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Art. II.-An Essay on the Principle of Population; or, a
l'iew of its past and present Effects on Human Happiness; with an Inquiry into our Prospects respecting the future Removal or Mitigation of the Evils which it occasions. A new Edition, very much enlarged. By T. R. Malthus, A. M. &c.' 4to. Il. 11s. 6d. Boards. Johnson, 1803.
THE first edition, or germinal pamphlet, which has expanded its leaves into this spreading quarto, was reviewed in our number for January 1799. It was then an anonymous work; it is now avowed by Mr. T. R. Malthus, A. M. a fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. It will secure to him a lasting distinction for the lucid and acute reasoning, the deep and comprehensive research, and the important practical counsel, which it involves.
It respects the doctrine of population in all the points of view in which it concerns the statesinan. The first object of the author is to ascertain its natural rate of increase. This he pronounces to be progressive in a geomnetrical ratio. He extracts froin Price's Observations on Reversionary Payments’ some American lists, which show that, in certain circumstances, it has doubled in twenty-five years. He produces the corroborating census of the republic: he quotes the opinions of some writers who suppose a more rapid increase to be possible. He infers that population, if left to itself, and unchecked, would every where double in twenty-five years.
This inference is surely rash. It is a known law of nature, that the certainty of reproduction is proportioned to the rarity of sexual intercourse. In villages the loose women have bastards; in cities hardly ever. In opulent families, where the means of maintenance and the incitements to gratification are profusely supplied, orbity is common. In necdy fami. lies, in chilly climates, in seasons of adversity, births never fail. Our breeding counties are the highlands of Scotland, and the wolds of Yorkshire. In London few are born, although the attraction thither of the vigorous, the robust, and the beautiful of both sexes is perpetual. Take the most unproductive individuals in London, the thieves and their bedmates, and transplant then to Botany-Bay; and the tendency to increase and multiply astonishes the most experienced among them: they are there scattered in different plantations, and disposed by fatigue to temperance. Wherever population condenses, sexual intercourse is more and more promiscuous and frequent. The tendency to reproduction therefore diminishes with the density of populousness; and this wise law is enforced with the most exquisite benevolence by nature.
There is no instance on record of two successive generations multiplying with equal rapidity. The natural rate of increase is in a decreasing ratio. It is quite the reverse of a geometrical progression. It diminishes regularly in a confined country, where the condensation is regular: it diminishes irregularly in a settlement at large, where the opportunities of dispersion and segregation operate unevenly. The first and most essential position of our author requires considerable qualification,
The lives of nations resemble those of individuals. The growth at first is in both probably rapid; but respecting nations in a state of infancy our information is deficient. At length arrives a period in which agriculture and the arts of life are first generally diffused and known; this period of national growth answers to adolescence, and is accompanied with a rapid start in the growth of the body politic, and a palpable increase of its members. Next comes the adult period, during which nations are usually stationary for a long time. At last arrive the senility and decrepitude, which are marked indeed by the profuse indulgence of sensual gratifications, but a declension of the productive powers. Our mechanics have invented what they call heart-wheels, to lift and drop the bobbins of a spinningengine. The form of these wheels much resembles the section of a pear. Cut one of them in halves through the apex, and the curvilinear side will represent the habitual progress of populousness. It begins with a rapid start from the eye, and decreases in gradual acumination to the stein.
Man willingly divides his time between toil, pleasure, and repose. Pleasure palls; and repose is unattainable without interventions of exertion and fatigue. If, therefore, by eight hours of daily toil, a family be easily reared and comfortably maintained, population is really left to itself. This has been the case for a century past at Naples. The means of subsistence there have been remarkably cheap, and the wages of labour sufficiently ample; yet the increase of inhabitants has been scarcely perceivable. Why? Moral restraint was in a manner unknown there. Idleness and fruition basked in the day-light, and abortive pleasure had replaced creative abstemiousness. But our author unaccountably enumerates moral restraint among the preventive checks of populousness. To what do we owe the fecundity of private women, and the sterility of public women, but to moral restraint? How fast the puritanic sects multiply! They have, therefore, been patronised and encouraged by wise statesmen in countries deficient in people. How free from progeny is the libertine neighbourhood of the barracks and the inns of court! The opinions and habits, which best accord with promiscuous intercourse, always take root instinctively in an overpeopled district. Moral restraint, therefore, is not a preventive check, but a prospective stimulus to population. It is an engendering, not an infanticidal, principle;. a Lucina, not a Cotytto.
Another fundamental maxim of our author is, that subsistence can only be increased in an arithmetical progress. Some subsistence is given by nature, as fishes and game: its reproduction in the main corresponds with the waste; it neither increases nor diminishes. Some subsistence is reared by man, as cattle: its reproduction (if there be land to stroll over) corresponds with the fertility of the animals protected : in the case of sheep and oxen, it is more rapidly progressive than human population. In the pastoral state, the growth of subsistence notoriously outstrips that of consumption; so that, as at Goree and Buenos-ayres, cattle are killed for their hides and tallow, and the carcases abandoned to the vultures. In the agricultural state of human society, it is not easy to come at the possible rate of increase in the means of subsistence. Yet surely there are few farmers who would find it difficult, in any given year, to bring an additional tenth of land into cultivation. There are few who would find it difficult, in the course of ten years, to double their occupations, and to provide the requisite labour, stock, and capital. In ten years, then, the quantity of arable land could be doubled: so that, if human population doubled in ten years, which it has no-where done, the means of subsistence could keep pace with it; for subsistence is the result of labour applied to land.
