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is to be fired, have taken place under our eyes, we are unconscious of her danger, till Varney's rapid recapitulation lights the train.
Then come at once the lightning and the thunder,
And distant echoes tell that all is rent asunder.'* It is a fault perhaps of the conclusion, that it is too uniformly tragical. Iu Waverley and the Abbot, the happiness of Rose and Waverley, and of Catherine and Roland, is entwined, like the ivy of a ruined window, with the calamities of their unfortunate associates, and relieves us from one unvaried spectacle of misery. And even in the Bride of Lammermoor, our author relents from what appears to have been his earlier intention, restores Bucklaw to health, and pensions Craigengelt, and suffers the whole weight of the catastrophe to fall only on his hero and heroine. But in Kenilworth, the marriage of Wayland Smith and Janet (an event which scarcely excites any interest) is the only instance of mercy. The immediate circumstances of Amy's death, as she rushes to meet, what she supposes to be, her husband's signal, almost pass the limit that divides pity from horror. It is what Foster calls it, 'a seething of the kid in the mother's milk. All our author's reiterations of Varney's devilishness, do not render it credible. Tressilian, Sir Hugh Robsart, Varney, Foster, Demetrius, Lambourne, almost every agent in the story, perish prematurely or violently. Elizabeth is reserved for the sorrows of disappointed love and betrayed confidence, and Leicester for misery, such as even our author has not ventured to describe.
We doubt, also, the propriety of utterly confounding all biographical truth, in a life so well known as Leicester's. We do not object to the alteration of events that are neither notorious nor important, nor to supplying the details of what is imperfectly known. The reader of the Abbot may know, if he choose to inquire, that Murray was not in Scotland at the time when Mary is represented to have signed the relinquishment of her power. And he has no reason to suppose that Sir Halbert Glendinning, or Catherine Seyton, or Roland Græme ever existed. But, as to Murray, if we discover the variation of the story told in the Abbot from that of other histories, we treat it inerely as one of the discrepancies frequently found in the details of different historians. It does not diminish our belief in the fidelity of the general outline : and as to the imaginary figures, with which our author has adorned his canvass, if we have no reason to suppose that they have, we have none to suppose that they have not, existed. They
* We wish we could persuade our author to let us have this old play'-We suspect that he has the only copy-and if the rest resembles his quotations, it will be worth all our new ones. K 2
are neither supported nor contradicted by our previous opinions ; if they fit in well, we admit them with confidence, as supplementary details.
But all who started with an acquaintance with Leicester's history, or have been led by our author to examine it, and we think this division embraces all his readers, must feel that neither his detail nor his outline bears any resemblance to the truth. Leicester's union with Amy appears to have been a marriage de convenance, publicly celebrated, when both parties were very young, and long before Elizabeth's accession, and from which he was freed, after having publicly supported it for several years, by her violent and mysterious death, as soon as the situation of England and Scotland opened to him a double hope of royal alliance. Many years after occurred the celebrated visit to Kenilworth, and at a still later period, bis marriage with Lady Essex, the discovery of which occasioned the burst of fury in Elizabeth, to which we have alluded. Such a perversion of known facts not only deprives the story of the credibility, which an bistorical fiction derives from our conviction that the outline is true, but even of the temporary belief that we give to a well constructed tale. Even our author's ordinary legal accuracy fails him. Leicester's treason could not, as he supposes (vol. iii. 213.) have enriched his widow; it would have forfeited her dower. Nor is his topography more
We think he never was at Cumnorwe are sure he never rode from thence to Woodstock-or found a bog near Wayland Smith's stone.
We have dwelt so long on the novels in detail, that our readers will gladly be spared any general remarks. Our parting exhortation to the Great Unknown' must be, if he would gratify the impatience of his contemporary readers, to write as much and as quickly as possible : if he would transniit his name to posterity, in such a manner as to do full justice to his extraordinary powers, to bestow a little more time and leisure in giving them their scope; in concentrating those excellencies which he has shown to be within his reach, and in avoiding those blemishes, which he cannot but have taste to perceive.
Art. VI.-Of Population. An Inquiry concerning the Power
of Increase in the Numbers of Mankind, being an Answer to Mr. Malthus's Essay on that subject. By William Godwin. London. 8vo. 1821. pp. 626.
cerning Political Justice, with an intention, as he states in the preface of the present work, 'to collect whatever was best and most liberal in the science of politics, to condense it, to arrange it more into a system, and to carry it somewhat farther, than had been done by any preceding writer.' The work bore the stamp of a mind accustomed to think deeply, and to feel strongly :--but it was a mind of such overweening confidence in its own powers, as rashly to pull down, in its imaginations, whatever had been held most venerable and valuable in society, in order to erect upon the ruins a visionary fabric of his own. To favour the reception of his sentiments, he employed all his ingenuity in exposing, or rather in exaggerating, the vices and follies which flow from the present system of society; and to depict the state of blessedness that would result from the adoption of his own,—that is, the virtue and happiness that would universally prevail, on the total abolition of religion, government, private property, marriage, and a few other inconvenient evils of a similar kind. We must do Mr. Godwin the justice, however, to observe, that he no where recommended the hasty or forcible overthrow of existing institutions. Reason alone was to be employed in securing the acquiescence of mankind in the removal of abuses, and their co-operation in the substitution of the meditated improvements. As the system was in itself so unreasonable, while reason only was to be engaged in its support, there seemed little danger of any mischievous effect from the book; but the author's skill in argumentation, joined to that fervour of manner, which, evincing conviction in the writer, so much aids it in the mind of the reader, contributed to procure it a considerable portion of attention, more especially as it appeared at a period when the signs of the times created a pretty general expectation of some political regeneration. Of those who fostered such expectations, the splenetic and the sanguine, the revolutionist and the reformer, were equally taken with a work, which dwelt with energy on the evils of present institutions, and with enthusiasm on the universal felicity of an ideal system. Contingent abuse was confounded with inherent evil; and the counterbalance of good, which the experience of all ages and nations had confirmed, held light in comparison with the happiness of that political millennium, where, indeed, no alloy of evil could be proved from experience; but where it seemed to be forgotten, that experience was equally wanting to corroborate the hope of good.
