Full text: Problems in eugenics

482Appendix.S. G. Smith. 
One of the futilities of practical discussion is the supposition on the 
part of some people that if marriage be made difficult for the unfit, the 
race will thereby be improved. To this belief belong all the laws which 
are proposed for physical examination, tests and measurements preliminary 
to forming a home. It seems to me that all such proposals are at once 
excluded from the domain of practical considerations when we remember 
that wherever marriage is made difficult, either by law or by a high standard 
of living, immorality increases. Maternity and marriage are by no means 
synonymous. Where the State has decided that a certain class of persons 
are unfit to become parents, custodial care is indicated. Enlightened States 
have already agreed that the feeble-minded, the insane, and the pauper 
must not be allowed to become parents. Recent studies indicate that where 
the father and mother are both feeble-minded, the child is sure to be 
mentally deficient. The only remedy is for the State to restrain the feeble­ 
minded woman. Germany and Austria forbid marriages to recipients of 
poor relief, and it is quite evident that these laws are based upon a sound 
judgment. The case of the criminal is by no means so clear. Practical experience 
among convicts shows that a good many of them are deficient in intelligence; 
it might be more correct to say that numbers of them fail to adopt the ordinary 
social judgments with respect to conduct. It is by no means clear that there 
is any such relation of heredity among criminals as exists among the feeble­ 
minded. Professor Gould gives an account of an enquiry in France extend­ 
ing from 1850 to i860 into the family history of all prisoners tried in 
courts. As a result of this enquiry it was found that the number having 
previous convictions in their direct families varies from 12 to 19 per 1,000. 
The lowest figure was about the same as the number from the normal popula­ 
tion. In other words, the investigation showed that if France was to be 
rid of crime on the theory that it was a family inheritance, it could only 
be done by incarcerating the whole population. The fact is that patho­ 
logical specimens are found in all classes of society and from every grade of 
family life. It will be well for us to remember that the facts are not all 
in, and that the problems of eugenics cannot all be solved in the present 
generation. One of the values of public education and discussion will be exhibited in 
the creation of a new ethical sense on the part of the individual with respect 
to his own relations to the social group. The teaching of sex hygiene to 
young persons of suitable age and perfect candour in regard to the danger of 
sex disease are important; but perhaps of even more value is the more 
elemental view of the proper terms of human marriage. So long as women 
love strength and men love beauty, and mating is upon the terms of prefer­ 
ence, the human instinct does not go far wrong. Social and commercial 
conventions are as great impediments to proper marriage as a lack of know­ 
ledge as to fitness of temperament and organisation.

Note to user

Dear user,

In response to current developments in the web technology used by the Goobi viewer, the software no longer supports your browser.

Please use one of the following browsers to display this page correctly.

Thank you.