CHAPTER VII.: OF THE PERIOD AT WHICH MARRIAGES ARE FORMED.. - William Godwin, Of Population. An Enquiry concerning the Power of Increase in the Numbers of Mankind 
Of Population. An Enquiry concerning the Power of Increase in the Numbers of Mankind, being an Answer to Mr. Malthus’s Essay on that Subject (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1820).
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- Book I.: Of the Population of Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America, In Ancient and Modern Times.
- Chapter I.: Introduction.
- Chapter II.: Survey of the Creation From Natural History.
- Chapter III.: General Views As to the Alleged Increase of Mankind.
- Chapter IV.: General View of the Arguments Against the Increase of Mankind.
- Chapter V.: Numbers of Mankind In Ancient and Modern Times.
- Chapter VI.: Illustrations From the History of China
- Chapter VII.: India.
- Chapter VIII.: South America.
- Chapter IX.: Paraguay.
- Chapter X.: Sparta.
- Chapter XI.: Rome.
- Chapter XII: Miscellaneous Observations.
- Chapter XIII.: Views of Man and Society Which Result From the Preceding Facts.
- Book II.: Of the Power of Increase In the Numbers of the Human Species, and the Limitations of That Power.
- Chapter I.: Proofs and Authorities For the Doctrine of the Essay of Population.
- Chapter II.: Animadversions On Mr. Malthus'ss, Authorities.
- Chapter III.: Principles Respecting the Increase Or Decrease of the Numbers of Mankind.
- Chapter IV.: Accounts Which Are Given of the Population of Sweden.
- Chapter V.: Inferences Suggestd By the Accounts of Sweden.
- Chapter VI.: Observations On the Swedish Tables Continued.
- Chapter VII.: Recapitulation of the Evidence of the Swedish Tables.
- Appendix to Chapters Iv, V, & VI.
- Chapter VIII.: Population of Other, Countries In Europe Considered
- Chapter IX.: Principles Respecting the Increase Or Decrease of the Numbers of Mankind Resumed.
- Chapter X.: Of the Population of England and Wales.
- Chapter XI.: Proofs of the Geometrical Ratio From the Phenomenon of a Pestilence.
- Dissertation On the Ratios of Increase In Population , and In the Means of Subsistence. By Mr. David Booth.
- Book III.: Of the Causes By Which the Amount of the Numbers of Mankind Is Reduced Or Restrained.
- Chapter I.: Futility of Mr. Malthus's Doctrine Respecting the Checks On Population.
- Chapter II.: Of Deaths and the Rate of Human Mortality.
- Chapter III.: Attempt Towards a Rational Theory of the Checks On Population.
- Chapter IV.: Attempt Towards a Rational Theory of the Checks On Population Continued.
- Chapter V.: Mr. Malthus's Eleven Heads of the Causes Which Keep Down Population Considered.
- Chapter VI.: Observations On the Countries In the Neighbourhood of the River Missouri.
- Book IV.: Of the Population of the United States of North America.
- Chapter I.: Introduction.
- Chapter II.: Of the Topography and Political Condition of the United States.
- Chapter III.: History of Emigration From Europe to North America In the Seventeenth Century.
- Chapter IV.: History of Emigration to North America From the Year 1700 to the Present Time .
- Chapter V.: Retrospect of the History of Population In the United States.
- Chapter VI.: Of the Amount of Births In the United States.
- Chapter VII.: Of the Period At Which Marriages Are Formed..
- Chapter VIII.: Diseases In the Territory of the United States.
- Chapter IX.: Reports of the Population of the United States Analysed and Examined.
- Book V.: Of the Means Which the Earth Affords For the Subsistence of Man.
- Chapter I.: Of the Present State of the Globe As It Relates to Human Subsistence.
- Chapter II.: Of the Number of Human Beings Which the Globe Is Capable of Maintaining On Our Present Systems of Husbandry and Cultivation.
- Chapter III.: Calculation of the Productive Powers of the Soil of England and Wales.
- Chapter IV.: Causes of the Scarcity of the Means of Human Subsistence.
- Chapter V.: Causes of the Scarcity of the Means of Human Subsistence Continued.
- Chapter VI.: Of the Improvements of Which the Productiveness of the Globe For the Purposes of Human Subsistence Is Capable
- Chapter VII.: Of the Principles of a Sound Policy On the Subject of Population.
