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Title: Social Environment and Moral Progress
Author: Wallace, Alfred Russel
Language: English
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list of corrections follows the text.

                          SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT


                            MORAL PROGRESS

[Illustration: Alfred R. Wallace

      _Photo: Reginald Haines_]

[Illustration: Alfred R. Wallace signature]

                          Social Environment
                            Moral Progress


                         Alfred Russel Wallace
                           O.M., D.C.L.Oxon.
                              F.R.S., &c.

            Author of "The Malay Archipelago," "Darwinism,"
          "Man's Place in the Universe," "The World of Life,"
                                &c. &c.

                       Cassell and Company, Ltd
                London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne

  First Edition _March 1913_.
  _Reprinted April and June 1913._



  CHAPTER                                              PAGE

   1. INTRODUCTORY                                        1

   2. MORALITY AS BASED UPON CHARACTER                    4

   3. PERMANENCE OF CHARACTER                             8

   4. PERMANENCE OF HIGH INTELLECT                       15










  13. NATURAL SELECTION AMONG ANIMALS                    75

  14. SELECTION AS MODIFIED BY MIND                      93




      INDEX                                             159

  Social Environment
  Moral Progress




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
progress 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 conduct by a constant reference to those ideals.

The belief was once prevalent, and is still held by many persons, that
a knowledge of right and wrong is inherent or instinctive in everyone,
and that the immoral 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
standard of right and wrong changes considerably. 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.

We are obliged to conclude, therefore, that what is commonly termed
morality is not wholly due to any inherent perception of what is
right or wrong conduct, but that it is to some extent and often very
largely a matter of convention, varying at different times and places
in accordance with the degree and kind of social development which
has been attained often under different and even divergent conditions
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 support 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.



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 aggregate of mental faculties and
emotions which constitute personal or national individuality. 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 constituent elements are so numerous as, in common language,
to be termed infinite; and this gives to each person a very distinct
individuality, as manifested in speech, in emotional expression, and in

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 distinguish 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 inherently good, instead of being so in appearance 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 temptation or violent
passion overcomes the usual restraint and exhibits the real nature,
which is usually dormant.

Now it is this inherent and unchangeable character itself that tends
to be transmitted to offspring, and this being the case, there can be
no progressive improvement 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 elsewhere shown that there
is no proof of any real advance in it during the whole historical
period.[7:A] 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 conditions. (_See_
Chapter XVI.)

    [7:A] See _Character and Life_, edited by P. L. Parker, pp.
    19-31. (Williams and Norgate; November, 1912.)



I will now call attention to a few of the facts which lead to the
conclusion as to the stationary condition of general character 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 respects 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 shown by their wars and love of gambling,
were no worse than corresponding immoralities 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 husband's spirit to the body. It is described in the following

    "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!'

    "'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
     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
feeling that the people it describes were our intellectual and moral

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
     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.
     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
     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 appropriate language, such ideas as are everywhere 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



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 corresponding 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
workmanship 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 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 sculptures, 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 inscriptions, 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 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 definite proof of the
attainment of a high degree of what is specially scientific attainment
at the very dawn of historical knowledge. 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 pyramids 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
interesting feature, because it shows clearly 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 Encyclopædia."

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 statement is entirely erroneous. The size, shape,
and angles of the internal passages 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 among the most
trustworthy. The "pyramid religion," which he helped to establish by
a series of "coincidences" in the dimensions of various parts of the
pyramid 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 rejected 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 conclusions 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, 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 dropped so as to
obtain the exact line of the meridian on the surface, and afterwards
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 pyramid 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 suddenly
raised to a height of 28 feet, with a width of 7 feet on the floor
and 3½ 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 inwards,
but are formed of seven courses of 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 5½ 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 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 diminished 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 Brahé, 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 see the object, the
brighter stars could be well observed in the daytime.

