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his pardon for our suspicion a suspicion which, we acknowledge, ought not to be lightly entertained of any human being. We can only say that we never met with them before, and that we do not much care how long it may be before we meet with them, or with any others like them, again.
The spirit of this work is as bad as its style. We never met with a book which so strongly indicated that the writer was in a good humour with himself, and in a bad humour with everybody else; which contained so much of that kind of reproach which is vulgarly said to be no slander, and of that kind of praise which is vulgarly said to be no commendation. Mr. Malthus is attacked in language which it would be scarcely decent to employ respecting Titus Oates. "Atrocious," "execrable," "blasphemous," and other epithets of the same kind, are poured forth against that able, excellent, and honourable man, with a profusion which in the early part of the work excites indignation, but, after the first hundred pages, produces mere weariness and nausea. In the preface, Mr. Sadler excuses himself on the plea of haste. Two-thirds of his book, he tells us, were written in a few months. If any terms have escaped him which can be construed into personal disrespect, he shall deeply regret that he had not more. time to revise them. We must inform him that the tone of his book required a very different apology; and that a quarter of a year, though it is a short time for a man to be engaged in writing a book, is a very long time for a man to be in a passion.
The imputation of being in a passion Mr. Sadler will not disclaim. His is a theme, he tells us, on which "it were impious to be calm ;" and he boasts that, "instead of conforming to the candour of the present age, he has
imitated the honesty of preceding ones, in expressing himself with the utmost plainness and freedom throughout." If Mr. Sadler really wishes that the controversy about his new principle of population should be carried on with all the license of the seventeenth century, we can have no personal objections. We are quite as little afraid of a contest in which quarter shall be neither given nor taken as he can be. But we would advise him seriously to consider, before he publishes the promised continuation of his work, whether he be not one of that class of writers who stand peculiarly in need of the candour which he insults, and who would have most to fear from that unsparing severity which he practises and recommends.
There is only one excuse for the extreme acrimony with which this book is written; and that excuse is but a bad one. Mr. Sadler imagines that the theory of Mr. Malthus is inconsistent with Christianity, and even with the purer forms of Deism. Now, even had this been the case, a greater degree of mildness and selfcommand than Mr. Sadler has shown would have been becoming in a writer who had undertaken to defend the religion of charity. But, in fact, the imputation which has been thrown on Mr. Malthus and his followers is so absurd as scarcely to deserve an answer. As it appears, however, in almost every page of Mr. Sadler's book, we will say a few words respecting it.
Mr. Sadler describes Mr. Malthus's principle in the following words :
"It pronounces that there exists an evil in the principle of population; an evil, not accidental, but inherent; not of occasional occurrence, but in perpetual operation; not light, transient, or mitigated, but productive of miseries, compared with which all those inflicted by human institutions, that is to say, by the weak
ness and wickedness of man, however instigated, are 'light: an evil, finally, for which there is no remedy save one, which had been long overlooked, and which is now enunciated in terms which evince anything rather than confidence. It is a principle, moreover, pre-eminently bold, as well as 'clear.' With a presumption, to call it by no 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, which, 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 Mr. Sadler, not a light or transient evil, but a great and permanent evil. What then? The question of the origin of evil is a question of ay or no, not a question of more or less. If any explanation can be found by which the slightest inconven
ience 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 difficulty is as complete in the case of a headache 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. Sadler, 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 law of nature that in particular 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, how did it come into the world? Is it supernatural? And, if we suppose 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 which 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. While 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 anything 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