Full text: Problems in eugenics

4ooSection IV.F. W. Mott. 
HEREDITY AND EUGENICS IN RELATION TO INSANITY. 
Dr. F. W. Mott, F.R.S., 
Pathologist to the London County Asylums. 
Physician to Charing Cross Hospital. 
Allow me to thank the Eugenics Society for doing me the honour of 
asking me to fill the place of so distinguished a physician as Sir Wm. Osier, 
the Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford. The subject of Heredity and 
Eugenics in relation to Insanity is one which I, as Pathologist to the 
London County Asylums, have been studying in a practical manner for 
many years, and the more deeply I consider the question the more I find 
there is to be done before we shall be safe in drawing ultimate conclusions 
regarding certain practical questions dealing with the prevention of insanity. 
The subject of Heredity in its broad aspect is one of national importance 
and interest, as it affects many social and legislative questions. The interest 
taken by the general public in the question of heredity is a sign of social 
progress. People are beginning to recognise the truth of Professor Arthur 
Thomson’s dictum: “The present is the child of the past; our start in 
life is no haphazard affair, but is vigorously determined by our parentage 
and ancestry; all kinds of inborn characteristics may be transmitted from 
generation to generation.” 
All the modern doctrines of Human Heredity were foreshadowed by the 
ancient philosopher Lucretius, who, in de serum naturce, says: “ Some­ 
times, too, the children may spring up like the grandfathers, and often re­ 
semble the forms of their grandfather’s fathers, because the parents often 
keep concealed in their bodies many first beginnings mixed in many ways, 
which, first proceeding from the original stock, one father hands down to 
the next father, and then proceeding from them Venus produces 
forms after a manifold chance, and repeats not only the features but the 
voice and hair of forefathers, and the female sex equally springs from the 
father’s and males go forth equally from the mother’s body, since these 
distinctions no more proceed from the fixed seed of one or other parent, 
than our face and bodies and limbs. Again we perceive that the mind is 
begotten along with the body and grows up together with it, and grows old 
along with it.” 
Sir Francis Galton, the founder of Eugenics, and to whom the nation 
owes so much, established the Law of Ancestral Inheritance. According 
to this law each germ, male or female, contains on an average representative 
particles or germinal determinants derived from the two ancestral stocks in 
definite proportions. Thus one quarter comes from each parent, one-sixteenth 
from each grand-parent, and one-sixty-fourth from each great grand-parent. 
Thus an inheritance is not merely dual, it is multiple. Galton himself
	        

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