Full text: Problems in eugenics

F. C. S. Schiller. Education and Eugenics. 
further the output of children in the upper classes, the shortage in which is 
so perilous. In dealing with the middle classes the educational problem is much 
simpler. They are the classes in which the social order stimulates and 
justifies ambition, in which the effort to rise has good prospects, and the 
rewards of ability and strenuousness are high. The youth of these classes, 
consequently, form the educator’s best material, and the source of most of 
the efficient intelligence by which the work of life is carried on. 
Nor can society be charged with not providing adequate careers for ability 
in the professions. Its failure here is of another sort. In all the professions 
(except, perhaps, that of the actress) the young are underpaid, and 
established reputations are overpaid. It would be eugenically preferable 
to do the opposite. Yet the existing practice is largely due to unintentional 
stupidity, and failure to discover ability soon enough. Now to the 
individual this system brings compensation, if he lives long enough, because 
he continues to be rewarded for work he has done long ago, and even is no 
longer capable of doing, and is eventually raised to the status of a “ grand 
old man ” whom ancient institutions delight to honour, by dint of sheer 
longevity. But eugenically this social hysteresis, this delay in recompensing 
merit, has a fatal effect. It renders the capable, ambitious and rising 
members of the professional classes unduly sterile, owing to compulsory 
celibacy, postponement of marriage, overwork, etc. Thus a large 
proportion of the ability which rises to the top of the social ladder lasts 
only for one generation, and does not permanently benefit the race. It is 
evident, moreover, that precisely in proportion as a society improves the 
opportunities of the able to rise, it must accelerate the elimination of 
fitness in the racial stock. So long as a relatively rigid social order 
rendered it almost impossible for ability to rise from the ranks, reservoirs 
of ability could accumulate unseen in the lower social strata, and burst 
forth in times of need, as in the French Revolution : but the more success­ 
fully a carriere ouverte aux talents is instituted, the more surely are these 
strata kept drained, and incapacitated from retrieving the waste of ability 
in the upper layers of society. Now it is doubtless true that the primary 
need of society is to find persons capable of conducting its affairs ably, and 
that a social order which does not allow ability to rise is therefore bad : but 
nations cannot with impunity so order themselves as to eliminate the very 
qualities they most admire and desire, and must husband their resources in 
men as in the other sources of their wealth and welfare. How then under 
the existing conditions can our resources best be conserved? 
It should be observed in the first place that, without the least theoretical 
intention, the merely practical exigencies of education have in England 
gradually produced a system and a sentiment which to some extent 
counteract the mischiefs we have mentioned, and potentially, at least, may

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