Decline and fall

In a single family. A Virginian inadvertently chronicles American genetic decline:

My people are pure Cavalier stock of the Virginia Tidewater. I am Frederick Venable Reed Jr, my mother’s maiden name being Betty Venable Rivers–a cousin marriage, which some will suggest explains a lot. The Venables were prominent in the gentility of Southside Virginia.

Why is this of interest, if indeed it is? There are reasonable people today who believe that traits such as politics, way of life, occupation, talents, and intellectual bent are genetically determined. Some time ago I found an interesting study showing that families–those studied were English–maintained distinguishable traits for many generations, suggesting that these were innate. For a generation or two similarities might be explained by children copying their parents. Over many generations, it would appear otherwise.

I wondered whether this would hold for my own family. It seems so. The first mention of Venables was of Walter de Veneur at the Battle of the Ford in 960. He did nothing astonishing, but I think that just being mentioned by name would suggest membership in something similar to the upper middle class. The name is baronial, from the town of Venables, near Evreux, in Normandy. In France, it morphed into various Latin and French forms such as le Venour, or Venator, or Venereux, becoming, after the clan came to England with William of Orange, Venables-Vernon. (Spelling was not an advanced science in those days.) These never sank into the lower classes nor rose to produce dukes or earls, but several barons, members of Parliament and such. Upper middle class. Honorable mention. Respectable, but not important.

Richard Venables is recorded as having purchased land in Virginia in 1635. The Venables became a distinguished family, of the ruling class but without doing anything to get them into textbooks. They were in the House of Burgesses. In 1776 Nathaniel Venable founded Hampden-Sydney College, which provided schooling for many of Southside’s leaders.

The Cavalier society of Tidewater was perhaps the high point of American civilization. The people were extraordinarily literate, steeped in the thought of the Enlightenment, imbued with a profound and kindly Christianity. From them came the Washingtons, Jeffersons, Madisons, the Lees and Custises. It is hard to imagine any modern politician, or his ghost writer, writing either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, the latter being the framework, enduring until perhaps 1960, of an entire nation. The Virginians did.

All that illustrious lineage, and now Fred is reduced to denying human biodiversity in defense of the members of La Raza Cosmica with whom he cohabitates. It rather reminds me of the women who are ferociously proud of their blue eyes and blonde hair raising their brown-eyed, black-haired children. They have proven themselves wholly unworthy of their heritage by virtue of failing to pass it on.

Fred writes: “The facial resemblance to the men in our line is strong. So is the character and cast of mind.” When the former disappears, the latter usually will as well. As Le Chateau likes to say, physiognomy is real.

See, that’s precisely the problem, Fred. They’re not your children’s people. You’re the end of the line. Whatever comes after is not that pure Cavalier stock of the Virginia Tidewater of which you are so proud.

Indeed, if my experience is any guide, people will very likely tell your grandchildren that they have no connection whatsoever to the Cavaliers and they are lying if they claim they do.