When we remember that the Great Pyramid covers 13½ acres of ground,
that it is truly square and on a truly horizontal base, that each side
is accurately 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 subterranean 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 irresistible 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, 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 discoveries and inventions in every department 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 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,
therefore, 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 discovered 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, 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 constantly 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

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



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 process, and that it is rendered possible by
special cerebral developments giving the necessary mental power for its

How long a process this would be, it is impossible to say, but it
would certainly have had to reach a high degree of perfection 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 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 writing, 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 characters 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
preservation of variations of survival-value, we should expect to
find such an important faculty as speech to have originated in one
centre and to have spread rapidly over the world with only slight
modifications in isolated communities. The fundamental 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 important factors.

In order for man to develop speech he must have possessed a brain and
an intellect far above that of the brutes. As in the more fundamental
problem of the origin of life, it is admitted that organisation 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 development in
the dog, horse, elephant, and ape without making any definite approach
to the acquirement of such higher faculties.



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 generation. 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 existing races are found to possess languages which
are often of extreme complexity in grammatical structure and in no way
suggestive of the primitive man-animal of which they are supposed to be
surviving relics. So long as we got our knowledge respecting them from
the low-class Europeans 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 missionaries, 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 between Captain Fitzroy and the chief
of a small island near Tahiti to settle a question 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, without either suspicion or treachery, cruelty, 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 everywhere
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 characteristics of the Australians are
substantially those of the Caucasian race in its lowest types has led
me to conclude that these interesting people may have been descended
from much more civilised remote ancestors, and are thus an example of
degradation rather than of survival.[34:A]

    [34:A] 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.

Many other illustrations of both intelligence 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 acquisitions of knowledge handed down from age to age.
Euclid and Archimedes were probably the equals of any of our greatest
mathematicians of to-day, while the architecture of Greece, of India,
and of Central America is little inferior to mediæval Gothic. But none
of these, though so different in style, can be said to prove any real
advance in intellectual power from that of the builders of the much
more 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.



The general result of the facts and arguments 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 intellectual and moral nature as the
higher. The manifestations of this essentially human nature in habits
and conduct were often very diverse, in accordance with diversities
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_ 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 misconception on this subject some
explanation may be advisable. Many well-educated 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 observation
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 observe 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 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
considered 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
mediocrity." 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 numerous, 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 hundreds of persons, some will be short, some tall; but
the majority will be near the mean, and the tallest of all will be
less likely to have taller descendants than themselves 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

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-preserving value, and are not unfrequently the reverse, that they
are not _cumulative_, though they are _hereditary_.

       *       *       *       *       *

With this explanation we will now proceed 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.



During the eighteenth century our material 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 manners and customs of our
daily life; but there were few, if any, indications of permanent 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 same period new modes of locomotion
were brought into daily use, the facilities for inter-communication
were increased a hundred-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

But this rapid growth of wealth, and increase of our power over Nature,
put too great a strain upon our crude civilisation 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
manufacturers, 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 factories 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 ameliorating the worst results of child labour—its
inhumanity, its cruelty, and its immorality. 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 injurious.

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 ventilation, 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 responsible 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.
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), explosions 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 Parliament. 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. Whatever
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.[45:A]

    [45:A] 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.).

I will here add one other argument which goes to the root of the
matter by showing that the alleged owners of minerals 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, therefore, where they have since been made private property
by _Act of Parliament_, they still remain public property. I submit,
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_.



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 condition, 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 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
_cannot_ 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 starvation of the mother, together with
overcrowded 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 veritable 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 1,000
  Deptford, East Ward (poor)       197
  Deptford, West Ward (rich)        68
  Bournville Garden Village         65
  St. Mary's Ward, Birmingham      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
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 acquiescence 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 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 manufacture been put an end to. Wealth has been
deliberately preferred to human life and happiness.[51:A]

    [51:A] An account of some deadly trades is given in Mr. R. H.
    Sherard's book, _The White Slaves of England_.

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-poisoning. 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 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 precautions 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 10s. 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 comparative happiness! How long it will be before the
Government abolishes this deadly process we cannot tell. The following
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 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

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 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 interference with
conditions of labour which are a disgrace to civilisation.



