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Full text of "Social environment and moral progress"

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>:IOS-AKCEIFJ> 





SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT 

AND 

MORAL PROGRESS 



Social Environment 

and 

Moral Progress 



BY 
Alfred Russel Wallace 

O.M., D.C.L.Oxon. 
F.R.S., Ac. 

Author of "The Malay Archipelago," "Darwinism.' 
" Man't Place in the Universe," " The World of Life,' 

Ac. Ac. 



Cassell and Company, Ltd 

London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne 
1913 

144387 



First Edition March 1913. 
Reprinted April 1913. 



\N\5s 

t*4.l 

^ 

Contents 

PART I. HISTORICAL 

CHAPTER PAGE 

1. INTRODUCTORY i 

2. MORALITY AS BASED UPON CHARACTER . 4 

3. PERMANENCE OF CHARACTER ... 8 

4. PERMANENCE OF HIGH INTELLECT . . 15 

5. SPEECH AND WRITING AS PROOFS OF 

INTELLIGENCE . * . . . 28 

6. SAVAGES NOT MORALLY INFERIOR TO 
r 

CIVILISED RACES 31 

^4 

to 7. A SELECTIVE AGENCY NEEDED TO IMPROVE 

CHARACTER 36 

M 

8. ENVIRONMENT DURING THE NINETEENTH 
,.- 

CENTURY 40 

9. INSANITARY DWELLINGS AND LIFE- 

DESTROYING TRADES .... 47 

10. ADULTERATION, BRIBERY, AND GAMBLING . 55 



vi Contents 

CHAPTER PAGE 

11. OUR ADMINISTRATION OF "JUSTICE" is 

IMMORAL 62 

12. INDICATIONS OF INCREASING MORAL 

DEGRADATION 67 

PART II. THEORETICAL 

13. NATURAL SELECTION AMONG ANIMALS . 75 

14. SELECTION AS MODIFIED BY MIND . . 93 

15. THE LAWS OF HEREDITY AND ENVIRON- 

MENT . . . . . . . 103 

16. MORAL PROGRESS THROUGH A NEW FORM 

OF SELECTION . . . . . 125 

17. How TO INITIATE AN ERA OF MORAL 

PROGRESS . * 150 

INDEX . . . . . . . 159 




PART I.-HISTORIGAL 

CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTORY 

BEFORE entering on the question of the 
relation of morality to our existing social 
environment, it will be advisable to inquire 
what we mean by moral progress, and 
what evidence there is that any such pro- 
gress has occurred in recent times, or even 
within the period of well-established history. 
By morals we mean right conduct, not 
only in our immediate social relations, but 
also in our dealings with our fellow citizens 
and with the whole human race. It is 
based upon the possession of clear ideals 
as to what actions are right and what are 
wrong and the determination of our con- 
duct by a constant reference to those 
ideals. 

The belief was once prevalent, and is 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

still held by many persons, that a know- 
ledge of right and wrong is inherent or 
instinctive in everyone, and that the im- 
moral person may be justly punished for 
such wrongdoing as he commits. But 
that this cannot be wholly, if at all, true 
is shown by the fact that in different 
societies and at different periods the stan- 
dard of right and wrong changes consider- 
ably. That which at one time and place 
is held to be right and proper is, at another 
time or place, considered to be not only 
wrong, but one of the greatest of crimes. 
The most striking example of this change 
of opinion is that as to slavery, which was 
held to be quite justifiable by the most 
highly civilised people of antiquity, and 
hardly less so by ourselves within the 
memory of persons still living. The owners 
of sugar estates in Jamaica cultivated by 
slaves were not stigmatised as immoral by 
their relatives in England or by the public 
at large ; and it was the horror excited 
by the slave-trade in Africa, and in the 
" middle passage " on the slave ships, 
rather than by the slavery itself, that 
so excited public opinion as to lead to 
the abolition first of the one and then of 
the other. 



Introductory 

We are obliged to conclude, therefore, 
that what is commonly termed morality 
is not wholly due to any inherent percep- 
tion of what is right or wrong conduct, 
but that it is to some extent and often 
very largely a matter of convention, vary- 
ing at different times and places in accord- 
ance with the degree and kind of social 
development which has been attained often 
under different and even divergent condi- 
tions of existence. The actual morality of 
a community is largely a product of the 
environment, but it is local and temporary, 
not permanently affecting the character. 

To bring together the evidence in sup- 
port of this view, to distinguish between 
what is permanent and inherited and 
what is superficial and not inherited, and 
to trace out some of the consequences as 
regards what we term " morality " is 
the purpose of the present volume. 



CHAPTER II 

MORALITY AS BASED UPON CHARACTER 

THOUGH much of what we term morality 
has no absolute sanction in human nature, 
yet it is to some extent, and perhaps very 
largely, based upon it. It will be well, 
therefore, to consider briefly the nature 
and probable origin of what we term 
" character " in individuals, in societies, 
and especially in those more ancient and 
more fundamental divisions of mankind 
which we term " races." 

Character may be defined as the aggre- 
gate of mental faculties and emotions 
which constitute personal or national indi- 
viduality. It is very strongly hereditary, 
yet it is probably subject to more inherent 
variation than is the form and structure 
of the body. The combinations of its con- 
stituent elements are so numerous as, in 
common language, to be termed infinite ; 
and this gives to each person a very dis- 
tinct individuality, as manifested in speech, 
in emotional expression, and in action. 

4 



Morality Based upon Character 

The mental faculties which go to form 
the " character " of each man or woman 
are very numerous, a large proportion of 
them being such as are required for the 
preservation of the individual and of the 
race, while others are pre-eminently social 
or ethical. These latter, which impel us 
to truth, to justice, and to benevolence, 
when in due proportion to all the other 
mental faculties, go to form what we dis- 
tinguish as a good or moral character, and 
will in most cases result in actions which 
meet with the general approval of that 
section of society in which we live ; and 
this approval reacts upon the character 
so that it often appears to be better than 
it really is. 

So great is the effect of this approval 
of our fellows that it sometimes leads to 
behaviour quite different from what it 
would be if this approval were absent. 
This is especially the case when the 
approval leads to wealth or positions 
of dignity or advantage. Occasionally, in 
cases of this kind the individual cannot 
resist his natural impulses, and then acts 
so as to show his underlying real character. 
We term such persons hypocrites for 
making us believe that they were inher- 

5 






Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

ently good, instead of being so in appear- 
ance only when the good action was 
profitable to them. Hence in a highly 
complex state of civilisation it becomes 
exceedingly difficult correctly to appraise 
characters as moral or immoral, good or bad ; 
while there is no such difficulty as regards 
the intellectual and emotional aspects of 
character, which are less influenced by the 
general environment, and which there is 
less temptation to conceal. 

All the evidence we possess tends to 
show that although the actions of most 
individuals are to a considerable extent 
determined by their social environment, 
that does not imply any alteration in their 
character. Everyone's experience of life, 
and especially the example of his friends 
and associates, leads him to repress his 
passions, regulate his emotions, and in 
general to use his judgment before acting, 
so as to secure the esteem of his fellows 
and greater happiness for himself ; and 
these restraints, becoming habitual, may 
often give the appearance of an actual 
change of character till some great tempta- 
tion or violent passion overcomes the usual 
restraint and exhibits the real nature, 
which is usually dormant. 

6 






n] Morality Based upon Character 

Now it is this inherent and unchange- 
able character itself that tends to be 
transmitted to offspring, and this being the 
case, there can be no progressive improve- 
ment in character without some selective 
agency tending to such improvement. By 
means of a general discussion of the nature 
and origin of " Character," I have else- 
where shown that there is no proof of 
any real advance in it during the whole 
historical period.* I show later on what 
the required selective agency is, and how 
it will come into action automatically 
when, and not until, our social system is 
so reformed as to afford suitable condi- 
tions. (See Chapter XVI.) 

* See Character and Life, edited by P. I/. Parker, pp. 19-31. 
(Williams and Norgate; November, 1912.) 



CHAPTER III 

PERMANENCE OF CHARACTER 

I WILL now call attention to a few of the 
facts which lead to the conclusion as to 
the stationary condition of general cha- 
racter from the earliest periods of human 
history, and presumably from the dawn of 
civilisation. In the earliest records which 
have come down to us from the past we 
find ample indications that general ethical 
conceptions, the accepted standard of 
morality, and the conduct resulting from 
these, were in no degree inferior to those 
which prevail to-day, though in some re- 
spects they differed from ours. 

As examples of great moral teachers in 
very early times we have Socrates and 
Plato, about 400 B.C. ; Confucius and 
Buddha, one or two centuries earlier ; 
Homer, earlier still ; the great Indian 
Epic, the Maha-Bharata, about 1500 B.C. 
All these afford indications of intellectual 
and moral character quite equal to our 
own ; while their lower manifestations, as 



Permanence of Character 

shown by their wars and love of gambling, 
were no worse than corresponding im- 
moralities to-day. 

In the beautiful translation by the 
late Mr. Romesh Dutt, of such portions of 
the Maha-Bharata as are best fitted to 
give English readers a proper conception 
of the whole work, there is a striking 
episode entitled " Woman's Love," in 
which the heroine, a princess, by repeated 
petitions and reasonings persuades Yama, 
the god of death, to give back her hus- 
band's spirit to the body. It is described 
in the following verses : 

" And the sable King was vanquished, and he turned 

on her again, 
And his words fell on Savitri like the cooling summer 

rain : 
' Noble woman, speak thy wishes, name thy boon 

and purpose high, 
What the pious mortal asketh gods in heaven may 

not deny ! ' 

" ' Thou hast,' so Savitri answered, ' granted father's 

realm and might, 
To his vain and sightless eyeballs hath restored the 

blessed light ; 
Grant him that the line of monarchs may not all 

untimely end, 

That his kingdom to Satyavan and Savitri's sons 
descend ! ' 

9 



" ' Have thy wishes,' answered Yama ; ' thy good 

lord shall live again, 
He shall live to be a father, and your children, too, 

shall reign; 
For a woman's troth endureth longer than the 

fleeting breath, 
And a woman's love abideth higher than the doom 

of death.' " 

And when at the end of the epic, the 
kings and warriors welcome each other in 
the spirit world, we find the following 
noble conception of the qualities and 
actions which give them a place there : 

" These and other mighty warriors, in the earthly 

battle slain, 
By their valour and their virtue walk the bright 

ethereal plain ! 
They have lost their mortal bodies, crossed the 

radiant gate of heaven, 
For to win celestial mansions unto mortals it is 

given ! 
Let them strive by kindly action, gentle speech, 

endurance long, 
Brighter life and holier future unto sons of men 

belong ! " 

Mr. Dutt informs us that he has not 
only reproduced, as nearly as possible, the 
metre of the original, but has aimed at 
giving us a literal translation. No one can 
read his beautiful rendering without feel- 

10 



in] Permanence of Character 

ing that the people it describes were our 
intellectual and moral equals. 

The wonderful collection of hymns 
known as the Vedas is a vast system of 
religious teaching as pure and lofty as 
those of the finest portions of the Hebrew 
scriptures. A few examples from the 
translation by Sir Monier Monier- Williams 
will show that its various writers were 
fully our equals in their conceptions of the 
universe, and of the Deity, expressed in 
the finest poetic language. The following 
is a portion of a hymn to " The Investing 
Sky " : 

" The mighty Varuna, who rules above, looks down 
Upon these worlds, his kingdom, as if close at hand. 
When men imagine they do aught by stealth, he 

knows it. 

No one can stand or walk, or softly glide along 
Or hide in dark recess, or lurk in secret cell 
But Varuna detects him and his movements spies. 



This boundless earth is his, 
His the vast sky, whose depth no mortal e'er can 

fathom. 

Both oceans find a place within his body, yet 
In the small pool he lies contained ; whoe'er should 

flee 

Far, far beyond the sky would not escape the grasp 
Of Varuna, the king. His messengers descend 
ii 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

Countless from his abode for ever traversing 
This world, and scanning with a thousand eyes its 

inmates. 
Whate'er exists within this earth, and all within the 

sky, 

Yea, all that is beyond King Varuna perceives. 
May thy destroying snares cast sevenfold round the 

wicked, 
Entangle liars, but the truthful spare, O King." 

The following passage from a " Hymn 
to Death," shows a perfect confidence in 
that persistence of the human personality 
after death, which is still a matter of doubt 
and discussion to-day : 

" To Yama, mighty king, he gifts and homage paid. 
He was the first of men that died, the first to brave 
Death's rapid rushing stream, the first to point the 

road 
To heaven, and welcome others to that bright 

abode. 
No power can rob us of the home thus won by 

thee. 
O king, we come ; the born must die, must tread 

the path 
That thou hast trod the path by which each race 

of men, 

In long succession, and our fathers too, have passed. 
Soul of the dead ! depart ; fear not to take the road 
The ancient road by which thy ancestors have 

gone; 

Ascend to meet the god to meet thy happy fathers, 
Who dwell in bliss with him. 
12 



HI] Permanence of Character 

Return unto thy home, O soul ! Thy sin and shame 
Leave thou behind on earth ; assume a shining 

form 
Thy ancient shape refined and from all taint set 

free." 

In this we find many of the essential 
teachings of the most advanced religious 
thinkers the immediate entrance to a 
higher life, the recognition of friends, the 
persistence of the human form, and the 
shining raiment, typical of the loss of 
earthly taint. 

But besides these special deities, we 
find also the recognition of the one supreme 
God, as in the following hymn : 

" What god shall we adore with sacrifice ? 
Him let us praise, the golden child that rose 
In the beginning, who was born the Lord 
The one sole lord of all that is who made 
The earth, and formed the sky, who giveth life, 
Who giveth strength, whose bidding gods revere, 
Whose hiding place is immortality, 
Whose shadow, death ; who by his might is king 
Of all the breathing, sleeping, waking world 
Who governs men and beasts ; whose majesty 
These snowy hills, this ocean with its rivers, 
Declare ; of whom these spreading regions form 
The arms by which the firmament is strong, 
Earth firmly planted, and the highest heavens 
Supported, and the clouds that fill the air 
J3 



Environment and Moral Progress 

Distributed and measured out ; to whom 
Both earth and heaven, established by his will, 
Look up with trembling mind ; in whom revealed 
The rising sun shines forth above the world." 

If we make allowance for the very 
limited knowledge of Nature at this early 
period, we must admit that the mind 
which conceived and expressed in appro- 
priate language, such ideas as are every- 
where apparent in these Vedic hymns, 
could not have been in any way inferior 
to those of the best of our religious teachers 
and poets to our Miltons and our Tenny- 
sons. 



CHAPTER IV 

PERMANENCE OF HIGH INTELLECT 

ACCOMPANYING this fine literature and 
moral teaching in Ancient India was a 
civilisation equal to that of early classical 
races, in grand temples, forts and palaces, 
weapons and implements, jewelry and 
exquisite fabrics. Their architecture was 
highly decorative and peculiar, and has 
continued to quite recent times. Owing 
perhaps to the tropical or sub-tropical 
climate, with marked wet and dry seasons, 
the oldest buildings that have survived, 
even as ruins, are less ancient than those 
of Greece or Rome but those correspond- 
ing in age to the period of our Gothic 
cathedrals are immensely numerous, and 
show an originality of design, a wealth of 
ornament, and a perfection of workman- 
ship equal to those of any other buildings 
in the world. 

Two other great civilisations of which 
we have authentic records are those of 
Egypt and Mesopotamia, both of which 

15 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

appear to have been much older than those 
of India or Greece. But whereas Egypt 
has left us the most continuous series of 
tombs, temples, and palaces in the world, 
abundant works of art in statues and sculp- 
tures, together with characteristic reliefs 
and wall paintings, showing the whole 
public and domestic life of the people, 
Mesopotamia is represented only by vast 
masses of ruins on the sites of the ancient 
cities of Nineveh and Babylon, from which 
have been disinterred many fine statues 
and reliefs, exhibiting a very distinct style 
of art. For more than 2,000 years the 
history and remains of this once greatest 
of civilisations was absolutely unknown, 
except by a few doubtful facts and names 
in Greek and Hebrew writings. But during 
the latter half of the nineteenth century a 
band of explorers and students, such as 
Layard and Rawlinson, made known, first 
the works of art, and, latterly, an enormous 
quantity of small bricks and stone slabs, 
thickly covered with a peculiar kind of 
writing known as the cuneiform inscrip- 
tions, which, after an enormous amount 
of labour, have at length been translated. 
Whole libraries of these brick-books have 
been discovered, and as the reading and 

16 



rv] Permanence of High Intellect 

translating goes on, we obtain a knowledge 
of the history, laws, customs, and daily 
life of this ancient people almost equal to 
that we now possess of the ancient Indians 
and Egyptians. 

For our present purpose, however, 
Egyptian civilisation is the most important, 
because it presents us with the most defi- 
nite proof of the attainment of a high 
degree of what is specially scientific attain- 
ment at the very dawn of historical know- 
ledge. This is well exhibited by that most 
wonderful work of constructive art the 
Great Pyramid of Gizeh which, though 
not quite the earliest, is the largest and 
most remarkable of about seventy pyra- 
mids in various parts of Egypt, and has 
been more thoroughly explored and studied, 
both as to its proportions, construction 
and uses, than any of the others. 

This pyramid is known historically to 
have been built by the order of King Cheops 
(or Khufu), and the date of its design and 
erection can be pretty accurately fixed as 
about 3700 B.C., or nearly 2,000 years 
earlier than that of the civilisation depicted 
in the Indian and Greek epics. The internal 
structure of this pyramid is its most in- 
teresting feature, because it shows clearly 

c 17 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

that it was designed to be not only the 
tomb of the king who built it, but also a 
true astronomical observatory during his 
life. This has been denied by some modern 
historians. In Harmsworth's History of 
the World (p. 2034) it is said : " For the 
pyramids are nothing but tombs. They 
have no astronomical meaning or intention 
whatever." And then, after referring to 
the ideas of Piazzi Smyth and others as 
" vain imaginings," it is added : " There 
is nothing marvellous about these great 
tombs, except their size and the accuracy 
of their building." An almost exactly 
similar statement is made in the great 
Historian's History of the World, and in 
" Chambers' s Encyclopaedia." 

If the writers of these histories had 
read Mr. R. A. Proctor's book, The Great 
Pyramid : Observatory, Tomb and Temple, 
they would have known that this state- 
ment is entirely erroneous. The size, 
shape, and angles of the internal pas- 
sages have been described and measured 
by many competent students, among the 
most careful and exact of whom was 
Piazzi Smyth, then Astronomer Royal of 
Scotland. It is true he had many " vain 
imaginings," but his measurements were 

18 



iv] Permanence of High Intellect 

among the most trustworthy. The " pyra- 
mid religion," which he helped to estab- 
lish by a series of " coincidences " in the 
dimensions of various parts of the pyra- 
mid with astronomical dimensions, of 
which the pyramid builders could have 
had no knowledge whatever (such as the 
distance of the sun, the precession of the 
equinoxes, etc.), was no doubt a " vain 
imagining," but he frankly claimed it as 
a divine inspiration. All these are re- 
jected by Mr. Proctor, who clearly explains 
the purpose of the greater part of the 
internal structure as only an experienced 
practical astronomer could do. I will now 
state as briefly as possible what are the 
well-established facts, as well as the con- 
clusions at which Mr. Proctor arrives. 

The Great Pyramid and the two smaller 
ones near it, forming the pyramids of Gizeh, 
are placed on a small rocky plateau near 
the apex of the delta of the Nile. The 
largest of these is situated so that its 
northern face rises from the very edge of 
this plateau. The reason of this seems 
to have been that the builders wished to 
place it as nearly as possible on the 30th 
parallel of latitude. It is really about a 
mile and a third south of that parallel, 

19 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

and it is shown that such an error is a 
small one for that early period, and would 
matter but very little for the purpose 
required. The next feature is that it is 
truly oriented ; that is, the four sides run 
north and south, east and west. It is 
also a true square, the four sides being of 
equal length, and the four corners are on 
a truly level plane. 

The first thing the builders had to do 
was to get a true meridian line, and they 
could have done this in two ways by 
observations of the sun or of the pole 
star, the latter being much the more 
accurate, though more laborious and costly. 
At the time the pyramid was built the 
pole star was Alpha Draconis, which was 
farther from the pole than our pole star 
and revolved around the true pole in a 
circle of 7 24' in diameter. In order to 
observe the direction of this star at its 
lowest point, the builders excavated in 
the solid rock a tunnel about 4 feet in 
diameter, so as to keep this star visible 
each day at the lowest point of its circuit. 
This tunnel extended 350 feet through the 
rock to a point nearly under the centre 
of the pyramid, where, by a small vertical 
boring, a plumb-line could have been 



20 



iv] Permanence of High Intellect 

dropped so as to obtain the exact line of 
the meridian on the surface, and after- 
wards on each successive step of the 
pyramid as it was built up. While the 
building went on the sloping tunnel was 
continued backwards to its northern face ; 
and a tunnel ascending to the south was 
formed of the same size and making the 
same angle with the horizon. This had 
puzzled all previous explorers of the pyra- 
mid till Mr. Proctor showed that, by 
stopping up the downward passage at the 
angle and filling the hollow with water 
the pole star could be observed by reflexion 
and thus give the exact direction of the 
meridian on the upper surface of the 
pyramid with extreme accuracy, as it was 
built up slowly year by year. 

