15 MAY 1830, Page 10



Sane among the Prophets ! the Member for Newark among Poli- tical Economists ! Here we have an elaborate treatise to prove that Mr. MALTHUS has altogether mistaken the nature of the prin- . chiles that regulate the increase of population and of food, and that his doctrines on the subject are impious and absurd. Mr. MALTHUS, as all the world knows, has laid it down that there is a constant tendency in population to outgrow its means of sub- • The Law of Population ; a Treatise in Disproof of the Superfecundity of Human Seines, and developing the real Principle of their Increase. By Michael Thomas ;Yellen M.P. 2 vols. Evo. London, IWO, sistence. Human beings, according to him, have at all times the power of doubling their numbers in a period much shorter than that which is necessary to double the food necessary for their support. If food could be provided in sufficient abundance, experience would seem to indicate that the population of any country might double itself in twenty-five years, while similar experience proves to us that the earth will not, after a certain point, increase her produce with the Same rapidity. Population, then, has the power of increasing in a geometrical ratio, while the ratio of the increase of human food is only arithmetical.

Mr. SADLER'S law of population is very different from this. He denies that population does or can increase in the geometrical ratio, or food in the arithmetical. " It may at once be denied," he observes, " that human increase proceeds geometrically ; and for this simple but decisive reason, that the existence of a geometrical ratio in the works of nature is neither true nor possible. It would fling into utter con- fusion, all time, order, magnitude, and space. This increase can only exist as an abstract idea. It is an ideal ratio, only reconcileable to truth and experience by the constant operation of a set of cruel and disgusting checks." Of the increase of food, Mr. SADLER proceeds to say—" Which of those vegetable or animal substances, whose plain destiny it is to ad- minister to the necessities of man, is it, that multiplies in a slower ratio than himself? Or rather, which is it, on the contrary, that does not increase much faster ; many of them, indeed, at a rate which speedily baffles all the powers of calculation td express ?" This power of increase Mr. SADLER illustrates by reference to some kinds of wild-fowl and fish. The domestic animals, sheep, for instance, mul- tiply also at a more rapid rate than man ; while, " pursuing the argu- ment one step further, and turning to the vegetable kingdom, we are astounded at its very threshold. A single tree, according to Lin- wens, bearing only two seeds annually, all its produce being equally prolific, would multiply in twenty-five years into I forget how many millions. But man does not subsist upon trees, nor is there any ve- getable in the world so sterile as the above supposition. Take the pea, producing annually many hundred fold, and who will encounter the calculation ?"

Leaving these generalities, Mr. SADLER proceeds to show that in no country has the geometrical rate of increase ever been known. The population of America has never doubled itself in twenty-five years ; and of the actual increase, a large proportion is, he says, to be ascribed to emigration. He further denies either that China labours under an excess of population, or that Mr. MALTHUS is justified in the conclusions which lie has deduced from any of his historical inductions. The first distinguishing feature of Mr. SADLER'S own theory is, that " population precedes and is the cause of the production of food" —that population is the only avenue to wealth, and that countries are wealthy in proportion to their populousness. 'Without mutual as- sistance mankind cannot conquer their mutual enemies, nor the bar- renness of the soil which they are doomed to cultivate. 'But these difficulties disappear as numbers increase. " The stimulus created by population preceding production, is not only the cause of the pro- duction of sufficiency, but of the diffusion of increasing plenty. Almost every individual adding something beyond what . is barely necessary to the feast of Nature, the general abundance enlarges to profusion." The second peculiarity of the system which we are considering, is the discovery that Providence in every age furnishes a security against the undue multiplication of human beings, by a provision which has hitherto escaped the observation of the most curious inquirers. The fecundity of the human race Mr.SADLER finds to be, not, as Mr. MALTHUS had supposed it, a principle equally powerful at all times, but a principle varying with the density of the population in every- country,—in other words, that population increases most rapidly in thinly-peopled countries, while Providence lessens the prolificness of the race as its numbers increase. From the same principle it fol- lows, that the inhabitants of the country are always more prolific than the inhabitants of towns. The differences in the rates of in- crease in these cases are not the results, in any degree, of the opera- tion of Mr. MALTHUS'S "checks," or of other secondary causes— they are the consequences of the direct influence of Providence upon prolificness. To prove the existence of such varying rates of fecundity, Mr. SADLER refers to New Holland, the Cape of Good Hope, and Russia- thinly-peopled countries, in which the rates of increase are beyond parallel. In New Holland it has amounted to 43 per cent. in eight years, though the full force of the principle of increase is there sub- jected to many restraints. In Russia and at the Cape, similar ph=e- nomena present themselves ; while in England and other densely- peopled countries, the prolificness of the inhabitants is gradually found to diminish. These conclusions Mr. SADLER attempts to establish by a formidable array of censuses and registers ; nay, he would prove, by a set of most elaborate tables, the extension of the principle to the various districts of England and Ireland. Such is the outline of Mr. SADLER'S theory of population; and a slight degree of reflection will suffice for the detection of the very gross abseirdities in which it abounds. In truth, if Mr. Mareruns's system had stood in need-of proof, Mr. SADLER'S would have sup- plied the desideratum. In the first place, Mr. SADLER, it will be ob- served, refuses to concede to Mr. MALTHUS the possibility of the geometrical increase of human beings in twenty-five years ; and yet, in support of his own particular views of the arrangements of Provi- dence, he lays it down that population does actually increase in New Holland, and elsewhere, at a much more rapid rate—that it doubles in less than twenty years, • In the second place, it is an article in Mr. SADLER'S philosophical creed, that food increases more rapidly than population ; and yet he finds it necessary to declare that Providence guards against the undue increase of population, by checking fecundity as society advances. Now, to what end should this alleged interposition of Providence take place ? It would obviously be uncalled for, 'unless on the sup- position that food has a tendency to increase more slowly than con- sumers. Mr. SADLER'S assumptions are thus found virtually to in- volve the principles of Mr. MALTHUS'S theory—are found to involve an admission that population may increase in a geometrical ratio, and that food must always be limited by the arithmetical principle of increase.

