Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/236

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matically weeded away by this condition might be submitted in some appropriate way to the independent votes of fellow-students on the one hand, and of tutors on the other, whose ideals of character and merit necessarily differ. This ordeal would reduce the possible winners to a very small number, out of which an independent committee might be trusted to make the ultimate selection. They would be guided by personal interviews. They would take into consideration all favorable points in the family histories of the candidates, giving appropriate hereditary weight to each. Probably they would agree to pass over unfavorable points, unless they were notorious and flagrant, owing to the great difficulty of ascertaining the real truth about them. Ample experience in making selections has been acquired even by scientific societies, most of which work well, including perhaps the award of their medals, which the fortunate recipients at least are tempted to consider judicious. The opportunities for selecting women in this way are unfortunately fewer, owing to the smaller number of female students between whom comparisons might be made on equal terms. In the selection of women, when nothing is known of their athletic proficiency, it would be especially necessary to pass a high and careful medical examination; and as their personal qualities do not usually admit of being tested so thoroughly as those of men, it would be necessary to lay all the more stress on hereditary family qualities, including those of fertility and prepotency.

Correlation between Promise in Youth and subsequent Performance.

No serious difficulty seems to stand in the way of classifying and giving satisfactory diplomas to youths of either sex, supposing there were a strong demand for it. But some real difficulty does lie in the question—Would such a classification be a trustworthy forecast of qualities in later life? The scheme of descent of qualities may hold good between the parents and the offspring at similar ages, but that is not the information we really want. It is the descent of qualities from men to men, not from youths to youths. The accidents that make or mar a career do not enter into the scope of this difficulty. It resides entirely in the fact that the development does not cease at the time of youth, especially in the higher natures, but that faculties and capabilities which were then latent subsequently unfold and become prominent. Putting aside the effects of serious illness, I do not suppose there is any risk of retrogression in capacity before old age comes on. The mental powers that a youth possesses continue with him as a man; but other faculties and new dispositions may arise and alter the balance of his character. He may cease to be efficient in the way of which he gave promise, and he may perhaps become efficient in unexpected directions.