Mankind in the Making
by H. G. Wells
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That, however, is only one aspect of this question. There are others from which the New Republican may also approach this problem of the quality of the birth supply.

In relation to personal conduct all these things assume another colour altogether. Let us be clear upon that point. The state, the community, may only act upon certainties, but the essential fact in individual life is experiment. Individuality is experiment. While in matters of public regulation and control it is wiser not to act at all than to act upon theories and uncertainties; while the State may very well wait for a generation or half a dozen generations until knowledge comes up to these—at present—insoluble problems, the private life must go on now, and go upon probabilities where certainties fail. When we do not know what is indisputably right, then we have to use our judgments to the utmost to do each what seems to him probably right. The New Republican in his private life and in the exercise of his private influence, must do what seems to him best for the race; [Footnote: He would certainly try to discourage this sort of thing. The paragraph is from the Morning Post (Sept., 1902):—

"Wedded in Silence.—A deaf and dumb wedding was celebrated at Saffron Walden yesterday, when Frederick James Baish and Emily Lettige King, both deaf and dumb, were married. The bride was attended by deaf and dumb bridesmaids, and upwards of thirty deaf and dumb friends were present. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. A. Payne, of the Deaf and Dumb Church, London."] he must not beget children heedlessly and unwittingly because of his incomplete assurance. It is pretty obviously his duty to examine himself patiently and thoroughly, and if he feels that he is, on the whole, an average or rather more than an average man, then upon the cardinal principle laid down in our first paper, it is his most immediate duty to have children and to equip them fully for the affairs of life. Moreover he will, I think, lose no opportunity of speaking and acting in such a manner as to restore to marriage something of the solemnity and gravity the Victorian era—that age of nasty sentiment, sham delicacy and giggles—has to so large an extent refused to give it.

And though the New Republicans, in the existing lack of real guiding knowledge, will not dare to intervene in specific cases, there is another method of influencing parentage that men of good intent may well bear in mind. To attack a specific type is one thing, to attack a specific quality is another. It may be impossible to set aside selected persons from the population and say to them, "You are cowardly, weak, silly, mischievous people, and if we tolerate you in this world it is on condition that you do not found families." But it may be quite possible to bear in mind that the law and social arrangements may foster and protect the cowardly and the mean, may guard stupidity against the competition of enterprise, and may secure honour, power and authority in the hands of the silly and the base; and, by the guiding principle we have set before ourselves, to seek every conceivable alteration of such laws and such social arrangements is no more than the New Republican's duty. It may be impossible to select and intermarry the selected best of our race, but at any rate we can do a thousand things to equalize the chances and make good and desirable qualities lead swiftly and clearly to ease and honourable increase.

At present it is a shameful and embittering fact that a gifted man from the poorer strata of society must too often buy his personal development at the cost of his posterity; he must either die childless and successful for the children of the stupid to reap what he has sown, or sacrifice his gift—a wretched choice and an evil thing for the world at large. [Footnote: This aspect of New Republican possibilities comes in again at another stage, and at that stage its treatment will be resumed. The method and possibility of binding up discredit and failure with mean and undesirable qualities, and of setting a premium upon the nobler attributes, is a matter that touches not only upon the quality of births, but upon the general educational quality of the State in which a young citizen develops. It is convenient to hold over any detailed expansions of this, therefore, until we come to the general question, how the laws, institutions and customs of to-day go to make or unmake the men of to-morrow.]

So far at least we may go, towards improving the quality of the average birth now, but it is manifestly only a very slow and fractional advance that we shall get by these expedients. The obstacle to any ampler enterprise is ignorance and ignorance alone—not the ignorance of a majority in relation to a minority, but an absolute want of knowledge. If we knew more we could do more.

Our main attack in this enterprise of improving the birth supply must lie, therefore, through research. If we cannot act ourselves, we may yet hold a light for our children to see. At present, if there is a man specially gifted and specially disposed for such intricate and laborious inquiry, such criticism and experiment as this question demands, the world offers him neither food nor shelter, neither attention nor help; he cannot hope for a tithe of such honours as are thrust in profusion upon pork-butchers and brewers, he will be heartily despised by ninety-nine per cent. of the people he encounters, and unless he has some irrelevant income, he will die childless and his line will perish with him, for all the service he may give to the future of mankind. And as great mental endowments do not, unhappily, necessarily involve a passion for obscurity, contempt and extinction, it is probable that under existing conditions such a man will give his mind to some pursuit less bitterly unremunerative and shameful. It is a stupid superstition that "genius will out" in spite of all discouragement. The fact that great men have risen against crushing disadvantages in the past proves nothing of the sort; this roll-call of survivors does no more than give the measure of the enormous waste of human possibility human stupidity has achieved. Men of exceptional gifts have the same broad needs as common men, food, clothing, honour, attention, and the help of their fellows in self-respect; they may not need them as ends, but they need them by the way, and at present the earnest study of heredity produces none of these bye-products. It lies before the New Republican to tilt the balance in this direction.

There are, no doubt, already a number of unselfish and fortunately placed men who are able to do a certain amount of work in this direction; Professor Cossar Ewart, for example, one of those fine, subtle, unhonoured workers who are the glory of British science and the condemnation of our social order, has done much to clarify the discussion of telegony and prepotency, and there are many such medical men as Mr. Reid who broaden their daily practice by attention to these great issues. One thinks of certain other names. Professors Karl Pearson, Weldon, Lloyd Morgan, J. A. Thomson and Meldola, Dr. Benthall and Messrs. Bateson, Cunningham, Pocock, Havelock Ellis, E. A. Fay and Stuart Menteath occur to me, only to remind me how divided their attention has had to be. As many others, perhaps, have slipped my memory now. Not half a hundred altogether in all this wide world of English-speaking men! For one such worker we need fifty if this science of heredity is to grow to practicable proportions. We need a literature, we need a special public and an atmosphere of attention and discussion. Every man who grasps the New Republican idea brings these needs nearer satisfaction, but if only some day the New Republic could catch the ear of a prince, a little weary of being the costumed doll of grown-up children, the decoy dummy of fashionable tradesmen, or if it could invade and capture the mind of a multi-millionaire, these things might come almost at a stride. This missing science of heredity, this unworked mine of knowledge on the borderland of biology and anthropology, which for all practical purposes is as unworked now as it was in the days of Plato, is, in simple truth, ten times more important to humanity than all the chemistry and physics, all the technical and industrial science that ever has been or ever will be discovered.

So much for the existing possibilities of making the race better by breeding. For the rest of these papers we shall take the births into the world, for the most part, as we find them.

[Mr. Stuart Menteath remarks apropos of this question of the reproduction of exceptional people that it is undesirable to suggest voluntary extinction in any case. If a man, thinking that his family is "tainted," displays so much foresighted patriotism, humility, and lifelong self-denial as to have no children, the presumption is that the loss to humanity by the discontinuance of such a type is greater than the gain. "Conceit in smallest bodies strongest works," and it does not follow that a sense of one's own excellence justifies one's utmost fecundity or the reverse. Mr. Vrooman, who, with Mrs. Vrooman, founded Ruskin Hall at Oxford, writes to much the same effect. He argues that people intelligent enough and moral enough to form such resolutions are just the sort of people who ought not to form them. Mr. Stuart Menteath also makes a most admirable suggestion with regard to male and female geniuses who are absorbed in their careers. Although the genius may not have or rear a large family, something might be done to preserve the stock by assisting his or her brothers and sisters to support and educate their children.]



Sec. 1

With a skin of infinite delicacy that life will harden very speedily, with a discomforted writhing little body, with a weak and wailing outcry that stirs the heart, the creature comes protesting into the world, and unless death win a victory, we and chance and the forces of life in it, make out of that soft helplessness a man. Certain things there are inevitable in that man and unalterable, stamped upon his being long before the moment of his birth, the inherited things, the inherent things, his final and fundamental self. This is his "heredity," his incurable reality, the thing that out of all his being, stands the test of survival and passes on to his children. Certain things he must be, certain things he may be, and certain things are for ever beyond his scope. That much his parentage defines for him, that is the natural man.

But, in addition, there is much else to make up the whole adult man as we know him. There is all that he has learnt since his birth, all that he has been taught to do and trained to do, his language, the circle of ideas he has taken to himself, the disproportions that come from unequal exercise and the bias due to circumambient suggestion. There are a thousand habits and a thousand prejudices, powers undeveloped and skill laboriously acquired. There are scars upon his body, and scars upon his mind. All these are secondary things, things capable of modification and avoidance; they constitute the manufactured man, the artificial man. And it is chiefly with all this superposed and adherent and artificial portion of a man that this and the following paper will deal. The question of improving the breed, of raising the average human heredity we have discussed and set aside. We are going to draw together now as many things as possible that bear upon the artificial constituent, the made and controllable constituent in the mature and fully-developed man. We are going to consider how it is built up and how it may be built up, we are going to attempt a rough analysis of the whole complex process by which the civilized citizen is evolved from that raw and wailing little creature.

