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“Good heaven! what sorrows gloom that parting day
Return and weep, and still return to weep.” As mere theoretical reasonings, however, on the complicated questions of political economy, ever will, and indeed ever ought to be received with suspicion, when unsupported by at least some known facts, Mr. Malthus présented the world with a most interesting, but certainly a melancholy detail, of the process by which the increase of the population actually is kept down to so low a rate in most of the old established nations. And here, as it was bis object to show, that the checks already described must unavoidably be efficient to a certain amount, (which amount, however, will vary in different countries,) he naturally laid his principal stress upon the effects of vice and misery; whether appearing in the form of debauchery and diseasc, of infanticide, unu bolesome food, or absolute famine. It was necessary to dwell upon these, rather than upon the consequences of moral restraint, because it might otherwise have been objected to him, that the check which proceeded from prudential motives, was voluntary, and therefore could not prove that necessity which he wished to establish.
If the progress of population must be thus impeded, it is surely betier that the check should arise from a foresight of the difficulties attending a family, and the fear of dependent poverty, than from the actual presence of want and sickness. Under certain circumstances restraint becomes, evidently, a positive duty. We are not to give way to the desire of immediate gratification, when it is probable, that the consequence will be an overbalance of pain and wretchedness both to ourselves and others. He whose earnings cannot be made mure than sufficient to maintain lwo children, ought not to put himself into a situation in which he may have to maintain four or tive, however he may be prompted to it by the passion of love. Let him pass the period of delayed gratification in saving that portion of his earnings, which exceeds the wants of a single man, and in acquiring that skill, and those habits of sobriety and economy, which may, in a few years, enable him to enter into the matrimonial contract, without any reason for dreading its ordinary consequences.
There are other evils, short of squalid poverty and absolute want, which a prudent man will
duly appreciate, and which a good man ought not knowingly to entail upon others for the sake of indulging his own desires.
“ A man of liberal education, with an income only just sufficient to enable him to associate in the rank of gentlemen, must feel alsolutely certain, that if he marry and have a family, he shall be obliged, if he mix in society, to rank himself with farmers and tradesmen. The woman that a man of education would naturally make the object of his choice, is one brought up in the same habits and sentiments with himself, and used to the familiar intercourse of a society totally different from that to which she might be reduced by marriage. Can a man easily consent to place the object of his affection in a situation so discordant, probably to her habits and inclinations ? two or three steps of descent in society, particularly at this round of the ladder, where education ends and ignorance begins, will not be considered by the generality of people as a chimerical but a real evil. If society be desirable, it surely must be free, equal, and reciprocal society, where benefits are conferred as well as received, and not such as the dependent finds with his patron, or the poor with the rich.” Malthus on Pop. B. II. C. vir.
Such reflections certainly do prevent many, in each class, from following the bent of their inclinations in an early attachment. But, on the other hand, many " influenced either by a stronger passion, or a weaker judgment, disregard these considerations ;" and the consequence is unhappiness in a variety of forins and gradations, from regret and discontent to the inost wretched penury, disease, despair, and crimes of violence. Since then the strength and the universality of the passion between the sexes is such as not to allow us to expect, that every person will abstain from marriage till he has ascertained that he can earn such wages as, at the average price of food, will maintain the average number of living children to a marriage; neither can we expect to see an end to vice and wretchedness. But if these evils are thus confessed to be inevitable, it is still in the power of individuals to avoid becoming the cause of their prevalence. They are inevitable, because, out of numbers, some will be imprudent; but in each particular case, as far as vice and wretchedness proceed from the abuse of the principle of population, they have been brought on by voluntary misconduct. The declaration that these evils are, in this sense, the inevitable consequence of the tendency to a too rapid production of our species, becomes no more a charge against the goodness of the Deity, and is no more discouraging to our hopes of the improvement of society, than is the language of our Saviour, where
It is impossible but that offences will come." Neither does this declaration exonerate those who contribute to
the evil, as it is added, “ but woe unto him through whom they come.”
As for those who would argue, à priori, that evil can never proceed from compliance with what they chase to call “ the first commandment which man received from his Creator;" and who, upon this pious conviction, shut their eyes against every fact which would oppose this expectation; they bave been misled by attending to the grammatical construction, and neglectmg the context. Because the words “ be fruitful and multiply,” were delivered in what grammarians call the imperative mood, these persons have assumed, that they convey a command. But the language of concession from a superior, is usually expressed in the same form as his commands. What follows is likewise in the inperative mood, “ Have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over every hving thing;" yet no one, probably, ever thought of calling this a command. The whole is a gracionis blessing bestowed ou our first parents, and on their posterity through them. It is so called by the sacred historian, whose words are, “ And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea.” Like most other blessings it may be perverted; aud, coming in contact with our inperfect mature, it receives a tinge of our imperfection. That it still is a blessing, and a blessing worthy of intinite Wisdom is proved by Mr. Sumner, with considerable ingenuity. In order fully to appreciate the advantages produced in the condition of mankind by their natural tendency to increase, we must first be convinced of the good effects of its most immediate consequence, inequality of ranks. The current of declamation has generally set the other way; but our author is no common-place writer. He allows that nothing can be more promising, as an ideal picture, than a state in which tyranny and servility, want and superfuity, are alike unknown; where, all being equal, the gezieral harmony meets with no interruption, and the abundance of one ministers to the necessities of another. But all abstract reasoning upon the effect of peculiar situations on the intricate habits and passions of mankind, falls to the ground, when it stands contradicted by long experience and general observation. When we refer to these for the effect of equality upon the energies and happiness of mankind, we find it to be no less undesirable in theory, than it is unattainable in practice. Wherever the greatest approach to equality prevails, mankind are in the lowest and most savage state.
