Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/176

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164
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
haps more than any other, the master-spirits of the age are breaking loose from the old moorings, and withdrawing from established and venerated systems."

Holding these views, Mr. Parley Pratt has aimed at embodying, in his introductory key, a general view of what he calls the Science of Theology, "in a concise and somewhat original manner and style, as gathered from revelation, history, prophecy, reason, and analogy." The revelation and prophecy referred to and founded upon are partly those accepted by all orthodox Christians, partly those of recent date (such as the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants) peculiar to the followers of Joseph Smith. It is hard to reconcile polygamy with "the progressive principles of the age," and with modern ideas as to the social position and dignity of woman; but Mr. Parley Pratt is not without a scientific plea on behalf of his theological dogma. He maintains that—

"The principal object contemplated by this law is the multiplication of the children of good and worthy fathers, who will teach them the truth, and this is far preferable to sending them into the world in the lineage of an unworthy or ignorant parentage. . . . A wise legislation, or the law of God, would punish with just severity the crimes of adultery or fornication, and would not suffer the idiot, the confirmed, irreclaimable drunkard, the man of hereditary disease, or of vicious habits, to possess or retain a wife; while at the same time it would provide for a good and capable man to honorably receive and entertain more wives than one. . . . The restoration of pure laws and practices has already commenced to improve or regenerate a race. A holy and temperate life; pure morals and manners; faith, hope, charity; cheerfulness, gentleness, integrity; intellectual development, pure truth, and knowledge, will produce a race more beautiful in form and features, stronger and more vigorous in constitution, happier in temperament and disposition, more intellectual, less vicious, and better prepared for long life and good days in their mortal sojourn. Each generation governed by the same laws will still improve."

This sounds plausible enough in theory, and perhaps the result of polygamy as practised in Utah is, that a large proportion of offspring is born to the most energetic, intelligent, and industrious citizens. In an age when there is reason to fear an increasing tendency to "non-survival of the fittest," such a result may be admitted as tending to counterbalance some of the disadvantages attending plurality of wives.

The highest types of domestic animals have been developed under a system of breeding and selection, very similar to that which is advocated in the above quotations, and the burden of proof seems to rest upon those who maintain that a high type of humanity cannot be developed after a similar fashion. Should the Mormons succeed in carrying out practically, for a few generations, any such ideas as are above alleged to be the main objects contemplated in their law of polygamy, they would have fair grounds for the belief that they are destined to inherit the whole earth.