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own time was closely connected with the fall in the standard of living, and his argument implied that, in order to check the excessive birth-rate, it was necessary to improve the condition of the mass of the people. Four years later he published _The True Law of Population_, wherein he stated that when the existence of a species is endangered–

“A corresponding effort is invariably made by Nature for its preservation and continuance by an increase of fertility, and that this especially takes place whenever such danger arises from a diminution of proper nourishment or food, so that consequently the state of depletion or the deplethoric state is favourable to fertility, and that, on the other hand, the plethoric state, or state of repletion, is unfavourable to fertility in the ratio of the intensity of each state.”

By a series of experiments on plants Doubleday discovered that “whatever might be the principle of manure, _an overdose_ of it invariably induced sterility in the plant.” Although his formula is deficient in that food is selected as the one factor in environment which influences fertility, and although it may be an overstatement to claim that fertility varies in exact proportion to abundance or to scarcity, nevertheless his formula contains an important truth which literally knocks the bottom out of the whole Malthusian case.

It is a sad reflection that, while the falsehoods of Malthus have been blindly accepted for the greater part of a century, the work of Doubleday was almost lost in oblivion. His shade has now been recalled to the full centre of the stage, and for this the credit is due to Mr. C.E. Pell. His recent book [52] is a stimulating essay on the declining birth-rate, and contains much evidence that supports the main contention of Doubleday. Although it is impossible to agree with all the deductions made by Mr. Pell, he has nevertheless done a public service by restating the problem of the birth-rate in a new way, by effectively bursting the Malthusian bubble, and by tabulating fresh evidence against the birth-controllers.


Mr. Pell defines the law of births and deaths in two generalisations. The first is: “We have seen that it is a necessary condition of the success of the evolutionary scheme that the variation of the inherited potential degree of fertility between species and species must bear an inverse proportion to their capacity for survival.” [53] At first glance this statement appears hard to be understood; but it is obviously true–because it means that a species that is well adapted to its environment can survive with a low degree of fertility, whereas a species that is not well adapted to its environment requires a high degree of fertility in order to survive. Mr. Pell considers that a “capacity for survival” is synonymous with “nervous energy”; but, as our total knowledge of nervous energy is limited to the fact that it is neither matter nor any known force, the change in words does not mark a real advance in knowledge.

The second generalisation is that “the variation of the degree of animal fertility in response to the direct action of the environment shall bear an inverse proportion to the variation of the survival capacity under that environment.” [54] Here Mr. Pell and I part company. I have already (Chapter III) disputed the causal connection between birth-rate and death-rate which Mr. Pell here asserts. His generalisation is made by assuming that birth-rates and death-rates rise and fall together: that conditions which produce a high death-rate will also produce a high birth-rate and that conditions which cause a low death-rate will also cause a low birth-rate; that the increase or decline of a population is due to the direct action of the environment; and finally that “the _actual_ degree of fertility is decided by the direct action of the environment.” [55] On that last rock Mr. Pell’s barque sinks. The mistake here is analogous to the old Darwinian fallacy, abandoned by Huxley and by Romanes, that natural selection is a creative cause of new species. Even if the hypothesis of evolution–and it is merely a hypothesis–be accepted, the only view warranted by reason is that variation of species and their actual degree of fertility may be produced, not by the direct action of environment, but by the _reaction_ of species to their environment–a very different story.

There is no statistical evidence to prove a uniform correspondence between birth-rates and death-rates, and it is improbable that there should be a physical law of nature whose operations cannot be demonstrated by mathematical proof. Moreover, we know that the same conditions which cause a high birth-rate may cause a low death-rate. In the case of the first settlers in a new country the death-rate is low because the diseases of civilisation are absent and the settlers are usually young, whereas the birth-rate is high. If fifty young married couples settle on the virgin soil of a new country it is probable that for many years an enormous birth-rate, of over 100, will coexist with a low death-rate.

In reality a high birth-rate may coexist with a low death-rate, or with a high death-rate. For example, there is a difference between natural and artificial poverty, the first being brought about by God, or, if any reader prefers to have it so, by Nature, and the second being made by man. Under conditions of natural poverty small groups of people in an open country are surrounded by land not yet cultivated: whereas artificial poverty means a population overcrowded and underfed, living in dark tenements or in back-to-back houses, breathing foul air in ill-ventilated rooms seldom lit by the sun, working long hours in gas-lit workshops for a sweated wage, buying the cheapest food in the dearest market, and drugged by bad liquor. In either case their existence is threatened, although for very different reasons, and the birth-rate rises; but under conditions of natural poverty the death-rate is low, whereas in slums the death-rate is high.


It would appear, then, that under conditions of hardship the birth-rate tends to rise, and that in circumstances of ease the birth-rate tends to fall. If the existence of the inhabitants in a closed country is threatened by scarcity, the birth-rate tends to rise. For example, “In some of the remote parts of the country, Orkney and Shetland, the population remained practically stationary between the years 1801 and 1811, and in the next ten years, still years of great scarcity, it increased 15 per cent.” [56]

The governing principle may be expressed in the following generalisation. When the existence of a community is threatened by adversity the birth-rate tends to rise; but when the existence of a community is threatened by prosperity the birth-rate tends to fall. By adversity I mean war, famine, scarcity, poverty, oppression, an untilled soil, and disease: and by prosperity I mean wealth, luxury, idleness, a diet too rich–especially in flesh meat–and over-civilisation, whereby the physical laws of nature are defied. Now the danger of national decline owing to prosperity can be avoided by a nation that observes the moral law, and this is the most probable explanation of the fact that in Ireland, although the general prosperity of the people has rapidly increased since George Wyndham displaced landlordism over a large area by small ownership, the birth-rate has continued to rise. Moreover, the danger to national existence, as we have already indicated (Chapter I, Section. 10) is greater from moral than from physical catastrophes, and when both catastrophes are threatened the ultimate issue depends upon which of the two is the greater. Furthermore, it would appear that moral catastrophes inevitably lead to physical catastrophes. This is best illustrated by the fate of ancient Greece.

Section 4. ILLUSTRATED FROM GREEK HISTORY [Reference: Dangers]

The appositeness of this illustration arises from the fact that ancient Greece reached a very high level of material and intellectual civilisation, yet perished owing to moral and physical disasters.

(a) _Moral Catastrophe in Ancient Greece_

The evidence of the moral catastrophe is to be found in the change that occurred in the Greek character most definitely after the fourth century before Christ. Of this Mr. W.H.S. Jones has given the following account:

“Gradually the Greeks lost their brilliance, which had been as the bright freshness of early youth. This is painfully obvious in their literature, if not in other forms of art. Their initiative vanished; they ceased to create and began to comment. Patriotism, with rare exceptions, became an empty name, for few had the high spirit and energy to translate into action man’s duty to the State. Vacillation, indecision, fitful outbursts of unhealthy activity followed by cowardly depression, selfish cruelty, and criminal weakness are characteristic of the public life of Greece from the struggle with Macedonia to the final conquest by the arms of Rome. No one can fail to be struck by the marked difference between the period from Marathon to the Peloponnesian War and the period from Alexander to Mummius. Philosophy also suffered, and became deeply pessimistic even in the hands of its best and noblest exponents. ‘Absence of feeling,’ ‘absence of care’–such were the highest goals of human endeavour.

“How far this change was due to other causes is a complicated question. The population may have suffered from foreign admixture during the troubled times that followed the death of Alexander. There were, however, many reasons against the view that these disturbances produced any appreciable difference of race. The presence of vast numbers of slaves, not members of households, but the gangs of toilers whom the increase of commerce brought into the country, pandered to a foolish pride that looked upon many kinds of honourable labour as being shameful and unbecoming to a free man. The very institution that made Greek civilisation possible encouraged idleness, luxury, and still worse vices. Unnatural vice, which in some States seems to have been positively encouraged, was prevalent among the Greeks to an almost incredible extent. It is hard not to believe that much physical harm was caused thereby; of the loss to moral strength and vigour there is no need to speak. The city-state, again, however favourable to the development of public spirit and a sense of responsibility, was doomed to fail in a struggle against the stronger Powers of Macedon and Rome. The growth of the scientific spirit destroyed the old religion. The more intellectual tried to find principles of conduct in philosophy; the ignorant or half-educated, deprived of the strong moral support that always comes from sharing the convictions of those abler and wiser than oneself, fell back upon degrading superstitions. In either case there was a serious loss of that spirit of self-sacrifice and devotion which a vigorous religious faith alone can bestow. Without such a spirit, as history proves conclusively, no nation or people can survive.” [57]

(b) _The Physical Catastrophe induced by Selfishness_

One of the physical catastrophes that probably most accelerated the fall of Greek civilisation was malarial fever. The parasite of this disease is carried from man to man by Anopheline mosquitoes. These insects, during the stage of egg, larva, and nympha, live in water, and afterwards, as developed insects, in the air. The breeding-grounds, where the eggs are laid, are shallow pools of stagnant water. For that reason the disease is most common in marshy country, and tends to disappear when the land is properly drained. Of this we have an example in England, whence malaria disappeared as the marshes were drained.

In Homer there is a disputed reference to malaria, but it is not possible to ascertain whether the disease was present during the rise of Greek civilisation, and there are no references to this disease in the literature from 700 B.C. to 550 B.C. [58] From this date references to malaria gradually become more frequent, and Hippocrates stated that “those who live in low, moist, hot districts, and drink the stagnant water, of necessity suffer from enlarged spleen. They are stunted and ill-shaped, fleshy and dark, bilious rather than phlegmatic. Their nature is to be cowardly and adverse from hardship; but good discipline can improve their character in this respect.” [59] After an exhaustive study of the literature, Mr. Jones concludes “that malaria was endemic throughout the greater part of the Greek world by 400 B.C.”

Concerning the causes of a malarial epidemic, Sir Ronald Ross writes: [60] “Suppose that the Anophelines have been present from the first, but that the number of infected immigrants has been few. Then, possibly, some of these people have happened to take up their abode in places where the mosquitoes are rare; others may have recovered quickly; others may not have chanced to possess parasites in suitable stages when they have been bitten. Thus, the probability of their spreading infection would be very small. Or, supposing even that some few new infections have been caused, yet, by our rough calculations in section 12, _unless the mosquitoes are sufficiently numerous_ in the locality, the little epidemic may die out after a while–for instance, during the cool season.” The italics are mine, because some writers have suggested that the decline of Greece was _due_ to malaria, whereas I submit, as the more logical interpretation of the facts, that a moral catastrophe led to the neglect of agriculture, whereby the area of marshy land became more extensive, mosquitoes more numerous, and the fever more prevalent.

