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The Century of the Child written by Ellen Karolina Sofia Key who was a Swedish difference feminist writer. This book was published in 1909. And now republish in ebook format. We believe this work is culturally important in its original archival form. While we strive to adequately clean and digitally enhance the original work, there are occasionally instances where imperfections such as missing pages, poor pictures or errant marks may have been introduced due to either the quality of the original work. Despite these occasional imperfections, we have brought it back into print as part of our ongoing global book preservation commitment, providing customers with access to the best possible historical reprints. We appreciate your understanding of these occasional imperfections, and sincerely hope you enjoy reading this book.
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The Century of the Child
Ellen Karolina Sofia Key
CHAPTER I. THE RIGHT OF THE CHILD TO CHOOSE HIS PARENTS
CHAPTER II. THE UNBORN RACE AND WOMAN'S WORK
CHAPTER III. EDUCATION
CHAPTER IV. HOMELESSNESS
CHAPTER V. SOUL MURDER IN THE SCHOOLS
CHAPTER VI. THE SCHOOL OF THE FUTURE
CHAPTER VII. RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION
CHAPTER VIII. CHILD LABOUR AND THE CRIMES OF CHILDREN
From a photograph
The present translation is from the German version of Frances Maro, which was revised by the author herself.
Filled with sad memories or eager hopes, people waited for the turn of the century, and as the clock struck twelve, felt innumerable undefined forebodings. They felt that the new century would certainly give them only one thing, peace. They felt that those who are labouring to-day would witness no new development in that process of change to which they had consciously or unconsciously contributed their quota.
The events at the turn of the century caused the new century to be represented as a small naked child, descending upon the earth, but drawing himself back in terror at the sight of a world bristling with weapons, a world in which for the opening century there was not an inch of free ground to set one's foot upon. Many people thought over the significance of this picture; they thought how in economic and in actual warfare all the lower passions of man were still aroused; how despite all the tremendous development of civilisation in the century just passed, man had not yet succeeded in giving to the struggle for existence nobler forms. Certainly to the question why this still is so, very different answers were given. Some contented themselves with declaring, after consideration, that things must remain just as they are, since human nature remains the same; that hunger, the propagation of the race, the desire for gold and power, will always control the course of the world. Others again were convinced that if the teaching which has tried in vain for nineteen hundred years to transform the course of the world could one day become a living reality in the souls of men, swords would be turned into pruning hooks.
My conviction is just the opposite. It is that nothing will be different in the mass except in so far as human nature itself is transformed, and that this transformation will take place, not when the whole of humanity becomes Christian, but when the whole of humanity awakens to the consciousness of the "holiness of generation." This consciousness will make the central work of society the new race, its origin, its management, and its education; about these all morals, all laws, all social arrangements will be grouped. This will form the point of view from which all other questions will be judged, all other regulations made. Up to now we have only heard in academic speeches and in pedagogical essays that the training of youth is the highest function of a nation. In reality, in the family, in the school, and in the state, quite other standards are put in the foreground.
The new view of the "holiness of generation" will not be held by mankind until it has seriously abandoned the Christian point of view and taken the view, born thousands of years ago, whose victory has been first foreshadowed in the century just completed.
The thought of development not only throws light on the course of the world that lies behind us, continued through millions of years, with its final and highest point in man; it throws light, too, on the way we have to travel over; it shows us that we physically and psychically are ever in the process of becoming. While earlier days regarded man as a fixed phenomenon, in his physical and psychical relations, with qualities that might be perfected but could not be transformed, it is now known that he can re-create himself. Instead of a fallen man, we see an incompleted man, out of whom, by infinite modifications in an infinite space of time, a new being can come into existence. Almost every day brings new information about hitherto unsuspected possibilities; tells us of power extended physically or psychically. We hear of a closer reciprocal action between the external and internal world; of the mastery over disease, of the prolongation of life and youth; of increased insight into the laws of physical and psychical origins. People even speak of giving incurable blind men a new kind of capacity of sight, of being able to call back to life the dead; all this and much else which it must be allowed still belongs simply to the region of hypothesis, to what psychical and physical investigators reckon among possibilities. But there are enough great results analysed already to show that the transformations made by man before he became a human being are far from being the last word of his genesis. He who declares to-day that human nature always remains the same, that is, remains just as it did in those petty thousands of years in which our race became conscious of itself, shows in making this statement that he stands on the same level of reflection as an ichthyosaurus of the Jura period, that apparently had not even an intimation of man as a possibility of the future.
