La Reine Helen Baker.

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A Little Book on a Great Subject







Published, September, 1912















THE aim of this little volume is to in-
terest the American public in an im-
portant and neglected subject. The
writer has her own views on art, poli-
tics, religion and other topics which di-
vide mankind, she does not intrude
those opinions here, although conscious
that "to see life steadily and see it
whole" much more is wanted than a
single branch of study, however vital.
It is not possible, however, to remain si-
lent and, at least passively, acquiescent
when the interests of the race are in dan- \
ger of neglect. Need for apology is
not considered when great and influen-
tial journals, magazines and volumes
dissipate their powers on all the feeble
footings of the hour. There are many
honourable exceptions. There are or-
gans of opinion in nearly all directions


of intellectual speculation, education
and philosophy and there are of course
necessary volumes of information on
cooking, travel, dress and amusement.
Every material interest except the basic
material interest of our human existence
is represented in our periodical press.
An expedition to the pole, a prodigious
attempt to attract the attention of Mar-
tian observers whose very existence is
denied by more than half our scientists,
or a commission to inquire into the rela-
tive merits of various manurial nitrates,
for these time and money, private en-
terprise and state aid are readily forth-
coming. Professorial chairs are easily
financed for lectures on every necessary
I and unnecessary subject other than that
tof direct race improvement. Churches,
universities and other institutions have
been endowed for the sake of schisms
which have no direct bearing on any
$ human need.

I deny that people do not care what
becomes of the race. There never has


been a time in the history of the world
when parents would not rather have a
healthy progeny than an unhealthy.
The nation would always prefer to be
able to boast of improvement instead of
blushing for its deteriorating citizen-
ship. As long as Mothers love their
own young and as long as the average
man sympathises with undeserved suf-
fering there will be perpetual possibili-
ties for rousing interest in the most
promising of all sciences, Eugenics.

Eugenics is a word invented by Fran-
cis Galton to cover the philosophy, col-
lection of facts, the science, whatever
we can call it, which regards race-im-*
provement as a desirable and practicable
process. Stirpiculture is an older word
for a similar idea. New descriptive or
misleading phrases will be invented
from time to time, sometimes by friends,
sometimes by enemies of the movement-
It may be well from the first to clear
away some misinterpretations. Accu-
sations against new ideas commonly take


the form of attempting to show that the
new and possibly good idea is irre-
trievably committed to some other idea,
generally an older and discredited one.
It is the universal rule, particularly in
Anglo-Saxon countries, to regard sex-
relationships as so sacrosanct that merely
to mention them is to outrage modesty
and shock morality. Fortunately or
otherwise we have had to overcome this
silly secretiveness. The horrible white-
slave traffic, the loathsome increase of
venereal diseases, the frequent revela-
tions such as the Thaw case forced on the
public, the necessity for protecting chil-
dren from outrage all these and other
things have made not only possible but
obviously desirable that decency, wis-
dom and humanity should make their
voice heard. The time has come when
we will not tolerate the daily scandal of
having our newspapers polluted with de-
tails of sexual abnormalities while we
are refused the opportunity of educat-
ing the people in the direction of purity,


health, and efficiency in the sexual rela-
tion. Eugenics is concerned primarily
and materially with the normal sex re-
lationship, which in modern civilised
lands means the ordinary legal mono-
gamic marriage. It is perfectly true
that there have been pioneer reformers,
to whom the world owes much who have
linked their ideals of race improvement
to an advocacy of freer sex relation-
ships. Modern eugenists have no such
divided council. They aim at encour-
aging the best births and discouraging
the worst, and all details of their propa-
ganda must be subordinate to this great
aspiration. Seeing then that through
monogamic marriage the Anglo-Saxon
race must overwhelmingly flow now and
in all the sighted future, we resolutely
direct our attention to this institution as
we find it. On the lines of which the
race has approved we shall proceed for
our reforms. The United StSls great
in a thousand ways, although often the
despair of the reformer, offers the most


i promising field of the whole world in
the direction of Eugenics. Comprising
within her catholic embrace many vari-
eties of monogamic marriage she pos-