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 department. Almost every
fabric, whether of cotton, linen, wool, or silk, is so widely and
ingeniously adulterated by the intermixture 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 substances 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 inhabited 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
worthless rag, as I have myself witnessed in some parts of the Malay

    [56:A] These facts are given in the Ninth Edition of the
    "Encyclopædia Britannica." In recent editions the article
    _Adulteration_ is limited to food and drugs. In "Chambers'
    Encyclopædia," cotton, linen and woollens are included among
    adulterated fabrics.

Even worse is the adulteration of almost every kind of prepared
food—including the showy sweetmeats which tempt our children—with
various chemicals, 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
hurtful. 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 enormous 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 customers 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 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 unpunished.

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 industry 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 immoral, and has
resulted in a vast system of swindling and terrible losses to the
innocent 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 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 betting 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 manufactures, 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
markets 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 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, leading 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 circulated
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 millionaires and multi-millionaires of the world accumulate
their wealth, every penny of which is at the cost of the consuming

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 questioned.

All these inconsistencies as regards the moral status of various kinds
of gambling or dishonest speculation arise from our 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 without 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.

We see, then, that the whole commercial fabric of our country—our
immense mills and factories, our vast exports and imports, 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 because 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.



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, practically, 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 process of
bringing or defending an action-at-law is so absurdly complex as to
be almost incredible. Jeremy Bentham satirised this by supposing a
father of a large family to adopt the same method of settling 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 twelve neighbours (the jury). Then the
stranger (barrister) on each side asked questions of all the family who
knew anything about it; and the barristers, who had only third-hand
knowledge of the facts, tried to make each witness contradict 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
lawyer'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 which will cut at
the very root-cause of almost all our existing law-suits, immorality
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 infrequently 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 permanent employment should be at once discharged on
his own recognizances.

Equally unjust and barbarous is the 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 haystack, or any such act which is no real offence, the common
punishment of 10s. 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

    "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
    demoralising 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 are under five, are
    taken to the workhouse nursery, where they also are tended by
    prostitutes and imbeciles. 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 administering it week
after week and year after year without protest or apparent compunction.
Such is the deadening effect of long-continued custom.



There are in the Reports of the Registrar-General a few statistics of
special importance 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 dimensions of the most exaggerated form of the
drink evil. The following figures are taken from the successive Reports
referred to:—

                   _Deaths from
  _Average        Alcoholism per
  of Years_       Million living_
  1861-1865            41.6
  1866-1870            35.4
  1871-1875            37.6
  1876-1880            42.4
  1881-1885            48.2
  1886-1890            56.0
  1891-1895            67.8
  1896-1900            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 continuous 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 disquieting feature is the recent large
increase of mortality from alcoholism in women. Figures for the
separate sexes were not given till 1876, and the following table shows
the comparison up to 1910:—

                  _Deaths from
  _Average         Alcoholism
  of Years_       per Million_

                 _Men_   _Women_
  1876-1880       60.1    24.0
  1881-1885       66.6    31.0
  1886-1890       73.6    39.2
  1891-1895       86.6    50.2
  1896-1900      106.2    66.6
  1901-1905       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 among ten thousand moderate drinkers
who also occasionally or frequently become intoxicated, would be nearer
the mark. This would imply an increase in the consumption of alcoholic
drinks, instead of which there has been an actual diminution. 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 deficiency 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 consequent increase of unemployment, and the
dread of the workhouse as the only alternative to starvation. The
following are the figures for the last forty-five years for which
official data have been published:—

                   _Deaths by
  _Average         Suicide per
  of Years_      Million living_
  1866-1870           66.4
  1871-1875           66.0
  1876-1880           73.6
  1881-1885           73.8
  1886-1890           79.4
  1891-1895           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 increase is taking place in all those countries 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.

  _Five-year        _Proportion of Deaths
   Average_           to 1,000 Births_

                   _Premature  _Congenital
                    Births_     Defects_
  1861-1865          11.19        1.76
  1866-1870          11.50        1.84
  1871-1875          12.60        1.85
  1876-1880          13.38        2.39
  1881-1885          14.18        3.23
  1886-1890          16.1         4.2
  1891-1895          18.4         4.7
  1896-1900          19.6         4.9
  1901-1905          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 or child, seems
very significant. The first may be connected with the increasing
dislike of child-bearing, and unsuccessful attempts to avoid it. The
second indicates some injurious condition of life of the mother, such
as working at unhealthy 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 suppression 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 enormous 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 insufficient to provide them with
the rational enjoyments of life.

