Page:Descent of Man 1875.djvu/602

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Part III.
The Descent of Man.

than other men with plainer wives, save the few who bequeath their fortunes according to primogeniture. With respect to the opposite form of selection, namely of the more attractive men by the women, although in civilised nations women have free or almost free choice, which is not the case with barbarous races, yet their choice is largely influenced by the social position and wealth of the men; and the success of the latter in life depends much on their intellectual powers and energy, or on the fruits of these same powers in their forefathers. No excuse is needed for treating this subject in some detail; for, as the German philosopher Schopenhauer remarks, "the final aim of all love intrigues, be they comic or tragic, is really of more importance than all other ends in human life. What it all turns upon is nothing less than the composition of the next generation. . . . It is not the weal or woe of any one individual, but that of the human race to come, which is here at stake."[1]

There is, however, reason to believe that in certain civilised and semi-civilised nations sexual selection has effected something in modifying the bodily frame of some of the members. Many persons are convinced, as it appears to me with justice, that our aristocracy, including under this term all wealthy families in which primogeniture has long prevailed, from having chosen during many generations from all classes the more beautiful women as their wives, have become handsomer, according to the European standard, than the middle classes; yet the middle classes are placed under equally favourable conditions of life for the perfect development of the body. Cook remarks that the superiority in personal appearance "which is observable in the erees or nobles in all the other islands (of the Pacific) is found in the Sandwich islands;" but this may be chiefly due to their better food and manner of life.

The old traveller Chardin, in describing the Persians, says their "blood is now highly refined by frequent intermixtures with the Georgians and Circassians, two nations which surpass all the world in personal beauty. There is hardly a man of rank in Persia who is not born of a Georgian or Circassian mother." He adds that they inherit their beauty, "not from their ancestors, for without the above mixture, the men of rank in Persia, who are descendants of the Tartars, would be extremely ugly."[2] Here is a more curious case; the priestesses

  1. 'Schopenhauer and Darwinism,' in 'Journal of Anthropology,' Jan. 1871, p. 323.
  2. These quotations are taken from Lawrence ('Lectures on Physiology,' &c. 1822, p. 393), who attributes the beauty of the upper classes in England to the men having long elected the more beautiful women.