But he who knows that man has become what he now is under constant transformations, recognises the possibility of so influencing his future development that a higher type of man will be produced. The human will is found to be a decisive factor in the production of the higher types in the world of animal and plant life. With what concerns our own race, the improvement of the type of man, the ennobling of the human race, the accidental still prevails in both exalted and lower forms. But civilisation should make man conscious of an end and responsible in all these spheres where up to the present he has acted only by impulse, without responsibility. In no respect has culture remained more backward than in those things which are decisive for the formation of a new and higher race of mankind.
It will take the thorough influence of the scientific view of humanity to restore the full naïve conviction, belonging to the ancient world, of the significance of the body. In the later period of antiquity, in Socrates and Plato, the soul began to look down upon the body. The Renaissance tried to reconcile the two but the effort was unfortunately not serious enough. Boldness it did not lack, but its effort was not successful in carrying out a task which Goethe himself said must be approached both with boldness and with serious purpose. Only now that we know how soul and body together build up or undermine one another, people are beginning to demand again a second higher innocence in relation to the holiness and the rights of the body.
A Danish writer has shown how the Mosaic Seventh Commandment sinks back into nothing, as soon as one sees that marriage is only an accidental social form for the living together of two people, while the ethically decisive factor is the way they live together. In morality there is taking place a general displacement from objective laws of direction and compulsion to the subjective basis from which actions proceed. Ethics become an ethic of character, a matter dealing with the constitution of the temperament. We demand, we forgive, or we judge according to the inner constitution of the individual; we do not readily call an action immoral which only in an external point of view does not harmonise with the law or is opposed to the law. In each particular case we decide according to the inner circumstances of the individual. Applying this point of view to marriage, we find in the first place that this form offers no guarantee that the proper disposition towards the relation of the two sexes is present. This can exist as well outside of as within marriage. Many noble and earnest human beings prefer for their relation the freer form as the more moral one. But as the result of this, the significance of the Seventh Commandment is altered, that states explicitly that every relationship of sex outside of marriage is immoral. People have commenced already to experiment with unions outside of marriage. People are looking for new forms for the common life between man and woman. The whole problem is being made the subject of debate.
In this respect humanity occupies a field of discovery. People are seeing more and more what a complicated subject the whole relation of sex is, how full it is of dangers to the happiness of man. New observations are being constantly made both in regard to the significance of this relation for individuals and for posterity. To bring light gradually into this chaos is supremely important for humanity, and literature should therefore have the greatest possible freedom in this sphere,—just the opposite to the tendencies of the present day that would limit this freedom. While I fully agree with what has been said I should like to state that the greatest obstacle to the free discussion of this theme is still the Christian way of looking at the origin and nature of man. His only possible escape from the results of the fall is made to consist in his belief in Christ; for with this point of view, there came into Western Europe, by means of Christianity, the opinion that everything concerning the continuation of the race was impure; to be suppressed if possible, and if this could not be done, that it must at least be veiled in silence and obscurity. For Christianity, eternal life, not life in the world, is ever the significant factor. The dualism of existence it tries in the first place to remove by asceticism, not by attempting to ennoble the life of human impulses. This standpoint still continues to be popular in our days, as is shown in its victories through legislation directed against the nude in art and in literature.
The Christian way of looking at the relation of the sexes as something ignoble, alone capable of being made holy by indissoluble marriage, has had great direct influence on man's development during a certain period of time. It has caused progress in self-mastery, which has elevated the life of the soul. Modesty, domesticity, sincerity, have been promoted by it; these along with innumerable other influences have developed the impulse to love. If these emotions disappeared from love, it would not be human, but only animal.
But allowing that the individual love between every new pair of human beings always requires seclusion and reserve; allowing too that personal modesty always remains an achievement wrought by mankind, differentiating man from the animal world, it is still true that this kind of spirituality, which passes over in silence and shame all the serious questions connected with this subject, or treats them as occasions for ambiguities calling forth joking and blushes, must be rooted out.
Each one from earliest childhood should on every question asked about this subject receive honest answers, suitable for the especial stage of his development. One should be in this way completely enlightened about one's own nature as man or woman, and so acquire a deep feeling of responsibility in relation to one's future duty as man or woman. One should be trained in habits of earnest thought and earnest speaking on this subject. In this way alone can there come into existence a higher type of sex with a higher type of morality.
