Typos p. 158: seventeeth [= seventeenth]; p. 162: Smollet's [= Smollett's]; p. 163: neglible [= negligible]; p. 167: montonous [= monotonous]; p. 177: fom [= from]
The Degeneracy of Modern Man Part II
There are two possible ways of proving its existence. It may be demonstrated inferentially, by enumerating the phenomena which argue its probable existence, such as the industrial system, the inflated urban communities, the political chaos, the rise of socialistic as opposed to individualistic and self reliant conceptions of the national weal, and Feminism (this last phenomenon has already been dealt with in the previous chapters 1);
1 I fear, however, that in the eyes of a large number of people in this country it will not appear sufficient evidence of degeneracy, if it is not supported by other facts. This does not mean that it does not appear sufficient to myself and others who sympathize with my view, and who are aware of the historical and anthropological data on which the inference is based; for to us, as I have plainly shown in the previous chapters, the phenomenon of Feminism is in itself adequate demonstration of male degeneracy. It simply means that my knowledge of the modern mind makes me doubt whether the existence of Feminism in our midst would ever lead the average person, man or woman, to suspect male degeneracy in conjunction with it alone.
Owing to the paucity of the data about the man of former ages, the latter line of proof is admittedly more difficult, but I do not intend to shirk it on that account, as so many other writers on the subject have done.
My first duty, however, is to make quite plain what is meant in this book by the word "degeneracy"; and, as there appears to be a good deal of misapprehension rife concerning the nature of the condition the word implies, it may be as well to devote a little attention to this matter, before proceeding any further.
To the man in the street, degeneracy implies merely a visible manifestation of something which inconveniences him, or of which he does not approve. Just as he uses the psycho-analytical word "complex," so much abused to-day, in order to stigmatize any mental trait in an acquaintance which happens to annoy him, so he flings his epithet "degenerate" at anything and everything which to him personally is objectionable. To the average woman "degeneracy" may mean simply that which jeopardizes her smug security. Thus an enhancement of vitality or vigorous sexuality may be "degenerate." I have heard Oxford trousers thoughtlessly called "degenerate," and I have also heard English and Scotch matrons hurl the same epithet at a youth whose wanton and overflowing health and spirits constituted him a formidable menace to their grown-up daughters. On the other hand, I have heard some men say that flesh coloured silk stockings for women were "degenerate," and I have heard not a few Englishmen and women charge the whole male population of Italy, Spain and Southern France with "degeneracy" on no grounds whatsoever, except presumably because they used olive oil in cooking, or could not speak English, or wore peculiar clothes.
It is impossible, however, to investigate all the popular abuses of the word "degenerate." Nor can we waste our time over those people who insist at all costs in maintaining their own complete freedom from any share in the universal degeneracy of the Age. 1
With the view, therefore, from the outset, of meeting the charge of looseness on the one hand, and of Pharisaism
1 It should always be remembered that the resistance to the charge of national degeneracy (and there is a very great resistance thereto) arises on the one hand from the vanity of the bulk of the population, which urges them to believe that they must belong to the best and most desirable people on earth, and to the best period of this people's history; and on the other to the resolute and plodding refusal of most Feminist women to acknowledge too frankly that men are degenerate, lest they may be led to infer that the present ascendancy of the female, instead of denoting a positive and absolute female advance, is only a relative advance, due to the regression of the male. Such women are quite ready to despise men as they are, but they would maintain that there is no change, that men have always been despicable. To admit that modern men are degenerate, would make female ascendancy appear purely adventitious, which it is, and contingent upon male weakness, which it also is. But this would be distasteful to the Feminists; therefore, while they claim the right to despise modern men, they will generally be found greatly to resent the claim that modern men are degenerate. A third section of the modern world, who are also powerful and are generally found bitterly to resent the claim that modern men are degenerate, are the members of the medical profession. The charge of degeneracy seems to set their achievements in doubt. It seems to reflect unfavourably upon their triumphs in prophylaxis and cure; and in view of their very lively consciousness of the so called "strides" of their science, the idea that modern men are degenerate is intolerable and must be resisted at all costs.
I have no sympathy with the man who, because he has false teeth, resents the idea that false teeth are to be strongly deprecated. One ought to have the courage of admitting one's failings while at the same time deploring them as phenomena. But, nowadays, so deficient is the crowd in intellectual honesty, that, arguing from their own inner consciousness and motivation, they suspect every one who makes a general charge of necessarily conceiving himself above its incidence. Only a man with a complete set of teeth, for instance, is expected to argue that dental caries and pyorrha are degenerate; because he alone can feel himself proof against the charge he is making. Therefore, if we follow this principle logically, on the subject of the stigmata we all reveal, the most complete silence must be observed. But this is feminine and cowardly. Never to be able to make a charge against humanity, in which you yourself are involved, is tantamount to being insufficiently courageous
When I make the charge of degeneracy against my generation, therefore, I mean it to be understood that I regard it as impossible that I, being a child of the Age, should be free from one or more of the prevailing stigmata of this condition. It may not manifest itself in me in the same way as in Tom, Dick or Harry, but the fact that I must be infected by it naturally emerges from the fact that I am here.
As to what I mean when I say that we men are degenerate, I shall now proceed to define.
Degeneracy, in the sense in which I propose to use the word, means either a loss of one or more of the higher characteristics once acquired by a people, or else the occurrence of those characteristics only in a feeble or moribund form. 1 In this sense it may mean either a return to a more primitive stage in the evolutionary ladder, or it may mean a state of individual or national disintegration which interferes with a healthy life or with a full life. Thus a civilized man may be called degenerate, who exhibits barbarian or ftal characteristics; or he may be called degenerate if his bodily co-ordination or equipment falls below the standard which enables him to look or to function (within the limits of his class) like the cultivated type to which he belongs. Thus harelip, cleft-palate, cryptorchidism and supernumerary mammæ are degenerate traits, because they are the signs of arrested development denoting that the individual exhibiting them has reached far back along the evolutionary scale. Pre-senile decay, or congenital and chronic physiological disorders, may
1 Since writing the above, I have come across this very useful and correct definition of degeneracy, by Dr. David F. Harris, M.D., C.M., B.Sc. (Lond.), in National Degeneration (p. 7): "Degeneration, or, as some call it, decadence, whether of the individual or the nation, may be defined as the receding from a previously higher or better state, physically, intellectually, æsthetically and morally." This is just as good as mine, and I am quite ready to accept it.