Before his birth, at the very moment when his being becomes possible, the inherent qualities and limitations of a man are settled for good and all, whether he will be a negro or a white man, whether he will be free or not of inherited disease, whether he will be passionate or phlegmatic or imaginative or six-fingered or with a snub or aquiline nose. And not only that, but even before his birth the qualities that are not strictly and inevitably inherited are also beginning to be made. The artificial, the avoidable handicap also, may have commenced in the worrying, the overworking or the starving of his mother. In the first few months of his life very slight differences in treatment may have life-long consequences. No doubt there is an extraordinary recuperative power in very young children; if they do not die under neglect or ill-treatment they recover to an extent incomparably greater than any adult could do, but there remains still a wide marginal difference between what they become and what they might have been. With every year of life the recuperative quality diminishes, the initial handicap becomes more irrevocable, the effects of ill-feeding, of unwholesome surroundings, of mental and moral infections, become more inextricably a part of the growing individuality. And so we may well begin our study by considering the circumstances under which the opening phase, the first five years of life, are most safely and securely passed.

Food, warmth, cleanliness and abundant fresh air there must be from the first, and unremitting attention, such attention as only love can sustain. And in addition there must be knowledge. It is a pleasant superstition that Nature (who in such connections becomes feminine and assumes a capital N) is to be trusted in these matters. It is a pleasant superstition to which, some of us, under the agreeable counsels of sentimental novelists, of thoughtless mercenary preachers, and ignorant and indolent doctors, have offered up a child or so. We are persuaded to believe that a mother has an instinctive knowledge of whatever is necessary for a child's welfare, and the child, until it reaches the knuckle-rapping age at least, an instinctive knowledge of its own requirements. Whatever proceedings are most suggestive of an ideal naked savage leading a "natural" life, are supposed to be not only more advantageous to the child but in some mystical way more moral. The spectacle of an undersized porter-fed mother, for example, nursing a spotted and distressful baby, is exalted at the expense of the clean and simple artificial feeding that is often advisable to-day. Yet the mortality of first-born children should indicate that a modern woman carries no instinctive system of baby management about with her in her brain, even if her savage ancestress had anything of the sort, and both the birth rate and the infantile death rate of such noble savages as our civilization has any chance of observing, suggest a certain generous carelessness, a certain spacious indifference to individual misery, rather than a trustworthy precision of individual guidance about Nature's way.

This cant of Nature's trustworthiness is partly a survival of the day of Rousseau and Sturm (of the Reflections), when untravelled men, orthodox and unorthodox alike, in artificial wigs, spouted in unison in this regard; partly it is the half instinctive tactics of the lax and lazy-minded to evade trouble and austerities. The incompetent medical practitioner, incapable of regimen, repeats this cant even to-day, though he knows full well that, left to Nature, men over-eat themselves almost as readily as dogs, contract a thousand diseases and exhaust their last vitality at fifty, and that half the white women in the world would die with their first children still unborn. He knows, too, that to the details of such precautionary measures as vaccination, for example, instinct is strongly opposed, and that drainage and filterage and the use of soap in washing are manifestly unnatural things. That large, naked, virtuous, pink, Natural Man, drinking pure spring water, eating the fruits of the earth, and living to ninety in the open air is a fantasy; he never was nor will be. The real savage is a nest of parasites within and without, he smells, he rots, he starves. Forty is a great age for him. He is as full of artifice as his civilized brother, only not so wise. As for his moral integrity, let the curious inquirer seek an account of the Tasmanian, or the Australian, or the Polynesian before "sophistication" came.

The very existence and nature of man is an interference with Nature and Nature's ways, using Nature in this sense of the repudiation of expedients. Man is the tool-using animal, the word-using animal, the animal of artifice and reason, and the only possible "return to Nature" for him—if we scrutinize the phrase—would be a return to the scratching, promiscuous, arboreal simian. To rebel against instinct, to rebel against limitation, to evade, to trip up, and at last to close with and grapple and conquer the forces that dominate him, is the fundamental being of man. And from the very outset of his existence, from the instant of his birth, if the best possible thing is to be made of him, wise contrivance must surround him. The soft, new, living thing must be watched for every sign of discomfort, it must be weighed and measured, it must be thought about, it must be talked to and sung to, skilfully and properly, and presently it must be given things to see and handle that the stirring germ of its mind may not go unsatisfied. From the very beginning, if we are to do our best for a child, there must be forethought and knowledge quite beyond the limit of instinct's poor equipment.

Now, for a child to have all these needs supplied implies certain other conditions. The constant loving attention is to be got only from a mother or from some well-affected girl or woman. It is not a thing to be hired for money, nor contrivable on any wholesale plan. Possibly there may be ways of cherishing and nursing infants by wholesale that will keep them alive, but at best these are second best ways, and we are seeking the best possible. A very noble, exceptionally loving and quite indefatigable woman might conceivably direct the development of three or four little children from their birth onward, or, with very good assistance, even of six or seven at a time, as well as a good mother could do for one, but it would be a very rare and wonderful thing. We must put that aside as an exceptional thing, quite impossible to provide when it is most needed, and we must fall back upon the fact that the child must have a mother or nurse—and it must have that attendant exclusively to itself for the first year or so of life. The mother or nurse must be in health, physically and morally, well fed and contented, and able to give her attention mainly, if not entirely, to the little child. The child must lie warmly in a well-ventilated room, with some one availably in hearing day and night, there must be plentiful warm water to wash it, plenty of wrappings and towellings and so forth for it; it is best to take it often into the open air, and for this, under urban or suburban conditions at any rate, a perambulator is almost necessary. The room must be clean and brightly lit, and prettily and interestingly coloured if we are to get the best results. These things imply a certain standard of prosperity in the circumstances of the child's birth. Either the child must be fed in the best way from a mother in health and abundance, or if it is to be bottle fed, there must be the most elaborate provision for sterilizing and warming the milk, and adjusting its composition to the changing powers of the child's assimilation. These conditions imply a house of a certain standard of comfort and equipment, and it is manifest the mother cannot be earning her own living before and about the time of the child's birth, nor, unless she is going to employ a highly skilled, trustworthy, and probably expensive person as nurse, for some year or so after it. She or the nurse must be of a certain standard of intelligence and education, trained to be observant and keep her temper, and she must speak her language with a good, clear accent. Moreover, behind the mother and readily available, must be a highly- skilled medical man.

Not to have these things means a handicap. Not to have that very watchful feeding and attention at first means a loss of nutrition, a retarding of growth, that will either never be recovered or will be recovered later at the expense of mental development or physical strength. The early handicap may also involve a derangement of the digestion, a liability to stomachic and other troubles, that may last throughout life. Not to have the singing and talking, and the varied interest of coloured objects and toys, means a falling away from the best mental development, and a taciturn nurse, or a nurse with a base accent, means backwardness and needless difficulty with the beginning of speech. Not to be born within reach of abundant changes of clothing and abundant water, means—however industrious and cleanly the instincts of nurse and mother—a lack of the highest possible cleanliness and a lack of health and vitality. And the absence of highly-skilled medical advice, or the attentions of over-worked and under-qualified practitioners, may convert a transitory crisis or a passing ailment into permanent injury or fatal disorder.

It is very doubtful if these most favourable conditions fall to the lot of more than a quarter of the children born to-day even in England, where infant mortality is at its lowest. The rest start handicapped. They start handicapped, and fail to reach their highest possible development. They are born of mothers preoccupied by the necessity of earning a living or by vain occupations, or already battered and exhausted by immoderate child-bearing; they are born into insanity and ugly or inconvenient homes, their mothers or nurses are ignorant and incapable, there is insufficient food or incompetent advice, there is, if they are town children, nothing for their lungs but vitiated air, and there is not enough sunlight for them. And accordingly they fall away at the very outset from what they might be, and for the most part they never recover their lost start.

Just what this handicap amounts to, so far as it works out in physical consequences, is to be gauged by certain almost classical figures, which I have here ventured to present again in graphic form. These figures do not present our total failure, they merely show how far the less fortunate section of the community falls short of the more fortunate. They are taken from Clifford Allbutt's System of Medicine (art. "Hygiene of Youth," Dr. Clement Dukes). 15,564 boys and young men were measured and weighed to get these figures. The black columns indicate the weight (+9 lbs. of clothes) and height respectively of youths of the town artisan population, for the various ages from ten to twenty-five indicated at the heads of the columns. The white additions to these columns indicate the additional weight and height of the more favoured classes at the same ages. Public school- boys, naval and military cadets, medical and university students, were taken to represent the more favoured classes. It will be noted that while the growth in height of the lower class boy falls short from the very earliest years, the strain of the adolescent period tells upon his weight, and no doubt upon his general stamina, most conspicuously. These figures, it must be borne in mind, deal with the living members of each class at the ages given. The mortality, however, in the black or lower class is probably far higher than in the upper class year by year, and if this could be allowed for it would greatly increase the apparent failure of the lower class. And these matters of height and weight are only coarse material deficiencies. They serve to suggest, but they do not serve to gauge, the far graver and sadder loss, the invisible and immeasurable loss through mental and moral qualities undeveloped, through activities warped and crippled and vitality and courage lowered.

