Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/458

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452
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

FERTILITY AND GENIUS
By CHARLES KASSEL

FORT WORTH, TEXAS

MR. ROOSEVELT'S measuring of swords with the followers of Malthus has been so much used as a butt for mere jest that it seems difficult to approach the subject in a serious mood. To the thoughtful mind, none the less, the question is one of absorbing interest. With the economic phase of the problem, we are all, of course, familiar—the least informed needs no one to tell him that the more numerous the offspring the severer the strain upon the material resources of the family. It is with the psychological side of the matter that our chief interest is bound up. Does a large progeny mean a heightening or weakening of intellectual force in the offspring? Does it imply characteristics of temperament and disposition which we need not look for in the scions of smaller families? Upon this subject we are without data save such as are afforded by the pages of biography; but if the facts we gather from the lives in our libraries are a safe guide to a conclusion upon this question our worthy executive may well congratulate himself upon his insight and philosophic wisdom.

We have examined some hundred or more biographies of noted characters—the most eminent, as we deemed, of those whose lives were accessible—and, of these, seventy-six mentioned the number of children making up the family of which the personage treated was a member. The data thus obtained we have tabulated in order, with the following result:

Horace Walpole—historic in English annals for political astuteness—was one of nineteen children.

Benjamin Franklin was one of seventeen children.

John Marshall—that greatest of American jurists—was one of fifteen children.

Peter the Great—the monarch to whom Russia is in great part indebted for what she is to-day—was one of fourteen children.

Napoleon Bonaparte—one of the most colossal figures in history—was one of thirteen children, as was also Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the English poet.

Samuel Adams, the American patriot and statesman; Sir Walter Scott, the English poet and novelist; the American writer James Fenimore Cooper, and, last, but greatest of all, Alfred Tennyson—that