Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

« That we may be the better able to com“

pare the increase of population and food, let “ us make a supposition, which without pre“tending to accuracy, is clearly more favourable “ to the power of production in the earth, than

any experience that we have had of its qualities will warrant.

“ Let us suppose that the yearly additions * which might be made to the former average

producey instead of decreasing, which they

certainly would do, were to remain the same; " and that the produce of this island might be " increased every twenty-five years by a quan" tity equal to what it at present produces; the " most enthusiastic speculator cannot suppose a

greater increase than this. In a few centuries “ it would make every acre of land in the island " like a garden.

“ If this supposition be applied to the whole “ earth, and if it be allowed that the subsistence “ for man which the earth affords, might be in“creased every twenty-five years by a quantity

equal to what it at present produces; this will “ be supposing a rate of increase much greater " than we can imagine that any possible exer$ tions of mankind could make it.

It may be fairly pronounced therefore that “ considering the present average state of the $ earth, the means of subsistence, under cir

cumstances the most favourable to human in“dustry, could not possibly be made to increase “ faster than in an arithmetical ratio.

“ The necessiry effects of these two different “ rates of increase, when brought together, will “ be very striking. Let us call the population “ of this island eleven millions ; and suppose " the present produce equal to the easy sup

port of such a number. In the first twenty66

five years the population would be twenty“ two millions, and the food being also doubled, “ the means of subsistence would be equal to “ this increase. In the next twenty-five years, " the population would be forty-four millions, “ and the means of subsistence only equal to " the support of thirty-three millions. In the “next period, the population would be eighty

eight millions, and the means of subsistence “ just equal to the support of half that number. - And at the conclusion of the first century, “ the population would be a hundred and

seventy-six millions, and the means of sub“ sistence only equal to the support of fifty“ five millions ; leaving a population of a hun.

[ocr errors]

** dred and twenty-one millions totally unpro! vided for.

Taking the whole earth instead of this $ isla.id, emigration would of course be ex“ cluded : and supposing the present popula$6 tion equal to a thousand millions, the human “ species would increase as the numbers 1, 2, $ 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, and subsistence as " 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. In two centuries $ the population would be to the means of sub“sistence as 256 to 9; in three centuries as ¢ 4096 to 13, and in two thousand years, the $ difference would be almost incalculable."

" In this supposition no limits whatever are

placed to the produce of the earth. It may " increase for ever, and be greater than any " assignable quantity; yet still the power of population being in every period so much supe" rior, the increase of the human species can

only be kept down to the level of the means " of subsistence by the constant operation of the strong law of necessity acting as a check upon “the greater power;” or as he elsewhere expresses itby misery, or the fear of misery.

Oh ! my good Sir, spare your calculations. We do not wish to be informed what would be the exact proportion of the imaginary means of subsistence to the imaginary population at a period, and at a rate of increase, at which, if it had been possible for it to have gone on only half so long as you suppose, the whole race would have been long ago actually extinct. Mr. Malthus here treats us as the fantastical landlord treated Sancho Panza, by giving him a magnificent list of a great variety of delieacies, which it appeared on examination were not to be had, but made no mention of an excellent dish of cow-heel, which was the only thing he had in the house, and which exactly suited the stomach of the squire. I am, like Sancho, disposed to be satisfied with what I can get; and therefore I must fairly tell Mr. Malthus that if he will only spare me that first ratio of his, of a doubled popu. lation with respect to this island, or to the whole earth (though there, begging his pardon, it all other things went right, his arithmetical and geometrical distinction would not as I have shewn come into play for some time) I say if he will allow, as far as the principle of population is concerned, that it is possible to double the number of inhabitants of this country or of the world without any injury, I shall be perfectly content with this cession: this first ratio shall be to me the golden number of Pythagoras, and he may

con

do as he pleases with all the remaining links of an impossible series, which he has started only, I imagine, as we throw out a tub to a whale by way of diversion. As to any serious argument, it is perfectly immaterial, perfectly irrelevant to the question, whether we should double our population, that we cannot forsooth go on doubling it for ever ; unless indeed it could be shewn that by thus doubling it once, when we can do it without any inconve. nience, we should be irresistibly impelled to go on doubling it afterwards when it would have become exceedingly inconvenient, and in fact till the consequence would be general famine and the most extensive misery. Without this addition to his argument, either expressed or implied, Mr. Malthus's double series is of no use or avail whatever: it looks very pretty upon paper, and reads very neat, but is of no practical importance. The evils which it describes so accurately as arising from the increased disproportion between the ratios at every step are mere imaginary things, existing no where but in the morbid enthu, siasın of Mr, Malthus's mind, unless we suppose that every increase of the existing population, either with or without a proportionable increase in the means of subsistence, is a viçious habit, a species of phrensy, where

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »