Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/24
20 TEE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY
absent the treatment will avail little or nothing. Upon the children of the " Zero " family the priest-school was without effect. The time and pains required for reformation will, in any case, depend on innate qualities of the delinquent.
In respect to talent the importance of both blood and training is generally recognized. Many " lightning calculators " and mathema- tical prodigies are bom and are not at all the product of training, yet training improves the gift for mathematical abstractions. In the realm of vocal and instrumental music the same is true. Even the prima donna must be trained. Though the Bach family contained musicians for eight generations, and twenty-nine eminent ones assem- bled at one family gathering, still training no doubt added to the value of their performances, at the same time that their inborn capacity rendered them apt scholars.
The objection has been raised, as we have seen, to recognizing that heredity has any considerable importance in determining unfavorable results, on the ground that it is a pessimistic and fatalistic doctrine. Euthenics, on the other hand, offers opportunity to do something to improve a person's condition. Apart from the fact that the truth must be faced whether pleasant or not, the contention can not be too strongly urged that improvement of conditions is only palliative, while improve- ment of blood is essential to permanent progress. Our only hope, indeed, for the real betterment of the human race is in better matings. If any one doubts this let him ask the agriculturalist. Let him ask the Florida orange grower, who no longer fears the frost, if heredity is a " terrible " fact ; let him ask the " dry farmer " of Montana, who cultivates his special varieties that require little rain, if heredity gives him the blues; let him ask the breeder of improved Holstein cattle whether he would, if he could, annihilate the fact of transmission of qualities; they would laugh in your face; they would assure you that heredity is their main reliance and their most precious tool. So to the eugenist heredity stands as the one great hope of the human race; its savior from imbecility, poverty, disease, immorality. But, to be effect- ive, the available salvation must be accepted. By some means or other the principles of eugenics already known, and those which studies now being undertaken will surely reveal, must be applied in marriage selec- tion. To-day, marriage is controlled imperfectly, crudely, by social ideals. Incest, cousin marriages, the marriage of defectives and tuber- culous persons, are, in wide circles, taboo. This fact affords the basis for the hope that, when the method of securing strong offspring, even from partially defective stock — and where is the strain without any defect? — is widely known, the teachings of science in respect even to marriage matings will be widely regarded and that in the generations to come the teachings and practise of euthenics will yield the greater result because of the previous practise of the principles of eugenics.