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classes, and the very subsistence of the poor. In all ages of the world, population had been pressing hard against subsistence,' he told us; the monster had been stalking through the earth, and had been, in point of fact, equally peremptory in his demands, equally loud in his threats, as at the present time; but, until the date of the Essay on Population, no human being had heard his voice, no one had ever suspected his designs, or even, as Mr. Malthus describes it- his being. The world had been partially peopled from one pair; human life, and by consequence, the duration and produce of marriages, had been proportionably extended in the patriarchal ages, to accomplish its being peopled to a considerable degree; then, a fact never alluded to by our divine, the Omniscient Governor of the world was pleased to limit the duration of life, and by consequence, its connexions, to about their present standard length; but He had never reversed His high behest on the first marriage · Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it;' for never had the command it includes been fully obeyed, and never, therefore, had the predicted result, the subjugation of the earth to the wants of man, been fully realized. We submit thus prominently, to every sincere believer in Revelation, that, in the sententious of Scripture, this divine homily on marriage contains a strong assurance, that when the earth is " replenished' with inhabitants, it shall be efficiently subject to the wants, and supply in plenitude all the comforts of man.
Mr. Malthus could not be correct in his conclusions. Scripture forbade it, common sense forbade it; the deductions of philosophy, the experience and recorded wisdom of the statesmen of all ages, and the voice of all history, forbade it also. Yet, with so plausible an air did this writer bring forward his theory, and supported his celebrated ratios of population and subsistence with such apparent matters of fact; the argument seemed so palpable, and the evidence-from across the Atlantic so irresistible, that the El Dorado of Queen Elizabeth's reign did not more largely attract European notice and belief: and all England rings with the triumph of his principles. Whatever errors the system of this gentleman may contain, it has decidedly borně down its opponents for the last twenty years. It savours a little too much, therefore, of the partisan, for Mr. Godwin to denominate it at once a house of cards *;"
Godwin, p. 2.
and to tell us, that he “who should read the first chapter, and no more, of Mr. Malthus's Essay, would be in possession of every thing in the book that is solid and compressed, or that bears so much as the air of science.” Mr. Malthus has certainly constructed an important theory on grounds by far too slight, and, as we think, utterly untenable, but the writer who has prevailed to influence the calculations of the merchant, the exhortations of the divine, the plans of the statesman, and the decisions of a British Parliament, for nearly a whole generation, at this enlightened period of the world, is not to be so unceremoniously dismissed. There was great originality, great ingenuity, and great perseverance in his advances, while he performed for the public the important service of breaking up much new ground in science, and stimulating others to follow him. If it be founded on the ruins of his own system, he will have been the means of founding, as we have intimated, a new school of political economy in Great Britain ; and, that branch of the science. which he originally selected for discussion, was neither ill-chosen, nor overrated in its importance. It has occupied no small share of the public attention ever since the first appearance of his Essay.
From that early period, the name of Mr. Godwin stands connected with the subject of population. In his Inquiry concerning Political Justice, he had the merit, or demerit, it seems, to connect an Utopian scheme of equality with a Malthusian calculation respecting the possible increase of mankind : and, although he then spoke, (after the occult manner of his future opponent) of there “ being a principle in human society, by which population is perpetually kept down to the level of the means of subsistence*,” he anticipated the period when “ the spirit of oppression, the spirit of servility, and the spirit of fraud,” with their attendant vices, being banished from amongst men, a full developement would be given to the principle of population, and a large accession of human happiness result from it. To show the fallacy of expecting such a state of society on earth, and that, were it realized, it could not continue for a single generation, Mr. Malthus was first induced to write his Essay on Population. The result, he contended, of a law to enforce the best-constructed system of equality, would be, that the claimants on the future means of the society would be so prodigiously augmented, as quickly to introduce the old liabilities to labour, poverty and want,
* Godrio's Political Justice, p. 160.
with their attendant crimes and miseries; and hence, to compel a speedy return to the old systems of providing for, and restraining them. Mr. Godwin, according to correct legal practice, we believe, now claims a right of reply. He was an advocate for the lower classes of society, as plaintiffs against its great political institutions, for whom Mr. Malthus appeared, and made out, as the learned opener of the cause insists, a defence almost entirely fictitious. But the latter gentleman, we are happy to find, does not attempt to sustain all the points of his opening speech. originally the champion of infidelity as well as of equality; and some of the most important moral and religious bonds of mankind, were objects of his animadversion and reprobation : in defence of this system he no longer appears; he challenges his bitterest enemy to find in his present publication, the peculiarities of the Author of the Inquiry concerning Political Justice*, and confines himself strictly to the theory of Mr. Malthus on population, and the manner in which its advances affect, and are affected by, the means of subsistence.
The creed of this writer and his disciples is, “ That population has a constant tendency to increase beyond the means of subsistencet;" – That “ It may safely be pronounced that population, when unchecked, goes on doubling itself every twenty-five years, or increases in a geometrical ratio I;" – while, “considering the present average state of the earth, the means of subsistence, under circumstances the most favourable to human industry, could not possibly be made to increase faster than in an arithmetical ratio g.”
