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could not help acknowledging the force of both, took all possible pains to discard them from their minds, and to forget the assent which they could not entirely withhold; and those who were neither able to judge of premises nor inference, proclaimed by a general outcry their weakness and their fears, and started at the name of Malthus as the enemy of God and man. They preferred, it seems, that any imputation should lie against the institutions of society, rather than that they should be forced to give up the flattering prospect of a general amelioration in the condition of ihe human race. We have always thought this fact not a little remarkable; as furnishing a curious proof of the strong conviction inherent in mankind, that notwithstanding the distresses they see around them and the calamities they are subject to, they are still under the protecting dominion of a merciful as well as a powerful Creator; a conviction so deeply rooted that when they meet with a course of argument which appears to them (whether rightly or not) to end in a contrary conclusion, they at once infer the fallacy of the premises, and had rather mistrust the logic of their heads, than resign the consolatory feeling of their hearts.

Still it was soon found a much easier matter to disbelieve Mr. Malthus than to refute him. This ought earlier to have admopished his opponents, as it has at last taught them, to examine whether his premises, or their conclusions were really in the wrong; whether the fault were in his arguments, or in their impressions ; whether, in short, the great features of the country, as he had represented them, were not correctly drawn, though the medium ibrough which they were accidentally viewed had thrown a harsh and disagreeable tone of colouring over the picture : just as the state of the mind, in Crabbe's ingenious tale of the Lover's Journey, gives to the same objects the tint of a March east wind, or of a glowing autumnal evening. It is not difficult to trace a similar effect in the work before us, arising naturally from the leading principle in the author's view when he sat down to the composition. A visionary notion of theoretical perfectibility could only be met by a practical statement of the evils, moral and physical, which beset human nature. Society has no greater enemy tban the man who would substitute theory for experience; and no sincerer friend than the man who appeals to experience to refute him. To the chimerical reformer of the political and moral world, Mr. Malthus justly answers, such hopes are illusory and such schemes impracticable, while mankind exist as they are; there is a principle inherent in their very constitution, which will uniformly bring them, as in all ages and countries it has already brought them, into a situation in which there will be labour, indigence, distress, and disease.


Here we have at once a key to the peculiar turn which the argument takes, which is certainly, at first sight, not a little unprepossessing. The principle which the Essay undertakes to explain, is uniformly treated in the light of an evil. The very title-page announces an inquiry into our prospects respecting the future removal or mitigation of the evil which it occasions. Speaking of moral restraint, the author says, “if this restraint do not produce vice, it is undoubtedly the least evil that can arise from the principle of population. He elsewhere argues that we must submit to the action of a great check to population in some form or other, as an inevitable law of nature; and the only inquiry that remains is, how it may take place with the least possible prejudice to the virtue and happiness of society. Even that habitual prudence, which leads mankind, or ought to lead them, to consider the means of providing for a family before they incur the responsibility of supporting one, is uniformly entitled the fear of misery.'

It is well known what gave the argument this peculiar direction, and brought it into the notice of the world, with a more forbidding aspect than was likely to meet with a welcome reception. Had Mr. Godwin and his party followed another of the various mazes of error, and instead of attacking social institutions, directed their censures against the Creator of the world, who had interwoven with the constitution of mankind a principle which could not fail 10 render vice and misery universal; then we should have felt the advantage of the same enlightened understanding ready to meet the enemy on different grounds; shifting the line of his argument to encounter the opposite movements of his adversary, and prompt to take up another and an equally strong position. The merest sciolist in the book of nature, he might have argued, knows that he ought to search for good, and not evil, as the final object of any extensive principle in our constitution. The writer whom I oppose impeaches the wisdom of the Creator's measures because he is blind to His designs. Thales might as justly have blamed His arrangement, in revolving the larger round the smaller body, or Ptolemy have censured the want of a continent to balance Africa or Asia. Is it not evident how this pressure of population against the actual subsistence, is uniformly exciting the industry of mankind to render more subsistence available? how the necessities it occasions improve the human faculties by exercise, and invigorate virtue ? how it thus furnishes the best opportunities of strengthening those powers which want of exertion uniformly impairs, and of exhibiting those virtues which most conspicuously adorn the moral nature of man? It is for the censurer of the providential arrangement of things to show how the same purposes might have been answered by other and better means. Above all, can we fail to observe that DD 2


this principle, imposed as it is by a Creator whom we see and feel to be benevolent, is a strong corroboration of the truth of that revelation which declares mankind to be placed here in a preparatory state? Have we not every reason from analogy to believe, that, if He had intended this for their final destination, He would have rendered perfection attainable; and that, as he has not placed perfection within their reach, he designs this world as a state of discipline?

That such would have been the general strain of our author's reasoning, had he been called upon by circumstances to refute one error instead of another, we never doubted, and the present edition confirms our previous conviction.

• It was my object,' says Mr. Malthus, in the two chapters on Moral Restraint, and its Effects on Society, to shew that the evils arising from the principle of population were exactly of the same nature as the evils arising from the excessive or irregular gratification of the human passions in general; and that from the existence of these evils we had no more reason to conclude that the principle of increase was too strong for the purpose intended by the Creator, than to infer, from the existence of the vices arising from the human passions, that these passions required diminution or extinction, instead of regulation and direction.

• If this view of the subject be allowed to be correct, it will naturally follow that, notwithstanding the acknowledged evils occasioned by the principle of population, the advantages derived from it under the present constitution of things may very greatly overbalance them.

