4 MAY 1923, Page 17

ENGLAND AFTER WAR.*

wao ean say if this is a good book or a bad ? Who, peering into a looking-glass, can say if it reflects truly ? For we only know ourselves by looking-glasses. Mr. Masterman sets out tcr describe England as it is to-day. Granted that his book passes certain elementary tests—that it is based on some systematic analysis of component parts, that it is not crudely or obviously partisan, that it shows both a collection and correlation of ascertainable facts—tests which it clearly does pass—then how impossible is it for the reviewer to judge whether England is really Mr. Masterman's England or his own ? Inevitably they will not see it the same. But has the reviewer the faintest ground for believing that his own view is any less personal than Mr. Masterman's ? Of course, if it was Russia Mr. Masterman was writing about we could all of us have our easy opinions unhampered by inconvenient knowledge. But no reviewer, however determined, can avoid knowing a few first-hand facts about his own country, and so bang go his generalizations. Let us simply record, then, that Mr. Masterman, after an introductory chapter, works downwards through the social classes. Chapter II., a good one, is on the ruin of the old land-holding upper classes. Chapter III. is on the desperate plight of "Suburbia." The statistics are interesting and often terrible, but as a picture of a way of life we prefer a Haselden cartoon as terser, more graphia, and probably truer. One statement is made which one would like to see substantiated with exact figures : "The Municipality pays its scavengers and street cleaners substanti- ally higher salaries than it pays to its elementary school teachers." This seems almost incredible, but perhaps some reader will give us the figures. Chapter IV. is on Labour, and narrates the story of the rise and fall of fortunes of the manual labourers of this country—how, for nearly seven • years, four and a-half of war, and at least two of peace, their condition was better than it had been for at least a century, and how almost a whole generation of the people of this .country passed through childhood without the majority of .them suffering from actual hunger—a thing, of course, .unkaown in the past, and extremely improbable in the future. How, after that time, they were once more hurled down into a condition which was appreciably worse than that of 1914, and which with the reviving "prosperity" of the country • England After War. By Charles 1". G. itasterruan. London: Hodder and Stoughton. Um Sd, nut4

is steadily getting worse. Mr. Masterman quotes many deeply interesting facts and statements. We can only give one specimen. It is the opinion of a worker on Labour extremists :—

"The result is summed up in a phrase by an old miner, discussing the local brand of Bolshies." They're overproud of themselves and their extremes. But, after all, they're the mouthpiece of the whool crowd of us, for all of us are fair un'appy.' "

The fifth chapter is on that so-called " slum " class—quite as distinct from skilled labour as skilled labour is from the middle class. This ultimate part of the population is always on the verge of destitution and to-day it is over it. It is quite literally true to say that but for the dole the whole of it would to-day die of starvation. And biologically speaking, that would be the very best thing that could possibly happen from everybody's point of view. But for good or ill the Public Conscience will no longer allow that. Is it not about time, then, that this same Public Conscience thought °tit a way of making tolerable the existences of these people that it insists on keeping alive ?

After this Mr. Masterman has several chapters of general comment. The only one that we can deal adequately with is No. VIII., headed "Babies." It is really one of the most

curious mixtures of sane analysts, brave realism, and then startling, almost staggering, failure not only to point at the remedy, with even an implication that the remedy is the cause of evil, that we have met with. The chapter begins with a short account of Malthus and his theory. Man was supposed to increase by geometrical progression, his food supply only by arithmetical. Hence every amelioration in man's con- dition only means that he breeds up to the starvation point again. If it become ten times as easy to produce food, it does not mean that the existing number of people will be ten times as well nourished as they are now, but that ten times as many people will in future be nourished exactly as well or ill as one-tenth of them have always been. In the words of that picturesque prelate, the late-comers at "Nature's nightly feast " find" the table is already full, and the unbidden guests are left to starve."

Mr. Masterman, however, maintains that this theory has gone to pieces for two reasons : (1) Because the facilities of production have enormously increased since Malthus's day ; (2) because a knowledge of Birth Control is rapidly limiting the offspring of the middle and upper classes. This means unlimited production from the worst stock and limited produc- tion from the best. There will be no "British boys and girls to fill up empty spaces in great continents which we desire to continue to be 'for ever England.'" Finally, the Anglo-Saxon race will die out before those races which repro- duce themselves without limit. Let us examine this point by point. Granted that facilities for the production of com- modities have increased tenfold since Malthus's day, does the result disprove or prove his law ? If it disproves it, we should expect to see the same number of people ten times better oft ; if it proves it we should expect to see ten times as many people in about the same material condition. Well, we all know which of those two alternatives has happened. Secondly, Birth Control is incontestably limiting the families of all the best stock in the countryand, as Mr. Masterman says, it "has come to stay." Should we then, as he seems to recom- mend, strive to restrict its practice to members of this best stock, or should we try to spread the knowledge of it amongst the whole of the rest of the nation, so that the birth-rate of the poor may again become equal to that of the upper and middle classes, and also that the children of the poor stock shall not be crowded out of whatever chance in life they may have. Thirdly, does Mr. Masterman consider that the slums of Whitechapel, Sheffield, and Glasgow are the ideal breeding places from which to people those empty spaces of the Empire which he desires to be "for ever England " ? If he desires to see them for ever the England of the slum child, then certainly we must admit that he is going the right way about it. Fourthly, does he consider that a race which limited its children to the number which its mothers could rear without injury, and its fathers provide adequate opportunities for in life, would "go down" before a race which bred unlimited slum children, stunted in mind and body, constitutionally unable to rise above the gutter and the mire ? If so, he has but a poor opinion of the power of the human mind as against mere quantity of human bodies.