Moreover, defective as are these urban artisans, they are, after all, much more "picked" than the youth of the upper classes. They are survivors of a much more stringent process of selection than goes on amidst the more hygienic upper and middle-class conditions. The opposite three columns represent the mortality of children under five in Rutlandshire, where it is lowest, in the year 1900, in Dorsetshire, a reasonably good county, and in Lancashire, the worst in England, for the same year. Each entire column represents 1,000 births, and the blackened portion represents the proportion of that 1,000 dead before the fifth birthday. Now, unless we are going to assume that the children born in Lancashire are inherently weaker than the children born in Rutland or Dorset—and there is not the shadow of a reason why we should believe that—we must suppose that at least 161 children out of every 1,000 in Lancashire were killed by the conditions into which they were born. That excess of blackness in the third column over that in the first represents a holocaust of children, that goes on year by year, a perennial massacre of the innocents, out of which no political capital can be made, and which is accordingly outside the sphere of practical politics altogether as things are at present. The same men who spouted infinite mischief because a totally unforeseen and unavoidable epidemic of measles killed some thousands of children in South Africa, who, for some idiotic or wicked vote-catching purpose, attempted to turn that epidemic to the permanent embitterment of Dutch and English, these same men allow thousands and thousands of avoidable deaths of English children close at hand to pass absolutely unnoticed. The fact that more than 21,000 little children died needlessly in Lancashire in that very same year means nothing to them at all. It cannot be used to embitter race against race, and to hamper that process of world unification which it is their pious purpose to delay.

It does not at all follow that even the Rutland 103 represents the possible minimum of infant mortality. One learns from the Register- General's returns for 1891 that among the causes of death specified in the three counties of Dorset, Wiltshire, and Hereford, where infant mortality is scarcely half what it is in the three vilest towns in England in this respect, Preston, Leicester, and Blackburn, the number of children killed by injury at birth is three times as great as it is in these same towns. Unclassified "violence" also accounts for more infant deaths in the country than in towns. This suggests pretty clearly a delayed and uncertain medical attendance and rough conditions, and it points us to still better possibilities. These diagrams and these facts justify together a reasonable hope that the mortality of infants under five throughout England might be brought to less than one-third what it is in child-destroying Lancashire at the present time, to a figure that is well under ninety in the thousand.

A portion of infant and child mortality represents no doubt the lingering and wasteful removal from this world of beings with inherent defects, beings who, for the most part, ought never to have been born, and need not have been born under conditions of greater foresight. These, however, are the merest small fraction of our infant mortality. It leaves untouched the fact that a vast multitude of children of untainted blood and good mental and moral possibilities, as many, perhaps, as 100 in each 1,000 born, die yearly through insufficient food, insufficient good air, and insufficient attention. The plain and simple truth is that they are born needlessly. There are still too many births for our civilisation to look after, we are still unfit to be trusted with a rising birth-rate. [Footnote: It is a digression from the argument of this Paper, but I would like to point out here a very popular misconception about the birth-rate which needs exposure. It is known that the birth-rate is falling in all European countries—a fall which has a very direct relation to a rise in the mean standard of comfort and the average age at marriage—and alarmists foretell a time when nations will be extinguished through this decline. They ascribe it to a certain decay in religious faith, to the advance of science and scepticism, and so forth; it is a part, they say, of a general demoralization. The thing is a popular cant and quite unsupported by facts. The decline in the birth-rate is—so far as England and Wales goes—partly a real decline due to a decline in gross immorality, partly to a real decline due to the later age at which women marry, and partly a statistical decline due to an increased proportion of people too old or too young for child-bearing. Wherever the infant mortality is falling there is an apparent misleading fall in the birth-rate due to the "loading" of the population with children. Here are the sort of figures that are generally given. They are the figures for England and Wales for two typical periods.

Period 1846-1850 33 8 births per 1000 Period 1896-1900 28 0 births per 1000 —————————————— 5.8 fall in the birth-rate.

This as it stands is very striking. But if we take the death-rates of these two periods we find that they have fallen also.

Period 1846-1850 23 3 deaths per 1000 Period 1896-1900 17 7 deaths per 1000 —————————————— 5.6 fall in the death-rate.

Let us subtract death-rate from birth-rate and that will give the effective rate of increase of the population.

Period 1846-1850 10 5 effective rate of increase Period 1896-1900 10 3 effective rate of increase ————————————————- .2 fall in the rate of increase.

But now comes a curious thing that those who praise the good old pre- Board School days—the golden age of virtuous innocence—ignore. The Illegitimate births in 1846-1850 numbered 2.2 per 1000, in 1896- 1900 they numbered 1.2 per 1000. So that if it were not for this fall in illegitimate births the period 1896-1900 would show a positive rise in the effective rate of increase of .8 per thousand. The eminent persons therefore who ascribe our falling birth-rate to irreligion and so forth, either speak without knowledge or with some sort of knowledge beyond my ken. England is, as a matter of fact, becoming not only more hygienic and rational, but more moral and more temperate. The highly moral, healthy, prolific, pious England of the past is just another poetical delusion of the healthy savage type.]

These poor little souls are born, amidst tears and suffering they gain such love as they may, they learn to feel and suffer, they struggle and cry for food, for air, for the right to develop; and our civilisation at present has neither the courage to kill them outright quickly, cleanly, and painlessly, nor the heart and courage and ability to give them what they need. They are overlooked and misused, they go short of food and air, they fight their pitiful little battle for life against the cruellest odds; and they are beaten. Battered, emaciated, pitiful, they are thrust out of life, borne out of our regardless world, stiff little life-soiled sacrifices to the spirit of disorder against which it is man's preeminent duty to battle. There has been all the pain in their lives, there has been the radiated pain of their misery, there has been the waste of their grudged and insufficient food, and all the pain and labour of their mothers, and all the world is the sadder for them because they have lived in vain.

Sec. 2

Now, since our imaginary New Republic, which is to set itself to the making of a better generation of men, will find the possibility of improving the race by selective breeding too remote for anything but further organised inquiry, it is evident that its first point of attack will have to be the wastage of such births as the world gets to-day. Throughout the world the New Republic will address itself to this problem, and when a working solution has been obtained, then the New Republican on press and platform, the New Republican in pulpit and theatre, the New Republican upon electoral committee and in the ballot box, will press weightily to see that solution realised. Upon the theory of New Republicanism as it was discussed in our first paper an effective solution (effective enough, let us say, to abolish seventy or eighty per cent.) of this scandal of infantile suffering would have precedence over almost every existing political consideration.

The problem of securing the maximum chance of life and health for every baby born into the world is an extremely complicated one, and the reader must not too hastily assume that a pithy, complete recipe is attempted here. Yet, complicated though the problem is, there does not occur any demonstrable impossibility such as there is in the question of selective breeding. I believe that a solution is possible, that its broad lines may be already stated, and that it could very easily be worked out to an immediate practical application.

Let us glance first at a solution that is now widely understood to be incorrect. Philanthropic people in the past have attempted, and many are still striving, to meet the birth waste by the very obvious expedients of lying-in hospitals, orphanages and foundling institutions, waifs' homes, Barnardo institutions and the like, and within certain narrow limits these things no doubt serve a useful purpose in individual cases. But nowadays there is an increasing indisposition to meet the general problem by such methods, because nowadays people are alive to certain ulterior consequences that were at first overlooked. Any extensive relief of parental responsibility we now know pretty certainly will serve to encourage and stimulate births in just those strata of society where it would seem to be highly reasonable to believe they are least desirable. It is just where the chances for a child are least that passions are grossest, basest, and most heedless, and stand in the greatest need of a sense of the gravity of possible consequences to control their play, and to render it socially innocuous. If we were to take over or assist all the children born below a certain level of comfort, or, rather, if we were to take over their mothers before the birth occurred, and bring up that great mass of children under the best conditions for them—supposing this to be possible—it would only leave our successors in the next generation a heavier task of the same sort. The assisted population would grow generation by generation relatively to the assisting until the Sinbad of Charity broke down. And quite early in the history of Charities it was found that a very grave impediment to their beneficial action lay in one of the most commendable qualities to be found in poor and poorish people, and that is pride. While Charities, perhaps, catch the quite hopeless cases, they leave untouched the far more extensive mass of births in non-pauper, not very prosperous homes—the lower middle- class homes in towns, for example, which supply a large proportion of poorly developed adults to our community. Mr. Seebohm Rowntree, in his "Poverty" (that noble, able, valuable book), has shown that nearly thirty per cent. at least of a typical English town population goes short of the physical necessities of life. These people are fiercely defensive in such matters as this, and one may no more usurp and share their parental responsibility, badly though they discharge it, than one may handle the litter of a she-wolf.

These considerations alone would suffice to make us very suspicious of the philanthropic method of direct assistance, so far as the remedial aspect goes. But there is another more sweeping and comprehensive objection to this method. Philanthropic institutions, as a matter of fact, rarely succeed in doing what they profess and intend to do.

