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Even if the opportunities of moral observation, indispensably necessary to enlarge the views and comprehension of the moralist, could be supposed compatible with equality ; still, the mind to observe, and to reduce observations to practice, would be wanting. Any state of society, which does not admit and provide for literary leisure, is inconsistent with the due culture and proper discipline of the mind. In Peru, or a state like that of Peru, Socrates would have studied husbandry, and Solon have regulated the plough. Such employments are compatible with active, but not with contemplative exertion. Generals, if antiquity is to be believed, have been summoned from the field; but no philosophers.
On the whole, we may be allowed to con. clude, that if it had been possible, according
emperors, “ The civil law received from the consultations of lawyers, the decisions of judges, and the edicts of princes, continual accessions of light and authority, which has rendered it the great basis of independence to all the modern nations of Europe." R. R. v. 416.
to the established system of the universe, for mankind to have continued equal in their fortunes and conditions, the same equality would have extended to their minds.
The consequence would have been a general inferiority of the rational faculties. The existence of high practical rules raises the general standard of morality ; because, even if few attain the summit, all are tending, more or less, towards it. But those lights of the world, which have occasionally appeared, and have established, from collected observations, the most useful rules of conduct, and the sublimest morality, would have been extinct. Extinguish then these lights, annihilate these general rules, diminish at the same time the temptations to vice and the opportunities of virtue, the advantage is doubtful, the evil certain. Experience does not acquaint us, that even the vices would be less gross or numerous; but it is undeniable that the approved virtues would be both of a lower standard, and of rarer occurrence.
Variety of condition enlarges the sphere of active duty; and every circumstance that enlarges the sphere of duty, contributes towards the perfection of a being, whose distinguishing faculty is obedience to reason, and whose most valuable quality is a power of moral and intellectual improvement commensurate with his individual situation.
On the Principle of Population, and its Effects :
intended to show that Man is inevitably placed in that Condition which is most calculated to improve his Faculties, and afford Opportunities for the exercise of Virtue.
I am willing to suppose it has appeared from the foregoing discussion, that a state of society, consisting of various ranks and conditions, is the state best suited to excite the industry and display the most valuable faculties of mankind. Taking, therefore, into consideration the object of man's existence upon earth, it might naturally be expected that the Creator would devise a mean which would inevitably tend to bring the human race, for the most part, into such a situation.
And this, in fact, I believe to be the final cause of that “principle of population,” with whose powerful agency we have recently been made acquainted; the final cause, in other words, of that instinctive propensity in human nature, under all governments, and in every stage of civilization, to multiply up to the means of subsistence, and even to press, by increase of numbers, upon the limits of the food assigned them. The consequence of this universal tendency is, to render an inequality of fortunes, and a consequent division of ranks, no less general ; not as a matter of agreement or expediency in which mankind have a liberty of option; but as a matter of imperious necessity, growing out of the established constitution of their nature,
The existence of this principle was first remarked by political economists in the concluding half of the last century, and allusions to it
may be found in the writings of Wallace, Hume, Franklin, Smith, and particularly of Mr. Townsend, who in the course of his travels