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civilization, and towards a full state of cultivation. It may be said indeed that Mr. Malthus has noticed, under the denomination of checks, many of those causes which I have pointed out, as naturally and unavoidably abating the tendency of the people to multiply, as society advances. It is true that he has ; but it is also true, that contemplating the want of the means of subsistence as the only real or necessary impediment to the increase of population, and the other checks merely as artificial impediments to what might otherwise have existed, he has continued to argue upon the geometrical and arithmetical ratio, in the relative powers of increase of food and population in the advanced as well as in the early stages of society, as though population still retained all its original power of doubling in very short periods.” I trust that my endeavours to expose the fallacy and inconsistency of this mode of reasoning, and of the moral consequences necessarily deducible therefrom, have not been altogether unsuccessful. But the principles of Mr. Malthus, with their application as rules of conduct, could never have made so deep an impression on the minds of so many enlightened men, had they not some foundation in truth. They appear to me to be partially true, inasmuch as they assert the tendency of population gradually to overtake the evisting supply of food in the earlier stages of society, which I have freely allowed; but instead of wishing to prevent or weaken that tendency, which in my opinion would only serve to check the public prosperity, I venerate it as a signal instance of the kindness of Providence, and a plain annunciation of its will, that society should progressively advance to a more perfect state of civilization. But they appear to be no less decidedly false, inasmuch as they go to assert, that the natural tendency of population to increase (as society advances) is, physically speaking, so rapid, that it cannot be kept within the powers of the soil . to afford it a further supply of food, without the operation of extraordinary checks, producing either a curtailment of the happiness and enjoyments of the whole people, otherwise allowable, or an inevitable accession of vice and misery. Whereas the system which I have endeavoured to establish goes to assert, that the abatement in the natural progress of population, constantly and spontaneously occurring as society advances, will, of itself, be sufficient to prevent any mischievous pressure against the supply of food; and that such abatement is to be ascribed to causes arising out of the natural disposition of the people, under a reasonably moral government, and varies with every step in the progress of society. I shall further contend, in a subsequent part of this treatise, that these causes are so far from rendering necessary any curtailment of the people's enjoyments, allowable upon the general principles of religion and morality, or of producing extensive and irremediable vice and misery, that they do, in fact, by a beautiful system of compensations, only effect a change in the nature of those enjoyments among one portion of the people; while they leave to those, whose situation is least altered by the progress of civilization, the same portion of temporal enjoyment which previously contributed to the happiness of their existence. This appears to me to be a very decided opposition in principle, and the succeeding books of this treatise will show the practical consequences of the two systems to be, in many respects, no less at variance. Results too of a directly opposite nature, with respect to the permanence of the prosperity of particular states, are necessarily derived from the two systems. According to Mr. Malthus's hypothesis of the arithmetical and geometrical progress of food and population; when a country has once approached toward its ne plus ultra of cultivation, such confusion must soon be introduced by the deficiency of food, and the utter impossibility of procuring it for a still increasing number of mouths, as must necessarily propel the community very rapidly in a retrograde direction down the scale of society. But, according to the hypothesis which I have ventured to suppose, there are no assignable limits to the endurance of any system of society founded upon the conditions of my third and fourth propositions. Take it at any point, from its first starting in the career to the extremest verge of high cultivation and civilization, still the natural causes, spontaneously arising out of the system, will be found to preserve a constant equilibrium between food and population;
* In addition to the passages quoted in the second chapter of this book, the following argument concerning China will not be here misplaced. “The procreative power would, with as much Jacility, double in 25 years the population of China, as that of any of the States of America;” (this of a society where there is a town containing 3,000,000 of citizens!) but we know that it cannot do this, from the palpable inability of the soil to support such an additional number. What then becomes of this mighty power in China? And what are the kinds of restraint and the forms of premature death, which keep the population down to the level of the means of subsistence?”— (Malthus's Essay, book i. c. xii.)
an equilibrium which must necessarily endure, so long as the causes producing it are permitted to operate. These are, it is true, political causes derived from moral conclusions. But philosophy has yet to learn that they are therefore less capable of fulfilling the objects of a conservative principle. The piece of machinery called the regulator of a steam engine will permanently preserve the work from danger, if it be constantly inspected and kept in order by a superintendant well instructed in the principles of the machine. In like manner the frame of society will be permanently preserved in vigour, if moral integrity, which is the regulator of the poli. tical engine, be duly watched and preserved by a superintendant acquainted with its principles: this surperintendant is an enlightened legislature, tempered by the public opinion of a moral and instructed people. If they will do their parts, we may say of Providence, as the poet said of nature,
“Continuo has leges, alternaque foedera certis
Brief Recapitulation of the Contents of the pre- ceding Book.
IT would not have been difficult to have enlarged the preceding sketch into a voluminous treatise, by the insertion of a greater variety of detailed illustrations, drawn from history, and from the accounts published by travellers of the different nations of the world. But many reasons have induced me to abstain from this course. Indolence, I trust, is not one of them ; but principally a feeling, that few things are less convincing than such illustrations, especially when produced with the view of fortifying some specific system of philosophy. I make no doubt that authorities may be drawn from any given country, which has much occupied the attention of travellers and historians, to fortify almost any given hypothesis in political economy. The views of different men, contemplating the same scenes, and the same series of actions, are so diverse, that they will furnish materials almost equally solid, upon which to construct systems and conclusions diametrically opposite to each other; and the controversy, instead of being thereby cleared of difficulties, becomes doubly complicated by the addition of doubts and differences concerning the authenticity of the facts related, or the deductions drawn by the relaters. This is very obvious to the attentive reader of Mr. Malthus's animated descriptions of society, in the several nations to whose history he has referred for the proofs of his hypothesis;