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Title: Birth Control: A Statement of Christian Doctrine against the Neo-Malthusians
Author: Sutherland, Halliday
Language: English
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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°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°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
_façon 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'Apologétique_, 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
£10. During the second year the garden is worked by ten men and produces
vegetables to the value of £200. 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 £10 but £20. During the third year the garden is worked by
twenty men and yields vegetables to the value of £300. The total yield is
greater, but the yield per head is less, because each man has produced not
£20 but £15. 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
Finistère       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
Côtes-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         -       -
Lozère          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_


Côte-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
Nièvre          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, Barrés,
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 Finistère 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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

(a) _Moral Catastrophe in Ancient Greece_

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

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

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

(b) _The Physical Catastrophe induced by Selfishness_

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

    Total 445                             with 578

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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




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

    _A Cause of Sterility_

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


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

    _Fibroid Tumours_

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

On November 8, a second paragraph appeared:


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

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


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

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

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

    "President Society for Constructive and Racial Progress."

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(a) _Affecting the Young_

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

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

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

(b) _Exposing the Poor to Experiment_

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

(c) _Tending towards the Servile State_

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) _A Danger to the Empire_

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

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

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

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

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

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

     From       Annual   Total      Total
               average  imports  requirements

               Million    Per     Per
                  cwts    cent    cent

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

                  32.8    29.4    23.7

     From       Annual   Total      Total
               average  imports  requirements

               Million    Per     Per
                  cwts    cent    cent

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

                  32.8    29.4    23.7

     From       Annual   Total      Total
               average  imports  requirements

               Million    Per     Per
                  cwts    cent    cent

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

                  59.0    49.4    39.5

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

    _Future Supplies_

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

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

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

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

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

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

    "The relative yield per acre in 1911 was as follows:"

                                     Yield per acre.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These days have been recalled by Norman Macleod:

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

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

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

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

That letter was written by Norman Macleod, ordained in 1774, and minister
of the Church of Scotland in Morven for some forty years. His stipend was
£40, afterwards raised to £80. He had a family of sixteen. One of his sons
was minister in Campbelltown, and later in Glasgow. He had a family of
eleven. His eldest son was Chaplain to Queen Victoria, and wrote the
_Reminiscences of a Highland Parish_.

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

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

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

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

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

_(d) The Dangers of Small Families_

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    "The _Revue des Deux Mondes_ for July 1911 contains a valuable account,
    by a doctor resident in Gascony, of the state of things in that part of
    France (where, it will be remembered, the birth-rate is especially
    low). He expresses with the utmost emphasis the conviction that the
    Gascons are deteriorating, physically and mentally, and points out, at
    the same time, that the decline of population has had an injurious
    effect upon the economic condition of the country. 'L'hyponatalité est
    une cause précise et directe de la dégénérescence de la race,' he
    writes. And, dealing with the belief that a low birthrate will result
    in the development of a superior type of child, he says: 'C'est une
    illusion qui ne résiste pas à la lumière des faits tels que les montre
    l'étude démographique de nos villages gascons. Depuis que beaucoup de
    bancs restent vides à la petite école, les écoliers ne sont ni mieux
    doués, ni plus travailleurs, et ils sont certainement moins vigoureux.'
    And again, 'La quantité est en général la condition première et
    souveraine de la qualité.'" [97]


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    "For the more you 'ave known o' the others
    The less will you settle to one."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 87: Including British Columbia.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 94: Leaflet of the Malthusian League.]

[Footnote 95: _The Hibbert Journal_, October 1914, p. 153. My

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us consider, firstly, the teaching of the Church of England on this
matter. At the Lambeth Conference of 1908 the Bishops affirmed "that
deliberate tampering with nascent life is repugnant to Christian morality."
In 1914 a Committee of Bishops issued a Memorandum [113] in which
artificial birth control is condemned as "dangerous, demoralising, and
sinful." The memorandum was approved by a large majority of the Diocesan
Bishops, although in the opinion of Dean Inge "this is emphatically a
matter in which every man and woman must judge for themselves, and must
refrain from judging others." [114] The Bishops also held that in some
marriages it may be desirable, on grounds of prudence or of health, to
limit the number of children. In these circumstances they advised the
practice of self-restraint; and, as regards a limited use of marriage, they
added the following statement:

