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turn their attention to manufactures and commerce, a population employed in these latter pursuits will gradually spring up and increase, till it has overtaken the surplus produce of food raised by the cultivators in the purely agricultural state of society. But I have shown that this progress of population will be considerably retarded by the spontaneous change in the habits, and by the diminution in the prolific powers, of the people, introduced in consequence of the change that ensues in their pursuits, employments, and places of residence: they will therefore very slowly overtake the actual supply of food, and their reasonable wants will by no means exceed the powers still inherent in the less fertile and yet unoccupied spots of land, which will now be cultivated for their subsistence. But still it appeared obvious, that unless the number of people did at length increase, so as to press against the actual supply of food derived from the surplus produce of the agriculturalists, no further cultivation would take place; because no man would be foolish enough to raise produce at an increased expense, without a previous and growing demand for it; consequently the state could make no further solid progress in wealth and prosperity. We find therefore that population does actually advance, though with abated rapidity, as the power of supplying it with food becomes more scanty and precarious. The means are nicely adapted to the end ; and, by an admirable contrivance of Providential mechanism, the strength of the spring is spontaneously reduced, in proportion to the gradual diminution of the force it is destined to restrain. This is conceived to be made very evident in the sixth chapter of this book, upon the natural tendency of population in the more
advanced stages of society; where I have endeavoured to show, in some detail, the various causes which, in all tolerably well regulated communities, spontaneously operate in adjusting the increase of population to the diminishing powers of the soil for the further supply of food. These causes appear to be of such powerful and certain efficacy, as to produce consequences which may, at first sight, appear contradictory; although they are in truth nothing more than the natural result of the Providential care, which has made the comfort and happiness of man dependent upon the fair discharge of his moral and political duties; for I think it is established, by the evidence of fact, in the sixth chapter, that the nearer the industry of the people has brought their country to a full state of cultivation, and consequently towards the end of its resources for a further supply of food, the less will the population be observed to press against the actual means of subsist
While on the other hand, the more the idleness and apathy of the people have induced them to neglect the cultivation of their soil, and consequently the more power it still retains to afford a further supply of food, the deeper will be the distress produced by the pressure of population against the actual means of subsistence. The solution of these apparent contradictions is to be found, 1st, in the different use which each party makes of the resources yet at its disposal, whereby the one starves in the midst of the means of plenty, while the other lives at ease with very confined means ;-and 2dly, in the different habits adopted by the two parties, whereby the one runs thoughtlessly like a spendthrift into engagements which he cannot answer-while the other acts upon
feelings and principles, which, without any direct reference to the future, will from their natural effects always preserve him in a state of moderate competence. The one, in short, acts on the principle of increased industry and diminishing expenses, the other upon that of diminished industry and increasing expenses. Although the latter therefore may at some given moment be the richest in available means, he will always be the poorest in fact, because he will not turn his means to profit.
If a country, however, is to continue indefinitely increasing in population, in however retarded a ratio, it must at length come to the end of its resources of food, land being an absolute quantity and capable of making only a definite return of produce. In order, therefore, to make the argument of my Treatise complete, I have in the seventh chapter of this book endeavoured to show, that long before a country, conducting itself upon such a reasonable system as to carry it far towards the fullest possible state of cultivation, has arrived at any thing near to that condition, it will also have found itself in another predicament with respect to the increase of its people, which will have altogether ceased to re-produce their own numbers, or as I have ventured to state it, that the population will have arrived at ITS POINT OF NON-REŞ PRODUCTION. I think I have shown that this effect would be produced by physical and moral causes spontaneously arising out of the habits and distribution of the people, which cannot be materially altered so long as the society continues in the same advanced stage. And although this part of the argument is introduced, more with the view of answering a plausible argument which appeared to arraign the wisdom
and goodness of Providence, than with any view of practical policy, yet it seemed upon the whole necessary, in order to complete the circle of proof, that throughout the whole progress of society, from the lowest stage of savage life to a higher degree of civilization and culture than any people have ever reached, the first and principal proposition of this treatise, “ that population has a natural tendency to keep within the powers of the soil to afford it subsistence in every gradation through which society passes,” is strictly within the limits of truth.
Such appears to be the natural progress of society, when not materially diverted from its regular course; but let it be carefully observed that, in each of the stages, it is a fundamental principle of my treatise, to submit the truth of the propositions, the freedom of of society from the vices and evils of a redundant population, and the consequent progress of mankind in political improvement, to some degree of dependence upon moral amelioration. It will be observed that I have not merely had in view Mr. Malthus's principle of moral restraint, which includes only abstinence from early marriages, and from irregular Sexual intercourse, but that general prevalence of moral principle, in whatever degree, which pervades the whole of the political body; which, more or less, induces public men to act with public spirit and an honest regard to the real welfare of the people, and private men to seek their own advantage with an enlightened regard to the interest of others; and which, above all, produces a system of government and legis lation, leaving men free to act in this praise-worthy manner, but repressing with more or less severity all accessible actions of a contrary nature.
- Now I should be very sorry justly to incur the imputation of having made a parade of introducing moral arguments where moral sanctions are misplaced, and where the question ought to be determined purely upon political grounds. Such a mistake always indicates bad taste, and nine times out of ten bad principle also ; for it savours of hypocrisy, and, like every other exaggeration, weakens the argument it is produced to fortify. But I sincerely trust that every candid reader will admit that the case I have been arguing does really involve moral considerations of the highest nature; that it is conversant with the spontaneous actions of men towards each other, and with the influence of laws and government upon those actions; with the regulation, in short, of the human will, disposition, and affections, as they operate upon the progress of society, which is strictly within the department, at least, of political morality. And if this be so, I should be still more sorry justly to incur the imputation of having made a parade of omitting moral reasoning, where moral sanctions lie at the bottom of the argument. For whether this be bad taste or no, it is certainly the worst species of hypocrisy, being nothing less than the triumph of a cowardly fear of the worldly-minded over a manly regard to reason and justice: it is in fact submitting to the loss of more than half the argument, in the vain hope of gaining proselytes incapable of half their duty, because deprived of half their means of knowledge, and of more than half of their motives of action; which is something like recruiting a regiment with men deficient of an arm and a leg: such soldiers and such proselytes are little worth the cost of procuring. Nay, it is worse than all this it is depriving the