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Birth Control by Halliday G. Sutherland

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A Statement of Christian Doctrine against the Neo-Malthusians






(a) Malthus
(b) The Neo-Malthusians

(a) That Population progresses geometrically
(b) That Food Supply progresses arithmetically
(c) That Overpopulation is the cause of Poverty and Disease



(a) In the Suez Canal Zone
(b) In "Closed Countries" like Japan




(a) Disease
(b) War




(a) Famines
(b) Abundance
(c) Wages

(a) Under-development
(b) Severance of the Inhabitants from the Soil


(a) Malthusianism is an attack on the Poor
(b) A Hindrance to Reform
(c) A Quack Remedy for Poverty





(a) Canada
(b) Connaught















(a) Moral Catastrophe in Ancient Greece
(b) The Physical Catastrophe induced by Selfishness









(a) A Cause of Sterility
(b) Neuroses
(c) Fibroid Tumours





(a) Affecting the Young
(b) Exposing the Poor to Experiment
(c) Tending towards the Servile State

(a) There is a Limit to lowering the Death-rate
(b) Birth Control tends to extinguish the Birth-rate
(c) A Danger to the Empire
(d) The Dangers of Small Families






















Birth control, in the sense of the prevention of pregnancy by chemical,
mechanical, or other artificial means, is being widely advocated as a sure
method of lessening poverty and of increasing the physical and mental
health of the nation. It is, therefore, advisable to examine these claims
and the grounds on which they are based. The following investigation will
prove that the propaganda throughout Western Europe and America in favour
of artificial birth control is based on a mere assumption, bolstered up by
economic and statistical fallacies; that Malthusian teaching is contrary to
reason and to fact; that Neo-Malthusian practices are disastrous alike to
nations and to individuals; and that those practices are in themselves an
offence against the Law of Nature, whereby the Divine Will is expressed in

(a) _Malthus_

The Rev. Thomas Malthus, M.A., in 1798 published his _Essay on the
Principle of Population_. His pamphlet was an answer to Condorcet
and Godwin, who held that vice and poverty were the result of human
institutions and could be remedied by an even distribution of property.
Malthus, on the other hand, believed that population increased more rapidly
than the means of subsistence, and consequently that vice and poverty were
always due to overpopulation and not to any particular form of society or
of government. He stated that owing to the relatively slow rate at
which the food supply of countries was increased, a high birth-rate [1]
inevitably led to all the evils of poverty, war, and high death-rates.
In an infamous passage he wrote that there was no vacant place for the
superfluous child at Nature's mighty feast; that Nature told the child to
be gone; and that she quickly executed her own order. This passage was
modified in the second, and deleted from the third edition of the Essay. In
later editions he maintained that vice and misery had checked population,
that the progress of society might have diminished rather than increased
the "evils resulting from the principle of population," and that by "moral
restraint" overpopulation could be prevented. As Cannan has pointed out,
[2] this last suggestion destroyed the force of the argument against
Godwin, who could have replied that in order to make "moral restraint"
universal a socialist State was necessary. In order to avoid the evils of
overpopulation, Malthus advised people not to marry, or, if they did,
to marry late in life and to limit the number of their children by the
exercise of self-restraint. He reprobated all artificial and unnatural
methods of birth control as immoral, and as removing the necessary stimulus
to industry; but he failed to grasp the whole truth that an increase of
population is necessary as a stimulus not only to industry, but also as
essential to man's moral and intellectual progress.

(b) _The Neo-Malthusians_

The Malthusian League accept the theory of their revered teacher, but,
curiously enough, they reject his advice "as being impracticable and
productive of the greatest possible evils to health and morality." [3]
On the contrary, they advise universal early marriage, combined with
artificial birth control. Although their policy is thus in flat
contradiction to the policy of Malthus, there are two things common to
both. Each is based on the same fallacy, and the aim of both is wide of the
mark. Indeed, the Neo-Malthusian, like Malthus, has "a mist of speculation
over his facts, and a vapour of fact over his ideas." [4] Moreover, as will
be shown here, the path of the Malthusian League, although at first glance
an easy way out of many human difficulties, is in reality the broad road
along which a man or a nation travels to destruction; and as guides the
Neo-Malthusians are utterly unsafe, since they argue from (a) false
premises to (b) false deductions. We shall deal with the former in this


The theory of Malthus is based on three errors, namely (a) that the
population increases in geometrical progression, a progression of 1, 2,
4, 8, 16, and so on upwards; (b) that the food supply increases in
arithmetical progression, a progression of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on
upwards; and (c) that overpopulation is the cause of poverty and disease.
If we show that _de facto_ there _is_ no overpopulation it obviously cannot
be a cause of anything, nor be itself caused by the joint operation of the
first two causes. However, each of the errors can be severally refuted.

(a) In the first place, it is true that a population _might_ increase in
geometrical progression, and that a woman _might_ bear thirty children
in her lifetime; but it is wrong to assume that because a thing _might_
happen, it therefore does happen. The population, as a matter of fact, does
not increase in geometrical progression, because Nature [5] places her own
checks on the birth-rate, and no woman bears all the children she might
theoretically bear, apart altogether from artificial birth control.

(b) Secondly, the food supply does not of necessity increase in
arithmetical progression, because food is produced by human hands, and is
therefore increased in proportion to the increase of workers, unless the
food supply of a country or of the world has reached its limit. The food
supply of the world _might_ reach a limit beyond which it could not
be increased; but as yet this event has not happened, and there is no
indication whatsoever that it is likely to happen.

Human life is immediately sustained by food, clothing, shelter, and fuel.
Food and clothing are principally derived from fish, fowl, sheep,
cattle, and grain, all of which _tend_, more so than man, to increase in
_geometrical_ ratio, although actually their increase in this progression
is checked by man or by Nature. As regards shelter there can be no increase
at all, either arithmetical or geometrical, apart from the work of human
hands. Again, the stock of fuel in or on the earth cannot increase of
itself, and is gradually becoming exhausted. On the other hand, within
living memory, new sources of fuel, such as petroleum, have been made
available, and old varieties of fuel have been used to better advantage,
as witness the internal-combustion engine driven by smoke from sawdust.
Moreover, in the ocean tides is a vast energy that one day may take the
place of fuel.

(c) Thirdly, before anyone can reasonably maintain that overpopulation
is the cause of poverty and disease, it is necessary to prove that
overpopulation actually exists or is likely to occur in the future. By
overpopulation we mean the condition of a country in which there are so
many inhabitants that the production of necessaries of livelihood is
insufficient for the support of all, with the result that many people are
overworked or ill-fed. Under these circumstances the population can be said
to _press on the soil_: and unless their methods of production could be
improved, or resources secured from outside, the only possible remedy
against the principle of diminishing returns would be a reduction of
population; otherwise, the death-rate from want and starvation would
gradually rise until it equalled the birth-rate in order to maintain an
unhappy equilibrium.


According to Malthusian doctrine overpopulation is the cause of poverty,
disease, and war: and consequently, unless the growth of population is
artificially restrained, all attempts to remedy social evils are futile.
Malthusians claim that "if only the devastating torrent of children could
be arrested for a few years, it would bring untold relief." They hold that
overpopulation is the root of all social evil, and the truth or falsehood
of that proposition is therefore the basis of all their teaching. Now, when
Malthusians are asked to prove that this their basic proposition is true,
they adopt one of two methods, not of proof, but of evasion. Their first
method of evading the question is by asserting that the truth of their
proposition is self-evident and needs no proof. To that we reply that the
falsity of the proposition can and will be proved. Their second device is
to put up a barrage of facts which merely show that all countries, and
indeed the earth itself, would have been overpopulated long ago if the
increase of population had not been limited by certain factors, ranging
from celibacy and late marriages to famines, diseases, wars, and
infanticide. The truth of these facts is indisputable, but it is
nevertheless a manifest breach of logic to argue from the fact of poverty,
disease, and war having checked an increase of population, that therefore
poverty, disease, and war are due to an increase of population. It would be
as reasonable to argue that, because an unlimited increase of insects
is prevented by birds and by climatic changes, therefore an increase of
insects accounts for the existence of birds, and for variations of climate.
Nor is it of any use for Malthusians to say that overpopulation _might_ be
the cause of poverty. They cannot prove that it _is_ the cause of poverty,
and, as will be shown in the following chapter, more obvious and probable
causes are staring them in the face. For our present purpose it will
suffice if we are able to prove that overpopulation has not occurred in the
past and is unlikely to occur in the future.


In the first place, the meaning of the word "overpopulation" should
be clearly understood. The word does not mean a very large number of
inhabitants in a country. If that were its meaning the Malthusian fallacy
could be disproved by merely pointing out that poverty exists both in
thinly populated and in thickly populated countries. Now, in reality,
overpopulation would occur whenever the production of the necessities of
life in a country was insufficient for the support of all the inhabitants.
For example, a barren rock in the ocean would be overpopulated, even if it
contained only one inhabitant. It follows that the term "overpopulation"
should be applied only to an economic situation in which the population
presses on the soil. The point may be illustrated by a simple example.

Let us assume that a fertile island of 100 acres is divided into 10 farms,
each of 10 acres, and each capable of supporting a family of ten. Under
these conditions the island could support a population of 1,000 people
without being overpopulated. If, however, the numbers in each family
increased to 20 the population would _press on the soil_, and the island,
with 2,000 inhabitants, would be an example of overpopulation, and of
poverty due to overpopulation.

On the other hand, let us assume that there are only 1,000 people on
the island, but that one family of ten individuals has managed to gain
possession of eight farms, in addition to their own, and that the other
nine families are forced to live on one farm. Obviously, 900 people would
be attempting to live under conditions of dire poverty, and the island,
with its population of 1,000, would now offer an excellent example, not of
overpopulation, but of human selfishness.

My contentions are that poverty is neither solely nor indeed generally
related to economic pressure on the soil; that there are many causes
of poverty apart altogether from overpopulation; and that in reality
overpopulation does not exist in those countries where Malthusians claim to
find proofs of social misery due to a high birthrate.