But these are not degenerate traits confined to one people. They would be degenerate in the savage, in the lowest of mankind. There is, on the other hand, a degeneracy which must be peculiar to a group or a people, in the sense that they alone may have achieved the standard from which this particular retrogression is possible. Such standards are chiefly concerned with national or tribal beauty, intelligence, stature, colouring, or other characteristics which constitute a people's pride and possibly its chief weapon in success. In this sense degeneracy means loss of characters, not common to mankind, but common only to a certain group. For instance, Gibbon speaks of the degeneracy of the ancient Romans in the period A.D. 98180, meaning that they had lost their manly spirit of freedom and their disciplined courage both qualities which, as a people, they had once developed to a high degree. 1 In the same manner, when Otto Sieck speaks of the degeneracy of ancient Athens, he means that, owing to miscegenation, the old Athenians had lost, or diluted, those characteristics which had made for the unique greatness of their city state. 2
Thus there are three kinds of degeneracy, according to the definition I have given. There is the degeneracy which is arrested development, or a retrogression along the evolutionary ladder. This we shall call atavistic degeneracy. There is also the degeneracy which is the failure to achieve a physical standard once achieved by
1 Decline and Fall, Chapter II.
2 Geschichte des Untergangs der Antiken Welt (1895), Vol. I, Chapter IV.
Although there is a large amount of atavistic degeneracy among the population of the British Isles, and its stigmata almost always indicate the presence of racial or national degeneracy in the individual, I have been unable to collect any statistics of it, except, strange to say, in the case of one example of it cryptorchidism. And here I find the incidence is about 1/5 per cent. of the males. 1 As, however, the stigmata of atavistic degeneracy are usually only extreme and definite indications of the two other forms, and need not always be recognized, where the latter are manifest, the fact that exact data are unobtainable does not matter to any great extent.
Throughout, therefore, we shall be more closely concerned with racial and national degeneracy, than with degeneracy of the first kind.
Now, whenever before audiences in England 1 have spoken about the degeneracy of modern men, I have always been met by the following indignant and frequently angry replies:
That, far from seeing any signs of degeneracy the objectors in the audience (usually an old man or a woman) declares that ever since the magnificent performance of "our men" in the Great War, he or she has ceased to be able to listen with patience to this charge of degeneracy. Indeed, it is inconceivable that a nation whose manhood was really degenerate, could have achieved what raw English recruits of all ages achieved between the autumn of 1914 and the autumn of 1918.
Among those who listen to this sort of vindication of England's manhood, there are usually not a few married women who are inclined to curl their lips in an expression of faint scepticism. And those who behave in this way
1 See Cryptorchidism in Animals and Man, by Frederick Hobday, C.M.G., F.R.C.V.S., etc., p. 12.
In speaking of valour and liberality. Gibbon says: "The first of these merits is often lodged in the most savage breasts." 1 Precisely! And if that is admitted, how can it be claimed that the valour exhibited by our manhood in the late war necessarily argued against their degeneracy?
As we have seen, however, the word "degeneracy" may mean so little, or so much, in the popular mind, that it is not surprising that in public debates and newspaper articles I should constantly be confronted with this same reply. 2
The other stock reply, which most people make, is more or less as follows:
1 Op. cit., Chapter VII.
2 See, for instance, my article and letters in the Daily Express and Daily Mail respectively, and the reply from a woman in the Daily Mail of September 5, 1925.
Now the errors contained in this objection are so complex and manifold, that the people who are in the habit of advancing it against the charge I make, can hardly move left or right, backwards or forwards, without improving their position. They cannot stir but they will mend.
In the first place, we may pursue our previous line of argument, and inquire whether the fact that men lower in the evolutionary scale are also free from the scourges of small-pox, typhoid, and plague, does not invalidate the claim that the decline of these diseases amongst ourselves necessarily argues anything for or against our degeneracy?
Secondly, we may point out that, as we have eliminated, or almost eliminated, these diseases, not by achieving natural or individual immunity, but (as in the case of small-pox and typhoid at least) by artificial immunization (inoculation) and in the case of other diseases (malaria, plague, etc.) chiefly by sanitation and disinfection, we might ask whether the decline of these scourges really argues anything at all from the standpoint of our constitutions. 1 If it does not, how can the more extensive
1 In Health Problems of the Empire (p. 21) Drs. Andrew Balfour and Henry H. Scott say: "In London from 1660 to 1780, Farr estimated that small-pox caused upwards of 4,000 deaths, per 1,000,000. In England and Wales in 183242 the rate was 575, and in 188690 it had fallen to 14 per 1,000,000." The authors then ask "Why?" And their reply is: "Because of vaccination." They also point out that while in the South African War the British Army had 58,000 casualties from
Thirdly, we might ask whether it would not be possible to have lost a whole series of characteristics which once elevated us to our present position in the world I am thinking not only of stamina and endurance, but also of self-reliance, the love of independence, etc. and yet to be artificially immunized by modern science against epidemics?
Furthermore, we might ask, if the objector insists on pursuing his line of argument, whether modern plagues like cancer, lunacy, general debility, bad teeth, constipation, nervous diseases, etc., do not account for the same, if not a greater proportion of casualties, than did the plagues of bygone days, and whether prevention itself (inoculation and disinfection) has not introduced new scourges? 1
typhoid out of a total force of 208,000 men, in the European War, when the total force was over 1,000,000, there were only 7,500 casualties from typhoid, thanks to inoculation. The fact that between the Boer and the Great War the national physique did not improve, I shall show later.
1 Dr. Leonard Williams, in an admirable book entitled The Science and Art of Living (p. 38), mentions "pyorrha" as having been unknown "before the use of antiseptics" and declares (p. 40) that "such diseases as rickets, adenoids, and appendicitis (to mention but a few of those which take a heavy toll of life and efficiency) were unknown to medicine before the microbe, the kettle, and the crucible, came to constitute a creed." On p. 45 he also speaks of that "major malady of civilization called constipation." In this respect we should also remember that one of our great wise men of the nineteenth century, Herbert Spencer, did not rule out the possibility that vaccination in itself might be a part cause of modern degeneracy (see Education, Chapter IV), and in this view he is supported by a body of modern doctors, who are admittedly not the most popular men in their profession. It is true that in the form in which Spencer made it, his objection to vaccination no longer applies; but in Facts and Comments he states the case against vaccination broadly enough to include modern improvements in his indictment. He says: "You cannot change the constitution in relation to one invading agent and
And the same may be said of the alleged greater longevity of modern people. Before we can decide whether this is a sign of an improved stock, we must discover whether it is due to greater stamina or to greater protection, to greater vitality or to readier acquiescence in semi-vital vegetation. 1 And, seeing that
leave it unchanged with regard to all other invading agents . . . the assumption that vaccination changes the constitution in relation to smallpox and does not otherwise change it is sheer folly." See also Appendix XXIX and the memorial of the Anti-Vaccination League, sent to the Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration (1904).
