Full text: papers communicated to the first International Eugenics Congress held at the University of London, July 24th to 30th, 1912

A. Marro.Biology and Eugenics.119 
The institutions of monarchy and hereditary nobility have perhaps been 
founded upon this principle. 
The Arabs take account, with jealous care, of the genealogy of their 
most renowned mares not only for hundreds but for thousands of years. 
The stock from whence Vesalius was born was from the time of his 
great-great-grandfather to that of his father composed of distinguished 
physicians. The brother of the founder of human anatomy had been him­ 
self attracted towards natural science by an inclination so powerful that 
his parents could not induce him to study Law. 
There exists, however, a fact which cannot have escaped the observa­ 
tion of those who have studied the problem of the transmission of characters 
by means of generation : while one has seen and one sees to-day children 
inheriting from their parents qualities by which the parents have become 
eminent, other children, on the contrary, do not correspond at all to this 
expectation. By the side of the history of Cimon, son of Miltiades, of Alexander, 
son of Philip; of the stock of the Scipios; and of the Gracchi; of the De 
Candolles, of the Darwins, of the Saint-Hilaires, of the Herschells, of 
the Jussieux, one is painfully surprised to see the sons of Hippocrates 
handed over for their stupidity to the buffooneries of the comedians, * and 
one is struck with astonishment in noting that from the race of Socrates 
and Aristotle there has not arisen the least spark of science, that Charles V., 
Peter the Great, Napoleon I., had only foolish sons, and many other cases 
of which history speaks or that one any day may observe in society. 
No reason for astonishment then that Dante formerly sang : 
“ Rade volte risurge per li rami 
L’umana probitade, e questo vuole 
Quei che la da, perche da lui si chiami.” 
Even in recent times, while Galton wrote a volume to prove that genius de­ 
rived its origin from families in which it had been so to say prepared and 
matured, Buckle denied this transmission as contradicted by a thousand facts.! 
There exist irrefutable facts in support of both opinions. The influence 
of inheritance is too evident to be denied, seeing that all observe its results, 
especially in races and peoples, as for example those of the Gauls and 
Germans who still preserve to our days the moral qualities noted by Caesar 
and Tacitus centuries ago. On the other hand there are undeniable facts 
which, apparently at least, contradict it, and that leads us naturally to recog­ 
nise that while the law of inheritance really exists there must also exist 
modifying agencies which turn its influence aside. 
* Galeno, Quod animi vires corporis temperaturas sequuntur, p. 318. Venise, 1709. 
t T. H. Buckle, Storia dell’mcivilimento in Inghilterra traduzione Italiana, t. I., cap, IV., 
p. 187. Milano, 1864.
        

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