But at the time when Bjoernsen in Thomas Rendelen brought up the question of training youth to purity through intelligence of nature's laws, I objected to his book on the ground that like the purity sermons of Christianity his efforts were rather directed to the mastery of natural impulses than towards their ennoblement. I showed that Bjoernsen certainly brought up two new points of view, that of bodily health, and that of the ennobling of sex. He did not, as Christianity does, stress the spiritual and personal side of the question. These new points of view of his were significant, because they united the just egoism of the individual with the combining altruism produced by the feeling of solidarity. The great purpose of Bjoernsen's book was to transform inherited characteristics as they are related to man's attitude towards morality. So he proposed to create a sound and happy new generation, in which the sufferings of present day sexual discord should be brought to an end. For this purpose he wished the collaboration of the schools. They were to communicate the knowledge of human beings as members of sex, and to instruct their scholars how, as human beings, they should protect themselves and their posterity.
I objected at that time to this plan, showing that the school was not the place to lay the foundation for such knowledge. It should be slowly and carefully communicated by the mother herself; the school should only give a theoretical basis. More defective still, I found the question of chastity handled essentially and solely as a question of bodily purity, as a negative not a positive ideal. I maintain that only erotic idealism could awaken enthusiasm for chastity. The basis for such idealism must be found in stories, history, and belles-lettres. Information derived from physiology is, in this respect, very inadequate, unless the imagination and the feeling are moved in the same direction. Neither imagination nor feeling can be helped by natural science and bodily exercises alone, and just as little by Christian religious instruction.
No, we must on the basis of natural science attain, in a newer and nobler form, the whole antique love for bodily strength and beauty, the whole antique reverence for the divine character of the continuation of the race, combined with the whole modern consciousness of the soulful happiness of ideal love. Only so can the demand for real chastity save mankind from the torments which sexual divisions and degradations now bring with them. It is profoundly significant that in the world of the past, divinity was associated with woman on the ground of observations concerning the continuation of the race; while in Christianity, woman became divine as the Virgin Mother. Through heathen and Christian thought, reunited and ennobled, the woman will receive a new reference for herself as a sexual being. Antique and modern love, the love of the senses and the love of soul, will, united and ennobled, induce human beings, men and women alike, to adore again Eros the All-powerful.
To diminish the significance of love, to oppose it as a lowering sensualism, does not mean the elevation of mankind; it means, on the other hand, working for its debasement. For as lowering as sexual life would be if it were continued in man accompanied by a feeling of shame as a characteristic of animal life, it would be just the same if it were regarded as a degrading duty, reluctantly carried out for the preservation of the species.
Antiquity stood higher than the present day, for example when Lycurgus' laws asserted that a people's strength lies in the breast of blooming womanhood. Accordingly in Sparta, the physical development of the woman was watched over as well as of the man, and the age of marriage was determined with reference to a healthy offspring. Higher, too, stood Judaism in relation to the conception of the seriousness of bearing children. This conviction expressed itself in the strictest hygienic legislation known to history. Jewish, like other Oriental legislation, depended, in relation to sexual morality as in relation to diet, on sharp-sighted observations of natural law and disease. The foundation to a new ethic in these questions cannot be laid, until men begin with Old Testament shrewdness and Old Testament seriousness to handle the life questions which the idealism of Christianity has indeed spiritualised but at the same time debased.
This new ethic will call no other common living of man and woman immoral, except that which gives occasion to a weak offspring, and produces bad conditions for the development of their offspring. The Ten Commandments on this subject will not be prescribed by the founders of religion, but by scientists.
Up to the present day, partly as a result of a perverted modesty in such things, science has only been able to offer incomplete observations on the physical and psychical conditions for the improvement of the human type in its actual genesis.
Ontogeny is really a new science in our century, introduced by Von Leeuwenhock, de Graaf, and others. It was founded in 1827, by von Baer. The differences of opinion and the discovery of different theories are very far from being ended. Purely scientific points of view are being combined with social, physiological, or ethical ones. It is maintained that by changing the diet of the mother the sex of the child can be determined. Attempts have been made to show that about three fifths of all men of genius were first-born children.