If overpopulation in the economic sense occurred in a closed country, whose
inhabitants were either unable or unwilling to send out colonies, it is
obvious that general poverty and misery would result. This _might_ happen
in small islands, but it is of greater interest to know what does happen.


In a closed country, producing all its own necessities of life and
incapable of expansion, a high birth-rate would eventually increase the
struggle for existence and would lead to overpopulation, always provided
that, firstly, the high birth-rate is accompanied by a low death-rate, and
secondly, that the high birth-rate is maintained. For example, although
a birth-rate was high, a population would not increase in numbers if the
death-rate was equally high. Therefore, a high birth-rate does not of
necessity imply that population will be increased or that overpopulation
will occur. Again, if the birth-rate fell as the population increased,
the danger of overpopulation would be avoided without the aid of a high
death-rate. For a moment, however, let us assume that the Malthusian
premise is correct, that a high birth-rate has led to overpopulation, and
that the struggle for existence has therefore increased. Then obviously
the death-rate would rise; the effect of the high birth-rate would be
neutralised; and beyond a certain point neither the population nor the
struggle for existence could be further increased. On these grounds
Neo-Malthusians argue that birth-control is necessary precisely to obviate
that cruel device whereby Nature strives to restore the balance upset by a
reckless increase of births; and that the only alternative to frequent and
premature deaths is regulation of the source of life. As a corollary to
this proposition they claim that, if the death-rate be reduced, a country
is bound to become overpopulated unless the births are artificially
controlled. Fortunately it is possible to test the truth of this corollary,
because certain definite observations on this very point have been
recorded. These observations do not support the argument of birth

(a) _In the Suez Canal Zone_

In the Suez Canal Zone there was a high death-rate chiefly owing to fever.
According to Malthus it would have been a great mistake to lower this
death-rate, because, if social conditions were improved, the population
would rapidly increase and exceed the resources of the country. Now, in
fact, the social conditions were improved, the death-rate was lowered, and
the subsequent events, utterly refuting the above contention, are thus
noted by Dr. Halford Ross, who was medical officer in that region:

"During the years 1901 to 1910, health measures in this zone produced a
very considerable fall in the death-rate, from 30.2 per thousand to
19.6 per thousand; the infant mortality was also reduced very greatly,
and it was expected that, after a lapse of time, the reduction of the
death-rate would result in a rise of the birth-rate, and a
corresponding increase of the population. _But such was not the case_.
When the death-rate fell, the birthrate fell too, and the number of the
population remained the same as before, even after nearly a decade had
passed, and notwithstanding the fact that the whole district had become
much healthier, and one town, Port Said, was converted from an
unhealthy, fever-stricken place into a seaside health resort." [6]

Moreover, Dr. Halford Ross has told me that artificial birth control
was not practised in this region, and played no part in maintaining a
stationary population. The majority of the people were strict Mohammedans,
amongst whom the practice of birth control is forbidden by the Koran.

(b) _In "Closed Countries" like Japan_

But a much more striking example of the population in a closed country
remaining stationary without the practice of birth control, thus refuting
the contention of our birth controllers, is to be found in their own
periodical, _The Malthusian_. [7] It would appear that in Japan from 1723
to 1846 the population remained almost stationary, only increasing from
26,065,422 to 26,907,625. In 1867 the Shogunate was abolished, the Emperor
was restored, and Japan began to be a civilised power. Now from 1872 the
population increased by 10,649,990 in twenty-seven years, and "during the
period between 1897 and 1907 the population received an increment of 11.6
per cent., whereas the food-producing area increased by only 4.4 per
cent.... According to Professor Morimoro, the cost of living is now so high
in Japan that 98 per cent, of the people do not get enough to eat." From
these facts certain obvious deductions may be made. So long as Japan was
a closed country her population remained stationary. When she became a
civilised industrial power the mass of her people became poorer, the
birth-rate rose, and the population increased, this last result being the
real problem to-day in the Far East. In face of these facts it is sheer
comedy to learn that our Malthusians are sending a woman to preach birth
control amongst the Japanese! Do they really believe that for over a
hundred years Japan, unlike most semi-barbaric countries, practised birth
control, and that when she became civilised she refused, unlike most
civilised countries, to continue this practice? There is surely a limit to
human credulity.

The truth appears to be that in closed countries the population remains
more or less stationary, that Nature herself checks the birth-rate without
the aid of artificial birth control, and that birthrates and death-rates
are independently related to the means of subsistence.


During the past century the population of Europe increased by about
160,000,000, but it is utterly unreasonable to assume that this rate of
increase will be maintained during the present century. It would be as
sensible to argue that because a child is four feet high at the age of
ten he will be eight feet high at the age of twenty. Moreover, there is
evidence that, apart altogether from vice, the fertility of a nation is
reduced at every step in civilisation. The cause of this reduction in
fertility is unknown. It is probably a reaction to many complex influences,
and possibly associated with the vast growth of great cities. This decline
in the fertility of a community is a natural protection against the
possibility of overpopulation; but, on the other hand, there is a point
beyond which any further decline in fertility will bring a community within
sight of depopulation and of extinction.


It is a fallacy to say that overpopulation is the cause of poverty and
disease, and that for the simple reason that overpopulation has not yet
occurred. For the growth of a nation we assume that the birth-rate should
exceed the death-rate by from 10 to 20 per thousand, and it is obvious
that in a _closed_ country the evil of overpopulation might appear in
a comparatively short time. The natural remedies in the past have been
emigration and colonisation. According to the birth controllers these
remedies are only temporary, because sooner or later all colonies and
eventually the earth itself will be overpopulated. At the British
Association Meeting in 1890 the population of the earth was said to be
1,500 millions, and it was calculated that only 6,000 millions could live
on the earth. This means that if the birth-rate throughout the world
exceeded the death-rate by only 8 per thousand, the earth would be
overpopulated within 200 years. It is probable that in these calculations
the capacity of the earth to sustain human life has been underestimated;
that the earth could support not four times but sixteen times its present
population; and that the latter figure could be still further increased
by the progress of inventions. But, apart altogether from the accuracy of
these figures, the danger of overpopulation is nothing more or less than a
myth. Indeed, the end of the world, a philosophic and scientific certitude,
is a more imminent event than its overpopulation.


Before speculating on what might happen in the future, it is well to
recollect what has happened in the past. The earth has been inhabited for
thousands of years, and modern research has revealed the remains of many
ancient civilisations that have perished. For example, there were the great
nations of Cambodia and of Guatemala. In Crete, about 2000 B.C., there
existed a civilisation where women were dressed as are this evening the
women of London and Paris. That civilisation perished, and even its
language cannot now be deciphered. Why did these civilisations perish?
Surely this momentous question should take precedence over barren
discussions as to whether there will be sufficient food on the land or in
the sea for the inhabitants of the world in 200 years' time. How came it
about that these ancient nations did not double their numbers every fifty
years and fill up the earth long ago?

The answer is that they were overcome and annihilated by the incidence of
one or other of two dangers that threaten every civilisation, including our
own. These dangers are certain physical and moral catastrophes, against
which there is only one form of natural insurance, namely, a birth-rate
that adequately exceeds the death-rate. They help to illustrate further the
fallacy of the overpopulation scare.

The following is a general outline of these dangers, and in a later chapter
(p. 70)(see [Reference: Dangers]) I shall quote an example of how
they have operated in the past.


Deaths from famine, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions are
confined to comparatively small areas, and the two physical catastrophes
that may seriously threaten a civilisation may be reduced to endemic
disease and war.

(a) _Disease_

Disease, in the form of malaria, contributed to the fall of ancient Greece
and Rome. In the fourteenth century 25,000,000 people, one-quarter of the
population of Europe, were exterminated by plague, the "Black Death," and
in the sixteenth century smallpox depopulated Spanish America. Although
these particular diseases have lost much of their power owing to the
progress of medical science, we have no right to assume that disease in
general has been conquered by our civilisation, or that a new pestilence
may not appear. On the contrary, in 1805, a new disease, spotted fever,
appeared in Geneva, and within half a century had become endemic throughout
Europe and America. Of this fever during the Great War the late Sir William
Osler wrote: "In cerebro-spinal fever we may be witnessing the struggle of
a new disease to win a place among the great epidemics of the world." There
was a mystery about this disease, because, although unknown in the Arctic
Circle, it appeared in temperate climates during the coldest months of the
year. As I was able to prove in 1915, [8] it is a disease of civilisation.
I found that the causal organism was killed in thirty minutes by a
temperature of 62 deg. F. It was thus obvious that infection could never be
carried by cold air. But in overcrowded rooms where windows are closed, and
the temperature of warm, impure, saturated air was raised by the natural
heat of the body to 80 deg. F or over, the life of the microorganism,
expelled from the mouths of infected people during the act of coughing, was
prolonged. Infection is thus carried from one person to another by warm
currents of moving air, and at the same time resistance against the disease
is lowered. Cold air kills the organism, but cold weather favours the
disease. In that paradox the aetiology of cerebro-spinal fever became as
clear as the means of prevention. The story of spotted fever reveals the
forces of nature fighting against the disease at every turn, and implacably
opposed to its existence, while man alone, of his own will and folly,
harbours infection and creates the only conditions under which the malady
can appear. For example, during two consecutive winters cerebro-spinal
fever had appeared in barracks capable of housing 2,000 men. A simple and
effective method of ventilation was then introduced. From that day to this
not a single case of cerebro-spinal fever has occurred in these barracks,
although there have been outbreaks of this disease in the town in which the
barracks are situated.

There are many other diseases peculiar to civilisation, and concerning
the wherefore and the why an apposite passage occurs in the works of Sir
William Gull.