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.




While writing the present volume I was led to refer to it during some
of the numerous interviews on the occasion of my recent birthday.
This led to some misrepresentation of my views, and showed me how
few popular press-writers have any real knowledge of the nature and
extent of "natural selection," more especially as it affects the human
race. There is also the same ignorance 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 inapplicable,
and as the present work is a very condensed argument founded to a
considerable extent upon these great natural laws, I propose devoting
two chapters to explaining and demonstrating the effect of 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 condemned
    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
    unborn heir, the 'striking' which he applauds, the 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
needless 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 dogmatically.
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

_Lamarckism and Darwinism—How they Differ_

The first great naturalist who put forward 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, suggested 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 paraphrased
by Sir Charles Lyell in his _Principles of Geology_:

    "Every considerable alteration in the local conditions 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 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 voluntary movements occur, the cause
of modification 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.

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 environment—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
necessary to produce the marvellous adaptations 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 Chambers in his _Vestiges of Creation_, published
anonymously in 1844; while Herbert Spencer's masterly exposition of
the argument 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_.

_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 (1) the
great _variability_ in all common and widespread species, and (2) their
enormous 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.
Everybody 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 differences 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 abundance
and character of the hair—coarse or fine, straight or curly, and
of all colours between flaxen and intense black. To declare 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 observation and measurement, that when a few scores
or hundreds of individuals are compared, 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

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 nothing"; and this
has been taken as an admission that variation is a rare instead of
being a universal phenomenon. He 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 discussions 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 Cruciferæ 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 allowed space to
live and breed freely for 750 years, result in no less than nineteen
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
increasing, which we know is not the case. Hence arises what has been
termed "the struggle for existence," resulting in "the survival of the

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 enormous 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 throughout 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

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 essentials for animal existence are, to obtain abundant
food through successive years, and to be able to escape from their
various 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
advantage. Enemies are escaped by strength, by swiftness, by acute
vision, by wariness, 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 protection,
such as nocturnal habits, making burrows in the earth, possessing
poisonous 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 varieties 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, gardeners, dog, horse or
poultry breeders, and especially by pigeon-fanciers, has resulted in
all those useful, beautiful and even wonderful varieties of fruits,
vegetables 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 quantity 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 continual destruction of all the individuals
less adapted to the conditions of their special environment, so that
only the strongest or the swiftest, the best-concealed or the most
wary, the best armed with teeth, horns, hoofs or claws, those who could
swim best, or those that protected 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 always be kept in mind when discussing
or investigating the process by which the 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 constant 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-phenomena, 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 environment, 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 _variation_, 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 undulatory theory of light
and heat is worthless, 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 culminating 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 nebulæ of the glittering star-depths extending 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 apparently 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 producing variety and order out
of a more uniform 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 injustice, of right
and wrong, of order and beauty and truth, which as a whole constitute
his moral and æsthetic nature, the origin and progress of which I have
endeavoured 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

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 very important, and are so little understood 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.



The theory of natural selection as expounded 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
succession 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 converging 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 demonstrate 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
differences lead to external forms, attitudes, and modes of life so
divergent that we can hardly recognise the close affinity that really
exists. This affinity is so real and unmistakable 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—Hominidæ—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 superiority of the
mind of man as compared with that of all other mammals, we shall be
inclined to accept Owen's view as the most natural; and this becomes
almost certain 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 subject 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 forming 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 formed a
completely new departure in the entire organic world.

