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Notwithstanding the general truth of the first proposition, for example, it may be observed that many simple manufacturing employments exist in the early stages of society, which have their proportionate share in the production of population: so that, in a modified sense, it may be asserted even here that population is the efficient cause of part of the existing agriculture ; because it is certain that, unless there were a demand for the produce somewhere beyond the bounds of the farm, little or no surplus would be raised. A demand is also frequently made from foreign countries. Their population therefore may likewise, in some measure, be called the efficient cause of agriculture in the country exporting the supply. These modifications, however, do not affect the general truth of the first proposition, and are not of much practical importance.
On the second proposition it may be briefly observed that, as artificial encouragements or discouragements to agriculture may advance or retard the period of a country's transition to the commercial state of society, so the removal of those artificial impediments, at any period after the step has been taken, may give a temporary start or depression to agriculture, and either retard or advance the arrival at that point when the commercial and manufacturing population shall have absorbed all the surplus produce previously existing. Thus, for example, should a country, from peculiar circumstances, such as seem to have influenced the United States of America, have commenced its commercial career before all its best lands are brought under cultivation, (which may be called the natural period of that change,) the removal of those circumstances, or small artificial encouragements to agriculture, will induce the capitalist again to *: land to commerce for a time, and the country will revert for that period to the agricultural state of society, or rather will vacillate between the agricultural and commercial states: this will retard its arrival at that point where the augmented population shall have consumed the whole surplus produce. Again, artificial discouragements to agriculture will divert a portion of the capital to commerce for a period, and thus hasten the arrival of the people at the abovementioned point. But these vacillations will not affect the fundamental truths contained in the second proposition, nor the practical conclusions to be drawn from them. It may be observed too, that they are almost always injurious to the political interests of a country. I have little doubt that the late interruptions to the commerce of the United States of America have added to their solid strength, and given a fresh impulse to the progress of their population, by diverting more capital to their extensive soil; and that they have thereby subtracted somewhat from the interval of time which must yet elapse, before they fill that commanding station in the western hemisphere, and in the naval and commercial enterprise of the world, to which they so ardently aspire. On the third proposition we may observe, by way of qualification, that the importation of food, which is occasionally brought into commercial countries, will naturally impede the encouragement afforded by increasing population to domestic production. The population will then perform the same office towards the agriculture of a less advanced state, which the population of one more advanced formerly acted towards the country in question, when it was itself. in the agricultural state. The imported food, being grown in plenty where good land is cheap, may appear capable, notwithstanding the freight, of underselling in the home market that of domestic growth on inferior land. But the skill, the capital, the superior industry, and the economical improvements in the mode of cultivation, which always attend the application of commercial capital to the soil, joined to the natural wish of all monied men to possess land, will usually be sufficient, for some time at least, to counteract the superior cheapness at which imported corn is raised in the country of its growth. And when the natural disadvantages can be no longer thus counterbalanced, but are in danger of too far reducing the profits, and consequently of checking the further progress of domestic agriculture; then, AND NOT BEFORE, government should interfere by protecting duties, and restore things to their proper level. For it should never be forgotten by the inhabitants of a country of extensive territory, that imported corn, however secure its arrival may usually be, should never be depended upon, but as a temporary instrument for supporting those, whose demand for food should ultimately elicit a further advance of domestic cultivation. It appears then that, notwithstanding these qualifications, the three propositions above stated are generally true, and may lead to practical conclusions of the greatest importance.
I trust also that the arguments, by which they have been supported, are sufficient to establish the truth of the fifth proposition to which I stand pledged in this treatise:* viz. “That in the altermate progress of population and subsistence, in the earliest as well as in the most advanced stages of society, a previous increase of people is necessary to stimulate the community to a farther production of food, and consequently to the healthy advancement of a country in the career of strength and prosperity:” together with the consequence derived from it; viz. “That the pressure of population against the actual means of subsistence, or, more correctly speaking, the excess of population just beyond the plentiful supply of the people's wants, instead of being the cause of most of the miseries of human life, is in fact the cause of all public happiness, industry, and prosperity.”
Of the mischievous Pressure of Population caused by accelerating its Progress considerably beyond the natural Rate.
HAVING in the last chapter established the order of precedence between food and population in the several states of society, it is now time to revert to that part of the second fundamental principle of this treatise, which relates to the causes by which population is made to press mischievously against the actual supply of food: and first, of that which is derived from encouraging the progress of population considerably beyond its natural rate. I endeavoured to show, in the first chapter of this book, that not every encouragement by which population is increased beyond the natural rate will necessarily lead to a mischievous pressure, but that cases may occur in which it is attended with circumstances leading to great positive good. But a general rule. may perhaps be laid down, by which to distinguish the probable effect that would follow in all cases, excluding for the present all moral considerations. It may I think be safely asserted, that, wherever a corresponding encouragement is afforded to industrious exertion, either by fortuitous circumstances or by the act of government, there the progress of population may safely be encouraged beyond its natural rate, and vice versé. We have seen also, that in free and regular governments, in the advanced states of society, the in