But at a distance of 127 feet a new 
feature appears. The ascending tunnel is 
changed into what is called the Great 
Gallery, which, while continuing exactly 
the same floor line as the tunnel, is sud- 
denly raised to a height of 28 feet, with 
a width of 7 feet on the floor and 3j feet 
at the top. Along each side there is a 
ledge or seat, 20 inches broad and 21 
inches high. The sides do not slope in- 
wards, but are formed of seven courses of 

21 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

stone, each one overlapping the one below 
by about 3 inches. The whole of this 
gallery, or inclined corridor, is formed of 
limestone beautifully smooth, or even 
polished. The length of this gallery is 
156 feet, and its floor terminated at the 
platform of the pyramid, upon the central 
line from east to west, when it had reached 
two- thirds of its total height. This is on 
the level of the King's Chamber ; and it 
was probably only after the king was 
dead and his body embalmed and placed 
in his sarcophagus that the pyramid was 
completed, the openings of the passages 
carefully closed up, and the whole exterior 
covered with a smooth casing of stone, 
very small portions of which now remain. 
There are two other features of this gallery 
which have puzzled the merely antiquarian 
explorers. These are square holes cut in 
the sloping benches close to the side walls, 
and about 5^ feet apart, there being 
eighteen on each side exactly opposite 
each other. On each side of the gallery, 
about half-way up, is a longitudinal groove, 
which would serve to carry transverse 
screens which could be slid up or down, 
and easily wedged in position in order to 
mark exactly the central line, like the 

22 



iv] Permanence of High Intellect 

cross hairs in an astronomical telescope. 
The holes on the benches would serve 
to carry cross seats on which the observer 
could be firmly and comfortably seated 
while observing a transit of sun, star, or 
planet. 

Being open to the south, the Great 
Gallery would give a magnificent view of 
the southern sky, and enable observers to 
determine the altitudes and azimuths of 
many stars, and of the superior planets 
Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The star Alpha 
Centauri, which was at that period of the 
first magnitude though now much dimi- 
nished in brightness, would, when crossing 
the meridian, have been situated about the 
centre of the field of view as seen from 
this remarkable feature of the pyramid 
which, Mr. Proctor considers, was the finest 
transit-instrument ever constructed for 
naked-eye observations. Tycho Brahe, with 
his celebrated Quadrant at Uranienburg, did 
not attain such a degree of accuracy as 
did these Eastern astronomers nearly 6,000 
years ago. One great superiority of the 
subterranean observatory over any open- 
air observations that can be made without 
telescopes is, that by closing up the end, 
except for the small aperture required to 

23 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

see the object, the brighter stars could be 
well observed in the daytime. 

When we remember that the Great 
Pyramid covers 13^ acres of ground, 
that it is truly square and on a truly 
horizontal base, that each side is accu- 
rately directed to a point of the compass, 
that the angle of its slope is such that the 
area of each of the four triangular faces 
is equal to that of a square whose sides 
are equal to the height of the pyramid ; 
and, further, that the slope of the long 
descending tunnel is precisely such as to 
point accurately to the pole star of the 
epoch at the lowest part of its circuit 
round the true pole ; and, lastly, that all 
this could only be done, as accurately as 
it has been done, by the system of sub- 
terranean tunnels and galleries that actually 
exists, while almost all the details of their 
construction are shown to be adapted for 
astronomical observations of the nature 
required, the conclusion becomes irresist- 
ible that they were designed and used for 
such observations, and that by no other 
means could the same amount of accuracy 
have been attained. 

I have given a rather full account of 
what the Pyramid builders really did, 

24 



iv] Permanence of High Intellect 

because it forms a very important part of 
the argument I am developing as to the 
stationary condition of the human intellect 
during the historical period. 

The great majority of educated persons 
hold the opinion that our wonderful dis- 
coveries and inventions in every depart- 
ment of art and science prove that we are 
really more intellectual and wiser than the 
men of past ages that our mental faculties 
have increased in power. But this idea is 
totally unfounded. We are the inheritors 
of the accumulated knowledge of all the 
ages ; and it is quite possible and even 
probable, that the earliest steps taken in 
the accumulation of this vast mental 
treasury required even more thought and 
a higher intellectual power than any of 
those taken in our own era. 

We can perhaps best understand this 
by supposing any one of our great men 
of science to have been born and educated 
in one of the earliest of the civilisations. 
If Newton had been born in Egypt in the 
era of the Pyramid builders, when there 
were no such sciences as mathematics, 
perhaps even no decimal notation which 
makes arithmetic so easy to us, he could 
probably have done nothing more than 

25 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

they have actually done. In building up 
the sciences each of the early steps was 
the work of a genius. But now that there 
has been nearly a hundred centuries of 
discovery and specialisation by thousands 
or even millions of workers, that by means 
of writing and of the printing press every 
discovery is quickly made known, and 
that ever larger and larger numbers devote 
their lives to study, the rate of progress 
becomes quicker and quicker, till the total 
result is amazingly great. But that does 
not prove any superiority of the later over 
the earlier discoveries. There is, there- 
fore, no proof of continuously increasing 
intellectual power. 

But we have now evidence of another 
kind, which adds to the force of this 
argument. 

Quite recently, papyri have been dis- 
covered which give us information as to 
the ideas, the beliefs, and the aspirations 
of a period even earlier than that of the 
Great Pyramid. The result of the study 
of these and other records of early Egypt 
is thus stated by Professor Adolf Erman 
in The Historian's History of the World: 

" But when one considers the ancient resident of 
the valley of the Nile as a human being, with desires, 

26 



iv] Permanence of High Intellect 

emotions, and aspirations almost precisely like our 
own ; a man struggling to solve the same problems 
of practical Socialism that we are struggling for to-day 
then, and then only, can the lessons of ancient 
Egyptian history be brought home to us in their true 
meaning, and with their true significance. And clearest 
of all will that significance be, perhaps, if we con- 
stantly bear in mind the possibility that the whole 
sweep of Egyptian history, during the three or four 
thousand years that separated the Pyramid builders 
from the contemporaries of Alexander, was a time of 
national decay a dark age, if you will in Egyptian 
history." 

That a great historian, from a study 
of the ideas and social aspirations of the 
earliest known civilisations, should have 
arrived at similar views as to the identity 
of their mental capacity with our own 
as I have deduced from their scientific 
attainments, must be held to be a very 
strong argument in support of the accuracy 
of our independent conclusions. 



27 



CHAPTER V 

SPEECH AND WRITING AS PROOFS OF 
INTELLIGENCE 

THERE is yet another proof that the 
faculties of mankind at a very early epoch 
were fully equal to those of our own time. 
There is perhaps nothing more difficult 
in its nature, more utterly beyond the 
mere lower animal, than the faculty of 
articulate speech possessed by every race 
of mankind. We cannot but believe that 
its acquisition was an extremely slow pro- 
cess, and that it is rendered possible by 
special cerebral developments giving the 
necessary mental power for its acquire- 
ment. 

How long a process this would be, it 
is impossible to say, but it would certainly 
have had to reach a high degree of perfec- 
tion before the equally difficult process of 
inventing a mode of writing could have 
been brought to such perfection as to 
facilitate the further development of the 
higher faculties through poetry on the 

28 



Speech, Writing and Intelligence 

one hand and the preservation of facts and 
discoveries, as well as trains of reasoning, 
on the other. 

Now, I wish to call attention to the 
very important fact that the origin and 
development of speech, and later, of writ- 
ing, were apparently almost simultaneous, 
and certainly quite independent of each 
other, in countries not very distant apart. 
This is shown by the radical diversity of 
the different groups of languages in Europe, 
Eastern Asia and North Africa, and the 
equal diversity of Egyptian, Assyrian, and 
Chinese writing. All other written char- 
acters are believed to be derived from one 
or other of these, and it is known that 
the forms and peculiarities of alphabetic 
characters have been greatly modified by 
the various materials employed, such as 
wood and stone slabs, clay, or wax ; 
papyrus, paper or parchment ; and whether 
engraved, impressed or painted, whether 
written with a reed or quill pen, or with 
a small brush. 

But if intellectual man as a species of 
mammal had developed by the preserva- 
tion of variations of survival-value, we 
should expect to find such an important 
faculty as speech to have originated in 

29 



Environment and Moral Progress 

one centre and to have spread rapidly 
over the world with only slight modifica- 
tions in isolated communities. The funda- 
mental diversities we find seem to accord 
better with the conception that when, as 
a mere animal, his material organism had 
reached the required degree of perfection, 
there occurred the spiritual influx which 
alone enabled him to begin that course 
of intellectual and moral development, 
and that marvellous power over the forces 
of Nature, in which speech and writing, 
followed by printing, have been such im- 
portant factors. 

In order for man to develop speech he 
must have possessed a brain and an in- 
tellect far above that of the brutes. As 
in the more fundamental problem of the 
origin of life, it is admitted that organisa- 
tion is a product of life not life of 
organisation so we must believe that 
speech was a product of a brain and an 
intellect sufficient for their development. 
But such brain and intellect were not 
necessary for the lower animals, which 
have reached their highest lines of deve- 
lopment in the dog, horse, elephant, and 
ape without making any definite approach 
to the acquirement of such higher faculties. 

30 



CHAPTER VI 

SAVAGES NOT MORALLY INFERIOR TO 
CIVILISED RACES 

IF the facts and arguments set forth in 
the preceding chapters are correct we 
should not expect to find any living 
examples of the unspiritualised man, since 
the assumption is that the whole race 
received the influx which started them on 
their course of purely human development 
within a strictly limited period, perhaps of 
a very few generations or even one genera- 
tion. The ancestral form the supposed 
missing link would then have become 
extinct. 

If this were not so we should expect to 
find some isolated groups of speechless 
man, and of this there is no example ; but, 
on the contrary, the very lowest of exist- 
ing races are found to possess languages 
which are often of extreme complexity in 
grammatical structure and in no way sug- 
gestive of the primitive man-animal of 
which they are supposed to be surviving 

3* 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

relics. So long as we got our knowledge 
respecting them from the low-class Euro- 
peans who captured them for slaves or 
shot them down as wild beasts, we could 
not possibly acquire any real knowledge 
of them as human beings. But now that 
we have more trustworthy accounts of 
them by intelligent travellers or mission- 
aries, we find ample evidence that when 
by kindness and sympathy we penetrate 
to their inner nature, we discover that 
they possess human qualities of the same 
kind as our own. A few examples of 
what unprejudiced witnesses say of them 
will be very instructive. 

Darwin, after attending a meeting be- 
tween Captain Fitzroy and the chief of 
a small island near Tahiti to settle a ques- 
tion of compensation for injury to an 
English ship, says : "I cannot sufficiently 
express our surprise at the extreme good 
sense, the reasoning powers, moderation, 
candour, and prompt resolution which 
were displayed on all sides." 

Captain Cook himself, who saw them 
in their primitive condition, speaks of the 
natives of the Friendly Isles as being 
" liberal, brave, open and candid, with- 
out either suspicion or treachery, cruelty, 

32 



vi] Savages Not Morally Inferior 

or revenge " ; and a century later Admiral 
Erskine remarks that " they carry their 
habits of cleanliness and decency to a 
higher point than the most civilised 
nations " ; while all the Polynesian races 
are kind and attentive to the sick and 
aged, and unlimited hospitality is every- 
where practised by them. 

Even the Australian aborigines, who 
are often said to be one of the lowest of 
human races, are found to possess many 
good qualities by those who know them 
best. Mr. Curr, who was for forty years 
protector of the aborigines in Victoria, 
says : 

" Socially, the black is polite, gay, fond of laughter, 
and has much bonhomie in his composition. . -, . 
The natives are very strict in obeying their laws and 
customs, even under great temptation. The horror 
of marrying a woman within the prohibited degrees 
of relationship, the extreme grief they manifest at 
the death of children or relatives, and sometimes even 
for white men, as illustrated by the native boy who 
was the sole companion of the unfortunate Kennedy 
when he was murdered, are sufficient to indicate that 
they possess affections and a sense of right and wrong 
not very different from our own." 

The fact that the physical charac- 
teristics of the Australians are substan- 
tially those of the Caucasian race in its 

D 33 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

lowest types has led me to conclude that 
these interesting people may have been 
descended from much more civilised re- 
mote ancestors, and are thus an example 
of degradation rather than of survival.* 

Many other illustrations of both intelli- 
gence and morality are met with among 
savage races in all parts of the world ; and 
these, taken as a whole, show a substantial 
identity of human character, both moral 
and emotional, with no marked superiority 
in any race or country. In intellect, where 
the greatest advance is supposed to have 
occurred, this may be wholly due to the 
cumulative effect of successive acquisi- 
tions of knowledge handed down from age 
to age. Euclid and Archimedes were prob- 
ably the equals of any of our greatest 
mathematicians of to-day, while the archi- 
tecture of Greece, of India, and of Central 
America is little inferior to mediaeval 
Gothic. But none of these, though so dif- 
ferent in style, can be said to prove any 
real advance in intellectual power from 
that of the builders of the much more 

* See my Australia and New Zealand, Chap. V., "The 
Australian Aborigines," where this view was first set forth. 
(Stanford, 1893.) For cases of morality among savages see my 
Natural Selection and Tropical Nature, pp. 199-201. 

34 



vi] Savages Not Morally Inferior 

ancient temples and pyramids of Egypt. 
This latter country, too, in its high material 
civilisation and its remarkable religious 
system, shows itself the equal of any that 
has succeeded it. 



35 



CHAPTER VII 

A SELECTIVE AGENCY NEEDED TO IMPROVE 
CHARACTER 

THE general result of the facts and argu- 
ments now set forth in the merest outline 
leads us to conclude that there has been 
no definite advance of morality from age 
to age, and that even the lowest races, at 
each period, possessed the same intellec- 
tual and moral nature as the higher. The 
manifestations of this essentially human 
nature in habits and conduct were often 
very diverse, in accordance with diversi- 
ties of the social and moral environment. 
This is quite in accordance with the now 
well-established doctrine that the essential 
character of man, intellectual, emotional, 
and moral, is inherent in him from birth ; 
that it is subject to great variation from 
individual to individual ; and that its 
manifestations in conduct can be modified 
in a very high degree by the influence of 
public opinion and systematic teaching. 
These latter changes, however, are not 

36 



Selective Agency and Character 

hereditary, and it follows that no definite 
advance in morals can occur in any race 
unless there is some selective or segregative 
agency at work. 

As there is a great amount of mis- 
conception on this subject some explana- 
tion may be advisable. Many well-edu- 
cated and intelligent persons seem to think 
that whatever characters or faculties are 
hereditary are also necessarily cumulative. 
They hear that mental as well as physical 
characteristics are hereditary ; their own ob- 
servation tells them that there are musical 
families as well as tall families. They 
hear that the late Sir Francis Galton wrote 
a book on Hereditary Genius, and perhaps 
they have read it; but they do not ob- 
serve that neither he nor anyone else has 
proved that genius of any kind is cumulative, 
that is that a man or woman of genius will 
have, on the average, some one or more 
children with a greater amount of that 
special power or faculty than their own. 
The very contrary of this is really the 
case. The more a person's talent or mental 
power is above the average the less chance 
there is that any of his or her children 
will have still more of that power than he 
has. -A really great poet, or painter, or 
37 

144387 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

musician, appears suddenly in a family 
of mediocre ability or of no ability at all 
in that special direction. A few examples 
may be instructive. 

Sir William Herschell was the son of a 
German musician, and was himself a 
musician by profession ; but he became 
an astronomical genius, one of the greatest 
of his age. His son, Sir John Herschell, 
was a very clever man, with advantages 
of education and position. He followed 
his father as an astronomer, and was a 
great mathematician, but is never con- 
sidered to be equal to his father. Darwin's 
most eminent son was a mathematician, 
not a naturalist. 

The reason of this is that heredity 
follows the law of " recession to medio- 
crity." This is, that all groups of living 
things vary around an average or mean as 
regards each of their characters ; and 
those near the average are always numer- 
ous, while as we approach the extremes 
in either direction the numbers become 
less and less. Families follow the same 
law. If you take a family for three or four 
generations, including perhaps some hun- 
dreds of persons, some will be short, some 
tall ; but the majority will be near the 

38 



vii] Selective Agency and Character 

mean, and the tallest of all will be less 
likely to have taller descendants than them- 
selves than those nearer the average. But 
the children of the tallest, though generally 
shorter than their parents, will still tend 
to be above the average height. 

When a character is so useful to its 
possessor in the struggle for existence 
as to be of what is termed " survival 
value," then those that vary most above 
the average will be preserved or selected 
generation after generation as long as the 
increase is useful. 

It is because the higher intellectual or 
moral powers are so rarely of life-preserv- 
ing value, and are not unfrequently the 
reverse, that they are not cumulative, 
though they are hereditary. 

With this explanation we will now pro- 
ceed to examine somewhat closely our 
moral position as a nation ; what is the 
nature of our social environment ; how it 
came to be what it is, and what lessons we 
may learn from it. 



39 



CHAPTER VIII 

ENVIRONMENT DURING THE NINETEENTH 
CENTURY 

DURING the eighteenth century our mate- 
rial civilisation, which had long been 
almost stationary, began to advance with 
the growth of the physical sciences, but at 
first with extreme slowness. The earliest 
steps were made by the application of 
machinery to some of the domestic arts. 
Some refinements were made in the man- 
ners and customs of our daily life ; but 
there were few, if any, indications of per- 
manent or widespread change, either for 
better or worse, in our intellectual or 
moral nature. 

The nineteenth century, however, saw 
the initiation of a great change in the 
economic environment due to the rapid 
invention of labour-saving machinery ; 
which, with the equally rapid application 
of steam power, led to an increase of 
wealth production such as had never been 
known on the earth before. During the 

4 o 



Nineteenth-Century Environment 

same period new modes of locomotion were 
brought into daily use, the facilities for 
inter-communication were increased a hun- 
dred-fold, scientific discoveries opened up 
to us new and unthought-of mysteries of 
the universe, and the whole earth was 
ransacked for its treasures, both vegetable 
and mineral, to an extent that surpassed 
all that had been accomplished since the 
dawn of civilisation. 

But this rapid growth of wealth, and 
increase of our power over Nature, put 
too great a strain upon our crude civilisa- 
tion and our superficial Christianity, and 
it was accompanied by various forms of 
social immorality, almost as amazing and 
unprecedented. Some of these may be 
here briefly referred to. 

Our vast textile factory system may 
be said to have commenced with the 
nineteenth century, and the profits were 
at first so large and so dependent on 
the supply of labour that the mill-owners 
hired children from the workhouses of 
the great cities by hundreds and even 
thousands. These children, from the age 
of five or six upwards, were taken as 
apprentices for seven years, and they 
really became the slaves of the manufac- 

41 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

turers, whose managers made them work 
from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., or sometimes 
longer ; and, in order to keep them awake 
in the close atmosphere of the factories 
it was found necessary to whip them at 
frequent intervals. It was not till 1819 
that the age of children employed in fac- 
tories was raised to nine years, while in 
1825 the working hours were limited to 
seventy-two a week ! 

From that time onward, during the 
whole of the nineteenth century, there 
was a continued succession of " Factory 
Acts," each aiming at abolishing or ame- 
liorating the worst results of child labour 
its inhumanity, its cruelty, and its im- 
morality. These legislative efforts were 
always opposed by the employers, who 
usually succeeded in so mutilating them 
in Committee of the House of Commons 
as to render them almost useless. Mrs. 
E. B. Browning's noble verses, The Cry 
of the Children, show that after nearly 
fifty years of struggle the condition of 
the child-workers was still, in a high 
degree, cruel, degrading, and therefore 
immoral ; while that of the half-timers 
who succeeded them was almost as in- 
jurious. 

42 



Nineteenth-Century Environment 

As the century wore on, other evils of 
a similar nature were gradually brought to 
light. Children and women were found to 
be working underground in coal mines, 
under equally vile conditions as regards 
health and morality ; and an enormous 
loss of life was caused by inadequate ven- 
tilation, insecure roof-propping, imperfect 
winding machinery, and other causes, all 
due to want of proper precautions by the 
owners of the mines. As a matter of simple 
justice, such owners should be held respon- 
sible to the injured person not only to the 
full extent of his wages and for medical 
attendance, but should also pay a liberal 
compensation for the pain suffered, and for 
the extra labour, expense and anxiety to his 
family. But all such things are ignored in 
the case of poor workers, so that even the 
money compensation is reduced to the 
smallest amount possible. 

