leston, Staffordshire), whose father was a Huguenot. Sadler received his early training from Mr. Harrison of Doveridge, and while at school showed a special aptitude for mathematics, but from his fifteenth year he was practically self-taught, acquiring in his father's library a wide but desultory knowledge of classical and modern literature. His family, though members of the church of England, were in sympathy with the methodist movement, and suffered obloquy in consequence. Mary Howitt, who lived at Uttoxeter, wrote in her autobiography (vol. i.) that the Sadlers, who were the first to bring the methodists into that district, ‘were most earnest in the new faith, and a son named Michael Thomas, not then twenty, a youth of great eloquence and talent, preached sermons and was stoned for it.’ ‘The boy preacher’ (Mrs. Howitt continues) ‘wrote a stinging pamphlet (‘An Apology for the Methodists,’ 1797) that was widely circulated. It shamed his persecutors and almost wrung an apology from them … His gentlemanly bearing, handsome dress, intelligent face, and pleasant voice, we thought most unlike the usual Uttoxeter type.’ In 1800 Sadler was established by his father in the firm of his elder brother, Benjamin, at Leeds, and in 1810 the two brothers entered into partnership with the widow of Samuel Fenton, an importer of Irish linens in that town. In 1816 he married Ann Fenton, the daughter of his partner and the representative of an old Leeds family.
Sadler, who had no liking for business, soon took an active part in public life, especially in the administration of the poor law, serving as honorary treasurer of the poor rates. An enthusiastic tory, he expressed his political convictions in a speech, widely circulated at the time, which he delivered against catholic emancipation at a town's meeting in Leeds in 1813. In 1817 he published his ‘First Letter to a Reformer,’ in reply to a pamphlet in which Walter Fawkes of Farnley had advocated a scheme of political reform. But Sadler concentrated his chief attention on economic questions, and read papers on such subjects to the Leeds Literary and Philosophical Society, of which he was one of the founders. The general distress and his personal experience of poor-law administration led him to examine the principles which should govern the relief of destitution from public funds. Growing anxiety about Irish affairs and the proceedings of the emigration committee in 1827 next drew his attention to the condition of the poor in Ireland, with which country his business brought him into close connection; but as early as 1823 his friend, the Rev. G. S. Bull (afterwards a leader of the agitation for the Ten-hour Bill), found him deeply moved by the condition of the children employed in factories (Alfred, Hist. of the Factory Movement, i. 220). His reputation in the West Riding rapidly spread. Charlotte Brontë, writing at Haworth in 1829, says that in December 1827, when she and her sisters played their game of the ‘Islanders,’ each choosing who should be the great men of their islands, one of the three selected by Ann Brontë was Michael Sadler (Mrs. Gaskell, Charlotte Brontë, p. 60). In 1828 he published the best-written of his books, ‘Ireland: its Evils and their Remedies,’ which is in effect a protest against the application of individualistic political economy to the problems of Irish distress. His chief proposal was the establishment of a poor law for Ireland on the principle that in proportion to its means ‘wealth should be compelled to assist destitute poverty, but that, dissimilar to English practice, assistance should in all cases, except in those of actual incapacity from age or disease, be connected with labour’ (p. 193). He closely followed the argument of Dr. Woodward, bishop of Cloyne (‘An Argument in support of the Right of the Poor in the Kingdom of Ireland to a National Provision,’ 1768). Sadler's book was well received. Bishop Copleston of Llandaff wrote of it to him in terms of warm approval.
Sadler now found himself a leader in the reaction against the individualistic principles which underlay the Ricardian doctrines, and he essayed the discussion of the more abstract points of political economy, a task for which he was indifferently equipped. He protested that in a society in which persons enjoyed unequal measures of economic freedom, it was not true that the individual pursuit of self-interest would necessarily lead to collective well-being. His point of view was that of the Christian socialist (cf. Ireland, pp. 207–17). He held that individual effort needed to be restrained and guided by the conscience of the community acting through the organisation of the state; and that economic well-being could be secured by moralising the existing order of society without greatly altering the basis of political power. He first addressed himself to an attempted refutation of Malthus, issuing his ‘Law of Population: a Treatise in Disproof of the Super-fecundity of Human Beings and developing the Real Principle of their Increase’ (published 1830). Here Sadler advanced the theory that ‘the pro-