Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/483

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477
RELATION OF EUGENICS TO EUTHENICS

characters." Whether certain conditions are able to produce a general effect upon the germ cells of such a nature that it may cause a general modification of the resulting organisms for more than the immediately succeeding generations, may perhaps legitimately be considered still open to reasonable doubt. Such a possibility, however, does not come within the scope of our present argument and may be disregarded; and we may consider it as established to the best of our present biological knowledge that acquired characters are in no specific sense inherited.

Of course, there are euthenists who will not accept the principle I have laid down—to convince such would require an array of biological facts and experimental results which can not be presented at this time and which are not within the scope of my talk this evening, although one or two specific cases as applied to humans—cases of the failure of euthenic experiments—may be cited by way of illustration. A well-known case is that of the "Zero" family residing in Switzerland, and established by the marriage of two vicious and degenerate persons several generations back. The descendants of this pair include hundreds of offspring (of which 190 were known to be living in 1905) characterized by "vagabondage, thievery, drunkenness, mental and physical defect and immorality." But what interests us in this connection is that in 1861 a euthenic attempt was made to save many of these children. These were placed in good families, where they were free from their vicious environment; but "the attempt failed utterly, for every 6ne of the 'Zero' children either ran away or was enticed away by his relatives." More recently a similar experiment has, according to Mudge,[1] been tried in Scotland, where pauper children from Glasgow were boarded out among the respectable and industrious natives of the western coast. Far from producing felicitous results, he has found that these children, for the most part, revert to their inborn tendencies and as a result in these formerly quiet villages a rowdy, irresponsible and even criminal element has been introduced, and "a new slum area is being created by the operation of the inherent slum instincts of the putatively rescued denizens of Glasgow's slums." That one of the further dangers incident to this method of caring for dependent children is coming to be realized may be inferred from a recent newspaper report that the Department of Minor Wards of the State Board of Charity of Massachusetts has decreed that none of its foundlings shall be placed in a family in which there is a minor of the opposite sex. "There would be just enough difference in the relationship between the two to make a romance the most probable thing in the world," and this is apparently conceded to be undesirable.

If we accept this conclusion you may ask, Have we not already put the euthenist to rout? Since euthenics depends upon the betterment of

  1. Mendel Journal, No. 2, 1911, p. 112, et seq.