Full text: Problems in eugenics

S. G. Smith.Appendix.485 
owing often to external conditions. The organs, faculties, and forces 
which go to make up a human being are so numerous, and the possible com­ 
binations are so vast beyond our calculation, that no one can predict the 
results of any particular union. This is indicated by the notorious differ­ 
ences among children of the same parents, brought up under the same 
conditions, who refuse to conform to the family type even under the 
strongest pressure of social and intellectual forces. 
It is idle to say that the children of persons of talent are more likely to 
show ability than children from the average home. Parents of talent are 
able to give exceptional advantages to their children, and ought to show a 
greater number of successes. There is not the slightest evidence that talent 
of any particular form is ever inherited. Neither Luther nor Napoleon, or 
Abraham Lincoln were anything less than biological surprises. Beethoven, 
Mozart, and Wagner could no more have been predicted than William 
Shakespeare or Michael Angelo. 
The surprises of sainthood are no less remarkable than those of genius. 
St. Francis D’Assisi, Catherine of Siena, and Florence Nightingale had 
no ancestry for their character and their work. 
In our time, less than ever before in the worlds history, is there any 
definite relation between social efficiency and physical fitness. The group 
cannot afford to be anything less than as robust and healthy as it is possible, 
for the activities of the group rest upon material foundations; nations require 
soldiers and manual labour needs muscle. But some of the most efficient 
individuals have been born with bad bodies and have been doomed to poor 
health. When Emmanuel Kant went to study philosophy in a German 
university, it is said that he was advised not to attempt the task because of 
his weak chest. He replied he would ignore his chest, and became the great 
teacher of the modern intellect. Herbert Spencer was so delicate as a child 
that he was not given a regular education, but no Englishman had a more 
marked influence upon his generation. Charles Kingsley was the prophet 
of muscular Christianity, but Robertson, of Brighton, was the greater 
preacher. There was a boy born in the Midlands so small and frail that 
even an English nurse did not think it worth while to keep him alive; 
but the little chap lived, grew to see an apple fall, and became Sir Isaac 
Newton. We cannot afford to adopt the Greek plan of throwing away 
unpromising infants. 
The most valuable work that can be undertaken by those interested in 
Eugenics is to apply the sense of soda! solidarity to the proper care of 
those children who are born into the world under the terms that now obtain. 
The fact is, nature is luxurious in life and resourceful in carrying out her 
aims. She is continually trying to repair the ravages which failure and 
folly make upon the strength of one generation by producing a new Adam 
and Eve for the fresh Garden of Eden. Nearly all children are well born. 
With a wider knowledge of hygiene, a better distribution of wealth and
	        

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