Popular Science Monthly/Volume 62/January 1903/Mental and Moral Heredity in Royalty VI

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Bourbons in Spain.

Philip V. to the present day.

THE male or Hapsburg line having become extinct on the death of Charles II., the Bourbons came upon the Spanish throne. This group may be subdivided into six smaller groups:

1. Children of first marriage of Philip V.
2. Primogeniture line of Spain.
3. Children of Philip Duke of Parma.
4. Male line in the Two Sicilies.
5. The Carlists.
6. Children of Francesco de Paula.

1-2 I shall start with Philip V. and include in the group with him all his ancestors to the third or great-grandparent degree. This supplies 8712 per cent. of influence according to Galton's law. Next all the children of Philip V. will be included, as well as all their ancestors to the third degree. Then following down the line that corresponds to the throne, I shall treat of each fraternity in turn until the present Alfonso XIII. is reached. After this the other male lines (3-6) will be taken up. The daughters are also included, but not their children, as these are considered under the male lines in other countries—Austria, France, Portugal, etc. There are thirty-four persons in this group who require tracing. As each has fourteen ancestors in the third degree (two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents) the total number of persons concerned is (14 34)34, or 510. All are of value, even the remote edges, because any striking trait, insanity, genius or moral depravity exhibited in any ancestor should reappear further down; if not in some branch represented in its own country, then perhaps here in Spain. There are many of these second-and third-degree ancestors who have the worst possible epithets bestowed upon them, such as the type of Louis XV. of France, but strange as it may seem to those who discredit heredity, there are only two out of the five hundred and ten who have ever been called great or who could be ranked with the geniuses of a grade as high as 9.

These are Maria Theresa of Austria and her grandson, the celebrated Archduke Charles, who won so much distinction in his battles against Napoleon. Maria Theresa comes in this group no nearer than a grandparent and then only twice, and as a great-grandparent only three times. In none of these does the genius reappear, though over on the part of the chart where most of her descendants are one sees higher marks for intellect. The Arch-duke Charles enters this group merely as a grandfather of the present Queen Regent of Spain, who is no unworthy descendant. The tracing of this higher mental strain, its origin and its reappearance, is to be found under Austria. So as regards genius the results are conclusive. The others are nearly all between 1 and 6, the great majority being below mediocrity, illustrating the intellect of the Bourbons which, as some one has said, never rose above cunning. Although this statement is not absolutely true, there seems to be a certain characteristic in the type of mind most often seen: low craftiness for intrigue, combined with laziness, debauchery, tyranny and often cowardice. This last is the slur we can least frequently bring against royalty. Whatever they are, they are nearly always brave.

The mental qualities are, for the most part, below the mean, while the moral qualities fall as far below the average as any of the worst regions in the older times; as bad as the Romanhofs in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Charts dealing with this group show just how, if heredity be a great force, Spain was brought to her unfortunate fate, how nearly impossible it was that she should have escaped it.

Another important thing to notice is the strong variation in the moral qualities. It is very easy to separate the sheep from the goats. There are only a few about whom we should hesitate to say whether they were good or bad. I have attempted to so classify them in the following list:

*Philip V. Alfonso XII.
*Ferdinand VI. Alfonso XIII.
†Louis. †Ferdinand, D. of Parma.
Charles III. †Maria Louisa.
Philip, Duke of Parma. *Elizabeth.
Marie Anne. †Frances I., Two Sicilies.
Charles IV. Antonia.
†*Ferdinand I., Two Sicilies. †Ferdinand II. ('Bomba').
†*Philip, imbecile son of Charles III. †Christina.
Maria Louisa, wife of Leopold II. of Austria. Carlotta, wife of Francis de Paula.
†Francis II., Two Sicilies.
†*Ferdinand VII. Don Carlos VI.
Carlos, first pretender. *John.
Isabella. †Don Carlos VII.
†Carlotta, Queen of Portugal. Alfonso.
Francisco de Paula. †Elwora.
†Isabella II. (Queen). †Henrique.
Maria Louisa Montpensier. Francis d'Assis.