I do not allude here to the countless swindlers and sham institutions that levy a tremendous tribute upon the heedless good. Quite apart from that wastage altogether, and speaking only of such bona fide institutions as would satisfy Mr. Labouchere, they do not work. It is one thing for the influential and opulent inactive person of good intentions to provide a magnificent building and a lavish endowment for some specific purpose, and quite another to attain in reality the ostensible end of the display. It is easy to create a general effect of providing comfort and tender care for helpless women who are becoming mothers, and of tending and training and educating their children, but, in cold fact, it is impossible to get enough capable and devoted people to do the work. In cold fact, lying-in hospitals have a tendency to become austere, hard, unsympathetic, wholesale concerns, with a disposition to confuse and substitute moral for physical well-being. In cold fact, orphanages do not present any perplexing resemblance to an earthly paradise. However warm the heart behind the cheque, the human being at the other end of the chain is apt to find the charity no more than a rather inhuman machine. Shining devotees there are, but able, courageous, and vigorous people are rare, and the world urges a thousand better employments upon them than the care of inferior mothers and inferior children. Exceptionally good people owe the world the duty of parentage themselves, and it follows that the rank and file of those in the service of Charity falls far below the standard necessary to give these poor children that chance in the world the cheque-writing philanthropist believes he is giving them. The great proportion of the servants and administrators of Charities are doing that work because they can get nothing better to do—and it is not considered remarkably high-class work. These things have to be reckoned with by every philanthropic person with sufficient faith to believe that an enterprise may not only look well, but do well. One gets a Waugh or a Barnardo now and then, a gleam of efficiency in the waste, and for the rest this spectacle of stinted thought and unstinted giving, this modern Charity, is often no more than a pretentious wholesale substitute for retail misery and disaster. Fourteen million pounds a year, I am told, go to British Charities, and I doubt if anything like a fair million's worth of palliative amelioration is attained for this expenditure. As for any permanent improvement, I doubt if all these Charities together achieve a net advance that could not be got by the discreet and able expenditure of ten or twelve thousand pounds.

It is one of the grimmest ironies in life, that athwart the memory of sainted founders should be written the most tragic consequences. The Foundling Hospital of London, established by Coram—to save infant lives!—buried, between 1756 and 1760, 10,534 children out of 14,934 received, and the Dublin Foundling Hospital (suppressed in 1835) had a mortality of eighty per cent. The two great Russian institutions are, I gather, about equally deadly with seventy-five per cent., and the Italian institutes run to about ninety per cent. The Florentine boasts a very beautiful and touching series of putti by Delia Robbia, that does little or nothing to diminish its death-rate. So far from preventing infant murder these places, with the noblest intentions in the world, have, for all practical purposes, organized it. The London Foundling, be it noted, in the reorganized form it assumed after its first massacres, is not a Foundling Hospital at all. An extremely limited number of children, the illegitimate children of recommended respectable but unfortunate mothers, are converted into admirable bandsmen for the defence of the Empire or trained to be servants for people who feel the need of well-trained servants, at a gross cost that might well fill the mind of many a poor clergyman's son with amazement and envy. And this is probably a particularly well-managed charity. It is doing all that can be expected of it, and stands far above the general Charitable average.

Every Poor Law Authority comes into the tangles of these perplexities. Upon the hands of every one of them come deserted children, the children of convicted criminals, the children of pauper families, a miscellaneous pitiful succession of responsibilities. The enterprises they are forced to undertake to meet these charges rest on taxation, a financial basis far stabler than the fitful good intentions of the rich, but apart from this advantage there is little about them to differentiate them from Charities. The method of treatment varies from a barrack system, in which the children are herded in huge asylums like those places between Sutton and Banstead, to what is perhaps preferable, the system of boarding-out little groups of children with suitable poor people. Provided such boarded-out children are systematically weighed, measured and examined, and at once withdrawn when they drop below average mental and bodily progress, it would seem more likely that a reasonable percentage should grow into ordinary useful citizens under these latter conditions than under the former.

It is well, however, to anticipate a very probable side result if we make the boarding out of pauper children a regular rural industry. There will arise in many rural homes a very strong pecuniary inducement to limit the family. Side by side will be a couple with eight children —of their own, struggling hard to keep them, and another family with, let us say, two children of their own blood and six "boarded-out," living in relative opulence. That side consequence must be anticipated. For my own part and for the reasons given in the second of these papers, I do not see that it is a very serious one so far as the future goes, because I do not think there is much to choose between the "heredity" of the rural and the urban strain. It is nonsense to pretend that we shall get the fine flower of the cottage population to board pauper children; we shall induce respectable inferior people living in healthy conditions to take care of an inferior sort of children rescued from unhealthy disreputable conditions—that is all. The average inherent quality of the resultant adults will be about the same whichever element predominates.

Possibly this indifference may seem undesirable. But we must bear in mind that the whole problem is hard to cope with, it is an aspect of failure, and no sentimental juggling with facts will convert the business into a beautiful or desirable thing. Somehow or other we have to pay. All expedients must be palliatives, all will involve sacrifices; we must, no doubt, adopt some of them for our present necessities, but they are like famine relief works, to adopt them in permanence is a counsel of despair.

Clearly it is not along these lines that the capable men-makers we suppose to be attacking the problem will spend much of their energies. All the experiences of Charities and Poor-Law Authorities simply confirm our postulate of the necessity of a standard of comfort if a child is to have a really good initial chance in the world. The only conceivable solution of this problem is one that will ensure that no child, or only a few accidental and exceptional children, will be born outside these advantages. It is no good trying to sentimentalize the issue away. This is the end we must attain, to attain any effectual permanent improvement in the conditions of childhood. A certain number of people have to be discouraged and prevented from parentage, and a great number of homes have to be improved. How can we ensure these ends, or how far can we go towards ensuring them?

The first step to ensuring them is certainly to do all we can to discourage reckless parentage, and to render it improbable and difficult. We must make sure that whatever we do for the children, the burden of parental responsibility must not be lightened a feather- weight. All the experience of two hundred years of charity and poor law legislation sustains that. But to accept that as a first principle is one thing, and to apply it by using a wretched little child as our instrument in the exemplary punishment of its parent is another. At present that is our hideous practice. So long as the parents are not convicted criminals, so long as they do not practise indictable cruelty upon their offspring, so long as the children themselves fall short of criminality, we insist upon the parent "keeping" the child. It may be manifest the child is ill-fed, harshly treated, insufficiently clothed, dirty and living among surroundings harmful to body and soul alike, but we merely take the quivering damaged victim and point the moral to the parent. "This is what comes of your recklessness," we say. "Aren't you ashamed of it?" And after inscrutable meditations the fond parent usually answers us by sending out the child to beg or sell matches or by some equally effective retort. Now a great number of excellent people pretend that this is a dilemma. "Take the child away," it is argued, "and you remove one of the chief obstacles to the reckless reproduction of the unfit. Leave it in the parents' hands and you must have the cruelty." But really this is not a dilemma at all. There is a quite excellent middle way. It may not be within the sphere of practical politics at present—if not, it is work for the New Republic to get it there—but it would practically settle all this problem of neglected children. This way is simply to make the parent the debtor to society on account of the child for adequate food, clothing, and care for at least the first twelve or thirteen years of life, and in the event of parental default to invest the local authority with exceptional powers of recovery in this matter. It would be quite easy to set up a minimum standard of clothing, cleanliness, growth, nutrition and education, and provide, that if that standard was not maintained by a child, or if the child was found to be bruised or maimed without the parents being able to account for these injuries, the child should be at once removed from the parental care, and the parents charged with the cost of a suitable maintenance—which need not be excessively cheap. If the parents failed in the payments they could be put into celibate labour establishments to work off as much of the debt as they could, and they would not be released until their debt was fully discharged. Legislation of this type would not only secure all and more of the advantages children of the least desirable sort now get from charities and public institutions, but it would certainly invest parentage with a quite unprecedented gravity for the reckless, and it would enormously reduce the number of births of the least desirable sort. Into this net, for example, every habitual drunkard who was a parent would, for his own good and the world's, be almost certain to fall. [Footnote: Mr. C. G. Stuart Menteath has favored me with some valuable comments upon this point. He writes: "I agree that calling such persons as have shown themselves incapable of parental duties debtors to the State, would help to reconcile popular ideas of the 'liberty of the subject' with the enforcement as well as the passing of such laws. But the notions of drastically enforcing parental duties, and of discouraging and even prohibiting the marriages of those unable to show their ability to perform these duties, has long prevailed. See Nicholl's History of the Poor Law (1898, New Edition), i. 229, and ii. 140, 278, where you will find chargeable bastardy has been punishable in the first offence by one year's imprisonment, and in the second, by imprisonment until sureties are given, which thus might amount to imprisonment for life. See also, J. S. Mill, Political Economy, Bk. II., ch. ii., for extreme legislation on the Continent against the marriage of people unable to support a family. In Denmark there seem to be very severe laws impeding the marriage of those who have been paupers. The English law was sufficiently effective to produce infanticide, so that a law was passed making concealment of birth almost infanticide."]

So much for the worst fringe of this question, the maltreated children, the children of the slum, the children of drunkards and criminals, and the illegitimate. But the bulk of the children of deficient growth, the bulk of the excessive mortality, lies above the level of such intervention, and the method of attack of the New Republican must be less direct. Happily there already exists a complicated mass of legislation that without any essential change of principle could be applied to this object.

