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Inquiries into Human Faculty
Let us now suppose that a way was seen for carrying some such idea as
this into practice, and that family merit, however defined, was allowed to
count, for however little, in competitive examinations. The effect would
be very great:
it would show that ancestral qualities are of present current value; it
would give an impetus to collecting family histories; it would open the
eyes of every family and of society at large to the importance of marriage
alliance with a good stock; it would introduce the subject of race into a
permanent topic of consideration, which (on the supposition of its bonâ
fide importance that has been assumed for the sake of argument)
experience would show to be amply justified. Any act that first gives a
guinea stamp to the sterling guinea’s worth of natural nobility might set a
great social avalanche in motion.
Endowments and bequests have been freely and largely made for
various social purposes, and as a matter of history they have frequently
been made to portion girls in marriage. It so happens that the very day that
I am writing this, I notice an account in the foreign newspapers
(September 19, 1882) of an Italian who has bequeathed a sum to the
corporation of London to found small portions for three poor girls to be
selected by lot.  And again, a few weeks ago I read also in the French
papers of a trial, in reference to the money adjudged to the “Rosière” of a
certain village. Many cases in which individuals and states have portioned
girls may be found in Malthus. It is therefore far from improbable that if
the merits of good race became widely recognised and its indications were
rendered more surely intelligible than they now are, that local
endowments, and perhaps adoptions, might be made in favour of those of
both sexes who showed evidences of high race and of belonging to
prolific and thriving families. One cannot forecast their form, though we
may reckon with some assurance that in one way or another they would be
made, and that the better races would be given a better chance of marrying
A curious relic of the custom which was universal three or Previous page Top Next page