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cause is in the ignorance and tyranny complained of, and can no more be said to be derived from the population, than the relaxed spring of a clock gone down can be said to be the ultimate cause of its not performing its functions. The owner has nothing more to do but to wind up the clock and the functions will be instantly resumed. His laziness then, and not the condition in which that vice has placed the spring, is certainly the ultimate cause of the clock's default.
In the following paragraph Mr. Malthus admits, sub modo, that an increase of population is absolutely necessary to a further increase of annual produce. But then it is said, that this is not the natural order of progress; because “we know that multiplication has in numberless instances taken place, which has produced no effect upon agriculture, and has merely been followed by an increase of diseases.” “But perhaps,” he continues, “there is no instance where a permanent increase of agriculture has not effected a permanent increase of population somewhere or other.” In the preceding paragraph, we have certainly a notable instance in which multiplication fails of its due effect in producing an increase of agriculture, and is therefore followed by an in. crease of diseases; and I fully admit that an increased cultivation can alone render an increase of people permanent after the agricultural state of society is passed, But these propositions constitute no proof whatever, that the augmented population is not naturally the efficient cause of the increase of cultivation. . If the people, when born and reared, are forcibly prevented from exerting their industry to prowide for themselves, and precluded from profiting
by the industry of others, their increase cannot of course be permanent. And wherefore? Because the natural effect of the demand they create is obviated by tyrannical interference. But if they are permitted and encouraged to exert themselves, the increase both of population and produce then becomes permanent; but the latter is evidently engendered by the former. We have next an attempt to prove, that complaints for want of food cannot be justly founded even in a country where much good land remains uncultivated: because, it is said, the effect of uncultivated land operates merely as the possession of a smaller territory, and does not by any means alter the proportion between the food and the people. Now really this is something like saying that a starving people, with money in their pockets, would have no ground of complaint were a large granary full of imported corn locked up, and the key forcibly detained till the contents were spoiled, because it would operate merely as the possession of a smaller quantity; and that, never having been in the domestic market, it does not by any means alter the proportion between population and production. This sort of reasoning may be very just on the supposition that any tyrant, endowed with sufficient power, had entered into a fixed resolution that the waste land should always remain uncultivated; and such a check to the due course of society, and to the progress of his people's happiness, would be a very characteristic exercise of despotic authority. But if no unjust impediment be thrown in the way of agricultural improvement, it would be as impossible to prevent individual interest from “altering the proportion between the food and the people,” by augmenting the produce of the soil to answer an increased, demand, as to enable any ingenuity to prove that such augmented produce would not stop the very reasonable complaints of the people for want of food. It is next observed, that “no country has ever reached, nor probably ever will reach, its highest acme of cultivation:” whence, I suppose, is meant to be inferred, that the continued pressure of population cannot for ever be met and obviated by a continued increase of cultivation. But it has been shown, in a former chapter, that the further pressure of population will be prevented, before any point at all approaching to this “highest acme of cultivation” could be arrived at, at least in all those countries with which Europeans are best acquainted; because the people will have reached their point of non-reproduction, before the land has attained to its ne plus ultra of cultivation. If this be so, it is neither “the want of industry, nor the ill direction of that industry,” which is the limit to a further increase in produce and population, nor yet “the absolute refusal of nature to produce any more.” But the demand for further food gradually ceasing from the domestic population, at a time, when the staple of the land still remaining uncultivated is such, as to prevent any possibility of exporting its produce with a view to profit, there could be no possible inducement to a further extension of agriculture. Mr. Malthus very justly observes, in conclusion, that, “with regard to the principle of population, it is never the question whether a country will produce any more, but whether it may be made to produce a sufficiency to keep pace with an unchecked increase of people. This is doubtless the true state of the question; and if there be any truth in the principles maintained in this treatise, the produce of a country, tolerably well governed, can easily be made to keep peace with an unchecked increase of people, that is, with an increase left to its own natural progress. But it is impossible to agree in the corollary drawn by Mr. Malthus from this question as containing synonymous expressions; “that in England it is not the question whether, by cultivating all our commons, we could raise considerably more corn than at present; but whether we could raise sufficient for a population of 20,000,000 in the next 25 years, of 40,000,000 in the next 50 years,” and so on. For we have seen, to a demonstration, that in the state of society now existing in England, or, as it could by any possibility be made to exist, these periods of doubling are altogether visionary and theoretic. Such are the opinions of the principal political economists with respect to the important qmestion treated in this chapter, with the observations to which they have given rise. Upon considering them, it will occur to every reflecting mind, that there is one circumstance strongly militating against the opinion of those, who contend that agriculture is, in all cases, the efficient cause of population. It is, that not one of those writers can point out, or has made any satisfactory attempt to show, in what manner a further extension of agriculture can be made, after the commercial state of society is entered into, by any other means than by a demand for produce from an increased number of mouths. They have contented themselves with saying that such should be the policy, without ever adverting to the practical impossibility of adopting it. But surely a more absurd and unpromising attempt can scarcely be imagined, than for a government to undertake to force the cultivation of inferior land, before an increased demand for its produce should render the employment profitable. It is quite ridiculous to talk of bounties upon the export of corn in such a case. They are altogether inadequate to the purpose in the advanced states of society. For since the foreign market is always supplied from countries in the purely agricultural state, where good land can be had cheap, a successful competition can never be carried on by another country where only inferior land is to be procured, and that at a high price. When to this is added the freight, which must also rise in proportion to the price of provisions in the home market, it seems absolutely impossible, consistently with common prudence, to grant a bounty upon the export of corn high enough to counterbalance such disadvantages. That bounties upon export, and other encouragements to agriculture, may retard the diversion of capital to mercantile and manufacturing purposes to a later period, and encourage the cultivation of soils of a staple inferior to what would otherwise have been "attempted, is probable: and it may be doubted whether every expense so incurred has not been a very useless and unnecessary waste of money; for if capital can at such periods be more profitably employed in commerce and manufactures, we may rest assured, that the population thus produced will soon make it the interest of individuals to divert a portion of their capital to the land. But that bounties upon export can ever permanently encourage the cultivation of bad land, or any other agricultural