Among the very rudest of modern savages the wounded or the sick are
assisted, at least with food and shelter, and often in other ways,
so that they recover under circumstances 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 eliminated as among all other animals; and
we behold, 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 important 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 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 condition), 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 produce in him that powerful modifying
effect which they exercise over all other members of the entire organic
world. In order to protect 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 further, by the simplest forms of
cultivation, 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 clothing 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, 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 revolution 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

       *       *       *       *       *

The view above expounded of the transference of the action of natural
selection from the bodily structure to the mind of early man was my
first original modification of that theory, having been communicated 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, while it serves
as an explanation of the complete 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 nearly 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 universality of natural selection as
a beneficial law of Nature that they object to our interfering 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 form
as essential a part of human nature as do the higher intellectual and
moral faculties; that in the very earliest periods of history and among
the very lowest of existing 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 universally prevailed
throughout the lower animal world. Those who advocate our allowing
natural selection to have free play among ourselves on the ground that
we are interfering 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 essential 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 intellectual 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.



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
misconceptions not only pervade most popular 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 Herbert 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 individuals 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 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 portion 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 naturalists at the time,
accepted it without any special inquiry, and when he worked out his
theory of Pangenesis in order to explain the main facts of heredity,
his suppositions were adapted to include such phenomena. Let us then
first explain what is meant by the "acquired characters" 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 innumerable other birds, always
when full-grown exhibit the same characters as in their parents.
These are said to be _innate_ characters. In rare cases, however,
offspring are born which differ materially from their parents, as when
a white 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 modified by selection, whether
natural or artificial, 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 differences 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
experiments as have not yet been made, whether they are in any degree
transmissible from parent to offspring, and therefore cumulative.

Almost every individual case of supposed 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 importance in the
process of organic evolution, all the factors of which must be
universally present because the process itself is universal. I will
therefore here limit myself to a short enumeration of a few of the
very numerous cases in which the continued 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 continuous 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 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
cannot 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 adaptation is clear, and often very remarkable, some eminent
palæontologists have declared it to be proved that the changes in
them were _produced_ by the changes in the environment, and that
they constitute 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 developed by the action of the air waves the
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 modified by use, and are, in fact, unchangeable 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

Equally impossible is it to connect any use or disuse, or environmental
action, in the production, the gradual development, 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 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 possible direct action of the
environment or of use and disuse in their development, and their close
adaptation to that environment.

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
variation, heredity, and enormous increase, resulting 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 production 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
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 ourselves, mental and physical
characters are so inextricably intermixed in their relation 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 selection; while training, though
necessary to bring out the good qualities of the individual, 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 without any doubt as to
its conveying to its progeny the highest qualities of its parentage.

In the case of the human race, however, many writers thoughtlessly
speak of the hereditary effects of strength or skill due to any
mechanical work or special art being continued generation after
generation in the same family, as among the castes of India. But of
any progressive improvement there is no evidence whatever. 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 statement 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 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 between the various races,
nations, and tribes. We can dimly see that this continual 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 accumulations
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 virtues and a more natural
life of productive labour. These again, or some portions of them, rose
to luxury and civilisation, 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 conquest, 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 picture of them is given
in that powerful book, _The Martyrdom of Man_, by Winwood 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 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 Inquisition. Think of the burnings in
Smithfield 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

Here was the actual _education_ of the world as man rose from barbarism
to civilisation, and it was accompanied by a certain amount of
retrograde selection by the cruel punishments, confinement in dungeons,
or torture and death of those who opposed the rulers, and by the
survival of the worst tools of the lords and tyrants. 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_ hereditary?

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

To myself, there seems only one explanation 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 permanently deteriorated by conditions however 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 opportunity 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 followers, kept alive the sacred flame of pure humanity, and their
preservation constitutes perhaps the greatest service the monastic
system rendered to the human race. This service is finely expressed by
an 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 Garden'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.
     Still the dauntless ranks of Freedom kindle to Tyrtæus' song;
     Still they bear aloft the symbol—bear the glorious torch

        [118:A] See Note on page 124.

