Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/239

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IMPROVEMENT OF THE HUMAN BREED.

believe that these dwindle away in subsequent generations. In short, the towns sterilize rural vigor.

As one of the reasons for choosing the selected class would be that of hereditary fertility, it follows that the selected class would respond more than other classes to the above influences.

I do not attempt to appraise the strength of the combined six influences just described. If each added one sixth to the produce the number of offspring would be doubled. This does not seem impossible considering the large families of colonists, and of those in many rural districts; but it is a high estimate. Perhaps the fairest approximation may be that these influences would cause the X women to bring into the world an average of one adult son and one adult daughter in addition to what they would otherwise have produced. The table of descent applies to one son or to one daughter per couple; it may now be read as specifying the net gain and showing its distribution. Should this estimate be thought too high, the results may be diminished accordingly.

It is no absurd idea that outside influences should hasten the age of marrying and make it customary for the best to marry the best. A superficial objection is sure to be urged that the fancies of young people are so incalculable and so irresistible that they cannot be guided. No doubt they are so in some exceptional cases. I lately heard from a lady who belonged to a county family of position that a great aunt of hers had scandalized her own domestic circle two generations ago by falling in love with the undertaker at her father's funeral and insisting en marrying him. Strange vagaries occur, but considerations of social position and of fortune, with frequent opportunities of intercourse, tell much more in the long run than sudden fancies that want roots. In a community deeply impressed with the desire of encouraging marriages between persons of equally high ability, the social pressure directed to produce the desired end would be so great as to ensure a notable amount of success.

Profit and Loss.

The problem to be solved now assumes a clear shape. A child of the X class (whatever X signifies) would have been worth so and so at its birth, and one of each of the other grades respectively would have been worth so and so; 100 X parentages can be made to produce a net gain of 100 adult sons and 100 adult daughters who will be distributed among the classes according to the standard table of descent. The total value of the prospective produce of the 100 parentages can then be estimated by an actuary, and consequently the sum that it is legitimate to spend in favoring an X parentage. The clear and distinct statement of a problem is often more than half way towards its solution. There seems no reason why this one should not be solved between limiting values that are not too wide apart to be useful.