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though it be true that emigration affords an outlet for numbers, the question arises whether the country is not drained of the useful and vigorous, rather than of its less useful and deteriorated, inhabitants.
Then, again, this unthriftiness in marriage prevails most extensively amongst the ignorant and degenerate, or, at all events, amongst those of the lower orders who hover on the verge of pauperism. They look upon parish relief as a prescriptive right if they beget more children than they can rear; and, in many instances, when once they do become pauperised, the system of relief encourages family increase, because the more numerous the children, the greater is the sum obtained for the use of the family generally. For it by no means. follows that the whole of the sum obtained for each child is expended on that child;-there is always the possibility, especially in country districts, of a surplus being realised, however small, to be expended exclusively for the use of the demoralised parents; and this surplus is too often spent in drink. There is no doubt also that the frightful mortality amongst the children of the lower working classes who do not receive parish relief is not altogether to be attributed to defective sanitary arrangements or to insufficient nourishment. In many instances there is intentional neglect, amounting to culpable homicide, for the remedies prescribed for the sick child are not administered, while the medical comforts obtained from the dispensary or from charitable persons for its recovery are appropriated by the parents. The child, at the best, is allowed to die, or its death is hastened, because its existence is felt to be a troublesome burden. Truly, the old Spartan custom of exposing weak and ailing
children to certain death is still put in practice, even in civilised nations, and to an extent which only those who have done dispensary work in our large cities can well conceive.
This is one phase of the consequences of unthriftiness or imprudence in marriage. But there is another, which perhaps operates as a cause of sickness and mortality with equal severity-the practice, namely, of prolonging the period of weaning the child until the mother becomes weak, and her constitution, in all probability permanently impaired; and this preventive check, which is well known amongst all classes, tells on the child as well as the mother; so that, in her anxiety. not to beget too many children, she unconsciously ruins the health of those she already has begotten.
No wonder, in the face of such evils as these, that Malthus and others should have proposed a series of checks to prevent the procreation of large families, and amongst these should have insisted strongly on the advisability of delaying the period of marriage. But,. as Mr. Galton has shown, even this check, were it adopted, would operate to the detriment of a mixed community, inasmuch as it is advanced as a course for the prudent to follow, while the imprudent are left to act as they please. "Its effect would be such as to cause the race of the prudent to fall, after a few centuries, into an almost incredible inferiority of numbers to that of the imprudent, and it is therefore calculated to bring utter ruin upon the breed of any country where the doctrine prevailed. It may seem monstrous that the weak should be crowded out by the strong; but it is still more monstrous that the races best fitted to play their part on the stage of life should
be crowded out by the incompetent, the ailing, and the desponding."—(Hereditary Genius.)
Turning, now, to the other part of the subject— namely, the effects of unsuitable marriages—it may be stated at the outset that too early or too late marriages are punished by sterility, or by the procreation of offspring afflicted with a lowered vitality. M. Quetelet's deductions on this point, from a large number of statistics (see Physique Sociale), are as follows :—
(1.) Too early marriages result in sterility, or in the birth of children whose chance of surviving to the average period of life is lessened.
(2.) Marriages which are not infertile are productive of the same number of children, independently of age, provided that the average age of the husband does not exceed 33 years, nor that of the wife, 26. After these ages the number of children diminishes.
(3.) The greatest fecundity attends the marriage of men under 33 years of age to women under 26.
(4.) Other things being equal, those marriages are most fertile in which the age of the husband at least equals that of the wife, or does not greatly exceed it.
To these deductions might be added those of Dr. Matthews Duncan and others, which go to prove that, apart from fecundity, the health of the mother, and consequently of the offspring, has a less chance of being deteriorated by delaying the woman's age of marriage to 25 or 26 years.
But the most disastrous results connected with unsuitable marriages are those in which morbid tendencies are found to form part of the organic patrimony of one or both parents. If, for example, the parents both spring from consumptive families, the chances are that
the whole of the offspring will become victims to the disease: or, again, even should one of the parents come of a healthy stock, the danger to the offspring is by no means removed, although it is lessened; many of the children may escape, but it is seldom that they all do SO. The same remarks apply to scrofula, and indeed, more or less, to all diseases of a chronic or adynamic nature. It is chiefly, however, in relation to so-called mental affections that the mischief of unsuitable marriages becomes apparent, for, according to Dr. Burrows, the percentage of cases due to hereditary influence reaches 84.
As regards consanguine marriages, it has already been shown that, inasmuch as any latent morbid tendency is likely to be the same in both parents, the danger of such tendency becoming developed in the offspring is greatly increased. But, apart from the existence of any latent tendency, too close breeding amongst human beings, as amongst animals, invariably leads to deterioration, and ultimate extinction. Hence it is that ancient aristocracies, reduced to repeated intermarriage, have become first degenerated physically, and have become finally extinct, sometimes by drifting into imbecility or dementia, or, at all events, by becoming infertile. The following statistics will, however, illustrate more fully the sad heritage to which the offspring of consanguine marriages are doomed :-Amongst the children proceeding from 121 marriages of this description, M. Devay found that 22 were sterile, 27 deformed, and 2 were deaf mutes. Out of 34 marriages, investigated by Dr. Bemiss of Louisville, 7 were found to be infertile. From the 27 fertile marriages, 192 children were born; of these 58 perished in infancy or early
life. Of the 134 who arrived at maturity, 46 appeared to be healthy, 32 deteriorated, 23 were scrofulous, 4 epileptic, 2 insane, 2 dumb, 2 blind, 4 imbecile, 2 deformed, 5 were albinos, 6 had defective vision, and 1 had chorea. The remainder were not reported on as regards physical condition. Dr. Howe's statistics, already referred to, are still more decided:-Out of 17 marriages between blood relations, resulting in the birth of 95 children, he found that 44 were idiots, 12 scrofulous, 1 deaf, 1 a dwarf, and only 37 who enjoyed tolerable health. M. Boudin, again, has calculated that whilst consanguine marriages in France only amount to 2 per cent of the whole number, the deaf and dumb children resulting from these marriages amount to nearly a quarter of the whole number. (See A Physician's Problems, by Dr. Elam.)
It would be easy to multiply these instances, but enough has been said to demonstrate how powerfully imprudent or unsuitable marriages must operate as a cause of deterioration and disease on the public health. All these points, however, must become generally known and fully realised before any amelioration can be expected; and though it be true that some writers look forward to the time when State interference may be exercised in this as in other directions, it is doubtful whether it would not give rise to evils greater than those which it would tend to repress.
Leaving out of consideration the mode of operation of other causes of deterioration, and merely glancing at the broad results when the material as well as social causes are taken into account, it becomes at once apparent that, whether the English race is or is not deteriorating as a whole, it is certainly exposed