Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/187

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

haps does the influence of heredity obstruct the temporary action of environment.

Whether this short stature of the Jew is a case of an acquired characteristic which has become hereditary, we are content to leave an open question. All we can say is, that the modern Semites in Arabia and Africa are all of goodly size, far above the Jewish average.[1] This would tend to make us think that the harsh experiences of the past have subtracted several cubits from the stature of the people of Israel. In self-defense it must be said that the Christian is not entirely to blame for the physical disability. It is largely to be ascribed to the custom of early marriages among them. This has probably been an efficient cause of their present degeneracy in Russia, where Tschubinsky describes its alarming prevalence. Leroy-Beaulieu says that it is not at all uncommon to find the combined age of husband and wife, or even of father and mother, to be under thirty years. The Shadchan, or marriage broker, has undoubtedly been an enemy to the Jewish people within their own lines.

PSM V54 D187 Social status of people of warsaw.png

In the United States, where they are, on the other hand, on the up grade socially, there are indications that this age of marriage is being postponed, perhaps even unduly,[2]

A second indication in the case of the Jew of uncommonly hard usage in the past remains to be mentioned. These people are, anthropologically as well as proverbially, narrow-chested and deficient in lung capacity. Normally the chest girth of a well-developed man ought to equal or exceed one half his stature, yet in the case of the Jews as a class this is almost never the case. Majer and Kopernicki[3] first established this in the case of the Galician Jews. Stieda[4] gives additional testimony to the same effect. Jacobs[5] shows the English Jews distinctly inferior to Christians in lung capacity, which is generally an indication of vitality. In

  1. Collignon, 1887 a, pp. 211 and 326; and Bertholon, 1892, p. 41.
  2. Jacobs, 1891, p. 50, shows it to be less common in other parts of Europe. In the United States, Dr. Billings finds the marriage rate to be only 7.4 per 1,000—about one third that of the Northeastern States.
  3. 1877, p. 59.
  4. 1883, p. 71.
  5. 1889, p. 84.