1 See Laurence Housman, The New Humanism (p. 9), where, speaking of the common objections raised to the charge of degeneracy, he says: "Of course when you say that to your . . . advocates, they will produce their athletes and their sportsmen, and all those fine specimens of humanity which are published and made prominent in our midst. They may point to the decreasing death-rate in our great cities, due mainly to the increased power of medical science to secure long life for the unfit; it has very little to do with healthy production. . . . They will show you all these; but they will cover up, in splendid institutions, the disease, the lunacy, the deformity and the suffering which are the price of civilization in its present form. If that side of life could be paraded to you in the streets, only in dummy form, you would be aghast."
Now let us turn to that part of the objector's reply in which he adduces the evidence from old armour in order to rebut the charge of degeneracy.
He says that old armour shows that the stature of Englishmen has increased since the days of chivalry to the present time.
On what does he base this conclusion?
The reply is chiefly on inexpert and irresponsible hearsay. But, at any rate, we may contest his conclusion on the following grounds:
There is no single suit of armour in existence dating before the middle of the fifteenth century. 3 We know from the chronicles, and from the effigies of warriors that complete armour was worn long before this period, but the English climate, the civil and other wars, 4 and various other adverse circumstances, have accounted
1 See, for instance. Sir Arthur Newsholme's Vital Statistics.
2 For instance, three lunatics in the North Wales Counties Lunatic Asylum (Denbigh), alone, in 1903, died at over 80.
3 See a Record of European Armour and Arms, by Sir Guy Francis Laking, Bart. (1920), Vol. I, p. xxxix, where, speaking of the great quantity of armour and weapons used, spoilt and lost during the wars of the Middle Ages, Baron de Cosson says: "But of all these but little remains to us anterior to the middle of the fifteenth century, indeed not a single complete suit of armour dating from before that epoch is in existence." Speaking of the fourteenth century (p. 145) the author says: "We are handicapped . . . by the entire non-existence, as we believe, of any actual body armour of this period." See also p. 161 of the same volume.
4 Laking (Op. cit., Vol. V., p. 113). But peace was almost if not quite as disastrous as war, where armour was concerned, because in peace time it was constantly being remade, refitted, or otherwise used up or destroyed. See Charles Ffoulkes, The Armourer and His Craft, p. 19, and Armour and Weapons, by the same author, p. 13.
Neither can the extant examples of mid and late fifteenth century complete armour supply a basis for comparison between modern and ancient stature; because only a very few such suits are known, and they are chiefly of foreign make, designed for foreign princes and noblemen. 2
So we are reduced to the complete harnesses, made and worn during the sixteenth century. Of these there are indeed a number of examples. But before we venture to base any arguments on them, we should consider, in the first place, that the fully armed man was not nearly such a common figure in war as the fanciful modern pictures of those times lead us to
Now, before the end of the sixteenth century, the full suit of armour had become an antique survival, and long before 1660 the art of the armourer had begun to deteriorate. 5 This was not due, as might be supposed,
1 Laking (Op. cit., Vol. I, p. 219).
2 Ibid., pp. 164, 176, 178, 200.
3 Encyclopædia. Britannica. Article: "Arms and Armour."
5 Laking (Op. cit., Vol. V. p. 1).
Complete suits of armour continued to be made for great folk right up to the Grand Rebellion and even after, but their use was being limited more and more to pageantry, and they ceased to be a feature in war after the Commonwealth.
It is true that during the Grand Rebellion, there is mention of a regiment of 500 horse under Sir Arthur Haslerig, which, owing to the fact that the troopers were completely armed, were called "Haslerig's Lobsters"; but their appearance was sufficiently odd to provoke comment a circumstance which seems to prove that such complete armour, particularly for ordinary fighting men, was in those days regarded as exceptional. 3
The common archer had always had to content himself with a metal cap or helmet and perhaps a good hide or quilted coat for his protection; while in later days, the pikemen wore a "pott-helmet" and bullet-proof breast- and back-plates. Now, although very many
1 Gunpowder contributed to the disuse of armour, by increasing the toughness of the suits to such an extent, owing to the need of making them shot-proof, that their weight became intolerable.
2 See Ffoulkes, The Armourer and his Craft, pp. 68 and 115: "From the sixteenth century and even earlier we have records of the discarding of armour because it hampered the wearer or for some equally cogent reason. . . . It would be superfluous to mention the different occasions on which unhorsed knights were captured and killed through their inability to remount in battle."
3 See Clarendon, History of the Grand Rebellion, Book VII, para. 104 (June, 1643): "Sir William Waller having received from London a fresh regiment of 500 horse, under the command of Sir Arthur Haslerigge, which were so prodigiously armed that they were called by the other side the regiment of lobsters, because of their bright new shells, with which they were covered."
So it amounts to this: we have for our basis of comparison of present-day with bygone stature, not by any means all the complete suits of armour of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, but only a very small proportion of them. We know that all those we do possess probably belonged only to one class in the community, and are therefore evidence of stature only among a small percentage of a small portion of the population. Of the stature of the country gentlemen, of the yeomen farmers, and of the common people, surviving suits of armour tell us nothing.
It is obvious, therefore, that even if a relatively smaller stature could be demonstrated for the wearers of this armour (which it cannot, as I shall show), there would not be much in the argument as applying to the English people as a whole, the less so, as those who advance the argument never seem to take the pains to specify to which section of the nation their claim of greater present stature is supposed to apply.
If, however, we leave the direct evidence of surviving harness aside for the moment, and turn to such evidence as can be gathered from the weight of the fully armed warrior's equipment, then it is surely even less possible to argue that the men of the period mentioned above (sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries), whether they were bigger or not than modern men, compare unfavourably with the latter in physical vigour. 1 Stating the matter in the most moderate terms, it is at least inaccurate to advance the converse view.
We know, for instance, that the hauberk of mail worn by the Norman knights at the Conquest must have been exceedingly heavy, for William's men are depicted walking two by two bearing a hauberk slung upon a pole thrust through the sleeves. And, when we come
1 The kind of statement that is glibly repeated is that the armour of former ages can be fitted only on boys of the present day.
These heavy jousting lances and suits were certainly not used in battle, but from the weights given by Major Ffoulkes the average weight of fighting armour must have been at least 60 lb., 5 and this does not include either undergarments, weapons or other equipment.
So that we find that at least the argument from armour can substantiate no satisfactory claim regarding the relative stature of modern and bygone generations of men, and is, therefore, quite irrelevant. On the other hand, we have seen that the small class of men that did wear armour must have been a vigorous and sturdy body of men; for, apart from the inferences to be drawn from the weight of the complete harness and weapons that survive, we are assured by experts who have handled a great deal of armour, that they were always struck by the
1 Laking (Op. cit., Vol. II, p. 136).
2 Ibid., Vol. III, p. 224.
3 Armour and Weapons, p. 60.
4 Laking (Op. cit., Vol. III, pp. 834): "So great indeed was their weight that in Germany it was often found necessary for the mounted varlets, riding in advance of their knights, to bear the weight of the spear upon their left shoulders, only abandoning it the instant before the jousters came to the cope."