“ The necessary effect of these two rates of increase, when brought together," says Mr. Malthus, “ will be very striking. Let us call the population of this island eleven millions; and suppose the present produce equal to the easy support of such a number. In the first twenty-five years the population would be twenty-two millions; and the food being also doubled, the means of subsistence would be equal to the increase. In the next twenty-five years, the population would be forty-four millions, and the means of subsistence only equal to the support of thirty-three millions. In the next period, the population would be eighty-eight millions, and the means of subsistence just equal to the support of half that number, And, at the conclusion of the first century, the population would be a hundred and seventy-six millions, and the means of subsistence only equal to the support of fifty-five millions, leaving a population of a hundred and twenty-one millions totally unprovided for.
• Godwin, Preface, p. X. + Essay on Population, 5th edit. vol. i. p. 5. * Ibid. p. 9.
§ Ibid. p. 14.
Taking the whole earth, instead of this island, emigration would of course be excluded; and, supposing the present population equal to a thousand millions, the human species would increase as the numbers 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, and subsistence as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. In two centuries, the population would be to the means of subsistence as 256 to 9; in three centuries, as 4096 to 13; and in two thousand years, the difference would be almost incalculable*.”
Such is what may be called the fashionable theory of population, and its consequences. The authorities on which Mr. Malthus principally rests t, may be briefly detailed. They are, 1. Dr. Franklin, who, in “ Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind,” written in 1731, bas said, “ There is no bound to the prolific nature of plants and animals, but what is made by their crowding and interfering with each other's means of subsistence. Were the face of the earth vacant of other plants, it might be gradually sowed and overspread with one kind only, as, for instance, with fennel : and were it empty of other inhabitants, it might in a few ages be replenished from one nation only, , as, for instance, with Englishment.” 2. Dr. Price, who, in his Observations on Reversionary Payments, republishes a letter he had formerly written to Dr. Franklin, containing this remark, “ A doubling of population in eighty-four years, is, as you, Sir, well know, a very slow increase, compared with that which takes place among our colonies in Americaş,” and referring at the
bottom of a page to a Sermon of a Dr. E. Styles, (printed in 1761) as stating the population of Rhode Island to double as a whole in twenty-five years, and, “ within land,” in twenty and fifteen years. 3. Euler; who “ calculates on a mortality of one in thirty-six, that if the births be to the deaths in the proportion of three to one, the period of doubling will be only twelve years and fourfifths|l.” And 4. Sir William Petty; who “supposes a doubling in so short a time as ten years [.” It is remarkable that no part of Mr. Malthus's printed works refers to Tables establishing the actual increase of population, even in America, at the ratio he assumes.
The reasoning of this gentleman upon his data is sufficiently remarkable. Having stretched the reader's imagination on the rack of the geometrical ratio, he comes to
* Essay on Population, 5th edit. vol. i. pp. 15, 16.
+ See his own Letter, stating them, in Mr. Godwin's book, p. 122, and pp. 3, 7, 8, of the Essay, vol. i. I Franklin's Miscell. Works, p. 9. $ Price's Observations, vol. ii. p. 49. ll Essay, vol. i.
consider the checks to this fearful multiplication of mankind : or, what it is, in point of fact, that has preserved these propagating and eating animals from-eating one another! For iť must not be forgotten, that Mr. Malthus's whole system rests on the “natural tendency” of mankind thus to multiply, and requires, in all cases, the presence of counteracting powers or circumstances, to account for the result being otherwise in point of fact. The “checks” enumerated in his first edition, were entirely embraced under the fearful names of “vice” and “misery;" in the subsequent edition of his work, he has added a third, “moral restraint;" which, however, he characterizes as having “ operated with very inconsiderable force in past ages," and declares that he can anticipate nothing much better from it in time to come. More particularly his checks are, “unwholesome occupations, severe labour and exposure to seasons, extreme poverty, bad nursing of children, great towns, excesses of all kinds, the whole train of common diseases and epidemics, war, plague, and famine *.
But the policy recommended on this singular basis, the practice to which the rulers of the world, and particularly those of our own country, are exhorted by a Christian moralist on the ground of these doctrines, is yet more novel and original. Å denial of any right in the poor to the maintenance they cannot earn, should first be promulgated. Secondly, the poor-laws should be a gradually abolished;" or a law be enacted, " declaring that no child born from any marriage taking place after the expiration of a year from the date of the law, and no illegitimate child born two years from the same date, should ever be entitled to parish assistance +.” Thirdly; to try the efficacy of moral restraint as far as possible, it should seem, every clergyman, after the publication of the banns of marriage, should be instructed to read a homily to the poor, on the duty of supporting their children, the immorality of marrying without“ a prospect" of doing this; the evils which had resulted from former attempts to assist them, and the absolute necessity which their richer neighbours had discovered, of abandoning those attempts. We must extract from Mr. Malthus's quarto edition of the Essay, (1803) the celebrated passage in which the climax of his theory appears; for, though it has since been expunged from the work, the spirit of it still pervades the whole: – “ A man who is born into a world already possessed, if he cannot
* Essay, vol. i. p. 22. † Ibid. vol. iii. p. 179.