] sesses contrasts, comparisons, examples
and warnings, which will be of infinite
use in the Eugenist's laboratory. Well
may we be content to show from these
differences how on the present basis of
marriage a nobler race may be reared.
It is of course only one aspect of mar-
riage that interests Eugenists, but as ac-
cording to the teaching of most
Churches and the theory of most gov-
ernments the origin, basis and reason of
marriage is procreation, it will be seen
that race improvement does not look on
the least important side of marriage.
In other words it is in its public and uni-
versal relations that marriage will be re-
garded by Eugenists. In comparatively
socialised States like ours where educa-
tion and a hundred other concerns of
every child are the constant care of rep-
resentative institutions it would be ret-


regression if we did not now begin to
consider the child as having from its
birth a public interest. Seeing the ad-
vance being made in our understanding
of some of the laws of heredity it must
not be considered wonderful that this
public interest in the future citizen
should begin even before birth. For
this purpose it is not at all necessary/I
hold it to be eminently undesirable, thai:
the Stat&or any outside authorittfshould
attempt'the ridiculous task of organising \
who shall marry and mate, or dictate by
law or force the conditions of marriages
which satisfy the contracting parties^
But this laisser faire doctrine obviously
has no applicability to th^jpuch more
disputable proposition that the State has
no right to deal with the source of its
future responsibilities, the root by which
may arrive human wrecks for which tha
State must provide in the days to come/ '
This brings me to a further protest. It
has been suggested that Eugenists are
anarchists, tearing up the roots of gov-


ernment, blindly striking at civilised in-
stitutions, putting a bomb to the founda-

\ tions of Church, State, and Family. Let
it be said here and now in such clear
phrase as may be that/Eugenics is the

\ antithesis of anarchy, it means order.
Eugenics opposes chaos in the interests
of the race. /It is the most profoundly
patriotic proposition ever laid before
the people of these United States. Its

^ conception is for the national good.
.American Eugenists will never rest un*

f til our race becomes the fittest on earth.
Other nations shall teach us if they can,
we will better their instruction. Mon-
archical old world peoples, restrained by
traditions, tied down by red tape,
drugged by the dread of progress, mg^
justify their own inertia, we cannot sink

f with them. We are leaders and pio-
neers. In the United States respect is
still accorded to those who have new
truths to teach for the benefit of the
race. If "national efficiency" has to
some extent failed in its appeal, if the


answer has been an admission of unac-
complished desires, the reason must be
ascribed to the limited scope of the in-
quiry. The nation has to take itself
seriously in hand. We need to get be-
yond the citizen of to-day, we have to
consider the .citizen of to-morrow.

As to religion, I appeal both to those
who love God and to those who love
their fellow-man. It is futile at this
time of day to quote against the living
race the dictates of a dead age. It is
monstrous also to slander the noble men
and women who are at present engaged
in the secular activities of our Churches
by pretending to believe that they are
not most keenly anxious to aid in any
uplifting work for the regeneration of
the 'world. Every institution which is
teaching, feeding or otherwise helping
children is a nucleus for Eugenic enter-
prise. The neglect of Eugenics in the
last generation has clogged the wheels j
of progress in this generation. We caiv
not and must not forget the victims or


our national neglect, but we can do
greatest honour to our philanthropists
and workers for the general uplift by
seriously endeavouring to eliminate
from the coming generation the hope-
lessly unfit and by encouraging the mul-
tiplication of the efficient.

