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• struggle for existence in society is a struggle not for the means of existence, but for the means of enjoyment.'* This may be so in such a country as France, but it would be cynical to apply the statement to such a case as York. And if we consider the fact that the population of France is all but stationary, it will be seen that the effect of the one agency may be as restrictive as that of the other.
No one can deny that the principle of natural selection suggests grave problems to the social reformer. Poverty,' Darwin tells us with truth that cannot be contradicted, is 'not only a great evil, but tends to its own increase by • leading to recklessness in marriage.'t He continues : ‘On • the other hand, as Mr. Galton has remarked, if the prudent
avoid marriage, whilst the reckless marry, the inferior members will tend to supplant the better members of
society. It has been asserted, though the evidence would require careful scrutiny, that something of the kind is actually taking place in some parts of France. Another quotation must be made from Darwin, because it would be impossible to state the argument in more pregnant words :
* Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present high condition through a struggle for existence consequent on his rapid multiplication ; and if he is to advance still higher he must remain subject to a severe struggle. Otherwise he would soon sink into indolence, and the more highly gifted men would not be more successful in the battle of life than the less gifted. Hence our natural rate of increase, though leading to many and obvious evils, must not be greatly diminished by any means. There should be open competition for all men ; and the most able should not be prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best and rearing the largest number of offspring.' (L.c.) It is scarcely necessary to emphasise the fact that the verdict of natural selection is absolutely opposed to those who would seek social amelioration in a dead level of average comfort, from which the best could not rise and the worst would not sink.
Wallace, however, hit the truth when he stated † that 'man ... is actually able to take away some of that power ' from Nature which before his appearance she actually • exercised. Man can never escape from natural selection, which will remorselessly punish all his errors, while it will support his best endeavours. But we are between the upper and the nether millstones : how are we to escape from the
effects of the indolence of the Seychelles on the one hand, and of the poverty of York on the other? All that can be said is that a race which is at once prolific and intelligent must in the long run, other conditions not being adverse, oust all other races.
Man is no doubt largely master of his own destiny. The general duty of the State would seem, in the light of what has been stated, to be limited to the restraint, in so far as is practicable, of the undue increase of the most degenerate class of the proletariate, and to the removal of restrictions which would operate against capacity and originality having a free chance, not merely for themselves, but for their offspring. Darwin thought that primogeniture was 'a scheme .... for destroying natural selection.'* Direct interference may in theory be practicable, but in practice it would be hopelessly repugnant to general sentiment. The experiment of the Oneida community is little likely to be imitated, even if we could place confidence in anyone who would undertake the unenviable responsibility of directing it. Frederick the Great is said to have seriously attempted to create a race of giants. Theoretically the thing might be done; but it would require many generations to establish a stable race, and it would require a Methuselah to carry it through. Darwin justly thought all such hopes ... • Utopian';but Mr. Galton has boldly launched a scheme by which he thinks the State might actually deal with the problem.
Indirectly and in detail the Darwinian principle has in several directions forced itself on public opinion. Mental disease and crime are to a large extent hereditary, and it becomes a pressing problem how far it may be necessary to segregate those who exhibit those aberrations from the community like lepers, and prevent their continuing their race. What is to be done with the professional criminal' of whom the Prison Commissioners report, “His crime is 'not due to special causes such as sudden passion, drunken. ness, or temporary distress, but to a settled intention to gain a living by dishonesty'? For such“ moral cripples' Huxley thought there is nothing but shutting up or extirpation.' 1
And disease itself offers a wide problem. In any one case it is certain that, owing to the action of variation, all
* Life, vol. iii. p. 91.
| Life, vol. ii. p. 306.
individuals are not equally liable to become its victims. Two men may sleep in the Himalayan Terai, and one will die and the other escape. If any epidemic disease were allowed to run its own course, the most susceptible would be exterminated, and the disease itself would either disappear for want of anything to prey on or assume a mitigated form. It can hardly be doubted that this was the case with many of the scourges of the Middle Ages. The natives of tropical Africa exist in the face of malarial fever, which decimates European officials. Measles, which in Europe is only a moderately fatal disease, operated like a pestilence in Fiji. It has even been surmised that a common cold' is the last attenuated form of a disease which was once lethal. The severe mortality from influenza has perhaps increased the immunity of future generations. The recalcitrance of the unvaccinated may in this aspect have a patriotic side. Sentiment precludes the State from regarding excessive mortality with philosophic indifference, and science has placed at its disposal means of mitigating its ravages. But it must be remembered that these are only a shield, and their very existence imposes a greater risk on those who do not avail themselves of them.