The first of the expedients which would lead to a permanent improvement in these matters is the establishment of a minimum of soundness and sanitary convenience in houses, below which standard it shall be illegal to inhabit a house at all. There should be a certain relation between the size of rooms and their ventilating appliances, a certain minimum of lighting, certain conditions of open space about the house and sane rules about foundations and materials. These regulations would vary with the local density of population—many things are permissible in Romney marsh, for example, which the south-west wind sweeps everlastingly, that would be deadly in Rotherhithe. At present in England there are local building regulations, for the most part vexatious and stupid to an almost incredible degree, and compiled without either imagination or understanding, but it should be possible to substitute for these a national minimum of habitability without any violent revolution. A house that failed to come up to this minimum— which might begin very low and be raised at intervals of years—would, after due notice, be pulled down. It might be pulled down and the site taken over and managed by the local authority—allowing its owner a portion of its value in compensation—if it was evident his failure to keep up to the standard had an adequate excuse. In time it might be possible to level up the minimum standard of all tenements in towns and urban districts at any rate to the possession of a properly equipped bathroom for example, without which, for hardworking people, regular cleanliness is a practical impossibility. This process of levelling-up the minimum tenement would be enormously aided by a philanthropic society which would devote itself to the study of building methods and materials, to the evolution of conveniences, and the direction of invention to lessening the cost and complication of building wholesome dwellings.

The state of repair of inhabited buildings is also already a matter of public concern. All that is needed is a slow, persistent tightening-up of the standard. This would ensure, at any rate, that the outer shell of the child's surroundings gave it a fair chance in life. In the next place comes legislation against overcrowding. There must be a maximum number of inhabitants to any tenement, and a really sane law will be far more stringent to secure space and air for young children than for adults. There is little reason, except the possible harbouring of parasites and infectious disease, why five or six adults should not share a cask on a dust heap as a domicile—if it pleases them. But directly children come in we touch the future. The minimum permissible tenement for a maximum of two adults and a very young child is one properly ventilated room capable of being heated, with close and easy access to sanitary conveniences, a constant supply of water and easy means of getting warm water. More than one child should mean another room, and it seems only reasonable if we go so far as this, to go further and require a minimum of furniture and equipment, a fire-guard, for instance, and a separate bed or cot for the child. In a civilized community little children should not sleep with adults, and the killing of children by "accidental" overlaying should be a punishable offence. [Footnote: In the returns I have quoted from Blackburn, Leicester, and Preston the number of deaths from suffocation per 100,000 infants born was 232 in the first year of life. ]

If a woman does not wish to be dealt with as a half-hearted murderess she should not behave like one. It should also be punishable on the part of a mother to leave children below a certain age alone for longer than a certain interval. It is absurd to punish people as we do, for the injuries inflicted by them upon their children during uncontrollable anger, and not to punish them for the injuries inflicted by uncontrolled carelessness. Such legislation should ensure children space, air and attention. [Footnote: It is less within the range of commonly grasped ideas, it is therefore less within the range of practical expedients, to point out that a graduated scale of building regulation might be contrived for use in different localities. Districts could be classed in grades determined by the position of each district in the scale of infant mortality, and in those in which the rate was highest the hygienic standard could be made most stringent and onerous upon the house owner. This would force up the price of house- room, and that would force up the price of labour, and this would give the proprietors of unwholesome industries a personal interest in hygienic conditions about them. It would also tend to force population out of districts intrinsically unhealthy into districts intrinsically healthy. The statistics of low-grade districts could be examined to discover the distinctive diseases which determine their lowness of grade, and if these were preventable diseases they could be controlled by special regulations. A further extension of these principles might be made. Direct inducements to attract the high birth-rates towards exceptionally healthy districts could be contrived by a differential rating of sound families with children in such districts, the burthen of heavy rates could be thrown upon silly and selfish landowners who attempted to stifle sound populations by using highly habitable areas as golf links, private parks, game preserves, and the like, and public- spirited people could combine to facilitate communications that would render life in such districts compatible with industrial occupation. Such deliberate redistribution of population as this differential treatment of districts involves, is, however, quite beyond the available power and intelligence of our public control at present, and I suggest it here as something that our grandchildren perhaps may begin to consider. But if in the obscurity of this footnote I may let myself go, I would point out that, in the future, a time may come when locomotion will be so swift and convenient and cheap that it will be unnecessary to spread out the homes of our great communities where the industrial and trading centres are gathered together; it will be unnecessary for each district to sustain the renewal and increase of its own population. Certain wide regions will become specifically administrative and central—the home lands, the mother lands, the centres of education and population, and others will become specifically fields of action. Something of this kind is to a slight degree already the case with Scotland, which sends out its hardy and capable sons wherever the world has need of them; the Swiss mountains, too, send their sons far and wide in the world; and on the other hand, with regard to certain elements of population, at any rate, London and the Gold Coast and, I suspect, some regions in the United States of America, receive to consume.]

But it will be urged that these things are likely to bear rather severely on the very poor parent. To which a growing number of people will reply that the parent should not be a parent under circumstances that do not offer a fair prospect of sound child-birth and nurture. It is no good trying to eat our cake and have it; if the parent does not suffer the child will, and of the two, we, of the New Republic, have no doubt that the child is the more important thing.

It may be objected, however, that existing economic conditions make life very uncertain for many very sound and wholesome kinds of people, and that it is oppressive and likely to rob the State of good citizens to render parentage burthensome, and to surround it with penalties. But that directs our attention to a second scheme of expedients which have crystallized about the expression, the Minimum Wage. The cardinal idea of this group of expedients is this, that it is unjust and cruel in the present and detrimental to the future of the world to let any one be fully employed at a rate of payment at which a wholesome, healthy, and, by the standards of comfort at the time, a reasonable happy life is impossible. It is better in the long run that people whose character and capacity will not render it worth while to employ them at the Minimum Wage should not be employed at all. The sweated employment of such people, as Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Webb show most conclusively in their great work, "Industrial Democracy," arrests the development of labour-saving machinery, replaces and throws out of employment superior and socially more valuable labour, enables these half capables to establish base families of inadequately fed and tended children (which presently collapse upon public and private charity), and so lowers and keeps down the national standard of life. As these writers show very clearly, an industry that cannot adequately sustain sound workers is not in reality a source of public wealth at all, but a disease and a parasite upon the public body. It is eating up citizens the State has had the expense of educating, and very often the indirect cost of rearing. Obviously the minimum wage for a civilized adult male should be sufficient to cover the rent of the minimum tenement permissible with three or four children, the maintenance of himself and his wife and children above the minimum standard of comfort, his insurance against premature or accidental death or temporary economic or physical disablement, some minimum provision for old age and a certain margin for the exercise of his individual freedom. [Footnote: An excellent account of experiments already tried in the establishment of a Minimum Wage will be found in W.P. Reeves' State Experiments in Australia and New Zealand, vol. ii., p. 47 et seq.]

So that while those who are bent on this conception of making economy in life and suffering the guiding principle of their public and social activity, are seeking to brace up the quality of the home on the one hand, they must also do all they can to bring about the realization of this ideal of a minimum wage on the other. In the case of government and public employment and of large, well-organized industries, the way is straight and open, and the outlook very hopeful. Wherever licenses, tariffs, and any sort of registration occurs there are practicable means of bringing in this expedient. But where the employment is shifting and sporadic, or free from regulation, there we have a rent in our social sieve, and the submissive, eager inferior will still come in, the failures of our own race, the immigrant from baser lands, desperately and disastrously underselling our sound citizens. Obviously we must use every contrivance we can to mend these rents, by promoting the organization of employments in any way that will not hamper progress in economic production. And if we can persuade the Trade Unions—and there is every sign that the old mediaeval guild conception of water-tight trade limitations is losing its hold upon those organizations—to facilitate the movement of workers from trade to trade under the shifting stress of changing employment and of changing economy of production, we shall have gone far to bring the possibilities of the rising operative up to the standard of the minimum home permissible for children.

These things—if we could bring them about—would leave us with a sort of clarified Problem of the Unemployed on our hands. Our Minimum Wage would have strained these people out, and, provided there existed what is already growing up, an intelligent system of employment bureaus, we should have much more reason to conclude than we have at present, that they were mainly unemployed because of a real incapacity in character, strength, or intelligence for efficient citizenship. Our raised standards of housing, our persecution of overcrowding, and our obstruction of employment below the minimum wage, would have swept out the rookeries and hiding-places of these people of the Abyss. They would exist, but they would not multiply—and that is our supreme end. They would be tramping on roads where mendicity laws would prevail, there would be no house-room for them, no squatting-places. The casual wards would catch them and register them, and telephone one to the other about them. It is rare that children come into this world without a parent or so being traceable. Everything would converge to convince these people that to bear children into such an unfavourable atmosphere is an extremely inconvenient and undesirable thing. They would not have many children, and such children as they had would fall easily into our organized net and get the protection of the criticised and improved development of the existing charitable institutions. [Footnote: "I wonder whether there is any legal flaw in the second section of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act of 1894, which may have been specially aimed at beggars with offspring. It is specially punishable to beg having an infant in their arms, quite apart from teaching the infant in question to beg. Or is this law insufficiently enforced through popular apathy?"—C. G. STUART MENTEATH.] This is the best we can do for those poor little creatures. As for that increasing section of the Abyss that will contrive to live childless, these papers have no quarrel with them. A childless wastrel is a terminating evil, and it may be, a picturesque evil. I must confess that a lazy rogue is very much to my taste, provided there is no tragedy of children to smear the joke with misery. And if he or she neither taints nor tempts the children, who are our care, a childless weakling we may freely let our pity and mercy go out to. To go childless is in them a virtue for which they merit our thanks.