It is one of the great defects of our 
law that deaths due to preventable causes 
in any profit - making business are not 
criminal offences. Till they are made so, 
it will be impossible to save the hundreds, 
or even thousands, of lives now lost owing 
to neglect of proper precautions in all 
kinds of dangerous or unhealthy trades. 

43 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

However costly such precautions may be, 
expense should not be considered when 
human life is risked ; and the present state 
of the law is therefore immoral. 

Notwithstanding Acts of Parliament 
and numerous Inspectors (whose salaries 
should be paid by the mine owners), ex- 
plosions and other accidents underground 
continue to increase, the year 1910 being 
a record year, with its 1,775 deaths ; and 
even the number in proportion to the 
workers employed is the highest for the 
last twenty years. 

Yet no one is punished, or even held 
responsible for these deaths. Surely, this 
shows a deplorable absence of moral feeling, 
both in the general public and in Parlia- 
ment. The responsibility of Parliament is 
really criminal, since it always allows its 
legislation to be made ineffective by the 
fear of diminishing the employers' profits, 
thus deliberately placing money-making 
above human life and human well-being. 

In the case of mines and quarries, 
Parliament is especially responsible, because 
the possession of the mineral wealth of our 
country by private individuals is itself a 
gross usurpation of public rights, and should 
have been long ago declared illegal. What- 

44 



Nineteenth-Century Environment 

ever arguments and they are very strong 
show us that the land itself should 
not be private property, are ten times 
stronger in the case of the minerals within 
its bowels. The value of land increases 
with its proper use, but in the case of 
minerals, the value is absolutely destroyed. 
Surely, it is a crime against posterity to 
allow the strictly limited mineral wealth of 
our country to be made private property, 
and very largely sold to foreigners, solely 
to increase the wealth of individuals and 
to the absolute impoverishment of ourselves 
and our children.* 

I will here add one other argument 
which goes to the root of the matter by 
showing that the alleged owners of mine- 
rals have not even a legal title to them. 
It is, I believe, a maxim of law that public 
rights cannot be lost by disuse. Landed 
estates were, in our country, created by 
the Norman Conqueror to be held subject 
to the performance of feudal duties. Deep- 
seated minerals were then not known to 
exist, and were not (I believe) specifically 
included in the original grants. Except, 

* I pointed this out forty years ago in an article entitled 
Coal a National Trust, which I republished twelve years ago 
in my Studies, Scientific and Social (Vol. II., Chap. VIII.). 

45 



Environment and Moral Progress 

therefore, where they have since been made 
private property by Act of Parliament, 
they still remain public property. I sub- 
mit, therefore, that they may be both 
legally and equitably resumed by the 
Government as public property, and worked 
for the good of the public and of posterity. 
Compensation to the supposed present 
owners would be a matter of favour, not 
of right. 



CHAPTER IX 

INSANITARY DWELLINGS AND LIFE- 
DESTROYING TRADES 

THE enormous difference between town and 
country dwellers as regards duration of 
life and the prevalence of zymotic diseases 
has been known statistically since the era 
of registration, and a body of Health 
Officers have been set up to report upon 
the worst cases. The local authorities have 
power to compel the owners of unhealthy 
dwellings to put them into a sanitary con- 
dition, or even order them to be entirely 
rebuilt. But as many of the members of 
Corporations and other Local Boards are 
often themselves owners of such property, 
or have intimate friends who are so, very 
little has been done to remedy the evil. 
Again and again, in all parts of the country, 
the Health Officers have duly reported, but 
their reports have been ignored. In some 
cases where the Health Officer has been 
too persistent, he has been asked to resign 

47 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

or has been discharged. A few general 
facts may be here given. 

By the last complete Census returns 
(1901), there are in England and Wales 
7,036,868 tenements, and of these 3,286,526, 
or nearly half, have from one to four rooms 
only. In London, out of a total of 1,019,646 
tenements, 672,030, or considerably more 
than half, have from one to four rooms ; 
while there are about 150,000 tenements 
of only one room, in which are living 313,298 
persons, or about two and a quarter persons 
in each room on the average. There are, 
however, about 20,000 persons living five 
in a room, and 20,000 more who have 
six, seven, or eight in a room. As most 
of these one-roomed tenements are either 
the cellars or attics of houses in the most 
crowded parts of large towns, where there 
is impure air, little light, and scanty water 
supply, the condition of those who dwell 
in them may be imagined or rather can- 
not be imagined, except by those who 
have explored them. 

Equally inhuman, immoral, and even 
criminal, is the neglect of all adequate 
measures to check the loss of infant life 
through the overwork, poverty, or starva- 
tion of the mother, together with over- 

48 



ix] Insanitary Dwellings 

crowded and insanitary dwellings. In 
the mad race for wealth by capitalists and 
employers most of our towns and cities 
have been allowed to develop into verit- 
able death-traps for the poor. This has 
been known for the greater part of a 
century, yet nothing really effective has 
been done, notwithstanding abundant 
health legislation again made useless by 
the dread of diminishing the excessive 
profits of manufacturers and slum-owners. 
One of the Labour newspapers calls our 
attention to the following facts for 1911 
as to Infant mortality per 1,000 born : 

PER I.OOO 

Deptford, East Ward (poor) 197 
Deptford, West Ward (rich) 68 
Bournville Garden Village . 65 
St. Mary's Ward, Birming- 
ham . . . . 331 

Such facts exist all over the kingdom. 
They have been talked about and deplored 
for the last half-century at least. Who 
has murdered the 100,000 children who 
die annually before they are one year 
old ? Who has robbed the millions that 
just survive of all that makes childhood 

E 49 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

happy pure food, fresh air, play, rest, 
sleep, and proper nurture and teaching ? 
Again we must answer, our Parliament, 
which occupies itself with anything rather 
than the immediate saving of human life 
and abolishing widespread human misery, 
the whole of which is remediable. And 
all for fear of offending the rich and 
powerful by some diminution of their 
ever-increasing accumulations of wealth. 
No thinking man or woman can believe 
that this state of things is absolutely 
irremediable ; and the persistent acquies- 
cence in it while loudly boasting of our 
civilisation, of our science, of our national 
prosperity, and of our Christianity, is the 
proof of a hypocritical lack of national 
morality that has never been surpassed 
in any former age. 

A new set of evils has grown up 
in the various so - called " unhealthy 
trades " the lead glaze in the china 
manufacture, the steel dust in cutlery 
work, and the endless variety of poisonous 
liquids and vapours in the numerous 
chemical works or processes, by which so 
many fortunes have been made. These, 
together, are the cause of a large direct 
loss of life, and a much larger amount of 

50 



ix] Insanitary Dwellings 

permanent injury, together with a terrible 
reduction in the duration of life of all 
the workers in such trades. Yet in one 
case only that of phosphorus matches 
has any such injurious process of manu- 
facture been put an end to. Wealth has 
been deliberately preferred to human life 
and happiness.* 

One of the most deadly of trades 
seems to have remained unnoticed till 
it has been brought to light by the 
new Labour paper, The Daily Citizen, 
in a series of articles by Mr. Keighley 
Snowden, entitled The Broken Women. 
Never was a title better deserved, since 
large numbers of girls and young women 
are employed at Lye and Cradley Heath, 
in what is commonly named the " Hollow 
Ware " works. This is the tinning, or 
galvanising, as it is usually termed, of 
buckets and other domestic utensils, in 
which lead is used ; and it produces one 
of the most virulent forms of lead-poison- 
ing. The symptoms are, among other 
more painful ones, the loss of hair and 
the loosening and ultimate loss of teeth, 
culminating either in chronic illness or 

* An account of some deadly trades is given in Mr. R. H. 
Sherard's book, The White Slaves of England. 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

death, sometimes in a few months or 
years. Five years ago there was a 
Home Office inquiry, which, after full 
examination, reported that the process 
used was dangerous to life, that no pre- 
cautions could render it harmless, and 
that it should be totally discontinued. 

An order was then issued by the 
Home Office that after a time-limit (two 
years) the process should be no longer 
used ; but that order has not been obeyed 
(except by a few employers) to this day. 
The deadly nature of this work was 
accompanied by miserably low wages, as 
shown by the fact that the women workers 
have at length struck to obtain a minimum 
of los. a week ! Helped by some humane 
friends, they have at length succeeded 
in obtaining this miserable wage, and 
for the present are in a state of com- 
parative happiness ! How long it will be 
before the Government abolishes this 
deadly process we cannot tell. The fol- 
lowing is a brief statement of what these 
poor women have to suffer, extracted 
from The Daily Citizen of November 20th, 
1912 : 

" They had, without power to resist them, suffered 
repeated and ruthless reductions of wages. They 

52 



ix] Insanitary Dwellings 

had seen their industry brought down by reckless 
competition, and the manufacture of shoddy goods, 
to the point at which men could no longer earn enough 
to support their families. They had seen their wives 
and daughters and boys forced by want at home into 
workshops, where, as official inquiry has shown, 
health was sucked out of their bodies as though they 
had been the victims of vampires. They had seen the 
introduction and growth of the sub-contracting ' stint ' 
system, under which boyhood and girlhood and 
motherhood were driven as though they had been 
slaves under the lash, and their earnings cut down 
to a penny an hour. Meanwhile, they lived in the 
hovels and holes of a place which can only be fitly 
described as one of the dirtiest ashpits of a civilisation 
reckless of dirt where profit is a question." 

Those who want to know what horrors 
can exist to-day in England should read 
Mr. Snowden's series of articles on the 
subject. They are restrained in language, 
and state the bare facts from careful 
personal observation. That such things 
should still exist in a country claiming 
to be civilised would be incredible, were 
there not so many others of a like nature 
and almost as bad. 

In an almost exhaustive volume on 
Diseases of Occupation by Sir Thomas 
Oliver, M.D. (1908), there is only a short 
reference to the hollowware trade of the 
"black country" near Birmingham. But 
53 



Environment and Moral Progress 

the tin plate industry of South Wales is 
more fully described, with the same pitiable 
condition of the women workers and the 
same terrible results to health and life. 
Yet nothing whatever seems to be done 
by the manufacturers; and though two 
Home Office Inspectors have fully reported 
on its horrors from 1888 onwards, no notice 
appears to have been taken of them, nor 
has there been any Government interfer- 
ence with conditions of labour which are 
a disgrace to civilisation. 



CHAPTER X 

ADULTERATION, BRIBERY, AND GAMBLING 

AFTER the terrible national crime of 
deadly employments it is almost an anti- 
climax to enumerate the vast mass of 
dishonesty and falsehood that pervades 
our commercial system in every depart- 
ment. Almost every fabric, whether of 
cotton, linen, wool, or silk, is so widely 
and ingeniously adulterated by the inter- 
mixture of cheaper materials that the pure 
article as supplied to our grandparents 
is hardly to be obtained. Of this one 
example only must serve. Calicoes have 
been successively dressed with such sub- 
stances as paste and tallow ; then with 
the still cheaper china clay and size ; and 
in some cases from 50 to 90 per cent, of 
these latter materials have been sold as 
calico for exportation to countries in- 
habited by what we term savages. These 
people only found out the deception when 
the need for washing or exposure to tropical 
rains reduced the material to a flimsy and 

55 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

worthless rag, as I have myself witnessed 
in some parts of the Malay Archipelago.* 

Even worse is the adulteration of 
almost every kind of prepared food 
including the showy sweetmeats which 
tempt our children with various che- 
micals, which are often injurious to 
health, and sometimes fatal ; while even 
the drugs we take in the endeavour to 
cure our various ailments are frequently 
so treated as to be useless or even hurt- 
ful. Along with this form of dishonesty 
is what may be termed simple cheating 
in the description of goods sold, especially 
as to quantity. Threads and fabrics are 
generally shorter or narrower than stated, 
giving a larger profit when sold in enor- 
mous quantities in our great retail shops. 

Then, again, there is a widespread 
system of bribery of servants or other 
employees in order to obtain more cus- 
tomers or to secure contracts ; and though 
these are all criminal offences, and a great 
host of inspectors and official analysts 
are employed to discover and convict the 

* These facts are given in the Ninth Edition of the 
" Encyclopaedia Britannica." In recent editions the 
article Adulteration is limited to food and drugs. In 
" Chambers' Encyclopaedia," cotton, linen and woollens 
are included among adulterated fabrics. 

56 



x] Adulteration, Bribery, Gambling 

offenders, yet so few people are willing to 
take the trouble and lose the time and 
money involved in putting the law into 
motion, that a very large percentage of 
these offences go undiscovered and un- 
punished. 

Yet another and more serious form of 
plunder of the public is carried on by 
means of Joint Stock Companies, of which 
there are now more than 50,000 in England 
and Wales. In the year 1911 the number 
of new companies was 5,959, while 4,353 
ceased to exist, giving an increase of 1,606 
in the year. The Limited Liability Act 
was passed in 1855, in order that the public 
might invest their savings in companies, 
and thus share in the profits of our in- 
dustry and commerce. It was supposed 
to be quite proper that anyone should 
benefit by the enterprise and industry of 
others ; but to do 'so is essentially im- 
moral, and has resulted in a vast system 
of swindling and terrible losses to the inno- 
cent investors. The promoters, directors, 
secretaries and bankers of these companies 
always gain ; those that take up the shares 
often lose; and the amount of misery and 
absolute ruin of those who fondly hoped to 
add to their scanty incomes, and have been 

57 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

deluded by the names of well-known public 
men among the directors, is incalculable. 

Our Stock Exchanges, too, are used 
largely for pure gambling which, owing to 
its vast extent and being carried on under 
business forms, is perhaps more ruinous 
than any other. But this form of gambling 
goes on unchecked, and is generally accepted 
as quite honest business. Yet ordinary bet- 
ting on races and other forms of direct 
gambling are hypocritically condemned as 
immoral and criminal. 

The vast fabric of our Foreign Trade 
in food, or the raw materials of our manu- 
factures, is also used to support perhaps 
the greatest system of gambling the world 
has ever seen. The fluctuating prices of 
corn or cotton, of coal or mineral oil, of 
iron and other metals, in the great mar- 
kets of the world, are used in two ways 
by a large community of gamblers, who 
not only do not require the goods they 
buy, but who never see nor possess them. 
The ordinary speculator who buys when 
prices are low, to sell again at a profit, 
without himself being able to influence 
the rise or fall of price, is a pure gambler 
who thinks he can foresee the changes 
of the market price in the immediate 

58 



x] Adulteration, Bribery, Gambling 

future. But the great capitalists who, 
either singly or by means of what are 
called rings or combines, purchase such 
vast quantities of the special product as 
to create a scarcity in the market, lead- 
ing to a large rise of price, are ingenious 
robbers rather than gamblers, because, 
by clever dealings with such a monopoly, 
often aided by false rumours widely cir- 
culated in newspapers owned or bribed 
by them, they are able to make enormous 
profits at the expense of those who are 
obliged to purchase for actual business 
purposes or for daily use. This is one 
of the methods by which the great mil- 
lionaires and multi-millionaires of the 
world accumulate their wealth, every 
penny of which is at the cost of the 
consuming public. 

This is certainly as immoral as any 
of the petty forms of swindling with 
marked cards, loaded dice, or the wilful 
losing of a race ; yet the possessors of 
such wealth are usually held to be clever 
business men, whose morality is not ques- 
tioned. 

All these inconsistencies as regards the 
moral status of various kinds of gambling 
or dishonest speculation arise from our 

59 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

inveterate habit of dealing with limited 
cases, each judged on its supposed merits 
as to consequences, instead of looking to 
fundamental principles. Why is gambling 
immoral ? Not because it is a game of 
chance, entered into for mere amusement, 
even when played for small money stakes 
which are of no importance to any of the 
players. The fundamental wrong arises 
whenever it is used for obtaining wealth 
or any part of the player's income ; and 
the reason is, that whatever one wins, 
someone else loses ; while its evil nature, 
socially, depends upon the fact that 
whoever acquires wealth by such means 
contributes nothing useful to the social 
organism of which he forms a part. If it 
were taught to every child, and in every 
school and college, that it is morally 
wrong for anyone to live upon the 
combined labour of his fellow-men with- 
out contributing an approximately equal 
amount of useful labour, whether physical 
or mental, in return, all kinds of gambling, 
as well as many other kinds of useless 
occupation, would be seen to be of the 
same nature as direct dishonesty or fraud, 
and, therefore, would soon come to be 
considered disgraceful as well as immoral. 
60 



x] Adulteration, Bribery, Gambling 

We see, then, that the whole commercial 
fabric of our country our immense mills 
and factories, our vast exports and im- 
ports, our home trade, wholesale and 
retail, and innumerable transactions in 
our Stock Exchanges is permeated with 
various forms of dishonesty, gambling, 
and direct robbery of individuals or of 
the public. No class is wholly free from 
it, and it increases in volume from decade 
to decade, just as our boasted commerce 
and accumulated wealth increases. 

I have here called attention to these 
various forms of immoral practices be- 
cause they are so often ignored. Yet 
they are all officially admitted by the 
enormous mass of the various Royal 
Commissions, Parliamentary and other 
Reports, as well as by the hundreds of 
" Acts " by which successive Parliaments 
have endeavoured to deal with them, but 
which have, one and all, proved to be 
either wholly or partially ineffective. The 
reason of this failure is that in every case 
symptoms and isolated results only have 
been considered, while the underlying 
causes of the whole vast mass of social 
corruption have never been sought for, or, 
if known, have never influenced legislation. 
61 



CHAPTER XI 

OUR ADMINISTRATION OF " JUSTICE " IS 
IMMORAL 

WHEN we read about the Turkish or other 
Eastern law courts, in which direct bribery 
of every official up to the judge himself 
is a regular feature, we are horrified, and 
are apt to proclaim the fact that our 
judges never take bribes. But, practic- 
ally, it comes to very nearly the same 
thing in England. No single step can be 
made for the purpose of getting justice 
without paying fees ; while the whole pro- 
cess of bringing or defending an action- 
at-law is so absurdly complex as to be 
almost incredible. Jeremy Bentham sati- 
rised this by supposing a father of a large 
family to adopt the same method of set- 
tling a dispute between two of his sons. 
He would not hear either of them himself, 
but each must tell his story to a stranger 
(a solicitor), who wrote it down and then 
instructed another stranger (a barrister) 
to explain it to the father (as judge) and 

62 



Our "Justice" is Immoral 

twelve neighbours (the jury). Then the 
stranger (barrister) on each side asked 
questions of all the family who knew any- 
thing about it ; and the barristers, who 
had only third-hand knowledge of the 
facts, tried to make each witness contra- 
dict himself, or to acknowledge having 
done something as bad another time ; till 
the jury became quite puzzled, and often 
decided as the cleverest of the barristers 
told them. 

That is really the system of law courts 
to this day ; and it is grossly unfair, because 
the party who can pay the highest fees 
for the services of the most experienced 
counsel is most likely, through the law- 
yer's skill and eloquence, to secure a 
verdict in his favour. Yet there is no 
effective protest against this unjust and 
absurd system, which absolutely denies all 
redress of wrongs to the poor man when 
oppressed by a rich one. One would 
think it self-evident that justice ceases to 
be justice when it has to be paid for. 
But the system is so time-hallowed, the 
profession of a barrister so honoured, and 
its rewards so great, that it will never be 
abolished till there comes about in our 
social system that fundamental change 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

which will cut at the very root-cause of 
almost all our existing law-suits, im- 
morality and crime. 

In our criminal as well as our civil 
law and procedure there is equal injustice. 
When the poor man is accused of the 
slightest offence and brought before a 
magistrate by the police, he is, even 
though perfectly honest and respectable, 
treated from the very first as if he were 
guilty, often refused communication with 
his friends ; and, when the accusation is 
serious, he is remanded to prison again 
and again till evidence has been hunted 
up, or even manufactured, against him. 
Experience shows that the latter is often 
done and a quite innocent man not in- 
frequently punished. The dictum of the 
law, that an Englishman should be held 
to be innocent till he is proved to be 
guilty, is absolutely reversed, and he is 
treated as if he were guilty till, against 
overwhelming odds, he is able to prove 
himself innocent. There is no possible 
excuse for this now, and at the very least 
every man who has a home or a per- 
manent employment should be at once 
discharged on his own recognizances. 