If the Christian Church had done nothing for us but preserve in its
monasteries and abbeys the finest examples of classic literature
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 whatever 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 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 conclusion was forced upon me, that the scheme of the
development of the universe of stars and nebulæ 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 useful
to man, and such as would aid in the development of the greatest
possible diversity of character and especially of his higher mental
and moral nature. What I have 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,
binding together small or moderate communities in distinct tribes or
nations, which each develop in their own way under the influence of
special physical surroundings and originate peculiarities of habits,
customs, and modes of thought. Antagonisms soon arise between adjacent
tribes, leading each 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 unsurpassed. 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 illuminate the civilised world during its long struggle
towards freedom. Wherever conditions were favourable to progress in
art or science, _time_ was needed for its full growth and development;
while perpetual war necessitated organisation and training against
conquest or destruction. Even the cruelties and massacres by despotic
rulers excited at last the uprising of the oppressed, and so developed
the nobler attributes 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

The point of view now suggested will perhaps be rendered somewhat more
intelligible if we apply it to the nineteenth century, of which I have
written in such condemnatory terms. The preceding eighteenth century
was undoubtedly a somewhat stationary epoch, of a rather commonplace
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 freedom,
and of the importance of education; and though the rapid increase of
wealth through the utilisation of natural forces led to all the evils
due to the unchecked growth of individual riches and power, yet these
very evils in all their intensity and horror were perhaps necessary 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 combination 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 accumulations 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 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 opportunities_ 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 understand 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 philosophers 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

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



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 consisting 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 selection another mode of rivalry
by the display 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 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 offspring 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 display 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 æsthetic 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 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 possesses 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. Galton'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 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 extended 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 following passages: "In the
true golden age, which lies not behind but before us, the privilege
of parentage will be esteemed 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

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 interference
with the freedom of marriage, which, as I shall show, is not only
totally 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 presumptuous and irrational to attempt to
deal by compulsory enactments with the most vital 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
already shown, vicious and rotten at the core. How can it be possible
to determine by legislation those relations of the sexes which shall be
best alike for individuals 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 personal
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 miserably paid and with such uncertainty
of work that many thousands of the women and young girls are driven
on the streets as the only means of breaking the monotony of their
unceasing labour and obtaining 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
contribute their share either of physical or 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
development 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 civilisation
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 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.

_Free Selection in Marriage_

It will be generally admitted that although many women now remain
unmarried 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 economically independent, were all fully occupied
with public duties and social or intellectual pleasures, and had
nothing to gain by marriage as regards material well-being or social
position, it is highly probable that the numbers of the unmarried
from choice would increase. It would probably come to be considered a
degradation 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 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 diseased 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

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 populations, 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
3½ 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, showing an excess of male deaths of 2·925 in one
year; and for many years the numbers 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
population 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-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 preventable 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 population, will, in a rational and just
system of society, of which we may hope soon to see the commencement,
act in a contrary direction, and will in a few generations 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 conditions, 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 women in every possible way;
but we now know that such degradation is not hereditary, 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
conditions they are often driven to marry them. It may be taken as
certain, therefore, that when women are economically and socially free
to choose, numbers of the worst men among all classes who now readily
obtain 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 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 humanity 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 apparently 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 starvation is that, in
any society in which this is done early marriages will be much more
numerous; there will be no prudential checks to large families; and in
a few generations, as Malthus argued, populations will increase beyond
the means of subsistence. Then will commence a continual 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 selection 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."[139:A]

        [139:A] Professor Joseph Le Conte, in _The Monist_, Vol.
        I., p. 334.

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 workmen 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 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 remarks:

    "We must agree that it would be of the lower, or lowest type
    of careless, thriftless, dirty, and incapable 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."[140:A]

        [140:A] _Janus in Modern Life._ By W. M. Flinders
        Petrie, D.C.L., F.R.S.

The whole book is full of such statements 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 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 statement of these
laws will therefore be given.