Since Mr. SADLER'S postulates agree so indifferently with his lead- ing proofs, it can scarcely be held necessary to follow him through all his arithmetical details ; for arithmetic cannot prove impossibilities, and Mr. SADLER'S propositions are, as we have seen, irreconcileable with each other. It may be worth while, however, to advert to some of the facts in despite of which he attempts to establish that marriages are invariably most prolific in thinly-peopled countries. The Nether- lands, he admits, form an exception to his rule, the population and the fecundity being greater there than in any other country in Europe. In Greenland, Iceland, and other countries which are at once poor and thinly-peopled, we look in vain for that miraculous rate of increase which Mr. SADLER'S theory would lead as to expect. In Ireland, popu- lation has for many years advanced more rapidly than in more thinly- peopled countries ; and Mr. SADLER seems to think that he meets the difficulty by furnishing an array of tables professing to show that population increases most rapidly in the least densely-peopled districts. A thinly-peopled country, we may remark, is not, in one sense, necessarily a poor one, nor a poor one necessarily thinly-peopled. Yet they are, synonimous in Mr. SADLER'S vocabulary, and he appeals to either condition, as the exigences of his argument may require. New Holland, for instance, is a thinly-peopled country—and poor, if we look to the capital accumulated in it ; but labourers there receive very high wages, and the rate of increase which they may exhibit cannot fairly be adduced to prove that poverty is favourable to prolificness. In Ireland, again, the class that multiplies most rapidly is very poor, though it would be absurd to term Ireland thinly-peopled.

But, even granting to Mr. SADLER, for the sake of argument, his assumptions about the connexion between the poverty of a country and the prolificness of its inhabitants, to what end, let us ask, does he urge them ? He has undertaken to prove that the scheme of Providence, in so far as man is concerned, is one of pure beneficence, and that the construction which Mr. MALTHUS has put upon Na- ture's laws is impious, absurd, and cruel. Yet Mr. SADLER tells us in the same breath, that Providence stimulates the fecundity of the human race when poverty is universal, and..restrains its increase when the necessaries and comforts of life have been rendered compa- ratively easy of attainment : nay, he alleges, that in rich countries the poor continue prolific, while the highest class of the rich become unable even. to keep up their numbers. Now we deny that Mr. SADLER has read the scheme of Providence aright ; but if that ' scheme were what he declares it to be, we might be permitted to doubt whether it displayed the beneficence to which Mr. SADLER ap- peals so often. It seems to us, besides, at all times safer to read the purposes of Providence in the pluenomena that meet our eyes, than to lay it down that the operations of Nature must conform to the principle which it may seem good to our self-love to hail as paramount and all-pervading, even though the latter course should enable us to de- nounce, as impious and absurd, conclusions that may aliffer from our own. Of the insinuations against the feelings and motives of ).r.r. MALTHUS, with which this book is over-run, we must remark that they have an air of malignity which we should be sorry to asciiha to the author. Everybody sees, as well as Mr. SADLER, traces of a kind Providence on every side ; but will Mr. SADLER say that this world was destined to be a scene of unalloyed enjoyment ? If not, why should he represent Mr. MALTHUS'S doctrines as necessarily false, merely because they elucidate some of the most fruitful sources of human misery, while, in a spirit of benevolence that might have re- deemed in Mr. SADLER'S eyes their unpalateableness as abstract truths, they teach us haw we may, by self-denial, escape that misery in its severer forms ? Mr. MALTHUS does not, to be sure, cant about the goodness of Providence, but he calls upon his fellow-beings to consult the reason which they derive from Providence, and submit to the milder of the alternatives which in the shapes of self-restraint or wretchedness are the lot of society in every stage. Mr. SADLER, on the contrary, advises his fellows to fear nothing, and throw pru- dence to the dogs—to multiply as fist as possible, and leave the rest to Heaven. He denounces all " checks " upon the increase of the race—his own theory resting all the while upon a check, in the form of a particular Providence.

If Mr. SADLER'S theory could for a moment be admitted to be true, it would remain for him to show how the miseryand poverty which in- fest the world may be reconciled with his assumption of the perpetual interposition of Heaven on behalf' of its creatures. It will be vain to transfer the blame to social institutions. Great, undoubtedly, is the amount of wretchedness caused by vicious institutions, but a portion greater beyond comparison has no other source than the imprudence of individuals. And here we may be allowed to remark, that it does appear odd, to find Mr. SADLER arraigning social institutions as the sole causes of the misery in this world, and yet upholding, with all his might, the most mischievous of our legislative enactments. He stands recorded among the sternest opponents of religious tolera- tion; he commends, in the hook before us, the wisdom of the corn-. laws ; and he is always found raising his voice against popular rights and in favour of every form of monopoly. Convinced as we are of the unsoundness of Mr. SADLER'S views on the subject of population, we take leave of him with feelings the reverse of unkindly. His work indicates talent and research, and bears at times the impress of eloquence, though of a somewhat turgid kind. We believe Mr. SADLER to be perfectly sincere in his opinions, and we think him entitled to approbation for his attempts to throw new light upon a subject which is of infinite importance to society.