In view of the foregoing facts, the following Malthusian statement, although groundless, is nevertheless an amusing example of the errors that arise from lack of a little knowledge:

“The difficulty of providing for a high birth-rate in a settled community was appreciated by the ancient Greeks, notably by Plato and Aristotle; but their conclusions were swept aside by the warlike spirit of Rome, and the sentimentality of Christianity, so that only a few isolated thinkers showed any appreciation of them.” [61]

[Footnote 51: Quoted in _The Law of Births and Deaths_, by Charles Edward Pell, 1921, chap. xii.]

[Footnote 52: _The Law of Births and Deaths_, 1921.]

[Footnote 53: Ibid., p. 40.]

[Footnote 54: _The Law of Births and Deaths_, 1921, p. 41.]

[Footnote 55: Ibid., p. 40.]

[Footnote 56: Dr. John Brownlee, _The Declining Birth-rate_, p. 156.]

[Footnote 57: _Malaria and Greek History_, 1909, pp. 102 et seq.]

[Footnote 58: Ibid., p. 26.]

[Footnote 59: Ibid., p. 85.]

[Footnote 60: _Report on the Prevention of Malaria in Mauritius_, p. 51.]

[Footnote 61: C.V. Drysdale, O.B.E., D. Sc., _The Malthusian Doctrine and its Modern Aspects_, p. 3.]



Birth controllers claim that the fall in the English birth-rate, which began to decline in 1876, is mostly due to the use of contraceptives: but the very fact that this claim is made by these reckless propagandists makes it imperative that we should scrutinise the evidence very carefully.


In support of the Malthusian contention, Dr. C.V. Drysdale, who is not a doctor of medicine but a doctor of science, has published the following statements:

“… We might note that a recent investigation of the records of the Quakers (the Society of Friends) reveals the fact that family limitation has been adopted by them to a most astonishing extent. Their birthrate [_sic_] stood at 20 per thousand in 1876, and has now actually fallen to about 8 per thousand. The longevity of Quakers is well known, and the returns of deaths given by their Society show that the great majority live to between seventy and ninety years. Infantile mortality is practically unknown among them, although none of the special steps so dear to most social reformers have been taken for the protection of infant life. The Quakers are well known to be very earnest Christians, and to give the best example of religious morality. Their probity in business and their self-sacrifice in humanitarian work of all kinds are renowned. Yet it would seem that they have adopted family restriction to a greater extent than any other body of people, and, since the decline of their birth-rate only began in 1876, that it is due to adoption of preventive methods.” [62]

Again, he translates the following quotation from a Swiss author:

“In France a national committee has been formed which has as its object an agitation for the increase of the population. Upon this committee these [? there] sit, besides President Poincare, who, although married, has no children, twenty-four senators and litterateurs. These twenty-five persons, who preach to their fellow citizens by word and pen, have between them nineteen children, or not one child on the average per married couple. Similarly, a Paris journal (_Intransigeant_, August and September, 1908) had the good idea of publishing four hundred and forty-five names of the chief Parisian personalities who are never tired of lending their names in support of opposition to the artificial restriction of families. I give these figures briefly without the names, which have no special interest for us. Anyone interested in the names can consult the paper well known in upper circles. Among them:

176 married couples had 0 children = 0 children 106 ” ” ” 1 child = 106 “
88 ” ” ” 2 children = 176 ” 40 ” ” ” 3 ” = 120 “
19 ” ” ” 4 ” = 76 ” 7 ” ” ” 5 ” = 35 “
4 ” ” ” 6 ” = 24 “
3 ” ” ” 7 ” = 21 “
1 ” ” ” 9 ” = 9 “
1 ” ” ” 11 ” = 11 “

Total 445 with 578

That is, an average one and a third children per couple, while each single one of these families could much more easily have supported twenty children than a working-class family a single child.”

“Comment on the above is superfluous,” adds Dr. C.V. Drysdale, and with that remark most people will cordially disagree. The obvious interpretation of the foregoing figures is that there has been a decline in natural fertility amongst highly educated and civilised people. But that interpretation does not suit Dr. Drysdale’s book, and hence we have the disgraceful spectacle of a writer who, in order to bolster up an argument which is rotten from beginning to end, does not hesitate to launch without a particle of evidence a charge of gross hypocrisy against the Quakers of England, a body of men and women who in peace and in war have proved the sincerity of their faith, and against four hundred and seventy respected citizens of Paris. Further comment on _that_ is superfluous. At the same time it is obvious that, in so far as their pernicious propaganda spreads and is adopted, Malthusians may claim to contribute to the fall of the birth-rate, and towards the decline of the Empire.


In the course of an inquiry on the fertility of women who had received a college education, the National Birth Rate Commission [63] attempted to discover to what extent birth control was practised amongst the middle and professional classes. Of those amongst whom the inquiry was made 477 gave definite answers, from which it was ascertained that 289, or 60 per cent., consciously limited their families, or attempted to do so; and that 188, or 40 per cent. made no attempt to limit their families. Amongst those who limited their families 183 stated the means employed, and of these, 105, or 57 per cent., practised continence, whilst 78, or 43 per cent., used artificial or unnatural methods.

Now comes a most extraordinary fact. Dr. Major Greenwood, [64] a statistician whose methods are beyond question, discovered that there was no real mathematical difference between the number of children in the “limited” families and the number in the unlimited families. In both groups of families the number of children was smaller than the average family in the general population, and in both groups there were fewer children than in the families of the preceding generation to which the parents belonged. Dr. Greenwood states that this is _prima facie_ evidence that deliberate birth control has produced little effect, and that the lowered fertility is the expression of a natural change. Nevertheless, he holds that the latter explanation cannot be accepted as wholly proved on the evidence, owing to certain defects in the data on which his calculations were based.

“I am of opinion that we should hesitate before adopting that interpretation in view of the cogent indirect evidence afforded by other data that the fall of the birth-rate is differential, and that the differentiation is largely economic. There are at least two considerations which must be borne in mind in connection with these schedules. The first is, that all the marriages described as unlimited may not have been so. I do not suggest that the answers are intentionally false, but it is possible that many may have considered that limitation implied the use of mechanical means; that marriages in which the parties merely abstained from, _or limited the occasions of_, sexual intercourse may have frequently entered as of unrestricted fertility.”

The above italics are mine, because, if that surmise be correct, it goes to prove that the restriction of intercourse to certain periods, which restriction the married may lawfully practise, is as efficacious in limiting the size of a family as are those artificial methods of birth control contrary both to natural and to Christian morality. Dr. Major Greenwood continues as follows:

“In the second place, the schedules do not provide us with information as to when limitation was introduced. We are told, for instance, that the size of the family was five and that its number was limited. This may mean _either_ that throughout the duration of the marriage preventive measures were adopted from time to time, _or_ that _after_ five children had been born fertile intercourse was stopped. In the absence of detailed information on this point it is plainly impossible to form an accurate judgment as to the effect of limitation.”

There are, therefore, no accurate figures to indicate the extent to which birth control has contributed to the decline in the birth-rate.


Moreover the claim of birth controllers, that the decline in the English birth-rate is mainly due to the use of contraceptives, is rendered highly improbable by the fact that the Registrar-General [65] has shown that in 1911 the birth-rate in different classes varied according to the occupation of the fathers. The figures are these:

Births per 1,000 married Social Class. males aged under 55, including retired.

1. Unskilled workmen 213 2. Intermediate class 158
3. Skilled workmen 153 4. Intermediate 132
5. Upper and middle class 119

Thus, ascending the social scale, we find, in class upon class, that as the annual income increases the number of children in the family diminishes, until we come to the old English nobility of whom, according to Darwin, 19 per cent. are childless. These last have every reason to wish for heirs to inherit their titles and what land and wealth they possess, and, as their record in war proves them to be no cowards’ breed, it would be a monstrous indictment to maintain that their childlessness is mostly due to the use of contraceptives. If _all_ these results arose from the practice of birth control, it would imply a crescendo of general national selfishness unparalleled in the history of humanity. No, it is not possible to give Neo-Malthusians credit, even for all the evil they claim to have achieved.


Nevertheless, artificial birth control is an evil and too prevalent thing. My contention is that the primary cause of our falling birth-rate is over-civilisation; one of the most evil products of this over-civilisation, whereby simple, natural, and unselfish ideals, based on the assumption that national security depends on the moral and economic strength of family life, have been replaced largely by a complicated, artificial, and luxurious individualism; and that diminished fertility, apart from the practice of artificial birth control, is a result of luxurious individualism. Even if it be so, one of the most evil products of over-civilisation is the use of contraceptives, because this practice, more than any other factor in social life, hastens, directly and indirectly, the fall of a declining birth-rate; and artificial birth control, to the extent to which it is practised, therefore aggravates the consequences of a law of decline already apparent in our midst. I have already said that restriction of intercourse, as held lawful by the Catholic Church, is possibly as efficacious in limiting the size of a family as are artificial methods. If any man shall say that therefore there is no difference between these methods, let him read the fuller explanation given in another connection on p. 153. (See [Reference: Explanation]) The method which reason and morality alike permit is devoid of all those evils, moral, psychological, and physiological, that follow the use of contraceptives.

[Footnote 62: _The Small Family System_, pp. 195 and 160, New York, 1917.]

[Footnote 63: _The Declining Birth-rate_, p. 323.]

[Footnote 64: _The Declining Birth-rate_, p. 324.]

[Footnote 65: _The Declining Birth-rate_, p. 9.]




Birth control is alleged to be beneficial for men and women, and these “benefits” are no less amazing than the fallacies on which this practice is advocated. At the Obstetric Section of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1921 the leading physicians on diseases of women condemned the use of contraceptives. [66]

_A Cause of Sterility_

Dr. R.A. Gibbons, Physician to the Grosvenor Hospital for Women, said that nowadays it was common for a young married woman to ask her medical man for advice as to the best method of preventing conception. The test of relative sterility was the rapidity with which conception takes place. He had made confidential inquiries in 120 marriages. In 100 cases preventive measures had been used at one time or another, and the number of children was well under 2 per marriage. In Paris some time ago the birth-rate was 104 per 1,000 in the poorer quarters and only 34 in a rich quarter of the city; in London comparative figures had been given as 195 and 63 in poor and in rich quarters. These and similar figures showed that women living in comfort and luxury did not want to be bothered with confinements. It had been said that the degree of sterility could be regarded as an index to the morals of a race. Congenital sterility was rare, but the number of children born in England was decreasing. It had been estimated that one-third of the pregnancies in several great cities abroad aborted. Dr. Gibbons then quoted figures given by Douglas Wight and Amand Routh to show the high percentage of abortions and stillbirths. In his opinion it was the duty of medical men to point out to the public that physiological laws could not be broken with impunity. It had been observed that if the doe were withheld from the buck at oestral periods atrophy of the ovary took place. In this connection Dr. Gibbons recalled a large number of patients who had used contraceptives in early married life, and subsequently had longed in vain for a child. This applied also to those who had decided, after the first baby, to have no more children, and had subsequently regretted their decision.


