Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/321

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philanthropy ignorant of social science and of the natural sciences undertakes to correct Nature, to diminish at any price the chances of mortality of the weak, to cause them by means of its care and its assistance to survive artificially, what will be the results for future generations? At first, population will increase more than it would have done; every one will then find himself subjected to a greater difficulty in living, and exposed to destructive actions of the most intense character. This increase of population might still produce good results if it were not due to an increase in the number of the weak. But the survival of the weak spoils all; they marry with the strong, who under other conditions would alone have survived; such marriages change the general constitution of the race, and cause it to come down to a lesser degree of force, and what we might call tonicity, corresponding with the conditions of existence that have been artificially created. Such an instrument, whose cords are relaxed, no longer gives to strong or harmonious sounds as of old. An effeminacy of the species is produced, and it has become at the same time a little more numerous and a little weaker. In preserving the less vitalized part of the present generation, we have prepared for the decadence of coming generations.

This decadence is brought about also by other causes. Your philanthropy, say the Darwinians, suppresses or attenuates some noxious influences, and this gives delicate constitutions more chances of surviving and propagating themselves; but you do not perceive that, in place of the unfavorable influences suppressed by you, you cause new destructive ones to arise. "Let the average vitality," says Mr. Spencer, "be diminished by more effectively guarding the weak against adverse conditions, and inevitably there come fresh diseases," for the increase of diseases is the correlative of diminished vitality. Look at the numerous diseases unknown among barbarians from which civilized races suffer. Diseases of the brain, especially, seem to increase with civilization; the proportion of them to the whole population appears to have doubled in France since 1836. The activity which is stamped upon industry, the arts and the sciences, political and social agitation, the fever of money-making, and the consuming life of cities are engendering in civilized nations a condition of cerebral agitation resembling intoxication, which must predispose to intellectual troubles. We may add that the necessity of supporting the weak and non-producers, as Mr. Spencer says, imposes an additional excess of burden on the producers; the weariness of the latter increases till it becomes a cause of sickness and premature death, and the mortality which has been evaded in one shape must come round in another; and, finally, it is the inferiorly endowed who survive and the best endowed who perish. If this misguided fraternity is perpetuated, it will end, according to the Darwinians, by changing a vigorous and youthful society into a prematurely aged society. Suppose a whole nation composed of old