Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/189

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185
FRANCIS GALTON

in his work on heredity. In the introductory chapter to "Hereditary Genius" of 1869 we read:

I conclude that each generation has enormous power over the natural gifts of those that follow, and maintain that it is the duty we owe to humanity to investigate the range of that power, and to exercise it in a way that, without being unwise towards ourselves, shall be most advantageous to future inhabitants of the earth.

The subject had been discussed by him four years earlier in Macmillan's Magazine. In "Inquiries into Human Faculty" of 1883 we read:

My general object has been to take note of the varied hereditary faculties of different men, and of the great differences in different families and races, to learn how far history may show the practicability of supplanting insufficient human stock by better strains, and to consider whether it might not be our duty to do so by such efforts as may be reasonable, thus exerting ourselves to further the ends of evolution more rapidly and with less distress than if events were left to their own course. The subject is, however, so entangled with collateral considerations that a straightforward step-by-step inquiry did not seem to be the most suitable course. I thought it safer to proceed like the surveyor of a new country, and endeavor to fix in the first instance as truly as I could the position of several points.

It must not be thought that Francis Galton's contribution to this branch of social science was merely the demonstration of the inheritance of both normal and abnormal bodily and mental traits. In "Human Faculty" of 1883 and in the preceding memoirs upon which it was based are many topics of great sociological importance: gregarious and slavish instincts, population, and racial migrations, early and late marriage, and marks for family merit.

One of these questions which Galton discussed a quarter of a century and more ago has attracted and is bound to attract increasingly the attention of sociologists. It is the question of the relative contribution of town and country families to future generations. "Urban selection" has often been discussed by anthropologists. If it be true that the physically fitter and psychically superior are drawn into the grind of the city, and if it be true that both physical and mental traits are inherited, then it becomes of paramount importance to learn whether the families in the city do their share towards filling the ranks of the oncoming generation. Under any system in which they do not, every large city is an open wound from which the best blood of the nation is being poured. As long ago as 1873, Galton attempted to measure the relative rate of supply of city and country families to the population of future generations.

The new science which purposes to gather and sift and coordinate data concerning factors which are of significance in determining the characteristics of races was christened eugenics by Mr. Galton as early as 1883. As defined in the publications of the laboratory which he has endowed "National eugenics is the study of agencies under social con-