There are thirty-five persons in this list, of whom fifteen were either cruel or dissolute or both. These have the mark † against them. There are at least seven either insane or showing the neurosis in a marked degree. These have the mark * applied to them. This leaves only thirteen free. Of these, four are known to have been indolent almost to point of disease. Thus, only about nine in the thirty-five were normal. This is a remarkably small ratio of normal and is less than found in any other country.

It will be shown that selection of the worst in each generation will account for it without other causes being necessarily introduced. We get some idea here of the extent to which a degeneration can be carried, and it is worthy of note that it may be perpetuated for a great number of generations, even when breeding in. There is no evidence that the in-breeding has led to sterility, as is usually contended by historians and students of the subject. Although the male line by way of the oldest sons ceased once at Charles IL, and again at Ferdinand VII., nearly every marriage was prolific of many children, even among the closest blood relations, and one has but to glance at the 'Almanach de Gotha' for the current year to see the number of descendants that are being born to the closely inter-related families of Hapsburg, Bourbon and Orleans.

Summary of Modern Spain.

The occurrence just where they fall of every one of these modern Spanish Bourbons is compatible with the theory of mental and moral inheritance. There is no greatness springing up where we least expect it; there is no viciousness and imbecility that might not be explained from heredity alone. There is nothing that need be more than pure selection and repetition.

Of course we expect from Galton's law that, on the average, the descendants will show less of any peculiarity than the parents, and here we shall show that averaging all the descendants it is so, but all descendants would include other countries. Portugal, Austria, Italy, France, and including all these it will be shown in a later summary that there is a bettering of affairs from the time of Philip V. onward, but one must notice the artificial selection that took place in Spain. It was as if they were breeding mental monstrosities for a bench show. We see no diminution in either the debauchery or tyranny. The insanity does appear less at the bottom of the chart, but it will also be noticed that the early degenerates, Ferdinand VI. and Philip, son of Charles III., who were avowedly insane, had no children and the worst was consequently eliminated, while the worst moral depravity and laziness were not only perpetuated, but usually drawn from and in a double or triple way. This view of selection alone is important, because this same family is usually considered to have run out through external circumstances and to have followed an easy road from opulence and luxury to indolence and decline.

I shall show that among all the races considered in this book a family never runs out except by selection, no matter what the condition of environment may be. It is far from my wish to assume that environment has done nothing in molding these characters, and especially the moral characters that fall under this group of modern Spain. If it has done much in order to account for a considerable number of excellent ones, and these often as good as any princes that have ever lived, we must assume that it, like the pedigree, was calculated to bring great variations. This probability will be discussed when all the greater groups are compared one with the other. If environment did have much to do with molding their individual destinies there is no apparent culminated inherited effect from it. After five or six generations the people are practically neither worse nor better than at first.

Nineteenth century estimates had no effect in lessening the cruelty and arrogance of Ferdinand II., 'Bomba.' He was as bad a tyrant as ever lived in the middle ages. His son was a man of the same type. The conditions in Portugal and Spain were not very different from those in Italy where Ferdinand lived, and yet Portugal and Spain show us nothing to be compared with the brutalities of this father and son. Ferdinand II. was no more a tyrant than his grandmother or some others among the Hapsburgs; Francis of Modena, for instance. Carlotta alone of those belonging to the immediate branch of the throne of Spain (occurring in the middle of the chart) would be rightly characterized by the word tyrant. Yet the conditions in Spain for the formation of an autocrat might be justly considered as conducive to this effect as were those of Italy. It will be noticed that the branches in Spain are practically free from this tyrannical type, except that Carlotta, daughter of Charles III., showed something of this character, and one of her sons, Migual, exhibited it in a high degree. She was one among four children to show the violent type. On the other or left side of the chart where the blood of the tyrannical Caroline of Austria is closest, we have Bomba and Carlotta, two of the same type in three children, and also Henrique, one in two, and Francis II., one in one. Imitation may have played a role, but then why did a certain definite number imitate and only a certain number do so?

What shall we say here of free-will? How could it have played any appreciable part in molding the characters of these scores of people, each apparently filling a little link in a chain, the destinies of which seem as much the result of birth and breeding as the product of the most carefully conducted racing stable?

Evidence from Denmark.

