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governments; and the latter will usually by degrees adapt itself to the former. Unless the wisdom and magnanimity of the present Emperor of Russia shall anticipate the course of events by benign concessions, the natural progress of industry and improvement in that country will provide that its government shall not be despotic half a century hence.
In quitting this part of the subject, I cannot help remarking that if towns have been called the hotbeds of vice, they have deserved that appellation more from indolent despair than from necessity. The towns have hitherto by no means had fair play. Notwithstanding the extreme difference between the dispositions, manners, opportunities, and temptations of the inhabitants of towns and the country, not only have the same laws been thought adequate to the government of both, but too often those laws have even been relaxed in towns. Where regulation has been most wanted, it has been most neglected; and what is worse, religious instruction, the only sure foundation of all morality, has usually been more scantily provided in the same proportion. It is pleasing, nevertheless, to reflect, that if towns have been actually the hot-beds of vice, they have been no less the seats of exalted virtues. The most enlightened exertions for bettering the condition of mankind have been struck out by the intellectual collision of many enlarged minds collected into the focus of a great metropolis : and although we cannot quite vindicate from partiality the predilection for a city life, entertained by our great philosopher and moralist Dr. Johnson, I cannot either avoid thinking that he who would, if possible, reduce cities and towns to annihilation, rather than use due exertions for their im
provement, and to render them more conducive to the views of Providence in making them a necessary condition of one state of our political existence, would, by the same rule, hang a boy for his firstfault, rather than endeavour to root out the innate seeds of evil implanted in his mind.
But perhaps it may be said that the number of the childless and unmarried among the higher orders is a clear addition to the mass of public misery as society advances. To this it may be sufficient briefly to reply, that those qualities of the mind and body, which are least favourable to the production and care of large families are often the most so to other pursuits not less useful or advantageous, nor less capable of conferring happiness. It is upon these ranks that the task of mental thought for the whole society often devolves, and it is another instance of the gracious dispensation of Providence fitting every creature for its appointed end, that the mind is often most vigorous and capable of high cultivation in the most delicate frames of body. If a lad be prevented by a puny frame from joining in the boisterous sports of his schoolfellows, does he not find comfort and pleasure in books and contemplation ? And if, upon growing up into a man, he be not able to distinguish himself in the sports of the field, or in the robust pursuits of life, is it not often the foundation of a moresubstantial, noble, and lasting celebrity in knowledge, in eloquence, in artsnay, since the modern improvements in warfare, frequently in arms? Yet these are precisely the men who are the least likely to become the fathers of large families—a condition, if they fulfil the duties of it, that must evidently tend to subtract from their public utility. Strange as it
may appear, unless we revert to this solution of the fact, the greatest heroes and most celebrated men have in very many instances been childless, if not unmarried. But have they been therefore the more ‘miserable ? By no means. That affection which would perhaps have been engrossed by their families has all been lavished on their country and on mankind. And, however great may be the satisfaction arising from domestic endearments, the high-wrought pleasure flowing from a consciousness of having conferred a benefit upon one's country and upon the world—of having been the humble instrument in the hand of Providence of furthering the moral and religious welfare—of increasing the general happiness of mankind-or of deserving public applause and gratitude, will scarcely yield to it in intensity of delight.
If it be said that this applies exclusively to men, it may be answered—that the names of many eminent single women may be cited, both in this and other countries, which show that the other sex have their full share in the observation.
It would not, however, be reasonable or decorous to close this discussion without some more particular reference to the effect which the increasing celibacy of civilized society has upon the comfort and happiness of the female sex. This, at first view, would appear to be an unhappy one, for supposing the proportion of women to men to remain the same, the former would of course seem to have a diminished probability of enjoying the comforts of matrimony; and it is not evident in what manner civilization affords them a full compensation for this loss. The will of Providence, with respect to the proportions of men and women who are respectively born or existing
in the world, affords matter of very curious contemplation, and an interesting collection of facts has been made by various authors upon the subject. The learned Dr. Derham, (Physico-Theology, p. 175,) thought that he had grounds for computing the proportion of male to female births generally to be as 14 to 13, or that a 14th more of males were born than of females; and actual observation gives reason to believe, notwithstanding a doubt cast upon the fact by Dean Tucker, that the excess is generally about a 14th. (Dr. Perceval's Essay on Population, p. 74.) Dr. Price, however, says a 19th or 20th. This arrangement obviously appears calculated with a view to provide for the superior waste of male life in hazardous exertion, &c. which exists in every stage of society; and there would be nothing surprising in the discovery, that the proportion of females advanced in life actually existing in any state of society should, notwithstanding this excess of births, be equal, or even larger than that of males, in consequence of the increased mortality of the latter from those causes. But it does certainly appear at first' a little singular that it should have been found (Dr. Price, edit. 1803, vol. ii. p. 106 and p. 132.) by a great variety of returns, that the mortality of males in the earliest stages of life, and even the proportion of still-born males, bears a very high proportion to that of females. (Price, p. 230.) It should seem therefore that the Author of nature established this proportion between the births, rather with a view to a particular weakness or delicacy in the constitution of males in very early life which makes them more subject to mortality at that particular period, and renders it necessary that more should be produced in order to preserye the due proportion between the adults of the two
sexes. It appears that, taking an average from all the accounts which have been given of the existing number of males and females at a marriageable age, the superior mortality among the former has about reduced the sexes to an equality ; though it must be admitted that the proportion of this superior mortality of males seems to increase with the progress of civilization and wealth; to be doubtful in the purely agricultural state of society, where children are riches, and the prolific powers are exerted to the utmost by second and third marriages ; to be but small in country parishes and villages, larger in small towns, and greatest of all in cities. · (Price, vol. ii. p. 133, ed. 1803.) But it is in none of those situations high enough to prevent the generality of women from marrying once, unless she should prefer the advantages of her state of celibacy to the prospects which the offer of marriage may eventually hold out.
The motives of her determination are probably merely personal. If she choose a single life, she has no more view of adding to the happiness of the rest of society“ by making room for other marriages without additional distress,” (see Malthus's Essay, book iv. chap. 8. p. 550, 4to edit.) “than she has, in her preference of connubial happiness, of strengthening the power and population of her country, by producing sons to fight its battles," &c. As far as the motives of an action constitute a ground of respect, they stand precisely on equal terms: if they are appreciated according to their absolute utility in their generation, the difference will not be greater, supposing both to fulfil the duties of their station with equal integrity and zeal: and if superior re. spect be due to her who has exercised most self