    "It seems to most of us only a legitimate application of such
    self-restraint that in certain cases (which only the parties' own
    judgment and conscience can settle) intercourse should be restricted by
    consent to certain times at which it is less likely to lead to
    conception. This is only to use natural conditions; it is approved by
    good medical authority; it means self-denial and not self-indulgence.
    And we believe it to be quite legitimate, or at least not to be

A _small_ minority of Bishops held that prolonged or even perpetual
abstinence from intercourse is the only legitimate method of limiting a
family. Finally, in Resolution 68 of the Lambeth Conference in 1920, the
Bishops stated that:

    "We utter an emphatic warning against the use of unnatural means for
    the avoidance of conception, together with the grave
    dangers--physical, moral, and religious--thereby incurred, and against
    the evils with which the extension of such use threatens the race. In
    opposition to the teaching which, under the name of science and
    religion, encourages married people in the deliberate cultivation of
    sexual union as an end in itself, we steadfastly uphold what must
    always be regarded as the governing consideration of Christian
    marriage. One is the primary purpose for which marriage
    exists--namely, the continuation of the race through the gift and
    heritage of children; the other is the paramount importance in married
    life of deliberate and thoughtful self-control." [115]

And the Committee on "Problems of Marriage and Sexual Morality" felt called
upon "to utter an earnest warning against the use of any unnatural means by
which conception is frustrated." [116]

If Resolution 68 be read in conjunction with the Memorandum of 1914, the
teaching of the Church of England is plain to any sane man or woman; it is
one with the teaching of the Church Catholic. Artificial birth control is
condemned as sin, but, under certain circumstances, the limitation of a
family by continence or by _restricted intercourse_ is permitted. As this
teaching forbids Neo-Malthusian practices, birth controllers have tried to
make the Church alter her teaching to suit their opinions. Although their
methods in controversy against the Church must be condemned by everyone who
values intellectual honesty, the reader, of his charity, should remember
that Malthusians are unable to defend their policy, either on logical or on
moral grounds. Without attempting to prove that the teaching of the
Church is wrong, birth controllers began the attack by _a complete
misrepresentation_ of what that teaching actually is. This unenviable task
was undertaken by Lord Dawson of Penn, at the Birmingham Church Congress of

After quoting Resolution 68, Lord Dawson said:

    "Now the plain meaning of this statement is that sexual union should
    take place for the sole purpose of procreation, that sexual union as
    _an_ end in itself--not, mind you, _the_ only end--(there we should all
    agree), but sexual union as _an_ end in itself is to be condemned.

    "That means that sexual intercourse should rightly take place _only_
    for the purpose of procreation.

    "Quite a large family could easily result from quite a few sexual
    unions. For the rest the couple should be celibate. Any intercourse not
    having procreation as its intention is 'sexual union as an end in
    itself,' and therefore by inference condemned by the Lambeth

    "Think of the facts of life. Let us recall our own love--our marriage,
    our honeymoon. Has not sexual union over and over again been the
    physical expression of our love without thought or intention of
    procreation? Have we all been wrong? Or is it that the Church lacks
    that vital contact with the realities of life which accounts for the
    gulf between her and the people?

    "The love envisaged by the Lambeth Conference is an invertebrate,
    joyless thing--not worth the having. Fortunately it is in contrast to
    the real thing as practised by clergy and laity.

    "Fancy an ardent lover (and what respect have you for a lover who is
    not ardent?)--the type you would like your daughter to marry--virile,
    ambitious, chivalrous--a man who means to work hard and love hard.
    Fancy putting before these lovers--eager and expectant of the joys
    before them--the Lambeth picture of marriage. Do you expect to gain
    their confidence?" [117]

That sort of appeal is not very effective, even as rhetoric; but it is very
easy to give an exact parallel. Fancy a fond father (and what respect have
you for a father who is not fond?) being told by his daughter's suitor that
he, his prospective son-in-law, looked forward to the physical joys of
marriage, but intended to insist on his wife using contraceptives. Would
any father regard such a one as the type he would like his daughter to

There is, unfortunately, another answer to Lord Dawson, and I put it in the
form of a question. Can any intelligent man or woman, Catholic, Protestant,
or rationalist, maintain that Lord Dawson has given a fair, a true, or an
honest statement of the teaching of the Church of England? Moreover, it
is past all understanding how a gross libel on Anglican doctrine has been
overlooked by those most concerned. The address is actually hailed
as "wise, bold, and humane in the highest sense of the word" by _The
Spectator_, [118] and that amazing journal, "expert as ever in making the
worse appear the better cause in a way that appeals to clergymen," goes on
to say: "Lord Dawson fearlessly and plainly opposed the teachings of the
Roman Church and the alleged teachings of the Anglican."