Equally unjust and barbarous is the 
64 



xi] Our "Justice" is Immoral 

system of money-fines, often for merely 
nominal offences, with the alternative of 
imprisonment. To the well-off, or to the 
habitual criminal, the fine is a trifle ; but 
to the poor man charged with being drunk, 
with begging, or with sleeping under a hay- 
stack, or any such act which is no real 
offence, the common punishment of IDS. 
or a week's imprisonment, leaving perhaps 
wife and children to starve or be sent to 
the workhouse, is really far more immoral 
than the alleged offence. 

Again, our Poor Law itself, as usually 
administered, is utterly immoral. This is 
what a competent authority Mr. Sidney 
Webb says of it : 

" Underneath the feet of the whole wage- earning 
class is the abyss of the Poor Law. I see before me 
a respectable family applying for relief. What do 
we do to them ? We, the Government of England, 
break up the family. We strip each individual of 
what makes life worth living. When the man enters 
the workhouse he is stripped of his citizenship 
branded as too infamous to vote for a member of 
Parliament; Once in the workhouse, we put him to 
toil or to loiter under conditions that are so demoralis- 
ing that we turn him into a wastrel. And we strip 
the wife of her children. We send her to the wash- 
tub or the sewing-room, where she associates with 
prostitutes and imbeciles. The little children, if they 

F 65 



Environment and Moral Progress 

are under five, are taken to the workhouse nursery, 
where they also are tended by prostitutes and imbe- 
ciles. There they remain, day after day, without ever 
going down the workhouse steps until they are old 
enough to go to the Poor Law school, or until they 
are taken down in their coffins, owing to the terrible 
mortality among the workhouse babies." 

Of course, all workhouses are not so 
bad as this, but many are, and have been 
during the three-quarters of a century of 
their existence. Can we, therefore, wonder 
that week by week some poor and honest 
parents commit suicide rather than see 
their children starve, or be separated 
from them in the workhouse ! The 
people we thus drive to death are many 
of them as good as we ourselves are ; yet 
the " Guardians of the Poor " well-to-do 
gentlemen and ladies go on administer- 
ing it week after week and year after year 
without protest or apparent compunction. 
Such is the deadening effect of long-con- 
tinued custom. 



66 



CHAPTER XII 

INDICATIONS OF INCREASING MORAL DEGRA- 
DATION 

THERE are in the Reports of the Registrar- 
General a few statistics of special import- 
ance because they clearly point to certain 
kinds of moral degradation which have 
been increasing for the last half-century, 
thus coinciding with our exceptionally 
rapid increase in wealth; and also, as I 
have shown in preceding chapters, with 
various forms of national, economic, and 
social deterioration. 

The first of these is the continuous 
increase in deaths from alcoholism, in 
proportion to population, since the year 
1861. Most persons will be amazed to 
find that this is the case, because the 
drinking habit has certainly diminished ; 
but when the habit becomes so powerful 
and lasts so long as to be the direct cause 
of death, we are able to see the dimen- 
sions of the most exaggerated form of 

67 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

the drink evil. The following figures are 
taken from the successive Reports re- 
ferred to : 

Deaths from 

Average Alcoholism per 

of Years Million living 

1861 1865 . . . 41.6 
18661870 . . . 35.4 

18711875 . . . 37.6 

1876 1880 . . . 42.4 

18811885 . . . 48.2 

18861890 . . . 56.0 

18911895 . . . 67.8 

18961900 . . .85.8 

1901 1905 . . . 78.4 

1906 1910 . . . 54.6 

There are some irregularities, the ratio 
being nearly equal for the first twenty 
years, after which there is such a con- 
tinuous large increase that from 1876-80 
to 1896-1900 the mortality is doubled, but 
for the last ten years there has been a 
decrease, which in the last five years is 
very marked. 

But a still worse and more disquiet- 
ing feature is the recent large increase 
of mortality from alcoholism in women. 
Figures for the separate sexes were not 

68 



Increasing Moral Degradation 

given till 1876, and the following table 
shows v the comparison up to 1910 : 





Deaths from 


Average 


Alcoholism 


of Years 


per Million 




Men Women 


18761880 


. . 60. 1 . . 24.0 


l88ll885 


. . 66.6 . . 31.0 


18861890 


.. 73.6 .. 39.2 


18911895 


. . 86.6 . . 50.2 


1896 1900 


. . 106.2 . . 66.6 


I90II905 


.. 95.0 .. 63.0 


1906 1910 


. . 66.6 . . 43.6 



These figures, however deplorable and 
startling in themselves, are as nothing in 
comparison with what they imply. Death 
from drink, more than in the case of any 
other disease, is the ultimate and rarely 
attained result of the vice of habitual 
intoxication. Men and women may greatly 
injure their health, ruin their families, 
and be disgraceful drunkards, and yet not 
die of it, or make any near approach to 
doing so. What is the proportion of those 
who are morally and physically injured 
by drink to those who kill themselves by 
it, is, I suppose, unknown, but I imagine 
that one in a thousand is, probably, too 
high an estimate, and that one death 

69 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

among ten thousand moderate drinkers 
who also occasionally or frequently become 
intoxicated, would be nearer the mark. 
This would imply an increase in the con- 
sumption of alcoholic drinks, instead of 
which there has been an actual diminu- 
tion. The fact probably is that a very 
large number of moderate drinkers have 
ceased to consume alcohol in any form, 
and this would account for a much larger 
reduction in the total than has actually 
occurred. 

On the other hand, owing to the 
increase of those who are only casually 
employed in our great cities, and whose 
one luxury is the excitement of drink, a 
larger quantity of cheap and injuriously 
adulterated spirits and other liquors is 
consumed, which, combined with a defi- 
ciency of wholesome food, leads more 
frequently to a fatal result. 

Increase of Suicide 

The increase has been long known and 
generally admitted. It is supposed to be 
largely due to the ever-increasing struggle 
for subsistence in our great cities, the con- 
sequent increase of unemployment, and 
the dread of the workhouse as the only 

70 



Increasing Moral Degradation 

alternative to starvation. The following 
are the figures for the last forty -five 
years for which official data have been 
published : 

Deaths by 

Suicide per 

Million living 

l866 1870 . . . 66.4 

1871 1875 . . . 66.0 

18761880 . . . 73.6 

18811885 . 73-8 

1886 1890 . . . 79.4 

18911895 . . . 88.6 

1896 1900 . . . 89.2 

1901 1905 . . . 100.6 

1906 1910 . . . 102.2 

Such a table as this, occurring in a 
country which boasts of its enormous 
wealth, of its ever-increasing commercial 
prosperity, of its marvellous advance in 
science and the arts, and command of 
natural forces, should, surely, give us 
pause, and force upon us the conviction 
that there is something radically wrong 
in a social system which brings about 
such terrible evils. 

And this should be the more certainly 
seen to be the case because the same 

7 1 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

increase is taking place in all those coun- 
tries which approach us in their wealth 
and their commercial prosperity. 

There is a group of diseases which are 
fatal to infants soon after birth. They 
have been steadily increasing during the 
last half-century, and call for special 
notice here, as they seem to indicate 
physical degeneration as well as personal 
immorality of a dangerous and perhaps 
even a criminal nature. 

Proportion of Deaths 

Five-year to 1,000 Births 

A verage Premature Congenital 

Births Defects 

1861 1865 . . 11.19 I -7^ 

1866 1870 . . 11.50 . . 1.84 

1871 1875 . . 12.60 . . 1.85 

1876 1880 . . 13.38 . . 2.39 

18811885 .. 14.18 .. 3.23 

1886 1890 . . 16.1 . . 4.2 

18911895 . . 18.4 . . 4.7 

1896 1900 . . 19.6 . . 4.9 

I9OI 1905 . . 20.2 . . 5.9 

1906 1909 . . 20.0 . . 6.6 

The large increase during the last 
forty-five years of very early infantile 
deaths, involving abnormalities of mother 

72 



xii] Increasing Moral Degradation 

or child, seems very significant. The 
first may be connected with the increas- 
ing dislike of child-bearing, and unsuc- 
cessful attempts to avoid it. The second 
indicates some injurious condition of life 
of the mother, such as working at un- 
healthy or even deadly trades, which has 
certainly been largely increasing during 
the same period. Such work for young 
married women should be impossible in 
a civilised community. 

On the vast subject of prostitution, of 
which the present movement for the sup- 
pression of what is called " The White 
Slave Traffic " is but one of the aspects, 
I do not propose to dwell, because I can 
find no statistics to show whether it has 
increased or decreased during the last 
century. But as the conditions have all 
been favourable for it, I have little doubt 
that it has increased in proportion to 
population. Such conditions are, the enor- 
mous growth of great cities ; an increasing 
number of unmarried and wealthy young 
men ; with an enormous number of girls 
and young women whose wages are insuf- 
ficient to provide them with the rational 
enjoyments of life. 

73 



Environment and Moral Progress 

The proceedings of the Divorce Courts 
show other aspects of the result of wealth 
and leisure ; while a friend who had been 
a good deal in London Society assured 
me that both in country houses and in 
London various kinds of orgies were 
occasionally to be met with which could 
hardly have been surpassed in the Rome 
of the most dissolute emperors. 

Of war, too, I need say nothing. It 
has always been more or less chronic 
since the rise of the Roman Empire, but 
there is now undoubtedly a disinclination 
for war among all civilised peoples. Yet 
the vast burden of armaments, taken 
together with the most pious declarations 
in favour of peace, must be held to show 
an almost total absence of morality as 
a guiding principle among the governing 
classes. In this respect, the increasing 
power of Labour - parties all over the 
world seems to afford the only hope of a 
real moral advance. 



74 



PART II. THEORETICAL 

CHAPTER XIII 

NATURAL SELECTION AMONG ANIMALS 

WHILE writing the present volume I was 
led to refer to it during some of the numer- 
ous interviews on the occasion of my recent 
birthday. This led to some misrepresenta- 
tion of my views, and showed me how few 
popular press-writers have any real know- 
ledge of the nature and extent of "natural 
selection," more especially as it affects the 
human race. There is also the same ignor- 
ance as regards " heredity " ; and this latter 
has become almost a word to conjure with, 
and is thought by most writers to explain 
many things to which it is quite inapplic- 
able, and as the present work is a very con- 
densed argument founded to a considerable 
extent upon these great natural laws, I 
propose devoting two chapters to ex- 
plaining and demonstrating the effect of 

75 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

natural selection in the case of the lower 
animals and of man respectively. 

That such an explanation is necessary 
may be seen from the following extract 
from one of our most influential and 
well-written daily papers, the Pall Mall 
Gazette. After referring to the view of the 
utter rottenness of our present civilisation, 
it quotes me as saying : " And the average 
of mankind will remain the same until 
natural selection steps in to save it." 
(What I actually said to the interviewer 
was " until some form of selection 
improves it." ) The writer then goes on : 

" These words must have struck the interviewer 
like the crack of doom. For, stated popularly, the 
theory of natural selection is the doctrine of ' Devil 
take the hindmost.' If natural selection had fair 
play there would be no Children's Care Committees ; 
there would be no Poor Law, no Hospitals ; there 
would be no Old Age Pensions. All the humanitarian 
effort to care for the weak and to help them along 
the path of life, every effort to bind up the broken- 
hearted, every combination of labour to secure 
equality among the members of a trade, stand con- 
demned as futile or worse by the doctrine which 
Dr. Russel Wallace thinks can alone raise the average 
of man. His own remedies for the ills of society 
the levelling up which he believes to be impossible 
without levelling down, the disinheriting of the un- 
born heir, the ' striking ' which he applauds, the 

76 



Selection in the Animal World 

universal education which he favours all these are 
directly antagonistic to the workings of natural 
selection." 

Now, as I am credited by all my scientific 
friends with having discovered the theory 
of natural selection more than fifty years 
ago, and as the whole reading public have 
had this hammered into them with need- 
less repetition during the whole of that 
period, it is rather amusing to be told now 
that I do not know what natural selection 
is, nor what it implies. It is also a striking 
proof that the whole subject is now held 
to be so old and commonplace as not to be 
worth studying by a popular teacher before 
writing about it so strongly and dogmatic- 
ally. If he had done so he would not 
deliberately assert that I hold opinions in 
regard to the matter which in several of 
my books I have shown the fallacy of. 

I propose, therefore, to give here a short 
account of the essential features of the 
theory of natural selection ; how it has 
operated in bringing about the evolution 
of the almost infinitely varied forms of 
plants and of the lower animals ; and also 
to explain as clearly as I can why, and to 
what extent, it has acted differently in the 
case of man. 

77 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

Lamarckism and Darwinism How they 
Differ 

The first great naturalist who put for- 
ward a detailed explanation of how he 
supposed the varied forms of animal life 
to have been produced was Lamarck, a 
contemporary of Buffon and Goethe, both 
of whom believed in evolution but offered 
no explanation of how it could have been 
brought about. Lamarck, however, sug- 
gested that the various organs of animals 
were modified by voluntary effort producing 
increased development, as when an antelope 
escapes from a lion by its swiftness, which 
swiftness is increased by the straining of 
its limbs in flight ; while the long neck and 
fore-limbs of the giraffe were explained by 
the continual stretching of these parts of 
the body to obtain foliage for food during 
severe droughts. In addition to this 
other causes are at work, as described in 
the following passage, translated or para- 
phrased by Sir Charles Lyell in his Prin- 
ciples of Geology : 

" Every considerable alteration in the local con- 
ditions under which each race of animals exists causes 
a change in their wants, and these new wants excite 
them to new actions and habits. These actions 
require the more frequent employment of some parts 

78 



Selection in the Animal World 

before but slightly exercised, and then greater 
development follows as a consequence of their more 
frequent use. Other organs, no longer in use, are 
impoverished and diminished in size ; nay, are 
sometimes entirely annihilated, while in their place 
new parts are insensibly produced for the discharge 
of new functions." 

Again, he says : 

" Thus otters, beavers, water-fowl, turtles, and 
frogs were not made web-footed in order that they 
might swim ; but their wants having attracted them 
to the water in search of prey, they stretched out 
the toes of their feet to strike the water and move 
rapidly along its surface. By the repeated stretching 
of their toes the skin which united them at the base 
acquired a habit of extension, until, in the course 
of time, the broad membranes which now connect 
their extremities were formed." 

In the case of plants, where no volun- 
tary movements occur, the cause of modifi- 
cation was said to be due almost exclusively 
to the change of local conditions, as the 
various kinds of plants became dispersed 
over the earth's surface. The influence of 
soil, of temperature, of light and shade, are 
supposed to produce definite changes which 
are gradually increased ; just as plants long 
cultivated in our gardens have become so 
changed that the wild progenitors cannot 
now be recognised. 

79 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

Sir Charles Lyell, who made a careful 
study of Lamarck's great work, notes 
especially that the whole of the argument 
is vague and general, and that no cases are 
given in which is shown how the alleged 
causes can be supposed to have acted so 
as to bring about the innumerable changes 
that must have occurred. What is more 
important, however, is the failure to explain 
how the numerous minute adaptations of 
each species to its environment could have 
arisen by the direct action of that environ- 
ment in plants, the infinitely varied forms 
of leaves, flowers, and fruits ; in animals, 
the forms and sizes of the teeth of mammalia 
and of the beaks, wings and feet of birds 
to the food they obtain ; while the enormous 
range of colour and marking in most groups 
of animals are such as no amount of desire 
or exertion on the one hand, or direct action 
of external causes on the other, could 
possibly have brought about. It is not, 
therefore, surprising that, although a vast 
amount of evidence was adduced to show 
that changes had taken place leading to 
the evolution of species from pre-existing 
species, yet causes adequate to bring about 
the changes, and especially those neces- 
sary to produce the marvellous adaptations 
80 



xni] Selection in the Animal World 

continually being discovered, had not been 
shown to exist. 

It is necessary to point this out, because 
the difference between the almost universal 
rejection of Lamarck's attempted solution 
of the problem of evolution, and the almost 
immediate and universal acceptance of that 
adduced by Darwin, is otherwise unexplained. 
The belief in the doctrine of evolution as the 
only rational explanation of the gradual 
development of the innumerable forms of 
living things became more and more general. 
The great body of arguments in its favour 
were admirably set forth by Robert Cham- 
bers in his Vestiges of Creation, published 
anonymously in 1844 ; while Herbert 
Spencer's masterly exposition of the argu- 
ment for universal evolution convinced a 
large number of naturalists and men of 
science. But still the nature of the laws 
and forces by which the evolution of the 
organic world in all its variety and beauty, 
could have been brought about remained 
not only unknown but unimagined, so that 
even so great a thinker as Sir John Herschel 
termed it " the mystery of mysteries." 
I will now state as briefly as possible the 
essential features of Darwin's solution of 
the mystery in his epoch-making work, 
The Origin of Species. 

G 8l 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

Natural Selection as the Essential Factor 
in the Origin of Species 

There are two great, universal, and very 
conspicuous characteristics of the whole 
organic world which, because they are so 
very common, were almost ignored before 
Darwin showed their importance. These 
are (i) the great variability in all common 
and widespread species, and (2) their enor- 
mous powers of increase. 

The facts of variability are recorded in 
every book on Darwinism or on organic 
evolution, and it is only necessary here to 
appeal to the reader's own observation or 
to state a few illustrative facts. Every- 
body sees that among a hundred or a 
thousand people he knows or frequently 
meets no two are alike. This is variability. 
He also knows that the amount of the differ- 
ences between them is often very large, 
and always, if you have any two of them 
side by side, easily perceptible and capable 
of being described. He also knows that 
they differ in every part and organ that 
can be seen : the height, the bulk of body ; 
the shape of the hands, feet, head, ears, 
nose, and mouth ; the proportions of the 
legs, arms, and body to each other ; the 

82 



Selection in the Animal World 

abundance and character of the hair coarse 
or fine, straight or curly, and of all colours 
between flaxen and intense black. To de- 
clare that variability among men and women, 
even of the same race and in the same 
country, is a rare phenomenon, and that in 
amount it is infinitesimal, would be a 
ludicrous misstatement of the facts or a 
wilful perversion of the truth. But, as 
regards animals or plants in a state of 
nature, this misstatement has been made 
and has been used as an argument against 
the Darwinian theory. It is, however, now 
well known, as a matter of direct observa- 
tion and measurement, that when a few 
scores or hundreds of individuals are com- 
pared, even in the same district and at the 
same season, they differ in their proportions 
to about the same amount, and to some 
extent in every visible part or organ, as 
do human beings. 

This, however, was not well known 
when Darwin collected the materials for 
his various works, and he even sometimes 
makes the proviso " if they vary, for 
without variation selection can do no- 
thing"; and this has been taken as an 
admission that variation is a rare instead 
of being a universal phenomenon. He 

83 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

also often spoke of the accumulation of 
small or minute variations, and this has 
led to the statement that variations are 
infinitesimal in amount, and therefore could, 
at first, be of no use to the possessor in the 
struggle for existence. 



Rapid Increase of All Organisms 

This is another fact of Nature which 
requires to be kept in mind in all dis- 
cussions of the action of natural selection, 
yet it is often altogether ignored by 
critics of the theory. As an illustrative 
fact, a not uncommon European weed of 
the Cruciferae family has been found to 
produce about 700,000 seeds on a single 
plant, whence it can be calculated that if 
every seed had room to grow for three 
successive years their produce would cover 
a space of about 2,000 times as large as 
the whole land surface of the globe. Some 
of the minute aquatic forms of life which 
increase by division in a few hours would, 
if they all had the means of living, in the 
same period occupy a space equal to that 
of the entire solar system. Even the 
largest and slowest breeding of all known 
mammals, i.e. the elephant, would, if 

8 4 



Selection in the Animal World 

allowed space to live and breed freely 
for 750 years, result in no less than nine- 
teen million animals. 

By far the larger part of the criticisms 
of Darwinism by popular writers are due 
to their continually forgetting these two 
great natural facts : enormous variability 
about a mean value of every part and 
organ ; and such ever-present powers of 
multiplication that, even in the case of 
vertebrate animals, of those born every 
year only a small proportion one-tenth 
to one-hundredth or thereabouts live over 
the second year. If they all lived their 
numbers would go on continually increas- 
ing, which we know is not the case. Hence 
arises what has been termed " the struggle 
for existence," resulting in " the survival 
of the fittest." 

This " struggle for life " is either 
against the forces of inorganic or those of 
organic nature. Among the former are 
storms, floods, intense cold, long- continued 
droughts, or violent blizzards, all of 
which take toll of the weaker or less 
wary individuals of each species those 
that are less adapted to survive such 
conditions. In judging how this would 
act, we must always remember the enor- 

85 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

mous scale on which Nature works, and 
that although now and then a few of the 
weaker individuals may live and a few 
of the stronger be killed, yet when we 
deal with hundreds of millions, of which 
eighty or ninety millions inevitably die 
every year while about ten or twenty 
millions only survive, it is impossible to 
believe that those which survive, not one 
year only but year after year through- 
out the whole existence of each species, are 
not on the average better adapted to the 
complex conditions of their environment 
than those which succumb to it. It is a 
mere truism that the fittest survive. 

