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The Training of the Human Plant


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FRONT
INTRODUCTION
DEDICATION
TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER I
CHAPTER II
CHAPTER III
CHAPTER IV
CHAPTER V
CHAPTER VI
CHAPTER VII
CHAPTER VIII
CHAPTER IX
CHAPTER X
CHAPTER XI
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INTRODUCTION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I
CHAPTER II
CHAPTER III
CHAPTER IV
CHAPTER V
CHAPTER VI
CHAPTER VII
CHAPTER VIII
CHAPTER IX
CHAPTER X
CHAPTER XI

 

   
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VI
MARRIAGE OF THE PHYSICALLY UNFIT

It would, if possible, be best absolutely to prohibit in every State in the Union the marriage of the physically, mentally and morally unfit. If we take a plant which we recognize as poisonous and cross it with another which is not poisonous and thus make the wholesome plant evil, so that it menaces all who come in contact with it, this is criminal enough. But suppose we blend together two poisonous plants and make a third even more virulent, a vegetable degenerate, and set their evil descendants adrift to multiply over the earth, are we not distinct foes to the race? What, then, shall we say of two people of absolutely defined physical impairment who are allowed to marry and rear children? It is a crime against the state and every individual in the state. And if these physically degenerate are also morally degenerate, the crime becomes all the more appalling.

COUSINS

While it seems clear now in the light of recent studies that the children of first cousins who have been reared under different environmental influences and who have remained separate from birth until married are not likely to be impaired either mentally, morally or physically, though the second generation will be more than likely to show retrogression, yet first cousin marriages when they have been reared under similar environment should, no doubt, be prohibited. The history of some of the royal families of Europe, where intermarrying, with its fatal results, has so long prevailed, should be sufficient though in these cases other baneful influences have no doubt added their shadow to the picture.

TEN GENERATIONS

But let us take a still closer view of the subject. Suppose it were possible to select say, a dozen normal families, the result of some one of the many blendings of these native and foreign stocks, and let them live by themselves, so far as the application of the principles I have been speaking of are concerned, though not by any means removed from the general influences of the state. Let them have, if you will, ideal conditions for working out these principles, and let them be solemnly bound to the development of these principles-what can be done?

In plant cultivation, under normal conditions, from six to ten generations are generally sufficient to fix the descendants of the parent plants in their new ways. Sufficient time in all cases must elapse so that the descendants will not revert to some former condition of inefficiency. When once stability is secured, usually, as indicated, in from six to ten generations, the plant may then be counted upon to go forward in its new life as though the old lives of its ancestors had never been. This, among plants, will be by the end of from five to ten generations, varying according to the plant's character-its pliability or stubbornness. I do not say that lack of care and nourishment thereafter will not have a demoralizing influence, for no power can prevent a plant from becoming again part wild if left to itself through many generations, but even here it will probably become wild along the lines of its new life, not by any means necessarily along ancestral lines.

If, then, we could have these twelve families under ideal conditions where these principles could be carried out unswervingly, we could accomplish more for the race in ten generations than can now be accomplished in a hundred thousand years. Ten generations of human life should be ample to fix any desired attribute. This is absolutely clear. There is neither theory nor speculation. Given the fact that the most sensitive material in all the world upon which to work is the nature of a little child, given ideal conditions under which to work upon this nature, and the end desired will as certainly come as it comes in the cultivation of the plant. There will be this difference, however, that it will be immeasurably easier to produce and fix any desired traits in the child than in the plant, though, of course, a plant may be said to be a harp with a few strings as compared with a child.

THE PERSONAL ELEMENT

But some one says, You fail to take into account the personal element, the sovereign will of the human being, its power of determining for itself. 

By no means; I give full weight to this. But the most stubborn and willful nature in the world is not that of a child. I have dealt with millions of plants, have worked with them for many years, have studied them with the deepest interest from all sides of their lives. The most stubborn living thing in this world, the most difficult to swerve, is a plant once fixed in certain habits-habits which have been intensified and have been growing stronger and stronger upon it by repetition through thousands and thousands of years. Remember that this plant has preserved its individuality all through the ages; perhaps it is one which 'can be traced backward through eons of time in the very rocks themselves, never having varied to any great extent in all these vast periods. Do you suppose, after all these ages of repetition, the plant does not become possessed of a will, if you so choose to call it, of unparalleled tenacity? Indeed, there are plants, like certain of the palms, so persistent that no human power has yet been able to change them. The human will is a weak thing beside the will of a plant. But see how this whole plant's lifelong stubbornness is broken simply by blending a new life with it, making, by crossing, a complete and powerful change in its life. Then when the break comes, fix it by these generations of patient supervision and selection, and the new plant sets out upon its new way never again to return to the old, its tenacious will broken and changed 'at last.

When it comes to so sensitive and pliable a thing as the nature of a child, the problem becomes vastly easier.

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Footnotes

 



chapter 6

chapter 6

chapter 6

chapter 6

chapter 6

chapter 6

chapter 6

chapter 6

Luther Burbank

 

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If, then, ...these principles could be carried out unswervingly, we could accomplish more for the race in ten generations than can now be accomplished in a hundred thousand years.  more...
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