Having by a travesty of truth created a false theological bogey, bearing
little resemblance either to Catholic or to Anglican teaching, Lord Dawson
proceeds to demolish his own creation by a somewhat boisterous eulogy of
sex-love. Now sex-love is an instinct and involves no question of good
or evil apart from the circumstances in which it is either gratified or
denied; but, in view of the freedom with which Lord Dawson discussed this
topic, it is only right to note that it was left to the Rev. R.J. Campbell
to add to the gaiety of nations by his subsequent protest that the
_Marriage Service_ "contains expressions which are offensive to modern
delicacy of feeling."

That protest is also a first-rate example of the anarchical state of the
modern mind. The Rev. R.J. Campbell is a modern mind, so is Mr. George
Bernard Shaw; but the latter refers to "the sober decency, earnestness, and
authority" [119] of those very passages to which the former objects.

Lord Dawson's eulogy of sexual intercourse was but a prelude to his plea
for the use of contraceptives:

    "I will next consider Artificial Control. The forces in modern life
    which make for birth control are so strong that only convincing reasons
    will make people desist from it. It is said to be unnatural and
    intrinsically immoral. This word 'unnatural' perplexes me. Why?
    Civilisation involves the chaining of natural forces and their
    conversion to man's will and uses. Much of medicine and surgery
    consists of means to overcome nature."

That paragraph illustrates precisely the confused use of the word
"natural," which I have already criticised (p. 124). Lord Dawson says he
is perplexed, and I agree with him. Civilisation, he says, involves the
conversion of natural forces to man's will. So does every crime. Is that
any defence of crime? Even if physical nature be described as non-moral,
that description cannot be applied to the inward nature of will and
conscience. That I will an act may show it is in accordance with nature
in a certain sense, but the fact of its being in accordance with physical
nature does not justify my act. Does Lord Dawson agree? Or does he think
that any action in accordance with the physical laws of nature, which means
any action whatsoever, is justified; and does he approve therefore of mere
moral anarchy? His confusion of thought concerning the use of the word
"natural" is followed by the inevitable sequence of false analogies:

    "When anaesthetics were first used at child-birth there was an outcry
    on the part of many worthy and religious people that their use under
    such circumstances was unnatural and wicked, because God meant woman to
    suffer the struggles and pains of child-birth. Now we all admit it is
    right to control the process of child-birth, and to save the mother as
    much pain as possible. It is no more unnatural to control conception by
    artificial means than to control child-birth by artificial means.
    Surely the whole question turns on whether these artificial means are
    for the good or harm of the individual and the community.

    "Generally speaking, birth control before the first child is
    inadvisable. On the other hand, the justifiable use of birth control
    would seem to be to limit the number of children when such is
    desirable, and to spread out their arrival in such a way as to serve
    their true interests and those of their home.

    "Once more, careful distinction needs to be made between the use and
    the bad effects of the abuse of birth control. That its abuse produces
    grave harm I fully agree--harm to parents, to families, and to the
    nation. But abuse is not a just condemnation of legitimate use.
    Over-eating, over-drinking, over-smoking, over-sleeping, over-work do
    not carry condemnation of eating, drinking, smoking, sleeping, work."

These long extracts are here quoted because, as _The Spectator_ has
remarked, "an attempt at a detailed summary might destroy the careful
balance which is essential to Lord Dawson's purpose." It might indeed; and
many a true word is written inadvertently and despite the wisdom of the
serpent. As Lord Dawson believes that Malthusian practice is not of
necessity sinful, and as he is urging the Church to remove a ban on that
practice, it is necessary for him to prove in the first place that his
opinion is right and that the teaching of the Church is wrong. Elsewhere in
these pages I have stated _the reasons why_ Christian morality brands the
_act_ of artificial birth control as intrinsically a sin, a _malum in se_,
and those reasons have never been disproved by Lord Dawson or by anyone.
His comparison between the use of contraceptives and eating or drinking is
a false analogy. Eating is a natural act, not in itself sinful, whereas the
use of contraceptives is an unnatural act, in itself a sin. The extent
to which artificial birth control is practised neither increases nor
diminishes the sinful nature of the act, but merely indicates the number
of times the same sin is committed. Lord Dawson admits the danger of
Neo-Malthusian methods being carried to excess, and counsels that these
practices be used in moderation; but is it likely that those who have
discarded the teaching of a Church and the dictates of the moral law will
be seriously influenced by what he calls "an appeal to patriotism"?

