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evening of life, the well-earned recompense of long years of industrial economy. High-rented houses, showy if not costly furniture, and, of course, a servant or servants must be procured, before, in the world's estimation, a man is justified in marrying. The system further engenders in the young a passion for expensive amusements, and a love of dress and of jewelry quite out of proportion to their parents' means. It stimulates both frivolity and frippery; it has created cheap finery and gaudy shams. Such a social system can only tend to render vice inevitable. The race for wealth has produced its natural consequence, the desire to appear richer than we are; to positively cripple our means for the sake of vainglory, and mimicry of the style of the class next above us in the social pyramid. Down to the humblest classes, women are becoming infected with this love of finery, this insatiable appetite for amusements, and this thirst for excitement, all of which have proved the ruin of thousands. They are the lures with which human devils decoy their victims.
The evils strike more deeply still.
Being deterred from marriage at a suitable age, young men shrink from forming honourable attachments. They merely "flirt," or shun the society of respectable young women. Nature has her revenge. In order to attract the attention of the deteriorating men, dainty and delicate girls will even condescend to dress still more showily than the prevalent fashion prescribes; they even imitate the style of those of whom they ought to think only with pity and shame; they talk slang and sacrifice modesty to a perilous extent. They defeat their own purpose. Young men only dread entanglement the more. The style may amuse; it cannot permanently enchain. Its absence of true womanly delicacy and its expensiveness, only disgust those whom it seeks to fascinate. A woman who adopts the "fast" style may gather around herself a crowd of flattering admirers; but she drives from her those whose love might deserve to be the jewel of her life. Her admirers would never dream of marrying her. They would dread the milliners' bills! To coquette with her; to take her to balls, routs, pic-nics, the theatre, or the opera; to be seen with her, and to share in the admiration she might extort, or, it may be, far worse,such is all men think of the woman who lowers herself to this level, and degrades womanhood, as well as herself, by the assumption of this style. Men are not led to think of virtuous marriage by any imitation of the manners of the unvirtuous.
The evil does not stop here. Hundreds of men voluntarily abandon the intention of marrying. Marriage delayed too long grows distasteful
in idea, as compared with bachelor liberty, luxury, and, it may be, dissipation. Thousands who, under a sounder social system, would have married and have been happy, never marry at all. In consequence, marriages among the middle classes of society are becoming relatively fewer every five years: the number of spinsters of an uncertain age is annually increasing. Who can wonder at it? What would have been orderly love degenerates into disorderly lust men waste their strength in sin. Who can wonder that the Social Evil multiplies and spreads? It is a monstrous assertion that the Social Evil is a necessity of society; it is, however, beyond question that the corruptions of the modern social system have rendered the Social Evil inevitable!
No proof of the corruptness of the modern social system is more significant, or more painful, than the opinion which some are openly advocating, that young men cannot be pure, and that the social plaguespot can never be purged away. One corrective can certainly be applied to encourage early marriages, and to teach young couples to be content with commencing their wedded life in a comparatively humble style, as the parents of most of them were satisfied to do. A Nemesis of misery will surely punish the increasing luxury of modern times! If women would but visit on the man one-half the contempt with which she punishes the vices or the frailty of her own sex; if having been "wild" were made as great a social barrier to man as to woman; if neither the possession of wealth nor talents could effectually wipe out the social stigma which vice should entail; if the fathers of illegitimate children were made to bear some of the obloquy, and far more of the expense of their maintenance, which now devolve on the unhappy and generally betrayed mothers; if parents shrunk as much from entrusting their daughter to a man who had been "a little wild," as they do shrink from their son's marrying a woman who had been " a little lewd;" if seduction were made a criminal offence, and the cloak of secresy which now conceals the habitués of abominable houses were lifted; if the penalties on public solicitation were enforced; and if the police administered with greater stringency the laws against keeping improper houses of resort, a salutary change might be expected in this matter. The most sanguine must grow hopeless, however; for luxury multiplies in the world, and a hundred evils follow in its
I address myself to young men.
It is a duty to marry. Of course there are circumstances which
may temporarily over-ride this duty, as where one has aged or female relatives to support; or where the income he derives from his labour is totally inadequate to maintain a wife; or he has no immediate prospect of being able to maintain a possible family. Even in such circumstances, the serious thoughts of every man should turn toward marriage, with the hope and purpose to marry.
