But the point we are coming to is this. We have within fifty years moved about half of our people into dense, urban masses, where moral companionship between sexes is possible without matrimony. A century ago, when ninety-seven per cent, of the people lived on farms, marriage was absolutely necessary, or man would have become insane from lack of companionship - now it is no longer necessary for this one object. There is a germ of truth in the idea that slighter companionship with many, as in modern society, is of more benefit than intimate association with one. Though this may be offset by the immense advantage which conjugal relations give to each partner to learn the psychology of the other, and thus understand and modify ideas to the best advantage to both, yet it seems true also that at the present time people can exist as celibates to a greater extent than before. The census of 1900 shows nearly 11,000,000 celibates over twenty years of age (6,726,779 men, and 4,195,446 women). Of course, the great majority of these will eventually marry, but the figures show that the very condition which Malthas wanted to cause by legal means, i.e., postponement of marriage, has come about of its own accord. By the operation of natural laws now in force, there will be a selection of the most fit, and a real evolution, so that in time it will be as natural to marry at thirty as it is now at twenty-five, and as it once was at twenty and now is at fifteen in the tropics. Hand in hand with this change will be delay of puberty by natural selection of the most fit. Hence, our birth rate will diminish as we approach our saturation point, and will diminish naturally without the interference of artificial laws. Thorndyke says that for eminent men the age of marriage has advanced probably less than six months in a half century. But this is tremendous. Evolution usually moves by slower changes. Suppose it is as great as six months a century or five years in a thousand years. This would make us marry at thirty where we now marry at twenty-five. What a tremendous reduction in the birth rate this alone will cause in our future civilization!
The proper age to marry and the means to compel marriage at that age are topics which have filled popular and semiscien-tific literature during some years, but it is all futile. The matter is beyond our control entirely. Natural law settles it. At present, early marriages are necessary for the good of the race because it places reproduction in the most vigorous period. The offspring of women twenty to thirty-five and of men twenty-five to forty are known to be markedly superior to those born of parents older and younger. Hence, if the delay of marriage progresses too rapidly those lines which delay too long will die, and the race will eventually consist of the descendants of those who delay a little. Late marriages thus carry the elements for their own disappearance in time simply because the offspring are weaker and of less vitality than the offspring of youthful couples.
The modern education of women to be independent is a result of the increased number of celibates needed in modern crowded communities, and like a closed chain it is the cause of more celibacy, for these educated women are more able to live alone than the uneducated. Statistics of women graduates of colleges, after making due allowance for the fact that the recent classes have not had time to marry, do show an increasing number of unmarried educated women.
The number of married women who are compelled to work at gainful employments is really very small - some one has asserted that it is as low as six per cent. Of course, there is a much larger number of workers among the divorced (55 per cent.), the widowed (32 per cent.), and the spinsters (31 per cent.), but the large number of men who are able to support their wives - ninety-four per cent. - shows what a tremendous change from savage conditions when married women had to do so much of the work. In agricultural communities at present many women must still work in the fields, but civilization relieves women of the labor of providing and gives them time to raise families, and they do it better - infinitely better - probably rearing over half their babies, or three-fourths or more, in the highest circles. The savage woman reared only a tenth of hers. It is not true, then, that women are working more than ever - they are merely invading new lines because driven out of the old ones. Our grandmothers wove the cloth for our coats; the men do it mostly now, a few factory women and girls assisting. Women made the butter, cured the meat, preserved the vegetables, made the clothes - now men do it as a rule. Only 5,000,000 women in the United States are wage workers, and most of them are domestics. Instead of elbowing men to the wall in the labor market women are being relieved more and more of the necessity of work.