Now there is one appeal to patriotism which Lord Dawson could have made but
did not make. He might have pleaded that for the sake of the nation all
attempts at unnatural birth control amongst the wealthier and more leisured
citizens should be abandoned forthwith, and that the lawful form should be
confined to those few cases where limitation of the family is justified on
genuine medical grounds. But he refrained from making that appeal, and
his plea for the use of contraceptives in moderation is more likely to be
quoted with approval in the boudoirs of Mayfair than in humbler homes.

Lord Dawson's grave error in failing to anticipate the inevitable
consequences of his deplorable speech is becoming more and more apparent.
In the columns of _The Daily Herald_, cheek by jowl with advertisements
concerning "Herbalists," "Safe and Sure Treatment for Anaemia,
Irregularities, etc.," "Knowledge for Young Wives," and "Surgical Goods and
Appliances," there appears the following notice:

    "Lord Dawson, the King's Physician, says, 'Birth control has come to
    stay.' Following up this honest and daring declaration, the Liberator
    League have decided to distribute 10,000 copies of its publications
    free to applicants sending stamped addressed envelopes to J.W. Gott,
    Secretary ... London, N.W.5."

A stamped addressed envelope brought in return sample copies of two undated
newsprints, entitled _The Rib Tickler_ and _The Liberator_, and, to the
honour of newsvendors, we learn that these papers are "not supplied by
newsagents." The first print is devoted to Blasphemy, and the second to
Birth Control. Both papers are edited by J.W. Gott, "of London, Leeds,
Liverpool, and other prisons," who, when he is not in jail for selling
blasphemous or obscene literature, earns a livelihood by a propaganda of
"Secularism, Socialism, and Neo-Malthusianism," combined with the sale of
contraceptives. At Birmingham in 1921 this individual, according to his own
statement, was charged, on eleven summonses, with having sent "an obscene
book" and "obscene literature" through the post, and with "publishing a
blasphemous libel of and concerning the Holy Scriptures and the Christian
Religion." "The Malthusian League (at their own expense, for which I here
wish to thank them) sent their Hon. Secretary, Dr. Binnie Dunlop, who gave
evidence" ... that the Council of the Malthusian League ... "most strongly
protests against the description of G. Hardy's book, _How to prevent
Pregnancy_, as obscene, for that book gives in a perfectly refined and
scientific way this urgently needed information." This opinion was not
shared by the jury, who brought in a verdict of guilty, and Gott was
sentenced to six months' imprisonment. From the _Liberator_ we learn that
the Treasurer of the Liberator League was fined £20, having been found
guilty on the following summons--"for that you on the eleventh day of
September 1920, at the Parish of Consett, in the County aforesaid,
unlawfully, wickedly, maliciously, and scandalously did sell to divers
persons, whose names are unknown, in a public street, there situate, a
certain lewd, wicked, scandalous, and obscene print entitled 'Large or
Small Families,' against the Peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, His
Crown and Dignity."

Lord Dawson's advice was indeed perilous because "the British Empire and
all its traditions will decline and fall if the Motherland is faithless
to motherhood"; [120] and the nation would do better to pay heed to the
following words of His Majesty the King: "The foundations of national glory
are in the homes of the people. They will only remain unshaken while the
family life of our race and nation is strong, simple, and pure."

All Lord Dawson's arguments are hoary fallacies. "Once more, careful
distinction needs to be made between"--anaesthetics and contraceptives.
Anaesthetics assist the birth of a child, whereas contraceptives frustrate
the act of procreation. The old explanation that man's progress has
been achieved by harnessing and not by opposing the forces of nature is
dismissed with ignominy. The age-long teaching of Hippocrates that the
healing art was based on the _Vis Medicatrix Naturae_ is overthrown by
Lord Dawson of Penn, in a single sentence; and in place of the Father of
Medicine as a guide to health of body and mind, there comes the King's

    "To pestle a poison'd poison behind his crimson lights."

