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And God blessed thein, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.' Such persons might be inclined to believe, that till the earth shall have been, in obedience to this command, replenished and subdued, if in any part of it production is not made to keep pace with population, the cause is to be ascribed to the errors or defects of human policy, and not to any inherent evil in the laws of nature. But the Malthusians observe, in reply to such objectious, that the new discovery is matter of science, and that the Mosaic account cannot be permitted to stand in the way of a demonstration. We ourselves re member to have heard one of these reasoners affirm, in answer to an assertion that this theory was inconsistent with the wisdom and goodness of Divine Providence, that if the two things were incompatible the consequence could not be avoided; the argument of the geometrical and arithmetical series was a demonstration, and Divine Providence must go to the wall. But there is a moral reductio ad absurdum which the man of enlightened piety feels to be demonstrative wherever it applies: he knows in his heart that whatever opinion is wholly and flagrantly inconsi:tent with the goodness of creatiug and preserving wisdom, must necessarily be false; and in this knowledge he cannot be deceived, for it is the voice of God which tells hiin so.

In reality, what is true in Mr. Malthus's book is not applicable, and what is applicable is not true. It is true that the whole earth may be fully peopled to its utmost power of production, so as to adnit of no farther increase; but this truth is as worthless as a jus merum in law, and admits of no possible application. The argument that if the world were thus peopled, it could not continue so, because mankind, though in the highest conceivable state of perfection, would be incapable of restraining the sexual passion, an appetite of irresistible physical necessity, might be applicable a few millenniums hence, if it were true; but the position upon which it rests is false.

So much for the great discovery in political science! But these absurdities are far exceeded by the application which Mr. Malthus makes of moral restraint, after he has luckily recollected that such a virtue is in existence. He proposes, by means of this virtue, to put a salutary stop to the increase of the poor, and abolish the poor rates. The plan, to which he says he can see no material objection, is thus stated in his own words.

* I should propose a regulation to be made, declaring that no child born from any marriage, taking place after the expiration of a year from the date of the law, and no illegitimate child horn two years from the same date, should ever be entitled to parish assistance. And to give a more general knowledge of the law, and to enforce it more


strongly on the minds of the lower classes of people, the clergyman of each parisb should, previously to the solemnization of a marriage, read a short address to the parties, stating the strong obligation on every man to support his own children; the impropriety and even immor:.lity of marrying svithout a fair prospect of being able to do this; the evils which had resulted to the poor themselves from the attempt which had been made to assist, by public institutions, in a duty which ought to be exclusively appropriated to parents; and the absolute necessity which had at length appeared of abandoning all such institutions on account of their producing effects opposite to those which were intended. After the public notice which I have proposed had been given, and the system of poor laws had ceased with regard to the rising generation, if any man chose to marry without a prospect of being able to support a family, he should have the most perfect liberty so to do. Though to marry in this case is, in my opinion, clearly an immoral act, yet it is not one which society can justly take upon itself to prevent or punish; because the punishment provided for it by the laws of nature falls directly and most severely upon the individual who commits the act, and, through him, only more remotely and feebly on the society. When nature will govern and punish for us, it is a very miserable ambition to wish to snatch the rod from her hands, and draw upon ourselves the odium of executioners. To the punishment of nature, therefore, be should be left—the punishment of severe want. He has erred in the face of a most clear and precise warning, and can bave no just reason to complain of any person but himself, when he feels the consequence of his error. All parish assistance should be most rigidly denied him; and if the hand of private charity be stretched forth in his relief, the interests of humanity imperiously require that it should be administered very sparingly. He should be taught to know that the laws of nature, which are the laws of God, had doomed him and his family to starve for disobeying their repeated admonitions; that he had no claim of right on society for the sinallest portion of food beyond that which his labour would fairly purchase. With regard to illegitimate children, after the proper notice had been given, they should on no account whatever be allowed to have any claim to parish assistance. If the parents desert their child they ought to be inade answerable for the crime. The infant is, comparatively speaking, of no value to the society, as others will immediately supply its place. Its principal value is on account of its being the object of one of the most delightful passions in human nature-parental affection. But if this value be disregarded by those who are alone in a capacity to feel it, the society cannot be called upon to put itself in their place, and has no farther business in its protection, than in the case of its murder, or intentional illtreatment, to follow the general rules in punishing such crimes ; which rules, for the interests of morality, it is bound to pursue, whether the object, in this particular instance, be of value to the state or not.'

Thus, then, this eminent philosopher, who, at the beginning of his book, argues that it is in vain to hope for an improved state of society, because men, in the highest imaginable state of wisdom X 4


and virtue, would continue to breed, regardless of all consequences, tells us, at the end of this very book, that the way to reduce our poor rates is to persuade the lower orders to continence while they are in their present state of deplorable ignorance; to discourage them, as much as possible, from marrying; to preach wedding sermons to them, if they will marry, upon the immorality of breeding, that being a luxury reserved only for those who can afford it; and if hey will persist in so improper and immoral a practice, after 'so solenin and well-timed a warning, to leave them to the punishment of severe want, and rigidly deny all parish assistance. No public relief is to be given to the starving infant; it is worth nothing to society, for its place will be presently supplied, and society, therefore, has no farther business than to hang the mother if she should shorten the sufferings of her babe rather than see it die of want. A plan for the abolition of the poor-rates as practicable as it is humane! The rich are to be called upou for no sacrifices; nothing more is required of them than that they should harden their hearts. They have found a place at the table of nature, and why should they be disturbed at their least? It is Mr. Malthus's own metaphor; and that we may not be suspected of exaggerating the detestable hard-heartedness with which his system is recommended, the illustration shall be presented in his own language.

