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LAW OF POPULATION.
Reply to an article in the Edinburgh Review, No. CII. on
Sadler's Law of Population.
Of the vast variety of statistical facts and calculations adduced by Mr. Sadler in disproof of human superfecundity which constitutes the foundation of the Malthusian system of irreconciliable ratios, with its train of checks from vice and misery, the author of this article, (supposed to be Mr. Babington McCauley) has not adverted to one-twentieth part, and his few attempts to detect error have in every instance recoiled upon himself. The most charitable supposition is that he never read the subject of his criticism, but only looked into it here and there, and threw off his blundering flippancies stans pede in uno. If any thing were wanting to dispel a doubt as to the permanent efficacy of the euplırasy and rue with which Mr. Sadler has purged the eyes of his countrymen and of Europe, long abused by fictitious terrors, it would be the prudent caution with which the Reviewer almost wholly abstains from the discussion of Mr. Sadler's proofs, while he fails to convict him of a single mistake in the conduct of his long and complicated argument.
In the Reviewer's own estimation, however the result of his undertaking has been very different. He has shown“ from the very documents to which Mr. Sadler has himself appealed, it may be demonstrated that his theory is false”- that he is incapable of reasoning on facts when he has collected them,” that "that portion of his book which is not made up of statistical tables, consists principally of ejaculations, apostrophes, metaphors, similes,- all the worst of their respective kinds," he indulges without measure in vague, bombastic declamation,” and finally that he attacks Mr. Malthus “ in language which it would be scarce decent to employ respecting Titus Oates.” This last accusation is as well founded as all the others. It rests on garbled epithets which the Reviewer roundly asserts are directed against Mr. Malthus, personally, but which the context would have shown to be applied only to his system.
That system represents human fecundity to be so disproportioned to the means of subsistence that wbile population doubles itself in fifteen years, or, to take the slowest rate, in twenty-five years, that is increases in Geometrical progression, food can only be increased in Arithmetical progression; and that this disproportion is continually adjusted by a horrid catalogue of preventive
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and positive checks, chiefly resolvable into vice and misery. On the other band Mr. Sadler contends that food increases faster than population, and that all the checks, instead of acquiring greater activity and malignity as society advances, grow more and more feeble till they are nearly extinguished. He has also observed a gradual diminution in the rate of fecundity. Of the two divisions of his work, therefore, the first in order, and the first in importance, is devoted to the refutation of the Malthusian theory; the second to the establishment of his own.
According to Mr. Malthus the evils generated by the differently increasing ratios are totally independent of space. They began “ when Adam delved and Eve span,” and will continue to the end of time “ allowing the produce of the earth to be absolutely unlimited.” In the fourth chapter of his first book Mr. Sadler gives a number of instances of the infinitely greater rapidity with which the edible animals and vegetables are multiplied than human beings. The contrast strikes at once at the root of the Malthusian system ; and let us see how the Reviewer parries the blow. He begins by a garbled quotation from the following passage. Adverting to' what has been already advanced in reference to this arithmetical rule of increase not being regulated by a want of space, in a world, generally speaking, all but unoccupied, and consequently as far as nature has to do with the question, where men might, for instance, plant twice the number of peas, and breed from a double number of the same animals with equal prospect of their multiplication, and believing, &c." The Reviewer omits the words preceding " as far as nature,” &c. and then says, “ Now, if Mr. Sadler thinks that, as far as nature is concerned, four sheep will double as fast as two, and eight as fast as four, how can he deny that the geometrical ratio of increase does exist in the works of nature ?” So here we have this Malthusian Reviewer admitting that food can be doubled many hundred times faster than population! but Mr. Sadler never denied that the geometrical ratio exists in the works of nature; in the elasticity of steam, for instance, and in the generation of plants and animals, according to their several rates of fecundity, and limited by the number, intelligence, and industry of mankind. What he maintains, is, that without the intervention of ANY of the Malthusian checks the periods of duplication are continually lengthening, and never less than thirty-five years.
In the following passage from the lectures of Mr. Senior we have another instance ofa professed Malthusian concedingthe fundamental principle of his sect. “ If it be conceded, that there exists in the human race a natural tendency to rise from barbarism to civilization, and that the means of subsistence are proportionally more abundant in a civilized than in a savage estate, and neither of these propositions can be denied, it must follow that there is a natural tendency in subsistence to increase IN A GREATER RATIO than population.” What then, is the arithmetical ratio more powerfully expansive than the Geometrical! Here the oracle has Sadlerized.
Table XIV shows that it would take a period of nearly 35 years to double a population in which the marriages are as 1 in 108, the births double the number of deaths, and 4.38 to each marriage. Table XV shows that annual accessions of emigrants to the amount, on an average, of little more than a three-hundreth part, would reduce the period of duplication to 25 years. These tables and many others, constructed synthetically on a plan not hitherto, I believe, applied to the elucidation of this subject, and showing from year to year the exact number of marriages, births and deaths, have thrown a new light on the question, not strong enough certainly, to overcome the prejudices of the Reviewer, but sufficient to silence him. He has not controverted the accuracy of one of them.
The error of Mr Malthus lies not so much in underrating the number of emigrants to America, as in miscalculating the effect of such additions. He estimates them at 10,000 per annum, and allows for their increase in one place (Essay) 5 per cent, and in another (Sup. Encyc. Brit.) 3 per cent per annum. The reproductive class, of which the main body of emigrants consists is but a fourth part of a community; and an increase of 3 per cent. on the whole number, including the immature and the effete part of the population, would imply an increase of 12 per cent. on the reproductive class. A prolificness of 3 per cent. however applied to the whole community would multiply mankind to unsustainable numbers, but applied to the reproductive class would doom them to speedy decay and extinction. Another error of Mr. Malthus, is in calculating the effect of emigration for short periods, as from 1782 to 1790, and from 1795 to 1820.
“Let us, therefore, see” says Mr. Sadler," what would be the effect of such an annual addition as the anti-populationists give, 10,000, with the increase they now allow upon it, three per cent. per annum, in the course of a single century, upon the population of that country : what is the proportion of its present inhabitants which their own admission implies.
“ Ten thousand individuals, with an annual accession to the same amount, and an increase of three per cent. per annum upon the whole, would, in the space of one hundred years only, be far from“ immaterial.” They would amount, I think, as calculated by logarithms, at the termination of that period, to 6,752.666, out of the 7,861,710 individuals who constituted the total of the white population in 1820, or nearly nine tenths of the whole ; a number which leaves 1,109,044 as the share of the po