Darwinism has something to say also about education. If,' as Lankester states correctly, pure Darwinism is to be accepted, then education bas no value in directly affecting the mental or physical features of the race, but only in • affecting those of the individual.'* Its object, then, must be to fit human beings for their social existence; in other words, to make them good citizens, and to afford those with gifts above the average the opportunity of developing them. By improving the standard of conduct the indirect influence of education is not inconsiderable. Drink, betting, and ignorant or careless housekeeping are more potent causes of poverty than a low wage. Education, by restraining selfindulgence, may do much to remedy its effects and raise the power of wage-earning. That it has actually done something the orderliness of our vast crowds is a conspicuous testimony. A well-nourished population supplies one of the conditions for the perpetuation of a vigorous race. An aristocratic structure of society has at least the merit of presenting us with standards of excellence, both physical and mental. As Lankester remarks, 'It is not a little
remarkable that the latest developement of zoological
* Advancement of Science, pp. 378, 379.
science should favour that respect to breeding which is • becoming less general than it was, and should tend to • modify the current estimate of the results of popular • education.'*
The questions of genius and the exhibition of exceptional talent have been the subject of much speculation. Weismann points out that 'Gauss was not the son of a mathematician ;
Handel's father was a surgeon, of whose musical powers ‘nothing is known; Titian was the son and also nephew of ' a lawyer.' † He adds that such cases prove that a high de
gree of endowment in a special direction cannot have arisen s from the experience of previous generations.' Talents, then, must be regarded as analogous to 'sports'; thus Huxley says: “Newton was to all intents and purposes a "sport" of a dull agricultural stock.' I But it is to be observed that the families in which talent appears are often found to have varied in the direction of a higher average intelligence, which shows itself from time to time in special ways; that of the Cavendishes is an obvious example. And it may be conjectured that special gifts will be more apt to manifest themselves in a race which is not subsiding into a condition of stability, but is vigorously responding to the struggle for existence. This consideration may throw some light on the extraordinary outburst of talent in Italy in the Middle Ages. Huxley thought that the conditions of our present social 'existence exercise the most extraordinarily powerful selective
influence in favour of novelists, artists, and strong intellects of all kind.' $ And this is true; but the inference is not that there will be races of novelists, but only of strong ' intellects. But natural selection does not stop even at man; it extends to the products of his activity. As Lange observes, 'Even the great discoveries and inventions, which
form the basis of higher civilisation and intellectual progress, are still subordinate to that universal law of the conservation of the strongest, while they are at the same
time tested by the most delicate methods of science and art.'|
In a sense Darwin accomplished a larger task than he proposed to himself, or even had foreseen. He left the theory of Evolution a completed generalisation. And this has no doubt influenced and impressed many who troubled
gation Leary where fallen study of its histle to respect.
little about the details of the Darwinian theory. In its broadest aspects evolutionism has become a commonplace of ordinary thought. The effect, paradoxical as it may seem, has been on the whole conservative. The recognition of the fact that in every detail the present is built on the past has invested the latter with a new title to respect, and given a fresh impulse to the study of its history. A priori methods have everywhere fallen out of favour, and no serious investigation has any chance of acceptance which is not based on à critical examination of all preceding documents which would throw light upon it. This may be traced in part to a growing confidence in the trustworthiness of the scientific method, and to a belief that, if it errs, it possesses in the long run the means of correcting its own errors. A notable instance is the subsidence of the terror at the results of Biblical criticism. There is a tacit acknowledgement that if in this and other matters the truth can be ascertained it has to be faced. On the other hand, it is perceived that the demands of science are not necessarily arrogant, and that its conclusions are at the best tentative, and subject to correction in the light of fresh knowledge.
The fundamental principle of Evolution is continuity, and this falls in with the innate conservatism of the British race. Our legal system is the despair of the scientific jurist because it cannot be deduced from symmetrical principles, but is an organic growth, still possessing an inherent elasticity which enables it, if in a cumbrous fashion, to adapt itself to new conditions. But we have refrained from enforcing it on countries under our rule which possess a jurisprudence of their own, and no tribunal has ever been called upon to administer such varied systems of law as our Privy Council. In the coronation of our sovereigns we still preserve the form of popular election, and their assent is given to the Acts of our legislature in Norman-French.
In the preservation of such forms our action has been rather instinctive than reasoned. We have, in fact, unconsciously obeyed the laws of organic Nature, which suppresses nothing till its further preservation proves injurious, and replaces nothing till changed conditions demand a new adjustinent. When we dress for dinner we equally conform to them. The articles of clothing we put on are not devised on abstract principles, but are a mass of obsolete survivals of adjustments to past habits. Our coat has tails because the skirts were once buttoned back for convenience in