A man,' he says, ' who is born into a world alre::dy possessed, if he cannot get subsistence from his parents, on whom he has a just demand, and if the society does not want his labour. has no claim of right to the smallest portion of food, and, in fact, has no business to be where he is. At nature's mighly feast there is no cover for him. She tells him to be gone, and will quickly execute her own orders, if he do not work upon the compassion of some of her guests. If these guests get up and make room for him, other intruders immediately appear demanding the same favour. The report of a provision for all that come fills the hall with numerous claimants. The order and harmony of the feast is disturbed; the plenty that before reigned is changed into scarcity; and the happiness of the guests is destroyed by the spectacle of misery and dependence in every part of the hall

, and by the clamourous importunity of those who are justly enraged at not finding the provision which they had been taught to expect. The guests learn too late their error, in counteracting those strict orders to all intruders issued by the great mistress of the feast, who, wishing that all her guests should have plenty, and knowing that she could not provide for unlimited numbers, humanely refused to adinit fresh comers when her table was already full.'

A writer ought to possess a more logical mind than Mr. Malthus has been gifted with, before he ventures to reason in metaphors and similitudes. But it were idle to dwell upon flaws of reasoning

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in a passage where, at the first perusal, every reader, whose heart and understanding are in their natural state, will see nothing but naked deformity. There is, however, no accounting for tastes physical or metaphysical, and there are certain intellects which seem to have an appetite, like the Hottentots, for garbage. The late Sir William Pulteney is said to bave been so smitten with Mr. Malthus's theory, that he intended to bring a bill into parliament for abolishing the poor-rates upon the plan thus recommended and thus illustrated. While such a plan remains upon paper it is as harmless in the written letter as the receipt for Sir Humphry Davy's new fulminating powder; but if either the one or the other be made the subject of experiment, woe - be to all within reach of the explosion! The numerous claimants at Mr. Malthus's feast of nature, who, as he tells us, have no right to the smallest portion of food, and, in fact, no business to be there,' would very soon begin to ask the luckier guests what better title they themselves could produce, and resort to the right of the strongest. • You have had your turn at the table long enough, gentlemen,' they would say, and if those who have no places are to starve, we will have a scramble for it at least. Let any man, in his senses, ask himself whether this would not be the natural and inevitable consequence; whether, in the present state of society in this country, such a plan as that of Mr. Malthus could, by any possibility, be carried into effect without producing all the horrors of a bellum serrile; whether the legislators who should pass such an act would not be pulled in pieces by an infuriated and desperate populace, and whether such legislators would not deserve their fate! Here then we dismiss Mr. Malthus—to enjoy the applause of those (if such there be) who feel no contempt for his theory, and no abtorrence of its proposed practical application.

When Berkeley, in the Querist, asked · Whether the number and welfare of the subjects be not the true strength of the crown? Whether a country inhabited by people well fed, clothed, and lodged, would not become every day more populous; and whether a numerous stock of people, in such circumstances, would not constitute a flourishing nation?'---And whether to provide plentifully for the poor be not feeding the root, the substance whereof will shoot upwards into the branches, and canse the top to flourish?" he did not propose these questions as points which he conceived would ever be disputed. That wise and excellent man believed, as all wise men had done before him, that the strength of kingdoms consisted mainly in the number of their inhabitants, and that the true policy of governments is not to prevent their subjects from multiplying, but to provide uses and employment for them as fast as they multiply. If in any country they increase faster than means,


not merely for their existence but for their well-being, are provided, it is rational to infer that in that country there is a defect of policy; it is pious to infer that the error is in human institutions, not in the unerring laws of nature ;-in man, not in his Maker.

That this is the case in England is manifest in the number of the poor and the amount of the poor-rates.* Certain it is that the poor have rapidly increased, and are increasing; and the chief causes of this increase render their physical and moral condition worse at present than it has been at any former time since the shock of the Reformation subsided.

In the political, as in the natural body, it seems as if those important transitions in the system, which are necessary to its developement, could not be performed without some degree of suffering or of danger. Mendicity followed the abolition of vassalage in Europe. Feudal times afford tempting themes for the romancer and the poet. The high-minded and generous lord; the highborn and gentle lady; the servants who were, as in some countries is still expressed in their name long after the reality has ceased, children of the house; the vassals seeming to be humble members of the same family rather than dependents; the baronial hall; the seasons of festival, and the every-day hospitality; these are materials from which imagination may build up an ideal state of happiness not less delightful than fabled Arcadia, and of a loftier character. From a state of perfect vassalage, whether feudal or commercial, mendicity and want are of course excluded; hence the advocates of the slave trade drew one of their favourite arguments; and thus it is to be explained how good men, like Mr. Tobin and Bryan Edwards, should have written in defence of that abominable traffic, feeling as inuch indignation against the abolitionists as the abolitionists against all who protracted the consummation so de. voutly to be wished for, to which they were pressing on. These writers knew that, in their hands, power over their slaves was but the means of beneficence. But Hodge and Huggins, and the black code of our own, as well as of the French islands, furnish the same proof against their opinions as the feudal laws of every country afford of the cruelty and oppression of the feudal system.

By abolishing that system in the countries which he has suba jected, and by necessitating its abolishment in others, Buonaparte, incarnate fiend as he is, insatiable of blood, and delighting in the infliction of misery, is made to produce good amid the evil which

The parish rates of 1803 were 5,518,0001. of which 4,267,0001. were expended on the poor. The ruck-rental of England in that year was about forty millions; it is now nearly fifty-five, and the poor-rates will probably be found to have at least kept pace with this increase when the returns shall be made next year pursuant to an act passed in the last session.

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