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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/804

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tages to their offspring, which, still multiplying excessively, are again and again similarly sifted and improved or developed in a boundless course of forward evolution.

In the earlier stages of human existence, the fittest for survival were those whose brutal or physical energies best enabled them to struggle with the physical difficulties of their surroundings, to subjugate the crudities of the primeval plains and forests to human requirements. The perpetual struggles of the different tribes gave the dominion of the earth to those best able to rule it; the strongest and most violent human animal was then the fittest, and he survived accordingly.

Then came another era of human effort gradually culminating in the present period. In this, mere muscular strength, brute physical power, and mere animal energy have become less and less demanded as we have, by the aid of physical science, imprisoned the physical forces of nature in our steam-boilers, batteries, etc., and have made them our slaves in lieu of human prisoners of war. The coarse muscular, raving, yelling, fighting human animal that formerly led the war-dance, the hunt, and the battle, is no longer the fittest for survival, but is, on the contrary, daily becoming more and more out of place. His prize-fights, his dog-fights, his cockpits, and bull-baiting are practically abolished, his fox-hunting and bird-shooting are only carried on at great expense by a wealthy residuum, and by damaging interference with civilized agriculture. The unfitness of the remaining representatives of the primeval savage is manifest, and their survival is purely prejudicial to the present interests and future progress of the race.

Such being the case, we now require some means of eliminating these coarser, more brutal, or purely animal specimens of humanity, in order that there may be more room for the survival and multiplication of the more intellectual, more refined, and altogether distinctively human specimens. It is desirable that this should be effected by some natural or spontaneous proceeding of self-extinction, performed by the animal specimens themselves. If this self-immolation can be a process that is enjoyable in their own estimation, all the objections to it that might otherwise be suggested by our feelings of humanity are removed.

Now, these conditions are exactly fulfilled by the alcoholic drinks of the present day when used for the purpose of obtaining intoxication. The old customs that rendered heavy drinking a social duty have passed away, their only remaining traces being the few exceptional cases of hereditary dipsomania still to be found here and there among men and women of delicate fiber and sensitive organization.

With these exceptions, the drunkards of our time are those whose constitutions are so coarse, so gross and brutal, that the excitement of alcoholic stimulation is to them a delicious sensual delirium, a wild