People are studying what influence the age of parents has on the child; extreme youth of parents seems unfavourable for the offspring as well as extreme age. The first child of a too youthful mother is often weak, and besides ordinarily the joys of motherhood are not desired, because she feels that physically and psychically a child is too great a burden to her, who herself is only a child. The conditions of a strong, well-nourished offspring require the postponement of the marriage age for women. In northern countries it should be established, if not by law at least by custom, at about twenty years. This is all the more necessary because then the young woman can have behind her some years of careless youthful joy, an undisturbed self-development, and will also have reached the physical development necessary for motherhood. While twenty years should be regarded as the earliest period of marriage it should actually be often postponed some years still for the well-being of the woman, the man, and the children, and married life as a whole, in which most conflicts arise because women have decided about their fate before their personality was definitely formed, before their heart was able to find its choice. The love of the man chooses and the young girl often confuses the happiness of being loved with the happiness ofloving, an experience which later on is gone through in a tragic way. To the many questions which are related to heredity and natural selection, belongs one which notices the significance of nature's purpose to cause strong opposites to exert upon one another the strongest attraction. This attraction often during married life changes into antipathy; it almost results in impatience against the characteristics which originally had so deep an attraction. Nature in this case seems to wish to reach its end with the greatest lack of consideration for the happiness of the individual. So often the contradictions of parents seem really to be moulded in full in the child. Occasionally these contradictions are expressed as a deep discord, but in both cases there often arises an exceptional being. To attain correct results in this case, belongs to the numerous still open possibilities.
Differences of opinion are most apparent in the theory of heredity, where there is a struggle between Darwin's view, that even acquired characteristics are inherited, and Galton's and Weissmann's conviction that this is not the case. In connection with this stands, also, the question of the marriage of consanguineous relations; some regard these marriages as dangerous, per se, for the posterity; others only as dangerous from the point of view that the same family trait is often found in both parents, and so becomes strongly impressed on the children. For example, congenital shortsightedness of both parents develops into blindness of the children, their stupidity becomes idiocy, their melancholy, insanity.
The Occident has gradually abolished the Oriental marriage law to which Moses gave validity, while other Oriental legislators, for example, Manes and Mohammed, are still followed to a great extent. In China, too, similar prohibitions have a binding power. Here and there the feeling of the significance of heredity has vaguely appeared in some Occidental writers. Sir Thomas More, like Plato, required a physical examination before entering into marriage. It was not until the nineteenth century that the question of the rights of the child in this respect began to be noticed. It was Robert Owen who in one way awakened the general right feeling in favour of children, by investigations begun in 1815. They showed that children under eight years old were forced to work by blows from leather whips, to work from fifteen to sixteen hours a day, with the result that a fourth or fifth of them ended as cripples. Another Englishman, Malthus, published in 1798 an essay on the Principle of Population, and directed the attention of society to the conditions which had caused him to write his work. He pointed to the deficiency of food supply produced by over-population and the obstacles it offered to legitimate marriages. Again, these conditions, he showed, resulted partly in great mortality among children, partly in the murder of children. Malthus saw the significance of selection and the danger of degeneration. With perfect calmness of conscience he met the storm he had evoked. Personally a blameless and tender hearted man, Malthus, as all other reformers of moral ideas, had to allow the shameless accusations of corruption and immorality to pass over his head. Harriet Martineau, who advocated Malthus's views, had the same experience. When she wrote her novels on this subject she knew very well to what she was exposing herself; but this remarkable woman, who died unmarried and childless, was at an early period of her life filled with a feeling for the holiness of the child. When nineteen years old, at the time of the birth of a small sister, she fell on her knees and devoutly thanked God that she had been allowed to be the witness of the great wonder of the development of the human being from the beginning. The same feeling caused her in her novels to expound the duty of voluntary limitation of population. She was pained by the thought of the fate endured by children, when they were so numerous that their parents were unable to maintain and educate them. This part of the subject of the right of the child called forth in all countries books for and against it. Everywhere the question is discussed. I shall briefly handle the differences of opinion about other sides of the right of the child.
In Francis Galton's celebrated work, Hereditary Genius, almost all has been said that is required to-day from the point of view of the improvement of the race. Galton, as early as the seventies, opposed Darwin's view that acquired characteristics were inherited. In this respect he had a fellow-champion in the German Weissmann, who on his side was opposed, among others, by the English Darwinian Romanes.
