Full text: Problems in eugenics

128Section I.A. Marro. 
Amongst children whose fathers were less than 26 years we have the 
maximum of bad conduct and the minimum of good, and that corresponds 
with the greater turbulence characteristic of youth and transmitted to chil­ 
dren by fathers who have not arrived at the period of complete maturity at 
the time of generation. 
This result confirms consequently the irregularity of the characters of 
children born of young fathers. The result obtained for pupils, children 
of aged fathers, seems, on the contrary, to contradict that which the ex­ 
amination of criminals had led one to suppose; however, it is useful to 
observe that the crimes in which the descendants of aged fathers show a 
predominance, grave crimes of blood-shed and swindling, are specially 
committed by individuals who show a more or less clear delusion of perse­ 
cution, or who show a great facility for lying. Now persons affected by 
the delusion of persecution are always better in surroundings where dis­ 
cipline is maintained, in which the struggle of social life is less active, 
than when exposed to this struggle; and it is for this reason that individuals 
of this character are better at school, as from another point of view, we 
see them better in prison. From my enquiries regarding crimes committed 
in prison it appears that the class of criminals capable of the greatest crimes 
•of blood-shed are reckoned amongst those who undergo the smallest 
number of punishments in prison.* If, instead of only examining the 
conduct, one examines the moral character shown, such as the schoolmaster 
can recognise it, the children of young fathers give the maximum of ir­ 
regular characters as regards obstinacy, stubbornness, negligence and tur­ 
bulence; but if one takes account only of the moral qualities showing a true 
positive perversity, deceit, lying, quarrelsomness, then the difference tends 
to disappear, and we only find 7% bad characters of this class, while the 
other two classes furnish 6% each. 
The excess, however, would always be furnished entirely by children 
born of young fathers, but there is a moral quality apt to develop a number 
of abnormalities of character which the course of social life will make 
apparent; it is the habitual condition of depression of mind to which one 
calls a melancholy character. Under the influence of this condition 
the impressions which arrive from without and those which are evoked from 
within too easily assume a painful character, which predisposes the indi­ 
vidual to react violently against them and to place himself thus in conflict 
with the laws. 
Now by the indications obtained from the scholars examined from this 
point of view, of the number of 364 the proportions of the two kinds of 
temperament were found in the following order :— 
* Caratteri dei delinquenti, p. 364.

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