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the population within the limits of that salutary pressure, against the actual means of subsistence which is necessary to the further development of their resources, and not only to keep it within those limits, but even to produce a gradual diminution in the scanty numbers of the people. Let us take as one example the case of the South Sea Islands;—an instance the more in point, as it has been relied upon by the advocates of the modern opinions respecting the principle of population as one of the strong holds of their argument. It appears that in the island of Otaheite no regular cultivation has ever existed; the people have always been supported under the shade of their own forests by the almost spontaneous bounty of nature. Upon the first pressure of population against the existing supply of such food, the natives, instead of having recourse to agricultural exertion, preferred their original state of barbarism, and this against the repeated efforts of benevolence to induce them to adopt a better system. They removed the pressure of their population, necessarily arising out of such conduct, by the murder of their new-born infants, which became so regular a practice that nurses recommended themselves by their skill in the diabolical operation. But mark the effects of vice, and of the interference of human depravity with the order of nature, and the designs of Providence . The number. of inhabitants, which in the year 1774, though perhaps much over stated at 200,000," was certainly
* See Cook's Second Voyage, vol. i. p. 349. By tracing their history through the successive Voyages which have been published, a gradual diminution in the number of inhabitants is fully established.
yery great, for whom nature had provided sustenance with scarcely any exertion of their own to procure it, gradually dwindled to such a degree, that at the beginning of this century it did not amount to more than 5000; * and this in a climate delightful and healthy in a very superior degree. No doubt, in short, seems to remain, that the whole of the original race of natives will soon be extinct. To complete the argument, it is only necessary to state, that in the Friendly and Sandwich Islands, where nature has done less for the inhabitants in healthiness of climate, and fertility of soil, the absence of this vice, and the adoption of trade and cultivation, have kept them in a gradual progress of improvement. The superiority of the latter too (who have derived commercial advantages and civilized intercourse from their vicinity to the north-west coast of America, and the convenience they afford to the piratical and smuggling navis gators of those seas) proves that the progress made by the two has been exactly in proportion to their industry and exertion. Nor has any inconvenience been found to arise in these two last-mentioned groups of islands from a redundant population; nor have any extraordinary checks occurred to prevent it. Yet upon them and Otaheite Mr. Malthus seems very much to rely for the exemplification of his theory. “Where,” says he, “could they be disposed of in a single century, when they would amount to above three millions, supposing their numbers to double every twenty-five years?” . And in a mote he professes to think, that they might perhaps increase in a ratio still faster. But “proh hominum fidem 1" the island which has endeavoured to check its natural increase (for here the term check is applied correctly enough) instead of providing for it, has dwindled in 30 years from a numerous population to 5000 souls; while those who have permitted theirs to take its natural course, and have exercised their industry in the best method afforded by their circumstances and situation, have not only gradually increased in numbers, but in prosperity and happiness. Nor have they been afflicted with any extraordinary quantity of vice or misery. Diseases are upon the whole less frequent among them than in more civilized states; and though havoc has certainly been made by war among their chiefs, yet their insular situation and limited means of transporting an army must have prevented that havoc from extending widely among the lower orders. With respect to the island of Otaheite, there is something in the mode of checking population by infanticide, which rouses a feeling of horror in the mind, and deprives it of patience to calculate in detail the political consequence of such a check. It cannot be denied that so summary a method will certainly keep down the population: but its general result we have seen; and the foregoing statement gives every reason to conclude that effects of the same nature would arise from every other method taken to interfere with the laws of Providence for the due replenishment of the world. They all have a tendency to reduce a people to that point where the smallest exertion becomes irksome; the quantity of food, therefore, even where nature has performed nine-tenths of the task of producing it, will gradually decline, where any means, however horrid, can be found of dispensing with the trifling labour necessary to procure it. Thus it is at Otaheite, where 5000 barbarians still prefer the destruction of their offspring to the moderate exertion necessary to provide them with food, in an island which previously supported more than twenty times that number, without vexing the earth with their instruments of tillage. An investigation into the condition of the hunting tribes on the northern continent of America will give results not essentially different. A very curious account of the state of some of these tribes is to be found in Hearne's Journey to the Copper-mine River, 4to, 1795. He appears to have been nearly the first European who visited them, and had therefore an opportunity of contemplating their moral and political condition in all its native deformity. The veracity of his account is, I believe, universally admitted. That of the main fact which he recorded, and of which he was the first discoverer, is fully established by the subsequent travels of Mackenzie, viz. the existence of a line of sea-coast to the north of North America, about the latitude of 73°. Nor is there any evidence, either internal or derived from subsequent experience, that throws reasonable doubt upon the faithfulness of the picture which he presents of savage manners. His journeys were performed on foot, in the years 1769-70-71-72, by a route leading from the western point of Hudson's Bay towards the north-west. A more striking proof of the general condition of the countries he traversed can scarcely be given than by recording the fact, that in a journey of some months he was precluded from any possibility of a change of apparel, even of linen, by the necessity under which he and his eompanions lay of reserving all their strength for D
* Turnbull's Voyage, vol. iii. p. 76.
the conveyance of necessary food. In p. 33. he writes, “It will be only necessary to say that we have fasted many times two whole days and nights; twice upwards of three days, and once while at Shee-tan-nee near seven days, during which we tasted not a mouthful of any thing except a few cranberries, water, scraps of old leather, and burnt bones. On those pressing occasions I have frequently seen the Indians examine their wardrobe, which consisted chiefly of skin clothing, and consider what part could best be spared; sometimes a piece of an old half-rotten deerskin, and at others a pair of old shoes, were sacrificed to alleviate extreme hunger. The relation of such suncommon hardships may, perhaps, gain little credit in Europe; while those who are conversant with the History of Hudson's Bay and are thoroughly acquainted with the distress which the natives of the country about it frequently endure, may consider them as no more than the common occurrences of an Indian life, in which they are frequently driven to the necessity of eating one another.” (This, be it observed, in a country whose population is very thinly scattered in proportion to its productive powers.) An Indian chief attributed the failure of Mr. Hearne's first journey to the circumstance of their not taking any women with them. “ For,” said he, “when all the men are heavy laden, they can neither hunt, nor travel to any considerable distance: and in case they meet with success in hunting who is to carry the produce 2 Women, added he, are made for labour: one of them can carry or haul as much as two men can do. They also pitch our tents, make and mend our clothing, keep us warm at night: in fact, there is no such thing as travelling without