The State in her humanitarian sympathy, and in New Zealand it is extravagant, puts forth every effort to improve the conditions of its “submerged tenth.” Insanitary conditions are improved, the rooms by law enlarged, the air is sweetened, the water is purified, the homes are drained. The delicate and diseased are taken to our hospitals, the deaf and blind to our deaf-mute institutions, the deformed and the fatherless to our orphan homes. And all are carefully nursed as tender precious plants. They are snatched from Nature’s clutch and reared as prize stock are reared and kept in clover, till they can propagate their kind.
We feed and clothe the unfit, however unfit, and then encourage their procreation, and as soon as they are matured we foster their fertility.
No want of human sympathy for the poor unfortunates of our race is in these words expressed,—a statement simply of the inevitable consequences of unscientific and anti-social methods of dealing with the degenerate.
No State can afford to shut its eyes to the magnitude of this problem. The procreation of the unfit must be faced and grappled with. And the greater the decline in the birth-rate of our best stock, the more urgent does the solution of the problem become. For is not the proportion of the unfit to the fit yearly increasing!
It has become the most pressing duty of the State, in face of the great change that has so rapidly come over our natural increase, to declare that the procreation of the unfit shall cease, or at least, that it shall be considerably curtailed and placed among the vanishing evils, with a view to its final extinction.
WHAT ANAESTHETICS AND ANTISEPTICS HAVE MADE POSSIBLE.
Education of defectives in prudence and self-restraint of little avail.—Surgical suggestions discussed.
For the intelligent mind, which I assume has already been impressed with the importance of such an inquiry, I think I have set forth the salient truths with sufficient clearness, but holding that a recitation of social faults, without a suggestion as to social reforms, is not only useless but mischievous, I shall endeavour to show not only that the situation is not hopeless, but that science and experience have, or will reveal means to the accomplishment of all rationally desired ends, and that it remains only for intelligence to enquire that sentiment may move up to the line so as to harmonise with science, with justice, and with the demands of a growing necessity.
These questions of population are not new. More than two thousand years ago, many of the wisest philosophers of all the centuries meditated deeply upon the tendencies of the population to crowd upon subsistence, and in many ages and many countries, the situation has been discussed with serious forebodings for the future.
In all ages thinking men have regarded war with aversion, yet with peace and domestic prosperity other dangers arose to threaten the progress of the race, and as the passing generations cried out for some remedy for the ever pressing evils, thinking men have been proposing measures somewhat harmonising with the knowledge or the sentiment of the times. Whether we are wiser than our ancestors remains an unsettled question.