Imágenes de páginas

upon the increase of population, in which, by procreation only, Mr. Malthus has thought proper to lay his principal stress. They are as follow:

[blocks in formation]

« Now in those reports, if I take the latest year, it will give me something less than 41 births to a marriage: and, if I add the whole ten years together, the proportion will

be found to be 4 40 to one.

My friend at the same time transmitted to me a paper of these heads, for the city and suburbs of Philadelphia, but this is only for the one year, 1818, and does not distinguish the sexes of the born: the result is · Marriages (as far as obtained) 792 ; baptisms, 2221:' yielding a quotient of fewer than three births to a marriage. It is somewhat remarkable, that this return concludes with a memorandum, that the baptisms of this year were decreased by 282, and the burials increased by 64. Thus the further we inquire into the subject, we find the progress of numbers of mankind in the United States, conforming itself to the model of Europe.” (p. 424.]

On the subject of the period at which marriages are formed in the United States, this author only establishes, what our readers will ere this have expected, that “there is nothing new under the sun.". There is an ordinary age and power of fruitfulness in the human female; no one feature of the power of habits of mankind is more uniform, on a large scale; if this period is anticipated, and women marry at a very early age, as we have before noticed, and as the most common observation will teach, their fruitfulness is rather diminished than increased, and they exhibit a premature decay. Franklin boasted of the early marriages of America ; but, first, the fact of their prevalence on a national scale wants establishing; and, secondly, if it were established, it is nothing to the purpose. “ Too early and too late marriages,” says Sussmilch, " are both of them injurious to population.” The average powers of the female are not proved to be greater in America than in Europe, nor the ordinary marriageable age different. In Sweden, as we have seen, almost all females arriving at twenty years

of age marry

Respecting the diseases of the United States, Mr. Godwin has also some original information. He notices the prevalence of consumption, dysentery, and the yellow fever; the general impression which American writers seek to remove, “ that the United States are unhealthy;" and the testimony of Volney to the appalling frequency of intermittent autumnal fevers and agues. We confess, however, that the information he has derived from certain“ very respectable" ladies, concerning the rareness of large families, the number of children dying under three years of age, the sallowness of the native American complexion, &c. seems to us rather vàgue. This chapter, upon the whole, is very unequal to what we should have expected from a writer who is generally scrupulous in his data ; and the materials for a fuller statement of the diseases of America, are, we apprehend, by no means difficult to obtain.

Mr. Godwin finally establishes, as “ the most important piece of information, relatively to our subject, that can be conceived," that the free white inhabitants of the United States, under and above sixteen years of age, are as nearly as possible upon an equality in point of numbers *; and infers that it hence inevitably follows, “ that throughout the Union the population, so far as depends on procreation, is at a stand.” “ It is altogether as satisfactory,” he insists, “ as if we had a table of births and marriages, for every state of the Union, as particular as Sussmilch's tables for the German dominions of the king of Prussia.” If it were true that the population of the United States had been found to double itself, for above a century and a half successively, in less than twenty-five years, and that this had been repeatedly ascertained to be from procreation only; it is absolutely certain, that in that country the children would outnumber the grown persons, two or three times over.” (pp. 441, 2.+]

See the census for 1810, &c. + The absurdities into which an implicit reliance on Mr. Malthus's assertions have led some of the most respectable of our contemporaries, cannot be better illustrated than by the following sentences from the Quarterly Review for November, 1817, which gravely says, “ The American race is but a branch of the European stock, and had it remained on its parent soil, would have partaken of the same gradual increase, doubling itself in a century at the quickest; but the same brauch, when rooted in transatlantic ground, doubles in twenty-five years. Take any given number, say 10,000; these persons remaining in England, or France, would, in 100 years, have increased to 20,000; but transplanted to America, in a hundred years they become 160,000!" VOL. 111.- NO.5.


The means which the earth affords for the subsistence of man, occupy the fifth book of this interesting work. We feel disposed to complain of the very insufficient space that is thus assigned, to at least one half of our author's subject; and that which enters into the very pith of his opponent's theory: but we can only concern ourselves with Mr. Godwin's data here. The warm-hearted speculations of the writer enliven his book; still they are but speculations--we want to see the facts of this science more fully brought out, and lucidly arranged.

China has been considered as the most populous of civilized countries; it occupies 1,300,000 out of the 39,000,000 of habitable square miles, which the globe is computed to contain: and here, according to the lowest calculation, 300,000,000 of inhabitants find the means of subsistence. - On this scale, the habitable parts of the globe would supply nine thousand, instead of its present computed number of sir hundred, millions of inhabitants.