5 See The Armourer and his Craft, p. 119, where weights varying from 103 to 56 1/2 lb. are given for seven suits of armour.
The next question is, can we find by actual measurement any truth whatsoever in the statement that the suits of armour actually surviving indicate among the small class who wore them a smaller stature than that of the average modern Englishmen?
The answer is. No; and for the following reasons: 1
(1) It is particularly difficult to estimate the height of complete harnesses, although their breadth is obvious, because, except in the later seventeenth century suits, the armour of the body and hips is unconnected with that of the thighs and legs, and it is not easy to tell how much the original wearer allowed the tesses (overlapping plates from the cuirass) to overlap the cuisses (armour for the thighs).
(2) It is quite clear that the statement (widely circulated by people who have taken no steps to confirm it) that the men who wore armour were of smaller stature than those of to-day, is largely based on the fact that in few armouries are the suits really well set up, and the upper parts are frequently allowed to overlap the lower parts to an exaggerated extent.
(3) Every existing suit has been releathered, i.e. the straps to which overlapping plates are riveted have been renewed, with the consequent possibility of shortening or lengthening their combined extent through the work of an ignorant repairer. Thus bad leathering and riveting have frequently completely altered the proportions and character of a suit.
(4) Another fact that may have helped the circulation of the statement about stature in its relation to old armour is that, as a rule, the circumference of the greaves is small, and that a man of to-day unless he were an habitual polo-player and hunter would often fail to
1 The information that follows was kindly supplied to me by Mr. G. F. Mann of the Wallace Collection on December 11, 1925.
(5) Finally, a number of suits of armour of exceptionally large proportions are still existing. There is the early sixteenth-century suit of the Ffoulkes Inventory, II, 22, of the Tower of London, which, when mounted on a dummy, measures 6 ft. 10 1/2 in. There is the Turin suit of the Armeria Reale, Angelucci Cat. B. 44, which measures 6 ft. 7 in. There is the suit in the Vienna, K.K. Museum (Cat. 68); and in Paris, in the Musée de l'Armée, there are several large pieces of the end of the fifteenth century. Among armour recently sold in London, was a very large early sixteenth-century suit in the Morgan Williams sale (1921), and a seventeenth-century one in the Lamb sale (1923), now No. 29 in the catalogue of Mr. R. L. Scott's collection. There is also the black Bavarian suit at the Wallace Collection (No. 851, dated 1532), which is for a man of unusually large proportions.
As we have seen, therefore, it is impossible to substantiate the objection to the charge of degeneracy, which may be based on surviving armour, and this objection consequently falls to the ground. We thought it worth while, however, to devote a good deal of space to the refuting of it, because we have so often heard it made, particularly by members of the medical profession.
Let us now turn to the positive evidence of modern degeneracy we possess, and since we have been dealing with the so-called "physical" or "bodily" aspect of the matter, let us continue to investigate it from that standpoint. It does not seem either philosophically or scientifically sound, in the present state of our knowledge, thus to divide man into "physical" and "mental"
Now, confining ourselves for the moment, simply to the inferences which may be drawn from a cursory examination of our fellow-men, and with our knowledge of history to help us, what can we see about us to-day which points to the probability of physical degeneration having occurred?
In the first place, we know that within a little over a century a number of entirely novel conditions have been imposed upon the people of this country, which, even if they were alone among the evil influences of modernity, would be likely to induce a state of physical decay. There are, for instance, the recent commercialization and adulteration of food, with all that this means in the tinning, excessive handling, freezing, drying and universal devitalizing of such pabulum as the masses, and even the well to do, can and do buy in large quantities at their grocer's and elsewhere. In my Defence of Aristocracy,
1 The belief in specifics for disease and illness is also a theological survival, reminiscent of the age when "devils" had to be driven out, and there are many other instances of atavistic thought in medicine.
At all events, we know positively that the chemical information and the industrial plant possessed by our ancestors were not extensive enough to allow them to indulge in food adulteration and commercialization on a large scale, and therefore, that their staple articles of diet, though simple, were at least genuine of their kind. It is possibly true that, in the winter months and in times of famine, too much salted fish may have been eaten; but, apart from this one article of diet, it would not be historically accurate to argue that the food of our ancestors was not very much more sound, and above all, more vital, than that which the bulk of the population habitually consume at the present time.
It was, moreover, all home-grown or home-made. The idea of obtaining large quantities of foodstuffs from all the corners of the earth, or ready prepared in tins from the grocer's, had not occurred to Englishmen before the Industrial Revolution; 2 and had it occurred to them, they could not have found the means of realizing it. Stale, excessively handled, or commercialized foodstuffs,
1 See Social England by A. Abram, p. 159, also English Life and Manners in the Later Middle Ages, by the same author, Chapter "The Public Health."
2 In 1760 England and Wales, in one season, grew enough corn to feed their total population for four years. It was precisely this year, however, that marked the beginning of the new era, our era.
Here then it would seem that we are concerned with conditions, recently established, which might not only lead us to expect physical deterioration, but from which, according to many scientific and experienced observers, physical deterioration has already occurred.
Secondly, there is humanitarianism, which until quite recently that is to say, before the early days of Dickens had not begun to reach the ridiculous extremes which we find it reaching at the present day. Now, owing to the enormous number of women, chiefly unattached, who have nothing besides philanthropy to occupy their time, and who, in this age of female emancipation, and
1 In the evidence given before the Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration in 1904, this alleged degradation of the people's foodstuffs through commercialization was fully borne out. (See particularly pp. 403, 51 of the Report.) On p. 43, we read: "There is no doubt that the opportunities offered to the adulterator by the change from the home production of many articles of food and supply through the channels of trade has had a deleterious effect on public health." The excessive use of tinned foods, even in rural districts, is mentioned on p. 42. And on p. 40 a hint is given regarding one of the chief causes of food deterioration (already mentioned in my Lysistrata, but probably disbelieved by the reader who found it there). It is to the effect that "a large proportion of British housewives are tainted with incurable laziness and distaste for the obligations of domestic life, "and this causes them to "have recourse to such expedients in providing food for their families as involve them in least trouble." See also evidence of Dr. Young, Dr. Robert Hutchinson, and Dr. Purdon, quoted by Dr. Young, in regard to excessive use of tea, bought jams and white bread among the poor. The fact that the deterioration of the population, even in rural districts, is to be ascribed to changed food conditions, was also borne out by such witnesses as Mr. Harry James Wilson (p. 80), the Hon. Sir John Gorst (p. 432), Mrs. Close (p. 118), Mr. S. H. Fosbroke (p. 261), Sir Lauder Brunton (p. 83), and Mr. V. A. Dolamore (p. 83), who spoke on behalf of dentists.
