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ration remained in this barren part of the people to be made up by the productive third, (a condition that may very possibly exist in a cool climate, and in a free and highly civilized country, where the wants of life are numerous,) there seems no doubt that the population could not be kept up, but must evidently decline: for let us consider; in order to keep population stationary, it is necessary that every married couple should rear two children, supposing every man and woman to marry once; 'the productive third of the people must therefore rear that number in the first instance to replace themselves. They must moreover rear on an average four fifths of another child from each marriage, to replace the deficiency of a fifth from the other two thirds of the people. This would induce a necessity that each marriage, supposing all to enter once into that contract, should rear two and four-fifths, or nearly three children, to keep up the whole population. But as it is not found that many more than half of the numbers born attain to a marriageable age, * it follows that, supposing all who do attain that age to marry once, each couple must rear 54 children, and consequently produce at least seven, on an average, to keep up the population. But if we consider further, that of those who live to a marriageable age many do not marry, and that some, even in apparently the most favourable circumstances, produce no children; by estimating this barren portion of the reproductive part of the community at an eighth, we shall find that the prolific part must pro
* See Sir James Stewart's Pol. Ec. octavo ed. 1805, b. i. c. 12, p. 92, 93; and c. 21, p. 207. See also a Short Inquiry into the Policy, &c. of the Poor Laws. c. 2, sec. 35.
duce near eight children, upon an average, to make it possible to keep up the whole number of the people.
Now, supposing for a moment, that a manufacturing nation can prosper, while paying wages to all its labourers high enough to enable the married peasantry to support eight children, to the respective ages at which they would be cut off by the rate of mortality existing in the country, it would be to the last degree preposterous to believe the physical powers of the procreating part of the community to be capable of universally producing that number. The population must therefore decline; an increase of the reproductive classes by further cultivation could not prevent this effect, because cultivation cannot be increased in this state of society, except by the stimulus furnished by a previous increase of people. Supposing a still greater rise in wages possible without ruin to the national industry, the difficulty would not be surmounted; for, as we have seen, the physical powers of the people, in the actual state of their distribution, and of society, render a further increase impossible, without subtracting persons from occupations necessary to the public welfare, and naturally arising from, and inherent in, the actual state of the society. Nor could the ordinary operation of the demand for labour so far alter the distribution of the people, as to increase the proportion of the reproductive part of it. The only method then left of promoting a further increase seems to be by contriving, if possible, artificial means of enlarging, at the general expense, that portion of the community which supplies the deficiency of the remainder, i. e. the peasantry. The rich must give up a portion of their
superfluity for this purpose; and, as Sir James Steuart well observes upon another occasion, “the state must be at the expense of the children.”
Now should any one be inclined to object, that the proportions of births, deaths, and marriages, on which the calculations in this chapter are founded, are more unfavourable to the progress of population than are usually found to occur, and to quote instances in agricultural countries, where the proportions are more favourable; I would reply that the application of facts, drawn from the agricultural state, to the more advanced stages of society can only lead to error; and that in these last, the proportions I have given are more favourable than is consistent with fact and ex. perience, nor can ever be argued upon as less favourable than I have stated them, except by admitting the probability of some fanciful and theoretic improvement in the health and longevity of the people.
I have endeavoured to refer to the returns and calculations to be found in the works of several writers on political economy, and to check and correct them by the superior accuracy and ingenuity of Mr. Malthus. It is presumed that few who have studied the subject will impute extravagance to the conclusions I have drawn; but those who chuse to alter the data may make the same sort of calculations upon data of their own, and may advance or retard the point of non-reproduction according to the differences in the proportion of births, deaths,and marriages, as they may be found to exist in fact, or as any calculator may please to suppose them.
Considering the intricacy and difficulty of all cal. culations in political arithmetic, I am not presump: tuous enough to affirm that errors may not possibly
be detected in the preceding paragraphs of this chapter; but I feel confident that every reasonable man will at least concede these points, which are all that I çontend for: namely, That as society advances towards its highest stages, population with difficulty keeps up its own numbers, and that there is a point in the progress, where it cannot reproduce them by any natural efforts of its own, so long as the society continues in the same condition, and the same proportions of the people still remain in the same relative situations, in which they have, spontaneously arranged themselves, and continue under the influence of the same habits and practices, in which they have been gradually confirmed by their progress in civilization.
Having now taken a view of the progress of society through all the gradations which I proposed to investigate, and brought it to a point higher than any of which history furnishes an instance, and beyond which it may fairly be presumed that it cannot proceed; I may perhaps be allowed to observe, that if the foregoing deduction of the progress of society be at all correct, Population, so far from having an inconvenient tendency uniformly to press against the means of subsistence, becomes by degrees very slow in overtaking those means. By the inevitable accumulation of a larger than the average proportion of the means of subsistence into the hands of rich individuals as society advances, and from other causes stated in the progress of my argument, the pressure of want may indeed operate upon a part of the people to that salutary extent; which insures their industry in order to supply their necessities; and the miseries, ascribed to the pressure of population, are more justly due to the backwardness of men to ex
ercise that industry, or to grossly impolitic laws interfering with such exercise. But that the whole
population is constantly pressing to a hurtful extent against the whole supply of food, or that the human race have a natural “tendency to increase faster than food can be provided for them,” are perfectly untenable propositions. On the contrary, it is evident that there is a point beyond which the population cannot possibly advance further without artificial assistance. That the healthiness or insalubrity, the mildness or severity of the climate, that the excellence or depravity of the government, the freedom or slavery of the people, may, in different countries, accelerate or retard this point of non-reproduction cannot be denied; but no salubrity of climate, nor any municipal regulations, consistent with a regular progress in industry and prosperity, could ever defer it (in a country of extended territory at least) till the period at which no more food could be raised, and no more people could of consequence be permanently supported.
Laws promoting the easy transfer and appropriation of waste land, or bounties upon the export of corn, may indeed delay it for a time; because they will induce a preference of agricultural to commercial pursuits, and consequently establish a larger portion of people in country residences: yet still the point must come at last, when the further cultivation of the soil becomes ungrateful, and the capitalist will direct his principal attention to commerce, and the pursuits carried on in cities; and when nothing but a pressure of the population of these places against the supply of food will induce a further cultivation of the soil. Should it be objected that, by direct encouragements to the further cultivation of the wastes still remain