Union of the Splendidly Developed Dancer Ruth and Edwin Shawn, "the Handsomest Man in America" May Produce Results of Great Value to the Science of Race Betterment
A very piquant and unusual romance has been brought to a happy climax by the marriage of Miss Ruth St. Denis, the charming Oriental dancer, and Edwin Myers Shawn, called "the handsomest man in America."
Its unusual character is largely due to its bearing upon the eugenic science, the science of rearing a finer race. Eugenic scientists will watch this marriage with closer attention probably than they have ever given to any union, for the two parties to it are almost perfect specimens of humanity.
Miss St. Denis was endowed by nature with a beautiful figure. By the long practise of the art of dancing she has developed it to a point that is nearly perfection. Day after day for many years she has danced with figure untrammelled by clothing. Though she is exquisitely graceful, she is also so strong that she can endure the most tremendous exertions, which would prostrate an ordinary man.
With Miss St. Denis the cultivation of her body is her religion. She gives the same minute care to her toes as to the expression of her eyes.
She was the first dancer to introduce the charm and mystery of Hindu dancing to the European and American public. Other forms of Oriental dancing had already become popular, but the sublest of all, the Hindu art, was first interpreted for us by this American girl from Newark, N.J. Lately she has been giving Egyptian and Japanese dances.
In her dances Miss St. Denis liberally displays the eugenic charms she has inherited and cultivated, adorning them merely with a little gauze and colored jewels, but so admirable is her art that no one thinks of being shocked by the expression of it.
The teachers of the Hindu school of dancing, which Miss St. Denis has studied so thoroughly, pay great attention to the care of health, especially to the practise of deep breathing. A Hindu dancer is a professor of physical culture in the best sense.
These facts show that Miss St. Denis is remarkably well qualified to be the progenitor of a more beautiful race.
The other party to this eugenic union, Edwin Myers Shawn, is also a dancer. He has usually performed in Greek dances, which have lately been very popular and give the best opportunity for displaying manly beauty.
"Ted" Shawn, as his friends call him, has been compared to the Apollo Belvidere, to the Hermes of Praxiteles, and to other famous models of classic beauty.
He has an exquisitely graceful and symmetrical pair of legs. His neck is charmingly rounded and carries a small but well proportioned head with regular features and a broad, smooth brow. It is difficult to pick out any special feature for praise, because he is so very harmoniously developed.
Young Shawn looked particularly fascinating when he played a Greek faun in a Greek dance, surrounded with nymphs. He wore only a little leopard's skin round his graceful torso. Miss St. Denis saw him then and fell hopelessly in love with him. She could not bear to think of leaving him alone with those nymphs.
They were married soon after, but kept the matter secret for some time on account of their artistic engagements. When the marriage was announced, Miss St. Denis said of her husband:
"He is the first man I ever loved. He simply danced himself into my heart. We shall be happy, because we love the same thing - our art. Temperament cannot come between us. Yes, life will be just one long, beautiful dance for us both."
In her marriage affidavit Miss St. Denis revealed that she was thirty-five years old, that her original name was Ruth Dennis and the she was born in Newark, N.J.
Mr. Shawn stated that he was twenty-three years old and a native of Kansas City, Mo.
Some confusion has arisen between Mr. Shawn, the bridegroom, and Paul Swan, who is also known for his physical beauty. Mr. Swan is already married and the father of a eugenic baby. The friends of Mr. Swan point out that he has been called "the most beautiful man in the world," while Mr. Shawn is only "the handsomest man in America."
It is said that there is some jealousy between the two beauties. The outsider will be inclined to think Mr. Shawn has the best of it, having won one of the cleverest as well as most attractive women of the day.
It must not be supposed that Mr. Shawn will be accepted by all eugenic scientists and the public in general as the absolute ideal of manhood. He is, if anything, too beautiful. Even the Apollo Belvidere does not satisfy every American woman, as a well-known anecdote testifies.
Many people would prefer as an ideal Captain Scott, the heroic Antarctic explorer, whose features combine with a reasonable degree of comeliness an expression of strong intelligence and determination. Doubtless a large and important class of American girls would choose as an ideal the powerful figure and aggressive figure of Captain Brickley, the Harvard football hero, or some young man of that type.
Nevertheless "Ted Shawn is unquestionably a very fine physical specimen, and the conscientious eugenicist must approve of him as a possible parent. We are informed that he has never had a serious illness in his life, and that every organ is in perfect condition.
The perpetuation of physical beauty and health is one of the chief aims of eugenic science, being more important than any attempt to transmit special mental qualities. Investigation shows that children of fine physical development will, as a rule, be of superior mental attainments, as mental ability is usually associated with good physical stock, though not necessarily with great strength.
It is a popular error that eugenic science aims to perpetuate the special mental gifts of man. Some people imagine that eugenic science applied to William Shakespeare would have resulted in producing a long line of poets. Mental greatness arises from such a variety of causes that it is difficult to count on its reproduction in offspring. The best we can hope is that the descendants of a great man will show mental ability in some direction, but this result will only be attained if he and his descendants make suitable marriages.
The first aim of eugenic science, as explained by Dr. C. B. Davenport, the head of the experiment station at Cold Spring Harbor, L. I., is to eliminate physical defects by preventing people from making marriages likely to perpetuate them. He therefore ascertains by investigation and experiment what defects are likely to be perpetuated when two parents suffer from