2 See my Defence of Aristocracy, Chapter V.
Throughout the Middle Ages, when English people were chiefly agricultural, and therefore knew the laws of sound and desirable life in the cultivated fields round their homes, it was a recognized thing that in times of epidemics and famines, the sound came first. When there was anything to be sacrificed, if sacrifice were imperative, the unsound, the rubbish and weeds of humanity, were the victims chosen. (This, of course, which is an elementary law of healthy life, makes the unconscious female sadists, the morbid humanitarians of to-day, shudder with horror.) The populace in periods of distress, resulting from epidemics, would, for instance, clamour for the slaughter of the lepers, the cretins, and the idiots of the community. 1 It is true that they often did this from the wrong motive, that is to say, they ascribed the distress itself to the presence of the physiologically botched in their midst; but, as a proof that there was method in their madness, and that they were not quite so blindly superstitious as some would make out, we must remember, first, that one of the acknowledged perquisites of the almoner at a coronation or other feast, was the satisfaction of burning a leper who had misbehaved himself at the receipt of alms; 2 and, secondly, that when meat was condemned by the market inspectors it was usually given to the
1 See Paul Lacroix, Science et Lettres au Moyen Age et à l'Epoque de la Renaissance (Paris, 1877), p. 178.
2 Mary Bateson, Mediæval England, p. 143.
But what a difference! Now, the best goes to the undesirable and the weeds. If anybody has to be deprived or penalized, it is the sound and the desirable.
I mention these facts in order to call attention to the change that has occurred in our whole attitude to the laws of healthy life, in so far as they relate to humanity. They show that the kind of maudlin humanitarianism which, with our old-woman and old-maid philanthropy to-day, penalizes and sacrifices the sound for the sake of thousands upon thousands of the unsound, did not exist in the days of our ancestors. We may, therefore, rightly assume that it was more difficult, very much more difficult, for the physiologically botched, for human rubbish, to survive and to multiply, then, than it is to-day. Now, not only is everything done to encourage the least desirable in the community to survive, and if possible to breed, but the sound and the hearty are penalized by a kind of legally enforced charity, to enable the worthless elements of the population to live as if they had no disabilities. Thus in the Middle Ages, and until comparatively recently a more rational, a more aristocratic tone prevailed. The decadent principle accepted by
1 Chaucer and his England, by G. S. Coulton, p. 132.
2 English Life and Manners in the Later Middle Ages, by A. Abram, p. 191. Even the methods of securing the segregation of lepers in the Middle Ages were what we should consider cruel. But they were eminently successful in extirpating the disease.
Again, in the field of medicine, all authorities agree in assuring us that in the Middle Ages, and even up to Smollet's time and a little later, it was in the most rudimentary state. 1 Whether the medical men, previous to our era, actually achieved fewer cures than modern doctors do, may be doubted, but at least they were not such past masters as the latter are in patching up and prolonging the lives of sub-normal people, and in rescuing semi and demi-semi vital children and adults from death, only to enable them to live and multiply and perpetuate their debile stocks. In this sense, the contribution of modern expert medicine to human life has again a degenerative tendency. For the Christian principle, according to which all human life is protected as a sort of "mysterious sanctity" 2 finds itself best supported, not by an inexpert science, like that of bygone ages, which, while it cured very little, also rescued few of the constitutionally unsound from their natural fate in extinction; but by an expert science which, while it also cures very little, has nevertheless developed a marvellous and most elaborate technique for supplementing failing nature by means of artificial aids, and thus for maintaining a vast multitude of sub-normal and undesirable people alive. I do not mean that it thereby endows them with a fresh joie-de-vivre, or with a capacity for leading full lives, but it enables them to keep going, and therefore to multiply and to perpetuate decadent
1 See, for instance, Lacroix (Op. cit., p. 156 et seq.), Bateson (Op. cit., pp. 76, 240, 303). See also Roderick Random, which was written by a man who had an inside knowledge of the medical profession of his time.
2 See de Quincey, Essay on Greece under the Romans.
The effect of science and commerce on the production of the people's food, in recent times, has already been referred to, but one important aspect of it, which deserves our special attention, is the artificial feeding of infants. Now we are quite sure that in the past, not all women were able to suckle their young, but from the difficulties that faced them if they could not, we may feel quite certain that they made every effort to succeed with natural methods if they possibly could. For what was the alternative? only a foster-mother until about the sixteenth century, and, thereafter, until the nineteenth century, only cow's, ass's or goat's milk. 1
At the present day, however, every facility is provided for artificial feeding, and, moreover, with the commercialization and emancipation of women, every inducement. It is probably true that, even in the Middle Ages, it was unusual for mothers in high life to suckle their own children; 2 but they constituted only a neglible minority. Now, there is no class where the opportunity and inducement to feed artificially cannot be found. And, since the means to hand, by which natural feeding may be dispensed with, are both numerous and cheap, and since most of them consist of devitalized pabulum, which is easily prepared and easily obtained, we are justified in saying that, here again, a difference exists between this and former ages, which, if we did not already see degeneration about us to-day, would lead us to expect it. And above all, let us not forget that, as I pointed out in my Lysistrata 3 the effect of artificial feeding is twofold, it impairs not only the child's body but probably its mind as well; for the natural maternal secretion in humans contains elements for the nourishment of the large and rapidly growing brain of the infant, which any
1 See my Lysistrata (p. 73) for particulars of first artificial feeders.
2 See G. S. Coulton, M.A., A Mediæval Garner, p. 58.
3. Pp. 712.
The alarming decrease in breast-feeding has been noticed by various medical authorities, and its influence in deteriorating at least the physique of recent generations, is generally admitted. 1 We are not, therefore, on the ground of conjecture here, but on that of established fact. And, in view of the difficulty of obtaining precise statistics showing the number of artificially fed babies in our population in each year, the reader who wishes to form some idea of the extent of this evil, is invited to inquire into the magnitude and number of commercial enterprises whose sole business it is to make and distribute artificial food for new-born infants. 2
Connected with the above, and with other aspects of physical deterioration, is the great change that came over the occupations of the British people with, and after, the Industrial Revolution. The account of the enormous increase in factories, from about the middle of the eighteenth to the end of the nineteenth century, can be read in every history of British Industry; but a few figures will help to give some idea of the extent of
1 See, among others, Dr. G. von Bunge, Die Zunehmende Unfähigkeit der Frauen, ihre Kinder zu Stillen, and Dr. A. Stayt Dutton, The National Physique (1908), pp. 747. Both writers allude to the evil effects of artificial feeding on the teeth of the child. See also report of Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration (1904), p. 50, also the evidence of Dr. Hope, Medical Officer of Health for Liverpool, to the effect that, for every death from diarrha among breast-fed infants under six months, there were fifteen among those partly breast-fed, and twenty-two among those fed entirely on artificial food. Dr. Jones (p. 51) before the same Committee declared that only one in eight infants born in Sheffield was brought up on the breast. Dr. Eustace Smith (p. 318) offered similar evidence for the East End of London, and Drs. Collie, Rob. Hutchinson (pp. 3638), Lewis A. Hawkes, William McAdam, Ralph Vincent and Arch. Kerr Chalmers (pp. 474, 391, 442) unanimously agreed that breast-feeding was declining.
