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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/190

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

causes increasing among that people the number of happy marriages, and consequently giving vigor to the population. This is one of the grand secrets of race-improvement by heredity. Instead of looking for wealth, men must look for beauty, character, and virtue. So long as they persist in forming alliances with women of feeble constitution, or lacking essential qualifications, the race will decline and degenerate. And, of course, the same deplorable consequences follow from the marriage of noble and well-organized women with men of inferior type. Fortunately, the tact and the instinctive dignity of women, and their natural liking for what is exalted, usually prevent their descending to debasing or dangerous alliances, and nearly always guard them against ill-assorted matches. "In place of giving way to sympathetic emotions," says M. S├ędillot, "which disorder the judgment, let one put himself the question, on seeing a person that pleases him, if he wants to have sons and daughters of that same type; and it is curious to note how often the reply will be in the negative. It were unreasonable, no doubt, to forego present advantage for the sake of some uncertain advantage in the future; still, wisdom requires us to bring the two into harmony, and to remember how swiftly time passes away, and how little is the value of the passing hour, as compared with the hopes and the enjoyments of the future." M. S├ędillot adds that, in ordinary times, hygiene, the moral evidence of the advantages of health and intelligence, would suffice for the regeneration of a people. France, unfortunately, has need of stronger and more efficacious agencies; she must go back to the very fountain-head of regeneration and of life, that is to say, must discover the speediest means of insuring to the coming generations a future of virtue and mettle. In other times it may have appeared difficult or ill-advised to import, into questions touching the reproduction of man, figures and estimates not unlike those employed in zootechny, where selection has long been practised. But now such scruples must give way before the dictates of necessity, which tells us in the most unmistakable way that we cannot afford to commit one blunder more.

Here we have to point out the means of staying or of reducing as far as possible the fatal heredity of disease, which is so powerful an obstacle to the improvement of the race. The preventive or prophylactic agencies which are to be employed to counteract the evolution of disease-germs depend, of course, on the nature of these latter. A consumptive mother must not suckle her infant; she ought to intrust it to the care of a good nurse. Those whose parents were affected with chest-diseases thrive but ill on an excessively animal diet: a regimen of white meats and light foods is best suited for them. As regards occupation, they should carefully avoid all such as would expose them to inhale dust, or to undergo alternations of heat and cold, or to use the voice habitually. Residence by the sea-side, in the south, and in localities where consumption is of rare occurrence,