Professor McIlroy, of the London School of Medicine for Women, deplored the amount of time spent on attempting to cure sterility when contraceptives were so largely used. The fact that neuroses were largely the result of the use of contraceptives should be made widely known, and also that in women the maternal passion was even stronger, though it might develop later, than sexual passion, and would ultimately demand satisfaction.

_Fibroid Tumours_

Dr. Arthur E. Giles, Senior Surgeon to the Chelsea Hospital for Women, endorsed Dr. Gibbons’s remarks as to the great unhappiness resulting from deliberately childless marriages, and he added that he had always warned patients of this. He believed that quinine had a permanently bad effect. Those who waited for a convenient season to have a child often laid up trouble for themselves. On the question of fibroid tumours he had come to the conclusion that these were not a cause but in a sense a consequence of sterility. Women who were subjected to sexual excitement with no physiological outlet appear to have a tendency to develop fibroids. He would like the opinion to go forth from the section that the use of contraceptives was a bad thing.

All these authorities are agreed that the practice of artificial sterility during early married life is the cause of many women remaining childless, although later on these women wish in vain for children. To meet this difficulty one of the advocates of birth control advises all young couples to make sure of some children before adopting these practices; thus demanding of young parents, at the very time when it is most irksome, that very sacrifice of personal comfort and prosperity to prevent which is the precise object of the vicious practice. Nor is sterility the only penalty. The disease known as neurasthenia arises both in women _and in men_ in consequence of these methods. Dr. Mary Sharlieb, [67] after forty years’ experience of diseases of women, writes as follows:

“Now, on the surface of things, it would seem as if a knowledge of how to prevent the too rapid increase of a family would be a boon to over-prolific and heavily burdened mothers. There are, however, certain reasons which probably convert the supposed advantage into a very real disadvantage. An experience of well over forty years convinces me that the artificial limitation of the family causes damage to a woman’s nervous system. The damage done is likely to show itself in inability to conceive when the restriction voluntarily used is abandoned because the couple desire offspring.

“I have for many years asked women who came to me desiring children whether they have ever practised prevention, and they very frequently tell me that they did so during the early days of their married life because they thought that their means were not adequate to the support of a family. Subsequently they found that conception, thwarted at the time that desire was present, fails to occur when it becomes convenient. In such cases, even although examination of the pelvic organ shows nothing abnormal, all one’s endeavours to secure conception frequently go unrewarded. Sometimes such a woman is not only sterile, but nervous, and in generally poor health; but the more common occurrence is that she remains fairly well until the time of the change of life, when she frequently suffers more, on the nervous side, than does the woman who has lived a natural married life.”

The late Dr. F.W. Taylor, President of the British Gynaecological Society, wrote as follows in 1904:

“Artificial prevention is an evil and a disgrace. The immorality of it, the degradation of succeeding generations by it, their domination or subjection by strangers who are stronger because they have not given way to it, the curses that must assuredly follow the parents of decadence who started it,–all of this needs to be brought home to the minds of those who have thoughtlessly or ignorantly accepted it, for it is to this undoubtedly that we have to attribute not only the diminishing birth-rate, but the diminishing value of our population.

“It would be strange indeed if so unnatural a practice, one so destructive of the best life of the nation, should bring no danger or disease in its wake, and I am convinced, after many years of observation, that both sudden danger and chronic disease may be produced by the methods of prevention very generally employed…. The natural deduction is that the artificial production of modern times, the relatively sterile marriage, is an evil thing, even to the individuals primarily concerned, injurious not only to the race, but to those who accept it.”

That was the opinion of a distinguished gynaecologist, who also happened to be a Christian. The reader may protest that the latter fact is entirely irrelevant to my argument, and that the value of a man’s observations concerning disease is to be judged by his skill and experience as a physician, and not by his religious beliefs. A most reasonable statement. Unhappily, the Neo-Malthusians think otherwise. They would have us believe that because this man was a Christian his opinion, as a gynaecologist, is worthless. C.V. Drysdale, O.B.E., D. Sc., after quoting Dr. Taylor’s views, adds the following foot-note:

“I have since learnt that Dr. Taylor was a very earnest Christian, and the author of several sacred hymns and of a pious work, _The Coming of the Saints_.” [68]

Furthermore, in 1905, the South-Western Branch of the British Medical Association passed the following resolution:

“That this Branch is of opinion that the growing use of contraceptives and ecbolics is fraught with great danger both to the individual and to the race. That this Branch is of opinion that the advertisements and sale of such appliances and substances, as well as the publication and dissemination of literature relating thereto, should be made a penal offence.” [69]


The foregoing opinions are very distasteful to Neo-Malthusians, and these people, being unable apparently to give a reasoned answer, do not hesitate to suggest that medical opposition, when not due to religious bias, is certainly due to mercenary motives.

“As the Church has a vested interest in souls, so the medical profession has a vested interest in bodies. Birth is a source of revenue, direct and indirect. It means maternity fees first; it generally presupposes preliminary medical treatment of the expectant mother; and it provides a new human being to be a patient to some member of the profession, humanly certain to have its share of infantile diseases, and likely, if it survives them, to produce children of its own before the final death-bed attendance is reached.” [70]

That scandalous suggestion has recently been repeated by the President of the Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress under the following circumstances. On October 31, 1921, the _Sussex Daily News_ published the following paragraph from its London correspondent.


“Reverberations of Lord Dawson’s recent sensational address to the Church Congress on birth control are still being felt as well in medical as in clerical circles. Indeed, the subject has been discussed by the lawyers at Gray’s Inn. The London Association of the Medical Women’s Federation had so animated a discussion on it that it was decided to continue it at the next meeting. It is quite evident that Lord Dawson did not speak for a united medical profession. Indeed, quite a number of doctors of all creeds are attacking the new Birth Control Society. A London physician has a pamphlet on the subject in the Press, and the controversy rages fiercely in the neighbourhood of ‘birth-control’ clinics. Much is likely to be made of the example of France, where the revolt against the practices advocated is now in full swing, and strong legal measures have been taken and are in contemplation. French medical opinion is said to be very pronounced on the subject, and it has, of course, a great deal of clinical experience to back it.”

On November 8, a second paragraph appeared:


“My remark recently that ‘a number of doctors of all creeds are attacking the new Birth-Control Society’ has been challenged by the hon. secretary of the body in question, who observes that I am misinformed. I must adhere to my statement, which was a record of personal observation. Many doctors have spoken to me on the subject, and their opinions on the ethics of birth control differ widely; but I can only remember one who did not attack this particular society. The secretary suggests that I am confusing what his society advocates with something else. As a matter of fact, the whole question of birth control has been discussed more than once by medical bodies. A doctor who attended one such discussion shortly after the opening of the clinic in Holloway told me that, while there was division of opinion on the general subject, the feeling of the meeting was overwhelming against the particular teaching given at the clinic, as undesirable and actively mischievous. The subject is controversial, and I profess to do no more than record such opinions as are current.”

On November 17 the _Sussex Daily News_ published the following letter:


“Sir,–Your recent paragraph of ‘opinions’ about the Mothers’ Clinic and the Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress is not only extremely unrepresentative, but grossly misleading. Your writer says that he can only remember one doctor who did not attack this particular society. This implies that the medical profession is against it, which is absolutely untrue, as is quite evident from the fact that we have three of the most distinguished medical men in Great Britain on our list of Vice-Presidents; four others, also very distinguished, on our Research Committee; and that Dr. E.B. Turner, in a Press interview after the recent Church Congress, singled out Constructive Birth Control as the only ‘Control’ which was not mischievous.

“_That there may be medical men who do not approve of birth control is natural, when one remembers that a doctor has to make his living, and can do so more easily when women are ailing with incessant pregnancies than when they maintain themselves in good health by only having children when fitted to do so. Opinions of medicals, therefore, must be sifted. The best doctors are with us; the self-seeking and the biassed may be against us_.

“Details about the society, including the manifesto signed by a series of the most distinguished persons, can be obtained on application to the Honorary Secretary, at … London, N.19.–Yours, etc.

“President Society for Constructive and Racial Progress.”

The italics are mine, and they draw attention to a disgraceful statement concerning the medical profession. As the reader is aware, certain members of our profession approve of artificial birth control. What, I ask, would be the opinion of the general public, and of my friends, if I were so distraught as to suggest that these men approved of birth control because they had a financial interest in the sale of contraceptives? That suggestion would be as reckless and as wicked as the statement made by Dr. Marie C. Stopes. In the _British Medical Journal_ of November 26 I quoted, without comment, the above italicised paragraph as her opinion of the medical profession, and on December 10 the following reply from the lady appeared:

“Your two correspondents, Dr. Halliday Sutherland and Dr. Binnie Dunlop, by quoting paragraphs without their full context, appear to lend support to views which by implication are, to some extent, detrimental to my own. This method of controversy has never appealed to me, but in the interests of the society with which I am associated, I must be allowed to answer the implications. The paragraph quoted by Dr. Sutherland is not, as would appear from his letter, a simple opinion of mine on the medical profession, but was written in reply to a rather scurrilous paragraph so worded as to lead the public to believe that the medical profession as a whole was against the Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress. My answer, which appeared not only in the papers quoted but in others, contained the following statement: ‘We have three of the most distinguished medical men in Great Britain on our list of Vice-Presidents; four others, also very distinguished, on our Research Committee.’ Reading these words before the paragraph your correspondent quotes, and taking all in conjunction with an attack implying that the entire medical profession was against us, it is obvious that the position is rather different from what readers of Dr. Sutherland’s letter in your issue of November 26 might suppose.”

It will be noted that Dr. Stopes does not withdraw but attempts to justify her scandalous suggestion by stating, firstly, that the full context of her letter was not quoted by me, and secondly, that her original letter was written “in reply to a rather scurrilous paragraph.”

As I have now quoted in full her original letter, excepting the address of her society, and the two paragraphs from the _Sussex Daily News_, my readers may form their own judgment on the following points: Is it possible to maintain that the whole context of her original letter puts a different complexion on her remarks concerning the medical profession? Can either of the paragraphs from the _Sussex Daily News_ be truthfully described as “rather scurrilous,” or are they fair comment on a matter of public interest? Moreover, even if a daily paper _had_ published a misleading paragraph about this society, surely that is not a valid reason why its President should make a malignant attack, not on journalists, but on the medical profession?