When a great leader announces the birth of a new epoch, it is meet that the
rank and file remain silent; and at this Congress of the Church of
England no jarring interruptions marred the solemnity of the moment. No
old-fashioned doctor was there to utter a futile protest, and there was no
simple-minded clergyman to rise in the name of Christ and give Lord Dawson
the lie. Without dissent, on a public platform of the Established Church,
presided over by a Bishop, and in full view of the nation, "the moth-eaten
mantle of Malthus, the godless robe of Bradlaugh, and the discarded
garments of Mrs. Besant," [121] were donned--by the successor of Lister.
It was a proud moment for the birth controllers, but for that national
institution called "Ecclesia Anglicana" a moment full of shame.

[Footnote 100: _British Medical Journal_, August 6, 1921, p. 219.]

[Footnote 101: There is, or perhaps we should say there was, a legacy of
1,000 Rhenish guilders awaiting anyone who, in the judgment of the faculty
of law in the University of Heidelberg or of Bonn, is able to establish the
fact that any Jesuit ever taught this doctrine or anything equivalent to
it. Vide _The Antidote_, vol. iii, p. 125, C.T.S., London.]

[Footnote 102: Gen. xxxviii. 9-10]

[Footnote 103: Vide _Catholic Times_, August 27, 1921, p. 7.]

[Footnote 104: _The Army and Religion_, 1919, p. 448.]

[Footnote 105: _Universe_, November 4, 1921, p. 3.]

[Footnote 106: _Eighty-second Annual Report of the Registrar-General of
England and Wales_, 1919, p. xiv.]

[Footnote 107: _The Times_, January 13, 1885.]

[Footnote 108: _British Medical Journal_, November 19, 1921, p. 872.]

[Footnote 109: _British Medical Journal_, November 26, 1921, p. 924]

[Footnote 110: _British Medical Journal_, December 10, 1921, p. 1016.]

[Footnote 111: _Common Sense on the Population Question_, p. 4]

[Footnote 112: Dr. C.K. Millard, in _The Modern Churchman_, May 1919.]

[Footnote 113: Reproduced in _The Declining Birth-rate_, 1916, p. 386.]

[Footnote 114: _Outspoken Essays_, 1919, p. 75.]

[Footnote 115: _Report_, p. 44.]

[Footnote 116: Ibid., p. 112.]

[Footnote 117: _Evening Standard_, October 12, 1921.]

[Footnote 118: October 15, 1921.]

[Footnote 119: _Man and Superman_, Act III, p. 125.]

[Footnote 120: _Sunday Express_, October 16, 1921.]

[Footnote 121: On becoming a Theosophist, Mrs. Besant retracted her
approval of Neo-Malthusianism.]




One of the marks of the Catholic Church, whereby she may be distinguished
from all other Churches, is that her teaching is always clear and above all
logical. Yet this fact has not saved her teaching from misrepresentation
in the hands of Malthusians. For example, Dr. C. Killick Millard writes as

    "The Churches have taught that it was the divine wish that human beings
    should multiply and population increase--the more rapidly the better;
    the traditional authority for this being the instruction given to Noah
    and his family, after the Deluge, to 'be fruitful and multiply and
    replenish the earth.' The Churches have continued to teach that the
    duty of man was _to obey the divine command_ and still _to increase and
    multiply_, and until recently any attempt by married couples to
    restrict or regulate the birth-rate was denounced as sinful.

    "This is still the orthodox attitude, I believe, of the Roman Catholic
    Church, with its celibate priesthood; but, as it is clearly useless to
    reason with those who claim infallibility, it is unnecessary to discuss
    the question further so far as Roman Catholicism is concerned." [122]

Now, although it may be unnecessary for Dr. Millard to discuss the question
further, he will, I am sure, regret having inadvertently misstated the
truth. The Catholic Church has never denounced as sinful "_any_ attempt by
married couples to restrict or regulate the birth-rate." On the contrary,
the Catholic Church has taught, by her greatest doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas,
"that the essence of marriage is not primarily in the begetting of
offspring, but in the indissoluble union between husband and wife." [123]


There is an obvious distinction between the _essence_ of a thing and the
_ends_ or purposes for which the thing exists. For example, in a business
partnership the _essence_ of the partnership is a legal instrument,
whereas the _purposes_ or _ends_ of the partnership are various commercial
projects. The following is a clear statement, by Father Vincent McNabb,
O.P., [124] of Catholic teaching concerning the nature and end of marriage:

    "Marriage is an indissoluble state of life wherein a man and a woman
    agree to give each other power over their bodies for the begetting,
    birth, and upbringing of offspring. The natural and primary end of
    marriage is this duty towards offspring. But, as sin has despoiled the
    human will and disturbed human relations, marriage has now the
    secondary end of allaying sexual lust.