"Causes affecting health and shortening life may be inappreciable in
the individual, but sufficiently obvious when their effect is
multiplied a thousandfold. If the conditions of society render us
liable to many diseases, they in return enable us to establish the
general laws of life and health, a knowledge of which soon becomes a
distributive blessing. The cure of individual diseases, whilst we leave
open the dark fountains from which they spring, is to labour like
Sisyphus, and have our work continually returning upon our hands. And,
again, there are diseases over which, directly, we have little or no
control, as if Providence had set them as signs to direct us to wider
fields of inquiry and exertion. Even partial success is often denied,
lest we should rest satisfied with it, and forget the _truer and better
means_ of prevention." [9]

Medical and sanitary science have made great progress in the conquest of
enteric fever, diphtheria, scarlet fever, measles, and whooping cough. The
mortality from bronchitis and from pulmonary tuberculosis has also been
reduced, but nevertheless tuberculosis still claims more victims in the
prime of life than any other malady. It is a disease of civilisation and is
intimately associated with economic conditions. The history of tuberculosis
has yet to be written. On the other hand, deaths from certain other
diseases are actually increasing, as witness the following figures from the
Reports of the Registrar-General for England and Wales:

Disease. Number of Number of
deaths in Deaths in
1898. 1919.

Diseases of the heart and
circulatory system 50,492 69,637
Cancer 25,196 42,144
Pneumonia 35,462 38,949
Influenza 10,405 44,801

In view of these figures it is folly to suppose that the final conquest of
disease is imminent.

(b) War

War, foreign or civil, is another sword hanging over civilisations, whereby
the fruits of a long period of growth may be destroyed in a few years.
After the Thirty Years War the recovery of Germany occupied a century and
a half. During the fourteen years of the Taiping rebellion in China whole
provinces were devastated and millions upon millions of people were killed
or died. In spite of the Great War during the past decade, there are some
who would delude themselves and others into the vain belief that, without
a radical change in international relations and a determined effort to
neutralise its causes, there will be no more war; but unless the nations
learn through Christianity that justice is higher than self-interest the
following brilliant passage by Devas is as true to-day as when it was
written in 1901:

"True that the spread of humanitarianism and cosmopolitanism made many
people think, towards the end of the nineteenth century, that bloodshed
was at an end. But their hopes were dreams: the visible growth of
national rivalry and gigantic armaments can only issue in desperate
struggles; while not a few among the nations are troubled with the
growth of internal dissensions and accumulations of social hatred that
point to bloody catastrophes in the future; and the tremendous means of
destruction that modern science puts in our hands offer frightful
possibilities of slaughter, murderous anarchical outrages, and rivers
of blood shed in pitiless repression." [10]

Malthusians may inveigh against wars waged to achieve the expansion of a
nation, but so long as international rivalry disregards the moral law their
words will neither stop war nor prevent a Malthusian country from falling
an easy prey to a stronger people. On the contrary, a low birthrate,
by reducing the potential force available for defence, is actually an
incentive to a declaration of war from an envious neighbour, because it
means that he will not hesitate so long when attempting to count the
cost beforehand. In 1850 the population of France and Germany numbered
practically the same, 35,500,000; in 1913 that of France was 39,600,000,
that of Germany 67,000,000. [11] The bearing of these facts on the
Great War is obvious. In 1919 the new Germany, including Silesia, had a
population of just over 60,000,000; whereas, in 1921, France, including
Alsace-Lorraine, had a population of 39,200,000. Thus, despite her victory
in the war, the population of France is less to-day than it was seven years


In view of past history only an ostrich with its head in the sand can
profess to believe that there will be no calamities in the future to reduce
the population of the earth. And apart from cataclysms of disease or of
war, empires have perished by moral catastrophe. A disbelief in God results
in selfishness, and in various moral catastrophes. In the terse phrase of
Mr. Bernard Shaw, "Voluptuaries prosper and perish." [12] For example,
during the second century B.C. the disease of rationalism, [13] spread over
Greece, and a rapid depopulation of the country began.

The facts were recorded by Polybius, [14] who expressly states that at the
time of which he is writing serious pestilences did not occur, and that
depopulation was caused by the selfishness of the Greeks, who, being
addicted to pleasure, either did not marry at all or refused to rear more
than one or two children, lest it should be impossible to bring them up in
extravagant luxury. This ancient historian also noted that the death of a
son in war or by pestilence is a serious matter when there are only one or
two sons in a family. Greece fell to the conquering Romans, and they also
in course of time were infected with this evil canker. There came a day
when over the battlements of Constantinople the blood-red Crescent was
unfurled. Later on all Christendom was threatened, and the King of France
appealed to the Pope for men and arms to resist the challenge to Europe
of the Mohammedan world. The Empire of the Turk spread over the whole of
South-Eastern Europe. But once more the evil poison spread, this time into
the homes in many parts of Islam, and to-day the once triumphant foes of
Christianity are decaying nations whose dominions are the appanage of
Europe. In face of these facts it is sheer madness to assume that all the
Great Powers now existing will maintain their population and prove immune
from decay. Indeed, the very propaganda against which this Essay is
directed is in itself positive proof that the seeds of decay have already
been sown within the British Empire. Yet, in an age in which thought and
reason are suppressed by systematised confusion and spiritless perplexity,
the very simplicity of a truth will operate against its general acceptance.

From the theological point of view, the myth of overpopulation is
definitely of anti-Christian growth, because it assumes that, owing to the
operation of natural instincts implanted in mankind by the Creator, the
only alternative offered to the race is a choice between misery and vice,
an alternative utterly incompatible with Divine goodness in the government
of the world.

[Footnote 1: The birth-rate is the number of births per 1,000 of the whole
population. In order to make a fair comparison between one community and
another, the birth-rate is often calculated as the number of births per
1,000 married women between 15 and 45 years of age, as these constitute
the great majority of child-bearing mothers. This is called the _corrected

[Footnote 2: _Economic Review_, January 1892.]

[Footnote 3: So says the Secretary of the Malthusian League. Vide _The
Declining Birth-rate_, 1916, p. 88.]

[Footnote 4: Bagehot, _Economic Studies_, p. 193.]

[Footnote 5: To assign a personality to "Nature" is, of course, a mere
_facon de parler_; the believer holds that the "course of Nature" is an
expression of the Mind and Will of the Creator.]

[Footnote 6: _Problems of Population_, p. 382.]

[Footnote 7: _The Malthusian_, July 15, 1921.]

[Footnote 8: _Lancet_, 1915, vol. ii, p. 862.]

[Footnote 9: The New Sydenham Society, vol. clvi, section viii, p. 12.]

[Footnote 10: Charles S. Devas, _Political Economy_, 1901, p. 191.]

[Footnote 11: _Revue Pratique d'Apologetique_, September 15, 1914.]

[Footnote 12: _Man and Superman_, p. 195.]

[Footnote 13: By rationalism we mean a denial of God and of responsibility
for conduct to a Higher Being.]

[Footnote 14: Quoted by W.H.S. Jones, _Malaria and Greek History_ 1909,



From the original root-fallacy Malthus argued that poverty, prostitution,
war, disease, and a high death-rate are necessary in order to keep down
the population: and from the same false premises birth controllers are
now arguing that a high birth-rate causes (1) poverty, and (2) a high
death-rate. The steps in the argument whereby these amazing conclusions are
reached are as follows. Before the death-rate can be lowered the social
conditions of the people must be improved; if social conditions are
improved there will be an enormous increase of population in geometrical
progression; the food supply of the country and even of the world cannot be
increased at the same rate; and therefore there will be greater poverty
and a higher death-rate unless the birth-rate is lowered. Thus Malthusians
argue. In view of the false premises on which their argument is based, it
is not surprising to find that their deductions are erroneous and contain
many economic and statistical fallacies, to the consideration of which we
may now devote our attention.


The first false deduction of birth controllers is that a high birth-rate,
by intensifying the struggle for existence, increases poverty. In order to
bolster up this contention, Malthusians quote three arguments concerning
(a) famines, (b) abundance, and (c) wages, and each of these arguments is

(a) _Famines_

The prevalence of famines is quoted as a proof of reckless overpopulation.
Now a famine may occur from several different causes, some within and
others beyond the control of man, but a failure of crops has never yet been
caused by pressure on the soil. On the contrary, famine is less likely to
arise in a country whose soil is intensively cultivated, because intensive
cultivation means a variety of crops, and therefore less risk of all the
crops failing. Moreover, during the past century famine has occurred
in Bengal, where population is dense; in Ireland, where population is
moderate, and in Eastern Russia, where population is scanty. The existence
of famine is therefore no proof that a country is overpopulated, although
it may indicate that a country is badly governed or under-developed.

(b) _Abundance_

Malthusians also claim that by means of artificial birth control we could
live in a land of abundance. They point out that, as the population of
a new colony increases, the colonists, by applying the methods of
civilisation to the rich soil, become more and more prosperous. Eventually
there comes a time when capital or labour applied to the soil gives a
_maximum_ return _per head_ of population. Once that point has been reached
any further capital or labour applied to the soil will produce a smaller
return per head of population. This "law of diminishing returns" may be
illustrated by a simpler example. Let us suppose that during one year a
market garden worked by one man has produced vegetables to the value of
L10. During the second year the garden is worked by ten men and produces
vegetables to the value of L200. It is obvious that the work of ten men has
produced twice as much per head as the work of one man, because each man
has produced not L10 but L20. During the third year the garden is worked by
twenty men and yields vegetables to the value of L300. The total yield is
greater, but the yield per head is less, because each man has produced not
L20 but L15. The point of maximum production per head has been passed, and
the law of diminishing returns is operating.

By restricting the birth-rate Malthusians would limit the population to the
number necessary for maximum production per head. Now, in the first place,
it would be very difficult, if not impossible, in the case of a country
with various industries, to decide when the line of maximum production had
been passed at any given time. Moreover, it would be utterly impossible
to fix this line permanently. In the case of our market garden the
introduction of intensive horticulture might mean that maximum production
per head required the work of forty men. Again, the very phrase "maximum
production per head" implies sterling moral qualities in the workers,
and an absence of drones; and sterling moral qualities have never been
prominent in any nation, once the practice of artificial birth control has
been adopted. Lastly, the Christian ideal requires for its realisation, not
a maximum, but an adequate supply of food, clothing, shelter, and fuel.
Christianity teaches that to seek after the maximum enjoyment of material
things is not the chief end of man, because the life of a man in this world
is very short compared with his life in eternity.