In a remarkable essay, first published in 1852, H. Spencer, with his
usual philosophical insight, examined the facts of reproduction and
population throughout 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 offspring;
in other terms, individuation and reproduction are antagonistic.
But individuation depends almost entirely on the development and
specialisation of the nervous system, through which alone all advance
in instinct, emotion, and intellect 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 maintain 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 intellectuality has taken place; but that the facts do
accord with the theory is indicated by the common observation that
highly intellectual parents do not have large families, while the most
rapid increase 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 therefore 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, however, 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 persons who have
not yet begun the serious work of life. It would also be an essential
part of education to inculcate the delay of 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 considerable. Sir F. Galton 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 marriage 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
generations 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 successive generation marry at twenty, there will
be an increase of such mothers in each successive generation of 1·15.
If, however, they marry at twenty-nine, each successive 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 stationary 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, established 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 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
presumption 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 system 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 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

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 civilisation, clearly
indicates that the position of 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 responsibility
and power which will render her his superior, since the future moral
progress 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 opportunity
for every child born in our country, that terrible excess of male
deaths, in boyhood 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 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 selective 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 existing social evils absolutely untouched. Let them devote all
their energies to purifying this whitened sepulchre of destitution and
ignorance, and the beneficent laws of human nature will themselves
bring about the physical, intellectual, and moral advancement of our



In Chapters VIII to XII of this volume I have given in briefest outline
a summary of the growth during the nineteenth century 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 preceding 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 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 painful 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 starvation, 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, with absolute power to make what laws and regulations they
please, and an overflowing 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 children 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
Captains of industry, we find hard taskmasters 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 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
practically free.

_Taking account of these various groups of undoubted facts, many of
which are so gross, so terrible, that they cannot be overstated, 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

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 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
considerable 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

_The Root-cause and the Remedy_

If we review with care the long train of social evils which have grown
up during 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:

(1) They are due, broadly and generally, to our living under a system
of universal _competition_ for the means of existence, the remedy for
which is equally universal _co-operation_.

(2) It may be also defined 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 capitalists and therefore is also a
monopoly. The remedy is freedom of access to land and capital for all.

(4) Also, it may be defined as _social injustice_, inasmuch as the
_few_ in each generation are allowed to inherit the stored-up wealth of
all preceding generations, while the _many_ inherit nothing. The remedy
is to adopt the principle of equality of opportunity for all, or of
universal _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 general proposition: that it is the first duty (in
importance) of a civilised Government 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 starvation
and by preventable disease_ due to insanitary dwellings and dangerous
employments, 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 21st, 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."

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, radically
Unjust, wholly Immoral.

We have ourselves created an immoral or unmoral Social Environment. To
undo its inevitable results we must reverse 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 environment into a moral one, and initiate a new era of Moral

       *       *       *       *       *

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


  Acquired 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

  _Anthropological Review_, 99

  Apes, anthropoid, affinity with man, 93

  Aquatic forms of life, increase of, 85

  Archimedes, 34

  Australian aborigines, character of, 33
    and Caucasians, 34

  Barnardo, Dr., 141

  Beaver, 95

  Bimana, 94

  Brahé, 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, 110
    heredity of, 110

  Chemical trades, evils of, 50

  Child labour, evils of, 41, 43

  Church, the work of the, 118

  Civil law system, 62

  Civilisation during 18th century, 40
    evolution and, 157
    of ancient Egypt, 15, 35
    of ancient India, 8
    of ancient Mesopotamia, 15

  Civilisations, ancient, 112

  Classical writers, our indebtedness to, 115

  Coal mines, accidents in, 43
    child labour in, 43
    female workers in, 43
    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

  Cruciferæ family, increase of, 84

  Curr, Mr., opinion of, on Australian aborigines, 33

  Cutlery trade, evils of, 50

  _Daily Citizen_ quoted, 51, 52

  Darwin and heredity, 103
    and natural selection, 87, 93, 125
    and transference of selection to mind, 99
    and variability, 82
    on Tahitians, 32

  Darwin's _Descent of Man_, 93, 125
    _Origin of Species_, 82
    theory of Pangenesis, 104

  Darwinism and Lamarckism, 78, 81
    and variability, 82
    objections to, 85, 90
    (_See also_ Evolution, Lamarckism, Natural selection, etc.)

