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tunity offered, to collect the opinions of competent judges, to obviate some difficulties and objections to which my hypothesis appeared liable, and to present it now to the reader with less numerous faults than it might otherwise have contained. It will probably be admitted that, in an argument which I believe to be so entirely my own as that which I have ventured to hold in following out the principles of the ensuing treatise, these precautions are not illegitimate; but it is fair to warn the reader of one necessary consequence; that some passages will of course be found which have been previously submitted to the public eye. They are, however, not so numerous as to bear more than a very small proportion to the whole of the work ; they are my own composition, and were taken from those parts of the original manuscript in which I have now replaced them. Although a writer is fairly entitled to do what he will with his own, and leave the public to exercise their discretion as to the value of his whole performance ;-although a builder may justly use the rafters ultimately intended for the roof of a house he is employed to construct, as a scaffold for the erection of the walls; yet it is certainly a point both of candour and discretion not to fit in the materials so used to the place assigned them in the original plan of the edi. fice, without notice of the purposes they have previously served. Having now performed this obvious duty, and encouraged by the hope that my materials will only turn out to be the better seasoned by
the use which has been made of them, I proceed to the few prefatory remarks which appear necessary to introduce the following treatise.
I have observed at the very outset that the principle of population, in its practical operations upon the condition of mankind, may be said to constitute a new department of science. It is also a very intricate one; conversant with so wide a circle of facts and arguments, and with so many of the most difficult questions of moral and political economy, that to treat it in a popular manner, so as to convey a clear conception of the subject to a general reader, is a matter of no small difficulty. Yet I have thought that only such a mode of treating it could lead to extensive usefulness. A dry philosophical discussion, inapplicable to the purposes of statesmen, and devoid of the interest excited by an immediate reference to the conduct and duties of individuals, may amuse the studious and the speculative, but can lead to no good practical result in the improvement of society. The reader, therefore, must not expect to find in the following pages the neat conciseness of a logical deduction ; but rather a dissertation, in which fulness has been sometimes studied at the risk of occasional repetition, that ideas new to the mind might not fail of their impression from any want of variety in the views under which they are presented.
The political illustrations and allusions, and the inoral deductions scattered throughout the work, have also been selected from many others which
might have been equally applicable, principally because they are presumed to be such as will affect in the most lively manner the hearts and the consciences of those to whom they are principally addressed; especially with a view to the improvement of their own country, and of others oyer which they can exercise influence.
Of the political uses to which I have endeavoured to convert the argument, it may fairly be said that they embrace the most interesting topics among those which may be called fundamental in the constitution of civil society, viz. the subsistence and comfort of the great body of the people, and the means by which those blessings are to be preserved as society advances from the earliest to the latest stages of its progress.
It cannot be denied that these objects lie at the root of all public prosperity; for upon them mainly depend the contentment of the people, the security of governments, and consequently the offensive and defensive power of nations. The political part of the argument, therefore, does not so much refer to the temporary interests of particular states, as to the great and original principles upon which may be said to depend the existence and developement of the best systems of social polity; to the foundation, in short, of the temporal happiness of individuals and communities.
The moral uses to which the argument has been converted are, I trust, yet more interesting. Toenlarge or fortify the dominion of morals over human happiness and prosperity, is at all times perhaps the
highest office in which a writer can be engaged. For surely it requires but little reflection upon the history of the past, and little experience of the actual condition of society, to perceive the utter insufficiency of mere political, or philosophical, or economical systems, to afford any permanence to the ameliora* tion which they all profess to bestow upon the condition of mankind. The ties by which they endeavour to bind man to man are altogether too weak for the
purpose without some further cement, and the principles upon which they are established are too much open to controversy permanently to command the assent of the human mind. System after system has been adopted with eager hope, and rejected in its turn with utter despair, in favour of another which has ultimately followed the destiny of its predeces. sor. And mankind, instead of reaping the expected benefits, have found their condition deteriorated and their minds disappointed and irritated. If there ever were a time in which these truths were more palpable than at another, it appears to be the present. From all the magnificent systems which, independently of pure morals, promised so much benefit, but performed so little but mischief to society, it has come out demoralized, degraded, impoverished, unsettled, insecure: and the most profligate politicians have at length been compelled to acknowledge (without, however, practically enforcing the consequence) that the only hope for the future is to be sought in a general moral amelioration. Such will ever be the end of systems which have fine sentiment on the surface,
but base selfishness at the core. I have therefore thought the opportunity not unfavourable for openly asserting and endeavouring to demonstrate the necessary connexion of moral conduct, public and private, with political wealth and prosperity; that the former is in fact the centre round which the latter must revolve. It is in vain to deny that this has been at least overlooked in political speculations, which have usually been projected in an orbit not a little eccentric to their legitimate cycle. I hope therefore that I shall not be accused of merely asserting and proving a truism in the following pages. A truth, forgotten, neglected, and no longer acted upon, may to all practical purposes be admitted as no longer acknowledged. To revive its obsolete vigour is as necessary a task and often more difficult than the first establishment of its
power; disuse is prima facie evidence of want of utility, and constitutes an additional prejudice to be overcome: If, therefore, I have been successful in showing that a fair attention to moral principle is of itself sufficient to free the elementary operations of society from fatal political impediments, and that all other contrivances for the purpose tend only in the end to perpetuate the evils they profess to relieve, I trust that the execution of the attempt will meet with the indulgence due on the score of originality, as well as on that of utility. The principle is certainly as new in the practice of modern politics as it is simple and uniform in its application to society. It has too this peculiar advantage, that whereas in controversies