Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/327

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vices, like physical vices, end, after they have been for a long time implanted in families or races, by transmitting themselves from generation to generation. Darwin insists much on the transmission of that moral quality which he calls character, strength of will, courage, self-reliance; on the other hand, there are also, according to him, people trifling, idle, and careless by right of birth, like the Irish. Transport to the same country an equal number of Scotch and Irish, says Darwin: at the end of a certain time the Irish will have become ten times as numerous as the Scotch, but the latter, by virtue of their hereditary qualities, will be at the head and occupying the highest places. "If any one denies," says Mr. Spencer, "that children bear likenesses to their progenitors in character and capacity, if he holds that men whose parents and grandparents were habitual criminals, have tendencies as good as those of men whose parents and grandparents were industrious and upright, he may consistently hold that it matters not from what families in a society the successive generations descend. He may think it just as well if the most active, and capable, and prudent, and conscientious people die without issue; while many children are left by the reckless and dishonest. But whoever does not espouse so insane a proposition, must admit that social arrangements which retard the multiplication of the mentally-best, and facilitate the multiplication of the mentally-worst, must be extremely injurious." Help the least meritorious to propagate themselves by enfranchising them from the mortality to which their absence of merit devotes them, and merit itself will become more and more rare from generation to generation. Furthermore, besides seeing to their own preservation and that of their families, the good will be obliged also to look to the preservation of the bad and their families, and will be thus in danger of being overtaxed. This is what Stuart Mill also complains of. In consequence of the unintelligent use of the income-tax, and the obligation of every parish to support its poor, the workers are compelled to take care of the idle. Is this justice? In some cases, this situation prevents the industrious from marrying; in others, it limits the number of their children, or prevents their giving them a sufficient support; in others, it takes industrious men from their families; in every way it tends to arrest the propagation of the capable, to injure their constitution, and to bring them down to the level of the incapable. During this time the latter will increase and multiply, conformably to the misinterpreted wisdom of the Bible; they will swarm at the expense of others. This, says Mr. Spencer, is a deliberate storing-up of miseries for future generations. We can not make a worse present to posterity than to encumber it with a continually increasing number of imbeciles and criminals. To aid the bad in multiplying is, in effect, the same as maliciously providing for our descendants a multitude of enemies. We have a right to ask if the maudlin philanthropy which thinks only of ameliorating the evils of the moment and persists in