Exactly the same thing occurs in the 
case of the organic environment, to which 
each species must also be well adapted 
in order to live. The two great essen- 
tials for animal existence are, to obtain 
abundant food through successive years, 
and to be able to escape from their vari- 
ous enemies. When food is scarce the 
strongest, or those who can feed quickest 
and digest more rapidly, or those that 
can detect food at greater distances or 
reach it more quickly, will have the ad- 
vantage. Enemies are escaped by strength, 
by swiftness, by acute vision, by wariness, 

86 



Selection in the Animal World 

or by colours which conceal the various 
species in their natural surroundings ; and 
those which possess these or any other 
advantages will in the long run survive. 
The weaker, the less well-defended, and 
the smaller species often have special pro- 
tection, such as nocturnal habits, making 
burrows in the earth, possessing poison- 
ous stings or fangs, being covered with 
protective armour ; while great numbers 
are coloured or marked so as exactly to 
correspond with their surroundings, and 
are thus concealed from their chief enemies. 



Natural Selection, or Survival of the 
Fittest 

It may be here noted that the term 
" Natural Selection," which has often been 
misunderstood, was suggested to Darwin 
by the way in which almost all our varie- 
ties of cultivated plants and domestic 
animals have been obtained from wild 
forms continually improved for many 
generations. The method is to breed 
large quantities, and always preserve or 
" select " the best in each generation 
to be the parents of the next. This 
method, carried on by hundreds of farmers, 

87 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

gardeners, dog, horse or poultry breeders, 
and especially by pigeon-fanciers, has re- 
sulted in all those useful, beautiful and 
even wonderful varieties of fruits, vege- 
tables and flowers, dray-horses and hunters, 
greyhounds, spaniels and bull-dogs, cows 
which give large quantities of the richest 
milk, and sheep with the greatest quan- 
tity and finest quality of wool. All these 
were produced gradually for the special 
purposes of mankind ; but a similar result 
has been effected by Nature through 
rapid increase, great variability, and con- 
tinual destruction of all the individuals 
less adapted to the conditions of their 
special environment, so that only the 
strongest or the swiftest, the best-con- 
cealed or the most wary, the best armed 
with teeth, horns, hoofs or claws, those 
who could swim best, or those that pro- 
tected each other by keeping in flocks or 
herds lived the longest and tended to 
improve still further the next generation. 
" Survival of the fittest " was suggested 
by Herbert Spencer as best describing 
exactly what happens, and it is a most 
useful descriptive term which should al- 
ways be kept in mind when discussing or 
investigating the process by which the 

88 



Selection in the Animal World 

infinitely varied and beautiful productions 
of Nature have been developed. There 
is really not one single part or organ of 
any plant or animal that cannot have 
been derived by means of the fundamental 
facts of variability and reproduction from 
some allied plant or animal. 

It is interesting here to note, that the 
two essential factors of the process of con- 
stant adaptation to the environment by 
great variability and rapid multiplication, 
formed no part of Lamarck's theory, which 
some people still think to be as good as 
Darwin's. Equally suggestive is the fact 
that, while extensive groups of life-pheno- 
mena, such as colour, weapons, hair, scales, 
and feathers, can hardly be conceived as 
having been produced or modified by 
effort or by the direct action of the environ- 
ment, they are yet, every one of them, 
perfectly explained by the fundamental 
and necessary processes of variability and 
survival, acting slowly and continuously, 
but with intermittent periods of extreme 
activity at long intervals, on all living 
things. 

One of the weakest and most foolish 
of all the objections to the Darwinian 
theory is, that it does not explain varia- 

89 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

tion, and is therefore worthless. We might 
as well say that Newton's discovery of 
the laws of gravitation was worthless 
because its cause was not and has not 
yet been discovered ; or that the un- 
dulatory theory of light and heat is worth- 
less, because the origin of the ether, the 
thing that undulates, is not known. The 
beginnings of things can never be known ; 
and, as Darwin well said, it is foolish to 
waste time in speculation about them. I 
think I have shown in my World of Life 
that infinite variability is a basic law of 
Nature, and have suggested its probable 
purpose. That purpose seems to have 
been the development of a life-world cul- 
minating in Man a being capable of 
studying, and enjoying, and to some extent 
comprehending, the vast universe around 
him, from the microscopic life in almost 
every drop of water to the whirling 
nebulae of the glittering star-depths ex- 
tending to almost unimaginable distances 
around him. 

Looking at him thus, man is as much 
above, and as different from, the beasts 
that perish as they are above and beyond 
the inanimate masses of meteoritic matter 
which, as we now know, occupy the appar- 

90 



Selection in the Animal World 

ently vacant spaces of our solar system, 
and from which comets and stars are in 
all probability the aggregations due to 
the action of the various cosmic forces 
which everywhere seem capable of produc- 
ing variety and order out of a more uni- 
form but less orderly chaos. 

But besides this lofty intellect, man 
is gifted with what we term a moral sense : 
an insistent perception of justice and in- 
justice, of right and wrong, of order and 
beauty and truth, which as a whole con- 
stitute his moral and aesthetic nature, the 
origin and progress of which I have en- 
deavoured to throw some light upon in 
the present volume. The long course of 
human history leads us to the conclusion 
that this higher nature of man arose at 
some far distant epoch, and though it 
has developed in various directions, does 
not seem yet to have elevated the whole 
race much above its earliest condition, 
at the time when, by the influx of some 
portion of the spirit of the Deity, man 
became "a living soul." 

We will now consider some of the 
changes which this higher nature of man 
has produced in the action of the laws of 
variation and natural selection. These are 

91 



Environment and Moral Progress 

very important, and are so little under- 
stood that almost all popular writers on 
the subject of the future of mankind are 
led into stating as scientific conclusions 
what are wholly opposed to the actual 
teaching of evolution. 



CHAPTER XIV 

SELECTION AS MODIFIED BY MIND 

THE theory of natural selection as ex- 
pounded by Darwin was so completely 
successful in explaining the origin of the 
almost infinitely varied forms of the organic 
world, step by step, during the long suc- 
cession of the geological ages, that it was 
naturally supposed to be equally applicable 
to mankind. This was thought to be almost 
certain when, in his later work, The Descent 
of Man, Darwin proved by a series of con- 
verging facts and convincing arguments 
that the physical structure of man was in 
all its parts and organs so extremely similar 
to that of the anthropoid apes as to demon- 
strate the descent of both from some 
common ancestor. 

So close is this resemblance that every 
bone and muscle in the human body has 
its counterpart in that of the apes, the only 
differences being slight modifications in 
their shape and position ; yet these differ- 
ences lead to external forms, attitudes, and 

93 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

modes of life so divergent that we can 
hardly recognise the close affinity that really 
exists. This affinity is so real and unmis- 
takable that such a great and conservative 
zoologist as the late Sir Richard Owen 
declared that to discover and define any 
important differences between them was 
the anatomist's difficulty. It was in the 
dimensions, the shape, and the proportions 
of the brain that Owen found a sufficient 
amount of distinctive characters to enable 
him to place Man in a separate order of 
mammals Bimana, or two-handed while 
the remainder of the whole monkey tribe 
including the apes, baboons, monkeys, and 
lemurs formed the order Quadrumana, or 
four-handed animals. This classification 
has been rejected by most modern biologists, 
who consider man to form a distinct family 
only Hominidae of the order Primates, 
which order includes all four - handed 
animals as well as man. 

But if we recognise the brain as the organ 
of the mind, and give due weight to the 
complete distinctness and enormous supe- 
riority of the mind of man as compared with 
that of all other mammals, we shall be in- 
clined to accept Owen's view as the most 
natural ; and this becomes almost certain 

94 



xiv] Selection Modified by Mind 

when we realise the enormous effect his 
mind has produced, in modifying and almost 
neutralising the action of that great law of 
natural selection which has held supreme 
sway in every other portion of the organic 
world. 

We have seen in the preceding chapter 
how every form of organic life during all the 
vast extent of geological time has been sub- 
ject to the law of natural selection, which 
has incessantly moulded their bodily form 
and structure, external and internal, in strict 
adaptation to the successive changes of the 
world around them ; while that world was 
itself hardly, if at all, modified by them. A 
few isolated cases such as the formation 
of islands by the coral-forming zoophytes, 
or the damming of a few rivers by the rude 
though very remarkable labours of the 
beaver can hardly be considered as form- 
ing exceptions to this law. 

But so soon as man appeared upon the 
earth, even in the earliest periods at which 
we have any proofs of his existence, or in 
the lowest state of barbarism in which we 
are now able to study him, we find him 
able to use and act upon the forces of 
Nature, and to modify his environment, 
both inorganic and organic, in ways which 

95 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

formed a completely new departure in the 
entire organic world. 

Among the very rudest of modern sav- 
ages the wounded or the sick are assisted, 
at least with food and shelter, and often in 
other ways, so that they recover under cir- 
cumstances that to most of the higher 
animals would be fatal. Neither does less 
robust health or vigour, or even the loss 
of a limb or of eyesight, necessarily entail 
death. The less fit are therefore not elimin- 
ated as among all other animals ; and we be- 
hold, for the first time in the history of the 
world, the great law of natural selection by 
the survival only of " the fittest " to some 
extent neutralised. 

But this is only the first and least import- 
ant of the effects produced by the superior 
faculties of man. In the whole animal 
world, as we have seen, every species is 
preserved in harmony with the slowly 
changing environment by modifications of 
its own organs or faculties, thus gradually 
leading to the production of new species 
equally adapted to the new environment as 
its ancestor was before the change occurred. 

In the case of man, however, such bodily 
adaptations were unnecessary, because his 
greatly superior mind enabled him to meet 

96 



Selection Modified by Mind 

all such difficulties in a new and different 
way. As soon as his specially human 
faculties were developed (and we have as 
yet no knowledge of him in any earlier con- 
dition), he would cease to be influenced by 
natural selection in his physical form and 
structure. Looked at as a mere animal he 
would remain almost stationary, the changes 
in the surrounding universe ceasing to pro- 
duce in him that powerful modifying effect 
which they exercise over all other members 
of the entire organic world. In order to pro- 
tect himself from the larger and fiercer of 
the mammalia he made use of weapons, such 
as stone-headed clubs, wooden spears, bows 
and arrows, and various kinds of traps and 
snares, all of which are exceedingly effective 
when families or larger groups combine in 
their use. Against the severity of the 
seasons he protected himself with a clothing 
of skins, and with some form of shelter or 
well-built house, in which he could rest 
securely at night, free from tempestuous 
rains or the attacks of wild beasts. By the 
use of fire he was enabled to render both 
roots and flesh more palatable and more 
digestible, thus increasing the variety and 
abundance of his food far beyond that of 
any species of the lower animals. Yet 
H 97 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

further, by the simplest forms of cultiva- 
tion, he was able to increase the best of the 
fruits, the roots, the tubers, as well as the 
more nutritious of the seeds, such as those 
of rice and maize, of wheat and of barley, 
thus securing in convenient proximity to 
his dwelling-place an abundance of food to 
supply all his wants and render him almost 
always secure against scarcity or famine or 
disastrous droughts. 

We see, then, that with the advent of 
Man there had come into existence a being 
in whom that subtle force we term mind 
became of far more importance than mere 
bodily structure. Though with a naked 
and unprotected body, this gave him cloth- 
ing against the varied inclemencies of the 
seasons. Though unable to compete with 
the deer in swiftness or with the wild bull 
in strength, this gave him weapons with 
which to capture or overcome both. Though 
less capable than most other animals of 
living on the herbs and the fruits that 
unaided Nature supplies, this wonderful 
faculty taught him to govern and direct 
Nature to his own benefit, and compelled 
her to produce food for him almost where 
and when he pleased. From the moment 
when the first skin was used as a covering, 

98 



xiv] Selection Modified by Mind 

when the first rude spear was formed to 
assist him in the chase, when fire was first 
used to cook his food, when the first seed 
was sown or shoot planted, a grand revo- 
lution was effected in Nature a revolution 
which in all previous ages of the earth's 
history had had no parallel. A being had 
arisen who was no longer subject to bodily 
change with changes of the physical universe 
a being who was in some degree superior 
to Nature, inasmuch as he knew how to 
control and regulate her action, and could 
keep himself in harmony with her, not 
through any change in his body, but by 
means of his vast superiority in mind. 

The view above expounded of the trans- 
ference of the action of natural selection 
from the bodily structure to the mind of 
early man was my first original modifica- 
tion of that theory, having been communi- 
cated to the Anthropological Review in 1864. 
It received the approval both of Darwin 
himself and of Herbert Spencer, and I am 
not aware that anyone has shown any flaw 
in the reasoning by which it is established. 
It is certainly of high importance, since if 
true it renders impossible any important 
change in the external form of mankind, 

99 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

while it serves as an explanation of the com- 
plete identity of specific type of the three 
great races of man the Caucasian or white, 
the Mongolian or yellow, and the Negroid 
or black in every essential of human form 
and structure, while in their best examples 
they approach very nearty to the same 
ideal of symmetry and of beauty. Yet so 
little attention has been given to this view 
that most popular and even some scientific 
writers take it for granted that no such 
difference exists between man and the 
lower animals. They assume that we are 
destined to have our bodies modified in 
the remote future in some unknown way, 
and that the idea that there is anything 
approaching final perfection in the human 
form is a mere figment of the imagination. 
Others are so imbued with the univer- 
sality of natural selection as a beneficial law 
of Nature that they object to our interfer- 
ing with its action in, as they urge, the 
elimination of the unfit by disease and 
death, even when such diseases are caused 
by the insanitary conditions of our modern 
cities or the misery and destitution due to 
our irrational and immoral social system. 
Such writers entirely ignore the undoubted 
fact that affection, sympathy, compassion 

100 



Selection Modified by Mind 

form as essential a part of human nature as 
do the higher intellectual and moral facul- 
ties ; that in the very earliest periods of 
history and among the very lowest of exist- 
ing savages they are fully manifested, not 
merely between the members of the same 
family, but throughout the whole tribe, 
and also in most cases to every stranger 
who is not a known or imagined enemy. 
The earliest book of travels I remember 
hearing read by my father was that of 
Mungo Park, one of the first explorers of 
the Niger. He was once alone and sick 
there, and some negro women nursed him, 
fed him, and saved his life ; and while lying 
in their hut he heard them singing about 
him as the poor white man, of whom they 
said : 

" He has no mother to give him milk, 
No wife to grind his corn." 

Hospitality is, in fact, one of the most 
general of all human virtues, and in some 
cases is almost a religion. It is an inherent 
part of what constitutes " human nature," 
and it is directly antagonistic to the rigid 
law of natural selection which has univer- 
sally prevailed throughout the lower animal 
world. Those who advocate our allowing 

IOI 



Environment and Moral Progress 

natural selection to have free play among 
ourselves on the ground that we are interfer- 
ing with Nature, are totally ignorant of 
what they are talking about. It is Nature 
herself, untaught, unsophisticated human 
nature, which they are seeking to interfere 
with. They seek to degrade the higher 
nature to the level of the lower, to bring 
down Heaven-born humanity, in its essen- 
tial characteristics only a little lower than 
the angels, to the infinitely lower level of 
the beasts that perish. 

The conclusion reached in the earlier 
portion of this volume, that the higher in- 
tellectual and moral nature of man has been 
approximately stationary during the whole 
period of human history, and that the cause 
of the phenomenon has been the absence of 
any selective agency adequate to increase 
it, renders it necessary to give some further 
explanation as to the probable or possible 
origin of this higher nature, and also of that 
admirable human body which also appears 
to have reached a condition of permanent 
stability. 



1 02 



CHAPTER XV 

THE LAWS OF HEREDITY AND ENVIRONMENT 

IN dealing with the great problems of 
organic development there is probably no 
department in which so much error and 
misconception prevails as on the nature 
and limitations of Heredity. These mis- 
conceptions not only pervade most popu- 
lar writings on the subject of evolution, 
but even those of men of science and of 
specialists in biology, and they are the 
more important and dangerous because 
their promulgators are able to quote Her- 
bert Spencer, and to a less extent Darwin, 
as holding similar views. 

The subject is of special importance 
here because it involves the question of 
whether the effects of the environment, 
including education and training, are in 
any degree transmitted from the indivi- 
duals so modified to their progeny 
whether they are or are not cumulative. 
It is, in fact, the much discussed and 
vitally important problem of the Heredity 
103 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

of Acquired Characters. The effects of 
use and disuse, another form of the same 
general phenomenon, were assumed by 
Lamarck to be inherited, and a large por- 
tion of his theory of evolution rested on 
this assumption ; it seemed so probable, 
and was apparently supported by so many 
facts, that Darwin, like most other natural- 
ists at the time, accepted it without any 
special inquiry, and when he worked out 
his theory of Pangenesis in order to ex- 
plain the main facts of heredity, his sup- 
positions were adapted to include such 
phenomena. Let us then first explain 
what is meant by the " acquired charac- 
ters " which it was thought that a true 
theory of heredity must explain. 

As a rule, the great majority of the 
peculiarities of any species of animal or 
plant are constantly reproduced in its 
offspring. The short tail of the wren, 
the much longer tail of the long-tailed tit, 
the crest of the crested tit and of in- 
numerable other birds, always when 
full-grown exhibit the same characters as 
in their parents. These are said to be 
innate characters. In rare cases, how- 
ever, offspring are born which differ mate- 
rially from their parents, as when a white 
104 



xv] Heredity and Environment 

blackbird or a six-toed kitten appears, 
but these are equally innate, and are often 
strongly inherited. All these are subject 
to variation, and can therefore be modi- 
fied by selection, whether natural or arti- 
ficial, and the effects of such selection in 
the case of domestic animals is often 
enormous. Such are the pouters and 
tumblers among pigeons, the bull-dog 
and the greyhound, the numerous breeds 
of poultry, all of which are known to have 
been produced by artificial selections of 
favourable variations extending over many 
centuries ; and the characters of these 
varieties are all strongly inherited. 

Characters which are acquired during 
the life of the individual owing to differ- 
ences in the use of certain organs or of 
exposure to light, heat, drought, wind, 
moisture, etc., are comparatively very 
slight, and are liable to be so combined 
with innate characters and with the effects 
of natural or artificial selection, that it is 
exceedingly difficult to ascertain, without 
such careful and long-continued experi- 
ments as have not yet been made, whether 
they are in any degree transmissible from 
parent to offspring, and therefore cumula- 
tive. 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

Almost every individual case of sup- 
posed inheritance of such characters, when 
carefully examined, has been found to be 
explicable in other ways ; but there is 
a very large amount of general evidence, 
demonstrating that even if a certain small 
amount of such inheritance exists, it can 
certainly not be a factor of any import- 
ance in the process of organic evolution, 
all the factors of which must be univers- 
ally present because the process itself is 
universal. I will therefore here limit my- 
self to a short enumeration of a few of the 
very numerous cases in which the con- 
tinued use of an organ does not strengthen 
or improve it, but often the reverse ; and 
of others in which it cannot be asserted 
that the action of the environment can 
have had any part whatever in the con- 
tinuous change or specialisation of the 
part or organ. The number, size, form, 
position, and composition of the teeth of 
all the mammalia are extremely varied, 
and throughout the whole class afford the 
best characters to distinguish family and 
generic groups ; they are therefore of 
great value in determining the affinities of 
extinct forms, because the jaws and teeth, 
especially the latter, are most frequently 
1 06 



xv] Heredity and Environment 

preserved. But as the permanent 'teeth 
are always fully formed while buried in 
the jawbones and covered by the gums, it 
is quite certain that the special adaptation 
of the teeth of each species to seize, crush, 
tear, or grind up its particular food can- 
not possibly have been produced by the 
act of feeding, the effect of which is almost 
always to grind away the teeth and render 
them less serviceable. Such adaptation 
could not possibly have been produced by 
use alone, or any other direct action of 
the environment. Yet, as the adapta- 
tion is clear, and often very remarkable, 
some eminent palaeontologists have de- 
clared it to be proved that the changes 
in them were produced by the changes 
in the environment, and that they con- 
stitute very strong evidence of the 
" inheritance of acquired characters " a 
statement unsupported by any direct 
evidence. 

The same objection applies to most of 
the special organs of sense. The internal 
organ of hearing is a highly complex series 
of bones and membranes, protected by 
the outer ear ; but it cannot be even 
imagined to have been gradually deve- 
loped by the action of the air waves the 

107 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

vibrations of which it conveys to the 
brain. 

The eye is a still more striking case, 
as too much use injures or even destroys 
it ; while specialities of vision, as long or 
short sight, are undoubtedly innate, and 
usually persist throughout life. 