There is no immorality in our pro-
posals, as a glance at these pages will
abundantly prove. The Family of the
future is going to be sweeter, purer and
nobler. It may even be more numer-
ous, for while Eugenists resolutely set
themselves to discourage the national
burdening by debt, danger and decay
which inevitably follow in the footsteps
of a deteriorating race, we have never-
theless no opinions whatever as to
whether a numerically large or small
family is best. Race suicide is no worse
than race murder. We cannot imagine
a nobler sight than an enormous and
increasing race of the vitally fit. A tem-
porary and deliberate discouragement of
certain unwelcome elements may be mo-


mentarily embarrassing, but this is only
half the story. Our ports of entry are
firmly closed in the face of undesirable
aliens, not for the purpose of reducing
our population, far from it. Our sta-
bility, our greatness, our very existence
depend on the success, with which we
have attracted to our shores those immi-
grants whose children to-day are our
boast and pride. Eugenics, it cannot be
too often said, is no mere phase of Mal-
thusianism. It is not a population ques-
tion it is the population question. It
dismisses Malthus as a spent force, as
a prophet whose message was only half
delivered, as a Jeremiah who would have
deprived the world of its saviours as
well as of its betrayers. Of Malthus
it may truly be said that in forbidding
those who would u wade through
slaughter to a throne" he "shut the
gates of mercy on mankind." No phi-
losophy to-day can meet the needs of to-
day if it indiscriminately decreases both.
Both methods are evil. We must weigh


as well as count. The Sphinx of civili-
sation sits waiting our answer to her
riddle. We have mingled the seeds of
evil with the seeds of good. Mere me-
chanical multiplication only accentuates
the evil because weeds are always of
quicker growth_ than the flower plants
which they deprive of their due share
of light and air. Patient division of
the seeds, careful sorting, subtracting as
far as possible the contaminating ele-
ments, and giving all the needful atten-
tion to the sturdy but perverse, encour-
aging those seeds which in various ways
will one day grow into perfect trees so
as to show flower; to bear fruit, give
shade, make timber or in any other way
serve the multifarious needs of the na-



/ EUGENICS is not committed to the Dar-
winian doctrine of evolution, although it
would probably never have reached the
stage of practical politics but for the en-
couragement given to all systematic sci-
entific studies by Darwin's magnificent
generalisations. Eugenics takes its
stand on the ascertained fact of heredity,
and it owes an immense debt to the pa-
tience with which Lamarck, the Dar-
wins, Weissman and others have piled
instance upon instance to illustrate
the fact that "the sins of the
fathers are visited upon the children
unto the third and fourth generation"/
and "the fathers have eaten sour
grapes and the children's teeth are
set on edge." The doctrine of heredity
has never been more resonantly ex-
pressed than in these words although


they show only one side and that not the
better side of heredity. We are in-
deed "begotten not made." Nurture,
or environment, has its place, and an im-
portant one, in race improvement, but
the overwhelming fact remains that
more than three-fourths of the elements
which build up a human soul are in its
nature, not its nurture. *- The formative
factor of greatest importance in the
making of human life and character is
heredity. *

Mankind has hitherto failed to grasp
the full significance of this admission.
Horticulturists have made it the starting
point of their experiments until to-day
the Luther Burbanks can almost create
what they will in plant life. Cattle-
breeders, dog-fanciers, and horse-farm-
ers, are able to raise the value of their
breeds to a wonderful degree. Orni-
thologists have been equally successful;
from the original stock a hundred vari-
eties come at the touch of the scientific
magician's wand. In each case even


where at first quantity was considered of
no importance compared with quality,
there has been a steady and unmistak-
able increase in the effective numbers
side by side with a gigantic development
of those elements of strength or beauty
which have been arrived at. Race sui-
cide is a metaphysical phrase not easily
open to definition, but two things may
be said about it at this stage. Race im-
provement is utterly inconsistent with
any intelligent conception of race sui-
cide. An increasing birthrate is not in
itself a guarantee of progress arid may!
indeed be -the means of a nation's retro-
gression. Experience and logic lead to
the confident conclusion that increased
vitality means increased fecundity.