I am not unfamiliar with the calculations and arguments of Malthus, or those of the more recent expounders of his views. I am satisfied that morally they are wrong, that socially they are wrong, and that economically, long centuries must elapse before the earth grows too small, or too little productive to supply the wants of the people who inhabit it. He who seriously dooms himself to a celibate life for fear that the population of the world should outgrow the earth's capacity of production, shows an amount of regard for a posterity, which after all is none of his, befitting only a visionary. The contingency is too remote to need to be taken into the account. He who wishes to enjoy the comparative luxury of bachelorhood, grudging lest his physical comforts might be lessened by sharing them with a wife, is a sensualist. Let him beware of gluttony and drunkenness, the vices which punish such sordidness! He may well remain celibate, being unable to rise to any higher than a merely sensual conception of marriage! The race will not lose much if such unwholesome stock were to die out. He who hesitates to marry, lest the birth of children should compel him to work harder or more continuously than at present in order to provide for them, or lest their being dependent upon him should necessitate the reduction of his style of domestic arrangements, is both selfish and mistaken. Every physically and mentally healthy human being born into the world, however straitened may be his circumstances, experiences more pleasure than pain, more joy than sorrow. Hence the birth of every such child adds to the great sum of human happiness. It is the solemn duty of every man to have children, born in orderly wedlock, and whom he may train to do better service for society then he himself has been able to perform. Those who are not blessed with progeny are deprived of some of life's sweetest rewards and most precious duties. It were well if such persons adopted a pair of children, and enriched their lives with children's love. Men with large families are not the least successful workers in the world. Even were it always otherwise, the cares of a family are more than compensated by its pleasures; the economies necessitated by having a
family to provide for, are fully counterbalanced by the enlarged love and happiness which the family produces.
Should ever the theories of Malthusian writers become adopted into the practice of any people, they may bid adieu to sexual purity as well as to business enterprise. It would be to that people the culmination of a luxurious, degenerated, corrupt time. Disguise it as they might by sophistries, married love would become mere animalism; and limiting the number of the family would induce the limitation of industrial and productive effort. Earth was intended to be a seminary for heaven; marriage was instituted to perpetuate the race; human life cannot be fully developed without having experienced family cares and joys. Those who refuse to have offspring frustrate the divine purpose, prevent the existence of human souls, deprive angels of objects of guardianship, and limit the number of the kingdom of heaven. Political economists may say what they please, but it still holds true in every high sense, "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is His reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them." If the arrangements of our modern social system make it to appear otherwise, the system is at fault; and the proof that it is wrong is to be found therein. With the larger part of whole continents waiting to be cultivated, with vast treasures of mineral wealth waiting to be utilized, with latent capacities of fertility in every soil not yet half developed, it is even monstrous to talk of giving practical effect to any fear of excessive population. It is undoubtedly true that population increases in a geometrical ratio, while the increase of products to maintain that population can only be in an arithmetical ratio; but to urge such a proposition as an argument against early marriages, and the likelihood. of having a numerous family, is the climax of timidity. Such arguers may well wait till the rich prairies, the river-watered valleys, the fertile plains, and flower-mantled savannahs of America, Australasia, and even Africa are peopled; till every acre of Europe and Asia is made to produce its full quotum of food; till all the resources of colonization are exhausted; and till restrictive laws have ceased to fetter industry, while limiting the productiveness of the soil. At present the increase of population, besides subserving so many eminent social and moral purposes, is absolutely necessary for peopling the waiting vacant lands of the earth, and for utilizing the natural gifts which a bountiful Providence has supplied.
Men are justified by many reasons in deferring marriage; but it seems to me that only two reasons can fully justify a man in deliberately resolving never to marry. Chief among the reasons which warrant a man in delaying marriage, is his not yet having found a woman who could satisfy his heart; to whom he could with full confidence devote and consecrate himself. To marry without love would be to commit sacrilege against a holy institution, and do a serious wrong to the woman whom he weds. A man however may have loved, and his beloved may have gone into the other life. The reasons which induce a man in such a case to remain unmarried are as sacred as those which might induce a widower never to marry again. In such a case the resolution of celibacy is honourable, he feels that his true wife is waiting for him on the other side. Further, a man may labour under the terrible burden of an incurable and transmissible physical or mental disease. In such a case celibacy is at once a duty and a heroism. To attach to himself as a wife a woman who must become his nurse, and may become a victim, would be cruelly selfish. Many a sweet, self-sacrificing woman doubtless would let pity engender love for a man so hapless. Yet to bring offspring into the world to whom their earthly life could be only a succession of sorrows, would be a sin against society, and against the children themselves. The decision never to marry may well increase his burden; to content himself with friendship, while repressing his yearnings for love, may well add to his sorrows; but it is what thousands of tender, susceptible loving women have to do, and in whom also there is no physical or mental disability. This part of his burden is no heavier to bear than theirs. If led to such a decision by the motive of self-sacrifice, the compensations of the other life will fully requite it.
Pending marriage, it is the imperative duty of every young man to keep pure. Impurity incapacitates the soul from feeling the deepest love, and from realizing the fullest blessedness of marriage. Just to the extent of the past impurity is this incapacity. The injury inflicted on moral character by any violation of the law of purity can never be fully remedied. They are self-cursed who have felt the fierce fever of "lust of variety:" its remembrances will haunt them; its desires will return again and again; no repentance can quell the remorse; only after long and arduous struggles will the soul be able to drive out the devil it has harboured; not till the future life, when the desires of the regenerated spirit shall dominate the memory, and old things shall have effectually passed away, will the deeply repentant sinner fully realize