Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/335

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

There is thus little or no avoidance of marriage peculiar to gifted men. The contrary belief seems one of the numerous scientific superstitions.

If we examine their age at marriage, we may justify the claim that gifted men marry not only almost as commonly, but also as early as the rank and file. Of those who have reached the age of forty-four and married before forty-five, 22.2 per cent, married before the age of 25, 43.3 per cent, between 25 and 30, 18.7 per cent, between 30 and 35 and 15.8 per cent, between 35 and 45. The corresponding figures for the general male population of the United States are 22.7, 41.0, 23.1 and 13.1.

Obviously the gifted men marry at almost the same ages as the multitude. Even the slight differences observable might vanish if the statistics were freed from the tendency to report the date of a second rather than a first marriage.

The facts concerning the marriages of gifted men in America seem to disprove another common dogma—that the age at marriage has been rapidly increasing in the case of professional men because of the increasing amount of preparation required for success in professional life under present conditions. If we take all the gifted men born before 1865, who have married before 35, and compute the average age at marriage of those born before 1820, from '20 to '30, from '30 to '40, etc., we find that the age of marriage for gifted men has probably advanced less than six months in a half century. This is a liberal estimate and is surely not alarming. I find no means of ascertaining the change in the marriage age of the general male population during the same period, but there is no evidence that professional men differ from authors, artists or men in business.

These facts witness to the fundamental conservatism of human nature. The casual observer is impressed by the appearance of changes—of revolutions and reformations in human ways; he fancies that some force in the environment is making or marring our customs. But the inborn make-up of men is always a factor and one that remains unaltered through many half centuries.