To acknowledge the law of heredity
with its concomitant scientific implica-
tions, must inevitably change our mental
outlook in many directions. Accord-
ingly as we relatively place heredity or j
environment first, our views on social j
politics will be fundamentally sound or


[unsound. Taking a large view of so-
ciety it must make an abysmal difference
whether we think the race can or cannot
be improved (not merely polished or
even enlightened but really changed) by

i modifications of environment. We can
no longer pursue the same and by the
same means if we come to the conclu-
sion that the individual is either born a
potential asset to society or "damned
into existence" a permanent drain on his
fellows' comfort and wealth, even a pos-
sible miasma of infectious criminality.

I am a Eugenist because I believe that
the nature we have received from he-
reditary sources transcends in effective-
ness all the nurture which follows birth.
Eugenics means seeking for facts and
applying them to solve the greatest of
all problems looking for light by which

\ the race may cpniroMts destiny. He-
redity in the animal and vegetable world
may be considered dispassionately
enough. Geology and astronomy are
only hereditary studies affecting the birth


of worlds. But from human birth and
sex, the mysteries of creation in their
divinest form, from these branches of
the study of heredity the flaming sword
of prudery warns us away. The sub-
ject of human sex has been the play-
ground of neglect, ignorance, bigotry,
superstition, persecution and every other
foe to inquiry. It has been the object
of worship but not of explanation, of ro-
mance but not of science, of abuse, mu- T *
tilation, misunderstanding, but not of
study, reason and generalization. Eu- .
genics of course aims at expressing the
scientific side of the process of which
love is the artistic. The rare handful
of brave men and women who against
unique opposition have forced this ques-
tion to the front are not to be blamed if
up to now Eugenics can hardly be said
to exist as a systematised science. It is
in the nature of things that as a philoso- v
phy Eugenics is hardly more than a
guess, a probability, an hypothesis.
Doubt, uncertainty and half-heartedness


inevitably accompany a movement so un-
deservedly discredited as this has been.
Without the means to collect the enor-
mous body of facts required to justify
national action the Eugenists have been
content to rely upon personal experi-
ences, isolated family histories and the
normal and abnormal facts which news-
papers, biographies and daily life pre-
sented to them. Eugenists have
wrestled against difficulties like Hercu-
les in the Augean stable or Paul in the
Ephesian arena. In fact the stable and
the arena throw more light on Eugenics
than any at present available from the
human animal. The existent biology of
Eugenics means a study of non-human
life. There is a sufficiently extensive
literature and digest of experiments re-
lating to animal and plant life to serve
as the stock in trade of a fairly complete
system of Eugenics if only fuschias
were men or men were mules. External
observations of animal and plant life
cannot universally apply to man even


passively, while the active interference
of the human botanist in the affairs of
the unprotesting plants separates these
from men by an impassable chasm.

The first need then for Eugenic study
is some systematic collection of the as-
certainable facts as far as they relate to
human beings. This implies sufficient
scientific interest in the phenomena of
parentage to encourage widespread
earnest patient desire to exchange infor-
mation and to steadily accumulate
enough knowledge to justify experiment
in positive and negative Eugenics. No
sane Eugenist advocates universal State
action based on the existent records, but
it would be against all good precedent
if the absence of sufficient knowledge on
a vital subject were allowed to stultify
the efforts of those who seek for fuller
information. Nothing but good will
ensue if positive experiments are boldly
labelled as such, instead of pretending
that our twilight of investigation is the
full light of perfect knowledge. Ex-


periments in positive Eugenics will take
various forms. They began with the
most ordinary baby-shows; they pro-
ceeded through municipal prizes for the
healthiest offsprings. An important
stage arose when premiums in some
cities began to be offered to all parents
whose babies survived the critical first
year of life. These were elementary
experiments, based on the right motive
but ignoring the element of heredity.
The experiments of the future must be
on a surer foundation. The current
criteria of judgment are sound enough as
far as they go, they encourage careful
nurture, but the limitations of the ex-
periments are those of an unscientific
age. Obviously the next step in the
same 'direction is to discriminate. The
haphazard chance that of fifty children
properly nourished one may be distin-
guished by its superior physique does not
materially help us to solve our problem
if we stop at this phase. Having found
our healthiest child we might at least try


