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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/116

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ther increased by those who, from the various causes already referred to, abstain from marriage, will cause considerable numbers of men to remain permanently unmarried, and as these will consist very largely, if not almost wholly, of those who are the least perfectly developed either mentally or physically, the constant advance of the race in every good quality will be insured.

This method of improvement by elimination of the worst has many advantages over that of securing the early marriages of the best. In the first place, it is the direct instead of the indirect way, for it is more important and more beneficial to society to improve the average of its members by getting rid of the lowest types than by raising the highest a little higher. Exceptionally great and good men are always produced in sufficient numbers, and have always been so produced in every phase of civilization. We do not need more of these so much as we need less of the weak and the bad. This weeding-out system has been the method of natural selection by which the animal and vegetable worlds have been improved and developed. The survival of the fittest is really the extinction of the unfit. In nature this occurs perpetually on an enormous scale, because, owing to the rapid increase of most organisms, the unfit which are yearly destroyed form a large proportion of those that are born. Under our hitherto imperfect civilization this wholesome process has been checked as regards mankind; but the check has been the result of the development of the higher attributes of our nature. Humanity—the essentially human emotion—has caused us to save the lives of the weak and suffering, of the maimed or imperfect in mind or body. This has to some extent been antagonistic to physical and even intellectual race-improvement; but it has improved us morally by the continuous development of the characteristic and crowning grace of our human, as distinguished from our animal, nature.

In the society of the future this defect will be remedied, not by any diminution of our humanity, but by encouraging the activity of a still higher human characteristic—admiration of all that is beautiful and kindly and self-sacrificing, repugnance to all that is selfish, base, or cruel. When we allow ourselves to be guided by reason, justice, and public spirit in our dealings with our fellow-men, and determine to abolish poverty by recognizing the equal rights of all the citizens of our common land to an equal share of the wealth which all combine to produce—when we have thus solved the lesser problem of a rational social organization adapted to secure the equal well-being of all, then we may safely leave the far greater and deeper problem of the improvement of the race to the cultivated minds and pure instincts of the Women of the Future.—Fortnightly Review.