2 Among the poorer classes this artificial food is in most cases tinned mills: (for evidence on this point see p. 51 of Inter-Departmental Report (1904), already quoted).
With every increase in the population in the last hundred and more years, there has not occurred anything like an even distribution of adult males between urban and rural occupations. On the contrary, there has been almost exclusive concentration upon either mining or manufactures. Between 1800 and 1921, the population of England and Wales rose from 8,892,536 to 37,885,242; but the total of adult males employed in agriculture during that interval shows hardly any increase whatsoever. In 1831, for instance, the total for the British Isles was 1,252,751, and in 1921 the total for England and Wales was only 1,171,298. On the other hand, the number of males employed in mining or manufactures of some kind in 1921, totalled 5,189,370 almost the total of adults, male and female, for the year 1800.
This employment of the bulk of the adult male population (to which should be added 1,667,329 women and girls) in occupations chiefly carried on in surroundings which are admittedly unfavourable to health and vigour, has, together with the other factors already enumerated, increasingly contributed very seriously to a deterioration in the national health, and we have only to glance at such treatises as Dr. Oliver's Diseases of Occupation, 1
1 Methuen & Co., 1908.
The tables given in these works with the object of showing the relative incidence of different diseases in various occupations will leave the reader in no doubt whatsoever concerning the immense advantages, from the standpoint of health, enjoyed by men employed in agriculture, gardening, and work other than factory and sedentary work, over men employed in manufacture and trade; and the vast changes that have occurred in England since this country supplied not only her own needs in corn, but also exported her surplus to the continent, can be appreciated in the five volumes mentioned, through the help of graphic and frequently distressing statistics.
"Taking 1,000 to represent the mortality of all males at these ages  in England and Wales," say Drs. Parker and Kenwood, 2 "the comparative mortality figure for all occupied males was 953, and while it was 687 in agricultural districts, it reached to 1,248 in industrial districts." 3
"Of all occupations," says Sir Thomas Oliver, "that of the farmer is the healthiest." 4
1 London, 1918. See also Hygiene and Public Health, by Drs. L. C. Parkes and H. R. Kenwood (London, 1923), Dr. Oliver's Occupations (Cambridge, 1916), and Drs. Collis and Greenwood's The Health of the Industrial Worker.
2 Hygiene and Public Health, p. 678.
3 And the same applies to the children. In 1873 Dr. Bridges and Mr. Holmes examined and measured 10,000 children, and noted the principal indications of degeneracy in them. They established for the limited area covered that the children of factory parents (urban or suburban) compared unfavourably with the children in non-factory districts (urban and rural).
4 Occupations, p. 57. But the reader should specially note the table given on p. 170 of Drs. Collis and Greenwood's book, showing the increase of cancer in ten years in thirty-three occupations.
Chronic indigestion, sleeplessness, and nervous diseases of all kinds, 1 whether slight or severe, are affections about which it is not only difficult, but almost impossible to collect accurate data. And yet we know positively that with over two million of the nation's menfolk engaged outside industry, as office hermits, clerks, warehousemen, packers, storekeepers, and indoor servants, 2 the incidence of these affections must be, and actually is, very high. The enormous profits, and the vast advertising efforts, made by firms purveying proprietary drugs for aiding normal functioning in debilitated sedentary workers in England and Wales, and the number of these firms, are sufficient evidence in
1 For comparative tables of nervous disorders in various occupations, where the labourer in agricultural districts as usual has the best record, see Drs. Parker and Kenwood (Op. cit., p. 671). But presumably the statistics were obtained from severe cases, and do not include all those slight and yet distressing nervous disorders, which never reach either the hospital or the asylum.
2 The precise figures for 1921 in England and Wales were: Commercial, Financial and Insurance Occupations, 1,063,120; clerks, draughtsmen and typists, 568,034; warehousemen, storekeepers, packers, 222,269; public offices, 442,325; and personal service, including institutions, clubs, hotels, etc., 339,944.
But it is not alone on the physical side that the vast expansion of industry and commerce in England and Wales has contributed to degeneracy, for we must not forget the besotting and stultifying effect upon the mind of the worker which characterizes many of the occupations that the modern factory system, and modern commercial methods, have introduced. Machinery has replaced skilled labour in hundreds of trades. Often the machine hand is no more than an automaton who from year's end to year's end only turns a handle or a lever from left to right. Even in the sphere of transport, the tram-driver, who manipulates a lever, is less skilled than the driver of a coach and four. But the men performing these duties have children, and grandchildren, who are doomed to perform duties no less emasculating and besotting. Thus, as generation follows generation, there is not that garnering of ability and native aptitude which in former times used to be the natural guerdon of skilled labour. On the contrary, there is but one family heirloom, which gets more and more polished as time goes on, and that is stupidity.
And the same may be said of the thousands of clerks, typists, storekeepers, etc., whose natural versatility and general aptitudes, however modest, are daily stifled and
1 See Dr. Leonard Williams (Op. cit., pp. 85 and 88): "Civilized man spends half his life in cultivating constipation, and the other half in campaigning against it. Unfortunately he resorts to the wrong weapons. . . . There are more constipated people in the world than know themselves to be constipated."
This twofold source of mental degeneracy, with all the depression and despair that it involves, must be taken into account in measuring the full consequences of our present trend, and in view of the fact that spiritual depression may also react on physical conditions, and vice versâ, we have in our industrial and commercial expansion, a vicious circle in which both mind and body seem doomed to inevitable destruction.
Here once more, therefore, in the disproportionate growth of industrial, commercial and clerical, as compared with agricultural and craftsman's callings, we are in the presence of conditions which, while recently established, would incline us to expect physical deterioration in the population, if it had not already occurred. And, in view of the many scientific records we possess, of the evil influence of these conditions upon the health of the nation, there can be no doubt that the effects which might have been anticipated by any wise and far sighted body of rulers, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, are already, and have been for a long time, visible in our midst.