The royal house of Oldenburg from which the kings of Denmark are descended covers, from Frederick II. to the daughter of Frederick IV., three centuries and ten generations. Including in each generation not only the reigning sovereign, but also his brothers and sisters, the number of names brought into this family is thirty-seven. In order to get the necessary material for heredity study, there have been added in each generation all the ancestors of every child back to the great-grandparents, so the number brought together in this group is raised by 132, or 169 represents the total.

With the exception of the first two kings, this period of Danish history covers what is known as the 'Age of Absolutism,' 1670-1848. A good idea of the sovereign rights at this time and the general characteristics of the rulers may be gathered from the following quotation:

Although the Royal Law conferred so absolute a power on the king, a power such as was perhaps not vested in any other sovereign in Europe, the autocrats of the Oldenburg dynasty—good-natured, upright and not more than ordinarily gifted as they were—exercised the prerogative, on the whole, with moderation and leniency, and the country had often reason to be thankful for the advantages secured to it during this period, especially when among the royal councillors were to be found men of talent and capacity.

Good-natured, upright and not more than ordinarily gifted is a fair estimate for our thirty-seven members of the Oldenburg family taken as a whole. There are not more than three or four exceptions to this among them all. In other words, the Oldenburgs show no great mental and moral variations. Do the characteristics of the other 132, who, united with the male line, are the formers of the breed, warrant us in saying that this result is only what we might expect from the direct inheritance of the traits of these progenitors? It will be seen that the characteristics of these outsiders who represent the maternal side amply bear out such a belief.

In the pedigree of the Oldenburgs there is no Hapsburg, Bourbon or Romanhof insanity, or moral depravity. There is no Orange or Hohenzollern genius. In searching out the quality of the maternal blood as it was introduced all down the line, one finds no distinguished ancestry and few peculiar characters of any sort. Two of the queens had brilliant gifts of mind, one being also extremely unprincipled in her political actions. Aside from this there is little of interest in the ancestry. Frederick II., 15341588, was a headstrong and arbitrary ruler with too great a fondness for strong drink, but otherwise was not strange in any way and is not a striking figure in Danish history. His consort, Sophia, however, was a woman much praised for her intellectual eminence.[1] From this union sprang Christian IV., the idol of Danish history and the only sovereign who ranks at all with the more able kings of other countries. There were six other children, but Christian is the only one who has left a distinguished record. Anna, the wife of Christian IV., descended from a comparatively obscure branch of the Brandenburg family, was a mild, sweet-tempered, charitable princess,[2] but not a conspicuous character in contemporary records. Their son, Frederick III., 1609-70, was a wise and shrewd sovereign, but of languid disposition. His temper was amiable, and his reign popular. The brilliant, haughty and vindictive Sophia Amelia was queen during this reign. It was she who imprisoned the king's half sister for twenty-two years, because, when trying on the crown, it is said, Eleonora Christian dropped it and injured a very fine jewel. The same authority gives us the anecdote that she ordered a noble executed, because he claimed she would fall in love with him. The Brunswick stock from which she came shows at this point no eminence of any kind; still we expect some of her six children to have been mentally gifted. The next generation gives us a rather mediocre showing, with Prince George, husband of Queen Anne of England, almost a fool. Ulrica Elenora, who married Charles XI. of Sweden and became the mother of the remarkable Charles XII., was the only one among the six children to represent the intellectual side of the family.

Christian V. 1646-1699, the eldest son, courageous, enterprising and chivalrous, was no ordinary man, but the strong tendency to ease and pleasure and the weakness he showed in being governed by others forbid us to give him a high rating for intellect when this is judged by the standard of outward achievements. His marriage brought in no mental uplifting, since the Queen Charlotte Amelia was from an 'obscure' region in the family of Hesse Cassel. Neither in the next generation (Frederick IV.) or the two following this (Christian VI. and Frederick V.) do we find any noteworthy mental variations. In all these generations a study of the chart will show the stock good but far from illustrious.

