The point of the matter is the fact that every life saving discovery must, of necessity, reduce the birth rate, for it makes it unnecessary to produce so many children. That is, the trend of civilization must always be in the direction of smaller families. Mr. H. G. Wells in "Modern Utopia," says that "Malthus has demonstrated for all time, that a State whose population continues to increase in obedience to unchecked instinct can progress only from bad to worse." As a matter of fact it is an instinct to reduce the birth rate and always has been.
* British Medical Journal, June 28, 1902.
The proportion of children raised to produce children themselves is the real test of civilization, and that proportion is constantly increasing. There seems no doubt that the time will come when nearly all civilized babies born will survive. But as population cannot increase markedly after a certain density is reached, it is quite evident that the only birth rate possible is a child born for every adult who dies.
An interesting side-thought as to the large birth rate of lower races who exist in thick masses in the civilization of higher races, is the rapid evolution of robust types able to resist disease. The Russian peasant woman, as a rule, has an enormous family, often as many as sixteen, yet very few survive, as there is a terrible weeding out by infections due to ignorance of sanitation. The type in time should be remarkably resistant to disease, and it is said that the Russian soldier survives conditions which will kill an Aryan. People frequently remark upon the strong, healthy appearance of Indian babies, forgetting that we see only the survivors - the feeble infants invariably perishing. Consequently, a few biologists are worrying over the fact that modern life-saving is preserving the weaklings, which formerly perished and has put a stop to the evolution of a more robust type. They even say it would be better to let the weaklings die. As a matter of fact, survival is proof of fitness. The weaker who are intelligent enough to escape enemies are the fittest. Robust, muscular types are not needed in modern life as they were in primitive savagery. Indeed, the frailness of physique which these writers deplore as a possibility, is already an accomplished fact in the higher races, and is most marked where there is the greatest decrease in infant mortality. Army recruiting officers in England, France, the United States, and even in Germany, are finding a greater and greater percentage of applicants below par. Yet that is not necessarily a disadvantage if the man is healthy and can escape causes of death which will destroy the less intelligent. That is, evolution is not always moving along the line of increased resistance to disease, but increased intelligence, so as to dodge disease. Smallpox was very quickly weeding out the most susceptible and evolving an immune race, as in the case of measles, but vaccination stopped that, and the only ones now destroyed are the families not having intelligence enough to realize the protective value of vaccination. It is even suggested that we hasten this process by abolishing compulsory vaccination and let every anti-vaccinationist die as soon as possible, so that we will become a nation of vaccinationists. Modern evolution, then, is in the direction of preserving the intelligent irrespective of physique, and that process has always been going on. The loss of the body hair, for instance, and the necessity for clothing, are decided advantages in the changes of temperature to which we are subjected. So in the future, the use of all kinds of protective vaccination measures will be equally necessary and advantageous, permitting survival which would otherwise be impossible. That is, the present and future evolution of man, as described by G. Archdall Reid, is dependent upon a greatly reduced birth rate which is, therefore, a necessary and beneficent phenomenon, which, in its turn, is due to the lessened death rate.
Note - Since the above chapter was put in type, W. S. Rossiter has published his analyses of the census. He finds that if the average American family had not shrunken from 5.8 persons in 1790 to 4.6 in 1900, the native population would be 20,000,000 more than it now is, and this agrees with the estimate on page 211 that our 20,000,000 immigrants have prevented that many births. The advantage of immigration, if it really can be considered an advantage in the long run, is the fact that laborers are imported for work to be done immediately, so that we need not wait for the birth and growth of natives to do it, and we are thus always twenty years ahead of the position we would occupy if dependent on our own increase.