(c) _Wages_

The Wages Fund Theory is an economic reflection of the Malthusian myth.
This theory assumes that a definite fixed sum is available every year for
distribution as wages amongst labourers, so that the more numerous
the labourers the less wages will each one receive. From this theory
Malthusians argue that the only remedy for low wages is artificial birth
control. They carefully refrain from telling the working classes the other
aspect of this Wages Fund theory--namely, that if the workers in one trade
receive a rise in wages, a corresponding reduction must be made in the
wages of others, so that a rise in wages here and there confers no
real benefit on the labouring classes as a whole. That is merely one
illustration of capitalist bias in the Malthusian propaganda. In any case,
economic science has discarded the Wages Fund Theory as a pure fiction.
No fixed or definite sum is available for wages, because the wages of a
labourer are derived from the produce of his work. Even in the case of
making a railway, where wages are paid before the work is completed, the
money is advanced by shareholders on the security of the proceeds that will
eventually accrue from the produce of the labourers.


(a) _Under-development_

Even if the theory of birth controllers, that a high birth-rate increases
poverty, were as true as it is false, it could not possibly apply to Great
Britain or to any other country open to commercial intercourse with the
world; because there is no evidence that the supply of food in the world
either cannot or will not be increased to meet any actual or possible
demand. Within the British Empire alone there was an increase of 75 per
cent. in the production of wheat between 1901 and 1911. [15] In Great
Britain there has been not only an increase of population but also an
increased consumption of various foods per head of the population.
Moreover, if Britain were as well cultivated as is Flanders we could
produce all or nearly all our own food. [16]

The truth is that in countries such as England, Belgium, and Bengal,
usually cited by Malthusians, as illustrating the misery that results
from overpopulation, there is no evidence whatsoever to prove that the
population is pressing on the soil. On the contrary, we find ample physical
resources sufficient to support the entire population, and we also find
evidence of human injustice, incapacity, and corruption sufficient to
account for the poverty and misery that exist in these countries. This was
especially so in Ireland during the first half of the nineteenth century.
[17] Moreover, so far from high birth-rates being the cause of poverty, we
shall find that poverty is one of the causes of a high birth-rate (p. 69).

(b) _Severance of the Inhabitants from the Soil_

It was not a high birth-rate that established organised poverty in England.
In the sixteenth century the greater part of the land, including common
land belonging to the poor, was seized by the rich. They began by robbing
the Catholic Church, and they ended by robbing the people. [18] Once
machinery was introduced in the eighteenth century, the total wealth of
England was enormously increased; but the vast majority of the people
had little share in this increase of wealth that accrued from machinery,
because only a small portion of the people possessed capital. More children
came, but they came to conditions of poverty and of child-labour in the
mills. In countries where more natural and stable social conditions exist,
and where there are many small owners of land, large families, so far from
being a cause of poverty, are of the greatest assistance to their parents
and to themselves. There are means whereby poverty could be reduced, but
artificial birth control would only increase the total poverty of the
State, and therefore of the individual.

From early down to Tudor times, the majority of the inhabitants of England
lived on small holdings. For example, in the fifteenth century there were
twenty-one small holdings on a particular area measuring 160 acres. During
the sixteenth century the number of holdings on this area had fallen to
six, and in the seventeenth century the 160 acres became _one_ farm.
Occasionally an effort was made to check this process, and by a statute of
Elizabeth penalties were enacted against building any cottages "without
laying four acres of land thereto." On the other hand, acres upon acres
were given to the larger landowners by a series of Acts for the enclosure
of common land, whereby many labourers were deprived of their land. From
the reign of George I to that of George III _nearly four thousand enclosure
bills_ were passed. These wrongs have not been righted.

"To urge," wrote Professor Bain, "that there is sufficient poverty and
toil in the world without bringing in more to share it than can be
provided for, implies either begging the question at issue--a direct
imputation that the world is at present very badly managed--or that all
persons should take it upon themselves to say how much poverty and toil
will exist in any part of the world in the future, or limit the
productiveness of any race, because inadequate means of feeding,
clothing, or employing them may be adopted in that part of time
sometimes called unborn eternity. As a rule, the result usually has
been: limit the increase of population without adequate cause, and the
reaction causes deterioration or annihilation." [19]

Lastly, there is evidence that poverty has existed in thinly populated
countries. Richard Cobden, writing in 1836, of Russia, states: "The mass of
the people are sunk in poverty, ignorance, and barbarism, scarcely rising
above a state of nature, and yet it has been estimated that this country
contains more than 750,000 square miles of land, of a quality not inferior
to the best portions of Germany, and upon which a population of 200,000,000
might find subsistence." [20]


In reality chronic poverty exists both in the thickly-peopled and in the
thinly-peopled regions of India, and therefore the overpopulation theory is
an inadequate explanation. Moreover, there are certain obvious and admitted
evils, sufficient in themselves to account for the chronic poverty of
India, and of these four are quoted by Devas. [21]

"(1) The grave discouragement to all rural improvement and in
particular to the sinking of deep wells, by the absence outside Bengal
of fixity of tenure, the landholder having the prospect of his
assessment being raised every fifteen or thirty years. (2) Through most
of India the unchecked oppression of usurers, in whose toils many
millions of landholders are so bound as to lack means or motive for the
proper cultivation of the soil. (3) A system of law and police totally
unfit for small cultivators--witness the plague of litigation, appeals
as 250 to 1 in England, habitual perjury, manufactured crime, and
blackmailing by corrupt native police, all destructive of rural amity,
co-operation, and industry. (4) Taxation oppressive both in quantity
and quality: demanded, on pain of eviction and imprisonment, to be paid
punctually and rigidly in cash, instead of optionally or occasionally
in kind, or flexible, according to the variations of the seasons;
moreover, levied on salt, raising the price of this necessity of life
at least ten times, often much more; when precisely an abundant supply
of salt, with the climate and diet of India, is a prime need for men
and cattle."


As will be shown in Chapter V, poverty is generally the cause and not the
result of a high birth-rate. The Malthusian doctrine has been and is to-day
a barrier to social reform, because it implies that humane legislation,
by encouraging population, will of necessity defeat the aim of those who
desire to improve the conditions of the poor by methods other than the
practice of artificial birth control. To a very great extent Malthusian
teaching was responsible for the Poor Law of 1834, the most severe in
Europe, the demoralising laxity of the old Poor Law being replaced by
degrading severity. Again, as recently as 1899, a Secretary of State
reiterated the Malthusian doctrine by explaining that great poverty
throughout India was due to the increase of population under the _pax
Britannica_. Now the truth is that if the social conditions of the poor
were improved, we have every reason to believe that their birth-rate would
be reduced, because as civilisation in a community progresses there is a
natural decline in fertility. Hence:

(a) _Malthusianism is an Attack on the Poor_

Both the supporters and the opponents of Malthus are often mistaken in
considering his greatest achievement to be a policy of birth control.
Malthus did a greater and a more evil thing. He forged a law of nature,
namely, _that there is always a limited and insufficient supply of the
necessities of life in the world_. From this false law he argued that,
as population increases too rapidly, the newcomers cannot hope to find a
sufficiency of good things; that the poverty of the masses is not due to
conditions created by man, but to a natural law; and that consequently this
law cannot be altered by any change in political institutions. This new
doctrine was eagerly adopted by the rich, who were thus enabled to argue
that Nature intended that the masses should find no room at her feast; and
that therefore our system of industrial capitalism was in harmony with the
Will of God. Most comforting dogma! Most excellent anodyne for conscience
against acceptance of those rights of man that, being ignored, found
terrible expression in the French Revolution! Without discussion,
without investigation, and without proof, our professors, politicians,
leader-writers, and even our well-meaning socialists, have accepted as
true the bare falsehood that there is always an insufficient supply of the
necessities of life; and to-day this heresy permeates all our practical
politics. In giving this forged law of nature to the rich, Malthus robbed
the poor of hope. Such was his crime against humanity. In the words of
Thorold Rogers, Malthusianism was part and parcel of "a conspiracy,
conceived by the law and carried out by parties interested in its success,
to cheat the English workman of his wages, to tie him to the soil, to
deprive him of hope, and to degrade him into immediate poverty." When
Malthusians enter a slum for the purpose of preaching birth control, it is
right that the people should be told what is written on the passports of
these strangers.

