Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/378

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ologists deem consanguineous unions to result as badly as they often do from the parents inheriting from their one common stock similar weaknesses which unite in their children to form a lower deep of organic deficiency. With very good constitutions, men have been known to marry their sisters with impunity, as some of the Ptolemies did; but, when the stock of the Egyptian monarchs declined in soundness, their close intermarriages resulted in a rapid and frightful degeneracy.

Where there is no blood relationship between parents, they sometimes produce booby children, from having a too close temperamental similarity. The most trustworthy authorities on this subject say that in marriage a moderate difference between the constitutions and characters of the parties, and complementary rather than antagonistic, is best. A. noteworthy consideration in selecting a wife is, that as a mother has much more influence on a child's character than a father, if she has any marked bad trait, as a violent temper, laziness, or vanity, and if that trait be transmitted to her offspring, then the child will be brought up by a woman the least fit of her sex to recognize the child's faults, and eradicate them as far as possible by proper training. In the rearing of young children, close associations have great influence. A professor of McGill University assures me that the infants of his family acquire a resemblance to their nurse in expression, which only disappears when they are removed from her.

A happy and hopeful marriage may be marred in its results from procreation taking place while sickness, anxiety, or grief, has lowered vitality; and the too frequent bearing of children is very seriously detrimental to both mother and progeny.

When a parent transmits a malady, carefulness in living can frequently prevent its development; but when disease or predisposition to it is acquired from a parent together with the carelessness or self indulgence of character which originally induced the disease, then the taint of blood is confirmed and increased. Many persons of weak frame prolong life to old age by prudence and abstemiousness, whereas the conscious possession of a vigorous constitution is a constant temptation to abuses of it. Length of days depends less upon the quantity of vital energy received at birth, than on the jealous care of health and strength.

In these matters, as in all others, we not only need to know much, but to know it so long that we shall act upon our knowledge. The discrepancy between the intellectual acceptance of truth and moral obedience to it is wide as the gap between Ideal and Real.