« ForrigeFortsett »
only accommodate the persons, whose labour is wanted in the district where they are born, together with their families. All the parents will then be industrious. The system of charity, alluded to in the first chapter, may then be applied to such of these families as are too numerous to be supported by the average rate of the parents' labour, that the children may be reared for the supply of those districts which do not keep up their effective population; but no useless hands will permanently remain a burthen upon the proprietors, absorbing their profits without any return to them or to the country: and the competition between the necessities of the poor and the superfluities of the rich will be maintained at the point most favourable to the exercise of enlightened charity, and to the accumulation of capital to be applied in opening further resources of industry. As these are developed, more tenements will be of course erected, because a larger supply of hands will be wanted. But the consequent increase of the people will be sound and healthy, because no parents will exist, whose labour is not generally wanted in the places of their residence; nor any children be reared, who will not ultimately be turned to account, either in replacing their parents, in emigrating to places where their services are required, or in occupying new stations of industry in the places of their birth.
The reader's mind may perhaps be prepared, by the considerations offered in this chapter, to admit the validity of a principle, which I am strongly disposed to consider as of universal application, viz. that the only methods by which the progress of population can be mischievously advanced beyond its natural rate,
are by neglecting to promote, or by violently interfering with the morals and the industry of the people. So long as these are duly fostered, and permitted to have their free course, all the natural causes of abatement in the progress of population, and the natural encouragements to the production of food, will be successively introduced as society advances : but if the influence of morality, or the current of industry be checked, either by permitting the introduction of idle and licentious settlers, or by any other means, these salutary principles can of course be no longer operative; the stream will be choked up, and a loathsome vermin will pullulate in the filth and mud of the overloaded channel.
I do not mean to imply, that mankind will permanently proceed in multiplying its numbers where there is a total stagnation of industry-quite the contrary; but their habits will then permit them to approach much nearer to that point, where the food is meted out to each in the smallest possible portions that can support existence. To that extent therefore population will be encouraged, and in a mischievous and unnatural manner; that is, in a manner contrary to the ordinary course of society, and the evident designs of Providence; nor will any thing check its progress but the violent pressure of human misery against the means of subsistence.
In confirmation of this argument, I would, in addition to the facts referred to in this chapter, confidently appeal to the details in the first book of this treatise respecting Spain, China, and the South Sea Islands, and to the observation of any one who will take the trouble to investigate the condition of the people in any declining country.
Should any one be disposed to object, that the arguments of this chapter are in opposition to those in the first chapter of this book, recommending under cer. tain circumstances an artificial acceleration in the increase of the people; I would observe, in reply, that it is with a view to the different periods, in which the increase of people takes place, that I deprecate that contemplated in this chapter : and I do so upon these grounds 1st, that the quality of the population raised under the former system will be of a superior stamp, both in healthiness and industry; and 2dly, that the increase is uniform in its operation, and particularly applicable to those periods in the progress of society when its effects are most wanted; namely, the commercial and manufacturing periods, in which alone any large sums can ever be wanted for the charitable support of numerous families. Whereas the population, raised under the system deprecated in this chapter, will be most numerous when it is least wanted; namely, towards the end of the agricultural, and the early stages of the commercial states of society. It is also irregular and uncertain in its progress and numbers, and consequently in quality the most remote that can well be conceived from any fitness for the purposes of regular industry. I consider this difference as a signal instance of the distinction, which Providence has placed, between the production of similar effects by moral and immoral
When an enlightened charity constitutes the motive and the object of the act, as in the poor laws of England, Providence overrules the effect so as to produce indeed an increase of people, but a still greater increase of industrious employment. Where an indolent apathy permits encroachments and irre
gularities, as in the cases stated in this chapter, the effect is indeed likewise an increase of population, but a much greater increase of idleness, vice, and misery. The causes of the disorders of states are manifold; but if they could all be traced to their origin, I believ that the seeds of a very large proportion of them would be found in the idle and licentious habits of such an extraneous and neglected population, as it is the object of this chapter to deprecate.
We are then again conducted to the important conclusions to which every preceding part of this inquiry tends—that industry is the legitimate parent, and the firm supporter, of population, as well as the natural regulator of its quantity and quality ; and that when thus produced and regulated it can never mischievously press against the means of its subsistence. That the industry here spoken of (when taken in its enlarged sense) includes and supposes a due attention to the moral condition of the people is of course implied, and will be more fully shown when we come to consider the two last of the funda. mental principles laid down at the outset of this treetise.
Of the mischievous Pressure of Population, caused
by depressing the productive Energies of the Soil considerably below its natural Powers.
IT is obviously true, that the natural powers of the soil to afford a further supply of produce vary with every advance of a country in the progress of society. In the agricultural state, that is, before all the rich lands are appropriated and brought into cultivation, the powers of the soil are great, and capable of affording a considerable supply of produce at a comparatively small expense in cultivation.
in cultivation. In the commercial and manufacturing state, that is, when the lands remaining unappropriated and waste are of inferior staple, and commerce and manufactures are consequently the most profitable employment of capital, the natural powers of the soil are gradually contracted, and can only afford a further supply of produce at a continually increasing expense in cultivation.
That the expense of bringing waste land under cultivation continually increases with the advance of society and population, will be evident if we consider the gradation as to quality, in which lands, generally speaking, are reclaimed. Those of superior staple, which will pay best, are of course reclaimed the first, and so on, in succession of inferiority, till at last none but the most barren and ungrateful spots are left waste. Municipal laws, and the rights of property, will of course introduce trifling irregularities in the