Nor does birth control lead to happiness in marriage. On the contrary, experience shows that the practice is injurious not only to the bodies but also to the minds of men and women. As no method of contraception is infallible, the wife who allows or adopts it may find herself in the truly horrible position of being secretly or openly suspected of infidelity. Again, when a family has been limited to one or two children and these die, the parents may find themselves solitary and childless in old age; and mothers thus bereaved are often the victims of profound and lasting melancholy. The mother of a large family has her worries, many of them not due to her children, but to the social evils of our time: and yet she is less to be pitied than the woman who is losing her beauty after a fevered life of, vanity and self-indulgence, and who has no one to love her, not even a child.

Moreover, these practices have an influence on the relation between husband and wife, on their emotions towards each other and towards the whole sexual nisus. Mr. Bernard Shaw recently stated [71] that when people adopt methods of birth control they are engaging, not in sexual intercourse, but in reciprocal masturbation.

That is the plain truth of the matter. Or, from another point of view, it may be said that the man who adopts these practices is simply using his wife as he would use a prostitute, as indeed was said long ago by St. Thomas Aquinas. [72] The excuse offered for illicit sexual intercourse is not usually pleasure, but that the sex impulse is irresistible: and the same argument is used for conjugal union with prevention. In both cases the natural result of union is not desired, and positive means are taken to prevent it.

And what of the results on the mutual love, if an old-fashioned word be not now out of place, and on the self-respect of two people so associated? Birth control cannot make for happiness, because it means that mutual love is at the mercy of an animal instinct, neither satisfied nor denied. It is an old truth that those who seek happiness for itself never find it. And yet the advocates of birth control have the temerity to claim that these practices lead to happiness. I presume that of the bliss following marriage with contraceptives the crowded lists of our divorce courts are an index. The marriage bond is weakened when a common lasting interest in the care of children is replaced by transient sexual excitement. Once pregnancy is abolished there is no natural check on the sexual passions of husband or wife, for they have learnt how sexual desire may be gratified without the pain, publicity, and responsibility of having children. In the experience of the world marriages based merely on passion are seldom happy, and artificial birth control means passion uncontrolled by nature. These methods are not practised by nations such as Ireland and Spain, who accept the moral rule of the natural law expressed in God’s commandments and sanctioned by His judgments; and no man who has ever lived in these countries could truthfully maintain that the people there, on whom the burdens of marriage press as elsewhere, are in reality anxious to obtain facilities for divorce. On the other hand, there are many who allege that the people of England are shouting out for greater facilities for divorce than they now possess. At any rate, it is obvious enough that there are those amongst us who are straining every nerve to force such facilities upon them.


It has been said that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel; and apparently chivalry is the last refuge of a fool. Some of the advocates of birth control who have never thought the matter out, either passionately or dispassionately, claim to speak on behalf of women. They protest that “many women of the educated classes revolt against the drudgery, anxieties, inconveniences, disease, and disfigurements which attend the yearly child-bearing advocated by the moralist.” [73]

What moralist? Who ever said it? Again, they plead for women who “revolt” from the “disfigurement” of the gestation period. The great artist Botticelli did not think this was disfigurement. What true women do? Are they not those of whom Kipling writes, “as pale and as stale as a bone”? And, if so, are these unworthy specimens of their sex worth tears? The vast majority of women bear the discomforts of gestation and the actual perils and pangs of birth with exemplary fortitude: and it is a gross slander for anyone to maintain that a few cowardly and degenerate individuals really represent that devoted sex. But these writers are indeed well out of the ruck of ordinary humanity, because they tell us that “whatever the means employed, and whether righteous or not, the propensity to limit the highest form of life operates silently and steadily amongst the more thoughtful members of all civilized countries,” and yet add that “it is not perhaps good taste to consider the means employed to this end.” While they thus approve and commend the practice of birth control as natural to “the more thoughtful members,” they nevertheless question the “good taste” of discussing the very methods of which they approve, even in the columns of a medical journal! Again, they tell us that “assuredly continence is not, and never will be, the principal” method. That may be possibly true, so long as Christianity is more professed than practised; God knows we are all lacking enough in self-control. And yet throughout the ages moralists have preached the advantages of self-control, and we ordinary men and women know that we could do better, and that others who have gone before us have done better; but it is the self-styled “thoughtful members” who proclaim to the world that self-control in matters of sex is an impossibility, and therefore not to be even attempted. They are no common people–these epicureans, selfish even in their refinement. In addition to losing their morals, they have certainly lost their wits.


In the Neo-Malthusian propaganda there is yet another fact which–should be seized by every married woman, because it is a clear indication of a tendency to reduce women to degrading subjection. No recommendations of limited intercourse or of self-restraint according to the dictates of reason or of affection are to be found in the writings of birth controllers. Unrestrained indulgence, without the risk of consequences, is their motto. To this end they advocate certain contraceptive methods, and the reader should note that these methods require precautions to be taken solely by the woman. If she fails to take these precautions, or if the precautions themselves fail, all responsibility for the occurrence of conception rests on her alone; because her Malthusian masters have decided that she alone is to be, made responsible for preventing the natural or possible consequences of intercourse. Why? That is a very interesting question, and one to which a leading Neo-Malthusian has given the answer.

In 1854 there was published, _Physical, Sexual and Natural Religion: by a Graduate of Medicine_. In the third edition the title was altered to _The Elements of Social Science_, and the author’s pseudonym to _A Doctor of Medicine_. This book, which contains over 600 pages of small type, may be truthfully described as the Bible of Neo-Malthusians, and includes, under the curious heading _Sexual Religion_, a popular account of all venereal and other diseases of sex. In the Preface to the first edition, [74] the anonymous author states: “Had it not been the fear of causing pain to a relation, I should have felt it my duty to put my name to this work; in order that any censure passed upon it should fall upon myself alone.” The relation appears to have had a long life, because anonymity was preserved for fifty years, presumably out of respect for his, or her, feelings: and he, or she, must have lived as long as the author, who died in 1904 at the age of seventy-eight; because the author’s name was not revealed until a posthumous edition, the thirty-fifth, appeared in 1905, from which we learn that the book was written by the late Dr. George Drysdale, brother of the first President of the Malthusian League, and uncle of the present incumbent. The last edition, in recompense for its smudgy type, contains a most welcome announcement by the publisher:

“PUBLISHER’S NOTE.–… It is due alike to the reader and the publisher to explain why the present edition is printed (in the main) from stereotypes that have seen fifty years’ service. The cost of resetting the work would be prohibitive on the basis of present (and probable future) sales. To some extent the plates have been repaired; but such an expedient can do no more than remove the worse causes of offence.”

But the fact with which I am at present concerned is that in every edition all contraceptive methods that apply to the male are _condemned_ for the following reasons:

“The first of these modes [_coitus interruptus_] is physically injurious, and is apt to produce nervous disorder and sexual enfeeblement and congestion, from the sudden interruption it gives to the venereal act, whose _pleasure_ moreover it interferes with. The second, namely the sheath, _dulls the enjoyment_, and frequently produces impotence in the man and disgust in both parties; so that it also is injurious” (p. 349)…. “Any preventive means, to be satisfactory, must be used by the woman, as _it spoils the passion and the impulsiveness_ of the venereal act _if the man have to think of them_” (p. 350).

The italics are mine, but the following comments are by a woman, who was moreover the first woman to qualify in medicine–the late Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell.

“Here, in this chief teacher of the Neo-Malthusians, the cloven foot is fully revealed. This popular author, who in many parts of his book denounces marriage as the enslavement of men and women, who sneers at continence, and rages at Christianity as a vanishing superstition–all under a special pretence of benevolence and desire for the advancement of the human race, here clearly, shows what he is aiming at, and what his doctrines lead to. Male sexual pleasure must not be interfered with, male lust may be indulged in to any extent that pleasure demands, but woman must take the entire responsibility, that male indulgence be not disturbed by any inconvenient claims from paternity. Whatever consequences ensue the woman is to blame, and must bear the whole responsibility.

“A doctrine more diabolical in its theory and more destructive in its practical consequences has never been invented. This is the doctrine of Neo-Malthusianism.” [75]


(a) _Affecting the Young_

There are three special and peculiar evils that attend the teaching of birth control amongst the poor. Of the first a doctor has written as follows:

“Morally, the doctrine is indefensible–it follows the line of least resistance, and sacrifices the spirit to the flesh. Materially, it is fraught with grave danger to the home and to our national existence. It is proposed to disseminate a knowledge of contraceptive methods throughout the overcrowded homes of the ill-fed, ill-clad poor. Now it is in these homes that the moral sense has already but little chance of development, where the child of eight or ten already knows far more than is good for the health of either body or mind, and, though we may succeed in reducing the size of the family, yet the means we employ will militate against the raising of the moral tone of the household, and the children will not be any less precocious than before.” [76]

That danger is ignored by the advocates of birth-control. “But he that shall scandalise one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for, him that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth, of the sea.” [77]

(b) _Exposing the Poor to Experiment_

Secondly, the ordinary decent instincts of the poor are against these practices, and indeed they have used them less than any other class. But, owing to their poverty, lack of learning, and helplessness, the poor are the natural victims of those who seek to make experiments on their fellows. In the midst of a London slum a woman, who is a doctor of German philosophy (Munich), has opened a Birth Control Clinic, where working women are instructed in a method of contraception described by Professor McIlroy as “the most harmful method of which I have had experience.” [78] When we remember that millions are being spent by the Ministry of Health and by Local Authorities–on pure milk for necessitous expectant and nursing mothers, on Maternity Clinics to guard the health of mothers before and after childbirth, for the provision of skilled midwives, and on Infant Welfare Centres–all for the single purpose of bringing healthy children into our midst, it is truly amazing that this monstrous campaign of birth control should be tolerated by the Home Secretary. Charles Bradlaugh was condemned to jail for a less serious crime.

