Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/56

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duced from three other important points in physiology. Where do we find the highest measure or the most perfect health? It is in this same normal standard of physiology, and the nearest approaches to it. In some respects the human body resembles a complicated machine: the more perfect the structure, and the more nicely adjusted are all the parts of the machinery, the less likely is any one part to get out of order. And when one part, however small it may be, gives out or breaks, it at once involves the other parts, all of which must more or less suffer. Thus the individual, the family, the people which possess by nature the soundest and best-balanced organizations, will have, other things being equal, the greatest aggregate amount of health. Not only this, but they will secure the longest lives. This same standard of physiology, then, affords the material upon which the law of longevity is based. A careful examination of the organization of all those persons who reach a great age, we believe, will demonstrate that they naturally possessed a remarkably healthy and evenly balanced constitution.

Again, whenever physical standards of human excellence or models of the best specimens of the race have been sought or adduced, they have exhibited this harmonious development. The Apollo Belvedere and the Venus de' Medici represent a beautiful symmetrical organization; and, the nearer all parts of the body approximate to this standard, the greater is the attraction and the more beautiful the form. If there is a form or type of organization in the human species more beautiful than any other, is not this the model, the standard? We believe the Creator of all things has established in physiology such a standard of taste and beauty, and that this same normal standard, upon which the law of increase is based, comprises that beautiful form or standard of taste for the human body which, it has been admitted, existed, but is nowhere well defined.

Again, arguments in favor of this theory of increase may be deduced from the writings of Charles Darwin. Two of his leading doctrines are "natural selection" and the "law of variability." The former doctrine may be defined thus: There is an inherent principle in nature, amid all its laws and changes, for betterment, for improvement. The same result has been found out from long experience, that the character of domestic animals can be improved by selecting the most desirable qualities and by avoiding all that conflict with these. This principle is most strikingly manifested in all organic beings in their constant "struggle for existence," and is happily expressed in the phrase often used by some writers, the "survival of the fittest." We believe this same principle not only harmonizes with, but is nothing more nor less than a great general law of increase, based upon the perfectionism of all organization and harmony of function; and what are denominated "laws of variation" may be explained by the laws of hereditary descent. When we take into consideration the fact that