How strangely apt that my research lately has been on population growth and attitudes to birth control in early nineteenth century Britain. No doubt you may have heard of Reverend Thomas Malthus, who published ‘An Essay on the Principle of Population’ in 1798. He argued that population expands in times of plenty until it becomes too big for the resources available for feeding it. He defined checks on population as ‘positive’ ones which raise death rate, such as hunger, disease and war, and ‘preventive’ ones which lower birth rate, such as abortion, birth control, prostitution, postponement of marriage and celibacy. Interestingly, however, he did not advocate birth control by artificial means (though others of the time did).
How apt is the following quote from this work for today:
‘Population must always be kept down to the level of the means of subsistence. Evil exists in the world not to create despair but activity. We are not patiently to submit to it, but to exert ourselves to avoid it. It is the duty of every individual to use his utmost efforts to remove evil from himself and from as large a circle as he can influence.
This research is background for my next Regency romance, ‘His Philanthropic Lady’, due to be published in the summer. In the present circumstances, it might well be sooner! Watch this space.
Good wishes to all readers and that you keep well and safe.