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“ 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 further business in its protection," than just to see that its parents do not ill-use, or kill or eat it. Nothing can be plainer than the inference from these premises. The society, which is bound to prevent or punish the least barbarity in parents towards their children, because they are to them an object of a very delightful passion, may exercise any barba. rity it pleases on them itself, because it is not in a capacity to feel this affection towards them. It is not only not called upon to put itself in their place, but is bound to prevent others from doing so, and thus Teversing the laws of nature, by which “ the child is is confided exclusively to its parents." It is only, says our author, by extinguishing every spark of hu. manity in the breasts of the community towards the children of others, that the ties of parental affection can ever exist in their full force, or be expected “ main in the state in which nature has left them.” Mr, Malthus may therefore in his zeal for the growth of parental affection, and the entire suppression of com
" to se:
• This is something like Mr. Godwin's saying, he does not tegard a new-born infant with any peculiar complacency. They both differ from the founder of the Christian religion, who has said, Bring unto me little children. But modern philosophers scorn to pin their faith on musty sayings.
mon humanity as subversive of it, very consistently brand every attempt of the society to make the parents accomplices in starving their children, as the greatest injustice, though we may very heroically proceed to starve them ourselves, repeating after this high-priest of nature, Their blood be upon us and upon our children! This is the best account I can give of the fundamental distinction which Mr. Malthus makes between the impropriety and inhumanity of destroying children by law, and the propriety and humanity of starving a family by law. But I shall recur to the same subject presently, when I come to the detail of his plan.
Mr. Malthus devotes the first and second chapters of his fourth book to an inquiry into our obligations to regulate the sexual passion by considerations of prudence, &c. into the general capacity of human nature to act from rational motives, and the good effects which would result from such a conduct. He begins his third chapter in the following manner.
“ He who publishes a moral code, or system of “ duties, however firmly he may be convinced of the “ strong obligation on each individual strictly to con“ form to it, has never the folly to imagine that it “ will be universally or even generally practised. “ But this is no yalid objection against the publication " of the code. If it were, the same objection would
always have applied; we should be totally without “ general rules; and to the vices of mankind arising " from temptation, would be added a much longer
“ list, than we have at present, of vices from igno “ rance.” [This is well said, and 'tis a kind of good deed to say well.] “ Judging merely from the light “ of nature, if we feel convinced of the misery
arising from a redundant population, on the one “ hand, and of the evils and unhappiness, particularly " to the female sex, arising from promiscuous interf course, on the other, I do not see how it is possi“ ble for any person, who acknowledges the principle ^ of utility as the great foundation of morals, to es. “ cape the conclusion that moral restraint, till we are " in a condition to support a family, is the strict line “ of duty; and when revelation is taken into the “ question, this duty undoubtedly receives very pow“ erful confirmation. At the same time, I believe “ that few of my readers can be less sanguine in their " expectations of any great change in the general “ conduct of men on this subject than I am; and the “ chief reason, why, in the last chapter, I allowed " myself to suppose the universal prevalence of this “ virtue, was, that I might endeavour to remove any “ imputation on the goodness of the Deity, by shew
ing that the evils arising from the principle of po" pulation were exactly of the same nature as the
generality of other evils which excite fewer com“ plaints, that they were increased by human igno“ rance and indolence, and diminished by human " knowledge and virtue; and on the supposition, that for each individual strictly fulfilled his duty, would be * almost totally removed; and this, without any ge“ neral diminution of those sources of pleasure,
arising from the regulated indulgence of the pas
« sions, which have been justly considered as the
principal ingredients of human happiness."
Mr. Malthus here appears in the double character of a politician and divine. Sir Hugh Evans says, “I “ like not when a'omans has a great peard." I must say, I do not like to see a philosopher in a cassock. He has you at an unfair advantage, and it is a hundred to one but he will make use of it. When he is pressed hard, or sees his arguments in danger of being cut off, he puts them into the false belly of theology. It is like hunting an otter: you do not know where to have him.-What our author says of moral systems is certainly true: neither the preaching of St. Paul, nor probably his own has been able to put an end to that pious, courtly race of men, who strive equally to serve God and mammon. Mr. Malthus in the last chapter took an opportunity of paying his court to the former: the leaf is no sooner turned, than he begins to insinuate himself into the good graces of the latter, by disclaiming the sincerity of his late professions. In the passage just quoted, Mr. Malthus not only tells you that he had endeavoured to give a more favourable account of the expectations of mankind and their capacity for virtue and happiness than he - believes has any foundation in human nature; but he at the same time lets you into his motive for so doing, viz. his wish to remove any imputation on the divine goodness, which purpose, it seems, would not have been so well answered by the real statement of the fact. Having thus decently paid his compliments to his profession, and justified the goodness of God from
the ideal capacity of man for virtue he next proceeds to prove the wisdom of human institutions by his real incapacity for it. He was yesterday engaged to whitewash Providence: to day he is retained on the other side of the question, which he assures his clients shall not suffer through any anxiety of bis about consistency. This seems to be playing at fast and loose both with religion and morality. Mr. Malthus has indeed set apart the preceding chapter to shew that " the evils arising from the principle of population
are exactly of the same nature as the generality of other evils which excite fewer complaints, that they
were increased by human ignorance and indolence, " and diminished by human knowledge and virtue.” But I do not know what right he had to do this, see. ing that it is the express object of his work to shew tliat the evils of population are unlike all other evils, neither generated by human folly, nor to be removed or palliated by human wisdom, but by vice and misery alone : that they are sui generis, and not to be reasoned upon, like any thing else. Neither do I understand how the evils of population can be said to excite more complaints than other evils, when Mr. Malthus tells us that till his time nobody had thought of tracing them to their true source, but erroneously ascribed them to human institutions, vice, folly, &c. Mr. Mal. thus himself was the first who proved them to be irremediable and inherent in the constitution of nature, and thus brought an imputation upon Providence. To remove this imputation he supposes them to admit of a remedy: then again lest any one should take him at his word and be for applying this remedy, he saye