  Deadly trades, 50

  Dell's, J. H., _Dawning Grey_ quoted, 117

  _Descent of Man_, Darwin's, 93, 125

  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, 111, 114
    extension of period of, 143
    national system of, needed, 146
    of the world, 111

  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 19th century, 40
    social, evils of, causes of, 154

  Equality of opportunity, 155

  Erman, Prof. Adolf, quoted, 26

  Euclid, 34

  Eugenics, methods of, 127
    science of, established by Sir F. Galton, 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, 81
    Chambers and, 81
    Darwin and, 81
    exposition of, by Spencer, 81
    natural selection and, 77
    objections to, 81, 90
    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, character of, 32

  Galton, Sir Francis, 37
    eugenic theory of, 127
    on laws of increase of population, 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 and genius, 37
    and "recession to mediocrity," 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, 110

  Herschel, Sir John, 82

  Homer, 8

  Hominidæ, 94

  Human nature, faculties of, 100

  Imprisonment _v._ fines, 65

  India, architecture of ancient, 34
    intelligence and morality in ancient, 9, 11, 15
    religious conceptions in ancient, 11

  Individuation, 142

  Infantile mortality, Prof. Petrie on, 140
    statistics of, 47, 72

  Injustice, social, 155

  Innate characters, 104
    heredity of, 110

  Insanitary dwellings, 47

  Intellect in ancient India, 9, 11, 15
    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 Conte, 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, Indian epic, quoted, 8

  Malthus, 139

  Mammals, classification of, 94

  Man, affinity of, with anthropoid 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 progress, 120
    selection transferred to mind in, 99
    three great races of, 100
    triumph of, over Nature, 95, 150

  Marriage, 143
    freedom of, insisted upon, 128
    man and, 133
    women and, 133

  Mental faculties in formation of character, 5

  Mesopotamia, civilisation of ancient, 15

  Mind, brain the organ of the, 94
    predominance of, in man, 98
    selection transferred to, in man, 99

  Monier-Williams, Sir M., 11

  Monopoly, 155

  Moral degradation, indications of, 67
    progress, definition of, 1
    progress, initiating new era of, 150
    progress through new form of selection, 125
    sense in man, 91

  Morality amongst the ancients, 8
    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, 1

  Natural selection, among animals, 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, environment 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

  Plato, 8, 116

  Poor Law, immorality of the, 65

  Population, increase of, laws governing, 141
    social reform and, 138

  Poverty, 130, 143, 151

  Polynesian races, character of, 33

  Preventable deaths, responsibility for, 43

  Primates, 94

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

  Progress, moral, definition of, 1
    moral, how to initiate era of, 150
    moral, through new form of selection, 125

  Prostitution, 73

  Pyramid of Gizeh as observatory, 23
    purpose of, 17
    structure of, 19

  Quadrumana, 94

  Rawlinson, 16

  Reade's, _Martyrdom of Man_, 113

  "Recession to mediocrity," heredity and, 38

  Religious conceptions in ancient India, 11

  Remedies for economic evils, 154

  Reproduction, 142

  Rich, dread of, to social reorganisation, 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
    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 19th 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 population, 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

  Tahitians, character of, 32

  Tinning trade, evils of, 51

  Unhealthy trades, 50

  Universe, development and purpose of, 119

  Variability, character and, 36
    basic law of nature, 96
    explanation of, 82
    of species, 82
    purpose of, 90

  Vedas, quoted, 11

  War, 74

  Wealth, increase of, 41, 150

  Webb, Mr. Sidney, quoted, 65

  Women and marriage, 133
    excess in numbers of, 134, 147
    future status of, 147
    in trade, 151

  Workmen's compensation, Prof. Petrie on, 139

  Writing as proof of intelligence, 28
    origin and development of, 29

  Zoophytes, 95

  Zymotic diseases 47




The following corrections have been made to the original text:

    Page 26: Nile as a human being, with desires,[comma missing in

    Page 113: to luxury and civilisation[original has
    "civilisa/tion" split across a line break without a hyphen]

    Page 161: Le Conte[original has "Coute"], Prof., quoted, 139

    [139:A] Professor Joseph Le Conte[original has "Coute"], in
    _The Monist_

In the Index, entries repeated across page breaks and columns have been

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