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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/112

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

crease of mankind when all the positive as well as the preventive checks are removed. As the positive checks—which may be briefly summarized as war, pestilence, and famine—are supposed to be non-existent, what, it may be asked, are the preventive checks which are suggested as being capable of reducing the rate of increase within manageable limits? This very reasonable question I will now endeavor to answer.

The first and most important of the checks upon a too rapid increase of population will be the comparatively late average period of marriage, which will be the natural result of the very conditions of society, and will besides be inculcated during the period of education, and still further enforced by public opinion. As the period of systematic education is supposed to extend to the age of twenty-one, up to which time both the mental and physical powers will be trained and exercised to their fullest capacity, the idea of marriage during this period will rarely be entertained. During the last year of education, however, the subject of marriage will be dwelt upon, in its bearing on individual happiness and on social well-being, in relation to the welfare of the next generation and to the continuous development of the race. The most careful and deliberate choice of partners for life will be inculcated as the highest social duty; while the young women will be so trained as to look with scorn and loathing on all men who in any way willfully fail in their duty to society—on idlers and malingerers, on drunkards and liars, on the selfish, the cruel, or the vicious. They will be taught that the happiness of their whole lives will depend on the care and deliberation with which they choose their husbands, and they will be urged to accept no suitor till he has proved himself to be worthy of respect by the place he holds and the character he bears among his fellow laborers in the public service.

Under social conditions which render every woman absolutely independent, so far as the necessaries and comforts of existence are concerned, surrounded by the charms of family life and the pleasures of society, which will be far greater than anything we now realize when all possess the refinements derived from the best possible education, and all are relieved from sordid cares and the struggle for mere existence, is it not in the highest degree probable that marriage will rarely take place till the woman has had three or four years' experience of the world after leaving college—that is, till the age of twenty-five, while it will very frequently be delayed till thirty or upward? Now Mr. Galton has shown, from the best statistics available, that if we compare women married at twenty with those married at twenty-nine, the proportionate fertility is about as eight to five. But this difference, large as it is, only represents a portion of the effect on the