Full text: Problems in eugenics

S. G. Smith.Appendix.483 
Sir Francis Galton uttered a pregnant sentence when he declared the 
science of heredity is concerned with large populations rather than with 
individuals.” This is not a question for the microscope; it involves a 
study of the nature of those forces which bring greatness to the social group. 
The strength of the social group is measured in no physical terms, but in its 
ideas, its passions, its ambitions; the social group grows strong by a sense 
of community of interests. One speech, one literature, one race, one 
tradition imposing themselves victoriously upon every individual produce an 
impregnable solidiarity. It is when the social mind is broken and confused, 
when it is distracted in its aims and purposes, when it halts between hope 
and fear, that a people become decadent. The nation is already defeated 
that has lost singleness of aim and faith in its own future. A nation as well 
as an individual may suffer from nervous shock—such a shock Great 
Britain had in the Boer War—and the result is exhibited in various forms 
of hysteria—some of them under the guise of very humane proposals. 
Merely biological therories are staggered by the facts of history. It is 
time to have done with regarding man as simply the highest of the mammals 
whose breed can be improved by the methods of the stock farm. The 
problems of race are at once deeper and vaster. As Herbert Spencer’s 
biological interpretation of society has been practically abandoned, not­ 
withstanding his immense services to modern knowledge, so eugenics must 
follow the path of sociology and give larger room for psychological forces. 
The greatest events in history have no corresponding changes in human 
physique. Japan won against Russia, not because of a larger brain, for 
physically the Japanese remains as he has been for a thousand years, 
but because of the impulse of a new passion and the dominance of a new 
idea. The Moslem did not take sword in hand because of the invention of 
a new breakfast food or a fresh system of ventilation, but because the dull 
eyes of the sons of Ishmael had found their own Moses. 
To return to our present problems. Without a doubt we are interested 
that the conditions of physical life and labour in any social group to which 
we are attached shall be the best possible. It is important that children 
should be well born. There are certain conclusions which are not senti­ 
mental, but on the contrary are essentially economic : 
(a) Hard labour must be forbidden to the expectant mother. In some 
communities this has found expression in maternity pensions. I am 
not here, however, as the advocate of any pension system. 
(b) A woman should have nourishing food both before and after mother­ 
(c) The physical surroundings must be wholesome. 
It would seem to be the duty of the municipal state to secure the proper 
physical environment for the home; because that is a problem too large to 
be solved in any municipality by the individual. It is a part of the 
problem of public health. The new social conscience asserts that every

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