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solely for sport and its attendant advantages. There is little fear that
misery will ever cease from the land, or that the compassionate will fail to
find objects for their compassion; but at present the supply vastly exceeds
the demand: the land is overstocked and overburdened with the listless
and the incapable.
In any scheme of eugenics, energy is the most important quality to
favour; it is, as we have seen, the basis of living action, and it is eminently
transmissible by descent.
The only information that reaches us concerning outward events
appears to pass through the avenue of our senses; and the more perceptive
the senses are of difference, the larger is the field upon which our
judgment and intelligence can act. Sensation mounts through a series of
grades of “just perceptible differences.” It starts from the zero of
consciousness, and it becomes more intense as the stimulus increases
(though at a slower rate) up to the point when the stimulus is so strong as
to begin to damage the nerve apparatus. It then yields place to pain, which
is another form of sensation, and which continues until the nerve
apparatus is destroyed. Two persons may be equally able just to hear the
same faint sound, and they may equally begin to be pained by the same
loud sound, and yet they may differ as to the number of intermediate
grades of sensation. The grades will be less numerous as the organisation
is of a lower order, and the keenest sensation possible to it will in
consequence be less intense. An artist who incapable of discriminating
more differences of tint than another man is not necessarily more capable
of seeing clearly in twilight, or more or less intolerant of sunshine. A
musician is not necessarily able to hear very faint sounds, nor to be more
startled by loud sounds than others are. A mechanic who works hard with
heavy tools and has rough and grimy thumbs, insensible to very slight
pressures, may yet have a singularly discriminating power of touch in
respect to the pressures that he can feel.
The discriminative faculty of idiots is curiously low; Previous page Top Next page