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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/114

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that distant future when the world will be fully peopled, in perfect confidence that an equilibrium between the birth and death rates will then be brought about by a combination of physical and social agencies, and the bugbear of over-population become finally extinct.[1]

There now only remains for consideration the means by which, in such a society, a continuous improvement of the race could be brought about, on the assumption that for this purpose education is powerless as a direct agency, since its effects are not hereditary, and that some form of selection is an absolute necessity. This improvement I believe will certainly be effected through the agency of female choice in marriage. Let us, therefore, consider how this would probably act.

It will be generally admitted that, although many women now remain unmarried from necessity rather than from choice, there are always a considerable number who feel no strong inclination to marriage, and who accept husbands to secure a subsistence or a home of their own rather than from personal affection or sexual emotion. In a society in which women were all pecuniarily independent, were all fully occupied with public duties and intellectual or social enjoyments, and had nothing to gain by marriage as regards material well-being, we may be sure that the number of the unmarried from choice would largely increase. It would probably come to be considered a degradation for any woman to marry a man she could not both love and esteem, and this feeling would supply ample reasons for either abstaining from marriage altogether or delaying it till a worthy and sympathetic husband was encountered. In man, on the other hand, the passion of love is more general, and usually stronger; and as in such a society as is here postulated there would be no way of gratifying this passion but by marriage, almost every woman would receive offers, and thus a powerful selective agency would rest with the female sex. Under the system of education and of public opinion here suggested there can be no doubt how this selection would be exercised. The idle and the selfish would be almost universally rejected. The diseased or the weak in intellect would also usually remain unmarried; while those who exhibited any tendency to insanity or to hereditary disease, or who possessed any congenital deformity, would in hardly any case find partners, because it would be considered an offense against society to be the means of perpetuating such diseases or imperfections.

We must also take into account a special factor hitherto, I believe, unnoticed in this connection, that would in all probability

  1. A Theory of Population deduced from the General Law of Animal Fertility. Republished from the Westminster Review for April, 1852.