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been written, much to no purpose other than the multiplication of books.
We shall devote no space to consideration of the origin of the
institution, its expediency, or varied relations, as these topics are
foreign to the character of this work.
The primary object of marriage was, undoubtedly, the preservation of
the race, though there are other objects which, under special
circumstances, may become paramount even to this. These latter we
cannot consider, as only the relations of the reproductive functions
in marriage come properly within our province.
The first physiological question to be considered is concerning the
proper age for marriage.
Time to Marry.--Physiology fixes with accuracy the earliest period at
which marriage is admissible. This period is that at which the body
attains complete development, which is not before twenty in the female,
and twenty-four in the male. Even though the growth may be completed
before these ages, ossification of the bones is not fully effected,
so that development is incomplete.
Among most modern nations, the civil laws fixing the earliest date of
marriage seem to have been made without any reference to physiology,
or with the mistaken notion that puberty and nubility are identical.
It is interesting to note the different ages established by different
nations for the entrance of the married state. The degenerating Romans
fixed the ages of legal marriage at thirteen for females, and fifteen
for males. The Grecian legislator, Lycurgus, placed the ages at
seventeen for the female, and thirty-seven for the male. Plato fixed
the ages at twenty and thirty years. In Prussia, the respective ages
are fifteen and nineteen; in Austria, sixteen and twenty; in France,
sixteen and eighteen, respectively.
Says Mayer, "In general, it may be established that the normal epoch
for marriage is the twentieth year for women, and the twenty-fourth
Application of the Law of Heredity.--A moment's consideration of the
physiology of heredity will disclose a sufficient reason why marriage
should be deferred until the development of the body is wholly complete.
The matrimonial relation implies reproduction. Reproduction is
effected through the union of the ovum with the zoosperm. These elements,
as we have already seen, are complete representatives of the
individuals producing them, being composed--as supposed--of minute
gemmules which are destined to be developed into cells and organs in
the new being, each preserving its resemblance to the cell within the
parent which produced it. The perfection of the new being, then, must
be largely dependent on the integrity and perfection of the sexual
elements. If the body is still incomplete, the reproductive elements
must also be incomplete; and, in consequence, the progeny must be
Early Marriage.--The preceding paragraph contains a sufficient reason
for condemning early marriage; that is, marriage before the ages
mentioned. It is probable that even the ages of twenty and twenty-four
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