to discover the hereditary history of its
progenitors and take steps to encourage
further offsprings from so promising a
source. Imagine a scientific cattle-
breeder possessing a perfect bull, con-
tented that one of its offsprings should
take a single prize! Not to unduly
strain the analogy we might with all de-
corum and wisdom circulate what knowl-
edge we can glean of those facts which
have made perfection possible. Are we
to be everlastingly contented with news
of the romantic, sensational, abnormal
and criminal phenomena of sex while
our newspapers and official records are
silent concerning ordinary and desirable
experiences, their causes and, their re-
sults? Heredity as the basis of legisla-
tion is never dreamt of, while our
statute books are crowded with laws
passed in a panic, laws which bear no
ratio to essential facts, and laws which
look at the elementary passions of man-
kind through the refractory media of
prejudice, ignorance and well-meaning


misconception. It rarely if ever occurs
to legislators that a scientific system of
society demands an acquaintance with
the recently accepted conclusions of our
greatest thinkers. We are suffering to-
day from a pre-Darwinian government
in almost all our States. "Authorities"
of all kinds are quoted in support of and
against any given proposal, but the "au-
thorities" are seldom the fittest. In
earlier days latin tags were considered
a worthy conclusion to a speech in Sen-
ate or Legislature. Nowadays poetry
or literature is called into requisition.
Darwin, Spencer and Galton should at
least have taught us to take trouble to
learn all about the subject in hand and
what bearing the scientific discoveries of
our generation have upon particular
problems. It is a disease of the age that
we are conscious of our national short-
comings in only the vaguest possible
way. We are ignorant of the full ex-
tent of our misfortunes and we do not
apply to them the time, trouble and


money which are a preliminary neces-
sity to discovering a remedy, and we
forget the dynamic difference which
must be made in our treatment of race
problems as soon as we accept heredity
as the controlling factor. But the pre-
liminaries must be insisted on. Investi-
gation, collation, classification, generali-
sation, and legislation, must be taken in
their right order.

The difficulties in the way of investi-
gating the laws which govern heredity
have as usual led to shirking the issue
altogether. Even when we look the
difficulty straight in the face, we pass it
by. We have made a god of environ-!
ment. Our best social efforts hitherto
in legislation, social conventions, con-
duct and educational ideals (and in mod-
ern times even our religions), have come
to consider environment as of para-
mount importance. But take environ- \
ment at its highest it can only be the h$t K
soil for the best seed. That is a Eu-
genic ideal also but it cannot convert a


disease germ into a desirable citizen.
Over-emphasis of reform dependent on
improved environment implies that a
deadly upas tree, if transplanted and
properly watered and "given a better
chance," will reward society with a plen-
tiful harvest of edible nourishing fruit.
The heartless school which on principles
hates all reform derives its chief support
from the fact that the reform which re-
gards only environment too often de-
scends to veneering with respecta-
bility or dissipates itself in futilities of a
grandmotherly kind. The reformer of
\ the future must study causes as well as
phenomena. The skilled physician re-
gards symptoms as of importance only
to the extent that they assist the diagno-
sis of disease. Accurate analysis must
consider hereditary causes as well as lo-
cal symptoms.

Environment when properly subordi-
nated to and illuminated by heredity
does not cease to be ihiportant. Envi-
ronment may provide wings to fly with


and an atmosphere capable of sustain-
ing weight, even when it cannot provide
the will to fly. To return to our agri-
cultural symbolism: environment cannot
make or change the nature of the seed,
it is the soil, the sunshine and the succu-
lence, but it has to take the seed as it is.
Heredity is inside the seed and goes be-
hind the seed to the mother plant.
Heredity is what our ancestors meant

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Online LibraryLa Reine Helen BakerRace improvement : or, Eugenics : a little book on a great subject → online text (page 1 of 6)