Galton invented from a Greek word a name for the science of the amelioration of the race, Eugenics. He showed that civilised man, so far as care for the amelioration of the race is concerned, stands on a much lower plane than savages, not to speak of Sparta which did not allow the weak, the too young, and the too old to marry, and where national pride in a pure race, a strong offspring, was so great that individuals were sacrificed to the attainment of this end. Galton, like Darwin, Spencer, A. R. Wallace, and others, has brought out the fact that the law of natural selection, which in the rest of nature has secured the survival of the fittest, is not applicable to human society, where economic motives lead to unsuitable marriages, made possible by wealth. Poverty hinders suitable marriages. Besides the development of sympathy has come into the field as a factor which disturbs natural selection. The sympathy of love, chooses according to motives that certainly tend to the happiness of the individual, but this does not mean that they guarantee the improvement of the race. And while other writers hope for a voluntary abstinence from marriage in those cases, where an inferior offspring is to be expected, Galton, on the other hand, is in favour of very strict rules, to hinder inferior specimens of humanity from transmitting their vices or diseases, their intellectual or physical weaknesses. Just because Galton does not believe in the inheritance of acquired characteristics, selection has the greatest significance for him.
On the other side, he advocates using all means to encourage such marriages, where the family on both sides gives promise of distinguished offspring. For him, as later for Nietzsche, the purpose of married life is the production of strong, able personalities.
Galton makes it plain that civilised man, by his sympathy with weak, inefficient individuals, has helped to continue their existence. This tendency on its own side has lessened the possibility of the efficient individuals to continue the species. Wallace, too, and several others, have on different occasions declared that men in relation to this question must have harder hearts, if the human race is not to become inferior. The moral, social, and sympathetic factors, they say, which in humanity work against the law of the survival of the fittest, and have made it possible for the lower type, to continue and to multiply in excess, must give way to new points of view where certain moral and social questions are concerned. So the natural law will be supported by altruism, instead of as now being opposed by this sentiment.
Spencer's thoughts contain a great truth. They have been quoted in just this connection. He says: We see the germ of many things that later on are developed in a way no one now suspects. Profound transformations are worked in society and its members, transformations which we could not have hoped for as immediate results, but which we could have looked for in confidence as final consequences. The effort to find natural laws which cause racial progress or deterioration is one of these germinal ideas. As to scientific investigation in this field, we can apply another maxim of the same thinker, one often overlooked by science. "The passion to discover truth must be accompanied by the passion to use it for the welfare of mankind." But science must really reach universally accepted conclusions before we can expect humanity to begin seriously its self-purification; but it is certain to come then. When we read in ethnographical and sociological works what restrictions in marriage are imposed by savage people on themselves, and religiously obeyed on the ground of superstitious prejudice, we have a right to hope that civilised men will one day bow before scientific proofs. This hope is not too optimistic.
Wallace pleads not for such absolute regulations as Galton, in order to prevent the marriages of the less worthy and to encourage the marriages of the superior types of humanity. He perceives that the problem is tremendously complicated. One thing is, that the personal attraction of love is extremely essential from the point of view of the improvement of the race. If human beings could be bred like prize cattle, it is not likely that a superior type of humanity would be produced. In the Middle Ages, the human race deteriorated, Galton said, because the best fled to the monasteries and the worst reproduced themselves. But if Galton's strict requirements had to be carried out in every case before a marriage could be allowed, not only would marriage lose its deepest meaning, but the race also would lose its noblest inheritance.
But even with a strict limitation of Galton's principles and with a wise limitation of his requirements, science has already shown the truth of so many of the first, that the significance of the last, taken as a whole, must be granted. We know that in the inherited tendencies of children, often another form is taken from that which appears in their parents. Of three hundred idiots, one hundred and forty-five had alcoholic parents. Epilepsy, too, is often produced by the same cause. It is known that apparently sound individuals are often attacked at the same age by a disease to which their parents were subject. On the other hand, there are fortunately proofs that individuals endowed with power of will can resist certain dangerous inherited weaknesses. In the discussion on this subject, it should also be justly brought out, that it is possible for the unsound tendency of one parent to be neutralised in the case of children, by the soundness of the other. But this result, as well as the many other questions involved, as I have shown above, are far from being established.
