The morals and character of a child can be predetermined by the mother's mental state during pregnancy. Its future habits may be more or less preformed for it. One may have a thief or a saint at will. Dante's mother is said to have seen a beautiful vision immediately preceding his birth.

But, perhaps we hear more of the physical "marking" of children than of any other form of "maternal impressions," and these markings are almost always deformities and defects. The child is almost completely at the mercy of its mother during the first few months of its existence.

Going back in history to the time of Jacob (Genesis XXX. 29-43), when he was said to have influenced the colors and strips of his cattle by "piled rods" and other things placed before them, we find a belief in maternal impressions. Whatever may have happened to Jacob's cattle, it never happened to the cattle of anyone else. Jacob's experiment has been repeated hundreds of times at the Agricultural experiment stations in America and no such results have ever been produced.

It is asserted that any desired type of physical beauty, every quality of genius, all moral dispositions and all spiritual tendencies may be conferred by the mother upon her unborn child. Here is an example by Mme. Louise Mason, from the Arena. When she first heard of the marking of her baby she determined to mark. it for good. She says:

"I would often sit alone in my room, overlooking scenes that were pleasant, and, in a peaceful attitude of mind perfectly passsive, desire that my child should be a girl; that she should have a slight figure, chestnut hair and beautiful eyes; that she should be a musician, a singer, and that she she should be proficient in everything she undertook; that she should be superior to all those I had ever known. Here is the result: A beautiful woman in mind and body, with chestnut hair, slight physique, and a phenomenal voice--contralto; she is a philosopher, a student in Delsarte, astronomy and astrology, and masters every study; is eloquent and has one of the most amiable dispositions."

When mothers begin to desire or think the desired sex into their unborn children and think or desire the color into the hair of these children, they are getting along fine in their creative work. I say this, not for the benefit of students of biology, but for those who are unacquainted with the facts of heredity: the color of one's hair; ones "frame" and eyes are determined in the germ plasm. Mother's mind has nothing to do with it. Wiggam aptly remarks that if mothers can create "wonderful characters in their children, making them geniuses, artists, musicians, saints, and the like, then all I can say is that wishes would be horses and beggars would ride."

A case of physical deformity I find in one of these books, is that of a child born lacking the fingers and thumb of one hand, The explanation has it that in the early months of her pregnancy, the mother was accosted by a beggar "who raised her hand, destitute of thumb and fingers" and begged for alms "in God's name." The deformed limb of her child was on the same side as that of the beggar's "and it seemed to the mother to resemble precisely that of the beggar's."

A pregnant woman was much alarmed when her husband came home with his face swollen from a blow. She "bore a girl with a purple swelling upon the same side of the face." Another pregnant woman was frightened in a storm by a stroke of lightning. "Her child bears a zigzag streak upon its forehead, supposed to be caused by the fright." A woman visited the county fair where she saw a four-year-old boy wearing a false-head of an old man. She was much "disgusted" by the sight and determined that it would not mark the baby, she was carrying at the time. Despite her determination, when her baby, was born at seven months "its head was abnormally large and had the appearance of an old man." The "historian" tells us "here was a case due to disgust." With reference to this case, in which the lady made determined efforts of will to prevent marking her child, and failed, Wiggam's question is apt: "If the mother's 'will' is powerful enough to produce birthmarks why cannot it also prevent them."

A white-headed boy had a patch of jet-black hair on his head. The mother did not know whether it was due to seeing a negro stab a man or to pulling the very black hair of one of her neighbors with whom she had quarreled. She was sagely informed that had it been due to seeing the negro the patch of hair would have been kinky. Had the mother been frightened by a leopard there is no telling how spotted her boy would have been. We may be sure that he would have had fur instead of hair on his head.