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Having, in a preceding publication, stated the reasons which induced me to undertake the present work, it is unnecessary for me to advert to them on this occasion ; still more superfluous would it be to repeat what was then said on the great importance of the subject discussed in these volumes.
The Principle of Population, highly interesting in itself, is, when considered as a practical question, manifestly one of the most important subjects which can engage human attention, as fallacious views concerning it necessarily lead to the most pernicious consequences. Two opinions are held, as to its nature and tendency. The one, that human prolificness is so regulated, as naturally to produce happiness; the other, that it exists in an excess, which has as constant a tendency to occasion misery. It is needless to add, that these different views, whether individually or nationally entertained, lead to principles and conduct diametrically opposite. Already, I think, the darker theory has, wherever it has prevailed, perpetrated more injury, particularly on the poorer part of mankind, than any system ever previously embraced. Still, were it true, it would be the duty of mankind to receive it, and to bow to their unhappy destiny : but if otherwise, it is yet more imperative upon us to resist an error, which has been already widely injurious, and which is still rapidly spreading its baleful influence.
To prove, then, the utter fallacy of that theory has been one great object of the present treatise ; but not the only one. It did not appear sufficient to disabuse the public mind regarding its pernicious dogmas, but, in order to prevent the possibility of its re-establishment, it seemed necessary to occupy its place by a contrary system, erected on the solid foundations of truth. It is hoped, that both have been accomplished; and that, in the Law of Population, unfolded in this work, as in all other principles of genuine philosophy, the light of truth is still accompanied by the warmth of benevolence.
This attempt, the latter part of it especially, involved much consideration, as well as long and laborious calculations, many of which are now omitted, on account of the space they would have occupied. These, at length, conducted me to a "result which I now present to the public, with some confidence, as the true theory of human increase. Most of the time, which I could devote to this work, was thus occupied ; little attention, therefore, could be paid to the merely literary part of the undertaking ; indeed, more than two
thirds of it were written in a few of the concluding months of last year, and consequently in much haste. This is only mentioned for the purpose of withdrawing the attention of the reader from the manner in which the argument may be presented to his mind, in order to fix it more exclusively on the proofs by which it is established, and in behalf of which no such indulgence is solicited. But, with respect even to the latter, nothing can be more probable than that discrepancies and errors may be occasionally found, though it is hoped none of them will be of such a nature as to affect, in the least degree, the main argument. On other points I shall feel little solicitous, not at all so as to the attacks which may be made, not on the Principle enunciated, but personally on myself. Such attacks have been as vehement before the nature of my argument was known, as they can be after it shall have appeared, and as virulent as though, instead of vindicating, I had been engaged in some attempt to outrage the rights of humanity.
A feeling of deference to the public strongly prompts me to present some further apologies for the manner in which I have been obliged to submit these volumes to their consideration ; such, for instance, as those which Sir Matthew Hale thought proper to make in his great work on a somewhat similar subject-apologies which are so much more applicable, as well as necessary, in my case, that it is with difficulty I suppress them. . The present taste, however, so decidedly forbids
this course, that I forbear, and should not even have ventured to advert to the only one I have offered, had it not been for the purpose of explaining, that if, in the hurry in which these pages were written, (often, therefore, expressing the feelings of the moment,) any terms have escaped me regarding those whose theories I oppose, which can be construed into personal disrespect, I shall still more deeply regret the want of time and opportunity to reperuse and revise them. Not so, however, as respects the system they have, doubtless, thought it their duty to advocate; any terms, however strong, any language however severe, which may have been applied to that, I shall never soften or retract, believing as I do, that could we trace its effects, it would be found that it has already been the means of inflicting greater mischiefs than any error ever received, and that it threatens still deeper evils; in a word, that it is equally injurious to man and derogatory to his Maker.
It only remains that the circumstance of deferring the publication of a part of this work should be explained. I conceive that which is now presented fully proves the principle in question, and is so far complete in itself, independently of the two remaining Books, which, however, I hope will not be deemed unimportant. And if it be admitted that the Law of Population is demonstrated in the volumes now produced, the duty of publishing them at a period when the contrary and, therefore, false theory is in constant and increasing operation, is abundantly clear, as