Page:George Archdall Reid 1896 The present evolution of man.djvu/319

This page needs to be proofread.



In a former page, when endeavouring to ascertain the direction of man's present evolution, it was remarked—"If we would discover in what direction the evolution of an evolving species is proceeding, it is a good plan to note which members of it survive and which perish. We shall then, by observing the difference in qualities between the fit and the unfit, be able to discover what traits favour survival, and therefore what traits are undergoing evolution." We then came to the conclusion, that since men perished mainly of disease, Man's Present Evolution must be mainly against disease. But beside disease there are in various countries certain other agencies, which are the cause of a great elimination of the unfit, either directly, or more often indirectly, by producing deadly disease or considerable incapacity, and which are therefore causes of evolution wherever they are present. Such are various narcotics, the use of one or other of which is prevalent over by far the greater part of the globe, and with which the unfit are poisoned, and with more or less rapidity destroyed—alcohol, opium, hashish, &c.

Alcohol.—It cannot be questioned that alcohol is a poison, and the cause of many deaths. Opinions are divided as to whether it is ever beneficial, and therefore a cause of survival, but certainly there can be no