These are the first necessities, then, in the Making of Men and the bettering of the world, this courageous interference with what so many people call "Nature's methods" and "Nature's laws," though, indeed, they are no more than the methods and laws of the beasts. By such expedients we may hope to see, first, a certain fall in the birth-rate, a fall chiefly in the birth-rate of improvident, vicious, and feeble types, a continuation, in fact, of that fall that is already so conspicuous in illegitimate births in Great Britain; secondly, a certain, almost certainly more considerable fall in the death-rate of infants and young children, and that fall in the infantile death-rate will serve to indicate, thirdly, a fall no statistics will fully demonstrate in what I may call the partial death-rate, the dwarfing and limiting of that innumerable host of children who do, in an underfed, meagre sort of a way, survive. This raising of the standard of homes will do a work that will not end with the children; the death-line will sag downward for all the first twenty or thirty years of life. Dull- minded, indolent, prosperous people will say that all this is no more than a proposal to make man better by machinery, that you cannot reform the world by Board of Trade Regulations and all the rest of it. They will say that such work as this is a scheme of grim materialism, and that the Soul of Man gains no benefit by this "so-called Progress," that it is not birth-rates that want raising but Ideals. We shall deal later with Ideals in general. Here I will mention only one, and that is, unhappily, only an Ideal Argument. I wish I could get together all these people who are so scornful of materialistic things, out of the excessively comfortable houses they inhabit, and I wish I could concentrate them in a good typical East London slum—five or six together in each room, one lodging with another, and I wish I could leave them there to demonstrate the superiority of high ideals to purely material considerations for the rest of their earthly career while we others went on with our sordid work unencumbered by their ideality.

Think what these dry-looking projects of building and trade regulation, and inspection and sanitation, mean in reality! think of the promise they hold out to us of tears and suffering abolished, of lives invigorated and enlarged!

[Endnote 1

I am greatly obliged to Mr. J. Leaver for a copy of the following notice:



"Attention is drawn to the frequency with which the death of young children is caused owing to their clothing taking fire at unprotected firegrates. During the years 1899 and 1900 inquests were held on the bodies of 1684 YOUNG CHILDREN whose death had resulted from burning, and in 1425 of these cases the fire by which the burning was caused was unprotected by a guard.

"With a view to prevent such deplorable loss of life it is suggested to Parents and Guardians, who have the care of young children, that it is very desirable that efficient fire-guards should be provided, in order to render it impossible for children to obtain access to the fire- grates.

"E. R. C. BRADFORD, "The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. "Metropolitan Police Office, "New Scotland Yard, "January 28th, 1902."]



Sec. 1

The newborn child is at first no more than an animal. Indeed, it is among the lowest and most helpless of all animals, a mere vegetative lump; assimilation incarnate—wailing. It is for the first day in its life deaf, it squints blindly at the world, its limbs are beyond its control, its hands clutch drowningly at anything whatever that drifts upon this vast sea of being into which it has plunged so amazingly. And imperceptibly, subtly, so subtly that never at any time can we mark with certainty the increment of its coming, there creeps into this soft and claimant little creature a mind, a will, a personality, the beginning of all that is real and spiritual in man. In a little while there are eyes full of interest and clutching hands full of purpose, smiles and frowns, the babbling beginning of expression and affections and aversions. Before the first year is out there is obedience and rebellion, choice and self-control, speech has commenced, and the struggle of the newcomer to stand on his feet in this world of men. The process is unanalyzable; given a certain measure of care and protection, these things come spontaneously; with the merest rough encouragement of things and voices about the child, they are evoked.

But every day the inherent impulse makes a larger demand upon the surroundings of the child, if it is to do its best and fullest. Obviously, quite apart from physical consequences, the environment of a little child may be good or bad, better or worse for it in a thousand different ways. It may be distracting or over-stimulating, it may evoke and increase fear, it may be drab and dull and depressing, it may be stupefying, it may be misleading and productive of vicious habits of mind. And our business is to find just what is the best possible environment, the one that will give the soundest and fullest growth, not only of body but of intelligence.

Now from the very earliest phase the infant stands in need of a succession of interesting things. At first these are mere vague sense impressions, but in a month or so there is a distinct looking at objects; presently follows reaching and clutching, and soon the little creature is urgent for fresh things to see, handle, hear, fresh experiences of all sorts, fresh combinations of things already known. The newborn mind is soon as hungry as the body. And if a healthy well- fed child cries, it is probably by reason of this unsatisfied hunger, it lacks an interest, it is bored, that dismal vacant suffering that punishes the failure of living things to live fully and completely. As Mr. Charles Booth has pointed out in his Life and Labour of the People, it is probable that in this respect the children of the relatively poor are least at a disadvantage. The very poor infant passes its life in the family room, there is a going and coming, and interesting activity of domestic work on the part of its mother, the preparation of meals, the intermittent presence of the father, the whole gamut of its mother's unsophisticated temper. It is carried into crowded and eventful streets at all hours. It participates in pothouse soirees and assists at the business of shopping. It may not lead a very hygienic life, but it does not lead a dull one. Contrast with its lot that of the lonely child of some woman of fashion, leading its beautifully non-bacterial life in a carefully secluded nursery under the control of a virtuous, punctual, invariable, conscientious rather than emotional nurse. The poor little soul wails as often for events as the slum baby does for nourishment. Into its grey nursery there rushes every day, or every other day, a breathless, preoccupied, excessively dressed, cleverish, many-sided, fundamentally silly, and universally incapable woman, vociferates a little conventional affection, slaps a kiss or so upon her offspring, and goes off again to collect that daily meed of admiration and cheap envy which is the gusto of her world. After that gushing, rustling, incomprehensible passage, the child relapses into the boring care of its bored hireling for another day. The nurse writes her letters, mends her clothes, reads and thinks of the natural interests of her own life, and the child is "good" just in proportion to the extent to which it doesn't "worry."

That, of course, is an extreme case. It assumes a particularly bad mother and a particularly ill-chosen nurse, and what is probably only a transitory phase of sexual debasement. The average nurse of the upper- class child is often a woman of highly developed motherly instincts, and it is probable that our upper class and our upper middle-class is passing or has already passed through that phase of thought which has made solitary children so common in the last decade or so. The effective contrast must not take us too far. We must remember that all women do not possess the passion for nursing, and that some of those who are defective in this direction may be, for all that, women of exceptional gifts and capacity, and fully capable of offspring. Civilization is based on the organized subdivision of labour, and, as the able lady who writes as "L'amie Inconnue" in the County Gentleman has pointed out in a very helpful criticism of the original version of this paper, it is as absurd to require every woman to be a nursery mother as it is, to require every man to till the soil. We move from homogeneous to heterogeneous conditions, and we must beware of every generalization we make.

For all that, one is inclined to think the ideal average environment should contain the almost constant presence of the mother, for no one is so likely to be continuously various and interesting and untiring as she, and only as an exception, for exceptional mothers and nurses, can we admit the mother-substitute. When we admit her we admit other things. It is entirely on account of such an ideal environment, we must remember, that monogamy finds its practical sanction; it claims to ensure the presiding mother the maximum of security and self-respect. A woman who enjoys the full rights of a wife to maintenance and exclusive attention, without a complete discharge of the duties of motherhood, profits by the imputation of things she has failed to perform. She may be justified by other things, by an effectual co-operation with her husband in joint labours for example, but she has altered her footing none the less. To secure an ideal environment for children in as many cases as possible is the second of the two great practical ends—the first being sound births, for which the restrictions of sexual morality exist. In addition there is the third almost equally important matter of adult efficiency; we have to adjust affairs, if we can, to secure the maximum of health, sane happiness and vigorous mental and physical activity, and to abolish, as far as possible, passionate broodings, over-stimulated appetites, disease, and destructive indulgence. Apart from these aspects, sexual morality is outside the scope of the New Republican altogether. . . . Do not let this passage be misunderstood. I do not mean that a New Republican ignores sexual morality except on these grounds, but so far as his New Republicanism goes he does, just as a member of the Aeronautical Society, so far as his aeronautical interests go, or as an ecclesiastical architect, so far as his architecture goes.

The ideal environment should, without any doubt at all, centre about a nursery—a clean, airy, brightly lit, brilliantly adorned room, into which there should be a frequent coming and going of things and people; but from the time the child begins to recognize objects and individuals it should be taken for little spells into other rooms and different surroundings. In the homely, convenient, servantless abode over which the able-bodied, capable, skilful, civilized women of the ordinary sort will preside in the future, the child will naturally follow its mother's morning activities from room to room. Its mother will talk to it, chance visitors will sign to it. There should be a public or private garden available where its perambulator could stand in fine weather; and its promenades should not be too much a matter of routine. To go along a road with some traffic is better for a child than to go along a secluded path between hedges; a street corner is better than a laurel plantation as a pitch for perambulators.

