Next Chapter

The Night-Hoers
Or The Case Against Birth-Control
and an Alternative

Anthony M. Ludovici

Herbert Jenkins Limited

- p. 5
A Parable

Once upon a time there was a farmer who had many goodly acres of land whereon he grew wheat and oats and barley. And his soil was rich and the crops grew and multiplied so that he waxed powerful and lived on the fat of the land. Nevertheless, he toiled from morn to night, ploughing and sowing and reaping and hoeing according to the season, For he said in his heart, "I am rich, but if I cease to care for the land I shall be poor."
        And in due course he died and his sons became masters in his stead. And they said to one another, "Our father was rich, but we will be richer. We will plough and sow and reap as he did. But our land is rich and fertile and all that it brings forth is good. Wherefore the time that he gave to hoeing we will give to other things, and whereas our father was rich, we shall be richer, for we shall waste no precious hours in hoeing."
        But lo, for all their toil, their land grew thick with tares, and their fields were white and yellow and red with strange blooms. And their neighbours came to them and said," Lo, your fields are full of weeds and tares, and the seeds therefrom spread pollution far and wide. If you do not cleanse your fields your crops will fail and ours with them, for the wind will blow the evil seed on our land, and the tares will spring up and

- p. 6 -
smother our corn." But they laughed them to scorn and heeded them not.
        But behold, one day they found that for all their sowing and ploughing and reaping their wheat and their oats and their barley were smothered and had no room to grow. And they remembered the words of their neighbours and took counsel together, saying, "It is true that the tares spring up and smother the wheat, but if we spend time in hoeing we shall have much less time for other things, wherefore we will buy us hoes, and each of us in turn will go forth by night to hoe the fields. Thus shall we waste no time by day, for the day is too precious for hoeing."
        So they took it in turns to go forth hoeing by night, and in the morning when they looked upon what they had done, they found that many of the tares and the white and red and yellow flowers had been cleansed away. And they marvelled and said, "Our father was rich, but we shall be richer. For whereas he hoed by day we shall hoe by night and thus we shall not waste the precious hours of sunlight when we can be at work on other things."
        And they called upon their neighbours to, look upon their handiwork, and some marvelled at what they had done. But one old man among them said: "It is true that you have cut down tares and flowers of divers hues, but behold among the weeds I see full many a blade of unripe corn also. Is it right, think you, to cut down the good with the bad?"
        But they laughed him to scorn, for they were loath to listen to aught that might be said against their night-hoeing. And they answered and said to the old

- p. 7 -
man: "Wait until the harvest is ripe, and we will show you what our night-hoeing hath done."
        And when the time of harvest came round they went forth to reap the fields full of joy, for they said among themselves, "We have toiled hard at our night-hoeing and thinned the fields where they were too fertile, so that what remains will surpass all else in strength and beauty." But lo, when they went forth with their scythes they found standing among the corn so many tares and flowers of divers hues and noxious weeds clinging about the stems of the corn that there seemed "to be scarce any corn at all, and what there was was weak and stunted, because it had been smothered by the weeds and flowers and tares. Moreover, among the tares and weeds they had hoed away by night they found many a goodly ear of unripe corn which they had cut down in the darkness, for in their blindness they had destroyed the good with the bad.
        Then they lifted up their voices and wept, and smote their breasts and cried aloud, saying, "The old man was right. We have been fools with our night-hoeing, for in the dark we have cut down the wheat with the tares and left the tares standing with the wheat. Let us go back to the way of our fathers and hoe the fields by day, when we can see what we do and distinguish between the corn and the tares."

- p. 9 -

While it may readily be admitted that the problem of over-population and its apparently attendant evils is a difficult one, and that it is easier to criticise the attempts that have been made to solve it than to offer fresh solutions, it does not follow that, at the present stage in the discussion, criticism may not be valuable, or that the particular attempt at a solution already in possession of popular and scientific favour, because it happens to have been widely advertised, enjoys any particular sanctity which renders it unassailable. On the contrary, it is possible that its fame may have been due to the fact that hitherto it has been too feebly or incompletely criticised, and that its supporters may therefore have profited from too half-hearted an opposition.
        Perhaps it is hardly fair to say that the opposition to Birth Control has been half-hearted. It has, as we know, been most enthusiastic and often self-sacrificing; and it has, moreover, enjoyed all the prestige of having been encouraged by an immensely powerful, ancient and universally respected institution, which has certainly never engaged half-heartedly in any struggle. It is possible, however, that owing to the very circumstance that the opposition has been chiefly religious and associated to a great extent with the Holy