So the wonderfully varied bills of birds 
cannot be conceived as having been modi- 
fied by use, and are, in fact, unchange- 
able when once formed. Yet, as they 
vary largely in every species, they are 
readily modified, so as to become adapted 
to new conditions by the " survival of the 
fittest." 

Equally impossible is it to connect any 
use or disuse, or environmental action, 
in the production, the gradual develop- 
ment, or complete adaptation to their 
conditions of life of the outer coverings 
of almost all living things the hair of 
mammalia, the feathers of birds, the scales 
or horny skins or solid shields of reptiles, 
the solid shells of molluscs, wonderfully 
ribbed or spined, whorled, or turreted, and 
infinitely varied in surface colour and 
markings. Even more conclusive are the 
facts presented by the vast hosts of the 
insect world, from the massive armour of 

108 



xv] Heredity and Environment 

the ever-present beetle tribe, more varied 
in form, structure, ornament, and colour 
than any other comparable group of living 
things, to the widely different lepidoptera, 
equalling, or perhaps surpassing, the whole 
class of birds in their marvellous grace and 
beauty, yet all utterly beyond any pos- 
sible direct action of the environment or 
of use and disuse in their development, 
and their close adaptation to that environ- 
ment. 

Organic nature is indisputably one 
and indivisible. It has been developed 
throughout by means of the fundamental 
forces of life, of growth and reproduction, 
and the equally fundamental laws of varia- 
tion, heredity, and enormous increase, re- 
sulting in a perpetual adaptation in form, 
structure, colour, and habits to the slowly 
changing environment. These forces and 
laws are universal in their action ; they 
are demonstrably adequate to the pro- 
duction of the whole of the phenomena 
we are now discussing. We see, then, 
that over by far the greater part of the 
whole world of life any modification of 
external structure, form, or colouring during 
the life of the individual is impossible ; 
while in the remainder its action, if it 

109 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

exists at all, is of very limited range. No 
adequate proof of the inheritance of the 
slight changes thus caused has ever yet 
been given, and it is therefore wholly 
unnecessary and illogical to assume its 
existence and to adduce it as having any 
part in the ever-active and universal 
process of evolution. 

Throughout the whole series of the 
animal world, and especially in the higher 
groups which approach nearest to our- 
selves, mental and physical characters are 
so inextricably intermixed in their rela- 
tion to the laws of evolution and heredity, 
that either of them studied separately 
leads us to the same conclusions. We are 
not, therefore, surprised to find that 
breeders of animals of all kinds act upon 
the principle that all the qualities of the 
various stocks, whether bodily or mental, 
are innate and have been due to selec- 
tion ; while training, though necessary to 
bring out the good qualities of the indivi- 
dual, has had no part in the production 
of those qualities. When a horse or dog 
of good pedigree is accidentally injured 
so that it cannot be regularly trained, it 
is still used for breeding purposes with- 
out any doubt as to its conveying to 

no 



xv] Heredity and Environment 

its progeny the highest qualities of its 
parentage. 

In the case of the human race, how- 
ever, many writers thoughtlessly speak of 
the hereditary effects of strength or skill 
due to any mechanical work or special 
art being continued generation after gene- 
ration in the same family, as among the 
castes of India. But of any progressive 
improvement there is no evidence what- 
ever. Those children who had a natural 
aptitude for the work would, of course, 
form the successors of their parents, and 
there is no proof of anything hereditary 
except as regards this innate aptitude. 

Many people are alarmed at the state- 
ment that the effects of education and 
training are not hereditary, and think that 
if that were really the case there would be 
no hope of improvement of the race ; but 
closer consideration will show them that 
if the results of our education in the widest 
sense, in the home, in the shop, in the 
nation, and in the world at large, had 
really been hereditary, even in the slightest 
degree, then indeed there would be little 
hope for humanity ; and there is no clearer 
proof of this than the fact that we have 
not all been made much worse the wonder 

in 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

being that any fragment of morality, or 
humanity, or the love of truth or justice 
for their own sakes still exists among us. 

If we glance through the past history 
of mankind we see an almost unbroken 
succession of aggression and combat be- 
tween the various races, nations, and 
tribes. We can dimly see that this con- 
tinual struggle did lead to a rather severe 
process of selection, as in the lower animal 
world. It can hardly be doubted that as 
a result of these struggles the strongest 
physically, the most ingenious in the use 
of weapons, and the best organised for 
war did survive, and that the weaker and 
lower were either exterminated or kept 
as slaves by the conquerors. This leads 
to alternation of success and failure. We 
see great conquerors and great material 
civilisations as a result of their accumula- 
tions of wealth and of slaves. Then, for 
a time, luxury and the arts flourished, and 
with them came rulers who encouraged 
degradation and vice at home, supported 
by more and more remote conquests. 
Then new conquerors arose, often lower 
in civilisation barbarians, as they were 
termed but higher in the simple domestic 

112 



xv] Heredity and Environment 

virtues and a more natural life of pro- 
ductive labour. These again, or some por- 
tions of them, rose to luxury and civilisa 
tion, to lives of gross sensuality and the 
most cruel despotism, till outraged humanity 
raised up new conquerors to go over again 
the old terrible routine. 

The periods of culmination of these 
old civilisations, founded always on con- 
quest, massacre, and slavery, are marked 
out for us by the ruins of great cities, 
temples, and palaces, often of wonderful 
grandeur, and with indications of arts, 
science, and literature which still excite 
our admiration in Egypt and India, Greece 
and Rome ; and thence through the 
Middle Ages down to our own time. But 
the inhumanities and horrors of these 
periods are inconceivable. A gloomy pic- 
ture of them is given in that powerful 
book, The Martyrdom of Man, by Win- 
wood Reade ; and they are summarised 
in Burns' fine lines : 

" Man's inhumanity to man 
Makes countless thousands mourn." 

Think of the horrors of war in the 
perpetual wars of those days before the 
" Red Cross " service did anything to 

i 11 



Environment and Moral Progress CCH. 

alleviate them. Think of the old castles, 
many of which had besides the dungeons 
a salaried torturer and executioner. Think 
of the systematic tortures of the centuries, 
of the witchcraft mania and of the Inquisi- 
tion. Think of the burnings in Smith- 
field and in every great city of Europe. 
Think of 

" Truth for ever on the scaffold, 
Wrong for ever on the throne." 

Freedom of speech, even of thought, were 
everywhere crimes : how, then, did the love 
of truth survive as an ideal of to-day ? To 
escape these horrors, the gentle, the good, 
the learned, and the peaceful had to seek 
refuge in monasteries and nunneries, while 
by means of the celibacy of the clergy the 
Church, as Galton tells us, " by a policy 
singularly unwise and suicidal, brutalised 
the breed of our forefathers." 

Here was the actual education of the 
world as man rose from barbarism to civil- 
isation, and it was accompanied by a cer- 
tain amount of retrograde selection by the 
cruel punishments, confinement in dun- 
geons, or torture and death of those who 
opposed the rulers, and by the survival of 
the worst tools of the lords and tyrants. 

114 



xv] Heredity and Environment 

Ought we not to be thankful that such 
education and custom, the varied influences 
of such an environment, were not hereditary ? 
And is not the fact that the whole world 
has not become utterly degraded, and that 
anything good remains in our cruelly 
oppressed human nature, an overwhelming 
proof that such influences are not here- 
ditary ? 

When we remember that many of these 
degrading laws and customs, oppressions, 
and punishments have extended down to 
our own times ; that the terrible slave- 
trade and the equally terrible slavery have 
only been abolished within the memory of 
many of us ; and that the system of wage- 
slavery, the distinction of classes, the gross 
inequality of the law, the overwork of our 
labouring millions, the immoral luxury and 
idleness of our upper-class thousands, while 
far more thousands die annually of want of 
the bare necessaries of life; that millions 
have their lives shortened by easily pre- 
ventable causes, while other millions pass 
their whole lives in continuous and almost 
inhuman labour in order to provide means 
for the enjoyments and pernicious luxuries 
of the rich we must be amazed at the fact 
that there is nevertheless so much real 

"5 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

goodness, real humanity, among us as cer- 
tainly exists, in spite of all the degrading 
influences that I have been compelled here 
to enumerate. 

To myself, there seems only one ex- 
planation of the very remarkable and almost 
incredible result just stated. It is, that the 
Divine nature in us that portion of our 
higher nature which raises us above the 
brutes, and the influx of which makes us 
men cannot be lost, cannot even be per- 
manently deteriorated by conditions how- 
ever adverse, by training however senseless 
and bad. It ever remains in us, the central 
and essential portion of our human nature, 
ready to respond to every favourable oppor- 
tunity that arises, to grasp and hold firm 
every fragment of high thought or noble 
action that has been brought to its notice, 
to oppose even to the death every falsehood 
in teaching, every tyranny in action. The 
ethics of Plato and of the great moralists of 
the Ciceronian epoch, together with those 
of Jesus and of His disciples and follow- 
ers, kept alive the sacred flame of pure 
humanity, and their preservation consti- 
tutes perhaps the greatest service the 
monastic system rendered to the human 
race. This service is finely expressed by an 

116 



xv] Heredity and Environ irent 

almost unknown poet, J. H. Dell, in the 
prefatory to his volume, The Dawning Grey. 
Never has our indebtedness to the classical 
writers been more powerfully insisted on 
than in the following lines : 

" Hear ye not the measured footfalls echoing solemn 

and sublime, 
From the groves of Academus down the avenues 

of Time ; 
See'st thou not the giant figures of the Sages of 

the Past, 
Through the darken'd long perspective on the 

living foreground cast ; 
Feel'st thou not the thrilling rhythm of the grand 

old Grecian line, 
Pulsing to the march of Progress, cadencing her 

hymn divine, 
All the forces of the present by the subtle sparks 

controlled, 
Of the quickening Grecian fire, of the mighty Lights 

of old. 

" Through the dark and desolation of the centuries 
between, 

Still ' The Porch's ' glories glimmer, still ' The Gar- 
den's ' wreaths are green. 

Still the Zeno, still the Plato, still the Pyrrho 
points the page, 

Still the Philip fears the pebble still Melitus dreads 
the Sage, 

Still the Dionysius trembles at the stylus of the 
age. 

117 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

Still the dauntless ranks of Freedom kindle to 

Tyrtaeus' song ; 
Still they bear aloft the symbol bear the glorious 

torch along."* 

If the Christian Church had done nothing 
for us but preserve in its monasteries and 
abbeys the finest examples of classic litera- 
ture that have come down to us, and given 
us those glories of Gothic architecture which 
seem to express in stone the grandeur and 
sublimity, the peacefulness and the beauty 
of a pure religion, it would, notwithstanding 
its many defects, its cruelty and oppression, 
its opposition to the study of nature and 
to freedom of thought, have fully justified 
its existence as helping us to realise what- 
ever more advanced and purer civilisation 
the immediate future may have in store 
for us. 

Some Light on the Problem of Evil 

Before passing on to another branch of 
my subject I feel it necessary to make a few 
suggestions in reply to the objection that 
will certainly and very properly be made, 
as to why, if our higher human nature is in 
its essence Divine, it has suffered such long 
and terrible eclipses why has the lower 

* See Note on page 124. 
118 



xv] Heredity and Environment 

so often and for so long prevailed over 
the higher ? This is, of course, one of the 
many forms of the old problem of the origin 
of evil, which is no doubt insoluble by us. 
But as it is a fairly well-defined and limited 
portion of that problem it may be possible 
to obtain some idea of a possible solution, 
and as such an one has occurred to myself 
during the composition of the present 
volume, I will give it as briefly as possible 
in the hope that it may interest some of 
my readers. 

In my recent works, Man's Place in the 
Universe and The World of Life, the con- 
clusion was forced upon me, that the scheme 
of the development of the universe of stars 
and nebulae with which we are acquainted, 
and especially of our sun and solar system, 
was such as to furnish the exact conditions 
on our earth, and there only, which should 
allow of the origin and evolution of the 
organic world culminating in man. Yet 
further, that the conditions should be such 
as to produce the maximum of diversity 
both of inorganic and organic products use- 
ful to man, and such as would aid in the 
development of the greatest possible diver- 
sity of character and especially of his higher 
mental and moral nature. What I have 
119 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

here termed the Divine influx, which at 
some definite epoch in his evolution at once 
raised man above the rest of the animals, 
creating as it were a new being with a 
continuous spiritual existence in a world or 
worlds where eternal progress was possible 
for him. To prepare him for this progress 
with ever-increasing diversity, faculties of 
enormous range were required, and these 
needed development in every direction 
which earthly conditions rendered possible. 
In order that this extreme diversity of 
character should be brought about, a great 
space of time, as measured by successive 
generations, was necessary, though utterly 
insignificant as compared with the preceding 
duration of organic life on the earth, and 
still more insignificant as compared with 
the spirit-life to succeed it. It is for this 
purpose, perhaps, that languages become so 
rapidly diverse and mutually unintelligible 
after a moderate period of isolation, bind- 
ing together small or moderate communities 
in distinct tribes or nations, which each 
develop in their own way under the influ- 
ence of special physical surroundings and 
originate peculiarities of habits, customs, 
and modes of thought. Antagonisms soon 
arise between adjacent tribes, leading each 

120 



xv] Heredity and Environment 

to protect itself against others by means of 
chiefs and some quasi-military combinations. 
This requires organisation and foresight, and 
after a time the most powerful conquers 
the weaker, they intermingle, and still 
greater diversity arises. By this constant 
struggle the less advanced suffer most, and 
the race as a whole takes a step forward 
in the march of civilisation. 

We see the best example of this mode 
of progress by antagonism in the small 
States of Ancient Greece, where each little 
kingdom developed its peculiar form of art, 
of government, and of civilisation, which it 
transferred to all parts of Europe ; and 
after two thousand years of degradation by 
Roman and Turkish conquest, its language 
still remains but little altered, while its 
ancient literature and art are still un- 
surpassed. In like manner Rome brought 
law, literature, and military discipline to an 
equally high level ; and it too sank into a 
state of ruin and degradation, while its 
literature and its law continued to illumi- 
nate the civilised world during its long 
struggle towards freedom. Wherever con- 
ditions were favourable to progress in art 
or science, time was needed for its full 
growth and development ; while perpetual 

121 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

war necessitated organisation and training 
against conquest or destruction. Even the 
cruelties and massacres by despotic rulers 
excited at last the uprising of the op- 
pressed, and so developed the nobler attri- 
butes of patriotism, courage, and love of 
freedom. In the very worst of times there 
was an undercurrent of peaceful labour, 
art, and learning, slowly moulding nations 
towards a higher state of civilisation. 
fT^ The point of view now suggested will 
perhaps be rendered somewhat more in- 
telligible if we apply it to the nineteenth 
century, of which I have written in such 
condemnatory terms. The preceding eigh- 
teenth century was undoubtedly a some- 
what stationary epoch, of a rather common- 
place character alike in literature, in art, in 
science, and in social life. Its vices also 
were low, its government bad, its system 
of punishments cruel, and its recognition of 
slavery degrading. It was a kind of " dark 
age " between the literary and national 
brilliance of the Elizabethan age and the 
wonderful scientific and industrial advance 
of the Victorian age. 

But this latter period was also a period 
of a great uprising of the specially human 
virtues of justice, of pity, of the love of 

122 



xv] Heredity and Environment 

freedom, and of the importance of educa- 
tion ; and though the rapid increase of 
wealth through the utilisation of natural 
forces led to all the evils due to the un- 
checked growth of individual riches and 
power, yet these very evils in all their 
intensity and horror were perhaps neces- 
sary to excite in a sufficient number of 
minds the determination to get rid of them. 
Time was also required for the workers to 
learn their own power, and, very gradually, 
to learn how to use it. The rick-burning 
and machine-breaking of the early part of 
the century have been succeeded by com- 
bination and strikes ; step by step political 
power has been gained by the masses ; but 
only now, in the twentieth century, are 
they beginning to learn how to use their 
strength in an effective manner. There are, 
however, indications that the whole march 
of progress has been dangerously rapid, 
and it might have been safer if the great 
increases of knowledge and the vast accumu- 
lations of wealth had been spread over two 
centuries instead of one. In that case our 
higher nature might have been able to keep 
pace with the growing evils of superfluous 
wealth and increasing luxury, and it might 
have been possible to put a check upon 
123 



Environment and Moral Progress 

them before they had attained the full 
power for evil they now possess. 

Nevertheless, the omens for the future 
are good. The great body of the more 
intelligent workers are determined to have 
JUSTICE. They insist upon the abolition of 
monopolies of the forces of nature, and upon 
the gradual admission of all to equal oppor- 
tunities for labour by free access to their 
native soil. Thus may be initiated the 
birth of a new era of peaceful reform and 
moral advancement. 

NOTE. As many of my readers may not under- 
stand the allusions in the second verse of Mr. Dell's 
poem (pp. 117-118), I append the explanation : 

" The Porch," the place where the Stoic philo- 
sophers taught The Painted Porch in Athens. 

" The Garden," scene of Plato's and Socrates' 
teaching. 

Zeno was the founder of the Stoic philosophy. 

Pyrrho was the founder of the Sceptic school. 

Philip of Macedon lost an eye at the siege of 
Methone by a slinger's pebble. 

Melitus was one of the disputants with Socrates, 
and was always vanquished by him. 

Dionysius, the Tyrant of Syracuse, was also 
a Poet and was a candidate for the prize at the 
Olympic games, but was conquered and therefore 
feared the more skilful " stylus " (pen) of the victors. 

Tyrtseus, a lame schoolmaster of Athens, inspired 
the Lacedaemonians by his patriotic war-songs, and 
thus contributed largely to their victories.- 

124 



CHAPTER XVI 

MORAL PROGRESS THROUGH A NEW FORM 
OF SELECTION 

MANY readers, and some writers of books 
on organic evolution, seem quite unaware 
that Darwin established two modes of 
selection, both alike "natural" but acting 
in different ways and producing somewhat 
different results. He termed the second 
mode " sexual selection," and in his Origin 
of Species he briefly describes it as con- 
sisting in the fighting of males for the 
possession of females, which undoubtedly 
occurs in numbers of the higher vertebrates 
and also in insects. 

But he also includes under sexual selec- 
tion another mode of rivalry by the dis- 
play of the special male ornaments of 
many birds, and the choice of the more 
ornamental by the females. To this latter 
phase he devotes nearly half his volume 
on The Descent of Man, and on Selection in 
Relation to Sex. Selection by the fighting 
of males has led to the development of the 
"5 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

stag's antlers, the boar's tusks, and the 
lion's mane serving as a shield. These 
combats rarely lead to the death of the 
vanquished, but to a larger number of off- 
spring for the victor ; and this leads to the 
improvement of the race by keeping up 
its strength, vigour, and fighting power. 

The other form of selection, by the dis- 
play of ornaments by male birds and the 
supposed continuous development of those 
ornaments by the appreciative choice of the 
females, I believe to be imaginary. I have 
discussed this subject in many of my books, 
and my views are now generally adopted 
by evolutionists. The fact that the colours 
of male insects, especially butterflies, are 
almost exactly parallel to those of birds, 
first led me to this conclusion, because we 
can hardly suppose insects to be endowed 
with any aesthetic sense, even if they really 
see colour at all, which, in my last book, I 
have given strong reasons for doubting. 

But in the human race the conditions 
are altogether different ; for while, as I 
have shown in Chapter XIV., the kind of 
natural selection which through all the ages 
had moulded the infinitely varied animal 
forms into harmony with their environment, 
ceased to act upon man's body and only 

126 



xvi] Progress Through Selection 

for a limited time upon his lower mental 
faculties, sexual selection tended to act if 
at all prejudicially, through polygamy, 
prostitution, and slavery, though it pos- 
sesses the potentiality of acting in the 
future so as to ensure Intellectual and 
Moral Progress, and thus elevate the race 
to whatever degree of civilisation and well- 
being it is capable of reaching in earth-life. 

Eugenics, or Race Improvement through 
Marriage 

The total cessation of the action of 
natural selection as a cause of improvement 
in our race, either physical or mental, led 
to the proposal of the late Sir F. Galton to 
establish a new science, which he termed 
Eugenics. A society has been formed, and 
much is being written about checking 
degeneration and elevating the race to a 
higher level by its means. Sir F. Gait on' s 
own proposals were limited to giving prizes 
or endowments for the marriage of persons 
of high character, both physical, mental, 
and moral, to be determined by some form 
of inquiry or examination. This may, 
perhaps, not do much harm, but it would 
certainly do very little good. Its range of 

127 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

action would be extremely limited, and so 
far as it induced any couples to marry 
each other for the pecuniary reward, it 
would be absolutely immoral in its nature, 
and probably result in no perceptible 
improvement of the race. 

