6 AUGUST 1921, Page 13


OF THE " SPECTATOR."' Sta,—I regret that your reviewer should support the theory of Mr. Pell on the above subject, for it seems to me that there could not be a more glaring case of taking the effect for the cause. The slums swarm with children, and their inhabitants are miserably poor, and therefore, according to Mr. Pell, poverty and wretchedness are the cause of fertility, whereas the real fact is the swarms of children are the cause of the poverty. If the inhabitants of Kensington multiplied as fast as those in the poorest parts of the East End, Kensington would soon be a slum. If the professional classes married and filled their houses with children as early in life as the working classes, the professional classes would soon be in a state of condign poverty. Fancy officers in the Navy or Army, with no private means, marrying at two and twenty, and having half a dozen children at thirty and a dozen at forty! What would become of them? Mr. Pell and your reviewer console themselves with the hope that medical science may perhaps discover some means of increasing fertility! Do they really wish our population to increase as rapidly in the twentieth century as it did in the nineteenth? It is said to have quad- rupled itself in the nineteenth century. Do they want the population at the beginning of the twenty-first century to be 160,000,000? Some people think it is too great already, now that 28,000,000 of our 48,000,000 are receiving doles. Our great increase of population in the nineteenth century was rendered . possible by the very exceptional circumstance that England was then the workshop of the world with a rapidly increasing commerce. She is no longer so, and shows but little sign of being able to compete successfully with at least three other great countries—America, Germany, and Spain—while at the Same time she is only able to raise food enough at home for about one-fourth of her population. If oppression and mis- government cause the subject race to increase out of all pro- portion to the dominant race, how are we to account for the disappearance of the Tasmanians, the Red Indians, the great decline in the Australian natives and the Maoris in New Zealand? I do not mean that either Australian blacks or Maoris are now badly treated, but it is hardly the good treats meat they receive that is reducing their numbers. "Among the races of the world those who are the poorest and most primitive show the greatest fertility." There again the effect is taken for the cause. It is their great fertility that makes them the poorest, as in India and China. Every country would be poor if all the inhabitants married as early as possible and had as many children as possible. The

Japanese are beginning to feel the difficulties of a too rapidly increasing population. It is indeed one of the chief difficulties of the Far Eastern question, or, rather, it is the chief difficulty. With a population increasing at the rate of 800,000 a year some of their statesmen say they must be given more room to expand or they must fight for it.—I am, Sir, &c.,