Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/237

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IMPROVEMENT OF THE HUMAN BREED.

The correlation between youthful promise and performance in mature life has never been properly investigated. Its measurement presents no greater difficulty, so far as I can foresee, than in other problems which have been successfully attacked. It is one of those alluded to in the beginning of this lecture as bearing on race-improvement, and being on its own merits suitable for anthropological inquiry. Let me add that I think its neglect by the vast army of highly educated persons who are connected with the present huge system of competitive examinations to be gross and unpardonable. Neither schoolmasters, tutors, officials of the universities, nor of the State department of education, have ever to my knowledge taken any serious step to solve this important problem, though the value of the present elaborate system of examinations cannot be rightly estimated until it is solved. When the value of the correlation between youthful promise and adult performance shall have been determined, the figures given in the table of descent will have to be reconsidered.

Augmentation of Favored Stock.

The possibility of improving the race of a nation depends on the power of increasing the productivity of the best stock. This is far more important than that of repressing the productivity of the worst. They both raise the average, the latter by reducing the undesirables, the former by increasing those who will become the lights of the nation. It is therefore all important to prove that favor to selected individuals might so increase their productivity as to warrant the expenditure in money and care that would be necessitated. An enthusiasm to improve the race would probably express itself by granting diplomas to a select class of young men and women, by encouraging their intermarriages, by hastening the time of marriage of women of that high class, and by provision for rearing children healthily. The means that might be employed to compass these ends are dowries, especially for those to whom moderate sums are important, assured help in emergencies during the early years of married life, healthy homes, the pressure of public opinion, honors, and above all the introduction of motives of religious or quasi-religious character. Indeed, an enthusiasm to improve the race is so noble in its aim that it might well give rise to the sense of a religious obligation. In other lands there are abundant instances in which religious motives make early marriages a matter of custom, and continued celibacy to be regarded as a disgrace, if not a crime. The customs of the Hindoos, also of the Jews, especially in ancient times, bear this out. In all costly civilizations there is a tendency to shrink from marriage on prudential grounds. It would, however, be possible so to alter the conditions of life that the most prudent course for an X class person should lie exactly opposite to its present direction, for