The question as to the inheritance of mental diseases has been especially examined by Maudsley. In this case, too, nervous and psychic diseases of the parents often change their character in the children. He requires medical testimony before marriage, and asks that the appearance of mental diseases after marriage shall form a legitimate ground for divorce. And he hopes that a pure descent, in a new sense of the word, will be as important for the marriages of the future, as for aristocratic marriages in early times. One of Maudsley's statements is so interesting that it should be mentioned here. Fathers, he says, who have directed their whole energy towards attainment of wealth, have degenerate children; for this sort of nerve strain undermines the system as infallibly as alcohol or opium. If this statement be true, we would add another point of view to the many already existent, that show how hostile to life is our best social order, which aims at power and gain. It proves how necessary is that transformation of existence which will make work and production serve a new end. Each man should claim to live wholly, broadly, and in a way worthy of humanity. He should be able to leave behind him a posterity provided with all capacities for a similar life. When this day dawns people will regard, as a terrible atavism, that expression on the face of a child, which an artist of the present day has preserved in a picture of a boy represented as a future millionaire.
I will mention now from literary sources, some of Nietzsche's work on this subject. Although this author did not base his ideas of the "superman" directly on Darwin's theories, yet they are, as Brandes has lately shown, the great consequences of Darwinism, that Darwin himself did not see. In no contemporary was there a stronger conviction than in Nietzsche that man as he now is, is only a bridge, only a transition between the animal and the "superman." In connection with this, Nietzsche looked upon the obligations of man for the amelioration of the race as seriously as Galton, but he expressed his principles with the power of poetic and prophetic expression, not with scientific proof.
Literature on this subject is increasing every day; different opinions press one another hard. As long as this is the case, there is every reason to observe the warning of the German sociologist Kurella, who says that we must reckon with social as well as with anthropological factors if we wish to prevent the degeneration of the human species. A vital point in his position is, that it is a matter of indifference whether the Darwinian theory of the transmission of acquired characteristics, or its contrary is victorious. The former is the theory of an unchangeable germ plasm transmitted by the parents to the children; so that better types can only originate through a new combination of the characteristics of father and mother, and also by natural selection in the struggle for existence. We must be careful before beginning to act in a social and political way on the basis of anthropological motives. He finally lays down with perfect justice, that the material to be gathered from the works of Spencer, Galton, Lombroso, Ferri, Ribot, Latourneau, Havelock Ellis, J. B. Haycraft, Colajanni, Sergi, Ritchie, and others, must be systematically worked over. The sociologist must be zoölogist, anthropologist, and psychologist before his plans for civilising man, and for elevating the human race could be carried out.
As to intellectual characteristics it has been maintained that exceptionally gifted men have mostly inherited their characteristics from the mother. This fact has in our day, so very much increased the interest taken in the mothers of famous men. This truth is supposed to hold good for a son, but if the daughter is gifted, her talent is held to come from the father. Another and certainly a better founded phenomenon seems to be this: That when in a family characteristics find their culmination in a world genius, this genius either remains childless or his children are not only ordinary, but often insignificant. It may be that nature has exhausted her power of production in these great personalities, or as is often assumed, the creative power of genius in an intellectual direction, diminishes the creative power in the physical direction.
Along with the question of heredity stands that of the development of races. In the beginning of the Origin of Species Darwin showed how essential pure descent is for the production of a noble race. This theory is appealed to by a modern anti-Semitic writer, who represents the Jew as a typical example of pure race, an idea which one of the most conspicuous representatives of Judaism, Disraeli, has also expressed in the following words: "Race is everything; there is no other truth, and every race which carelessly allows mixed blood, perishes." Yet other specialists consider some racial mixture as highly advantageous to the offspring.
Professor Westermark has offered a good reason for the significance attached to beauty in the case of love, and therefore its importance for the race. He has shown how man has conceived physical beauty to be the full development of all of those characteristics which distinguish the human organism from the animal, and which mark sex distinctions, and, most of all, race distinctions. He thinks individuals with these characteristics are best suited for their life work. Accordingly it is the result of natural selection that exactly those individuals are found most beautiful and are most desired, who first as human beings best fulfil the general demands of the human organism, as sexual beings fulfil those of their sex, and as members of the race are best suited to the conditions which surround them. In the struggle for existence, those are overcome, who are descended from human beings, whose instincts of love are directed to individuals badly adapted to that struggle; while those who are victorious are children happily so adapted. In this way, taste has developed by which, what is best adapted to environment appears as the highest beauty. This is equivalent to health, the power to resist the attacks of the external world. While every considerable deviation from the pure type in sex and race, has a lesser degree of adaptability; that is of health, and also of beauty.