- Book VI.: Of the Moral and Political Maxims Inculcated In the Essay On Population.
- Chapter I.: Character and Spirit of the Essay On Population Delineated.
- Chapter II.: Of the Positions Respecting the Nature of Man Upon Which the Essay On Population Is Constructed.
- Chapter III.: Of the Doctrines of the Essay On Population As They Affect the Principles of Morality.
- Chapter IV.: Of the Doctrines of the Essay On Population As They Affect the Condition of the Poor.
- Chapter V.: Of the Doctrines of the Essay On Population As They Affect the Condition of the Rich.
- Chapter VI.: Of Marriage, and the Persons Who May Justifiably Enter Into That State.
- Chapter VII.: A Few Contradictions In the Essay On Population Stated.
- Chapter VIII.: Of Wages.
- Chapter IX.: Conclusion.
OF THE PERIOD AT WHICH MARRIAGES ARE
Dr. franklin, in his Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, &c, where he says, “If in Europe they have but four births to a marriage, we in America may reckon eight,” inserts a slight parenthesis, in which he assigns one solitary reason, to account for this amazing disparity, and to reconcile the mind of the reader to so extraordinary an hypothesis. This may be the case, says he, because “many of the European marriages are late.”
Mr. Malthus in like manner lays great stress upon the question of early marriages, and seems to think that, if “moral restraint,” of the efficacy of which he entertains “very inconsiderable hopes,” could once be brought into action, so as to prevent this evil, the mischiefs to be apprehended from overpopulation might then be prevented, with very little, or perhaps no need of the aid of his established confederates, vice and misery.
It is therefore just that we should bestow some consideration, on the difference that is likely to arise in the peopling of countries from early and from late marriages.
Marriage takes place, in some countries, when the parties are sixteen years of age, or even earlier: we may suppose the marriageable age to be twenty: or we may carry it on, with Mr. Malthus, to the age of twenty-seven or twenty-eight .
The opinion of Sussmilch on the subject is thus expressed . “Too early and too late marriages are both of them injurious to population. Experience shews this in animals: as, for. example, among great cattle, the cow which has a calf when too young, never comes to the size and strength which she otherwise would have done.”
Tacitus speaks to the same purpose in his treatise De Moribus Germanorum . “The young men marry late, by which means their virility is preserved; nor is the female in greater haste to engage in the nuptial tie. They come together with similar vigour, in complete stature, and with well matched force; and thus it happens that the offspring fails not to inherit the robustness of its parents.”
Cæsar, treating of the same Germans, delivers his sentiments in a similar manner .
“Those who remain longest without the knowledge of the other sex, bear the greatest praise among them. They believe that this increases their stature, their force, and their muscular energy. To have intercourse with the female before the age of twenty, they regard as in the highest degree disgraceful.”
It seems indeed sufficiently probable that the female of the human species is endued with a certain degree of fecundity: and I believe it will be found in a majority of instances, that the woman who is called upon early to afford that species of nutrition from her frame which the unborn infant requires, sooner grows old, and ceases sooner from the power of child-bearing, than the woman in whom this faculty is not called forth till a later period.
There is another consideration of material consequence, as connected with this question, whether early marriages contribute to forward, and late marriages to retard, the increase of mankind. Dr. Franklin talks of “the frequent lateness of marriages in Europe.” I should be glad to have had the opportunity of asking him, what he meant by “a late marriage?” We should then have seen, whether the difference of the age at which marriage is contracted in Europe and in the United States, had almost any tendency to account for a superior fecundity on the other side of the Atlantic.
It is true that, where a country is in great distress, and the means of subsistence are difficult to be procured, there marriage will often not take place at so early a period, as it might do in countries which are placed in more favourable circumstances. But then there is another point to be considered. The period of marriage usually depends on the male. When a woman is solicited in wedlock, it will very rarely happen that her parents, or the female for herself, will decline the proposal, because she is not yet twenty-eight or thirty years of age. When we talk of a late marriage, in nineteen instances out of twenty we refer exclusively to the age of the husband. When an old man desires to marry, how often does it occur that he insists upon a wife as old as himself? No: whatever be the age of the bridegroom, he is almost sure to look out for a young bride; and then, unless he be indeed stricken in years, the chance of offspring is nearly the same, as if he had been himself as young as the woman he leads to the altar.