As an inevitable consequence of the Industrial Revolution, there occurred in England and Wales an inflation of urban and a depletion of rural populations, which continues to this day, and is among the most serious of the many causes contributing to physical deterioration. In 1801, for instance, out of a population of 8,892,536, almost 6,000,000, or two-thirds, were entirely rural; while in 1921, out of a population of 37,885,242, only 7,850,857, or about one fifth, were rural, and the remainder, 30,034,385, were collected in towns. The relative decrease in rural populations was steady throughout the nineteenth century. In 1850, the country and town folk were about equally divided, in 1851 the rural represented 49.8 per cent. of the total; in 1861,
The grave results of this urbanization are known to all those who have made an investigation of the health of modern people. In spite of the fact that, owing to commercial enterprise, food products have been largely standardized all over the country, and that people in rural districts no longer enjoy the dietetic advantages which might once have been claimed for them, 2 and although death-rates in the country are largely increased by sick and feeble people going into the country to die, 3 the death-rate in rural districts is still very much lower than in urban districts, 4 while the incidence of such affections as cancer, phthisis and heart disease is lower. 5
Dr. Newsholme gives a table showing the greater expectation of life in both sexes in rural districts, and shows that the male expectation of life at 25 in country boroughs is 37.80, and in rural districts, 42.89. 6 He goes on to say 7 "that one of the greatest influences militating
1 See Vital Statistics, by Sir Arthur Newsholme, K.C.B., M.D. See also Physical Deterioration, by A. Watt Smyth (1904), p. 51.
2 See the evidence of Sir John Gorst before the Inter Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration (1904), p. 432: "If you investigated the country children they are nearly, if not quite as badly fed as the town children." See also evidence of Mrs. Close (p. 118), where she attributes the ill-health of rural children "entirely to the change in the food habits and cooking of the parents." See also Mr. Henry James Wilson's evidence (p. 89): "The quality of the food is changing [in rural districts], I believe, as it has changed in the towns." See also evidence of Mr. G. H. Fosbroke, D.Ph. (p. 261), where he ascribes the deterioration of rural women to their inferior food.
3 See Vital Statistics, p. 278, and Report of Inter-Departmental Committee (1904), p. 84.
4 See Watt Smyth, Op. cit., p. 29, also Drs. Parker and Kenwood, Op. cit., pp. 671, 675.
5 See Drs. Collis and Greenwood, Op. cit., pp. 131 and 135, for Phthisis Tables in 1911, and p. 170 for Cancer Tables 19002. For standardized death-rate from valvular disease of the heart in country boroughs and rural districts see Vital Statistics, p. 283.
6 Op. cit., p. 257.
7 Ibid., p. 318.
Another medical man, Dr. A. Stayt Dutton, who went to the pains of travelling the country, very much as Cobbett did a hundred years ago, but for a different purpose, found in every urban centre he visited, 4 that the inhabitants suffered from anæmia, that they also revealed a high incidence of dental caries (particularly factory workers), and that their food conditions were on the whole defective. He made blood tests in various representative districts in England, and formed the opinion that the main cause of physical deterioration is to be found in the defective quality of the individual's blood, 5 as the result of faulty nutrition, inadequate oxidation, and generally of urbanization. Even of districts such as Brighton, Eastbourne, Seaford and Newhaven, he writes, 6 "this part of the country cannot be described as anything but one of the best from a health point of view. . . . In this district anæmic conditions are prevalent to a considerable extent, and but for this everything would tend to healthy physical development."
1 Ibid., p. 283.
2 Op. cit., p. 284.
3 Ibid., p. 318.
4 See The National Physique (1908).
5 Ibid., p. 61.
6 Ibid., p. 45.
Mr. Harry Roberts, quoting Mr. H. S. Wilson, Superintending Inspector of Factories in Scotland, publishes a table 3 recording results of the medical examination of recruits, together with other statistics collected by himself, which shows differences of height and weight between working men of agricultural origin and craftsmen and labourers born and bred in industrial towns. It is as follows:
But there is, as a matter of fact, no lack of data. Space does not allow me to quote all the figures I have found to support the allegation that the excessive urbanization of the last hundred years has been deleterious to public health. In the literature I have quoted and it was impossible to quote all the works I have examined the reader will be able to find abundant confirmation of my standpoint, if he wish to do so. At all events in the excessive urbanization of the people of this country, we have a further recent change which
1 Op. cit., p. 65.
2 Ibid., p. 86. More will be said on this point in the next chapter. See p. 187 ahead.
3 See A National Policy, p. 48.
4 According to the Report of the Anthropometric Committee of the British Association, in 1883, the weight and height of artisan town children was less than that of children of all classes and localities in the kingdom.
It should also be remembered that the moral effect of urbanization is almost as serious as the physical. To mention only one of these effects, let it be noted that these vast hordes who live in large cities and know nothing of rural conditions, who never see food being produced, or witness the labour and care that its production entails, who buy all they need at their local butcher's and baker's, but particularly at their grocer's, cease in the end from being able to hold a single realistic view either about life or its necessities. To them food is something that is found in a shop, of which the source, though obscure, appears inexhaustible, and for which one need have no special reverence. From this attitude to habits of wastefulness and improvidence is but a step, and he who observes with horror the amount of bread that is thrown away daily by poor children in our public parks during the summer months, knows one of the least pleasant of the moral results of urbanization. 1 There is also the influence of the exciting life, of the false, sentimental and romantic values, inculcated not only by the artificial existence itself, but also by the way in which these urban hordes spend their leisure. But, above all, there is the nervous irritability induced by the incessant
1 Their elders are, however, no better in this respect. The wastefulness, in matters of food alone, of the English masses, horrifies every foreigner who comes to live in this country. And, during the war, when in the course of the Somme battles, I had, as billeting officer and Mess Secretary of my battery, to deal with the mayors and other officials of various villages and towns in N. E. France, I always had to listen to long and astonished harangues about the appalling waste of food perpetrated by the British troops that had previously occupied the areas into which we came. This sort of thing can be the outcome only of long severance from the land, and of ignorance of the toil and anxiety involved in the production of food.
In the density of the population alone, however, there lurk evils both for the mind and the body of the people, to which many trained observers have called attention. For, apart from the overcrowding, which necessarily followed from densely populated areas, we have to reckon with the harassing effect of an increased struggle for existence, a greater pollution of the atmosphere, and a tendency to impair food-products owing to (a) the need of procuring them from a distance, (b) the delay incurred in distributing them, and (c) the temptation to commercialize preserved forms of foods. We must also take into account the nervous exhaustion daily occasioned by battling and competing with large numbers of people in even so simple a matter as getting about, and obtaining transport and breathing space. And, when Dr. Wiglesworth, before the 1904 Committee already quoted so often, declared that he thought insanity was increasing owing to "the density of population and the environment it connotes," 1 he stated a truth to which much too little attention has hitherto been called.
The steady increase from 152 people to the square mile in 1801 to 649 to the square mile in 1921, has been allowed to go on, without anybody, except private individuals and societies attempting to face and to solve the problems of over-population. And yet the unhappiness and physical and mental stress which such over-population causes must be manifest to all. The fact is we are still sadly old-fashioned in our views on this point, and, in spite of the pains that many writers have
1 See Report, pp. 789. See also the evidence on overcrowding in this report.
2 See particularly Mr. Harold Cox's The Problem of Population and my review of this book in the Fortnightly Review of April, 1923.
