Prosperity and Parenthood: A Study of Family Planning among the Victorian Middle Classes

Prosperity and Parenthood: A Study of Family Planning among the Victorian Middle Classes

Prosperity and Parenthood: A Study of Family Planning among the Victorian Middle Classes

Prosperity and Parenthood: A Study of Family Planning among the Victorian Middle Classes

Excerpt

The last chapter ended at a turning point in the population controversy when attention was being drawn towards the marriage habits of the middle and upper classes. It was implied there that a change of mind on the subject of marriage was taking place around the 1830s. The evidence for this lies in the works produced as contributions to the population controversy, and it would make the account complete if it could be shown that books written for other purposes also gave indications of the same trend. Unfortunately, the number of works written during the period specifically on marriage was extremely small and it does not appear that any discussion was provoked. None of the books was reviewed in any of the important magazines of the day, and all without exception passed unnoticed from the scene. They are referred to here, therefore, merely as supplementary to the works of the population controversy and are not to be regarded as of themselves contributing significantly to our knowledge of the period. Like Wallace Various Prospects , we should have had to discount them as having been the products of minds not in accord with the general outlook of their time, were it not for the fact that the books on population carry the same story in a different form.

The fiction of the period, too, is of little assistance to us here in this connection. This may seem surprising in the light of the fact that from 1824 to 1840 or thereabouts the novel of fashionable life flourished in England as it had never flourished before --and as it has never flourished since. Matrimony was, of course, as in most novels of the nineteenth century, the central theme; but the writings of Mrs. Gore, Thomas Lister, Edward Bulwer, and Benjamin Disraeli, to mention the most likely . . .

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