But there is great danger in such a 
process of artificial selection by experts, 
who would certainly soon adopt methods 
very different from those of the founder. 
We have already had proposals made for 
the " segregation of the Feeble-Minded, " 
while the " sterilization of the unfit " and 
of some classes of criminals is already 
being discussed. This might soon be ex- 
tended to the destruction of deformed 
infants, as was actually proposed by the 
late Grant Allen ; while Mr. Hiram M. 
Stanley, in a work on Our Civilisation and 
the Marriage Problem, proposed more 
far-reaching measures. He says : ' The 
drunkard, the criminal, the diseased, the 
morally weak, should never come into 
society. Not reform, but prevention 
should be the cry." And he hints at the 
methods he would adopt, in the follow- 
ing passages : ' In the true golden age, 
which lies not behind but before us, the 
privilege of parentage will be esteemed 

128 



Progress Through Selection 

an honour for the comparatively few, and 
no child will be born who is not only sound 
in body and mind, but also above the 
average as to natural ability and moral 
force." And he concludes : " The most 
important matter in society, the inherent 
quality of the members of which it is 
composed, should be regulated by trained 
specialists." 

Of course, our modern eugenists will 
disclaim any wish to adopt such measures 
as are here hinted at, which are in every 
way dangerous and detestable. But I 
protest strenuously against any direct in- 
terference with the freedom of marriage, 
which, as I shall show, is not only to- 
tally unnecessary, but would be a much 
greater source of danger to morals and 
to the well-being of humanity than the 
mere temporary evils it seeks to cure. 
I trust that all my readers will oppose 
any legislation on this subject by a chance 
body of elected persons who are totally 
unfitted to deal with far less complex 
problems than this one, and as to which 
they are sure to bungle disastrously. 

It is in the highest degree presump- 
tuous and irrational to attempt to deal by 
compulsory enactments with the most vital 

J 129 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

and most sacred of all human relations, 
regardless of the fact that our present 
phase of social development is not only 
extremely imperfect, but, as I have al- 
ready shown, vicious and rotten at the 
core. How can it be possible to deter- 
mine by legislation those relations of the 
sexes which shall be best alike for indi- 
viduals and for the race, in a society in 
which a large proportion of our women 
are forced to work long hours daily for 
the barest subsistence, with an almost 
total absence of the rational pleasures of 
life, for the want of which thousands are 
driven into wholly uncongenial marriages 
in order to secure some amount of per- 
sonal independence or physical well-being ? 
Let anyone consider, on the one hand, 
the lives of the wealthy as portrayed in 
the society newspapers of the day, with 
their endless round of pleasure and luxury, 
their almost inconceivable wastefulness and 
extravagance, indicated by the cost of 
female dress and the fact of a thousand 
pounds or more being expended on the 
flowers for a single entertainment. On 
the other hand, let him contemplate the 
awful lives of millions of workers, so miser- 
ably paid and with such uncertainty of 

130 



Progress Through Selection 

work that many thousands of the women 
and young girls are driven on the streets 
as the only means of breaking the monot- 
ony of their unceasing labour and obtain- 
ing some taste of the enjoyments of life 
at whatever cost ; and then ask himself if 
the Legislature which cannot remedy this 
state of things should venture to meddle 
with the great problems of marriage and 
the sanctities of family life. Is it not 
a hideous mockery that the successive 
Governments which for forty years have 
seen the people they profess to govern 
so driven to despair by the vile conditions 
of their existence that in an ever larger 
and larger proportion they seek death by 
suicide as their only means of escape that 
Governments which have done nothing 
to put an end to this continuous horror of 
starvation and suicide, should be thought 
capable of remedying some of its more 
terrible results, while leaving its causes 
absolutely untouched ? 

It is my firm conviction, for reasons 
I shall give farther on, that, when we 
have cleansed the Augean stable of our 
present social organisation, and have made 
such arrangements that all shall contri- 
bute their share either of physical or 
131 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

mental labour, and that every one shall 
obtain the full and equal reward for their 
work, the future progress of the race will 
be rendered certain by the fuller develop- 
ment of its higher nature acted on by a 
special form of selection which will then 
come into play. 

When men and women are, for the 
first time in the course of civilisation, 
alike free to follow their best impulses ; 
when idleness and vicious or hurtful luxury 
on the one hand, oppressive labour and the 
dread of starvation on the other, are alike 
unknown ; when all receive the best and 
broadest education that the state of civil- 
isation and knowledge will admit ; when 
the standard of public opinion is set by 
the wisest and the best among us, and 
that standard is systematically inculcated 
on the young ; then j we shall find that 
a system of truly natural selection will 
come spontaneously into action which will 
steadily tend to eliminate the lower, the 
less developed, or in any way defective 
types of men, and will thus continuously 
raise the physical, moral, and intellectual 
standard of the race. The exact mode in 
which this selection will operate will now 
be briefly explained. 

13* 



Progress Through Selection 



Free Selection in Marriage 

It will be generally admitted that 
although many women now remain un- 
married from necessity rather than from 
choice, there are always considerable 
numbers who feel no strong impulse to 
marriage, and accept husbands to secure 
subsistence and a home of their own 
rather than from personal affection or 
strong sexual emotion. In a state of 
society in which all women were economic- 
ally independent, were all fully occupied 
with public duties and social or intellec- 
tual pleasures, and had nothing to gain 
by marriage as regards material well- 
being or social position, it is highly prob- 
able that the numbers of the unmarried 
from choice would increase. It would 
probably come to be considered a degrada- 
tion for any woman to marry a man whom 
she could not love and esteem, and this 
reason would tend at least to delay 
marriage till a worthy and sympathetic 
partner was encountered. 

In man, on the other hand, the passion 
of love is more general and usually stronger ; 
and in such a society as here postulated 
there would be no way of gratifying this 

133 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

passion but by marriage. Every woman, 
therefore, would be likely to receive offers, 
and a powerful selective agency would 
rest with the female sex. Under the 
system of education and public opinion 
here supposed, there can be little doubt 
how this selection would be exercised. The 
idle or the utterly selfish would be almost 
universally rejected ; the chronically dis- 
eased or the weak in intellect would also 
usually remain unmarried, at least till 
an advanced period of life ; while those 
who showed any tendency to insanity 
or exhibited any congenital deformity 
would also be rejected by the younger 
women, because it would be considered an 
offence against society to be the means 
of perpetuating any such diseases or 
imperfections. 

We must also take account of a special 
factor, hitherto almost unnoticed, which 
would tend to intensify the selection thus 
exercised. It is a fact well known to 
statisticians that although females are in 
excess in almost all civilised popula- 
tions, yet this is not due to a law of 
Nature ; for with us, and I believe in all 
parts of the Continent, more males than 
females are born to an amount of about 
134 



Progress Through Selection 

3} to 4 per cent. But between the ages 
of five and thirty-five there were, in 1910, 
4*225 deaths of males from accident or 
violence and only 1*300 of females, show- 
ing an excess of male deaths of 2*925 in 
one year ; and for many years the num- 
bers of this class of deaths have not 
varied much, the excess of preventable 
deaths of males at those ages being very 
nearly 3,000 annually. This excess is no 
doubt due to boys and young men being 
more exposed, both in play and work, to 
various kinds of accidents than are women, 
and this brings about the constant excess 
of females in what may be termed normal 
civilised populations. 

In 1901 it was about a million ; 
while fifty years earlier, when the popu- 
lation was about half, it was only 
359,000, or considerably less than half 
the present proportion. This is what 
we should expect from the constant 
increase of accidents and of emigration, 
the effects of both of which fall most 
upon males. 

It appears, therefore, that the larger 
number of women in our population to- 
day is not a natural phenomenon, but is 
almost wholly the result of our own man- 
135 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

made social environment. When the lives 
of all our citizens are accounted of equal 
value to the community, irrespective of 
class or of wealth, a much smaller number 
will be allowed to suffer from such pre- 
ventable causes ; while, as our colonies 
fill up with a normal population, and the 
enormous areas of uncultivated or half- 
cultivated land at home are thrown open 
to our own people on the most favourable 
terms, the great tide of emigration will be 
diminished and will then cease to affect 
the proportion of the sexes. The result 
of these various causes, now all tending to 
increase the numbers of the female popu- 
lation, will, in a rational and just system 
of society, of which we may hope soon 
to see the commencement, act in a con- 
trary direction, and will in a few genera- 
tions bring the sexes first to an equality, 
and later on to a majority of males. 

There are some, no doubt, who will 
object that even when women have a free 
choice, owing to improved economic con- 
ditions, they will not choose wisely so as 
to advance the race. But no one has the 
right to make such a statement without 
adducing very strong evidence in support 
of it. We have for generations degraded 
136 



xvi] Progress Through Selection 

women in every possible way ; but we now 
know that such degradation is not heredi- 
tary, and therefore not permanent. The great 
philosopher and seer, Swedenborg, declared 
that whereas men loved justice, wisdom 
and power for their own sakes, women 
loved them as seen in the characters of 
men. It is generally admitted that there 
is truth in this observation ; but there is 
surely still more truth in the converse, 
that they do not admire those men who are 
palpably unjust, stupid, or weak, and still 
less those who are distorted, diseased, or 
grossly vicious, though under present con- 
ditions they are often driven to marry 
them. It may be taken as certain, there- 
fore, that when women are economically and 
socially free to choose, numbers of the worst 
men among all classes who now readily ob- 
tain wives will be almost universally rejected. 
Now, this mode of improvement by 
elimination of the less desirable has many 
advantages over that of securing early 
marriages of the more admired ; for what 
we most require is to improve the average 
of our population by rejecting its lower types 
rather than by raising the advanced types 
a little higher. Great and good men are 
always produced in sufficient numbers and 
137 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

have always been so produced in every 
phase of civilisation. We do not need 
more of these so much as we want a 
diminution of the weaker and less advanced 
types. This weeding-out process has been 
the method of natural selection, by which 
the whole of the glorious vegetable and 
animal kingdoms have been developed and 
advanced. The survival of the fittest is 
really the extinction of the unfit ; and it 
is the one brilliant ray of hope for hu- 
manity that, just as we advance in the 
reform of our present cruel and disastrous 
social system, we shall set free a power of 
selection in marriage that will steadily and 
certainly improve the character, as well 
as the strength and the beauty, of our 
race. 

Social Reform and Over-population 

One of the most general and appar- 
ently the strongest of the objections to 
any thorough schemes of social reform, 
and especially to those that will abolish 
want and the constant dread of starva- 
tion is that, in any society in which this 
is done early marriages will be much 
more numerous ; there will be no pruden- 
tial checks to large families ; and in a few 
138 



xvij Progress Through Selection 

generations, as Malthus argued, popula- 
tions will increase beyond the means of 
subsistence. Then will commence a con- 
tinual decrease of well-being, culminating 
in universal poverty, worse than any that 
now exists, because it will be universal. 
The following quotation from an eminent 
American writer shows that this fear has 
really been felt : 

" If it be true that reason must direct the course 
of human evolution, and if it be also true that selec- 
tion of the fittest is the only method available for 
that purpose ; then, if we are to have any race- 
improvement at all, the dreadful law of destruction 
of the weak and helpless must, with Spartan firmness, 
be carried out voluntarily and deliberately. Against 
such a course all that is best in us revolts." * 

A more recent writer, Dr. W. M. 
Flinders Petrie, the well-known Egyptian 
explorer, has put forward similar views in 
a tentative manner, but clearly showing 
what he thinks our present state of society 
requires. Of the compensation to work- 
men for accident he says : 

" The immediate effect upon character is to save 
the careless, thoughtless, and incompetent from the 
results of their faults ; this at once reduces largely 

* Professor Joseph Le Coute, in The Monist, Vol. I., 
P- 334- 

139 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

the weeding and educational effects of the bad 
qualities." 

And of old-age pensions his concluding 
remark is : 

" Nature knows of no right to maintenance, but 
only the necessity of getting rid of these who need it 
by mending or ending them." 

Again, as to the huge waste of infant 
life now going on, which he admits is 
preventable and might be saved, he re- 
marks : 

" We must agree that it would be of the lower, 
or lowest type of careless, thriftless, dirty, and in- 
capable families that the increase would be obtained. 
Is it worth while to dilute our increase of population 
by 10 per cent, more of the more inferior kind ? " 

And he concludes thus: 

" This movement is doing away with one of the 
few remains of natural weeding out of the unfit that 
our civilisation has left us. And it will certainly 
cause more misery than happiness in the course of a 
century." * 

The whole book is full of such state- 
ments as the above, for which neither 
facts nor arguments are given. It is 
assumed throughout that the failures in 
our modern society are so through their 

* Janus in Modern Life. By W. M. Flinders Petrie, 
D.C.I,., P.R.S. 

140 



Progress Through Selection 

own fault they are " wastrels " and 
deserve neither pity nor help. He knows 
nothing apparently of Dr. Barnardo's work 
in rescuing these " wastrel " children from 
the gutter and the workhouse, treating 
them well and kindly, training them in 
work, and sending many thousands to 
Canada. A record of their subsequent life 
was kept, and it was found that very few 
failed to do well, while a very large majority 
became valuable citizens in their new 
home. On the whole, they were in no way 
inferior to the average of emigrants who 
go at their own expense, and who are 
admitted to be among the best of our 
workers. 

None of the writers of the class here 
quoted seem to have made themselves 
acquainted with the researches of Herbert 
Spencer, Sir F. Galton, and others, as to 
the natural laws which determine the rate 
of increase of population when those laws 
are allowed to operate freely under rational 
and moral social conditions. A short state- 
ment of these laws will therefore be given. 

In a remarkable essay, first published 
in 1852, H. Spencer, with his usual philo- 
sophical insight, examined the facts of 
reproduction and population throughout 

141 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

the whole of the animal kingdom, and 
showed that the duration of the individual 
life and the increase of the race varied 
inversely, those groups which have the 
simplest organisation and the shortest lives 
producing the greatest number of off- 
spring ; in other terms, individuation and 
reproduction are antagonistic. But indi- 
viduation depends almost entirely on the 
development and specialisation of the ner- 
vous system, through which alone all 
advance in instinct, emotion, and intel- 
lect is rendered possible. The actual rate 
of increase in man has been determined by 
the necessities of the savage state, in 
which, as in most species of mammals, it 
is usually what is just required to main- 
tain a limited average population. But 
with a true advance in civilisation the 
average duration of life increases, and the 
possible increase of population under 
favourable conditions becomes very great, 
because fertility is greater than is needed 
under the new conditions. At present, 
however, no general advance in intellec- 
tuality has taken place ; but that the 
facts do accord with the theory is indi- 
cated by the common observation that 
highly intellectual parents do not have 
142 



Progress Through Selection 

large families, while the most rapid in- 
crease occurs in those classes which are 
engaged in healthy manual labour. 

But a law founded on such a broad 
physiological basis of observation is sure 
to continue in action, and we may there- 
fore feel certain that as the intellectual 
level of the whole race is raised by general 
culture and physical health, the law of 
diminishing fertility will act, and will tend 
in the remote future to bring about an 
exact balance between the rate of increase 
and that of mortality. 

A more immediate and effective check 
to rapid increase of population will, how- 
ever, be brought about by the social 
reforms already suggested. When poverty 
is abolished and neither economic nor 
social advantages will be gained by early 
marriage, there can be no doubt it will be 
generally deferred to a later age. Still more 
effective will be the extension of the period 
of education or training for the whole 
population for several years longer than at 
present, together with the growth of public 
opinion against all marriages between per- 
sons who have not yet begun the serious 
work of life. It would also be an essential 
part of education to inculcate the delay of 
'43 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

marriage till every opportunity has been 
afforded both of the parties concerned 
of becoming thoroughly acquainted with 
each other before undertaking so serious a 
responsibility as marriage usually involves. 

The effect of even a few years' delay of 
marriage on population is very consider- 
able. Sir F. Gait on has shown from the 
best statistics available that if we compare 
women married at twenty with those at 
twenty-nine, the comparative fertility is as 
8 to 5. But this does not represent the whole 
effect on increase of population. When mar- 
riage is delayed, the time between successive 
generations is correspondingly increased ; 
and yet another effect in the same direction 
is produced by the fact that the greater the 
average age of marriage the fewer genera- 
tions are alive at the same time, and it is 
the combined effect of these three factors 
, that determines the actual increase of the 
population due to this cause. 

Sir F. Galton gives a remarkable table 
showing this combined result of these 
causes. He finds that if one hundred 
mothers and their daughters in each suc- 
cessive generation marry at twenty, there 
will be an increase of such mothers in each 
successive generation of 1*15. If, how- 

144 



Progress Through Selection 

ever, they marry at twenty-nine, each suc- 
cessive generation of mothers diminishes in 
the proportion of 0'85. If this goes on for 
108 years, the hundred mothers who marry 
at twenty have increased to 175, and in 216 
years to 299 ; while those who marry at 
twenty-nine will have decreased to 61 and 
38 respectively. It is therefore shown that 
under present social conditions the age of 
marriage necessary to preserve a station- 
ary population will be somewhere between 
twenty and twenty-nine. The above figures 
are, however, founded on special cases, and 
the actual facts are so complicated by the 
number of childless marriages, the rate of 
infantile mortality and other causes, that 
they must be taken only as establishing 
a law of rather rapid decrease of fertility 
with each year's addition to the average 
age of marriage of the mother. 

I have now, I venture to hope, estab- 
lished two important principles in relation 
to human progress. In the first place, I 
have shown that modern ideas as to the 
necessity of dealing directly with some of 
our glaring social evils, such as race 
degeneration and the various forms of 
sexual immorality, are fundamentally wrong 

K 145 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

and are doomed to failure so long as their 
fundamental causes widespread poverty, 
destitution, and starvation are not greatly 
diminished and ultimately abolished. I 
have proved that human nature is not in 
itself such a complete failure as our modern 
eugenists seem to suppose, but that it is 
influenced by fundamental laws which 
under reasonably just and equal economic 
conditions will automatically abolish all 
these evils. 

In the second place, I have shown that 
the dread of over-population as the result 
of the abolition of poverty is wholly and 
utterly fallacious a mere bugbear created 
by ignorance of natural laws and of pre- 
sumption in thinking that we can cure 
social evils while leaving the man-made 
causes which produce them unaltered. The 
three great natural laws which all our 
would-be reformers ignore are : 

(1) That a very moderate advance in 
the average age of marriage which would 
certainly result from a truly rational sys- 
tem of education combined with economic 
equality necessarily diminishes the rate 
of increase of the population. 

(2) That every approach to educational 
and economic equality by effecting a large 

146 



Progress Through Selection 

saving of the lives of males who now die 
from preventable causes, combined with the 
fact that male births exceed those of females, 
would so diminish the number of the latter 
that they would soon become less instead 
of, as now, more than that of males : that 
this would give them an effective choice in 
marriage which they do not now possess, 
together with the power of delay which for 
many reasons large numbers of them would 
exercise. 

(3) The law of diminishing fertility with ' 
increase of brain-work through education 
and training would further tend to the 
diminution of fertility. 

These three natural causes all tend in 
one direction the equality of births with 
deaths ; while their action would be so 
readily modified by public opinion as to 
obviate all danger of either increase or 
decrease beyond what was necessary for 
the well-being of each community, nation, 
or race. 

The Future Status of Woman 

The foregoing statement of the effect 
of established natural laws, if allowed free 
play under rational conditions of civilisa- 
tion, clearly indicates that the position of 
147 



Environment and Moral Progress CCH. 

woman in the not distant future will be 
far higher and more important than any 
which has been claimed for or by her in 
the past. 

While she will be conceded full political 
and social rights on an equality with man, 
she will be placed in a position of respon- 
sibility and power which will render her 
his superior, since the future moral pro- 
gress of the race will so largely depend 
upon her free choice in marriage. As time 
goes on, and she acquires more and more 
economic independence, that alone will give 
her an effective choice which she has never 
had before. But this choice will be further 
strengthened by the fact that, with ever- 
increasing approach to equality of oppor- 
tunity for every child born in our country, 
that terrible excess of male deaths, in boy- 
hood and early manhood especially, due to 
various preventable causes, will disappear, 
and change the present majority of women 
to a majority of men. This will lead to a 
greater rivalry for wives, and will give to 
women the power of rejecting all the lower 
types of character among their suitors. 

It will be their special duty so to mould 
public opinion, through home training and 
social influence, as to render the women of 
148 



xvi] Progress Through Selection 

the future the regenerators of the entire 
human race. We hope and believe that 
they will be fully equal to the high and 
responsible position which, in accordance 
with natural laws, they will be called upon 
to fulfil. 