At present, therefore, we not only suffer from all the worst evils of over-population, but a high percentage of our excessive numbers are merely waste human material, idiots, defectives, lunatics, incurables, cripples, and people physiologically botched in every conceivable way, who are a heavy burden upon, and constitute a gratuitous penalization of, the remainder that is to say, who impose a useless, intolerable, and often cruel limitation upon sound life, for no other than sentimental reasons. 1
For instance, in 1921, in England and Wales, we had 177,366 pauper lunatics, including mental defectives under care (an increase of 4,670 on the year 1920), and the average cost of maintaining them was 32s. 8d. per week per head. In addition there are about 70,000 people either blind, deaf, or dumb, or suffering from different combinations of these afflictions.
In 1924, 2 the defective children alone amounted to 170,167, besides 900 feeble-minded, 1,273 imbeciles,
1 Mr. Geoffrey Drage, a high authority in these matters, estimated in an article in the Spectator of February 3, 1923, that £225,000,000 were now spent on public assistance alone. This money has to be earned by the willing and the sound, to support what, in a large measure, is a useless burden of physical wreckage. According to a communication kindly made to me by the Eugenic Society, "the normal and fit must pay for the feeding, clothing, housing and special education of the unfit £46,500,000 annually. And this bill does not include the cost of hospitals, prisons, and special schools. The cost is steadily rising."
2 The bulk of these figures and those that follow have been obtained from the Annual Reports of the Chief Medical Officer of the Board of Education, and from the London County Council's Reports of the School Medical Officer.
In July, 1925, there were 360 day and 184 residential schools in England and Wales, with accommodation for 43,361 abnormal children, and the cost per head was £30 per annum for day schools and £90 per annum for residential schools.
In 1924, spectacles were prescribed for 138,064 children. This, of course, is only the figure for the year, and takes no account of the children already wearing spectacles.
In London, alone, in 1924, 35,827 defective children had to be accommodated in various special homes and schools. 323 were totally blind, 946 were partially blind, 719 were totally deaf, 144 were partially deaf, 7,367 were mentally defective, 890 were epileptic, 3,577 were tuberculous, 14,111 were delicate, and 7,750 were crippled.
Among the so-called undefective children in London elementary schools in 1924, out of a total average roll of 675,078 in 1924, 192,885 were treated after routine examination, and 226,368 were classed as special cases, i.e. they had either eye trouble (32,747) 1 or teeth trouble (99,045), 2 or ear, nose or throat trouble (12,980), or other ailments (81,596). Now when it is remembered that the older children must already have been examined and prescribed for in previous years, as the system has been working since 1908, we must assume that these numbers at
1 Sir William Hamer says that in the London schools in 1924 53.1 per cent. of 8-year-old boys and 56.2 per cent. of 8-year-old girls failed to pass the test for normal vision.
2 Of 10,517 children (boys and girls) of an average age of 12 years, examined at the beginning of the century in English and Scotch schools by dentist practitioners approved by the British Medical Association, only 1,508, i.e. 14.2 per cent., had sets of teeth free from decay. Of the number there were 19,096 permanent teeth that required either extracting or filling, and teeth already extracted numbered 2,175. (From Report of Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration, 1904, p. 98, Appendix.)
In the whole of England and Wales in 1922, 42 per cent. of elementary school children were suffering from some defect mental or physical. In 1924 the figure was 48.6 per cent.
Meanwhile the increase in medical expenditure alone for discovering and recording these cases, quite apart from the cost of maintaining institutions, etc., rose fom £285,993 in 1913 to £1,220,268 in 1924.
These facts speak for themselves, and they are only what we might expect from the conditions we have enumerated, plus the dysgenic influence of Christian teaching, and morbid humanitarianism.
But we have made no mention of homes for incurables, homes for cripples and private asylums, and we have not referred to the physiological botchedness among the wealthy and the well-to-do the cretins, cripples, semi imbeciles, mental defectives, deaf, dumb and blind, who are kept at home in the houses of people sufficiently affluent to preserve their secret from prying Government officials. We have also made no mention of defective eyesight, defective teeth and defective noses, ears and throats among the children of these classes. To be led by class pride to suppose that the well-to-do and their children are to-day any better than the poor, would be not only foolish but grossly inaccurate. Statistics of
1 This is borne out by the Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer of the Board of Education (1923), where the figure given for defective entrants in London elementary schools is 35 per cent. for 1923, and 38.6 per cent. for 1924.
2 See figure for England and Wales on previous page. See also National Degeneration, by Dr. D. F. Harris, p. 35, where the author quotes Dr. J. R. Kaye as having said at the Leeds Health Congress in 1909, that "at the present time, there were 4,800,000 children unsound in body and mind." This does not seem unlikely if we examine the annual figures given in the reports quoted above.
If, however, we look about us, and observe the enormous multitude of people to-day, who although reckoned as among the sound and the healthy, make daily use of some kind of artificial aid to normal functioning whether it be spectacles, false teeth, aperients, sedatives, tonics, or what not and remember that their number has to be added to the gross total of acknowledged invalids and defectives, both among the poor and the well-to-do, before our estimate of modern physical deterioration can be regarded as complete, we have a picture of our times which, far from being edifying, is probably the most depressing that it is possible to behold, and to those who can appreciate its significance, it is full of the most alarming features.
The facts, as we have said, speak for themselves. It is not even necessary to give a full account of them. The fragmentary sketch here attempted is disconcerting enough.
1 For instance, in a table showing the army recruits for 1900, arranged according to classes, the rejections per 1,000 among the professional and student class were higher (266.02) than the rejections in the mechanic class (260.96) consisting of smiths, carpenters, masons, bricklayers, etc. See p. 95 (Appendix) of Report of Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration. Also, in a comparative record of poor and well-to-do children in Edinburgh, it was found that the ratio of defective teeth per 100 children was 158.2 in the school for the children of well-to-do working people, and 273.9 in that for children of a better class, professional men and merchants. See Report (1904), Vol. II, p. 280. See also table in Vital Statistics, p. 321, where upper and middle classes show worse records for phthisis, liver troubles and cancer, than miners, agricultural labourers, and (in the case of liver trouble) than textile workers and unskilled workmen. See also opinion expressed by Committee on Physical Deterioration (1904) Report, p. 5, to the effect that dental caries is certainly not peculiar to any particular class.
Very well, we accept his challenge. We believe that progressive physical deterioration can be proved. We have already seen a few figures above which afford some evidence of progressive physical deterioration. But in the next chapter we shall confine ourselves to such figures.