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children was particularly heavy. Writers have pointed out that the old
family records show frequently two or three children of the same
Christian name, the first child having died and its name given to a
During the last quarter of the eighteenth century, when machinery was
introduced and a new industrial era opened, the birth-rate rose rapidly.
Factories springing up gave increased support to many, and as children
were employed as "hands" in the mills at an early age, the richest
family was the one with most children. The population began to increase
rapidly. But soon disease, misery, and poverty arose from filth and
insanitation, immorality and crime, overcrowding and child-labor, drink
and lack of sane courses of conduct.
In time, however, progress set in, and social reformers began the great
movement for the betterment of the environment, sanitation, shorter
hours of labor, and restriction of child-labor, factory regulation, etc.
And when the environment is bettered, the death-rate drops, and the
birth-rate accompanies it on its downward progress. As Leroy-Beaulieu
says: "The first degree of prosperity in a rude population with few
needs tends toward prolificness of reproduction; a later degree of
prosperity, accompanied by all the feelings and ideas stimulated by the
reduction of such prolificness."
The law of the reduction of reproduction in response to the improvement
of environment is a natural law, arising from fixed biological
principles. This is because when we improve the environment we improve
the individual situated in that environment; and the improvement of the
individual has always resulted in a check upon reproduction. We must
remember, however, that this change is not the result of conscious or
voluntary action; instead it is the result of unconscious activities and
instinctive urge. As Sir Shirley Murphy has said: "Birth Control is a
natural process, and though in civilized men, endowed with high
intelligence, it necessarily works in some measure voluntarily and
deliberately, it is probable that it also works, as in the evolution of
the lower animals, to some extent automatically."
Science shows us that even among the most primitive micro-organisms;
when placed under unfavorable conditions as to food and environment,
they tend to pass into a reproductive phase and by sporulation or
otherwise begin to produce new individuals rapidly. This, of course,
because of the fact that their death-rate is increased, and an increased
birth-rate must be manifested in order to maintain a balance. If the
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