Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/457

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CHANGES IN NEW ENGLAND POPULATION.

The marriage-rate is much higher in this class than with the American. It is possible that, in the process of time, changes in the style of living, and by adopting modern fashions, the birth-rate of this class may be somewhat reduced, but certainly not at present.

Religious influences have a powerful hold upon this class of people, so that they will be restrained from violating the laws of the physical system. In process of time, there may be such a change in the organization of this people as to reduce the birth-rate. The "Catholic World" stated six years ago that "nearly 70 per cent of the births in New England were those in Catholic families." This estimate we thought at the time was too large, but with the increase of births since belonging to this class, and the addition of the births of large numbers of the foreign-born and foreign descent who are not Catholic, it will increase this percentage.

In most of the cities more than half of the births for years have been connected with the foreign element, but it was not expected that the same proportion could be found to exist in rural districts and country towns.

It does not seem possible that three fourths of all the births in New England at the present time can be classed under a foreign head, but the indications are pretty certain that such will be the case before many years, and then we shall be compelled to believe the fact. The inquiry is frequently made if the two classes do not intermarry, and what is the prospect in this direction? There are occasional intermarriages between the American, the English, the Scotch, and the emigrants from the Provinces, but not often between the Americans and the Irish. Still, cases of this kind do occur occasionally between the laboring classes, and we think they are increasing. The registration reports divide certain married parties into two classes—the foreign born father and native mother, and vice versa.

The term native here might apply to the strictly American, but a careful examination shows that each party called native was of foreign element, so that there was no mixing of the two races. This class of marriages has been constantly increasing. In Massachusetts, according to the registration report of 1881, there were 7,380 births of this class, nearly one eighth of the whole number.

Change in Physical Organization.—The most serious evil resulting from the introduction of this foreign element is in causing a change in the physical organization of New-Englanders. In the case of men—that part of farming requiring hard work those kinds of the mechanical pursuits demanding physical strength, and, in fact, nearly all manual labor out-of-doors, have already passed mainly into the hands of foreign help. This change, commencing thirty or forty years ago, has everywhere been taking place, but more rapidly of late years.

This exchange of regular physical exercise for lighter employment