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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/82

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78
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

is unable to understand the tastes, leading thoughts and all-absorbing ideal of the other.

The nearest approach to such state interference in intelectual selection can now be observed in the city of Washington. It is of course the unforeseen consequence of laws which were not in the least devised for selective ends; but, in spite of being clumsy, slow and but little discriminating, the process which obliges thousands of men of superior intellect, drawn from all parts of the country, to reside permanently or temporarily with their wives in a city selected for that purpose, could not fail to produce the usual results. The writer has shown elsewhere[1] that in no city or section of the country, nor even of any country, can be found such a high birth rate of genius. Birth rate of genius does not mean here the percentage of men of talent, born everywhere and now living in Washington, but the percentage of those born in Washington, who are now living in all parts of the country.

Our period sees in acquired knowledge a panacea for all evils and we have a federal Bureau of Education. A federal Bureau of Selection may be a distinctive feature of a next and more enlightened period. This institution will take up the work of which the publishers of "Biographical Dictionaries of Contemporary Men and Women of Distinction" now have the undisputed monopoly. Its officers will determine who are our bachelor celebrities and where are the daughters of those who are married. This last datum will be invaluable; if a pure-blood literary woman can not be found for a promising young novelist, a half-breed genius will always be better than a woman of the type of Dickens's wife. The bureau will supervise the education of the nation's future great men; should an Agassiz marry the daughter of a Dana, it will see that Latin and Greek be not allowed to crowd out geology from the educational curriculum of the children born of such a union; fossil studies are not the study of fossils. The organization of meetings and conferences of a literary, scientific and social character, in which men and women of talent will get acquainted with each other will be another duty of the bureau. Some will say that the state can not enter the marriage agency business without losing some of its dignity. If they were transported into the room where naked recruits, huddled together like cattle, are awaiting the medical examination which will decide of their fitness to kill other men in international duels, those same critics would not raise a protest. Such is the power of traditional ideas. There is more shame in the killing than in the marrying business, and it is more honorable for the state to raise the intellectual standard of the nation than to degrade the race, physically, mentally and morally.

  1. The Century Magazine, November, 1905.