Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/771

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IF, as Max Müller asserts, the first duty of honest philosophers is definition, there can be no doubt that in following it many clouds of discussion may be swept away. Definitions are continually assumed, and we clothe our creeds in wordy obscurity that totally hides their nature. No subject suffers more from this error than the woman question. If debated words were rigidly defined, and results placed barely before us, many sentimental arguments would fail in foundation.

In "Plain Words on the Woman Question,"[1] Mr. Grant Allen discusses a topic which, he thinks, is "too much overlooked by modern lady writers." It is the continuation of the human race. Intrenched behind population and marriage statistics, he opens fire upon feminine reformers from a quarter where they have made little defense. His text is—if a race will continue, it must reproduce itself. His argument may be briefly given as follows:

I. Marriages are decreasing in England and America.

II. Women of the cultivated classes are becoming unfitted for motherhood.

III. The movement which demands the independence and higher education of women is responsible for this—it creates a "spiritless epicene automaton" and the "self-supporting spinster."

IV. The emancipation of women, especially from Mrs. Grundy, is desirable; but it must not conflict with the existence of mothers who are necessary to the race.

Mr. Allen states the needful conditions of a stationary population in this manner: A father and mother are exactly represented in another generation by two children, a boy and a girl. But, in order that two may attain maturity, four[2] must be born; so that either every woman must have four children, or those who do marry must have more than four to make up the requisite number. From this he deduces: "The best ordered community will be one where as large a proportion of women as possible marry. Where many marriages and small families are the rule, the children will on the average be born healthier, be better fed, and be launched more fairly on the world in the end."

After clearly stating and carefully explaining these indisputable facts, Mr. Allen startles us by acknowledging that "it may be brutal and unmanly to admit or insist upon them," as he has been

  1. "Popular Science Monthly," December, 1889.
  2. This number is based upon the present proportion of children who become healthy adults, statistics which ought to be materially altered for the better.