    "But it is a principle of ethics that what is primary cannot be set
    aside as if it were secondary, nor can the secondary be sought as if it
    were primary. To invert the ethical order is to bring in that disorder
    which is called sin. If the human act brings in a slight disorder, it
    is venial sin; if the human act brings in a grievous disorder it is a
    grievous or mortal sin.

    "It is a grievous disorder, and, therefore, a grievous sin, to desire
    satisfaction in such sexual intercourse as could not result in the
    begetting of offspring.

    "As the wedded pair have given each other power over their bodies it
    would be a grave sin for one to refuse either altogether or for a
    considerable time the fulfilment of the marriage debt. But it is not a
    sin if by mutual agreement the wedded pair refrain from the marriage
    debt for a time, or for ever. As a rule, and speaking objectively, it
    would be heroic virtue for a wedded pair to abstain for a long time,
    and still more for ever, from the marriage debt. To counsel such a
    practice indiscriminately would be a sinful want of prudence, and, in a
    confessor, of professional knowledge.

    "It is quite clear that by mutual consent, even without any further
    motive, the wedded pair can abstain from marital intercourse. Still
    more may they abstain for a time or for ever, for a good motive, e.g.
    in order to have time for prayer, for good works, for bringing up such
    family as they already have to support."


Artificial birth control is an offence against the law of God, and is
therefore forbidden by the Catholic Church. Any Catholic who wilfully
adopts this practice violates the law of God in a serious matter, and is
therefore guilty of mortal sin, an outrageous and deliberate insult offered
by a human creature to the Infinite Majesty.

The Catholic Church teaches that men and women should control the sex
impulse just as they should control their appetite for food or drink.
The principal end of marriage, as we have seen, is the purpose of its
institution, the procreation and bringing up of children. The secondary end
of marriage is mutual assistance and companionship, and a remedy against
concupiscence. Where it is advisable, owing to the health of the mother or
owing to reasons of prudence as distinct from selfishness, to limit the
number of children, the Catholic Church points out that this should be done
by the exercise of self-control, or by restricted use. As those who deny
the possibility or even the wisdom of self-restraint are not likely to pay
the slightest attention to the teaching of the Church, I will quote the
opinions of two clear-thinking, non-Catholic writers.

Mr. George Bernard Shaw has said:

    "I have no prejudices. The superstitious view of the Catholic Church is
    that a priest is something entirely different from an ordinary man. I
    know a great many Catholic priests, and they are men who have had a
    great deal of experience. They have at the back a Church which has had
    for many years to consider the giving of domestic advice to people. If
    you go to a Catholic priest and tell him that a life of sexual
    abstinence means a life of utter misery, he laughs. And obviously for a
    very good reason. If you go to Westminster Cathedral you will hear
    voices which sound extremely well, and very differently from the voices
    of the gentlemen who sing at music-halls, and who would not be able to
    sing in that way if they did not lead a life extremely different from
    the Catholic priest....

    "I may say that I am in favour of birth control. I am in favour of it
    for its own sake. I do not like to see any human being absolutely the
    slave of what we used to call 'Nature.' Every human action ought to be
    controlled, and you make a step in civilisation with something which
    has been uncontrollable. I am therefore in favour of control for its
    own sake. But when you go from that to the methods of control, that is
    a very different thing. As Dr. Routh said, we have to find out methods
    which will not induce people to declare that they cannot exist without
    sexual intercourse." [125]

Of course the use of contraceptives is the very negation of self-control.

The late Sir William Osier, speaking of venereal disease, says:

    "Personal purity is the prophylaxis which we as physicians are
    especially bound to advocate. Continence may be a hard condition ...
    but it can be borne, and it is our duty to urge this lesson upon young
    and old who seek our advice on matters sexual."


