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E. T. CRAIG.
SHAKSPERE, From the Original in the possession of the Duke of Somerset, and
painted from life by JANSEN.
The Heritage of Genius. TI
IKE PARENTS PRODUCE LIKE OFFSPRING all the world
over, throughout the entire material creation ; on the earth, in the air, and in the ocean. The natural laws of succession are universal and unbending. Though subject to modification, they admit of no exceptions; indicating the levers whereby the physical and moral world of humanity may be raised to a higher phase of existence than ever yet known in the general condition of the people. Heritage and training lie at the foundation of all future evolutions of man's highest development. If the teachings arising out of this inflexible rule and uniform sequence in heritage were studied, man might discover a secret which, like the Rosetta Stone, would give two languages, having one significance, explaining the hieroglyphics of a third, and solving thereby the history of the past, while indicating a glorious pathway and brilliant future in the progress of civilisation. No law is so well illustrated in the faith and the habits of men. Many aspire to be reformers, make commendable experiments in schooling, and yet gaols have to be continued and enlarged. We shall have to antedate the schoolmaster, begin at generation, and learn how Fate can comport with freedom and individual liberty. Nature is a kind parent, but an inflexible teacher. Organisation governs the individual, yet leaves him free to modify external influences. The tusk of the elephant, the bill of the bird, and the brain of man, determine the sphere of each. Parentage is the boundary line of dullness, as of genius. In the first germ of existence lies the secret of the mystery ; growth is but the aggregation of cell-life; yet the resulting difference is very great-the solution lies in the quality or condition of the molecules.
The naturalist, the botanist, and the physiologist, fatalists in their faith in the law of heritage. The farmer knows that the seed he scatters in the ground will be followed by the like in species and quality. The moss that grows on the mouldering castle walls, and the acorn falling in the forest, are alike subject to this sequence in kind. The fern is ever the monarch of the moors, and the oak king of the forest. It is true no tillage can succeed alike with bad
as with good seed; you may dwarf the one or stint the other, or improve, within the range of healthy vitality, either one or both. And so it is in the animal kingdom ; in the horse, the ox, the sheep, and the dog"; in form, colour, inclination, and temper; in excellence or defect,the law impresses itself. Blood, or breed, is everything. A pair of Shetland ponies would never generate a racer or a hunter. A Devon may unite with the Alderney, and both shall be evident in the progeny, which will, nevertheless, differ from each. You may shorten the legs or improve the wool of the mountain sheer, by crossing the breed. The persistent and vicious mastiff, the dull unteachable greyhound, the cunning collie of the shepherd, and the intelligent Newfoundland dog, are all of one race, brought into these different varieties by causes operating through many generations. Conditions are modified by a union among congeners; but the alteration is still another illustration of the law. The farmer avails himself of the principle to improve his stock, and obtains beautiful forms and useful qualities of bone, muscle or nerve ; but he never expects tigs from thistles, swans from dueklings, or wheat from clover. Every tree, too, has its own special physiognomy-the gnarled oak, wide spreading cedar, graceful ash, or weeping willow ; and each propagates its kind.
In the mightiest monarch, as well as in the humblest citizen, the great law of heritage is manifest, and runs through every gradation of man's existence. All races of men, and even nations and tribes, whether the Asiatic Brahmin, or Hindoo ; the African Negro, or Arab ; the European Italian, Spaniard, German, or French--they all have their special individual types in feature, physiognomy, and character. The Gypsies and the Jews, in every age, have been wanderers in many lands; and, marrying among their own people, preserve their dark epidermis and chocolate complexions, and are known as soon as seen. The Zingari is always a tramp and a tinker; the Jew, as much a traveller and money-changer among modern nations as when the usurers were scourged from the Temple of old. Denizens in lands with the richest soils, the Jew never tills the ground for subsistence.
Not only do striking differences exist among races and nations, but among people of the same tribe and kindred. Though there is a general similitude in the same family,
and one brother may be distinguished by another, the son by his resemblance to his father or mother, or both, yet each will have his own peculiar features and turn of mind. I have seen twins alike in every feature of face and bodily proportions, yet in taste and inclination there were differences.
This hereditary transmission of features is strikingly illustrated in the families of reigning dynasties, and among the nobility; as in the Bourbons and the House of Austria, in which the thick lip introduced by the marriage of the Emperor Maximillian with Mary of Burgundy, is a prominent feature in their descendants through the generations of
Tacitus describes the Gauls as gay, volatile, and precipitate ; prone to rush into action, but without the power of sustaining adversity and the protracted tug of strife. And this is the character of the Celtic portion of the French nation, down to the present day. From Cressy to Waterloo we find them the same, brave and impulsive, rather than slow, persistent, and determined, like their neighbours ; yet more perceptive and artistic. The modern Germans may be described as in the days of Cæsar--a bold, prudent, and virtuous people, and possessed of great force. The Briton is still cool, considerate, sedate, persistent, and intelligent. The Irish form a marked contrast to the Scotch--the first hasty, irritable, pugnacious, and improvident; the second, cautious and canny, shrewd, calculating, and prudent.
The same law is illustrated in the heritage of disease. No fact in medicine is better established than that which proves the transmission from parents to children of a constitutional liability to pulmonary affections. I have known instances of families of several children, where they have, in some cases, died before maturity, and in others, before middle life, from this hereditary weakness. Dr. Cooper, describing the predisposing indications, mentions—“particular formation of body, obvious by a long neck, prominent shoulders, and narrow chest; scrofulous diathesis, indicated by a very fine clear skin, fair hair, delicate rosy complexion, thick upper lip, a weak voice, and great sensibility.” This law of hereditary transmission of organisation, and succession of form and qualities, is manifested also in the mental aptitudes and moral tendencies of children, and shows that the intellectual character of each child is determined by the particular qualities of the stock, combined
with those conditions which predominated in the parents when existence commenced.
Parents frequently live again in their offspring, not only in countenance and form of body, but also in the mental and moral disposition—in their virtues and their vices. Reformers are generally too hasty and impatient in their efforts at improvement. The secret of modifying mankind is but partially understood, nor is it wisely applied; and yet it is a principle powerfully active and very manifest. Great alterations are of slow growth, and most effectively attained by propagation. Three generations, under favourable circumstances, are necessary to effect predisposition or mental tendency. A knowledge of human nature, imparted by a study of Physiology, Ethnology, and Phrenology, would indicate the true course, and give intelligent guidance. To see evils and deprecate their existence, is not adequate to the apprehension of the causes ; these lie deeper than existing illustrations. As is the parentage, so is the offspring. In improving one we shall advance the other; and small influences operating constantly through many generations, would necessarily produce marked and conspicuous changes in mankind,- both in the size, external figure, countenance, and complexion; and lastly, in the mental aptitudes and moral proclivities. If the stock is bad, education under favourable influences will improve it, but never succeeds so well as with the offspring of the intelligent. I have had peculiar opportunities for observing this fact, in one case at Ralahine in the South of Ireland, where I residel among the native peasantry, with the object of effecting their physical and moral improvement by the educational agency adopted. Invited thence by Lady Noel Byron to organise what was then an untried scheme—the agricultural and industrial labour system-I introduced a modification of the plans of Fellenberg, with which I became familiar while resident at Hofwyl, in Switzerland. To carry out Lady Byron's wishes, and with her ladyship’s resources, I established the first successful agricultural labour school in this country. This became the exampler and foundation of the methods adopted, and now useful and successful, in all our reformatories—in alternating manual work with mental exertion. In these operations I had facilities for observing the varied aptitudes of the pupils. Similar opportunities for observation occurred among some of the students of