Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/459

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CHANGES IN NEW ENGLAND POPULATION.

with the high pressure in education and the neglect of house-work. The nerves and the brain have been cultivated at the expense of the muscles and physical stamina.

In this artificial state of society wants multiply and fashion has a powerful influence. A high and extravagant standard of living is set up, and young people are unwilling to commence life as their fathers or grandfathers did before them. For twenty or thirty years there has been a steady decline in the marriage-rate. There are powerful influences, starting partly from internal sources and partly from external agencies, which threaten the permanency and best interests of the family. If the laws of the human system can be so changed or violated as to defeat its primary objects, this institution must suffer and decay. There is a normal and healthy organization of the body as well as of the brain, which favors married life and the family relations.

On the other hand, there is such a thing as an abnormal development of the body and a morbid condition of the nervous system, which is decidedly unfavorable to the domestic relations; especially is this the case with females.

The law of maternity is already violated to such an extent that it is questionable whether half our New England women can properly nurse their offspring. There is a general law in nature that "supply and demand" go together and are co-equal, and if one fails the other is endangered. There are also decided evidences that the maternal instinct, "love of offspring," one of the strongest and holiest instincts of our nature, is fading away.

It should be borne in mind that when the harmony or balance of organization in the body is materially changed—that is, certain parts obtain an extreme development, while the functions of others become very much weakened—a similar change and derangement of action apply to the brain. The fact is well established that certain portions of the brain perform distinct and separate functions. Let that portion of the brain whose functions pertain to the family relation, and to domestic life, fail in proper development and healthy action, and supreme attention be given to the culture of the intellect and moral sentiment, and, in process of time, its effects on character will become very manifest. If this change in mental development applied only to an individual here and there, its effects on society would not be so marked or injurious; but, when the great majority of persons are affected by it, the results become far more extensive and serious in their character.

Again: the family constitutes the foundation or groundwork of all society, and, when properly established, is the most powerful agency in the world for human improvement. This institution must have its bases and supplies in the social and domestic affections, guided by the intellect and controlled by the moral sentiments. Without such a foundation it can not be made permanent, happy, and prosperous. The intellectual faculties will never alone cement and perpetuate this