Another writer has used the foot as an example of this principle. The small, high-arched foot with the fine ankle is always, he says, regarded as the most beautiful. But such a foot is only combined with a fine, strong, and elastic bony structure. Such a foot besides has, by its great elasticity, a considerably higher power of bearing weight than the flat foot. The high-vaulted foot, in walking and jumping, increases the activity of the lungs and the heart. This again makes the walk elastic, strong, and easy, agile and stately. These traits, for the same reason as the beauty of the foot itself, are looked upon as a racial sign. This physical power and ease influence the mind, and produce self-confidence, and so increase the feeling of superiority and the joy of living, marks of distinction in human beings.
Whether the illustration in this special case holds good or not, it proves nothing against the truth of the theory on which it rests, and which is gradually becoming prevalent; the view I mean, according to which souls and bodies are mutually developed through adaptability to their surroundings.
So it is necessary not only to investigate what conditions give the best selection, but also what external ones strengthen or weaken the characteristics found in natural selection. We must again see the importance of bodily exercise. Painful experiences have taught us to prevent the consequences of overstrain, over-exertion in competitive imbecility, and mania for sport. Such results have specially shown themselves to be harmful for women in respect to motherhood. Sport and play, gymnastics and pedestrianism, life in nature and in the open air, a regenerated system of dancing, after the model of the Swedish peasant dances, will be most excellent bases for the physical and psychical renewal of the new generation.
In plans concerning this renewal, people have pointed to the influence of art; it has been shown how Burne-Jones created the new English type of woman. It was formed by an adaption to the quiet, distinguished style, by a process that went slowly on. This was the type regarded by him as the model one. It is maintained that we only need to see a pair of young English girls in front of one of his pictures, in order to notice how not only the faces but the expressions show a resemblance. The artist has impressed his trait on youth before it was conscious of it. Before these forms they grew up, they have seen them in their picture books, they have been dressed in clothes cut in the fashion of the master's pictures. There is another reason. Mothers of the present day are supposed to have passed on to their children the Burne-Jones type in the same way in which the charm of the Greeks was influenced by the beauty of their statuary. In antiquity it was believed, even in other details, (for example, in attaining the much-longed-for blonde hair) that this end could be secured by observing the proper directions.
As to the significance of external influences of this kind on mothers, there is too little material still to build up conclusions. On this point, learned men also disagree. I have only, therefore, incidentally mentioned this factor among others. All should be established before we can get a final and certain insight into the conditions of human birth. In the absence of scientific knowledge I can only refer to the literature and comprehensive investigations commenced in the preceding century, that throw light on the riddle of man's coming into the world. Many of these matters are still involved in obscurity. But man's spirit is resting on the waters; gradually a new creation will be called forth from them.
In connection with this, must be discussed the development of new ideas of law in these spheres. Heathen society in its hardness, exposed weak or crippled children. Christian society on the other hand, has gone so far in its mildness, that it prolongs the life of the child who is incurably ill, physically and psychically, even if he is misshapen and so becomes an hourly torment to himself and his surroundings. Yet respect for life is still not strong enough in a social order, which keeps up among other things, the death penalty and war, that one can without danger suggest the extinction of such a life. Only when death is inflicted through compassion, will the humanity of the future show itself in such a way, that the doctor under control and responsibility can painlessly extinguish such suffering. On the other hand, this Christian society still maintains the distinction between legitimate children and the children of sin, a distinction which more than anything else has helped to obstruct a real ethical conception of the duties of parents. Every child has the same rights in respect to both father and mother. Both parents have just the same obligation to every child. Until this is recognised there will be no basis for the future morality of the common life between man and woman. Some day society will look upon the arrangements of the love relation as the private affair of responsible individuals. Those who are lovers, those who are married will regard themselves as completely free, and will also be so regarded. Binding promises in respect of emotions, demands of exclusive possession over personality, have already come to be regarded by fine feeling and fully developed human beings as a relic of erotic sentiments on a lower plane. These sentiments were the outcome of desire for mastery, vanity, cruelty, and blind passion. People are beginning to see that perfect fidelity is only to be obtained by perfect freedom; that complete exchange of individuality can only take place in perfect freedom; that complete excellence can only come into being in perfect freedom. Each must cease to try to force and bend the emotions, opinions, habits, and inclinations of the other towards him- or herself. Each must regard the continuance of the feeling of the other as a happiness, not as a right. Each must regard the possible cessation of this feeling as a pain, not as an injustice. Only in this way can there arise between the two souls such pure, full, freedom that both can move with absolute independence, and complete unity.
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