The certainty that this powerful selec- 
tive agency will come into existence just 
in proportion as we reform our existing 
social system by the abolition of poverty 
and the establishment of full equality of 
opportunity in education and economic 
position, demonstrates that Nature or the 
Universal Mind has not failed or bungled 
our world so completely as to require 
the weak and ignorant efforts of the 
eugenists to set it right, while leaving 
the great fundamental causes of all exist- 
ing social evils absolutely untouched. Let 
them devote all their energies to purify- 
ing this whitened sepulchre of destitution 
and ignorance, and the beneficent laws of 
human nature will themselves bring about 
the physical, intellectual, and moral ad- 
vancement of our race. 



149 



CHAPTER XVII 

HOW TO INITIATE AN ERA OF MORAL 
PROGRESS 

IN Chapters VIII to XII of this volume I 
have given in briefest outline a summary 
of the growth during the nineteenth cen- 
tury of the actual social environment in 
the midst of which we live. 

We see a continuous advance of man's 
power to utilise the forces of Nature, to 
an extent which surpasses everything he 
had been able to do during all the pre- 
ceding centuries of his recorded history. 

We also see that the result of this 
vast economic revolution has been almost 
wholly evil. 

We see that this hundredfold increase 
of wealth, amply sufficient to provide 
necessaries, comforts, and all beneficial 
refinements and luxuries for our whole 
population, has been distributed with such 
gross injustice that the actual condition 
of those who produce all this wealth has 
become worse and worse, no efficient 

150 



An Era of Moral Progress 

arrangements having been made that from 
the overflowing abundance produced all 
should receive the mere essentials of a 
healthy and happy existence. 

We have seen huge cities grow up, 
every one of them with their overcrowded, 
insanitary slums, where men, women, and 
children die prematurely as surely as 
though a body of secret poisoners were 
constantly at work to destroy them. 

We see thousands of girls compelled by 
starvation to work in such an empoisoned 
environment as to produce horribly pain- 
ful and disfiguring disease, which is often 
fatal in early youth, or in what ought to 
have been, and what might have been, 
the period of maximum enjoyment of 
their womanhood. And to this very day 
no efficient steps have been taken to 
abolish these conditions. 

We see millions still struggling in vain 
for a sufficiency of the bare necessaries 
of life (which in their misery is all they 
ask), often culminating in actual starva- 
tion, or in suicide to which they are 
driven by the dread of starvation. 
Yet our Governments, selected from 
among the most educated, the most 
talented, the wealthiest of the country, 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

with absolute power to make what laws 
and regulations they please, and an over- 
flowing fund of accumulated wealth to 
draw upon, do nothing, although more 
people die annually of want than are 
killed in a great war, and more chil- 
dren than could be slaughtered by many 
Herods. 

And while all this goes on in the 
depths, where 

" Pale anguish keeps the heavy gate, 
And the Warder is Despair" 

a little higher up, among the middle-men 
distributors of the necessaries and luxuries 
of life, bribery, adulteration, and various 
forms of petty dishonesty are rampant. 

And higher yet, among the great 
Capitalists, the merchant Princes, the Cap- 
tains of industry, we find hard task- 
masters who drive down wages below 
the level of bare subsistence, and who 
support a more gigantic and widespread 
system of gambling than the world has 
ever seen. 

And, finally, our administration of 
what we call " Justice " (and of which we 
are so proud because our judges cannot 
be bribed) is utterly unjust, because it 

152 



An Era of Moral Progress 

is based on a system of money fees at 
every step ; because it is so cumbrous 
and full of technicalities as to need the 
employment of attorneys and counsel at 
great cost, and because all petty offences 
are punishable by fine or imprisonment, 
which makes poverty itself a crime while 
it allows those with money to go prac- 
tically free. 

Taking account of these various groups 
of undoubted facts, many of which are so 
gross, so terrible, that they cannot be over- 
stated, it is not too much to say that our 
whole system of society is rotten from top 
to bottom, and the Social Environment as a 
whole, in relation to our possibilities and 
our claims, is the worst that the world has 
ever seen. 

Such are the evil products of the social 
environment we have ourselves created 
in the course of a single century. We 
have seen it going from bad to worse, and 
have applied petty remedies here and there 
during the whole period ; but the evils 
have continued to increase. It has now 
become clear to the more intelligent of 
the workers that if we wish to improve it 
if we wish to prevent it from getting 
even worse than it is we must deal with 

K* 153 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

the root-causes of the evil and, so far as 
possible, reverse the conditions which are 
so demonstrably bad, such hideous failures. 
And, fortunately, this is by no means so 
difficult as it may seem to be, because a 
large body of our thinkers and a consider- 
able number of our workers see clearly 
what these root-causes are, and, less 
clearly, how to remedy them. They will, 
however, give their energetic support to 
any Government that devotes itself to the 
task of remedying them. The following 
are my own views as to how the problem 
must be attacked in order to solve it 
thoroughly and permanently. 



The Root-cause and the Remedy 

If we review with care the long train 
of social evils which have grown up dur- 
ing the nineteenth century, we shall find 
that every one of them, however diverse 
in their nature and results, is due to the 
same general cause, which may be defined 
or stated in a variety of different ways : 

(i) They are due, broadly and gener- 
ally, to our living under a system of 
universal competition for the means of 
'54 



An Era of Moral Progress 

existence, the remedy for which is equally 
universal co-operation. 

(2) It may be also denned as a system 
of economic antagonism, as of enemies, 
the remedy being a system of economic 
brotherhood, as of a great family, or of 
friends. 

(3) Our system is also one of monopoly 
by a few of all the means of existence : 
the land, without access to which no life 
is possible ; and capital, or the results of 
stored-up labour, which is now in the 
possession of a limited number of capital- 
ists and therefore is also a monopoly. 
The remedy is freedom of access to land 
and capital for all. 

(4) Also, it may be denned as social 
injustice, inasmuch as the few in each 
generation are allowed to inherit the 
stored-up wealth of all preceding genera- 
tions, while the many inherit nothing. 
The remedy is to adopt the principle of 
equality of opportunity for all, or of uni- 
versal inheritance by the State in trust for 
the whole Community. 

These four statements of the existing 

causes of all our social evils cannot, I 

believe, be controverted, and the remedies 

for them may be condensed into one 

155 



Environment and Moral Progress [CH. 

general proposition : that it is the first 
duty (in importance) of a civilised Govern- 
ment to organise the labour of the whole 
community for the equal good of all ; but 
it is also their first duty (in time) to take 
immediate steps to abolish death by star- 
vation and by preventable disease due to 
insanitary dwellings and dangerous em- 
ployments, while carefully elaborating the 
permanent remedy for want in the midst 
of wealth. 

I myself have pointed out how these 
two ends may be best achieved, and hope 
to elaborate them. In the meantime, I 
call attention to Mr. Standish O'Grady's 
letter "To the Leaders of Labour" in The 
New Age of November 2ist, 1912, in which, 
after referring to the very natural dread by 
the rich of any such radical reorganisation 
of Society, as leading to their own financial 
ruin (which it certainly need not do), he 
makes the following suggestive statement, 
with which I hope all my readers will agree : 

" But what they fail to perceive is, that, in a 
world like this, made by infinite goodness and wisdom, 
Right is always the great stand-by for men and for 
Nations, and for the rich as well as for the poor ; 
and that Wrong, sooner or later, ends in misery and 
destruction." 

156 



An Era of Moral Progress 

That is sound moral teaching. We 
have been doing the Wrong for the past 
century, and we have reaped, and are 
reaping, "misery and destruction." It is 
time that we changed our methods, which 
are all (as I think I have sufficiently 
pointed out) fundamentally Wrong, radi- 
cally Unjust, wholly Immoral. 

We have ourselves created an im- 
moral or unmoral Social Environment. To 
undo its inevitable results we must re- 
verse our course. We must see that all 
our economic legislation, all our social 
reforms, are in the very opposite direction 
to those hitherto adopted, and that they 
tend in the direction of one or other of 
the four fundamental remedies I have 
suggested. In this way only can we hope 
to change our existing immoral environ- 
ment into a moral one, and initiate a new 
era of Moral Progress. 

In Chapters XIII to XVI I have shown 
that the well-established laws of Evolu- 
tion as they really apply to mankind are 
all favourable to the advance of true 
Civilisation and of Morality. Our exist- 
ing competitive and antagonistic Social 
System alone neutralises their beneficent 



Environment and Moral Progress 

operation. That System must therefore 
be radically changed into one of brotherly 
co-operation and co-ordination for the 
equal good of all. To succeed we must 
make this principle our guide and our 
pole star in all Social legislation. 



.5? 



Index 



ACQUIKED characters, definition 

of, 104 
characters, on the heredity 

of, 103 

Adaptation, 106 
Adulteration, 55 
Alcoholism, deaths from, 67 
in women, 68 
statistics of, 68 
America, Central, architecture 

of, 34 
Animals, natural selection 

among, 75 

Anthro-pological Review, 99 
Apes, anthropoid, affinity with 

man, 93 
Aquatic forms of life, increase 

of, 85 

Archimedes, 34 

Australian aborigines, char- 
- . acter of, 33 
hd Caucasians, 34 



BARNABDO, Dr., 141 

Beaver, 95 

Bimana, 94 

Brahe, Tycho, 23 

Brain as organ of the mind, 94 

Bribery, 56 

Browning's, Mrs., Cry of the 

Children, 42 
Buddha, 8 



CAPITALISM, 152 

Caucasians and Australian 
aborigines, 34 



Causes of economic evils, 154 
Chambers's Vestiges of 

Creation, 81 
Character, definition of, 4 

difficulty of knowing good 

from bad, 5 

mental faculties and, 5 
morality based upon, 5 
not cumulative, 37 
of savage races, 32 
permanence of, 8 
public opinion and, 36 
selective agency to improve, 

36 

subject to variation, 36 

transmission of, 4, 7, 36 

variability and, 82 
Characters, acquired, definition 
of, 104 

acquired, heredity of, 103 

innate, 104, no 

heredity of, no 
Chemical trades, evils of, 50 
Child labour, evils of, 41, 43 
Church, the work of the, 118 
Civil law system, 62 
Civilisation during i8th cen- 
tury, 40 

evolution and, 157 

of ancient Egypt, 15, 35 

of ancient India, 8 

of ancient Mesopotamia, 15 
Civilisations, ancient, 112 
Classical writers, our indebted- 
ness to, 115 
Coal mines, accidents in, 43 

child labour in, 43 

female workers in, 43 



159 



Index 



Coal mines, insecurity in, 43 
who the, belong to, 45 

Commercial system, immorality 
of our, 55 

Companies, Limited Liability, 
56 

Competition, 154 

Conduct, character and, 5 
environment and, 6 

Confucius, 8 

Cook, Captain, opinion of, on 
natives of Friendly Isles, 
32 

Co-operation, 154, 160 

Criminal law system, 64 

Cruci ferae family, increase of, 
84 

Curr, Mr., opinion of, on Aus- 
tralian aborigines, 33 

Cutlery trade, evils of, 50 



Daily Citizen quoted, 51, 52 
Darwin and heredity, 103 

and natural selection, 87, 

93> I2 5 
and transference of selection 

to mind, 99 
and variability, 82 
on Tahitians, 32 
Darwin's Descent of Man, 93, 

I2 S 

Origin of Species, 82 
theory of Pangenesis, 104 
Darwinism and Lamarckism, 

78, 81 

and variability, 82 
objections to, 85, 90 
(See also Evolution, Lam- 
arckism, Natural selection, 
etc.) 

Deadly trades, 50 
Dell's, J. H., Dawning Grey 

quoted, 117 
Descent of Man, Darwin's, 93, 

"5 
Divine influx into man, 92, 115, 

119 

Divorce, 74 

Dutt, Mr. Romesh, quoted, 9 
Dwellings, insanitary, 47 



ECONOMIC advance, evils of, 150 
antagonism, 155 
brotherhood, 155 
evils, causes of, 154 
remedies for, 154 
Education, effects of, not 

hereditary, in, 114 
extension of period of, 143 
national system of, needed, 

146 

ef the world, in 
Egypt, astronomy in ancient, 

18 
civilisation of ancient, 15, 

. 35 

intellect in ancient, 16 
Eighteenth century, stationary 

epoch, 40, 122 
Elephants, increase of, 85 
Environment, laws of heredity 

and, 103 

modified by man, 95 
not always responsible for 

specialisation, 106 
remedies, 154 
social, and conduct, 6 
social, character of, 153 
social, during igth century 

40 
social, evils of, causes of, 

*54 

Equality of opportunity, 155 
Erman, Prof. Adolf, quoted, 26 
Euclid, 34 
Eugenics, methods of, 127 

science of, established by 

Sir F. Gal ton, 127 
Eugenists, 149 

Evil, origin of, problem of, 
118 

possible solution of, 119 
Evolution, a rational theory, 81 

acceptance of, 81 

and civilisation, 157 

Lamarckism and. Si 

Chambers and, 81 

Darwin and, 81 

exposition of, by Spencer, 
81 

natural selection and, 77 

objections to, 81, 90 



160 



Index 



Evolution variability of species, 
8, 82 

(See also Darwinism, 
Lamarckism, Natural 
selection, etc.) 



FACTORY system, development 

of, 41 
evils of, 41 

Fertility, law of diminishing, 
144, 147 

Fines v. imprisonment, 65 

Friendly Isles, natives of, char- 
acter of, 32 



GALTON, SIR FRANCIS, 37 

eugenic theory of, 127 

on laws of increase of popu- 
lation, 127 

Galvanising trade, evils of, 51 
Gambling, immorality of, 59 

in trade, 58 

inconsistent attitude to, 59 

Stock Exchange, 59 
Genius, not cumulative, 37 

not necessarily hereditary, 

37 ; examples, 38 
Gothic architecture, 34 
Greece, 121 

architecture of ancient, 34 



HEREDITY ajid genius, 37 

and "recession to medi- 
ocrity," 38 

beneficence of law of, 115 

Darwin and, 103 

importance of subject, 103 

Lamarck and, 104 

laws of, and environment, 
103 

misconceptions regarding, 
103 

of innate characters, no 
Herschel, Sir John, 82 
Homer, 8 
Hominidae, 94 
Human nature, faculties of, 100 



IMPRISONMENT v. fines, 65 
India, architecture of ancient, 34 
intelligence and morality in 

ancient, 9, n, 15 
religious conceptions in 

ancient, n 
Individuation, 142 
Infantile mortality, Prof. 

Petrie on, 140 
statistics of, 47, 72 
Injustice, social, 155 
Innate characters, 104 

heredity of, no 
Insanitary dwellings, 47 
Intellect in ancient India, 9, n. 

permanence of, 15 
Intellectual advance not 
general, 142 



JESUS CHRIST, 116 
Justice, administration of, 62 
immorality of, 66, 152 



LAMARCK and evolution, 81 

and heredity, 104 
Lamarckism, 78, 89 

and Darwinism, 78 

insufficiency of, as a theory, 

80 

Land, access to, 155 
Language, 28 

diversity of, 120 

lowest races possess, 31 
Law, civil, system, 62 

criminal, system, 64 

partiality of the, 65 
Layard, Sir H., 16 
Le Coute, Prof., quoted, 139 
Lead glaze trade, evils of, 50 
Lead poisoning of workers, 51 
Life-destroying trades, 47 
Lyell's Principles of Geology 
quoted, 78 



MAHA-BHARATA, 
quoted, 8 
Mai thus, 139 



Indian epic, 



161 



Index 



Mammals, classification of, 

94 

Man, affinity of, with anthro- 
poid apes, 93 

and marriage, 133 

dignity of, 91 

Divine influx into, 92, 115, 
119 

external differences between, 
and apes, 93 

modifies his environment, 

95 , 
moral sense in, 91 

nature of, stationary, 102 

position of, 91 

predominance of mind in, 
98 

preparation of, for pro- 
gress, 120 

selection transferred to mind 

in, 99 

three great races of, 100 
triumph of, over Nature, 

A, - 95> I5 
Marriage, 143 

freedom of, insisted upon, 

128 

man and, 133 
women and, 133 
Mental faculties in formation 

of character, 5 
Mesopotamia, civilisation of 

ancient, 1 5 
Mind, brain the organ of the, 

94 

predominance of, in man, 

98 
selection transferred to, in 

man, 99 

Monier -Williams, Sir M., n 
Monopoly, 155 
Moral degradation, indications 

of, 67 

progress, definition of, i 
progress, initiating new era 

of, 150 
progress through new form 

of selection, 125 
sense in man, 91 
Morality amongst the ancients, 
8 



Morality based upon character, 

5 
based upon human nature, 

4 

evolution and, 157 
in ancient India, 9 
no definite advance in, 36 
product of environment, 3 
savages and, 31 
standards of, varying, 2 
Morals, definition of, i 



NATURAL selection, among ani- 
mals, 75 

and evolution, 77 
and origin of species, 82 
explanation of, 75, 87 
modification of, by man, 96, 

99 

modified by mind, 93 

new form of, 125 

process of, 112 

two modes of, 125 
Nineteenth century, environ- 
ment during, 40 

movements during, 122 

reaction against forced 
civilisation during, 41 



O'GRADY, MR. S., quoted, 156 
Oliver's, Sir T., Diseases of 

Occupation, 53 
Organic nature, development 

of, 109 

indivisibility of, 109 
Origin of Species, Darwin's, 

essential features of, 82 
Origin of species, natural 

selection essential factor 

in, 82 

Overcrowding, statistics of, 48 
Owen, Sir Richard, and man's 

affinity with apes, 94 



Pall Mall Gazette, reply to, 76 
Pangenesis, theory of, 104 
Park, Mungo, 101 
Petrie, Prof., quoted, 139 



162 



Index 



Plato, 8, 116 

Poor Law, immorality of the, 

6 5 
Population, increase of, laws 

governing, 141 
social reform and, 138 
Poverty, 130, 143, 151 
Polynesian races, character of, 

33 

Preventable deaths, responsi- 
bility for, 43 
Primates, 94 

Proctor, Mr. R. A., quoted, 18 

Progress, moral, definition of, i 

moral, how to initiate era 

of, 150 
moral, through new form of 

selection, 125 
Prostitution, 73 

Pyramid of Gizeh as observa- 
tory, 23 
purpose of, 17 
structure of, 19 



QUADRCMANA, 94 



RAWLINSON, 16 

Reade's, Martyrdom of Man, 

"3 

" Recession to mediocrity," here- 
dity and, 38 

Religious conceptions in ancient 
India, n 

Remedies for economic evils, 

iS4 

Reproduction, 142 

Rich, dread of, to social reor- 
ganisation, 156 

Rome, 121 



SAVAGE races, morality of, 31 
Selection, artificial, 105, 127 

free, in marriage, 133 
Selection, natural, action of, 
transferred to mind in 
man, 99 
amongst animals, 75 



Selection, natural, and origin 

of species, 82 
explanation of, 75, 87 
modification of, by man, 96, 

99 

modified by mind, 93 
process of, 112 
two modes of, 125 
Selection, new form of, 125 

sexual, 125 
Selective agency to improve 

character, 36 

Sherard's, Mr. R. H., White 
Slaves of England, 51 
(note) 

Slavery, 2, 115 
Slums, 47, 151 

Smyth, Piazzi, on Pyramids, 18 
Snowden, Philip, 53 
Social environment and conduct, 

6 

character of, 153 
during igth century, 40 
evils of, causes and remedies 

of. 154 
reorganisation, the rich 

and, 156 

reform, 143 ; and over- 
population, 138 
Socrates, 8 

Species, increase of, 82, 84 
origin of, natural selection, 

and, 82 

variability of, 82 
Speech as proof of intelligence, 

28 

lowest races possess, 31 
origin and development of, 

29 

Spencer, Herbert, 89, 99, 103 
exposition of evolutionary 

argument by, 81 
on laws of increase of popu- 
lation, 141 

Stanley, Hiram M., quoted, 128 
Struggle for existence, 85, 86 
Suicide, statistics of, 70 
Survival of the fittest, 85, 87, 

139 

" Survival value, 39 
Swedenborg, 137 



[63 



Index 



TAHITIANS, character of, 32 
Tinning trade, evils of, 51 



UNHEALTHY trades, 50 
Universe, development and pur- 
pose of, 119 



VARIABILITY, character and, 36 

basic law of nature, 96 

explanation of, 82 

of species, 82 

purpose of, 90 
Vedas, quoted, n 



WAR, 74 



Wealth, increase of, 41, 150 
Webb, Mr. Sidney, quoted, 65 
Women and marriage, 133 

excess in numbers of, 134, 

"47 

future status of, 147 
in trade, 151 
Workmen's compensation, Prof. 

Petrie on, 139 

Writing as proof of intelli- 
gence, 28 

origin and development of, 
29 



ZOOPHYTES, 95 
Zymotic diseases, 47 



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