In England and Wales we have, according to the surveys of the Board of Agriculture * :Of cultivated land....

39,100,000 Common and waste land


Total 46,916,000

The former being thus distributed :

In bread, the produce of
In liquids
In animal food
Roots and green fruit ....
The food of 1,200,000 horses ...,
Surplus produce


1,250,000 20,000,000

1,250,000 4,800,000 6,800,000

39,100,000 For the same writers rate the individual consumption of food in this way: Food per head annually consumed.

In bread, the produce of.....
In liquids ....
In animal food

In roots and green fruit

Total 23

+ See particularly Middleton's Survey of Middlesex.

It may

Now, the item of surplus produce, divided by 21, would yield food already provided for 2,054,380 persons, to say nothing of improvements and the cultivation of waste lands. We advert, with pleasure, after Mr. Godwin, to the striking illustration of this branch of the subject afforded by Mr. Coke's Holkham estate. Forty years ago, when this gentleman came into possession of the property, the land of his farms was regarded as some of the worst in the country, and let at three shillings per acre: his entire rental was £2,200. At this time, according to a recent publication *, the land lets at from thirty to forty shillings, and produces triple the quantity of wheat per acre, that other and some of the most naturally fertile counties yield; the population has tripled, the poor-house has entirely disappeared, and the rental has increased tenfold.

But we feel, with our author, the great ambiguity that lurks under the term means of subsistence. either intend what is actually produced, or what might be produced from the earth ; and it may involve, or it may not involve, the consideration of the mode whereby those means are obtained, or become accessible to particular classes of men. That what is actually produced, as the food of man, in England, might be largely increased, has never been questioned, and is an agricultural problem of the highest interest and importance to keep before the world. That it might be more equally, and for all classes more comfortably distributed, will be doubted by none but those who believe our political institutions, or rather our actual political situation, incapable of improvement. Upon this latter topic, however, there is some language in our author's book that is much too unmeasured for our taste and times.

We neither think with his opponent, that the child of the poor man is born into the world without rights, or into “ a world where every thing is appropriated ;” nor, with Mr. Godwin, that “ he has only to lift up his eyes and survey our heaths and forests, our parks, and our pleasure grounds, to see that the world is not appropriated as the simple laws of nature direct us to appropriate it.” We neither believe, that at Nature's mighty feast there is no room for the new claimant because he is poor, nor that he has a right to usurp the place and rank of any that are already seated there : we hold it to be a sacred and imperative duty to make room for him, and are persuaded that this may be accomplished

Rigby, Holkham, and its Agriculture.

without violence, and without making any individual a judge in his own cause. On the whole, as between these controversialists, Mr. Godwin sums up the ultimate question of difference, by stating his conviction, that population is not kept down in the different countries of Europe, provided it has a tendency to increase, by a want of the means of subsistence, but by the positive institutions of society. "I claim,” says he, "to reverse the celebrated maxim of Mr. Malthus, and to say tható human institutions, if erroneous and oppressive, are the mighty and tremendous sources of mischief to mankind, while the progress of population is, in the comparison, light and superficial, a mere feather that floats upon the surface of the essay on Population, and hardly worth serious consideration any where else.” His sixth and concluding book is a general summary of objections to the spirit of the Essay on Population.

That the topic of these writers, the real tendencies and limits of the principle of population, only presents itself to discussion at a very advanced stage of civilization, will be obvious, both from the fact that Mr. Malthus's was the first English book that entered fully into it, and the lamentable want of data which bis system every where discloses. Even the industry of his opponent, aided by the hardheaded calculations of his friend, Mr. David Booth, (see the Dissertation on the Ratios of Increase on Population, &c., at the close of book II.) has added little to the established facts that belong to this branch of science, if such it may be called : and we owe too much to the experimental philosophy, we rejoice too much in the modern tendency of all true science, to break up from its former moorings to this hypothesis and the other, and take the direction to which experiment leads, to be willing to reason much on such a subject, without better data. A desultory remark or two, in conclusion, is all upon

which we shall venture.

The whole subject presents an argument for the higher views of man. In the early stages of society, great precariousness in the actual supplies of food procured, is found to subsist with an inexhaustible abundance of resources. The wandering tribes, that on the discovery of America were found scattered along its shores, and that haunt at this time the borders of its civilized portions, once possessed (and but a few centuries back) the same fertile soil which now feeds the millions of the Union, and which frequently sup

« AnteriorContinuar »