We now come to a very interesting anomaly in Christian VII., the only son of Frederick V. by his first wife Louisa, daughter of George II. of England. Among all modern royalty there is scarcely a feebler specimen of the human race than this poor little, half-mad, debauchee king. His type of mind was so purile and his self-restraint so weak that it seems only charity to consider him among the irresponsibles. From L. Wraxall and Walpole an idea may be obtained of his conduct during his visit to England, giving the positive impression that he was a degenerate of the worst type. He would be in just the place we might expect to find him, if he belonged among the older Romanhofs or modern Bourbons, yet there is none of this blood in him, nor is there any other equally bad. Christian VII. was a grandson of George II., and whether he got his bad qualities from him it is impossible to say. If he did he was certainly a great deal worse than George and much feebler intellectually. It is interesting in connection with heredity to note that Christian VII. was a first cousin of George III. who was insane, and also the first cousin, once removed, of the two imbecile sons of Augusta Princess of Brunswick, sister of George III.

Another more convincing bit of evidence in this connection is to be found in the neighboring House of Hesse Cassel; here we find another first cousin, once removed, of Christian VII., who became insane and died in early manhood. The observation that this man Christian, son of Charles of Hesse Cassel, is doubly descended from the suspected strain (Palatine House) makes it almost certain that we are dealing with an inherited insanity in all cases. Both the mother and father of this Christian of Hesse were grandchildren of George II., and consequently from the Palatine House. I almost forgot to mention Frederick William I., of Prussia, about whom Macaulay said, 'His eccentricities were such as had never been seen out of a mad house.' Frederick William was a first cousin of George II. and stands as near the actual Palatine insanity as a nephew.

These six cases would, if occurring in families of ordinary social grades, be sent to asylums and never make their way into the records as showing a congenital tendency. Since they stand apart from the other regions of neurosis such as the Spanish, Russian and modern Bavarian groups, at first we might suspect nothing, but here where we have the family tree and can look up the ancestry, curiously enough we find all related, and through the same source (Palatine) and this the only one of their many lines of descent in which there was insanity.

It should be noticed that the percentages for heredity among the insane run from 20 to 90, according to the observer, and this should make us think that the higher rather than the lower figures are more likely to be correct.

Besides this evidence we may mention the following facts: that the uncle of Christian VII., the Duke of Cumberland, was extremely cruel, and his other uncle, Frederick, Prince of Wales, was a dissolute specimen and William IV. of England was eccentric to say the least. Whatever we may say for hereditary influence, at any rate the bringing up of Christian VII. was pretty bad. He was in the hands of his step-mother, Juliana Maria of Brunswick, who is said to have used every means to corrupt his morals and stunt his education that she might get the more power in her own hands. I only mention this to show a good example of the sort of cases that should make us bend strongly towards the importance of environment in molding the psychical form. It is the relative absence of such cases that has led to the view taken in this book. In spite of the fact that Christian VII. married his first cousin, related on the bad side of the house, since she was a sister of George III., his two children were not of the worst sort by any means, though in general we may say that one took after the father and one the mother. Louisa Augusta, the daughter, had relatively very little intellect, no ambition and a very quick temper, while Frederick VI., the next king, mild, affable and sensible, resembled his mother.

The remaining characters, Christian VIII. and Frederick VII., were merely examples of good normal men, liberal, popular and sufficiently able to fill their positions with honor to their country. There is nothing particularly interesting just here, so we can conclude the chapter of the Oldenburg dynasty with a glance back at the seventeenth century.

It will be noticed that there is one little region where the intellectual ratings are fairly high and that included in this group is Christian IV., the greatest of Danish kings. The only slight error from expected heredity is. that the intellectual eminence fails to be perpetuated to quite the extent we might have expected in any of the children of Frederick III. Ulrica Elenora, the only gifted child, was 'distinguished for her knowledge.' She was the mother of Charles XII., of Sweden, and in him the genius was more than rejuvenated.

Aside from this heredity is very well satisfied in the study of this country, there being not more than one or two exceptions at most to what we might expect from the workings of this force. It is also important to note that the age of absolutism entirely failed to produce a type of cruel and arrogant kings. Had such a type been here engendered it would certainly have been ascribed largely to the environment in which they lived.

  1. Allen, 'Hist, de Dannemark,' II., 29.
  2. L. Flamand, 'Danmarke Dronninger,' 1848, pp. 11, 12.