Full text: Problems in eugenics

A. Marro.Biology and Eugenics.125 
The former are precisely the characters especially proper to old age, while 
the latter are particularly those of youth. 
We have, in truth, two periods in the life of man in which he is dis­ 
posed to craft rather than to force. The first corresponds to infancy, 
when the physical powers are still in defect; the second, advanced age, 
when the physical powers have commenced to decline. In the former of 
these two epochs man is not yet fit for generation; with this fitness there 
comes at youth the impulse to violence. 
Amongst swindlers the proportion of children of aged parents is as high 
as 37%, and if it is not higher the reason is that many of them have com­ 
mitted this crime at an advanced age when they had already acquired, 
with the experience of life, the special qualities which predispose to this 
type of crime. 
With the true swindlers the proportion rises to 56% if one includes with 
those who are descended from parents advanced in age, the criminals who 
are themselves aged. 
So the saying of Quetelet, that swindling is the crime of mature age, turns 
out, according to my researches, to be profoundly true, if one adds the in­ 
fluence of the age at generation. 
I observed not long ago a new case which admirably served to prove 
the tendency to swindling inherited from aged parents. It con­ 
cerned an individual 25 years of age, accused of different forms of 
swindling. He was a son of parents, both of them aged, the father being 
more than 50 at his birth and the mother 42. This latter was also a neuro­ 
path. The son grew up with clear evidences of moral defect, obtuse intelli­ 
gence, dislike of work, and a tendency to thieve. At the age of eleven 
years he rifled his mother’s house, then got himself gagged and bound upon 
a chair by an accomplice in order to make his mother believe that strange 
thieves had entered the house and made it impossible for him to give the 
alarm while they carried off the goods which were missing. Justice re­ 
vealed the deceit and the child was condemned to prison. At a later period, 
to his moral defects were added morbid manifestations of another kind, 
but the inclination towards crime was revealed afresh by swindles of different 
kinds which brought him a second time into the dock. 
In crimes against the person, as might have been expected, I have found 
a greater number amongst the children of aged parents. Assassins, homi­ 
cides, those who show the most complete absence of affective feelings and 
frequently a more or less clear delusion of persecution, gave the enormous 
proportion of 52.9% of children of fathers of advanced age, a proportion 
much greater than that given by any other class of criminals, and the pro­ 
portion remains great both for aged fathers and aged mothers who appear 
in their ancestry as 38% against 17% presented by normal people. 
The most violent assassins that I have had occasion to study have 
had a father or mother or both aged. One of them, a son of parents, both

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