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cast, anxieties of mind, emulation, severe attention to business, various active avocations, and the general incompatibility of the marriage state with this new order of pursuits, form the first natural causes of a diminished tendency in the population to increase, incident to the prosperous conduct of trade and manufactures. For there seems to be no doubt, that in proportion to the continued necessity of mental exertion or abstraction, many, who could well afford to rear a family, are placed in situations and pursuits where a voluntary abstinence from marriage, and the incapacity and indisposition to rear large families, become very general. Moreover, the comparatively unfavourable state of the atmosphere even in towns * of a moderate size, and the confinement and unhealthy occupations of the inhabitants, not only weaken the robust state of health necessary to the production of a numerous and healthy progeny, and diminish the number of births; but likewise very much shorten the period of human life in those situations, and increase the proportion of deaths. The
* See. Malthus's Essay, book ii. c. 7. vol. i. p. 462. The passage illustrates the position in the text so strongly, that I cannot resist the desire to quote it at length. “ There certainly seems to be something in great towns, and even in moderate towns, peculiarly unfavourable to the very early stages of life; and the part of the community, on which the mortality principally falls, seems to indicate, that it arises more from the closeness and foulness of the air, which may be supposed to be unfavourable to the tender lungs of children, and the greater confinement which they almost necessarily experience, than from the superior degree of luxury and debauchery usually, and justly, attributed to towns. A married pair with the best constitutions, who lead the most regular and quiet life, seldom find that their children enjoy same health in towns as in the country."
average number of births to a marriage in towns has been calculated at between 3 and 4; while in the country it is said to amount to 4 or 5*; and even in moderate towns, such as Newbury, containing a concentrated population of not more than about 4,200 souls, the annual deaths are to the population as 1 in 28 or 29; while in the purely agricultural villages, they often do not exceed the proportion of 1 in 50 or 60.t Here then are two natural and unavoidable causes, very strongly tending to weaken the principle of population. Moreover, the artificial wants, which are converted into necessaries of life at every step in the progress of civilization, render the support of a wife and family more difficult, consistently with retaining other personal enjoyments, and cannot but farther diminish, in some degree, the proportion of marriages throughout the whole community. So that the triple operation of a decrease in the number of marriages, diminished fertility in the human species, and an augmented proportion of deaths immediately begins, by the natural and unavoidable course of nature, to repress the progress of population, as soon as a part of the people are collected into towns.
This progress will indeed be retarded less during the earlier stages of the commercial and manufacturing states of society, than afterwards, when towns become larger, population more dense, and civilization more general. Nor is it necessary that in these
* See Price's Reversion. Payments, vol. ii. p. 227. Perceval's Observations on Manchester, &c, vol. iii. of his Essays, edit. 1776, p. 60, 61 ; and Mr. Malthus's observations on this subject in his chapter on the fruitfulness of marriages.
+ See Price's Rev. Paym. vol. ii. p. 40, and Malthus, book ii. c. 7.
earlier stages population should be so much retarded. For as the power of the land is still capable of súpporting a rapid increase of people from its 'surplus produce before exported, some time must necessarily elapse before population, though with a very trifling abatement in its progress, would begin to press against the actual supply of food. The labour of one family employed in tilling the earth, even in this early stage of agricultural improvement, may be fairly accounted able to support itself and two others: two-thirds of the whole population may therefore by degrees become what Sir James Steuart (b. v. c. 5,)
alls free hands, i. e. engaged in manufactures and commerce, in unproductive professions, or may be living idly on the fruits of former industry, before a demand arises for a further increase of food. But long before a nation can have two-thirds of its people thus occupied, a great proportion of it must reside in large towns, and the introduction of luxury, and an artificial state of society, must have produced various imaginary wants among the country residents. Many of the people will be also lifted above the rank of the lower orders, and be affected by those artificial arrangements of society, which, though they universally produce high mental cultivation, do very much diminish the natural powers of increase in mankind. Hence, from the diminished average of marriages and births, and the increase of premature mortality, a large proportion of the population will cease to reproduce its own numbers; and a consider
* See, among other works,“ Dr. Trotter's View of the Nervous Temperament,” for a detailed account of the effects of civilization on the physical powers of a people.
able deficiency will remain to be filled up by the peasantry, or lower order of country residents,—the class most productive of people in every well-regulated community.
Thus it appears, that in proportion as the population advances towards an equality with the surplus produce, existing at the first emergence of a country from the purely agricultural state, in such, will its gradual progress naturally become slower, by the inevitable and unalterable laws of Providence; though the people be left as perfectly at liberty to follow the dictates of their own inclinations as is consistent with a free and well-regulated government. Let it be observed, also, that this effect will be produced by certain and unerring causes, which can by no human means be very materially altered. It is as impossible to render the residents in towns more fruitful, to make the air of towns more generally wholesome to infants, to induce any large proportion of those, who wish to abstain from marriage for their own convenience, to enter into that contract, as it would be to feed the increased population that would follow, supposing the possibility of their production to exist. The abatement in the progress of population is voluntary, natural, and unavoidable. It may be strictly termed its “ natural tendency,” however it may be modified or restrained by systems of policy or different forms of government. It is another question, which will be treated hereafter, how far it necessarily produces an increase of vice and misery, and how far that species of moral restraint, which consists in involuntary abstinence from marriage, be either necessary or useful to the welfare of the people. All that is here asserted is, that the abatement is the necessary and
natural consequence of the progress of society; and that to exclaim against its effects is in fact to exclaim against all advancement of a country beyond the purely agricultural state.
That this advancement may be, and often is, retarded by gross tyranny and oppression, or a general relaxation of morals, is perfectly true. Nay, instances may perhaps be adduced where a nation, cursed with these evils, may even be carried by them with no slight rapidity in a retrograde direction, and instead of advancing out of the agricultural state, may sink into one compounded of the pastoral and agricultural; many of the peasants under the Turkish government are driven to desert their fields, and betake themselves to the pastoral state, to avoid the plunder and oppression of their masters, (Volney, as quoted by Malthus): or, if the nation shall have emerged for a period into the commercial state, it may retain in its decline only the evils of that condition, viz. its towns and its vices, without its industry and its virtues.
The state of Spain during the past century is too lamentable an instance of the last-mentioned condition. Full of towns, the former seats of industry and activity, the hearts from which were propelled into the surrounding country the arterial currents of capital and enterprise, and which received in return the venous streams of agricultural produce, are now the mere receptacles of apathy and ignorance. The body through which the healthy action extended is lopped of almost all its members, and the utmost bounds of the reduced circulation are confined within the narrow valley immediately adjoining to the filthy and unwholesome town. The villages, which formerly gave a supply of labourers to the flourishing manu