When a child is five or six months old it will have got a certain use and grip with its hands, and it will want to handle and examine and test the properties of as many objects as it can. Gifts begin. There seems scope for a wiser selection in these early gifts. At present it is chiefly woolly animals with bells inside them, woolly balls, and so forth, that reach the baby's hands. There is no reason at all why a child's attention should be so predominantly fixed on wool. These toys are coloured very tastefully, but as Preyer has advanced strong reasons for supposing that the child's discrimination of colours is extremely rudimentary until the second year has begun, these tasteful arrangements are simply an appeal to the parent. Light, dark, yellow, perhaps red and "other colours" seem to constitute the colour system of a very young infant. It is to the parent, too, that the humorous and realistic quality of the animal forms appeal. The parent does the shopping and has to be amused. The parent who ought to have a doll instead of a child is sufficiently abundant in our world to dominate the shops, and there is a vast traffic in facetious baby toys, facetious nursery furniture, "art" cushions and "quaint" baby clothing, all amazingly delightful things for grown-up people. These things are bought and grouped about the child, the child is taught tricks to complete the picture, and parentage becomes a very amusing afternoon employment. So long as convenience is not sacrificed to the aesthetic needs of the nursery, and so long as common may compete with "art" toys, there is no great harm done, but it is well to understand how irrelevant these things are to the real needs of a child's development.

A child of a year or less has neither knowledge nor imagination to see the point of these animal resemblances—much less to appreciate either quaintness or prettiness. That comes only in the second year. He is much more interested in the crumpling and tearing of paper, in the crumpling of chintz, and in the taking off and replacing of the lid of a little box. I think it would be possible to devise a much more entertaining set of toys for an infant than is at present procurable, but, unhappily, they would not appeal to the intelligence of the average parent. There would be, for example, one or two little boxes of different shapes and substances, with lids to take off and on, one or two rubber things that would bend and twist about and admit of chewing, a ball and a box made of china, a fluffy, flexible thing like a rabbit's tail, with the vertebrae replaced by cane, a velvet-covered ball, a powder puff, and so on. They could all be plainly and vividly coloured with some non-soluble inodorous colour. They would be about on the cot and on the rug where the child was put to kick and crawl. They would have to be too large to swallow, and they would all get pulled and mauled about until they were more or less destroyed. Some would probably survive for many years as precious treasures, as beloved objects, as powers and symbols in the mysterious secret fetichism of childhood—confidants and sympathetic friends.

Sec. 2

While the child is engaged with its first toys, and with the collection of rudimentary sense impressions, it is also developing a remarkable variety of noises and babblements from which it will presently disentangle speech. Day by day it will show a stronger and stronger bias to associate definite sounds with definite objects and ideas, a bias so comparatively powerful in the mind of man as to distinguish him from all other living creatures. Other creatures may think, may, in a sort of concrete way, come almost indefinably near reason (as Professor Lloyd Morgan in his very delightful Animal Life and Intelligence has shown); but man alone has in speech the apparatus, the possibility, at any rate, of being a reasoning and reasonable creature. It is, of course, not his only apparatus. Men may think out things with drawings, with little models, with signs and symbols upon paper, but speech is the common way, the high road, the current coin of thought.

With speech humanity begins. With the dawn of speech the child ceases to be an animal we cherish, and crosses the boundary into distinctly human intercourse. There begins in its mind the development of the most wonderful of all conceivable apparatus, a subtle and intricate keyboard, that will end at last with thirty or forty or fifty thousand keys. This queer, staring, soft little being in its mother's arms is organizing something within itself, beside which the most wonderful orchestra one can imagine is a lump of rude clumsiness. There will come a time when, at the merest touch upon those keys, image will follow image and emotion develop into emotion, when the whole creation, the deeps of space, the minutest beauties of the microscope, cities, armies, passions, splendours, sorrows, will leap out of darkness into the conscious being of thought, when this interwoven net of brief, small sounds will form the centre of a web that will hold together in its threads the universe, the All, visible and invisible, material and immaterial, real and imagined, of a human mind. And if we are to make the best of a child, it is in no way secondary to its physical health and growth that it should acquire a great and thorough command over speech, not merely that it should speak, but, what is far more vital, that it should understand swiftly and subtly things written and said. Indeed, this is more than any physical need. The body is the substance and the implement; the mind, built and compact of language, is the man. All that has gone before, all that we have discussed of sound birth and physical growth and care, is no more than the making ready of the soil for the mind that is to grow therein. As we come to this matter of language, we come a step nearer to the intimate realities of our subject—we come to the mental plant that is to bear the flower and the ripe fruit of the individual life. The next phase of our inquiry, therefore, is to examine how we can get this mental plant, this foundation substance, this abundant mastered language best developed in the individual, and how far we may go to ensure this best development for all children born into the world.

From the ninth month onward the child begins serious attempts to talk. In order that it may learn to do this as easily as possible, it requires to be surrounded by people speaking one language, and speaking it with a uniform accent. Those who are most in the child's hearing should endeavour to speak—even when they are not addressing the child —deliberately and clearly. All authorities are agreed upon the mischievous effect of what is called "baby talk," the use of an extensive sham vocabulary, a sort of deciduous milk vocabulary that will presently have to be shed again. Froebel and Preyer join hands on this. The child's funny little perversions of speech are really genuine attempts to say the right word, and we simply cause trouble and hamper development if we give back to the seeking mind its own blunders again. When a child wants to indicate milk, it wants to say milk, and not "mooka" or "mik," and when it wants to indicate bed, the needed word is not "bedder" or "bye-bye," but "bed." But we give the little thing no chance to get on in this way until suddenly one day we discover it is "time the child spoke plainly." Preyer has pointed out very instructively the way in which the quite sufficiently difficult matter of the use of I, mine, me, my, you, yours, and your is made still more difficult by those about the child adopting irregularly the experimental idioms it produces. When a child says to its mother, "Me go mome," it is doing its best to speak English, and its remark should be received without worrying comment; but when a mother says to her child, "Me go mome," she is simply wasting an opportunity of teaching her child its mother-tongue. One sympathizes with her all too readily, one understands the sweetness to her of these soft, infantile mispronunciations; but, indeed, she ought to understand; it is her primary business to know better than her feelings in this affair.

In learning to speak, the children of the more prosperous classes are probably at a considerable advantage when compared with their poorer fellow children. They hear a clearer and more uniform intonation than the blurred, uncertain speech of our commonalty, that has resulted from the reaction of the great synthetic process, of the past century upon dialects. But this natural advantage of the richer child is discounted in one of two ways: in the first place by the mother, in the second by the nurse. The mother in the more prosperous classes is often much more vain and trivial than the lower-class woman; she looks to her children for amusement, and makes them contributors to her "effect," and, by taking up their quaint and pretty mispronunciations, and devising humorous additions to their natural baby talk, she teaches them to be much greater babies than they could ever possibly be themselves. They specialise as charming babies until their mother tires of the pose, and then they are thrust back into the nursery to recover leeway, if they can, under the care of governess or nurse.

The second disadvantage of the upper-class child is the foreign nurse or nursery governess. There is a widely diffused idea that a child is particularly apt to master and retain languages, and people try and inoculate with French and German as Lord Herbert of Cherbury would have inoculated children with antidotes, for all the ills their flesh was heir to—even, poor little wretches, to an anticipatory regimen for gout. The root error of these attempts to form infantile polyglots is embodied in an unverified quotation from Byron's Beppo, dear to pedagogic writers—

"Wax to receive and marble to retain"

runs the line—which the curious may discover to be a description of the faithful lover, though it has become as firmly associated with the child-mind as has Sterne's "tempering the wind to the shorn lamb" with Holy Writ. And this idea of infantile receptivity and retentiveness is held by an unthinking world, in spite of the universally accessible fact that hardly one of us can remember anything that happened before the age of five, and very little that happened before seven or eight, and that children of five or six, removed into foreign surroundings, will in a year or so—if special measures are not taken—reconstruct their idiom, and absolutely forget every word of their mother-tongue. This foreign nurse comes into the child's world, bringing with her quite weird errors in the quantities, the accent and idiom of the mother-tongue, and greatly increasing the difficulty and delay on the road to thought and speech. And this attempt to acquire a foreign language prematurely at the expense of the mother-tongue, to pick it up cheaply by making the nurse an informal teacher of languages, entirely ignores a fact upon which I would lay the utmost stress in this paper— which, indeed, is the gist of this paper—that only a very small minority of English or American people have more than half mastered the splendid heritage of their native speech. To this neglected and most significant limitation the amount of public attention given at present is quite surprisingly small. [Footnote: My friend, Mr. L. Cope Cornford, writes apropos of this, and I think I cannot do better than print what he says as a corrective to my own assertions: "All you say on the importance of letting a child hear good English cleanly accented is admirable; but we think you have perhaps overlooked the importance of ear-training as such, which should begin by the time the child can utter its first attempts at speech. By ear-training I mean the differentiation of sounds—articulate, inarticulate, and musical— fixing the child's attention and causing it to imitate. As every sound requires a particular movement of the vocal apparatus, the child will soon be able to adapt its apparatus unconsciously and to distinguish accurately. And if it does not so learn before the age of five or six, it probably will never do so. By the age of two—or less— the child should be able to imitate exactly any speech-sound. Our youngsters can do so; and, consequently, the fact that they had a nurse with a Sussex accent ceased to matter, because they learned to distinguish her talk from correct English. So in the case of a foreign nurse; the result of a foreigner's influence would be good in this way, that it would train a child to a new series of speech-sounds, thus enlarging its ear capacity. Nor need it necessarily adopt these speech-sounds as those which it should use; it merely knows them; and if the foreigner have a good accent, and speaks her own tongue well, the child's ear is trained for life, irrespective of expression. Experience shows that a child can keep separate in its mind two or three languages—at first the speech-sounds, later the expression. Modes of expression need not begin till after five, or later. With regard to music, every child should begin to undergo a simple course of ear-training on the sol-fa system as elaborated and taught by McNaught, because the faculty of so learning is lost—atrophied—by the age of twelve or fourteen. But, beginning early—as early as possible— every child, 'musical' or not, can be trained, just as every child, 'artistic' or not, may be taught to draw accurately up to a certain point."]

