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should be imposed in the due preservation of the system. If the increased temptations of the civilized state were not met by the augmented necessity for exertion and moral precaution, which this difficulty brings with it, but were fostered by the same facilities of indolent gratification which may safely exist in the more simple conditions of society, there would not only be great danger of a total relaxation of morals, but a fair impeachment might be made of that perfect moral equality, which the wisdom and goodness of God have established among the several státes of society, as well as among the individuals of each community. The present condition of Ireland may perhaps be cited in support of this reasoning. By its close connexion with Great Britain it has been exposed to the increased temptations of high civilization which is prevalent among some ranks of its society, while the mass of the people is in a situation very far behind that of the sister island, indeed very much below what ought reasonably to be expected from the intelligence of the higher ranks, and the vicinity of Ireland to the 'most civilized country in Europe. Into the remote causes of this state of things it is not my present wish to enter. But the proximate cause is evidently to be found in the want of that increased exertion and moral precaution on the part of the leading members of the community, which are necessary to oppose the temptations, arising out of the partial progress of prosperity, and the facilities of intercourse attendant upon the general improvement of the British empire. From this cause the people of that interesting country have been suffered to vegetate in the same indulgence of indolent gratification, in which they were found by a respectable
traveller in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, who
freely professed, that Ireland in general would yield abundance of all things, if the people could possibly bee industrious therein ;---and if this publike good were not hindered by the inhabitants' barbarousnes, making them apt to seditions, and so unwilling to inrich their Prince and Countrey; and by their slothfulnesse, which is so singular as they hold it basénesse to labour.” (Moryson's Itinerary, Book iij.
To the neglect of amending this unfortunate disposition by wholesome laws, the encouragement of industry, and the developement of the natural resources of the country, are to be joined other circumstances peculiar to Ireland, and particularly connected with the -subject matter of this Treatise. From the mildness of the climate, the natyral fertility of the soil, and the facility with which a'turf cabin and a potatoe ground were to be acquired, through the neglect or mistaken kindness of the proprietors, ą superabundant population has sprung up in many of the least improved parts of Ireland, totally uncalled for by the demand før labour, therefore totally unemployed, and, as a matter of course, altogether neglected as to their morals, habits, and pursuits, by their superiors. This moral deterioration has in its turn aggravated the evils which the injudicious neglect of the proprietors, and the mildness of the climate, originally introduced. By degrading the people, and preventing them from acquiring a taste for the comforts and decencies of life, premature marriages have been encouraged; the offspring of which have been preserved in existence by the plenty of vegetable food, and the general benevolence of the people, until they now constitute a mass of popula
tion which would severely press against the means of subsistence, if those means were distributed as they necessarily must and ought to be among a decent, moral, and well ordered community; and which does in fact produce the extreme of wretchedness among individuals, especially in the principal towns. The very extent of the population, therefore, offers something like a physical impediment to the improvement of the society. But I am not entirely without hope that the check which has lately been given to the exportation of corn from Ireland, by reducing its price and encouraging its consumption among the lowest ranks of the people, may tempt them to desert their potatoes for bread, which would advance them more rapidly towards better habits than may at first sight be imagined. For by introducing into the character of a necessary of life a more expensive article of food, -as corn again rose in price, it would on the one hand become necessary for the peasant to increase his industry to procurę it;-and on the other, premature marriages would be checked, by rendering the prospect of providing for a family more precarious : the quantity of surplus labour in the market would therefore be reduced. Thus by stimulating the industry of the people, and rendering it more valuable to their employers, the remuneration of labour would rise, to the obvious advantage of both; superabundant population would be checked, and the decencies and moralities of life proportionably encouraged, which would permanently prevent its future excess. · But whether this speculation be true or false, I apprehend that no reasonable and well informed man will deny, that the general state of Ireland is such as
it has been just represented, (though improvement is rapidly spreading); and that it affords a striking illustration of the truth of the first part of the alternative in my second proposition, (see chapter iii.) in which the pressure of population against the actual means of subsistence is ascribed to grossly impolitic or pernicious laws, or customs, accelerating the progress of population considerably beyond its natural rate. The most intelligent and patriotic among her own natives are certainly of this opinion, and are bending all their efforts towards the introduction of a superior cast of habits and modes of thinking. One of them, the Reverend Horatio Townshend, author of a Statistical Survey of the County of Cork, executed in a manner by no means inferior to the best of our Scottish and English reports to the Board of Agriculture, specifically states the grand disiderata (among others) to be “ to make the tradesmen drink less and behave better ;-to make an idle gentry better farmers and worse sportsmen ;-to exchange bad ploughs for good ones;—to remove dirt holes from the doors of the lower orders, and put panes in their windows ;—to enlighten their minds, to enlarge their scanty stock of ideas, to diminish their bigotry, and to remove their prejudices.” In short, he urges with irresistible force, that the remedy must be sought in the encouragement of industry and education among all ranks, in a strict and regular administration of justice, in stimulating the activity, advancing the skill, and increasing the comforts of the slovenly rustics, in promoting employment for an increasing population by the advancement of agriculture, by new manufactories, or the improvement of those which exist. This is the way pointed out-and I
shall hope to find an opportunity, before the close of this Treatise, to say something of the means by which it may be successfully pursued.
It is now, I trust, upon the whole abundantly manifest that, in the more advanced stages of society treated of in this chapter, although the powers of production yet remaining in the soil are continually decreasing, yet the natural tendency of population to press against the supply of food is also decreasing in a still greater ratio; at least, in all countries where due attention is paid to religion, morals, and rational liberty. Whereas in countries where these duties and privileges are neglected or forgotten, the principle of population is diverted from its natural tendency, and numbers do actually press against the existing supply of food, on the one hand from the artificial acceleration in the procreation of the people, arising out of premature marriages among couples ill provided with the necessaries and comforts of life, and on the other from the depression of the productive energies of the soil below its natural powers, arising from vicious government and the discouragement of industry.
We have then several of the fundamental propositions of this treatise here distinctly asserted, and proved, with reference to the more advanced stages of society,
1, Population has a natural tendency to keep within the powers of the soil to afford it subsistence; because we see that where those powers are most called forth by industry and good government, and consequently approach most nearly to exhaustion, there the population presses least against them; while, on the other hand, where the powers of the