Page:American Journal of Sociology Volume 4.djvu/396
3/8 THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY
selves more closely to one another, and also to the soil and the coast, and then only upon the sea do they find the expansion and increase of wealth which the nature of the land denied them.
Narrow territories bring into the foreground the question of land, or, in other words, the question of space, in consequence of attention's being unavoidably directed to the relation of area to population. The question arises early, therefore, on islands and in other confined regions. They soon lead either to emigra- tion — voluntary or compulsory — and colonization, for which little Thera, as founder of Cyrene, is typical ; or to resistance to unfair division of the land, as in the case of England, where, as early as the sixteenth century, protest was made against the conversion of the commons into inclosed pastures ; or finally to the restriction of the natural increase of population. Malthus, 'in his Essay on Population, calls attention to the prevalence among island peoples of customs designed to act as a check to such increase. Moreover, it is not an accident that the book which treated this phenomenon as a scientific problem appeared in an island country ; there even today we meet such facts as that the Scotch islands all taken together constitute the single larger region in Scotland where the number of the inhabitants has diminished. All the evils of a redundant population appear in accentuated form in contracted areas, and especially the fun- damental evil, the low value put upon human life, which leads to all kinds of desolation ; for this the islands of Polynesia and Melanesia afford numerous examples. While in big countries, and particularly in colonies, the increased value of every human being promotes political freedom, there it is hampered by the depreciated value of the masses. All checks to increase of population have an incalculably far-reaching effect ; they prevent any influx of men and capital, and, by invading the natural course of increase, injure the health and morality of the community, and, in general, place the future of the people on too narrow a basis. This isolation, however, from the nature of things, cannot be lasting, and as soon as it is broken through, the people, whose progress has been arrested, are exposed in consequence