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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/526

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

of natural selection. The present policy, therefore, tends to reduce that which in all ages has been the mainstay of every state, the middle class. The yoemen of England, the free burghers of Germany and of Italy, formed the best element in the Middle Ages. So was it also with the great republics of the ancient world. Aristotle, in more than one passage, has pointed out that the middle class, that which stands between the "excessively wealthy" and the "very poor," between the "millionaire" and the "wastrel," are the mainstay of every state, and he shows that, where the middle class has been crushed out by the millionaire or the mob, ruin has inevitably overtaken the state. Indeed, it is clear that the chief defect in the Greek democracies was the smallness and weakness of the middle class, whilst it is notorious that Eome prospered only as long as the middle-class citizens flourished. Her downfall came when they were extinguished by the great capitalists, who made common cause with the masses against them. The latter had no patriotism, were incapable of bearing arms, and had no aspirations beyond free meals and popular entertainments at the expense of the state.

It is of great scientific interest to discover how the short-skulled peoples of Asia and Europe became differentiated from their long-skulled congeners; it is of great practical importance to apply to the administration of our great dependencies and colonies the lessons taught by anthropology; but it is infinitely more important to maintain a vigorous stock of citizens for the kingdom and the empire. Questions of the origin of races are, after all, only academic; but the other two, more especially the last, are intimately bound up with the life of the nation. If the present policy of our legislators is adhered to, the moral and the physical standard of the British citizen will steadily deteriorate, for the population will gradually come to consist of the posterity of those who are themselves sprung from many generations of the most unfit. Should this unfortunately come to pass, it will be the result of human pride refusing to apply to the human race the laws which inexorably regulate all nature.