(b) _A Hindrance to Reform_

The teaching of birth control amongst the poor is in itself a crime,
because, apart from the evil practice, the people are asked to believe a
lie, namely, that a high birth-rate is the cause of poverty and that
by means of birth-control their circumstances will be improved. By
one advocate of birth control this weak reasoning and inconsequential
sentimentality have actually been crowded into the compass of a single
sentence: "We must no longer be content to remain indifferent and idle
witnesses of the senseless and unthinking procreating of countless wretched
children, whose parents are diseased and vicious." [22] It is true that
disease, vice, and wretched children are the saddest products of our
industrial system; it is also true that a helpless baby never yet was
guilty of expropriating land, of building slums, of under-paying the
workers, or of rigging the market. Therefore instead of preventing the
birth of children we should set about to rectify the evil conditions which
make the lives of children and adults unhappy. Like many other policies
advocated on behalf of the poor, birth control is immoral if only on this
account, that it distracts attention from the real causes of poverty. In
Spain birth control is not practised. I do not say there is no poverty in
that country, but there is no poverty that resembles the hopeless grinding
poverty of the English poor. For that strange disease, artificial birth
control is a worthless remedy; and it were far better that we should turn
our attention to the simple words of Cardinal Manning: "There is a natural
and divine law, anterior and superior to all human and civil law, by which
men have the right to live of the fruits of the soil on which they are
born, and in which they are buried." [23]

(c) _A Quack Remedy for Poverty_

Artificial birth control is one of the many quack remedies advertised for
the cure of poverty, and G.K. Chesterton has given the final answer to the
Malthusian assertion that some form of birth control is essential _because
houses are scarce_:

"Consider that simple sentence, and you will see what is the matter
with the modern mind. I do not mean the growth of immorality; I mean
the genesis of gibbering idiocy. There are ten little boys whom you
wish to provide with ten top-hats; and you find there are only eight
top-hats. To a simple mind it would seem not impossible to make two
more hats; to find out whose business it is to make hats, and induce
him to make hats; to agitate against an absurd delay in delivering
hats; to punish anybody who has promised hats and failed to provide
hats. The modern mind is that which says that if we only cut off the
heads of two of the little boys, they will not want hats; and then the
hats will exactly go round. The suggestion that heads are rather more
important than hats is dismissed as a piece of mystical metaphysics.
The assertion that hats were made for heads, and not heads for hats
savours of antiquated dogma. The musty text which says that the body is
more than raiment; the popular prejudice which would prefer the lives
of boys to the mathematical arrangement of hats,--all these things are
alike to be ignored. The logic of enlightenment is merciless; and we
duly summon the headsman to disguise the deficiencies of the hatter.
For it makes very little difference to the logic of the thing, that we
are talking of houses and not of hats.... The fundamental fallacy
remains the same; that we are beginning at the wrong end, because we
have never troubled to consider at what end to begin." [24]


A modern writer is burdened by many words that carry an erroneous meaning,
and one of these is the word "civilisation." Intended to mean "The Art
of Living," this word, by wrong usage, now implies that our method of
combining mental culture and bodily comfort is the highest, noblest, and
best way to live. Yet this implication is by no means certain. On the
contrary, the spectacle of our social life would bring tears to eyes
undimmed by the industrial traditions of the past hundred years. This I
know to be true, having once travelled to London in the company of a young
girl who came from the Thirteenth Century. She had lived some twelve years
on the Low Sierra of Andalusia, where in a small sunlit village she may
have vainly imagined our capital to be a city with walls of amethyst and
streets of gold, for when the train passed through that district which
lies to the south of Waterloo, the child wept. "Look at these houses," she
sobbed; "_Dios mio_, they have no view."

[Footnote 15: Memorandum issued by the Dominions Royal Commission, December
3, 1915 (p. 2).]

[Footnote 16: Prince Kropotkin, _Fields, Factories, and Workshops_, 1899,
chapter iii.]

[Footnote 17: Vide _The Economic History of Ireland from the Union to the
Famine_, by S. O'Brien (Longmans, 1921).]

[Footnote 18: William Cobbett, _Social Effects of the Reformation_.
Catholic Truth Society (H. 132), price 2_d_.]

[Footnote 19: Quoted by F.P. Atkinson, M.D., in _Edinburgh Medical
Journal_, September 1880, p. 229.]

[Footnote 20: Ibid., p. 234.]

[Footnote 21: Charles S. Devas, _Political Economy_, 1901, p. 199.]

[Footnote 22: _British Medical Journal_, July 23, 1921, p. 131.]

[Footnote 23: Quoted in _Tablet_, November 5, 1921, p. 598.]

[Footnote 24: Quoted from _America_, October 29, 1921, p. 31.]




The second contention of birth controllers is that a high birth-rate, by
increasing poverty, causes a high death-rate. In the first place, there is
no doubt that poverty, necessary features of which are mal-nutrition or
insufficient food and bad housing, is directly associated with a high
death-rate, although this view was once shown by the _Lancet_ to need
important qualifications.

"With respect to the greater mortality amongst the poor than the rich,
we have yet to learn that the only hope of lessening the death-rate
lies in diminishing the birth-rate. We have no _proof_ as yet that the
majority of the evils at present surrounding the poor are necessarily
attendant upon poverty. We have yet to see a poor population living in
dry, well-drained, well-ventilated houses, properly supplied with pure
water and the means of disposal of refuse. And we have yet to become
acquainted with a poor population spending their scant earnings
entirely, or in a very large proportion, upon the necessities of life;
for such is not the case when half the earnings of a family are thrown
away to provide adulterated alcoholic drinks for one member of it.
Until reforms such as these and others have been carried out, and the
poor are able and willing to conform to known physiological laws, it is
premature to speak of taking measures to lessen the birth-rate--a
proposal, be it said, which makes the humiliating confession of man's
defeat in the battle of life." [25]

It will be seen that the qualifications practically remove the question
from dispute. [26] If the conditions of the poor were thus altered,
poverty, as it exists to-day, would of course disappear. As things are,
we find that a high death-rate is related to poverty, as is proved, for
example, by the death-rate from tuberculosis being four times greater in
slums than in the best residential quarters of a city.

The correct answer to the birth controllers is that a high birth-rate is
not the cause of a high death-rate, because high birth-rates, as shown
in the previous chapter, are not the cause of poverty, but vice versa.
Moreover, all the statistical evidence goes to prove that in this matter we
are right and that Malthusians are wrong.


In China, where there is said to be a birth-rate of over 50 per 1,000, and
where over 70 per cent. of infants are helped to die, the high death-rate
is due clearly to degraded social customs. In the slums of Great Britain
the high death-rate is also due to degraded social conditions. It is not
due to the birth-rate. Of this the proof is simple, (a) Among the French
Canadians, where the average family numbers about nine, this high
birth-rate is not associated with a high death-rate, but with the increase
of a thrifty, hard-working race. In Ontario the birth-rate went up from
21.10 in 1910 to 24.7 in 1911, and the death-rate _fell_ from 14 to 12.6.
(b) Again, in 1911 the corrected birth-rate for Connaught was 45.3 as
against a crude rate of 24.7 for England and Wales; and in Connaught, where
there is no need for Societies for preventing Parents being Cruel to
their Children, the infant mortality rate [27] is very much lower than
in England, although the birth-rate is much higher and the poverty much
greater. In Bradford, a prosperous English town which pays particular
attention to its mothers and children, the infant mortality in 1917 was
132 per 1,000 and the birth-rate 13.2. In Connaught, where there are no
maternity centres or other aids to survival, but on the contrary a great
dearth of the means of well-being, the infant mortality was only 50, whilst
the birth-rate was actually 45! [28] So untrue is it to say that a high
death-rate is due to a high birth-rate.


Again, birth controllers claim that a low birthrate leads to a low infant
mortality rate. Now, it is really a very extraordinary thing that, whatever
be the statement made by a Malthusian on the subject of birth-control, the
very opposite is found to be the truth. During the last quarter of last
century a _falling_ birth-rate in England was actually accompanied by a
_rising_ infant mortality rate! During 1918 in Ireland [29] the crude
birthrate was 19.9, with an infant mortality rate of 86, whereas in England
and Wales [30] the crude birthrate was 17.7 with an infant mortality rate
of 97, and in the northern boroughs the appalling rate of 120. In England
and Wales the lowest infant mortality rate was found to be in the southern
rural districts, where the rate was 63, but in Connaught the rate was 50.5.
This means that in England a low birth-rate is associated with a high
infant mortality rate, whereas in Ireland a high birth-rate is associated
with a low infant mortality rate. [31] These cold figures prove that in
this matter at least the poorest Irish peasants are richer than the people
of England.


The Malthusian claim that a low birth-rate leads to a low death-rate is
also disproved by the vital statistics of France.

"The death-rate of France has not declined at the same rate as the
birth-rate has, and, while the incidence of mortality in France was
equal to that of England in the middle of the seventies, the English
mortality is now only five-sevenths of the French. England thus
maintains a fair natural increase, although the birth-rate has declined
at an even faster pace than has been the case in France....

"The French death-rate is higher than is the case with most of her
neighbours, and it can quite well be reduced. The reasons for her
fairly high mortality are not to be found in climatic conditions,
racial characteristics, or other unchangeable elements of nature, nor
even in her occupations, since some of the most industrial regions have
a low mortality." [32]

I have tabulated certain vital statistics of twenty Departments of France.

The following table, covering two periods of five years in twenty
Departments, proves that _the death-rate was lower_ in the ten Departments
having the highest birth-rate in France than in the ten Departments having
the lowest birth-rate.


1909-1913 1915-1919
Rates per 1,000 population Still- Rates per 1,000
births population
Departments. Living Deaths Natural per 1000 Births deaths
births increase births

Moselle 27.6 16.5 +11.1 - 14.7 15.4
Finistere 27.2 18.1 +9.1 4.0 15.9 18.2
Pas-de-Calais 26.8 17.4 +9.4 4.2 - -
Morbihan 25.7 17.8 +7.9 4.4 15.0 19.0
Cotes-du-Nord 24.5 20.6 +3.9 4.2 14.4 20.0
Bas-Rhin. 24.3 16.2 +8.0 - 13.3 16.1
Moselle 23.2 19.2 +4.0 4.3 - -
Lozere 22.6 17.3 +5.2 4.2 12.4 17.5
Haut-Rhin. 22.4 16.0 +6.4 - 10.3 15.4
Vosges 22.0 18.7 +3.3 4.7 - -

_Total Averages 24.6 17.7 +6.8 4.2 13.7 17.3_


Cote-d'Or. 15.4 18.2 -2.8 3.1 9.9 20.5
Allier. 15.1 15.7 -0.6 3.3 8.4 18.8
Gironde 15.1 17.3 -2.2 4.5 10.1 21.2
Haute-Garonne. 15.1 20.4 -5.3 4.0 9.0 22.5
Lot 15.0 21.0 -6.0 4.5 7.5 20.6
Nievre 14.9 17.4 -2.5 3.2 8.8 20.0
Tarn-et-Garonne 14.9 20.1 -5.1 4.7 7.9 20.7
Yonne 14.4 19.1 -4.7 3.8 8.9 22.0
Lot-et-Garonne 13.7 19.1 -5.4 4.4 7.4 20.1
Gers 13.2 19.2 -6.0 4.1 6.8 19.8

_Total Averages 14.6 18.7 -4.0 3.9 8.4 20.6_

Moreover, the figures show that, prior to 1914, the Departments with the
lowest birth-rate were becoming _depopulated_. On the other hand, the
enormous fall in the birth-rate throughout the country from 1915 to 1919 is
a memorial, very noble, to the heroism of France in the Great War, and to
her 1,175,000 dead. Certain other facts should also be noted. In France the
regulations permit that, when a child has died before registration of the
birth, this may be recorded as a still-birth; and for that reason the
proportion of still-births _appears_ higher than in most other countries.

