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The enlightened and candid reader of these passages
will find no difficulty in discovering the cause, why in Spain, possessing less than half its complement of population, the people are yet half-starved. Nor will he consider any reference to the principle of population, as the cause of this distress, extremely applicable to the case in question. He will, however, perceive in the great towns and crowded villages of Spain at once the magnificent wreck and the proofs of its former grandeur and prosperity ; but in the filth, and misery, and vice of those towns, and in the scanty yet redundant population of the villages, and the desolate state of the fertile lands, he will discover the causes yet more clearly than the proofs of its present decline. Perhaps there cannot be a more general or convincing proof of a declining commonwealth, than the co-existence of large towns and a low state of agriculture ;—the former being, in the natural order of things, absolutely the offspring of a full cultivation, their very existence without it is a proof that their vices and their crimes have destroyed their parent, at the period when, having nursed them to maturity, it might fairly have expected the return of assistance now become necessary. to its old age; and the wretched condition of their orphan state constitutes their just reward. A future opportunity of illustrating this point more fully will occur with reference to the modern state of China. In the mean time it may be observed that, in this picture of the state of Spain, we again perceive the necessary effects of a vicious interference with the obvious designs of Providence for the advancement of society. Instead of answering the selfish purposes for which it was intended, or of rendering the natural
order of things compatible with immorality and oppression, by keeping affairs quiet while they are calling aloud for reformation ;-we find that the very expedients, resorted to for these purposes, produce a pressure thrice as heavy as that which they were intended to remove. It seems also to follow, both as a natural consequence, and as the result of historical experience, that this pressure will increase in intensity till it can no longer be borne, but must either crush the people, or rouse them with the energies of despair to cast it from themselves on their oppressors. This alternative may be most emphatically said to be presented to the choice of the unfortunate people of Spain at the present moment, (January 1816).
That the truth of the premises laid down in this Chapter cannot fairly be disputed, is presumed with some confidence. The facts on which they rest seem too obvious to require any further confirmation from the aid of history. That the newly settled lands in America raise and export a surplus produce of food, although their population is doubled in the shortest possible period, will probably be admitted without reference to their statistical writers to prove it. That in those states which have been settled for a longer period, the people having collected into towns export less of their produce, and do not increase in so rapid a ratio, will also be admitted. Yet as they still export some produce, their whole population cannot actually press against the whole of their means of subsistence. For it is evident that this effect cannot be produced by any general law of nature, till we find a want subsisting in the community for imported food, or for a further produce from their own territory ;-a condition of society which belongs to the following
Chapter. The fact therefore that food is still habitually exported may suffice, instead of any historical illustration, to prove that the means, by which the progress of population is naturally regulated in the states of society treated of in this Chapter, are sufficient still to preserve it within the limits of the actual supply of food, which was first raised in the purely agricultural state.
We will proceed then to apply very briefly to this portion of the argument the fundamental principles stated at the outset of the treatise, (vide ch. ii.) — Population being, throughout the whole course treated in this chapter, preserved within the limits of the actual supply of food, it is evident that every conclusion tends clearly to establish the two first principles. For, first, population cannot exceed the powers of the soil to afford it subsistence, so long as a large surplus of food is actually derived from that soil ; nor, secondly, can the existence of such surplus consist with a mischievous pressure of population against the actual supply of food. With respect to the third and fourth principles, which are conversant principally with the conduct and condition of individuals, there can be no doubt but that the folly of a government, or the vices of the people, may introduce much want and misery notwithstanding the overflowing state of the national resources. The political constitution of the United States of America, leading to anarchy and idleness among some of the lower ranks, and the recent political conduct of their government, have actually introduced into that country a baneful interference with the comfort and happiness of many orders of society. I doubt not that some excellent individuals are to be found among them ; but to an English
mind it does certainly appear, that their principles of · Religion” are superficial, their “ Morality” exceedingly low, their “Liberty” verging to licentiousness, consequently not very “rational;” and that their persons and property, though secure against the government, are very liable to danger from the mob. One of their own writers thus describes the
progress of their politics since the period of their independence.—“No people had ever greater cause to be proud, none had before them a fairer promise to be happy. After many years of sanguinary trouble, to pass into a state of peace, security, and rest ;-to be relieved from unspeakable hardships and privations ; to rise from dependance upon another and a far distant country, with all its subjections and restraints, into a state of self-government and exemption from foreign control ;-and to be left to the free choice of its own government, laws, and institutions ;-was a condition in which no enlightened people had ever before been found; and was not only sufficient to fill them with immediate exultation and joy, and with the most happy forebodings of the future, but might naturally be expected to push their hopes and their pride a little beyond the bounds of moderation. To men of unexercised minds, of little reflection, and of superficial knowledge, all around seemed lovely and felicitous; and to the people, with very few exceptions, nothing seemed more impossible than that their harmony should be interrupted, that their happiness should be endangered for ages, or that any thing could arise to deprive them of the benefits and blessings they had obtained with the revolution. Thus thought the many, and thus it was natural for the many to think. They imagined that the supreme
power being now at the disposal of a jealous people, from whom it could not be wheedled by fraud or flattery, nor wrested by force, would follow the na. tural course of the human heart, and find its way into the hands of the most deserving : and at the outset of the republic it was so.
But time unfolded new views to the multitude. Every day gave them a stronger sense of their own power, and greater inclination to evince it by abuse. It was soon perceived that that which was unappropriated to any might be aspired to by all; and the lower classes of ambitious men, and vulgar politicians, who felt themselves excluded by want of desert from all participation in power, resolved to make up their deficiency in merit by fraud and imposition; and to disturb and pollute the stream of public opinion, which, so long as it continued to roll in its natural purity, would run in favour of the most meritorious citizens.” (Memoirs of T. Jefferson, New York, 1809, vol. i. p. 12, et seq.)
The licentious principles established by the French revolution, and previously disseminated no where with greater diligence than in the United States, lent great facilities to such a system of corruption. Nor was the early and absolute treachery of France sufficient to stem the torrent.
Another American writer (Brief View of the Policy and Resources of the United States. Philadelphia, 1810,) asserts, that the folly and passion in which the misfortunes of America have had their rise, are the inseparable concomitants of popular government, founded on the suffrages of the multitude ; who though honest are ignorant ; whose impressions' are excited by feeling, not created by thought; and least of all by the peculiar depth of reasoning, or