“The cause of the poor”—thus the legend runs—“in deity’s or demon’s name.” For truly, of the two angels which, we are told, attend upon the birth of credulous mankind and the initial stages of development, the malign influence would seem to be ever in the ascendant, irrespective of the social status of the, more or less, pre-natally affected, innocent reproduction wherein is focused the latent follies and delinquencies of the race, as portrayed in the course of its long pangenesis.
Now, incredible though it may seem and deplorable though it be, the secret which has revealed itself with absolute force and conviction to the judicial minds of unemotional scientific observers is simply this: that the children of the present generation are, as an incontestable matter of actual fact, really brought into this world alive and some attain to maturity, not through maternal intelligence, but rather, in spite of mothers. This is a hard saying but none the less a truth. They survive in spite of the idiosyncracies of their fondly irrational, untutored mothers rather than because of any practical, efficient effort these contribute towards the well being and survival of their offspring. This, as a general rule, is unhappily beyond question. It is a rule which has, naturally, many exceptions,—many brave and brilliant ones—these however only serve to confirm it.
Comte, writing as an authority on the subject, made the assertion that there is hardly an example on record of a child of superior genius whose mother did not possess also a superior order of mind. As an example he cites: The mother of Napoleon Bonaparte, high-souled, heroic and beautiful; the mother of Julius Caesar, a singularly fine character, wise and strong; the mother of Goethe,—affectionately termed: “The delight of her children, the favourite of poets and princes—one whose splendid talents and characteristics were reproduced in her son.” There are also, we know full well, unnumbered hosts of others, whose kindly light has been shed in many an humble or secluded home, whose beloved names have been called blessed by thousands though unrecorded in historic page—who have lived and loved and passed on to higher realms—to the world, to eulogy and to fame unknown.
In ancient days, when Athens was the centre of culture and of learning, the Greek mothers were more prone to regard the significance of pre-natal influences than are the mothers of the present day of putative advancement. The hereditary tendencies of child-life, with all its complexities of racial and ancestral character and the qualities resulting from the dual source of parentage, were then perhaps better understood, or at least more seriously considered; also the obvious but grossly disregarded fact that the cradled infant of today may be the responsible citizen of the future, was kept more effectively in mind and its significance to the State more fully recognized. The wisdom