Malthusian claims are thus refuted by the vital statistics of France; but
it should be clearly understood that these figures do _not_ prove that the
reverse of the Malthusian theory is true, namely, that a high birth-rate
is the cause of a low death-rate. There is no true correlation between
birthrates and death-rates.


As birth controllers rely very much upon statistics, and as figures may
very easily mislead the unwary, it is necessary to point out that the
Malthusian contention that a high birth-rate is the cause of a high
death-rate is not only contrary to reason and to facts, but is also
contrary to the very figures which they quote. A high birth-rate is often
associated with a high death-rate, but a general or uniform correspondence
between birth-rates and death-rates has never been established by modern
statistical methods. To these methods brief reference may be made. A
coefficient of correlation is a number intended to indicate the degree of
similarity between two things, or the extent to which one moves with the
other. If this coefficient is unity, or 1, it indicates that the two things
are similar in all respects, while if it be zero, or 0, it indicates that
there is no resemblance between them. The study of correlation is a first
step to the study of causation, because, until we know to what extent two
things move together, it is useless to consider whether one causes the
movement of the other; but in itself a coefficient of correlation does not
necessarily indicate cause or result. Now in this country, between 1838 and
1912 the birth-rate and the death-rate show a correlation of .84; but if
that period be split into two, the correlation from 1838 to 1876, when the
birth-rate was fluctuating, is _minus_ .12, and in the period after 1876
the correlation is _plus_ .92. This means that the whole of the positive
correlation is due to the falling of the death-rate, and that birthrates
and death-rates do not of necessity move together. [33]

After a careful examination of the vital statistics for France, Knud
Stouman concludes as follows:

"In France no clear correlation exists between the birth-rate and the
death-rate in the various Departments. The coefficient of correlation
between the birth-rate and the general death-rate by Departments
(1909-1913) was 0.0692+-0.1067, and including Alsace and
Lorraine--0.0212+-0.1054, indicating no correlation whatsoever. A
somewhat different and more interesting table is obtained when the
correlation is made with the mortality at each age class:


Under 1 year 0.3647 +- 0.0986
1-19 years 0.4884 +- 0.0816
20-39 years 0.6228 +- 0.0656
40-59 years 0.5028 +- 0.0801
60 years and over 0.2577 +- 0.1001

"A peculiar configuration is observed in these coefficients in that a
quite pronounced positive correlation exists at the central age
group, but disappears with some regularity towards both extremities
of life. If the mortality has any influence upon the natality this
cannot be in the form of replacement of lost infants and deceased old
people, therefore, as has frequently been suggested. That a high
death-rate at the child-bearing age should be conducive to increased
fertility is absurd, neither does it seem likely that a large number
of children should make the parents more liable to diseases which are
prevalent at this period of life. The reasons must, then, be looked
for in a common factor.

"Now the only disease of importance representing the same age-curve as
do the correlation coefficients is tuberculosis. This disease causes in
France 2 per cent. of the deaths under one year, 24 per cent. of the
deaths from 1 to 19 years of age, not less than 45 per cent. from 20 to
39, 18 per cent. at ages 40 to 59, and less than 2 per cent. at the
ages over 60. Will a high tuberculosis mortality, then, be conducive to
great fertility, or do we have to fear that a decrease of the natality
will be the result of energetic measures against tuberculosis? Hardly.
The death-rate may be reduced, then, without detrimental effects upon
the birth-rate.

"What can the factor be which influences both the tuberculosis
incidence and the birth-rate? We know that the prevalence of
tuberculosis is conditioned principally by poverty and ignorance of
hygiene. The Parisian statistics, as compiled by Dr. Bertillon and
recently by Professor L. Hersch, show a much higher birth-rate in the
poor wards than in the richer districts, and the high birth-rates may
be furnished largely by the poorer elements of the population. A
comfortable degree of wealth does not imply a low birth-rate, as is
abundantly shown elsewhere, and one of the important questions which
suggest themselves to the French statistician and sociologist is
evidently the following: How can the intellectual and economic standard
of the masses be raised without detriment to the natality?

"We believe that the time is opportune for solving this question. The
past half-century has been lived under the shadow of defeat and with a
sense of limitations, and of impotence against fate. This nightmare is
now thrown off, and, the doors to the world being open and development
free, the French people will learn that new initiative has its full
recompense and that a living and a useful activity can be found for all
the sons and daughters they may get. The habit of home-staying is
broken by the war, and new and great undertakings are developing in the
ruined north-east as well as in the sunny south." [34]

[Footnote 25: _The Lancet_, 1879, vol. ii, p. 703.]

[Footnote 26: Poverty is a term of wide import admitting many degrees
according as the victim is deprived more or less completely of the ordinary
necessities in the matters of food, clothing, housing, education, and
recreation. As used by Malthusians and spoken of here it means persistent
lack of one or more of these necessary requisites for decent living. Vide
Parkinson, _Primer of Social Science_ (1918), pp. 225 sqq.]

[Footnote 27: The infant mortality rate is the number of deaths of infants
under one year old per 1,000 births in the same year.]

[Footnote 28: See Saleeby, _The Factors of Infant Mortality_, edited by
Cory Bigger. _Report on the Physical Welfare of Mothers and Children_, vol.
iv, Ireland (Carnegie U.K. Trust), 1918.]

[Footnote 29: _Fifty-fifth Annual Report of the Registrar-General for
Ireland, containing a General Abstract of the Numbers of Marriages, Births,
and Deaths_, 1918, pp. x, xxix, and 24.]

[Footnote 30: _Eighty-first Annual Report of the Registrar-General of
Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England and Wales_, 1918, pp. xxiv, xxxii,
and xxxv.]

[Footnote 31: This is also the emphatic testimony of Sir Arthur Newsholme,
in his _Report of Child Mortality_, issued in connection with the
_Forty-fifth Annual Report of the Local Government Board_ (dated 191?), PP.

[Footnote 32: Knud Stouman, "The Repopulation of France," _International
Journal of Public Health_, vol. ii, no. 4, p. 421.]

[Footnote 33: Dr. Major Greenwood. Vide _The Declining Birth-rate_, 1916,
p. 130.]

[Footnote 34: _International Journal of Public Health_, vol. ii, no. 4, p.




The fact that Malthusians are in the habit of citing the birth-rate in
certain Catholic countries as a point in favour of their propaganda is
only another instance of their maladroit use of figures: because for that
argument there is not the slightest justification. The following paragraph
from a recent speech [35] in the Anglican Church Congress by Lord Dawson,
Physician to the King, is a good example of their methods in controversy:

"Despite the influence and condemnations of the Church, it (artificial
birth control) has been practised in France for well over half a
century, and in Belgium and other Catholic countries is extending. And
if the Roman Catholic Church, with its compact organisation, its power
of authority, and its discipline, cannot check this procedure, is it
likely that Protestant Churches will be able to do so? For Protestant
religions depend for their strength on _the conviction and esteem they
establish in the heads and hearts of their people_."

I have italicised the closing words because it would be interesting to
know, in passing, whether anyone denies that these human influences also
contribute to the strength of the Catholic Church. Among recent converts to
the Faith in this country are many Protestant clergymen who may be presumed
to have known what claims "on their conviction and esteem" their communion
had. Moreover, in France, amongst recent converts are some of the great
intellects of that country. If it be not "conviction and esteem" in their
"heads and hearts," what other motive, I ask, has induced Huysmans, Barres,
and others to make submission to Rome?

Secondly, it is true that for over half a century the birth-rate of France
has been falling, and that to some extent this decline is due to the use of
contraceptives; but it is also true that during the past fifty years the
Government of France has made a determined but unsuccessful effort to
overthrow the Catholic Church; and that it is in so far as the Government
has weakened Catholic influence and impeded Catholic teaching that the
birth-rate has fallen. The belief of a nation will not influence its
destiny unless that belief is reflected in the actions of the citizens.
Father Herbert Thurston, S.J., [36] thus deals with the argument implied:

"Catholicism which is merely Catholicism in name, and which amounts to
no more in the supposed believer than a vague purpose of sending for a
priest when he is dying, is not likely to have any restraining effect
upon the decline of the birth-rate. Further, it is precisely because a
really practical Catholicism lays such restrictions upon freedom in
this and in other matters, that members of the educated and comfortable
classes, the men especially, are prone to emancipate themselves from
all religious control with an anti-clerical rancour hardly known in
Protestant lands. Had it not been for these defections from her
teaching, the Catholic Church, in most countries of mixed religion,
would soon become predominant by the mere force of natural fertility.
Even as it is, we believe that a country like France owes such small
measure of natural increase as she still retains almost entirely to the
religious principle of the faithful few. Where the Catholic Church
preserves her sway over the hearts of men the maintenance of a vigorous
stock is assured."

In the first place, it is noteworthy that the birth-rate varies with
practical Catholicism in France, being much higher in those Departments
where the Church is more flourishing. As was shown by Professor Meyrick
Booth in 1914, there are certain districts of France where the birth-rate
is _higher_ than in the usual English country districts. For example, the
birth-rate in Finistere was 27.1, in Pas-de-Calais 26.6, and in Morbihan
25.8. On the other hand, in many Departments the birth-rate was lower
than the death-rate. This occurred, for example, in Lot, Haute Garonne,
Tarn-et-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonne, and in Gers. In the two last-named
Departments the birth-rates were 13.6 and 13.0 respectively.