(c) _Tending towards the Servile State_

Thirdly, the policy of birth control opens the way to an extension of the Servile State, [79] because women as well as men could then be placed under conditions of economic slavery. Hitherto, the rule has been that during child-bearing age a woman must be supported by her husband, and the general feeling of the community has been opposed to any conditions likely to force married women on to the industrial market. In her own home a woman works hard, but she is working for the benefit of _her_ family and not directly for the benefit of a stranger. If, instead of bearing children, women practise birth control, and if children are to be denied to the poor as a privilege of the rich, then it would be very easy to exploit the women of the poorer classes. If women have no young children why should they be exempt from the economic pressure that is applied to men? And indeed, where birth control is practised women tend more and more to supplant men, especially in ill-paid grades of work. One of the birth controllers has suggested that young couples, who otherwise could not afford to marry, should marry but have no children, and thus continue to work at their respective employments during the day. As the girl would have little time for cooking and other domestic duties, this immoralist is practically subverting the very idea of a home! The English poor have already lost even the meaning of the word “property,” and if the birth controllers had their way the meaning of the word “home” would soon follow. The aim of birth control is generally masked by falsehood, but the urging of this policy on the poor points unmistakably to the Servile State. When a nation, or a section of a nation, is oppressed, their birth-rate rises. That is the immutable law of nature as witnessed in history. Thus, the Israelites increased under the oppression of the Pharaohs. Thus, the Irish, from the Union to the Famine, multiplied prodigiously under the oppression of an iniquitous political and land system. By the operation of this law the oppressed grow in numbers, and break their chains.


(a) _There is a Limit to lowering the Death-rate_

Birth controllers believe that a high birth-rate is the cause of a high death-rate, and that over-population is the cause of poverty. Yet, in spite of their beliefs, they make the following statement: “Neo-Malthusians have not aimed at reducing population, but only at reducing unnecessary death, which injures the community without adding to its numbers.” [80] In defence of this statement they argue that if the death-rate falls people will live longer, and therefore the population will not decrease, although the birth-rate is lowered. There are two fallacies in their argument. They overlook the fact that every one of us must die, and that therefore there is a limit beyond which a death-rate cannot possibly fall, whereas there is no limit, except zero, to the possible fall in a birth-rate. If a birth-rate fell to nothing and no children were born, it is obvious that the population would eventually vanish. The second fallacy is that a low birth-rate will permanently lower the death-rate. At first a falling birth-rate increases the proportion of young adults in the population, and, as the death-rate during early adult life is relatively low, the total death-rate tends to fall for a time. Sooner or later there is an increase in the proportion of old people in the population, and, as the death-rate during old age is high, the total death-rate tends to rise. That is now happening in England, and these are the _actual facts_ as recorded by the Registrar-General:

“It may be pointed out that, though the effect of the fall in the birth-rate has hitherto been an a sense advantageous in that it has increased the proportions living at the working ages, a tendency to the reversal of this fact has already set in, and may be expected to develop as time goes on….

“The general characteristics of the figures indicate very clearly the effects of the long-continued decline in the birth-rate of this country, and show, by the example of France, the type of age-distribution which a further continuance of the decline is likely to produce. The present age-distribution of the English population is still favourable to low death-rates, but is becoming less so than it was in 1901. The movements along the curve of the point of maximum heaping up population, referred to on page 61 (See [Reference: Population]), has shifted this from age 20-25 to a period ten years later, when mortality is appreciably higher.”–Census of England and Wales, 1911. General Report, with Appendices, pp. 62 and 65.

Of these facts the birth controllers, would appear to be ignorant. That is a charitable assumption; but, in view of the vital importance of this question their ignorance is culpable.

(b) _Birth Control tends to extinguish the Birth-rate_

Whatever may be the nebulous aim of birth controllers, the actual results of birth control are quite definite. We have no accurate information regarding the extent to which, birth control is practised, for, needless to say, the Malthusians can provide us with no exact figures bearing on this question; but we do know that birth control, when adopted, is mostly practised amongst the better paid artisans and wealthier classes. After full examination of the evidence; the National Birth-rate Commission were unanimously agreed “That the greater incidence of infant mortality upon the less prosperous classes does not reduce their effective fertility to the level of that of the wealthier classes.” [81] It is probable that this Commission overestimated the extent to which birth control has contributed to the declining birth-rate; but, even so, this does not alter the obvious fact that artificial birth control, when adopted, reduces fertility to a lower level than Nature intended. If language has any meaning, birth control means a falling birth-rate, and a falling birth-rate means depopulation. Here and there this evil practice may increase the material prosperity of an individual, but it lowers the prosperity of the nation by reducing the number of citizens. Moreover, as birth control is not a prevailing vice amongst semi-civilised peoples, the adoption of this practice by civilised nations means that the proportion of civilised to uncivilised inhabitants of the world will be reduced. If birth control had been extensively practised in the past the colonisation of the British Empire would have been a physical impossibility; and to-day, in our vast overseas dominions, are great empty spaces whose untilled soil and excellent climate await a population. Is that population to be white, or yellow? A question which to-day fills the Australian with apprehension.

(c) _A Danger to the Empire_

Many people are honestly perplexed by Neo-Malthusian propaganda, and are honestly ignorant of the truth concerning the population and the food supply of the British Empire. They think that _if_ the population is increasing faster than the food supply, there is at least one argument in favour of artificial birth control from a practical, although possibly not from an ethical, point of view. They apply to that propaganda the ordinary test of the world, namely, ‘Will it work?’ rather than that other test which asks, ‘Is it right?’ The question I would put to people who reason in that way, and they are many, is a very simple one. If it can be proved that Neo-Malthusian propaganda is based on an absolute falsehood, will it not follow that the chief argument in favour of artificial birth control has been destroyed? Let us put this matter to the proof. Neo-Malthusians state that the population of the Empire is increasing more rapidly than the food supply. That is a definite statement. It is either true or false. To discover the truth, it is necessary to refer to the Memorandum of the Dominions Royal Commission, and it may be noted that publications of that sort are not usually read by the general public to whom the Neo-Malthusians appeal. The public are aware that the staff of life is made from wheat, but they are not aware of the following facts, which prove that in this matter, at any rate, Neo-Malthusian statements are absolutely false. In foreign countries the increase of the wheat area is proceeding at practically the same rate as the increase of population. Within the British Empire _the wheat area is increasing more rabidly than the population_.

Between 1901 and 1911 the percentage increase of the wheat area _was nearly seven times greater_ than the increase of population; and the percentage increase in the actual production of wheat _was nearly twelve times greater_ than the increase of population. As these facts alone completely refute the Neo-Malthusian argument, it is advisable to reproduce here the official statistics. [82]

“The requirements of wheat [83] for the United Kingdom and the extent to which Home and overseas supplies contributed towards these requirements during the period under review can be briefly summarised by the following table, viz.:

Normal Supplies Proportion of supply Annual requirements
average Home Overseas Home Overseas

Million Million Million Per Per cwts cwts cwts cent cent 1901-5 138.8 28.7 110.1 20.7 79.3 1906-10 143.2 31.9 111.3 22.3 77.7 1911-13 149.2 32.9 116.3 22.1 77.9

“The main sources of overseas supply are too well known to require recapitulation here. The imports from the Dominions and India and their proportionate contribution to the United Kingdom’s total imports and wheat requirements since 1901 have been as follows:

From Annual Total Total
average imports requirements

Million Per Per
cwts cent cent

Canada 10.3 9.2 7.4
Australia 6.6 5.9 4.8
New Zealand .4 .4 .3
India 15.5 13.9 11.2

32.8 29.4 23.7

From Annual Total Total
average imports requirements

Million Per Per
cwts cent cent

Canada 17.2 15.1 12.0
Australia 9.4 8.2 6.6
New Zealand .3 .3 .2
India 13.3 11.7 9.3

32.8 29.4 23.7

From Annual Total Total
average imports requirements

Million Per Per
cwts cent cent

Canada 24.5 20.5 16.4
Australia 12.6 10.6 8.4
New Zealand .4 .3 .3
India 21.5 18.0 14.4

59.0 49.4 39.5

“The large increase in the proportion received from the Dominions is, of course, mainly due to the great extension of wheat cultivation in Western Canada since the beginning of the century.” [84]

_Future Supplies_

“As the United Kingdom is dependent for so large a proportion of its wheat supplies on the surplus of oversea countries, it is of material interest to examine whether this surplus is increasing, or whether the growth of population is proceeding more rapidly than the extension of the wheat-growing area.

“The Board of Agriculture and Fisheries in 1912 estimated [85] that the extension of the wheat area and the growth of population during the period 1901-1911 was as follows:

Wheat area Percent Population. Percent Wheat-growing age in age in countries. 1901. 1911. crease 1901. 1911. crease

British Empire Thousand Thousand Thousands Thousands (United Kingdom, acres. acres.
New Zealand,
and India). 34,696 50,490 +45.5 283,385 302,154 + 6.6 European
countries. 98,326 115,105 +17.1 291,685 337,181 +15.6 Others 67,908 81,408 +19.9 139,927 168,818 +20.6

“_It is important to find that, while in foreign countries, both European and extra-European, the increase of wheat area is proceeding at practically the same rate as the increase of population, in the British Empire the wheat area is developing far more rapidly, so that the Empire as a whole is becoming more self-supporting.

“The total production of wheat within the British Empire, which was 227,500,000 cwts. in 1901, had risen to 399,700,000 cwts. in 1911, an increase of 75 per cent_.

“The relative yield per acre in 1911 was as follows:”

Yield per acre.

Average for five
years, 1906-10. 1911. Bushels. Bushels.

United Kingdom 32.88 32.96 Canada 17.56[86] 20.80[87] Australia 11.74 9.65[88] New Zealand 28.72 36.73
(including Native States) 11.44 12.02

The foregoing facts destroy the chief Neo-Malthusian argument, and, as birth control tends to extinguish the birth-rate, this Neo-Malthusian propaganda is a menace to the Empire. In fact, the danger is very great for the simple reason that the proportion of white people within the Empire is very small.

“The British Empire’s share of the world’s people is very large, but it mainly consists, it should be remembered, of Asiatics and African natives. The Empire as a whole contains about 450 millions of the world’s 1,800 millions, made up roundly as follows:

United Kingdom 47,000,000 Self-governing Dominions 22,000,000 Rest of the Empire (chiefly India,
319 millions) 378,000,000 Total 447,000,000

“Of the great aggregate Empire population of 447 millions, the white people account for no more than 65 millions. That is to say, outside the United Kingdom itself the Empire has only 18 million white people, or less than four million families. That figure, of course, includes Boers, French-Canadians, and others of foreign extraction. This fact is clearly not realized by those present-day Malthusians who assure us that too many Britons are being born.” [89]

It is also well to remember that depopulation in Italy preceded the disintegration of the Roman Empire. Historians have estimated that, while under the Republic, Italy could raise an army of 800,000 men, under Titus that number was halved.

Unfortunately there are some to whom this argument will not appeal, and wandering about in our midst are a few lost souls, so bemused by the doctrines of international finance that they see no virtue in patriotism or, in other words, in the love that a man has for his own home. They are unmoved by the story of sacrifice, of thrift, and of patient trust in God that is told for instance in the history of the Protestant manses of Scotland, where ministers on slender stipends brought up families of ten and twelve, where the boys won scholarships at the universities, and where women were the mothers of men.

