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to very remote periods. In later times, the marriages, births, and deaths, of the nobility, have not only been registered by and known to those personally interested, but have been published periodically, and, consequently, subject to perpetual correction and revision; while many of the most powerful motives which can influence the human mind conspire to preserve these records from the slightest falsification. Compared with these, therefore, all other registers, or reports, whether of sworn searchers or others, are incorrectness itself.”
Mr. Sadler goes on to tell us that the Peers are a marrying class, and that their general longevity proves them to be a healthy class. Still peerages often become extinct; and from this fact he infers that they are a sterile class. So far, says he, from increasing in geometrical progression, they do not even keep up their numbers. "Nature interdicts their increase.”
"Thus," says he, "in all ages of the world, and in every nation of it, have the highest ranks of the community been the most sterile, and the lowest the most prolific. As it respects our own country, from the lowest grade of society, the Irish peasant, to the highest, the British peer, this remains a conspicuous truth; and the regulation of the degree of fecundity conformably to this principle, through the intermediate gradations of society, constitutes one of the features of the system developed in these pages."
We take the issue which Mr. Sadler has himself offered. We agree with him, that the registers of the English Peerage are of far higher authority than any other statistical documents. We are content that by those registers his principles should be judged. And we meet him by positively denying his facts. We assert that the English nobles are not only not a sterile, but an eminently prolific, part of the community. Mr. Sadler concludes that they are sterile, merely because peerages often become extinct. Is this the proper way of ascertaining the point? Is it thus that he avails
himself of those registers on the accuracy and fulness of which he descants so largely? Surely his right course would have been to count the marriages, and the number of births in the Peerage. This he has not done; but we have done it. And what is the
It appears from the last edition of Debrett's Peerage, published in 1828, that there were at that time 287 peers of the United Kingdom, who had been married once or oftener. The whole number of marriages contracted by these 287 peers was 333. The number of children by these marriages was 1437,more than five to a peer, more than 4.3 to a marriage, more, that is to say, than the average number in those counties of England in which, according to Mr. Sadler's own statement, the fecundity is the greatest.
But this is not all. These marriages had not, in 1828, produced their full effect. Some of them had been very lately contracted. In a very large proportion of them there was every probability of additional issue. To allow for this probability, we may safely add one to the average which we have already obtained, and rate the fecundity of a noble marriage in England at 5.3; higher than the fecundity which Mr. Sadler assigns to the people of the United States. Even if we do not make this allowance, the average fecundity of the marriages of peers is higher by one-fifth than the average fecundity of marriages throughout the kingdom. And this is the sterile class! This is the class which "nature has interdicted from increasing!" The evidence to which Mr. Sadler has himself appealed
proves that his principle is false,
wildly and extravagantly false. It proves that a class,
living during half of every year in the most crowded population in the world, breeds faster than those who live in the country; - that the class which enjoys the greatest degree of luxury and ease breeds faster than the class which undergoes labour and privation. To talk a little in Mr. Sadler's style, we must own that we are ourselves surprised at the results which our examination of the peerage has brought out. We certainly should have thought that the habits of fashionable life, and long residence even in the most airy parts of so great a city as London, would have been more unfavourable to the fecundity of the higher orders than they appear to be.
Peerages, it is true, often become extinct. But it is quite clear, from what we have stated, that this is not because peeresses are barren. There is no difficulty in discovering what the causes really are. In the first place, most of the titles of our nobles are limited to heirs male; so that, though the average fecundity of a noble marriage is upwards of five, yet, for the purpose of keeping up a peerage, it cannot be reckoned at much more than two and a half. Secondly, though the peers are, as Mr. Sadler says, a marrying class, the younger sons of peers are decidedly not a marrying class; so that a peer, though he has at least as great a chance of having a son as his neighbours, has less chance than they of having a collateral heir.
We have now disposed, we think, of Mr. Sadler's principle of population. Our readers must, by this time, be pretty well satisfied as to his qualifications. for setting up theories of his own. We will, therefore, present them with a few instances of the skill and fairness which he shows when he undertakes to pull down the theories of other men. The doctrine
of Mr. Malthus, that population, if not checked by want, by vice, by excessive mortality, or by the prudent self-denial of individuals, would increase in a geometric progression, is, in Mr. Sadler's opinion, at once false and atrocious.
"It may at once be denied," says he, "that human increase proceeds geometrically; and for this simple but decisive reason, that the existence of a geometrical ratio of increase in the works of nature, is neither true nor possible. It would fling into utter confusion all order, time, magnitude, and space.”
This is as curious a specimen of reasoning as any that has been offered to the world since the days when theories were founded on the principle that nature abhors a vacuum. We proceed a few We proceed a few pages farther, however; and we then find that geometric progression is unnatural only in those cases in which Mr. Malthus conceives that it exists; and that, in all cases in which Mr. Malthus denies the existence of a geometric ratio, nature changes sides, and adopts that ratio as the rule of increase.
Mr. Malthus holds that subsistence will increase only in an arithmetical ratio. "As far as nature has to do with the question," says Mr. Sadler, "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." 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? Or has he a definition of his own for geometrical progression, as well as for inverse proportion?
Mr. Malthus, and those who agree with him, have
generally referred to the United States, as a country in which the human race increases in a geometrical ratio, and have fixed on twenty-five years as the term in which the population of that country doubles itself. Mr. Sadler contends that it is physically impossible for a people to double in twenty-five years; nay, that thirty-five years is far too short a period, that the Americans do not double by procreation in less. than forty-seven years, and that the rapid increase of their numbers is produced by emigration from Europe.
Emigration has certainly had some effect in increasing the population of the United States. But so great has the rate of that increase been that, after making full allowance for the effect of emigration, there will be a residue, attributable to procreation alone, amply sufficient to double the population in twenty-five years. Mr. Sadler states the results of the four censuses as follows:
"There were, of white inhabitants, in the whole of the United States in 1790, 3,093,111; in 1800, 4,309,656; in 1810, 5,862,093; and in 1820, 7,861,710. The increase, in the first term, being 39 per cent.; that in the second, 36 per cent.; and that in the third and last, 33 per cent. It is superfluous to say, that it is utterly impossible to deduce the geometric theory of human increase, whatever be the period of duplication, from such terms as these."
Mr. Sadler is a bad arithmetician. The increase in the last term is not, as he states it, 33 per cent., but more than 34 per cent. Now, an increase of 32 per cent. in ten years, is more than sufficient to double the population in twenty-five years. And there is, we think, very strong reason to believe that the white population of the United States does increase by 32 per cent. every ten years.