In the following table I have tabulated more recent figures concerning the
vital statistics in these two groups of Departments, and rates for the
two periods of five years, 1909-1913, and 1915-1919, in each group are

It will be noted that in the three Departments, where practical Catholicism
is most flourishing,


1909-1913. 1915-1919.

Departments. Rates per 1000 Still- Deaths Rates per 1000
population Births under population
per 1 year
Living Deaths National 1000 per Births Deaths
Births Increase Births 1000

Finistere. 27.2 18.1 +9.1 4.0 116.7 15.9 18.2
Pas-de-Calais 26.8 17.4 +9.4 4.2 135.3 -- --
Morbihan. 25.7 17.8 +7.9 4.4 113.7 15.0 19.0

_Total Averages. 26.5 17.7 +8.8 4.2 121.9 15.4 18.6_

Lot. 15.0 21.0 -6.0 4.5 148.0 7.5 20.6
Haute Garonne. 15.1 20.4 -5.3 4.0 121.3 9.0 22.5
Tarn-et-Garonne 14.9 20.1 -5.1 4.7 134.7 7.9 20.7
Lot-et-Garonne. 13.7 19.1 -5.4 4.4 112.0 7.4 20.1
Gers. 13.2 19.2 -6.0 4.1 102.4 6.8 19.8

_Total Averages. 14.3 19.9 -5.5 4.3 123.6 7.7 20.7_

there is a high birth-rate, and moreover that in these Departments both
the death-rate and the infant mortality rate is _lower_ than in the five
Departments with the lowest birth-rate.

Professor Meyrick Booth's comments are as follows:

"The above five departments (in which the decline of population has
been most marked) are adjacent to one another in the fertile valley of
the Garonne, one of the wealthiest parts of France; and we may well
ask: Why should the birth-rate under such favourable conditions be less
than half that which is noted for the bleak district of Finistere? The
noted statistician, M. Leroy-Beaulieu, has some interesting
observations to offer upon this paradoxical state of things.
Considering the country in general, and these districts in particular,
he notes that the most prolific parts of France are those in which the
people have retained their allegiance to the traditional Church (in the
case of the Pas-de-Calais we have a certain degree of adherence to the
orthodox faith combined with the presence of a large mining
population). M. Leroy-Beaulieu expresses the opinion that the Catholic
Church tends, by means of its whole atmosphere, to promote a general
increase of population; for, more than other types of Christianity, it
condemns egoism, materialism, and inordinate ambition for self or
family; and, moreover, it works in the same direction through its
uncompromising condemnation of modern Malthusian practices. He draws
our attention, further, to the new wave of religious life which has
swept over the _haute-bourgeoisie_ of France during the last few
decades; and he does not hesitate to connect this with the fact that
this class is now one of the most prolific (perhaps the most prolific)
in the nation. Space forbids my taking up this subject in detail, but
it appears from a considerable body of figures which have been
collected that, while the average number of children born to each
marriage in the English Protestant upper middle class is not more than
about 2.0 to 2.5, the number born to each marriage in the corresponding
class in France is between 3.0 and 4.0. Taking the foregoing facts into
consideration, it would appear that Roman Catholicism--even in
France--is very considerably more prolific (where the belief of the
people is at all deep) than English Protestantism. This applies both to
the upper and lower classes." [37]

In all probability Lord Dawson was unaware of the foregoing, but there is
one fact which, as a Neo-Malthusian, he ought to have known, because the
omission of this fact in his address is a serious matter. When referring to
France as a country where birth control had come to stay, _Lord Dawson did
not tell his audience that the Government of France has now suppressed the
only Malthusian periodical in that country, and has proposed a law, whereby
those who engage in birth control propaganda shall be imprisoned_.


As regards other countries, Holland is usually described as the Mecca of
Malthusians, being "the only country where Neo-Malthusianism has been given
the opportunity of diminishing the excessive birth-rate on eugenic lines,
i.e. in the reduction of the fertility of the poorest classes," [38] and
where a "considerable rise in the wages and general prosperity appears
to have taken place side by side with an unprecedented increase of
population." When we come to investigate this claim we find that, of the
eleven provinces of Holland, two are almost entirely Catholic, these
being North Brabant, with 649,000 inhabitants, and Limburg, with 358,000
inhabitants. On the other hand, in Friesland, with 366,000 inhabitants,
not more than 8 per cent, are Catholics. The vital statistics for 1913 are
quoted by Father Thurston, S.J.:

"... We find that in Limburg the crude birth-rate is 33.4, in North
Brabant it is 32.5, but in Friesland it is 24.3. Of course, this is not
the beginning and end of the matter. In North Brabant the death-rate is
16.36, in Limburg it is 15.28, in Friesland it is only 11.21, but the
fact remains that in the two Catholic provinces the natural increase is
16.17 and 18.15, while in the non-Catholic province of Friesland it is
13.15. Further, no one can doubt that in such densely populated
districts as North and South Holland and Gelderland the Catholics, who
number more than 25 per cent, of the inhabitants, exercise a
perceptible influence in raising the birth figures for the whole
kingdom. The results would be very different if the entire country
adopted Neo-Malthusian principles." [39]


As was proved by the census of religions in 1906, the United States of
America is becoming a great stronghold of the Faith. In Massachusetts the
Catholic Church numbered 1,100,000 members, whereas the total membership
of all the Protestant Churches was 450,000. In Illinois there were about
300,000 Methodists and 1,000,000 Catholics. There were 2,300,000 Catholics
in the State of New York, and about 300,000 Methodists, while no other
Protestant Church numbered more than 200,000. The New England States, once
the home of American Puritanism, are now great centres of Catholicism.

Professor Meyrick Booth [40] explains this remarkable change as being due
to two causes: (1) The influx of large numbers of European Catholics, who
cling tenaciously to their religion; (2) the greater fertility of these
stocks as compared with the native population. Moreover, he has tabulated
the following statistics:


State. Population Chief Religious Bodies Births & Birth
(1906) Deaths rate per
(b. and d.) 1,000

Indiana 2,700,000 Methodist 233,000 b. 36,000 13.0
Prot. Episcopalian 102,000 d. 36,500
Disciples 118,000
R.C. 175,000
Iowa. 2,224,000 Methodist 164,000 b. 36,000 16.0
Lutheran 117,000 d. 20,000
Presbyterian 60,000
R.C. 207,000
Maryland. 1,295,000 Methodist 137,000 b. 19,000 15.0
Prot. Episcopalian 35,000 d. 20,000
Baptist & smaller,
about 100,000
R.C. 167,000
California. 2,377,000 R.C. 354,000 b. 32,100 14.0
Prot. bodies about d. 32,400
(All Churches weak) 250,000
Kentucky 2,290,000 Baptist 312,000 b. 35,000 15.0
Methodist 156,000 d. 18,000
R.C. 166,000

In these States the birth-rate is low; in three there are actually more
deaths than births; and in all five the proportion of Catholics is
comparatively small. These States may be compared with five others, in
which the Catholic and the foreign elements are well represented:


State. Population Chief Religious Birth and Birthrate
(1910) Bodies Deaths per 1000

New York. 9,113,000 R.C. 2,280,000 b. 213,000 22.0
Jews (?) 1,000,000 d. 147,000
Methodist 300,000
Presbyterian 200,000

Rhode Island 540,000 R.C. 160,000 b. 13,000 24.0
Baptist 20,000 d. 8,000
Episcopalian 15,000

Massachusetts 3,336,000 R.C. 1,080,000 b. 84,000 25.0
Congregational 120,000 d. 51,000
Baptist 80,000
All Protestants
together 450,000

Michigan 2,800,000 R.C. 490,000 b. 64,000 23.0
Methodist 128,000 d. 36,000
Lutheran 105,000

Connecticut 1,114,000 R.C. 300,000 b. 27,000 24.0
Congregational 66,000 d. 17,000
Episcopalian 37,000

In these States the birth-rate is very much higher than in the former.
Furthermore, a New York paper [40] investigated the birth-rate in that
city with special reference to religious belief, and concluded that the
different bodies could be graded as follows with respect to the number of
children per marriage: (1) Jews, (2) Catholics, (3) Protestants (Orthodox),
(4) Protestants (Liberal), and (5) Agnostic. Professor Meyrick Booth, who
is himself a Protestant, concludes his survey of the evidence as follows:

"looking at the situation as a whole, there is good reason to think
that the Protestant Anglo-Saxons are not only losing ground
_relatively_, but must, at any rate in the East and middle East, be
suffering an actual decrease on a large scale. For it has been shown by
more than one sociologist (see, for example, the statement in _The
Family and the Nation_) that no stock can maintain itself with an
average of less than about four children per marriage, and from all
available data (it has not been found possible to obtain definite
figures for most of the Western and Southern States) we must see that
the average fertility of each marriage in this section of the American
people falls far short of the requisite four children. Judging by all
the figures at hand, the modern Anglo-Saxon American, with his high
standard of comfort, his intensely individualistic outlook on life, and
his intellectual and emancipated but child-refusing wife, is being
gradually thrust aside by the upgrowth of new masses of people of
simpler tastes and hardier and more natural habits. And, what is of
peculiar interest to us, this new population will carry into ascendancy
those religious and moral beliefs which have moulded its type of life.

