Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/395

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

itself and its enterprises; it must hold the sources of raw material and the trade routes requisite to develop the wealth upon which its population depends; it must have the education necessary to make its craftsmen, its traders, its inventors, its men of science, its diplomatists and its statesmen the equals at least of those of its rivals on the world-stage. Nay, perhaps as important as all these, it must have traditions and ideals so strong that the prejudices of individuals and the prerogatives of classes will fall before urgent national needs; it requires teachers, be they pressmen, poets or politicians, who grasp the wants of the nation as a whole; who, independent of class and party, can remind the people at the fitting moment of their traditions and their special function amid nations.

Yet if we come to analyze these secondary conditions, we shall find in each case that their realization depends on the fulfilment of our primary condition. Without high average soundness of body and soundness of mind, a nation can neither be built up nor an empire preserved. Permanence and dominance in the world passes to and from nations even with their rise and fall in mental and bodily fitness. No success will attend our attempts to understand past history, to cast light on present racial changes, or to predict future development, if we leave out of account the biological factors. Statistics as to the prevalence of disease in the army of a defeated nation may tell us more than any dissertation on the genius of the commanders and the cleverness of the statesmen of its victorious foe. Lost provinces and a generation of hectoring may follow to the conquered nation whose leaders have forgotten the primary essential of national soundness in body and mind.

Francis Galton, in establishing a laboratory for the study of national eugenics in the University of London, has defined this new science as "the study of agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations, either physically or mentally." The word eugenic here has the double sense of the English well-bred, goodness of nature and goodness of nurture. Our science does not propose to confine its attention to problems of inheritance only, but to deal also with problems of environment and of nurture. It may be said that much social labor has already been spent on investigating the condition of the people; there have been royal commissions, parliamentary and departmental committees, and much independent effort on the part of philanthropists, medical men and social reformers. I would admit all this, and would try to appraise it at its true value. Some of it has provided useful material for eugenic study; much of it is the product of wholly irresponsible witnesses with comments by commissioners equally untrained in dealing with statistical problems. Witnesses, commissioners, philanthropists, social reformers, as a rule, and medical men only too frequently sadly need that technical education, that power of reasoning about statistical