RESTRICTIONS IN MARRIAGE.*
It is proposed in the following remarks to meet an objection that has been repeatedly urged against the possible adoption of any system of Eugenics, namely, that human nature would never brook interference with the freedom of marriage.
In my reply, I shall proceed on the not unreasonable assumption, that when the subject of Eugenics shall be well understood, and when its lofty objects shall have become generally appreciated, they will meet with some recognition both from the religious sense of the people and from its laws. The question now to be considered is, how far have marriage restrictions proved effective, when sanctified by the religion of the time, by custom, and by law ? I appeal from arm-chair criticism to historical facts.
To this end,. a brief history will be given of a- few widely spread customs. It will be seen that with scant exceptions they are based on social expediency, and not on natural instincts. Each of the following paragraphs might have been expanded into a long chapter
Read before the Sociological Society, on Tuesday, February r4th, at a meeting in the School of Economics and Political Science (University of London), Clare Market, W.C., Dr. E. WESTERMARCK in the Chair.