"The victory will be, not to those religious beliefs which most closely
correspond to certain requirements of the abstract intellect, but to
those which give rise, in practice, to a mode of life that is simple,
natural, unselfish, and adequately prolific--in other words, to a mode
of life that _works_, that is _Lebensfaehig_." [41]

As things are, the original Protestant stock of America is being swamped by
the growth of the Catholic, the Jewish, and the Negro population. Moreover,
the United States is faced by the grave problem of a rapidly increasing
coloured race. Despite this fact the American Malthusians are now demanding
that a National Bureau should be established to disseminate information
regarding contraceptives throughout their country! And what of the other
reformers? They also are very busy. They have already abolished those
cheering beverages from grapes and grain, or rather they have made alcohol
one of the surreptitious privileges of the rich. They are seeking to
enforce the Sabbath as a day of absolute rest, not for the glory of God but
in order that tired wage-slaves may have their strength renewed for another
week of toil in the factories and the mills. Again, they would uproot
from the homely earth that pleasant weed whose leaves have made slaves of
millions since the days of Sir Walter Raleigh. All these things would they
do. There are some things the reformers have not done, and these things are
recounted by an American writer, Dr. Anthony M. Benedik:

"The divorce peril, the race-suicide evil, the greed for ill-gotten
gold, things like these the reformers touch not. And these things it is
which harm the soul. Abolishing the use of alcoholic drinks and of
tobacco, putting the blue laws into effect, suppressing all rough
sports, may make a cleaner, more sanitary, more hygienic, a quieter
world. And yet there keep recurring to mind those words of the Master
of mankind, 'What doth it profit a man if he gain the world and suffer
the loss of his soul?' What worthy exchange can a man make for his
soul?" [42]

On the other hand, it is good to read that the Governor of New York has
recently signed a bill making it a misdemeanour for landlords to refuse
to rent apartments to families in which there are children. In that State
children thus regain equal rights with dogs, cats, and canaries. Is it too
much to ask of the House of Commons that they should pass a similar law? We
shall see.

The dangers of birth control were apparent to that great American, Theodore
Roosevelt, when he said:

"The greatest of all curses is the curse of sterility, and the severest
of all condemnations should be that visited upon wilful sterility. The
first essential in any civilisation is that the man and the woman shall
be the father and the mother of healthy children, so that the race
shall increase and not decrease." [43]


On a smaller scale the position is the same in England and Wales, where
Catholicism has probably checked to some extent the general decline of
the birth-rate. In 1919 there were only six towns in England [44] with a
birth-rate of over 25 per 1,000, these being St. Helens (25.6), Gateshead
(25.9), South Shields (26.9), Sunderland (27.1), Tynemouth (25.9), and
Middlesbrough (26.7). Now in these towns the Catholic element is very
strong. During the same year in the four registration counties in which
these towns are situated, a larger proportion of marriages were celebrated
according to the rites of the Church of Rome than in the other counties of
England and Wales. [45] The actual proportion of Catholic marriages per
1,000 of all marriages in these four counties was: Lancashire 116, Durham
99, Northumberland 92, and the North Riding of Yorkshire 92. That gives a
fair index of the strength of the Catholic population. Again in 1919 we
find that Preston, a textile town, has a birth-rate of 17.1, whereas two
other textile towns, Bradford and Halifax, have rates of 13.4 and 13.1
respectively: and there can be little doubt that the relative superiority
of Preston is mainly owing to her large Catholic population.

The actual birth-rate amongst Catholics in England may be estimated from
information contained in _The Catholic Directory_ for 1914. As that work
gives the Catholic population and the number of infant baptisms during the
previous year in each diocese of Great Britain, and as Catholic children
are always baptized soon after birth, it is possible to estimate the
birth-rate of the Catholic population. Working on these figures Professor
Meyrick Booth [46] has published the following table:


Diocese. Birth-rate per 1,000 of the
Roman Catholic population.

Menevia (Wales) 45.2
Middlesbrough 38.0
Leeds 42.0
Liverpool 40.0
Newport 53.0
Northampton 33.0
Plymouth 26.0
Shrewsbury 38.0
Southwark 39.O
Westminster 36.0
Average 38.6

During the same period the general birth-rate amongst the whole population
of England and Wales was about 24 per 1,000. And figures that are even more
remarkable have been published by Mr. W.C.D. Whetham and Mrs. Whetham. [47]
These writers, having investigated the number of children in the families
of the landed gentry, show that the birth-rate amongst the aristocracy has

"A hundred fertile marriages for each decade from 1831 to 1890 have
been taken consecutively from those families who have held their title
to nobility for at least two preceding generations, thus excluding the
more modern commercial middle-class element in the present Peerage,
which can be better dealt with elsewhere. We then get the full effect
of hereditary stability and a secure position, and do away with any
disturbing influence that might occur from a sudden rise to
prosperity." [48]

The results were as follows: [Reference: Population]

Year. Number of children to each
fertile marriage.

1831-40 7.1
1841-60 6.1
1871-80 4.36
1881-90 3.13

The birth-rate amongst thirty families of the landed gentry, who were
known to be definitely Catholic, was also investigated, with the following

Years. Number of children to each
fertile marriage.

1871-90 6.6

(as compared with 3.74 for the landed families as a whole during the
same period.)

The interpretation of these figures is not a matter of faith, but of
reason. I submit that the facts are _prima facie_ evidence that by
observance of the moral law, as taught by the Catholic Church, even
a highly cultured community is enabled to escape those dangers of
over-civilisation that lead to diminished fertility and consequently to
national decline.

The truth of this statement has been freely acknowledged by many Anglicans.
According to Canon Edward Lyttelton: "The discipline of the Roman Communion
prohibits the artificial prevention of conception, hence Ireland is the
only part of the United Kingdom in which the birth-rate has not declined,
and the decline is least in places like Liverpool and those districts where
Roman Catholics are most numerous." As we have already seen, there are also
other reasons why Catholicism preserves the fertility of a nation.

Without wishing to hurt the feelings of the most sensitive materialist, it
is necessary to point out that, apart altogether from the question as to
whether the chief or immediate cause of a declining birth-rate is the
practice of artificial birth control, or, as seems to be possible, a
general lowering of fertility, birth-rates are more dependent on morals
and religion than on race and country. During the past century irreligion
spread throughout France, and the birth-rate fell from 32.2, during the
first decade of the nineteenth century, to 20.6, during the first ten years
of the twentieth century. In America, amongst the descendants of the New
England Puritans a decay of religion and morals has also been accompanied
by a dwindling birth-rate. The decline of the original New England stock in
America has been masked to some extent by the high birth-rate amongst the
immigrant population; but nevertheless it is apparent in the Census Returns
for 1890, when a population of 65,000,000 was expected and only 62,500,000
was returned. Moreover, there is ample evidence in history that, wherever
the Christian ideal of a family has been abandoned, a race is neither able
to return to the family life of healthy pagan civilisations nor to escape
decay. During the past fifty years in England family life has been
definitely weakened by increased facilities for divorce amongst the rich,
by the discouragement of parental authority amongst the poor, and by the
neglect of all religious teaching in the schools. And thus, in the words
of Charles Devas, "We have of late years, with perverse ingenuity, been
preparing the way for the low birth-rate of irreligion and the high
death-rate of civil disorder." [49] The birth-rate in England and Wales
reached its highest point, 36.3, in 1876, and has gradually fallen to 18.5
in 1919. During the first two quarters of that year the rate was the lowest
yet recorded. During the pre-war year, 1913, the rate was 24.1.

In conclusion, the following statements by a Protestant writer are of

"Judging from a number of figures which cannot be quoted here, owing to
considerations of space, it would seem that the English middle-class
birth-rate has fallen to the extent of _over 50 per cent_. during the
last forty years; and we have actual figures showing that the
well-to-do artisan birth-rate has declined, _in the last thirty years,
by 52 per cent.!_ Seeing that the Protestant Churches draw their
members mainly from these very classes, we have not far to seek for an
explanation of the empty Sunday Schools...."

"Under these circumstances it is not in the least necessary for
Protestant ministers and clergymen to cast about them for evidence of
Jesuit machinations wherewith to explain the decline of the Protestant
Churches in this country! Let them rather look at the empty cradles in
the homes of their own congregations!" [50]

The author of the above-quoted paragraphs thus attributes the decline both
of the birth-rate and of the Protestant Churches to the general adoption of
artificial birth control. With that explanation I disagree, because it
puts the horse behind the cart. When the Protestant faith was strong the
birth-rate of this country was as high as that of Catholic lands. The
Protestant Churches have now been overshadowed by a rebirth of Rationalism,
a growth for which they themselves prepared the soil: and diminished
fertility is the natural product of a civilisation tending towards
materialism. Although the practice of artificial birth control must
obviously contribute towards a falling birth-rate, it is neither the only
nor the ultimate cause of the decline. The ultimate causes of a falling
birth-rate are more complex, and the decline of a community is but the
physical expression of a moral change. That is my thesis.

[Footnote 35: _Evening Standard_, October 12, 1921.]

[Footnote 36: "The Declining Birth-rate" in _The Month_, August 1916, p.
157, reprinted by C.T.S. Price 2_d_.]

[Footnote 37: "Religious Belief as affecting the Growth of Population,"
_The Hibbert Journal_, October, 1914, p. 144.]

[Footnote 38: The Secretary of the Malthusian League. Vide _The Declining
Birth-rate_, 1916, p. 99.]

[Footnote 39: _The Month_, August 1916, p. 157, C.T.S.: 2_d_.]

[Footnote 40: _The Hibbert Journal_, October 1914, p. 147.]

[Footnote 41: _The Hibbert Journal_, October 1914, p. 150.]

[Footnote 42: "Race-suicide and Dr. Bell," _America_, October 29, 1921, p.

[Footnote 43: _Daily Chronicle_, April 25, 1910.]

[Footnote 44: _Eighty-second Annual Report of the Registrar-General of
Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England and Wales_, 1919, p. 89.]

[Footnote 45: Ibid., p. xxvi.]

[Footnote 46: _The Hibbert Journal_, October 1914, p. 141.]

[Footnote 47: _The Family and the Nation_, 1909, pp. 139, 142.]

[Footnote 48: Quoted in _Universe_, October 22, 1921.]

[Footnote 49: Charles S. Devas, _Political Economy_, 2nd edition, 1901, p.

[Footnote 50: Meyrick Booth, B. Sc., Ph.D., _The Hibbert Journal_, October
1914, pp. 142 and 152.]




In 1837 Thomas Doubleday [51] maintained that the rising birth-rate of his

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