Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/500

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years ago, he says: "It was to the effect that the children of white women by a white father had been repeatedly observed to show traces of black blood, in cases when the woman had previous connection with [i. e., a child by] a negro." At the time I received this information, an American was visiting me; and, on being appealed to, answered that in the United States there was an established belief to this effect. Not wishing, however, to depend upon hearsay, I at once wrote to America to make inquiries Prof. Cope, of Philadelphia, has written to friends in the South, but has not yet sent me the results. Prof. Marsh, the distinguished paleontologist, of Yale, New Haven, who is also collecting evidence, sends a preliminary letter in which he says: "I do not myself know of such a case, but have heard many statements that make their existence probable. One instance, in Connecticut, is vouched for so strongly by an acquaintance of mine, that I have good reason to believe it to be authentic.

That cases of the kind should not be frequently seen in the North, especially nowadays, is of course to be expected. The first of the above quotations refers to facts observed in the South during slavery days; and even then, the implied conditions were naturally very infrequent. Dr. W. J. Youmans, of New York, has, on my behalf, interviewed several medical professors, who, though they have not themselves met with instances, say that the alleged result, described above, "is generally accepted as a fact." But he gives me what I think must be regarded as authoritative testimony. It is a quotation from the standard work of Prof. Austin Flint, and runs as follows:

"A peculiar and, it seems to be, an inexplicable fact is, that previous pregnancies have an influence upon offspring. This is well known to breeders of animals. If pure-blooded mares or bitches have been once covered by an inferior male, in subsequent fecundations the young are likely to partake of the character of the first male, even if they be afterward bred with males of unimpeachable pedigree. What the mechanism of the influence of the first conception is, it is impossible to say; but the fact is incontestable. The same influence is observed in the human subject. A woman may have, by a second husband, children who resemble a former husband, and this is particularly well marked in certain instances by the color of the hair and eyes. A white woman who has had children by a negro may subsequently bear children to a white man, these children presenting some of the unmistakable peculiarities of the negro race."[1]

Dr. Youmans called on Prof. Flint, who remembered "investigating the subject at the time his larger work was written [the above is from an abridgment], and said that he had never heard the statement questioned."

Some days before I received this letter and its contained quo-

  1. A Text-Book of Human Physiology. By Austin Flint, M. D., LL. D. Fourth edition. New York: D. Appleton k Co., 1888, p. 797.