These days have been recalled by Norman Macleod:

“The minister, like most of his brethren, soon took to himself a wife, the daughter of a neighbouring ‘gentleman tacksman,’ and the grand-daughter of a minister, well born and well bred; and never did man find a help more meet for him. In that manse they lived for nearly fifty years, and there were born to them sixteen children; yet neither father nor mother could ever lay hand on a child and say, ‘We wish this one had not been.’ They were all a source of unmingled joy….” [90]

“A ‘wise’ neighbour once remarked, ‘That minister with his large family will ruin himself, and if he dies they will be beggars.’ Yet there has never been a beggar among then to the fourth generation.” [91]

How did they manage to provide for their children? In this pagan, spoon-fed age, many people will laugh when they read the answer–in a family letter, written more than a hundred years ago by a man who was poor:

“But the thought–I cannot provide for these! Take care, minister, the anxiety of your affection does not unhinge that confidence with which the Christian ought to repose upon the wise and good providence of God! What though you are to leave your children poor and friendless? Is the arm of the Lord shortened, that He cannot help? Is His ear heavy, that He cannot hear? You yourself have been no more than an instrument in the hand of His goodness; and is His goodness, pray, bound up in your feeble arm? Do you what you can; leave the rest to God. Let them be good, and fear the Lord, and keep His commandments, and He will provide for them in His own way and in His own time. Why, then, wilt thou be cast down, O my soul; why disquieted within me? Trust thou in the Lord! Under all the changes and the cares and the troubles of this life, may the consolations of religion support our spirits. In the multitude of thoughts within me, Thy comforts O my God, delight my soul! But no more of this preaching-like harangue, of which, I doubt not, you wish to be relieved. Let me rather reply to your letter, and tell you my news.” [92]

That letter was written by Norman Macleod, ordained in 1774, and minister of the Church of Scotland in Morven for some forty years. His stipend was L40, afterwards raised to L80. He had a family of sixteen. One of his sons was minister in Campbelltown, and later in Glasgow. He had a family of eleven. His eldest son was Chaplain to Queen Victoria, and wrote the _Reminiscences of a Highland Parish_.

The birth controllers ask why we should bring up children at great cost and trouble to ourselves, and they have been well answered by a non-Catholic writer, Dr. W.E. Home. [93]

“One of my acquaintances refuses to have a second child because he could not then play golf. Is there, then, no pleasure in children which shall compensate for the troubles and expenses they bring upon you? I notice that the penurious Roman Catholic French Canadian farmers are spreading out of Quebec and occupying more and more of Ontario. I fancy these hard-living parents would think their struggles to bring up their large (ten to twenty) families worth while when they see how their group is strengthening its position. If a race comes to find no instinctive pleasure in children it will probably be swept away by others more virile. One man will live where another will starve; prudence and selfishness are not identical.

“In her book, _The Strength of a People_, Mrs. Bosanquet, who signed the Majority Report of the Poor Law Commission, tells the story of two girls in domestic service who became engaged. One was imprudent, married at once, lived in lodgings, trusted to the Church and the parish doctor to see her through her first confinement, had no foresight or management, every succeeding child only added to her worries, and her marriage was a failure. The other was prudent, did not marry till, after six months, she and her fiance had chosen a house and its furniture. Then she married, and their house was their own careful choice; every table and chair reminded them of the afternoon they had had together when it was chosen; they were amusement enough to themselves, and they saved their money for the expenses of her confinement. He had not to seek amusement outside his home, did his work with a high sanction and got promoted, and each child was only an added pleasure. Idyllic; yes, but sometimes true. One of the happiest men I have known was a Marine sergeant with ten children, and a bed in his house for stray boys he thought he should help.

“One of my friends married young and had five children; this required management. He certainly could not go trips, take courses and extra qualifications, but he did his work all right, and his sons were there to help in the war, and one of them has won a position of Imperial usefulness far above that of his father or me. Is that no compensation to his parents for old-time difficulties they have by now almost forgotten? A bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit.”

Dr. W.E. Home is right, and the Neo-Malthusian golfer is wrong. Moreover, he is wrong as a golfer. Golf requires skill, a fine co-ordination of sight and touch, much patience and self-control: and many unfortunate people lack these qualities of mind and body, and are therefore unable to play this game with pleasure to themselves or to others. Consequently every golfer, no matter whether he accepts the hypothesis of Spencer or that of Weismann concerning the inheritance of acquired characteristics, should rejoice to see his large family in the links as a good omen for the future of this game, although there be some other reasons that also justify the existence of children.

_(d) The Dangers of Small Families_

In a Malthusian leaflet, written for the poor Dr. Binnie Dunlop states:

“You must at least admit that there would be nothing like the usual poverty if married couples had only one child for every 20s. or so, a week of wages. Yet the population would continue to increase rapidly, because very few of the children of small families die or grow up weakly; and it would become stronger, richer, and of course much happier.” [94]

The false suggestion contained in his first sentence, namely that a high birth-rate is the cause of poverty, has already been exposed (Chap. II), and apparently Dr. Binnie Dunlop has never considered _why_ so many of the English people should be so poor as to enable him to make use of their very poverty in order to tempt them to adopt an evil method of birth control. Moreover, his second contention, that a small family produces a higher type of child, better fed, better trained, and healthier, than is found amongst the children of large families is contrary to the following facts, as stated by Professor Meyrick Booth:

“1. A civilisation cannot be maintained with an average of less than about four children per marriage; a smaller number will lead to actual extinction.

“2. Much information exists tending to show that heredity strongly favours the third, fourth, fifth, and subsequent children born to a given couple, rather than the _first two_, who are peculiarly apt to inherit some of the commonest physical and mental defects (upon this important point the records of the University of London Eugenics Laboratory should be consulted). A population with a low birth-rate thus naturally tends to degenerate. _It is the normal, and not the small family, that gives the best children_.

“3. The present differential birth-rate–high amongst the less intelligent classes and low amongst the most capable families–so far from leading upwards, is causing the race to breed to a lower type.

“4. The small family encourages the growth of luxury and the development of what M. Leroy-Beaulieu calls _l’esprit arriviste_.

“5. The popular idea that _childbirth is injurious_ to a woman’s health is probably _quite erroneous_. Where the _birth-rate is high the health of the woman is apparently better_ than where it is artificially low.

“6. A study of history does not show that nations with low birth-rates have been able to attain to a higher level of civilisation. Such nations have been thrust into the background by their hardier neighbours.” [95]

Moreover, M. Leroy-Beaulieu, in _La Question de la Population_ [96] states that those districts of France which show an exceptionally low birthrate are distinguished by a peculiar atmosphere of materialism, and that their inhabitants exhibit, in a high degree, an attitude of mind well named _l’esprit arriviste_–the desire to concentrate on outward success, to push on, to be climbers, to advance themselves and their children in fashionable society. This spirit means the willing sacrifice of all ideals of ethics or of patriotism to family egoism. To this mental attitude, and to the corresponding absence of religion, he attributes the decline of population. In conclusion the following evidence is quoted by Professor Meyrick Booth:

“The _Revue des Deux Mondes_ for July 1911 contains a valuable account, by a doctor resident in Gascony, of the state of things in that part of France (where, it will be remembered, the birth-rate is especially low). He expresses with the utmost emphasis the conviction that the Gascons are deteriorating, physically and mentally, and points out, at the same time, that the decline of population has had an injurious effect upon the economic condition of the country. ‘L’hyponatalite est une cause precise et directe de la degenerescence de la race,’ he writes. And, dealing with the belief that a low birthrate will result in the development of a superior type of child, he says: ‘C’est une illusion qui ne resiste pas a la lumiere des faits tels que les montre l’etude demographique de nos villages gascons. Depuis que beaucoup de bancs restent vides a la petite ecole, les ecoliers ne sont ni mieux doues, ni plus travailleurs, et ils sont certainement moins vigoureux.’ And again, ‘La quantite est en general la condition premiere et souveraine de la qualite.'” [97]


All purposive actions are ultimately based on philosophy of one sort or another. If, for example, we find a rich man founding hospitals for the poor, we may assume that he believes in the principle of Charity. It is, therefore, of prime importance to determine what kind of philosophy underlies Neo-Malthusian propaganda. The birth controllers profess to be actuated solely by feelings of compassion and of benevolence towards suffering humanity; and it is on these grounds that they are appealing to the Church of England to bless their work, or at least to lend to their propaganda a cloak of respectability. Now, the very fact that Neo-Malthusians are sincere in their mistaken and dangerous convictions makes it all the more necessary that we should discover the doctrines on which their propaganda was originally based; because, although their economic fallacies were borrowed from Malthus, their philosophy came from a different source.

This philosophy is to be found, naked and unashamed, in a book entitled _The Elements of Social Science_. I have already referred to this work as the Bible of Neo-Malthusians, and its teaching has been endorsed as recently as 1905 by the official journal of the Malthusian League, as witness the following eulogy, whose last lines recall the happy days of Bret Harte in the Far West, and the eloquent periods of our old and valued friend Colonel Starbottle:

“This work should be read by all followers of J.S. Mill, Garnier, and the Neo-Malthusian school of economists. We could give a long criticism of the many important chapters in this book; but, as we might be considered as prejudiced in its favour because of our agreement with its aims, we prefer to cite the opinion given by the editor of that widely circulated and most enlightened paper _The Weekly Times and Echo_, which appears in its issue of October 8.” [98]

Before quoting from the book an explanation is due to my readers. I do not suggest that all of those who are to-day supporting the propaganda for artificial birth control would agree with its foolish blasphemies and drivelling imbecilities; but it is nevertheless necessary to quote these things, because our birth controllers are too wise in their day and generation to reveal to the public, still less to the Church of England, _the philosophy on which Neo-Malthusianism was originally based, and from which it has grown_. Moreover, the Malthusians claim that it was the author of the _Elements of Social Science_ “who interested Mr. Charles Bradlaugh and Mrs. Annie Besant in the question.” [99] Four quotations from the last edition of the book will suffice:

“But this is a certain truth, that any human being, any one of us, no matter how fallen and degraded, is an infinitely more glorious and adorable being than any God that ever was or will be conceived” (p. 413).