So long then as there is waste land on the surface of the earth, it is plain that the means of subsistence can outstrip the utmost efforts of population ; it can increase in a ratio still more rapid. Now the quantity of waste land on the surface of the earth is immense. The western end of Europe, and the eastern end of Asia, are the only peopled countries. All the rest of the earth, that is, about nine-tenths of the whole, is still unfurrowed by the plough. If, therefore, the surface of the globe exceed nine millions of square miles, and that of land approaches four millions of square miles--if, of this, little more than a tenth be under the plough-there remain full three millions and a half of square iniles still capable of being applied to the production of subsistence. This, at forty acres to a family of five persons, would provide for two hun. dred and eighty or three hundred millions more of men than are vet in being. Thus the danger of wanting subsistence is surely not very imminent; not sufficiently so to become in our times a motive of legislative provision or political con. duct, much less of private personal morality.
But this is not all. In the year 1743, the celebrated Celsius inserted in the 'Memoirs of the Academy of Stockholm'a series of observations and experiments, made by him and his friends, on the continual decrement of the sea. He has endeavoured to prove that it sinks at the rate of four inches and a half in eighteen years. It is evident, therefore, that a fresta belt of coast must be continually annexing itself to every island in the occan ; that every continent is widening, and every shoal tending to become habitable land. Pallas has proved that seas, more extensive than the Caspian, separated, not long ago, Persia and Hindustan from Siberia and Tartary. Isles are continually emerging in the whole Pacific Ocean, as we have often pointed out. How rapid is the accession of habitable surface, cannot easily be known, especially as the decrement of the sea may itself be a variable quantity. Evaporation seems to be the medium through which water is taken from the sea, scattered on the land, and fixed there in the form of vegetable fibres or crystalline wedges. In this case, the smaller the surface, the slower the decrease of the sea : and all geographical observation evinces, that, in the early ages, the desiccation really advanced faster than at present. Still the quantity of territorial surface, laid bare every century, may be invariably the same; because, while the shores were steep, a great decrement laid dry but little surface; now that shores have less inclination, a small decrement may dry an extensive surface. The silhouette of a mountain approaches a cycloidal curve.
Assuming that in Noah's time the mountains of Ararat were mere islands in the universal ocean, across which he drifted, it has required about four thousand years to metamorphose such clusters of mountain-tops into such continents as Asia and Africa. In four thousand years more, then, the surface of land may exceed that of sea, and have increased onehalf. Busching estimates the actual population of the earth at one thousand millions. Half as much land more will admit an addition of five hundred millions, supposing only the present degree of compression to exist : but this compression in the civilised countries is more than triple the average compression: it follows that fifteen hundred millions of men more can, with an additional half of dry land, be provided for without any improvement in the arts of agriculture or government. An iminediate addition of three hundred millions to the contemporary population of the earth---an eventual addition of fifteen hundred millions to the contemporary population of the earth---can, to reason from analogy, find subsistence as easily as hitherto, if the natural processes advance for the next four thousand years, as they appear to have done during the last four thousand. But if procreation, which in four thousand years has produced one thousand millions, should acquire an accelerated velocity, and produce in the next four thousand years two thousand inillions, which seems to be the law of increase contended for by Mr. Malthus, even then only one-ninth of the whole would be superfiuous, supposing the arts of supply unimproved. Surely,
their the premis soura
therefore, admitting for a moment the rate of population to be really such as Mr. Malthus imagines, subsistence would still be commensurate with its demand.
In discussing the checks to population among the American Indians, Mr. Malthus constantly notices the difficulty of subsistence, and the various sources of misery. He dweHis little on the early, the premature, concubinage so profusely practised by their women; unwilling to class moral restraint among the corroborating causes of health and production. It is a great merit of religion to have introduced this restraint, and thus to have favoured an ampler, more orderly, and more educated, multiplication. Medicine has reluctantly and indecisively acquiesced in the continence of adolescents, and the monopoly of matrimony. Yet in all under-peopled di. stricts, and during war, puritanic opinions are usually progressive : but in all over-peopled districts, and during peace, libertine opinions are usually progressive; so that there seems to be a secret feeling of general interest at the bottom of the preference; a conviction that the one set of doctrines conduce to accelerate, and the other set to retard the multiplication of the species. The puritanism taught in under-peopled districts includes both sexes; the object being to compel the males to marry early. The puritanism taught in time of war respects females only: the competition of males being then diminished, higher exactions of character, accomplishment and fortune can-efficaciously be claimed of the marriageable women. Nor is this very inequitable. Of all the forms of moral restraint, abstinence from adultery in the female is the most important to society. Frugality, enterprise, all the esertions of a father to provide for his children (and these are the virtues that enrich a state), relax when a doubt intervenes of the offspring being his own; the laws concerning the descent of inheritances also cease to appear valuable; and thus the whole system of property, as well as of domestic happi. ness, is wounded in its vitals. Great Britain is not only domestically the happiest, but collectively the richest of countries, because its marriages are so spotless. · We agree, however, entirely with Mr. Malthus, in his principal inference, that the resident population of a country, once fully settled, is always proportioned to the means of maintenance; that the waste of war and pestilence is speedily replaced; and that the superfetation of improvident matrimony, by inflicting the inconvenience of lower wages and severer privation, soon roots itself out, or prevents further augmentation. For the excess of people, which in given societies is very real, the statesman is to seek situations. It is his inost important duty. Transplantation to the unsettled districts of