• A slight sketch of the nature of these advantages, as far as the main object of the Essay would allow, was given in the two chapters to which I have alluded; but the subject has lately been pursued with considerable ability in the Work of Mr. Sumner on the Records of the Creation; and I am happy to refer to it as containing a masterly developement and completion of views, of which only an intimation could be given in the Essay.

"I fully agree with Mr. Sumner as'to the beneficial effects which result from the principle of population, and feel entirely convinced that the natural tendency of the human race to increase faster than the possible increase of the means of subsistence could not be either destroyed or essentially diminished without diminishing that hope of rising and fear of falling in society, so necessary to the improvement of the human faculties and the advancement of human happiness. But with this conviction on my mind, I feel no wish to alter the view which I have given of the evils arising from the principle of population. These evils do not lose their name or nature because they are overbalanced by good: and to consider them in a different light on this account, and cease to call them evils, would be as irrational as the objecting to call the irregular indulgences of passion vicious, and to affirm that they lead to misery, because our passions are the main sources of human virtue and happiness.

. I have always considered the principle of population as a law peculiarly suited to a state of discipline and trial. Tudeed I believe that, in the whole range of the laws of nature with which we are acquainted, not one can be pointed out, which in so remarkable a manner tends to strengthen and confirm this scriptural view of the state of man on earth. And as each individual has the power of avoiding the evil consequence to himself and society resulting from the principle of population by the practice of a virtue clearly dictated to him by the light of nature, and sanctioned by revealed religion, it must be allowed that the ways of God to man with regard to this great law of nature are completely vindicated.

'I have, therefore, certainly felt surprise as well as regret that no inconsiderable part of the objections which have been made to the principles and conclusions of the Essay on Population has come from persons for whose moral and religious character I have so high a respect, that it would have been particularly gratifying to me to obtain their approbation and sanction. This effect has been attributed to some expressions used in the course of the work which have beer thought too harsh, and not sufficiently indulgent to the weakness of human nature, and the feelings of Christian charity.

• It is probable, that having found the bow bent too much one way, I was induced to bend it too much the other, in order to make it straight. But I shall always be quite ready to blot out any part of the work which is considered by a competent tribunal as having a tendency to prevent the bow from becoming finally straight, and to impede the progress of truth. In deference to this tribunal I have already expunged the passages which have been most objected to, and I have made some few further corrections of the same kind in the present edition. By these alterations I hope and believe that the work has been improved without impairing its principles. But I still trust that whether it is read with or without these alterations, every reader of candour must acknowledge that the practical design uppermost in the mind of the writer, with whatever want of judgment it may have been executed, is to improve the condition and increase the happiness of the lower classes of society.’-vol. iii. pp. 424-428.

We introduce this passage, partly as furnishing the best reply to the objection under consideration, and partly to account for the different impression which the Essay itself formerly conveyed; but chiefly as an instructive example of that candour which always attends true philosophy. While the ignorant or bigoted writer is only rendered pertinacious by confutation, the philosophic reasoner gives its due weight to his adversary's argument, and is either more firmly settled in his own opinion by impotent attempts to subvert it, or ready to modify his staternents where he sees occa

Truth being his object, he would consent to gain his object even if he were obliged to forego the honours of victory; and, therefore, if the victory finally rest with him, he enjoys the splendour of conquest, and not the mere credit of obstinate resistance. V. The last objection we shall notice relates to the value of the whole subject, and of the conclusion to which it brings us. What after all is gained towards that important end, the regulation of private conduct, by these general views? How would it suit the gallantry of one sex, or the delicacy of the other, that public expediency should take place of individual attachment, or the ardour of love be graduated according to the current rate of population ?

With respect to this, we know very well that men will marry, as they ought to marry, and as they always have married, on other considerations than those of philosophy or the general good. The high encomium passed upon Cato, Urbi pater est, urbique maritus, is not likely to be often claimed in our times, nor are we anxious that it should. Such qualities may be very grand, but they are very unamiable. There is little fear, however, lest men should begin to consult in these private matters any other rule than that which they have hitherto consulted, their own private interest. Can they support the probable expenses of the married state, in that sphere of life in which they were born and educated; or into which they may be contented to descend, in order to gratify one passion at the expense of another? This is the only question they have to ask, and the auswer to it will indicate their duty, and ought to direct their conduct. The wages of labour in every profession and vocation not only afford the only practicable rule of individual interest, but in fact, a general index of the proportion which the means of subsistence bear to the existing population.

But laying aside individual cases, we entirely concur with the author in the importance of general rules, and therefore in the practical value of that fact which he has added to our stock of universal truths, viz. the tendency of mankind to pass the limit of their subsistence. In all advanced societies mankind exist in a very artificial state, and laws, as we know, are enacted with the intent of directing the habits of the community into those channels which appear most beneficial in the view of the legislator. The question, then, is, what sort of laws are we to promulgate? are we to discourage celibacy? to accelerate the increase of population, and give a bounty on large families? Nor is this only an abstract question, such as Harrington or Sir Thomas More, or any other framer of an ideal commonwealth might have asked; but one that comes particularly home to our English interests. Our poor laws, as now administered, are neither more nor less than a standing bounty on increase, on redundant increase, by supporting at the public expense those fathers of families, who could not support themselves, even whilst single, by labour: and though formerly Mr. Malthus expressed a doubt whether they had really enlarged population so much as they had extended misery, while the redundant (i. e. the



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