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362
Hereditary Genius
of the suppression of the marriages of the younger sons. Again, there
is a constant tendency of the best men in the country, to settle in the
great cities, where marriages are less prolific and children are less
likely to live. Owing to these several causes, there is a steady check
in an old civilization upon the fertility of the abler classes; the
improvident and unambitious are those who chiefly keep up the
breed. So the race gradually deteriorates, becoming in each
successive generation less fitted for a high civilization, although it
retains the external appearances of one, until the time comes when
the whole political and social fabric caves in, and a greater or less
relapse to barbarism takes place, during the reign of which the race is
perhaps able to recover its tone.
The best form of civilization in respect to the improvement of the
race, would be one in which society was not costly; where incomes
were chiefly derived from professional sources, and not much
through inheritance; where every lad had a chance of showing his
abilities, and, if highly gifted, was enabled to achieve a first-class
education and entrance into professional life, by the liberal help of the
exhibitions and scholarships which he had gained in his early youth;
where marriage was held in as high honour as in ancient Jewish
times; where the pride of race was encouraged (of course I do not
refer to the nonsensical sentiment of the present day, that goes under
that name); where the weak could find a welcome and a refuge in
celibate monasteries or sisterhoods, and lastly, where the better sort
of emigrants and refugees from other lands were invited and
welcomed, and their descendants naturalized.
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