Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/53

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THE LAW OF HUMAN INCREASE.

they possess a remarkably healthy, well-balanced organization. Illustrations of this type we shall find abound most among the middling or working classes of the German, the English, the Scotch, the Irish, and the Americans. The strictly native New-Englanders are, in some respects, an exception, and require a more particular notice. During the last century the colonists of New England, made up mostly of English stock, multiplied rapidly. So great was their natural increase that they doubled in numbers in less than twenty-five years. Malthus regarded them as the best specimens, in this respect, of any people or race, and based upon facts from this source his great principle of population. But a most surprising change has taken place within one hundred years with this same people. From records carefully kept, it appears that the average number of children to each family has decreased with every generation; that they commenced with large families—averaging eight or nine—but it is now doubtful whether the average will exceed three children to a family, scarcely enough to keep the original stock good in numbers. This change has occurred in the same places, with the same people, having the same climate and plenty of food. Making allowance for the "arts of destruction and prevention" which may exist to some extent, we do not see how this great decrease in birth-rate can be accounted for, except by some change in physical organization. The first settlers of New England were remarkably healthy—had well-balanced organizations—and this fact was true of the women as well as of the men. But a great change in this respect has taken place. The men are not so strong and vigorous as their grandfathers and ancestors, and the women have deteriorated physically in a surprising degree. A majority of them have a predominance of nerve-tissue, with weak muscles and digestive organs. The most marked change in this one hundred years, in organization, is this loss of balance or harmony in the organs, and especially in women it is far more striking. They have been diverging more and more from that normal standard upon which the law of propagation is based.

There is only one other people or race where there has been such a natural decrease in numbers—that is the Sandwich-Islanders. Once they were a strong and robust people. In 1830, when the first census was taken—which was ten years after the American missionaries commenced their labors—the population was 130,000, but by the last census there were only about 40,000, one third as many as fifty years ago. In the mean time religious institutions have been introduced, education has become general, and the family as an institution has been established. All the elements of a Christian civilization have been thoroughly established, but still the population has been steadily decreasing at the rate of about one thousand each year. How can this be explained? It can not be from the want of food, nor a well-regulated society, nor change in climate, nor want of a good government; there have been no wars, no famine, and only two or