In justice to the memory of John Stuart Mill, whom Malthusians are ever quoting, it should be noted that the foregoing blasphemy is nothing more nor less than a burlesque of Positivism or of Agnosticism. The teaching of Mill, Bain, and of Herbert Spencer was that the knowledge of God and of His nature is impossible, because our senses are the _only_ source of knowledge. Their reasoning was wrong–because a primary condition of all knowledge is memory, in itself an intuition, because primary mathematical axioms are intellectual intuitions, and because mind has the power of abstraction; but, even so, not one of these men was capable of having written the above-quoted passage. The next quotation refers to marriage.

“Marriage is based upon the idea that constant and unvarying love is the only one which is pure and honourable, and which should be recognised as morally good. But there could not be a greater error than this. Love is, like all other human passions and appetites, subject to change, deriving a great part of its force and continuance from variety in its objects; and to attempt to fix it to an invariable channel is to try to alter the laws of its nature”(p. 353).

That quotation is an example of how evil ideas may arise from muddled thinking: because if the word “lust” be substituted for the word “love” in the third sentence, the remaining forty-five words would merely convey a simple truth, expressed by Kipling in two lines:

“For the more you ‘ave known o’ the others The less will you settle to one.”

Very few people, I suppose, are so foolish as to believe that man is by nature either a chaste or a constant animal, and indeed in this respect he appears to his disadvantage when compared with certain varieties of birds, which are _by nature_ constant to each other. On the other hand, millions of people believe that man is able to overcome his animal nature; and for the past two thousand years the civilised races of the world have held that this is a goal towards which mankind should strive. In the opinion of Christendom chastity and marriage are both morally good, but, according to the philosophy of our Neo-Malthusian author, they are morally evil.

“Chastity, or complete sexual abstinence, so far from being a virtue, is invariably a great natural sin” (p. 162).

Is it not obvious that to the writers of such passages love is synonymous with animalism, with lust? It is by no means necessary to go to saints or to moralists for a refutation of this Neo-Malthusian philosophy. Does any decent ordinary man or woman agree with it? Ask the man in the street. Turn the pages of our literature. Refer to Chaucer or Spenser, to Shakespeare or Milton, refer to Fielding or Burns or Scott or Tennyson. Some of these men were very imperfect; but they all knew the difference between lust and love; and it is because they can tell us at least something of that which is precious, enduring, ethereal, and divine in love that we read their pages and honour their names. Not one of these men could have written the following sentence:

“Marriage distracts our attention from the real sexual duties, and this is one of its worst effects” (p. 366).

Now it is certain that if “the real sexual duties” are represented by promiscuous fornication, then both marriage and chastity are evil things. That philosophy is very old. From time immemorial–it has been advocated by one of the most powerful intelligences in the universe. Such is the soil on which the Neo-Malthusian fungus has grown–a soil that would rot the foundations of Europe.

[Footnote 66: _The Lancet_, May 14, 1921, p. 1024]

[Footnote 67: _British Medical Journal_, 1921, vol. ii, p. 93.]

[Footnote 68: _The Small Family System_, 2nd edit., p. 2.]

[Footnote 69: _Supplement to The British Medical Journal_, March 18, 1905, p. 110.]

[Footnote 70: _Common Sense on the Population Question_, by Teresa Billington-Greig, p. 4. Published by the Malthusian League.]

[Footnote 71: _Medico-Legal Society_, July 7, 1921.]

[Footnote 72: _Suppl. Qu_. 49, Art. 6: “_Voluptates meretricias vir in uxore quoerit quando nihil aliud in ea attendit quam quod in meretrice attenderet_” (A husband seeks from his wife harlot pleasures when he asks from her only what he might ask from a harlot). Quoted by the Rev. Vincent McNabb, O.P., _The Catholic Gazette_, September 1921, p. 195.]

[Footnote 73: _British Medical Journal_, 1921, vol. ii, p. 169.]

[Footnote 74: Reproduced in fourth edition, 1861.]

[Footnote 75: _Essays in Medical Sociology_, 1899. Revised and printed for private circulation, p. 95, (Copy in Library of Royal Society of Medicine).]

[Footnote 76: _British Medical Journal_, August 20, 1921, p. 302.]

[Footnote 77: St. Matt. xviii. 6.]

[Footnote 78: _Proceedings of the Medico-Legal Society_, July 7, 1921]

[Footnote 79: “That arrangement of society in which so considerable a number of the families and individuals are constrained by positive law to labour for the advantage of other families and individuals as to stamp the whole community with the mark of such labour we call The Servile State.”–Hilaire Belloc, _The Servile State_, 1912, p. 16.]

[Footnote 80: The Secretary of the Malthusian League. Vide _The Declining Birth-rate_, 1916, p. 89.]

[Footnote 81: _The Declining Birth-rate_, 1916, p. 37.]

[Footnote 82: Dominions Royal Commission, Memorandum and Tables relating to the Food and Raw Material Requirements of the United Kingdom: prepared by the Royal Commission on the Natural Resources, Trade, and Legislation of Certain Portions of His Majesty’s Dominions. November, 1915, pp. 1 and 2. My italics–H.G.S.]

[Footnote 83: i.e. grain, wheatmeal, and flour]

[Footnote 84: For particulars of this increase see Canada Year Book 1913, p. 144.]

[Footnote 85: See pp. 387-8 of [Cd. 6588].]

[Footnote 86: Average for period 1907-1910 and excluding British Columbia, where the yield per acre in 1911, the only year for which figures are available, averaged 29-37 bushels.]

[Footnote 87: Including British Columbia.]

[Footnote 88: Below the average. The yield per acre in 1912 was 12.53 bushels, and in 1913 11.18.]

[Footnote 89: The Observer, Nov. 11, 1921.]

[Footnote 90: _Reminiscences of a Highland Parish_, by Norman Macleod, D.D., 1876, p. 27.]

[Footnote 91: Ibid., p. 34.]

[Footnote 92: Ibid., p. 91.]

[Footnote 93: British Medical Journal, August 13, 1921, p. 261.]

[Footnote 94: Leaflet of the Malthusian League.]

[Footnote 95: _The Hibbert Journal_, October 1914, p. 153. My italics.–H.G.S.]

[Footnote 96: Quoted by Professor Meyrick Booth, _The Hibbert Journal_, October 1914, p. 153.]

[Footnote 97: _The Hibbert Journal_, October 1914.]

[Footnote 98: _The Malthusian_, November 1905, p. 84]

[Footnote 99: C.V. Drysdale, O.B.E., D. Sc., _The Small Family System_, 1918, p. 150.]




Birth control is against the law of nature, which Christians believe to be the reflection of the divine law in human affairs, and any violation of this law was held to be vicious even by the ancient pagan world. To this argument an advocate of birth control has made answer:

“We interfere with nature at every point–we shave, cut our hair, cook our food, fill cavities in our teeth (or wear artificial teeth), clothe ourselves, wear boots, hats, and wash our faces, so why should birth alone be sacred from the touch and play of human moulding?” [100]

Why? For a very simple reason. Birth control belongs to the moral sphere; it essentially affects man’s progress in good, whereas all the other things that he mentions have no more moral significance than has the practice of agriculture. Regarded in the light of the law of nature they are neutral actions, neither good nor bad in themselves, raising no question of right or wrong, and having no real bearing on the accomplishment of human destiny. To make no distinction between the merely physical law of nature (expressed in the invariable tendency of everything to act according to its kind) and the natural moral law which governs human conduct, is to pronounce oneself a materialist. Yet even a materialist ought to denounce the practice of birth control, as it violates the laws of nature which regulate physical well-being. “But,” says the materialist, “it is not possible for anyone to act against nature, because all actions take place _in_ nature, and therefore every act is a natural act.” Quite so: in that sense murder is a natural act; even unnatural vice is a natural act. Will any one defend them? There is a natural law in the physical world, and there is a natural law in conscience–a law of right conduct. Certain actions are under the control of the human will, which is able to rebel against the moral law of nature, and the pagan poet Aeschylus traces all human sorrow to “the perverse human will omnipresent.”

As birth control means the deliberate frustration of a natural act which might have issued in a new life, it is an unnatural crime, and is stigmatised by theologians as a sin akin to murder. To this charge birth controllers further reply that millions of the elements of procreation are destroyed by Nature herself, and that “to add one more to these millions sacrificed by Nature is surely no crime.” This attempt at argument is pathetic. If these people knew even the A.B.C. of biology, they would know that millions of those elements are allowed to perish by Nature for a definite purpose–namely, _to make procreation more certain_. It is in order that the one may achieve the desired end that it is reinforced by millions of others. Moreover, although millions of deaths in the world occur every year from natural causes, it would nevertheless, I fear, be a crime if I were to cause one more death by murdering a birth controller.


In common with irrational animals we have instincts, appetites, and passions; but, unlike the animals, we have the power to reflect whether an action is right or wrong in itself apart from its consequences. This power of moral judgment is called conscience; and it is conscience which reflects the natural law (the Divine Nature expressed in creation). As conscience, when violated, can and does give rise to an unpleasant feeling of shame in the mind, we have good reason to believe that it exists for the purpose of preventing us from doing shameful actions, just as our eyes are intended, amongst other things, to prevent us from walking over precipices. Moreover, if the conscience is active, instructed, and unbiassed, it will invariably give the correct answer to any question of right or wrong.

It is possible to assert, without fear of contradiction, that no ordinary decent man or woman approaches or begins the practice of artificial birth control without experiencing at first unpleasant feelings of uneasiness, hesitation, repugnance, shame, and remorse. Later on these feelings may be overcome by habit, for the voice of conscience will cease when it has been frequently ignored. This does not alter the fact that at first the natural moral instincts of both men and women do revolt against these practices. To the conscience of mankind birth control is a shameful action.


The dictates of conscience go to form the science of ethics. According to ethics, the practice of birth control means the doing of an act whilst at the same time frustrating the object for which the act is intended. It is like using language to conceal the truth, or using appetite so as to injure rather than to promote health. During the decline of the Roman Empire men gorged themselves with food, took an emetic, vomited, and then sat down to eat again. They satiated their appetite and frustrated the object for which appetite is intended. The practice of birth control is parallel to this piggishness. No one can deny that the sexual impulse has for aim the procreation of children. The birth controllers seek to gratify the impulse, yet to defeat the aim; and they are so honest in their mistaken convictions that, when faced with this argument, they boldly adopt an attitude which spells intellectual and moral anarchy. They say that it is simply a waste of time to discuss the moral aspect of this practice. Without being able to dispute the truth that birth control is against nature, conscience, and ethics, they attempt to prove that at any rate the results of this practice are beneficial, or in other words that a good end justifies the use of evil means. This is a doctrine that has been universally repudiated by mankind. [101] Nevertheless, if birth control, in spite of its being an offence against moral and natural law, was really beneficial to humanity, then birth controllers would be able to claim pragmatic justification for the practices, and to argue that what actually and universally tends to the good of mankind cannot be bad in itself. Birth control, as I have already shown, does not conform to these conditions; therefore that argument also fails.


