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which resolves itself into alms-giving, is perfectly compatible with the healthy progress of society and of population; because, as the objects of this charity increase in proportion to the whole number of the people, population also undergoes aproportionateabatement in the rate of its increase. Space, therefore, is afforded for the due exercise of almsgiving, without any undue encouragement to a vicious increase in the numbers of mankind. It was however fully admitted and enforced, in the same chapter, that the moral and religious instruction of the poor is not only the most enlightened exercise of charity in individuals, but an imperative political duty on the part of the state; because it directly prevents or counteracts any eventual mischief which the injudicious exercise of mistaken charity in indiscriminate alms-giving may produce. Since however the best of all charities are those which teach the poor to assist in providing for themselves, the object of the third chapter was to enter into a comparative estimate of the various plans for that laudable purpose. I trust that sufficient reasons have been given to justify the decided preference which I have ventured to entertain in favour of the recent institutions of Banks for the Savings of the Poor, equally on moral, political, and economical, views of the subject. In the fourth and fifth chapters I endeavoured to detail the effects produced by the advancement of society into its higher stages upon the demand for the exercise of charity, and upon the means of meeting it; and to show that any comparative estimate of the sums expended in charity in different countries, which omits a full consideration of the state of society ex
isting in each, proceeds upon principles fundamentally erroneous, and can only lead to practical mischief. It further appears from this chapter that the demand for charitable exertion, and the means of meeting it, equally increase as society advances, and that the effects thereby produced on the comfort and happiness of different communities respectively depend not so much upon the amount of the sums given, as upon the mode in which they are expended. Where the expenditure is guided by the rules of morality, public happiness and private comfort are the results; while the contrary system leads of course to opposite consequences. No apprehension therefore need be entertained in permitting the most unbounded exercise of charity, provided it be directed towards the proper and legitimate objects. Such are the results which I have endeavoured to deduce from an inquiry into the nature and extent of the duty of charity. In the sixth chapter I have endeavoured to convince the reader that the people, and especially the lower orders, may be permitted, without detriment to the healthy progress of population, to enjoy an option of entering into the marriage contract or abstaining from it, determinable upon moral considerations only, and entirely free from the speculations of statesmen upon political expediency;-that this liberty is expressly allowed by the words of Scripture, and when enjoyed in conformity with its instructions will be not only free from any evil consequences of a political nature, but is absolutely necessary to a due progress in public wealth, civilization and happiness. These conclusions are strictly derivable from the fundamental principles of the
first book of this treatise, and are drawn from the application of them to the question under discussion. I trust they have been sufficient to prove that, in a tolerably moral and well regulated community, it is perfectly feasible to relieve every distress which may eventually arise to individuals, from the enjoyment of such a system of liberty with respect to the marriage contract. The object of the seventh chapter is to prove that the effects of the principle of population and of the progress of society have no necessary tendency to diminish the general sum of happiness enjoyed either by the whole community, or by the individuals of which it is composed, but that they only change the nature of the people's enjoyments; providing by a beautiful system of compensation, to all ranks of society, some countervailing advantage of a moral and political nature, for every necessary privation which the new arrangements of the community bring in their train; so that a good citizen will have an equal probability of happiness in every stage of society, in proportion as he discharges the duties which its particular condition imposes upon him. In the eighth chapter I have endeavoured more fully to illustrate, and to apply to the practical purposes of statesmen, the fundamental truth that the salutary tendency of population, as well as every other condition of the healthy progress of society, will operate in proportion to the general prevalence of religion, morality, liberty, and security of property; that these four blessings, however, are in fact ultimately referable to the two first among them, the influence of which should be forwarded by every method within the power of the state; especially by early, education and legal means for continued and permanent instruction. It follows too from this principle that a patriotic statesman ought not to sit down contented merely with that moderate degree of attainment with respect to these blessings, which is barely sufficient to carry on the progress of society, and is at liberty to relax his attention and exertion when he may think that point has been attained; because such relaxation would immediately afford scope to the natural tendency of human affairs to degenerate, and the healthy progress of society would be checked: but I have ventured to contend that, animated by the conviction that every improvement and increase of those blessings is in itself a source of happiness and prosperity, which can never be carried too far, he should make every attainment the step to a further progress: and though he may never positively reach the exalted point to which he may aspire, he will not only be enabled to counteract the natural tendency of human institutions to decay, but will also be rewarded by a conviction of having bestowed solid accessions of power and happiness on the commonwealth.
On the rational Hopes that may be entertained of a progressive Improvement in the Condition of Mankind.
THERE is no point of view under which the subject discussed in this treatise assumes a higher interest, than in the conclusions which may be drawn from the different hypotheses respecting our rational hopes of future improvement in the condition of mankind. If the conclusions respecting the principle of population which it has been my object to controvert be just, it is evident that very slender hopes indeed can be entertained of any material amelioration. The progress of society according to those conclusions brings with it so many insuperable difficulties, insuperable even by any adherence on the part of the people to the laws of religion and morality, that we are compelled to submit to the disheartening conviction, that the best governed and most moral nation has no sooner reaped the rewards of its conformity with the commands of Providence, in the attainment of a high degree of general happiness and prosperity, than it must, by the inevitable laws of that same Providence, begin to descend in the scale of society, and to endure all those sufferings, which have been observed by political economists to be the constant attendants of such descent, so well described by Dr. Adam Smith as “miserable” and “melancholy.” So that the statesman who advances his country the