“ If experience assures us, that, wherever equality is estab. lished, savageness will continue, let us see to what state equality
would reduce the world. Observe the savage in his retirement;
his eyes bent on vacancy, his stagnant mind making no compensation for the inactivity of his body; or to follow him to his feast, which has no object but intemperate excess, and is sui ceeded by a deathlike torpor; or watch him when roused by hostility from his indolence, cherishing, even by artificial means, hatred and revenge, and vigorous only to supplant his enemy by stratagem and treachery. Compare this representation, which it is mortifying to hold up as the description of a human being, not with the philosopher, whose active mind could find even in the bath a so. Jution of his problem ; not with another of the wonders of antiquity, who refused even to sleep a complete dominion over his faculties; but merely with the ordinary exertion and habitual activity of civilized existence; with the vigilant observation that unfolds the mysteries of nature, or the patient abstraction that facilitates the works of art; with the energy of animated conversation that dignifies the rational entertainment; and then let the ·moralist or historian misuse as he will the powers he owes to civilization in extolling an uncivilized state, yet he can never disprove the acknowledged fact, that inequality sharpens and exercises the natural powers of man, and that this exercise of the natural powers brings the human species to that degree of excellence which He who made him capable of it, intended him to attain." Vol. II. P. 52.
As to the vices of civilized or savage life, Mr. S. justly ob
“ Man, in all situations, has both opportunity and inclination for vice, though all vices do not flourish equally in all situations. But ferocity, intemperance, and revenge, if they are not worse, certainly are not better than avarice, rapacity, or luxury: whilst the savage vices have no compensation of delicate taste, refined manners, improved understanding, or exalted virtues. A contest for riches or power does not more disturb the harmony of life, than the disputed possession of a palm-tree or a cabin: but the latter produces no other fruit than private rancour or revengeful malice : the former enriches the state by the addition of two active and useful citizens.” Vol. II. P. 32.
But farther, we may assert, that a state of equality must prevent improvement; that it must deprive a nation of such conveniencies and advantages, as are absolutely indispensable in certain climates, and where the population is considerable. Where all are equal,
“ Who would undertake those employments which form the largest, and not the least necessary part of the labour of the community, which no variety could render satisfactory, no perversion of taste amusing ? to which, in short, nothing could reconcile the '
concile * « Godwin's Pol. Just, ii. 482:"
mind; but the necessity of working for subsistence, and the constant and presiding influence of gain? When the . quantity of exertion is to be so light, as rather to assume the guise of agreeable relaxation and gentle exercise, than of labour*, ' what shall preserve all the roads, the mines, the canals, of the community ?
• Labor omnia vincit
Improbus, et duris urgens in rebus egestas : But will the sense of justice, or the sense of shame, to which we are referred as the genuine correctives of idleness, cut a canal in a century, or induce a body of individuals, already, according to the supposition, possessed of competence, to conduct the subterraneous operations of a mine? At the first stroke, then, of equality, we are deprived of the useful, as well as of the precious metals ; of coals, in many countries no less indispensable; the produce of the richest districts is locked up or wasted, while the poorest are reduced to famine through the want of cultivation, There is not a manufacture, even after the exclusion of all luxury, that does not require processes very inconsistent with the most desirable state of human existence.'” P. 70.
Inequality of conditions does not only, however, lead to the highest improvement of the human faculties; it affords the best trial of the human virtues. It is the nursery most suited to their formation; and, the theatre most fitted for their exercise. To prove this, Mr. S. reminds us, that
“ The various conditions of human life each require a settled course of action, according to a principle deliberately embraced for the right government of the conduct; and in proportion as the conditions are various, the more room there is for the exercise of virtue, in determining and adhering to the line of duty.” P. 85.
“ From the collected aggregate of these various duties, results that mutual dependence and connexion, which is the bond of society. The labour of the lowest class, which feeds the superfluities of the highest, like the vapour which has been drawn from the earth, descends again in a thousand channels, and fertilizes the soil into which it falls. There are persons, it must be confessed, who, in such a constitution of things, can see only " á spirit of oppression, a spirit of servility, and a spirit of fraud;' and, in truth, among the infinite varieties and corruptions of the human mind, some will doubtless find an occasion of falling, where others find an occasion of virtue. But it may be maintained, that, exclusive of the particular duties which this scheme of society renders incumbent on each individual, and on every class of individuals, the general spirit of dependence, the general con.