The Protestants, at the time of the Reformation, retained and even exaggerated certain beliefs of the undivided Catholic Church. None of them doubted, for instance, that the Bible was the Word of God and therefore a guide to moral conduct. They knew that artificial birth control is forbidden by the Bible, and that in the Old Testament the punishment for that sin was death. [102] In 1876, when Charles Bradlaugh advocated in a notorious pamphlet the practice of birth control, his views were denounced from every Protestant pulpit in the land, and were widely repudiated by the upper and middle classes of England. But it would seem that Protestant morality is now disappearing with the spread of indifferentism, and the Protestant Churches have no longer the same influence on the public and private life of the nation. Protestantism has lasted for 400 years, but though it has lasted longer than any other form of belief which took rise in the sixteenth century, it is now also dying.

In 1919 the number of people over seven years of age in England who professed belief in _any_ church was 10,833,795 (out of 40,000,000), and the church attendance equalled 7,000,000, or about 1 out of every 5 people. [103]

Again, a Commission appointed by the Protestant Churches to inquire into the religious beliefs held in the British armies of the Great War has endorsed the following statements:

“Everyone must be struck with the appalling ignorance of the simplest religious truths. Probably 80 per cent, of these men from the Midlands had never heard of the sacraments…. It is not only that the men do not know the meaning of ‘Church of England’; they are ignorant of the historical facts of the life of our Lord. Nor must it be assumed that this ignorance is confined to men who have passed through the elementary schools. The same verdict is recorded upon those who have been educated in our public schools…. The men are hopelessly perplexed by the lack of Christian unity.” [104]

In my opinion these statements are exaggerations, but that was not the view of the Commission. As regards Scotland, it has recently been stated at the Lothian Synod of the United Free Church that in 1911 at least 37 per cent. of the men and women of Scotland were without church connection. [105]

In 1870, of every 1,000 marriages, 760 were according to the rites of the Established Church, but in 1919 the proportion had fallen to 597. During the same period civil marriages without religious ceremonial increased from 98 to 231 per 1,000. [106] These figures are an index of the religious complexion of the country. The Protestant Churches are being strangled by the development of a germ that was inherent in them from the beginning, and that growth is Rationalism. The majority of the upper, professional, and artisan class can no longer be claimed as staunch Protestants, but as vague theists; and amongst these educated people, misled by false ideas of pleasure and by pernicious nonsense written about self-realisation, the practice of birth control has spread most alarmingly. This is an evil against which all religious bodies who retain a belief in the fundamental facts of Christianity might surely unite in action.

In a Catholic country there would be no need, in the furtherance of public welfare, to write on the evils of birth control. The teaching of the Catholic Church would be generally accepted, and a moral law generally accepted by the inhabitants of a country gives strength to the State. But Great Britain, no longer Catholic, is now in some danger of ceasing to be even a Christian country. In 1885 it was asserted, “England alone is reported to contain some seven hundred sects, each of whom proves a whole system of theology and morals from the Bible.” [107] Each of these that now survives gives its own particular explanation of the law of God, which it honestly tries to follow, but at one point or another each and every sect differs from its neighbours. On account of these differences of opinion many people say: “The Churches cannot agree amongst themselves as to what is truth; they cannot all be right; it is, therefore, impossible for me to know with certainty what to believe; and, to be quite honest, it may save me a lot of bother just at present to have no very firm belief at all.” This means that in Great Britain _there is no uniform moral law covering all human conduct and generally accepted by the mass of the people_. As the practice of artificial birth-rate control is not only contrary to Christian morality, but is also a menace to the prosperity and well-being of the nation, the absence of a uniform moral law, common to all the people and forbidding this practice, is a source of grave weakness in the State.



As was proved in a previous chapter (p. 120) artificial birth control was originally based on Atheism, and on a philosophy of moral anarchy. Further proof of this fact is to be found in the course of a most edifying dispute between two rival Neo-Malthusians. This quarrel is between Dr. Marie C. Stopes, President of the Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress, who is not a Doctor of Medicine but of Philosophy, and Dr. Binnie Dunlop, who is a Bachelor of Medicine: and when birth controllers fall out we may humbly hope that truth will prevail. Dr. Stopes maintains that artificial birth control was not an atheistic movement, whereas Dr. Binnie Dunlop contends that the pioneers of the movement were Atheists. The beginning of the trouble was a letter written by Dr. Stopes to the _British Medical Journal_, in which she made the following statement:

“Dr. Martindale is reported in your pages to have given an address to medical women in which she pointed out that the birth control movement in England dated from the Bradlaugh trial in 1877. Had she attended the presidential address of the Society for Constructive Birth Control she would have learned that there was a very flourishing movement, centring round Dr. Trall in 1866, years before Bradlaugh touched the subject, and also a considerable movement earlier than that. This point is important, as ‘birth control’ has hitherto (erroneously) been much prejudiced in popular opinion by being supposed to be an atheistical movement originated by Bradlaugh.” [108]

Dr. Stopes, who has been working overtime in the attempt to obtain some religious sanction for her propaganda, is ready not only to throw the Atheists overboard, but also to assert that a flourishing movement for artificial birth control centred round the late Dr. Trall, who was a Christian. Her letter was answered by Dr. Binnie Dunlop as follows:

“Dr. Marie C. Stopes, whose valuable books I constantly recommend, protests (page 872) against the statement that the birth control movement in England dated from the trial of Charles Bradlaugh in 1877–for re-publishing Dr. Knowlton’s pamphlet, _The Fruits of Philosophy_ because the Government had interdicted it. She must admit, however, that there was no _organised_ movement anywhere until Bradlaugh and the Doctors Drysdale, immediately after the trial, founded the Malthusian League, and that the decline of Europe’s birthrate began in that year. It may now seem unfortunate that the pioneers of the contraceptives idea, from 1818 onwards (James Mill, Francis Place, Richard Carlile, Robert Dale Owen, John Stuart Mill, Dr. Knowlton, Dr. George Drysdale, Dr. C.R. Drysdale, and Charles Bradlaugh), were all Free-thinkers; and Dr. Stopes harps on the religious and praiseworthy Dr. Trall, an American, who published _Sexual Physiology_ in 1866. But Dr. Trall was not at all a strong advocate of contraceptive methods. After a brief but helpful reference to the idea of placing a mechanical obstruction, such as a sponge, against the _os uteri_, he said:

“Let it be distinctly understood that I do not approve any method for preventing pregnancy except that of abstinence, nor any means for producing abortion, on the ground that it is or can be in any sense physiological. It is only the least of two evils. When people will live physiologically there will be no need of preventive measures, nor will there be any need for works of this kind.” [109]

That is a most informative letter. In simple language Dr. Binnie Dunlop tells the remarkable story of how in 1876 three Atheists, merely by forming a little Society in London, were able to cause an immediate fall in the birth-rate of Europe. When you come to think of it, that was a stupendous thing for any three men to have achieved. I am very glad that Dr. Binnie Dunlop has defended the Atheists and has painted the late Dr. Trail, despite that “brief but helpful reference,” in his true colours as a Christian. Nevertheless, Dr. Stopes had the last word:

“As regards Dr. Dunlop, he now shifts the Atheists’ position by adding the word ‘organised.’ The Atheists never tire of repeating certain definite misstatements, examples of which are: ‘If it were not for the fact that the despised Atheists, Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant, faced imprisonment, misrepresentation, insult, and ostracism for this cause forty-four years ago, she [Dr. Stopes] would not be able to conduct her campaign to-day’ (_Literary Guide_, November, 1921); and ‘Before the Knowlton trial, neither rich nor poor knew anything worth counting about contraceptive devices’ (_Malthusian_, November 15, 1921). Variations of these statements have been incessantly made, and I dealt with their contentions in the presidential address for the C.B.C. Meanwhile to them I reply that: ‘There has never been in this country any law against the dissemination of properly presented birth control information, and _before, during, and after_ the Bradlaugh trial properly presented information on birth control was extending its range with full liberty.’ My address is now in the press, and when published will make public not only new matter from manuscript letters of very early date in my possession, but other overlooked historical facts. I have already told Dr. Dunlop I refuse to be drawn into a discussion on facts an account of which is still in the press.” [110]

The lady, by her dissertation on the Laws of England, makes a clumsy effort to evade the point at issue, which is quite simple, namely, whether it was Atheists or Christians who initiated the Neo-Malthusian movement, organised or unorganised. Dr. Binnie Dunlop has here proved his case. I also do maintain that in this matter all credit must be given to the Atheists; and that it would be truly contemptible to deny this fact merely in order to pander to a popular prejudice against Atheism. Nor am I shaken in this opinion when Dr. Stopes points out that there was a Neo-Malthusian movement prior to 1876. Of course there was a movement, but it was always an atheistic movement. In the past no Christian doctor, and indeed no Christian man or woman, advocated artificial birth control. Let us give the Neo-Malthusian his due.

Until recently both the Church of England and the medical profession presented practically a united front against Neo-Malthusian teaching; and, as late as 1914, the Malthusian League did not hesitate to make use of the following calumnies, very mean, very spiteful, very imbecile:

“Take the clergy. They are the officers of a Church that has made marriage a source of revenue and of social control; they preach from a sacred book that bids the chosen people of God ‘multiply and replenish the earth’; they know that large families generally tend to preserve clerical influence and authority; and they claim that every baby is a new soul presented to God and, therefore, for His honour and glory, the greatest possible number of souls should be produced.” [111]

That feeble attempt to poison the atmosphere was naturally ignored by intelligent people; and more than once Lambeth has ruled that artificial birth control is sin. Unfortunately, within the Church of England, in spite of the Lambeth ruling, there is still discussion as to whether artificial birth control is or is not sin, the Bishops, as a whole, making a loyal effort to uphold Christian teaching against a campaign waged by Malthusians in order to obtain religious sanction for their evil propaganda. Although many Malthusians are rationalists, they are well aware that without some religious sanction their policy could never emerge from the dim underworld of unmentioned and unrespected things, and could never be advocated openly in the light of day. To this end birth control is camouflaged by pseudo-poetic and pseudo-religious phraseology, and the Anglican Church is asked to alter her teaching. Birth controllers realise that it is useless to ask this of the Catholic Church, a Rock in their path, but “as regards the Church of England, which makes no claim to infallibility, the case is different, and discussion is possible.” [112]

Let us consider, firstly, the teaching of the Church of England on this matter. At the Lambeth Conference of 1908 the Bishops affirmed “that