There can be little or no dispute that the English language in its completeness presents a range too ample and appliances too subtle for the needs of the great majority of those who profess to speak it. I do not refer to the half-civilized and altogether barbaric races who are coming under its sway, but to the people we are breeding of our own race—the barbarians of our streets, our suburban "white niggers," with a thousand a year and the conceit of Imperial destinies. They live in our mother-tongue as some half-civilized invaders might live in a gigantic and splendidly equipped palace. They misuse this, they waste that, they leave whole corridors and wings unexplored, to fall into disuse and decay. I doubt if the ordinary member of the prosperous classes in England has much more than a third of the English language in use, and more than a half in knowledge, and as we go down the social scale we may come at last to strata having but a tenth part of our full vocabulary, and much of that blurred and vaguely understood. The speech of the Colonist is even poorer than the speech of the home-staying English. In America, just as in Great Britain and her Colonies, there is the same limitation and the same disuse. Partly, of course, this is due to the pettiness of our thought and experience, and so far it can only be remedied by a general intellectual amplification; but partly it is due to the general ignorance of English prevailing throughout the world. It is atrociously taught, and taught by ignorant men. It is atrociously and meanly written. So far as this second cause of sheer ignorance goes, the gaps in knowledge are continually resulting in slang and the addition of needless neologisms to the language. People come upon ideas that they know no English to express, and strike out the new phrase in a fine burst of ignorant discovery. There are Americans in particular who are amazingly apt at this sort of thing. They take an enormous pride in the jargon they are perpetually increasing—they boast of it, they give exhibition performances in it, they seem to regard it as the culminating flower of their continental Republic—as though the Old World had never heard of shoddy. But, indeed, they are in no better case than that unfortunate lady at Earlswood who esteems newspapers stitched with unravelled carpet and trimmed with orange peel, the extreme of human splendour. In truth, their pride is baseless, and this slang of theirs no sort of distinction whatever. Let me assure them that in our heavier way we in this island are just as busy defiling our common inheritance. We can send a team of linguists to America who will murder and misunderstand the language against any eleven the Americans may select.

Of course there is a natural and necessary growth and development in a living language, a growth that no one may arrest. In appliances, in politics, in science, in philosophical interpretation, there is a perpetual necessity for new words, words to express new ideas and new relationships, words free from ambiguity and encumbering associations. But the neologisms of the street and the saloon rarely supply any occasion of this kind. For the most part they are just the stupid efforts of ignorant men to supply the unnecessary. And side by side with the invention of inferior cheap substitutes for existing words and phrases, and infinitely more serious than that invention, goes on a perpetual misuse and distortion of those that are insufficiently known. These are processes not of growth but of decay—they distort, they render obsolete, and they destroy. The obsolescence and destruction of words and phrases cuts us off from the nobility of our past, from the severed masses of our race overseas, far more effectually than any growth of neologisms. A language may grow—our language must grow—it may be clarified and refined and strengthened, but it need not suffer the fate of an algal filament, and pass constantly into rottenness and decay whenever growth is no longer in progress. That has been the fate of languages in the past because of the feebler organization, the slenderer, slower intercommunication, and, above all, the insufficient records of human communities; but the time has come now—or, at the worst, is rapidly coming—when this will cease to be a fated thing. We may have a far more copious and varied tongue than had Addison or Spenser—that is no disaster—but there is no reason why we should not keep fast hold of all they had. There is no reason why the whole fine tongue of Elizabethan England should not be at our disposal still. Conceivably Addison would find the rich, allusive English of George Meredith obscure; conceivably we might find a thousand words and phrases of the year 2000 strange and perplexing; but there is no reason why a time should ever come when what has been written well in English since Elizabethan days should no longer be understandable and fine.

The prevailing ignorance of English in the English-speaking communities, enormously hampers the development of the racial consciousness. Except for those who wish to bawl the crudest thoughts, there is no means of reaching the whole mass of these communities to- day. So far as material requirements go it would be possible to fling a thought broadcast like seed over the whole world to-day, it would be possible to get a book into the hands of half the adults of our race. But at the hands and eyes one stops—there is a gap in the brains. Only thoughts that can be expressed in the meanest commonplaces will ever reach the minds of the majority of the English-speaking peoples under present conditions.

A writer who aims to be widely read to-day must perpetually halt, must perpetually hesitate at the words that arise in his mind; he must ask himself how many people will stick at this word altogether or miss the meaning it should carry; he must ransack his memory for a commonplace periphrase, an ingenious rearrangement of the familiar; he must omit or overaccentuate at every turn. Such simple and necessary words as "obsolescent," "deliquescent," "segregation," for example, must be abandoned by the man who would write down to the general reader; he must use "impertinent" as if it were a synonym for "impudent" and "indecent" as the equivalent of "obscene." And in the face of this wide ignorance of English, seeing how few people can either read or write English with any subtlety, and how disastrously this reacts upon the general development of thought and understanding amidst the English- speaking peoples, it would be preposterous even if the attempt were successful, to complicate the first linguistic struggles of the infant with the beginnings of a second language. But people deal thus lightly with the mother-tongue because they know so little of it that they do not even suspect their own ignorance of its burthen and its powers. They speak a little set of ready-made phrases, they write it scarcely at all, and all they read is the weak and shallow prose of popular fiction and the daily press. That is knowing a language within the meaning of their minds, and such a knowledge a child may very well be left to "pick up" as it may. Side by side with this they will presently set themselves to erect a similar "knowledge" of two or three other languages. One is constantly meeting not only women but men who will solemnly profess to "know" English and Latin, French, German and Italian, perhaps Greek, who are in fact—beyond the limited range of food, clothing, shelter, trade, crude nationalism, social conventions and personal vanity—no better than the deaf and dumb. In spite of the fact that they will sit with books in their hands, visibly reading, turning pages, pencilling comments, in spite of the fact that they will discuss authors and repeat criticisms, it is as hopeless to express new thoughts to them as it would be to seek for appreciation in the ear of a hippopotamus. Their linguistic instruments are no more capable of contemporary thought than a tin whistle, a xylophone, and a drum are capable of rendering the Eroica Symphony.

In being also ignorant of itself, this wide ignorance of English partakes of all that is most hopeless in ignorance. Except among a few writers and critics, there is little sense of defect in this matter. The common man does not know that his limited vocabulary limits his thoughts. He knows that there are "long words" and rare words in the tongue, but he does not know that this implies the existence of definite meanings beyond his mental range. His poor collection of everyday words, worn-out phrases and battered tropes, constitute what he calls "plain English," and speech beyond these limits he seriously believes to be no more than the back-slang of the educated class, a mere elaboration and darkening of intercourse to secure privacy and distinction. No doubt there is justification enough for his suspicion in the exploits of pretentious and garrulous souls. But it is the superficial justification of a profound and disastrous error. A gap in a man's vocabulary is a hole and tatter in his mind; words he has may indeed be weakly connected or wrongly connected—one may find the whole keyboard jerry-built, for example, in the English-speaking Baboo—but words he has not signify ideas that he has no means of clearly apprehending, they are patches of imperfect mental existence, factors in the total amount of his personal failure to live.

This world-wide ignorance of English, this darkest cloud almost upon the fair future of our confederated peoples, is something more than a passive ignorance. It is active, it is aggressive. In England at any rate, if one talks beyond the range of white-nigger English, one commits a social breach. There are countless "book words" well-bred people never use. A writer with any tenderness for half-forgotten phrases, any disposition to sublimate the mingling of unaccustomed words, runs as grave a risk of organized disregard as if he tampered with the improper. The leaden censures of the Times, for example, await any excursion beyond its own battered circumlocutions. Even nowadays, and when they are veterans, Mr. George Meredith and Mr. Henley get ever and again a screed of abuse from some hot champion of Lower Division Civil Service prose. "Plain English" such a one will call his desideratum, as one might call the viands on a New Cut barrow "plain food." The hostility to the complete language is everywhere. I wonder just how many homes may not be witnessing the self-same scene as I write. Some little child is struggling with the unmanageable treasure of a new-found word, has produced it at last, a nice long word, forthwith to be "laughed out" of such foolish ambitions by its anxious parent. People train their children not to speak English beyond a threadbare minimum, they resent it upon platform and in pulpit, and they avoid it in books. Schoolmasters as a class know little of the language. In none of our schools, not even in the more efficient of our elementary schools, is English adequately taught. And these people expect the South African Dutch to take over their neglected tongue! As though the poor partial King's English of the British Colonist was one whit better than the Taal! To give them the reality of what English might be: that were a different matter altogether.

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