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Hind was not long left in doubt. Brought up from my earliest days within sight of an University of which I subsequently became an unworthy member, I have since bad ample opportunities of appreciating the influence of the instruction there imparted upon the moral and political welfare of our country.
That the work which I now presume to offer to your consideration does in any degree merit an equal rank with the books which have been instrumental in producing that influence, I have not the vanity to suppose. Concerning the station to which it may be entitled by the presumed soundness of its principles or the justness of its conclusions, I shall cheerfully subunit to your decision. But I may venture to observe that the SUBJECT is of the utmost importance, and one upon which no British Gentleman or Legislator should be permitted to go forth into the world without clear and decided views. The happiness of the people, derived from their comfortable subsistence, and from their moral conduct upon all those points which are connected with the principle of population, is the only solid foundation of National prosperity. Without it all the pains bestowed in the higher departments of policy are only
80 many fruitless efforts to adorn a superstructure which the first blast of adversity must level with the ground. With it the edifice of the state is founded upon a rock, against which the waves will beat in vain; for it will be firm enough not only to be preserved from overthrow, but even to escape those temporary shocks which might injure the more minute arrangements for the comfort of the inhabitants. The mind of a British Statesman especially must be ill-furnished, and his efforts comparatively unsuccessful, who is ignorant of the principles upon which this essential foundation is to be laid ; for a very slight acquaintance with the subject will show that the advanced stage of society, to which our Country has been happily carried, renders the knowledge of them peculiarly necessary, towards its maintenance and further progress.
Should the following work be calculated, in your opinion, to improve and to extend that knowledge, I shall be more than repaid for the labour of the composition : and my utmost wishes will be sura passed, should you think it worthy of occupying an humble place in those studies by which the youth of Britain are trained to be the strength and ornament of their country, and to be the instruments of
THE substance of a large portion of the following work was written some years ago, and at no very distant period from the publication of the second edition of Mr. Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population. The subject had been so long and so deeply considered by that able and candid writer, and involved questions so vitally important to the best interests of mankind, that it would have been the height of presumption, and positively an immoral act, hastily and without mature reflection to publish what purported to be a general refutation of his hypothesis. I therefore thought it prudent to confine my public communications for a time to those particular parts of the system which more immediately obtruded themselves upon my notice in the duties and employments with which I was most conversant. Upon these I conceived myself entitled to bring the author's hypothesis to the test of experience, and, where any part of it appeared to fail, to endeavour to show in what respects the argument was faulty in its principle or in its application. This I attempted in the year 1807 by “A Short Inquiry into the Policy, Humanity, and past
Effects of the Poor Laws ;" a publication which at the time attracted perhaps more notice than it deserved, but of which I may venture to say that I have not yet seen it fairly answered. Since that period the tremendous risks to which the vital interests of the country, moral and political, have been exposed, not only indisposed the public mind towards any statistical argument not immediately affecting the existence of the commonwealth, but also called upon every individual, by his pen, by his personal exertions, by every mode of influence which his talents or situation would enable him to exert, to take a part in questions and employments which at other times he might fairly, perhaps, have declined as objects of mere temporary interest.
In times such as we have lately passed through, to use the words of an old writer, “I am deceived if God allow any man for private." In such times the citizens of a state blessed with institutions worth preserving are not so much their own as others are theirs ; they must take to themselves firm foreheads, courageous hearts, hands busy, but not par. tial, to resist the violent sway of evils."
These considerations put together constitute the true reason why this work was not some time
ago placed in the hands of the bookseller, although a considerable portion of it was written, and wanted little but arrangement to prepare it for the press.
The delay, however, has not been entirely fruitless; as I have been enabled by laying detached fragments occasionally before the public, as oppor