Mr. Malthus, however, left to others the defence of existing institutions, and the exposure of the gross errors and absurdities of Mr. Godwin's imaginary substitutes; and he undertook to prove, that, even admitting the whole of his premises, supposing him to have broken all the great bonds, which, for six thousand years, the closer they have been drawn have made society the stronger; and to have realized all that his imagination had suggested, yet there still existed in nature a principle against which Mr. Godwin had
provided, and could provide, no counter-action, and of which the operation would subvert the whole fabric of his system as soon as formed. For, suppose human nature to be so improved, that, instead of self-love, the love of mankind were the strongest incentive in the mind of each individual; and suppose that love so enlightened, that private judgment supersedes the necessity of all direction, and of all motives, derived from religion and law; suppose the whole earth to be cultivated as a garden, and the productions to be equally divided among its swarming inhabitants, all united, as one family, in mutual love ; each labouring for the common physical support; and each exerting his mental energies for improving the intellectual powers, and increasing the moral excellence and enjoyments of all. Imagine all this to be realized, and in less than half a century, says Mr. Malthus, the whole fairy vision will vanish, and selfishness, vice and misery, take again triumphant possession of the world; and this from a law of nature, as simple as it is unchangeable; from the different rates at which population unobstructed, and fertility, however aided, tend to in
For the tendency of population would be to double itself every twenty-five years; while the most sanguine speculator could not pretend to increase the powers of fertility, at every such period, by more than an amount equal to its first power; or, in other words, the increase of population is in a geometrical ratio, and of fertility in an arithmetical one. So that whilst population was tending to increase as 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32-fertility would only tend to be increased as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
Mr. Godwin's happy population, therefore, who, with their united efforts of mind and body, might, in the first 25 years, have doubled the fertility of the earth, and in the second 25 made it three times more productive than at first, would, in the same period, have made their numbers four times greater than at first; and in the sixth period the population would become 32 times greater, whilst the products to support it would only be six times greater than at first, and so on-the disparity between food and population continually increasing, as the number of assumed periods was augmented. It is, however, easy to perceive, that, if Mr. Malthus's principle be just, the series of periods must soon be cut short by starvation; and that, in the approach to that extreme, the importunate cravings of hunger would silence the delicate remonstrances of refined benevolence; that the strongest would seize the larger portion to himself; the weakest would perish ; in a word, mankind would revert to a state of barbarism, from which ages would be required to bring them up to that point of civilization, where Mr. Godwin's theory had found them; and where, though, according to Mr. Malthus, the principle of population will not allow evil to
be banished, yet the reversion to barbarism, through the extremes of vice and misery, is checked by the control of religion and law; by the stimulus to individual exertion which the security of private property gives, and by the monopoly of marriage' fostering all the gentle feelings of conjugal, parental, and filial affections.
Mr. Godwin might, if he pleased, have urged in reply, that, admitting Mr. Malthus's principle of the different rates of increase in unchecked population, and in the assisted fertility of the earth, yet, in a state of such exalted virtue, as Mr. Godwin's theory supposes, we must not imagine, that individuals would allow the brute impulses of their nature to increase, for their own gratification, the number of beings beyond what the stock of public food could, without diminution of public comfort, supply. And he has not omitted to avail himself of this defence; but he has used it only as a colateral support; for he was perfectly conscious, that, if Mr. Malthus's principle were admitted, its immediate operation on the interest of actual society would throw into oblivion his speculations on remote and possible existences. He seems, indeed, to have experienced something of this. • The Essay on Population had gotten possession of the public mind;' and the author of Political Justice waited, in vain, to see the errors of Mr. Malthus sunk by neglect, or demolished by the disciples of the Godwin school.' Finding, however, that the book “still beld on its prosperous career,' Mr. Godwin determined (he says) to place himself in the breach,' and to attack, not only the collateral arguments, or the inferences, but, the main principle' of the Essay on Population. Thus, then, the parties are at issue.
Mr. Malthus founds his geometrical ratio on the experience of the North American colonies, which, for the last 150 years, are said to have doubled their population every twenty-five years. Mr. Godwin, with reason, objects to the vague manner in which so very material an assumption is supported; though indeed it was not easy to be much more precise : for had authorities been given, with the censuses, to bear out the conjectures and assertions of Price, Franklin, Styles, Pitkin, &c. still the assumption of a doubling, by procreation only,' every twenty-five years, could not have been satisfactorily proved; because all calculations must be much disturbed by the unknown quantity of immigration perpetually mixing itself with every part of the details. But, avoiding these details for the present, we wish to confine ourselves to the most general view of the question; to discuss the principle isself, not the degree in which it operates, or the rate at which it proceeds.
In the 4th chapter of the ad book, Mr. Godwin gives some valuable tables of the population of Sweden, from which he makes KO