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fitter name, of which it may be doubted whether literature, heathen or Christian, furnishes a parallel, it professes to trace this supposed evil to its source, “ the laws of nature, which are those of God;" thereby implying, and indeed asserting, that the law by which the Deity multiplies his offspring, and that by which he makes provision for their sustentation, are different, and, indeed, irreconcilable.'
• This theory,' he adds, in the plain apprehension of the 'many, lowers the character of the Deity in that attribute, wbich,
as Rousseau has well observed, is the most essential to him, his 'goodness; or otherwise, impugns his wisdom.'
Now nothing is more certain than that there is physical and moral evil in the world. Whoever, therefore, believes, as we do most firmly believe, in the goodness of God, must believe that there is no incompatibility between the goodness of God and the existence of physical and moral evil. If then the goodness of God be not incompatible with the existence of physical and moral evil, on what grounds does Mr Sadler maintain that the goodness of God is incompatible with the law of population laid down by Mr Malthus?
Is there any difference between the particular form of evil which would be produced by over-population, and other forms of evil which we know to exist in the world ? It is, says Sadler, not a light or transient evil, but a great and permanent evil.- What then? The question of the origin of evil is a qucstion of ay or no,—not a question of more or less. If any explanation can be found by which the slightest inconvenience ever sustained by any sentient being can be reconciled with the divine attribute of benevolence, that explanation will equally apply to the most dreadful and extensive calamities that can ever afflict the human race. The difficulty arises from an apparent contradiction in terms; and that difficnlty is as complete in the case of a headach which lasts for an hour, as in the case of a pestilence which unpeoples an empire,—in the case of the gust which makes us shiver for a moment, as in the case of the hurricane in which an Armada is cast away.
It is, according to Mr Sailler, an instance of presumption unparalleled in literature, heathen or Christian, to trace an evil to
the laws of nature, which are those of God,' as its source. Is not hydrophobia an evil ? And is it not a law of nature that hydrophobia should be communicated by the bite of a mad dog? Is not malaria an evil ? And is it not a Jaw of nature, that in particnlar situations the human frame should be liable to malaria? We know that there is evil in the world. If it is not to be traced to the laws of nature, low did it come into the world? Is it superwalutal? And if we suppone it to be supernatural, is not the
difficulty of reconciling it with the divine attributes as great as if we suppose it to be natural ? Or, rather, what do the words natural and supernatural mean, when applied to the operations of the supreme mind?
Mr Sadler has attempted, in another part of his work, to meet these obvious arguments, by a distinction without a difference.
• The scourges of human existence, as necessary regulators of the numbers of mankind, it is also agreed by some, are not inconsistent with the wisdom or benevolence of the Governor of the universe ; though such think that it is a mere after concern to “ reconcile the undeniable state of the fact to the attributes we assign to the Deity.” “ The purpose of the earthquake," say they, “the hurricane, the drought, or the famine, by which thousands, and sometimes almost millions, of the human race, are at once overwhelmed, or left the victims of lingering want, is certainly inscrutable.” How singular is it that a sophism like this, so false, as a mere illustration, should pass for an argument, as it has long done! The principle of population is declared to be naturally productive of evils to mankind, and as having that constant and manifest tendency to increase their numbers beyond the means of their subsistence, which has produced the unhappy and disgusting consequences so often enumerated.' This is, then, its universal tendency or rule. But is there in Nature the same constant tendency to these earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, and famines, by wbich so many myriads, if not millions, are overwhelmed or reduced at once to ruin ? No; these awful events are strange exceptions to the ordinary course of things; their visitations are partial, and they occur at distant intervals of time. Wbile Religion has assigned to them a very solemn office, Philosophy readily refers them to those great and benevolent principles of Nature by which the universe is regulated. But were there a constantly operating tendency to these calamitous occurrences; did we feel the earth beneath us tremulous, and giving ceaseless and certain tokens of the coming catastrophe of nature; were the hurricane heard mustering its devastating powers, and perpetually muttering around us ; were the skies “ like brass,” without a cloud to produce one genial drop to refresh the thirsty earth, and famine, consequently, visibly on the approach ; I say, would such a state of things, as resulting from the constant laws of Nature, be “reconcilable with the attributes we assign to the Deity,” or with any attributes which in these inventive days could be assigned to him, so as to represent him as any thing but the tormentor, rather than the kind benefactor, of his creatures ? Life, in such a condition, would be like the unceasingly threatened and miserable existence of Damocles at the table of Dionysius, and the tyrant himself the worthy image of the deity of the anti-populationists.
