Full text: Problems in eugenics

182Section III.A. Loria. 
capacity, or because all the others who have inherited these positions from 
preceding possessors are completely devoid of such aptitudes. Thus, eco­ 
nomic superiority cannot in any case be assumed to be the measure or 
reflection of psycho-physical superiority. 
But we can have an experimental proof of this conclusion, observing 
conjugal selection, as it is practised to-day, and its results. And, in fact, 
conjugal selection at the present day is carried on precisely according to the 
principle which we contest, because, regularly, individuals belonging to the 
upper economic classes marry exclusively amongst themselves. Now, :f 
individuals belonging to this class were truly the privileged depositories of 
superior aptitudes, clearly their offspring ought to show these aptitudes in 
marked degree, and, therefore, should present the most wonderful results. 
Now, on the contrary, the very opposite takes place, and it is exactly mar­ 
riages of ciass and caste which furnish the most deplorable results. Fahl- 
beck, in his authoritative work upon “ Swedish Nobility,” has shown how 
caste marriages prevailing amongst them produce a progressive degeneration, 
which manifests itself by frequent celibacy, much delayed marriage of the 
male sex, the large and increasing proportion of sterile marriages, the small 
and decreasing fecundity (now 15.4 per cent.) always less than the death- 
rate, the increasing number of female births, the increasing mortality of 
youths under 20 years of age, the deaths of the children before that of the 
parents, which gradually tends to cause the extinction of the stock. As a 
consequence of that, 70 per cent, of the original noble families are now 
extinct, and notwithstanding the continual ennobling of bourgeois families, 
the number of noble families does not increase or very often decline. And 
Fahlbeck takes care to add that all this applies precisely to the whole 
wealthy class, of which the nobility is only a fragment. 
But the same law of “ return to the mean ” which operates so inexorably 
in the circle of the upper classes, seems to me to be an ultimate proof of the 
absolute separation of psycho-physical superiority and eminence in the social 
scale. Let us take some individuals who are all possessed of a superior 
income, and therefore—according to the hypothesis which we dispute—of 
a mental quality above the average. If, now, these individuals marry, 
their children will inherit in marked degree their superior qualities, and 
hence will preserve, if not raise, the superior average of their stock, nor 
give cause for any phenomenon of regression, exception being made of the 
exceptional qualities of an extraordinarily gifted progenitor, which we can 
here completely ignore. Thus, if the caste selection were really a eugenic 
selection, it ought to preserve the inferior average in the descendants and 
never give occasion for descent from it. But, on the contrary, these 
selected marriages give rise not only to a regression from the extraordinary 
qualities of some progenitor of the family, but precisely to a regression from 
the superior average to a fall into mediocrity.

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