Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/110

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

question by legal enactments, or by endeavoring to modify public opinion as to the beneficial character of monogamy and permanence in marriage. That the existing popular opinion is the true one is well and briefly shown by Miss Chapman in a recent number of Lippincott's Magazine; and as her statement of the case expresses my own views, and will, I think, be approved by most thinkers on the subject, I here give it:

1. Nature plainly indicates permanent marriage as the true human relation. The young of the human pair need parental care and supervision for a great number of years.

2. Instinct is strongly on the side of indissoluble marriage. In proportion as men leave brutedom behind and enter into the fullness of their human heritage, they will cease to tolerate the idea of two or more living partners.

3. History shows conclusively that where divorce has been easy, licentiousness, disorder, and often complete anarchy have prevailed. The history of civilization is the history of advance in monogamy, of the fidelity of one man to one woman, and one woman to one man.

4. Science tells the same tale. Physiology and hygiene point to temperance, not riot. Sociology shows how man, in spite of himself, is ever striving, through lower forms, upward, to the monogamic relation.

5. Experience demonstrates to every one of us, individually, the superiority of the indissoluble marriage. We know that, speaking broadly, marriages turn out well or ill in proportion as husband and wife are let me not say loving but loyal, sinking differences and even grievances for the sake of children and for the sake of example.

We have now to consider what would be the probable effect of a condition of social advancement, the essential characteristics of which have been already hinted at, on the two great problems—the increase of population, and the continuous improvement of the race by some form of selection which we have reason to believe is the only method available. In order to make this clear, however, and in order that we may fully realize the forces that would come into play in a just and rational state of society, such as may certainly be realized in the not distant future, it will be necessary to have a clear conception of its main characteristics. For this purpose, and without committing myself in any way to an approval of all the details of his scheme, I shall make use of Mr. Bellamy's clear and forcible picture of the society of the future, as he supposes it may exist in America in little more than a century hence.[1]

The essential principle on which society is supposed to be founded is that of a great family. As in a well-regulated modern family, the elders, those who have experience of the labors, the duties, and the responsibilities of life, determine the general mode of living and working, with the fullest consideration for the con-

  1. ↑ Looking Backward. See especially chapters vii, ix, xii, and xxv.