There _are_ methods of control whereby people are enabled to exist, and to
exist happily, without being slaves to the sex impulse. These methods are
those of the Catholic Church. Her people are encouraged to take a higher
and a nobler view of marriage, to overcome their egoism and selfishness,
and to practise moderation and self-restraint in the lawful use of marital
rights. The Church urges her people to strengthen their self-restraint
by observing the penitential seasons, especially Lent; by fasting or by
abstaining from flesh meat at other times, if necessary by abstaining from
alcohol; and by seeking that supernatural help which comes to those who
receive the Sacraments worthily. When all other deterrents fail, it is
lawful, according to the teaching of the Church, for married people to
limit intercourse to the mid-menstrual period, when, although conception
may occur, it is less likely to occur than at other times.

All other methods are absolutely and without exception forbidden. This
limited use of marriage, which, as we have seen, is within the rights of
the married, differs from all methods of artificial birth-control as day
differs from night, because: [Reference: Explanation]

(1) No positive or direct obstacle is used against procreation.

(2) The intercourse is natural, in contradistinction to what is equivalent
to self-abuse.

(3) Self-restraint is practised in that the intercourse is limited to
certain times.

(4) There is no risk to mental or physical health.

(5) There is no evil will to _defeat_ the course of nature; at worst there
is merely an absence of heroism.

Even if the question be considered solely as a matter of physiology
the difference between these methods is apparent. Physiologists and
gynaecologists believe that in natural intercourse there is, apart from
fertilisation, an absorption of certain substances into the system of the
woman. The rôle of this absorption is at present obscure, but it obviously
exists for a purpose; and it is permissible to speculate whether, under
natural conditions of intercourse, there is not a mutual biological
reaction that makes, amongst other things, for physical compatibility.
Whatever be its purpose or explanation in the marvellous mechanism of
nature, this absorption of vital substances is either hindered or is
absolutely prevented by artificial methods of birth control; whereas, in
the method permitted by the teaching of the Catholic Church there is no
interference with a physiological process. Even those who fail, from their
lack of training, to comprehend moral distinctions in this matter should be
able to appreciate the difference between a method that is physiological
and one that is unphysiological.

There are thousands who know little of the Catholic or of any other faith,
and thousands who believe the Catholic Church to be everything except what
it is. These people have no infallible rule of faith and morals, and when
confronted, as they now are, by a dangerous, insidious campaign in favour
of birth control, they do not react consistently or at all. It was
therefore thought advisable to issue this statement in defence of the
position of the Catholic Church; but the reader should remember that the
teaching of the Church on this matter is held by her members to be true,
not merely because it agrees with the notions of all right-thinking men and
women, not because it is in harmony with economic, statistical, social, and
biological truth, but principally because they know this teaching to be
an authoritative declaration of the law of God. The Ten Commandments have
their pragmatic justification; they make for the good of the race; but the
Christian obeys them as expressions of the Divine Will.


Our declining birth-rate is a fact of the utmost gravity, and a more
serious position has never confronted the British people. Here in the midst
of a great nation, at the end of a victorious war, the law of decline is
working, and by that law the greatest empires in the world have perished.
In comparison with that single fact all other dangers, be they of war, of
politics, or of disease, are of little moment. Attempts have already been
made to avert the consequences by the partial endowment of motherhood
and by a saving of infant life. Physiologists are now seeking among the
endocrinous glands and the vitamines for a substance to assist procreation.
"Where are my children?" was the question shouted yesterday from the
cinemas. "Let us have children, children at any price," will be the cry
of to-morrow. And all these thoughts were once in the mind of Augustus,
Emperor of the world from the Atlantic to the Euphrates, from Mount Atlas
to the Danube and the Rhine.

The Catholic Church has never taught that "an avalanche of children" should
be brought into the world regardless of consequences. God is not mocked; as
men sow, so shall they reap, and against a law of nature both the transient
amelioration wrought by philanthropists and the subtle expediences of
scientific politicians are alike futile. If our civilisation is to survive
we must abandon those ideals that lead to decline. There is only one
civilisation immune from decay, and that civilisation endures on the
practical eugenics once taught by a united Christendom and now expounded
almost solely by the Catholic Church.

[Footnote 122: _The Modern Churchman_, May 1919.]

[Footnote 123: Rev. Vincent McNabb, O.P., _The Catholic Gazette_, September
1921, p. 194]

[Footnote 124: Ibid]

[Footnote 125: Speech at the Medico-Legal Society, July 7, 1921.]



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