Surely this is wretched trifling. Is it on the number of bad harvests, or of volcanic eruptions, that this great question depends? Mr Sadler's piety, it seems, would be proof against one rainy summer, but would be overcome by three or four in succession. On the coasts of the Mediterranean, where earthquakes are rare, he would be an optimist. South America would make him a sceptic, and Java a decided Manichean. To say that religion assigns a solemn office to these visitations is nothing to the purpose. Why was man so constituted as to need such warnings? It is equally unmeaning to say that philosophy refers these events to benevolent general laws of nature. In so far as the laws of nature produce evil, they are clearly not benevolent. They may produce much good. But why is this good mixed with evil? The most subtle and powerful intellects have been labouring for centuries to solve these difficulties. The true solution, we are inclined to think, is that which has been rather suggested, than developed, by Paley and Butler. But there is not one solution which will not apply quite as well to the evils of overpopulation as to any other evil. Many excellent people think that it is presumptuous to meddle with such high questions at all, and that, though there doubtless is an explanation, our faculties are not sufficiently enlarged to comprehend that explanation. This mode of getting rid of the difficulty, again, will apply quite as well to the evils of over-population as to any other evils. We are sure, that those who humbly confess their inability to expound the great enigma, act more rationally and more decorously than Mr Sadler, who tells us, with the utmost confidence, which are the means and which the ends,—which the exceptions and which the rules, in the government of the universe;—who consents to bear a little evil without denying the divine benevolence, but distinctly announces that a certain quantity of dry weather or stormy weather would force him to regard the Deity as the tyrant of his creatures.
The great discovery by which Mr Sadler has, as he conceives, vindicated the ways of Providence, is enounced with all the pomp of capital letters. We must particularly beg that our readers will peruse it with attention.
No one fact relative to the human species is more clearly ascertained, whether by general observation or actual proof, than that their fecundity varies in different communities and countries. The principle which effects this variation, without the necessity of those cruel and unnatural expedients so frequently adverted to, constitutes what I presume to call The Law of POPULATION; and that law may be thus briefly enunciated :
• The PROLIFICNESS OF HUMAN BEINGS, OTHERWISE SIMILARLY CIRCUMSTANCED, VARIES INVERSELY AS THEIR NUMBERS.
• The preceding definition may be thus amplified and explained. Premising, as a mere truism, that marriages under precisely similar circumstances will, on the average, be equally fruitful everywhere, I proceed to state, first, that the prolificness of a given number of marriages will, all other circumstances being the same, vary in proportion to the condensa
tion of the population, so that that prolificness shall be greatest where the numbers on an equal space are the fewest, and, on the contrary, the smallest where those numbers are the largest.'
Mr Sadler, at setting out, abuses Mr Malthus for enouncing his theory in terms taken from the exact sciences. • Applied to "the mensuration of human fecundity,' he tells us, the most • fallacious of all things is geometrical demonstration;' and he again informs us that those "act an irrational and irreverent
part who affect to measure the mighty depth of God's mercies by their arithmetic, and to demonstrate, by their geometrical ratios, that it is inadequate to receive and contain the efflux of that fountain of life which is in Him.'
It appears, however, that it is not to the use of mathematical words, but only to the use of those words in their right senses, that Mr Sadler objects. The law of inverse variation, or inverse proportion, is as much a part of mathematical science as the law of geometric progression. The only difference in this respect between Mr Malthus and Mr Sadler is, that Mr Malthus knows what is meant by geometric progression, and that Mr Sadler has not the faintest notion of what is meant by inverse variation. Had he understood the proposition which he has enounced with so much pomp, its ludicrous absurdity must at once have flashed on his mind.
Let it be supposed that there is a tract in the back settlements of America, or in New South Wales, equal in size to London, with only a single couple, a man and his wife, living upon it. The population of London, with its immediate suburbs, is now probably about a million and a half. The average fecundity of a marriage in London is, as Mr Sadler tells us, 2.35. How many
children will the woman in the back settlements bear according to Mr Sadler's theory? The solution of the problem is easy. As the population in this tract in the back settlements to the population of London, so will be the number of children born from a marriage in London to the number of children born from the marriage of this couple in the back settlements. That
is to say
2:1,500,000 :: 2.35:1.762,500. The lady will have 1,762,500 children : a large efflux of the
fountain of life,' to borrow Mr Sadler's sonorous rhetoric, as the most philoprogenitive parent could possibly desire.
But let us, instead of putting cases of our own, look at some of those which Mr Sadler has brought forward in support of his theory. The following table, he tells us, exhibits a striking proof of the truth of his main position. It seems to us to prove only that Mr Sadler does not know what inverse proportion means.
Is 1 to 160 as 3.66 to 5.48? If Mr Sadler's principle were just, the number of children produced by a marriage at the Cape would be not 5.48, but very near 600. Or take America and France. Is 4 to 140 as 4.22 to 5.22? The number of births 10 a marriage in North America ought, according to this proportion, to be about 150.
Mr Sadler states the law of population in England thus : • Where the inbabitants are found to be on the square mile, From 50 to 100 (2 counties) the births to 100 marriages are 420 100 to 150 (9 counties)
396 150 to 200 (16 couuties)
390 200 to 250 (4 counties
388 250 to 300 (5 counties
378 300 to 350 (3 counties)
353 500 to 600 (2 counties)
331 4000, and upwards (1 county)
246 • Now, I think it quite reasonable to conclude, that, were there not another document in existence relative to this subject, the facts thus deduced from the census of England are fully sufficient to demonstrate the position, that the fecundity of human beings varies inversely as their numbers. How, I ask, can it be evaded ?'
What, we ask, is there to evade? Is 246 to 420 as 50 to 4000? Is 331 to 396 as 100 to 500? If the law propounded by Mr Sadler were correct, the births to a hundred marriages in the least populous part of England, would be
246 X 4000
50 that is 19,680,- nearly two hundred children to every mother. But we will not carry on these calculations. The absurdity of Mr Sadler's proposition is só palpable that it is unnecessary to sclect particular instances. Let us see what are the extremes of