- p. 10 -
Catholic Church, that it has necessarily been inadequate. For anyone who to-day comes forward in the name of religion to oppose any group or movement is inevitably restricted in the scope of his appeal to the number of those who are ready and willing to accept his first principles. Outside that number, he is rather like a man beating the air and reciting mystic and meaningless gibberish. Hence the ease with which the average birth-controller disposes of and casts ridicule upon his religious opponent. 1 This fact has greatly handicapped the opposition to Birth Control, and, in the opinion of the writer, has left the general public with an entirely false conception of the merits of the movement. The advocates of contraceptive practices have been able to make many points which the writer hopes to be able to show have but little validity, while the opposition has also omitted to emphasise or establish a number of other points in favour of its own position, to which it will be his endeavour to give full weight in the present volume. Thus, although his indebtedness to his predecessors in the same field is very great, as his references will show, the author ventures to believe that he will be able to make a comparatively substantial advance upon them, both in the form of attack and that of defence; and he makes so bold as to hope that this feature of his work, small and inadequate as it is, will, quite apart

        1 See, for instance, Harold Cox in The Problem of Population (pp. 159–63, 169–74), and in the Control of Parenthood (pp. 82–8); Dr. C. P. Blacker, Birth Control and the State (pp. 79–80); Dr. C. Killick Millard, Population and Birth Control (pp. 36–42); M. C. Stopes, Contraception, Its Theory, History and Practice (pp. 226–41), etc.

- p. 11 -
from the outlines of the alternative solution he offers, serve as a sufficient excuse for the publication of the present treatise.
        From the correspondence that has been printed in various London journals during the last two or three years, it would appear that there is a large body of public opinion in this country which, although not resting on the foundation of any religious orthodoxy, is strongly opposed to Birth Control, and it is partly with the view of providing those who represent this body of opinion with as complete a statement as possible of the case against the new teaching, and also of giving them an alternative solution, that this work was undertaken. Whereas, therefore, no religious, position will be assumed in this book for the author's freedom from any religious prejudices is perhaps too well known for him to be even suspected of anything of the sort the religious objections to Birth Control will be duly examined and weighed, if only to establish in what respects they are supported by other than religious considerations, while a special effort will be made to expose the inconsistency and self-destructiveness of those arguments in favour of Birth Control, which have been advanced by certain ecclesiastics who, because they owe no allegiance to the Holy Catholic Church, have not felt themselves bound to assume an attitude of hostility towards the new teaching.
        The author's experience in the lecture hall, as an opponent of Birth Control, has, moreover, brought him into touch with various audiences, and given him not only a first-hand knowledge of the birth-controller in debate, but also of the feelings of large numbers

- p. 12 -
of the public regarding the questions at issue. As early as February 12th, 1923, the author appeared as the principal opponent to Marie Stopes in a debate on Birth Control in South Kensington, and on November 8th of the same year he addressed the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology on "The Psychological and Physiological Objections to the use of Contraceptives, and an Alternative," when he crossed swords with the eminent gynaecologist and advocate of Birth Control, Dr. Norman Haire. Since then he has carried his objections to the movement right into the heart of the enemy's camp, by addressing the Neo-Malthusian League on the subject in Caxton Hall; while in various publications, ever since 1923, he has dealt with certain aspects of Birth Control, although not nearly as fully as in the present volume.
        His thanks are due to Dr. Norman Haire for many a kind hint and criticism, and also for much valuable information concerning the particular contraceptive which, as a medical specialist, he recommends. And this assistance has been all the more appreciated seeing that, at least on the question of Birth Control, Dr. Haire and the author are in entire disagreement.

- p. 13 -

CHAP.       PAGE
I     The Thesis of the Book and the Position Reviewed 15
II     Over-Population and Degeneracy 42
III     A Closer Examination of Some of the Pleas made by Birth-Controllers 65
IV     Some Birth-Control Sophistry Exposed 88
V     The Large Family 117
VI     The Large Family: Some Objections Answered 142
VII     Further Reasons for Opposing Birth Control 162
VIII     Birth Control, Religion and Morality 188
IX     Birth Control and Feminism 212
X     Alternative Solutions 232
     Appendix I.  The Question of Interval between Births 257
     Appendix II.  Medical Aspects of Contraception 276
     Index 281



Next Chapter