said at Cambridge last year, that in the case of every man who left the laboring class, and became a member of the middle or wealthier classes, his progeny were likely to be diminished, owing to the fact that marriages are later in that class. The prospect thus pre- sented to us is, it must be admitted, a lugubrious one. The better we educate our people and the greater the facilities we give to boys and girls of ability in the lower classes to rise in life, just by so much shall

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