« AnteriorContinuar »
the following deduction. In Sweden there has been, for a certain period, a progressive increase of population; and we have great reason to believe, that this increase is chiefly, or solely, the effect of the principle of procreation. To judge from what has appeared in fifty-four years, from 1751 to 1805, we should say, that the human species, in some situations, and under some circumstances, might double itself in somewhat more than a hundred years.'
Thus, then, it is agreed, that, in some situations, population tends to double itself in 100 years; and thus the principle of the geometrical ratio, in which population tends to increase, is at once admitted by Mr. Godwin, and established by the facts in his book ; in which, however, we are told, that Mr. Malthus's theory is evidently founded upon nothing ;' and that it is time, in reality, that some one should sweep away this house of cards;' which is thus performed.-Because the term geometrical ratio bad been used, Mr. Godwin and his friend Mr. Booth (whom he employs to assist him in his mathematical disquisitions) have determined to hold the uses of it to the strict mathematical meaning. They employ a great deal of unnecessary labour to show, that if an equable progression from year to year be not proved, the doubling at equally distant periods cannot be called a geometrical ratio, as the law of the series remains unknown. They might, with equal truth and triumph, have demonstrated, that if a population of three millions in America became, in twenty-five years, six millions minus an unit, and in fifty years twelve millions plus an unit, the population in the first period could not be said to have, to the population of the third period, the duplicate ratio of that which it has to the population of the second.
It is obvious that the term geometrical ratio could never have been intended to be employed in its rigidly mathematical sense. Hume, in speaking of a law, which made the violator of it, and those who had any intercourse with him, equally criminal, observes, .by this severe, and even absurd law, crimes and guilt went on multiplying in a geometrical proportion. He could not with more concise strength have expressed, that such a law gave to each trangression a tendency to increase the number of transgressors; in each of whom, from the social nature of man, was a like tendency to a similar increase. Yet if any mathematical critics had called on Hume to prove the law of the series, by which crime and guilt
* In somewhat less than 100 years, ought to have been the inference: for (without entering into the niceties of such a progression) if, in forty-four years, 1 became 11, that 1, in a second period of fifty-four years, would become 21; and, in 100 years, would be a small fraction abovc 2.
were multiplied, he might, if he had deigned a reply, have found it difficult to bring absolute proof of his geometrical proportion.
In considering the arithmetical ratio assigned as the rate of increase in the fertility of the earth, Messrs. Godwin and Booth choose to consider that expression, also, in a strictly mathematical
• If (say they) the quantity of the food of man be increased, it is obvious it will not be by starts every twenty-five years; but that it will be increased through many intervening times.'- p. 248. What, however, is all this but captious trifling? If, as Mr. Malthus has asserted, population can be proved to have nearly doubled itself, in certain circumstances, every twenty-five years for 150 years together,-his business being only with the result at those periods, and not with the equable or unequable flow of the progression, -he may be well allowed to express and elucidate the rate of increase, as proceeding in a geometrical ratio; especially when contrasting it with the slow progress of the increase in the productiveness of the same spot of earth; in which experience having shown no tendency to exceed, at most, in any given periods, an increase at each period equal to its original quantity, its progress may well be expressed and elucidated, as being in an arithe. metical ratio.
In order, however, that general readers may not suppose the case to involve any technically mathematical question, we will state what we conceive to be Mr. Malthus's principle in plain language. Population, in favourable circumstances, tends to increase; and whatever addition is made by that increase, has in itself a power and a perpetual stimulus to exert the power of still further in
But if the fertility of any spot of earth be, by any favourable circumstances, increased, the addition made by that increase has no power or tendency in itself to produce a further increase of fertility. Thus, if population be doubled, the population so doubled has a tendency to double itself; but doubled fertility has no such tendency to double in itself. The doubled fertility cannot in itself be a cause of quadrupled fertility; the doubled population can be a cause of quadrupled population, and has besides, in itself, a strong stimulus to become so. The grand deductions from this principle are, that the natural tendency of population is to increase faster than the means for its support; and that therefore the efforts of nations, and the enactments of legislatures, should be directed to increase the productiveness of their soil, which has no natural tendency to increase itself; and that, having done this, we may safely rely on a proportionate increase of population, which has a natural power and stimulus for self-increase. Whereas legislators, by giving encouragement to population in the first instance, have added a stimulus where, from imprudence in individuals, there was
already a proneness to excess; and thus augmented the misery and vice, which are the necessary results of such improvidence.
When men were thus called upon to reverse the precepts of the wisest in all ages and nations, we need not be surprized that much prejudice, and even indignation, should be excited. And accordingly Mr. Malthus was assailed, with equal virulence, by the ignorant vulgar, and by those whose refined, but irritable, minds lead them to contemplate with horror any wish to limit the number of human beings by which they had accustomed themselves to estimate the quantity of human happiness : it was thwarting, they said,
the first purpose of Nature to produce beings formed for enjoyment, and infringing the first command of Nature's God- to increase and multiply;' not staying to consider, that adding to population, without augmenting the means of subsistence, was producing beings formed, indeed, for enjoyment, but therefore the more miserable, when destined only to suffer; and that the same Great Being, who commanded us to increase and multiply, hath taught us, also, that virtue consists in controlling the passions which He has given us, so as to promote their ultimate purpose,—the production of human happiness. We have been taught, too, by the same autho. rity, (in the wisest petition, which frail man was ever instructed to prefer,) to deprecate temptation : but to what greater temptation can men be exposed than when their numbers exceed the means of comfortable subsistence? they nust either live in physical misery, or relieve themselves from its immediate pressure by vice, which is only misery in another form. These, in their hideous combination, inflict the punishment which is provided by Nature for the abuse of her powers; and by thinning, at length, the redundant population, they check the universality of the evil.
Thus, then, it appears to us, that the general principles of Mr. Malthus's book, and the general inference to be drawn from it, continue unrefuted by his opponent. But there remains a very important consideration, concerning the degree in which that principle operates; and, consequently, concerning the urgency of the evil, and the strength of the remedy to be applied : for we are by no means of Mr. Godwin's opinion, that, unless Mr. Malthus's assumption be proved, of an inherent tendency in mankind to double to the full amount of once in twenty-five years, the Essay on Population is turned into waste paper.'-p. 141. For whilst an inherent tendency to double is admitted in population, and no such tendency is found in the fertility of the earth,whether the period of doubling be twenty-five, fifty, or a hundred years, in the most favourable circumstances, the difference in the mode of increase remains the same; though, doubtless, as we have observed,
the urgency of the remedy to be applied, as of the evil to be apprehended, may be less.
It has already been stated, that the proofs of a doubling in the population of the United States, at periods of twenty-five years for the last 150 years, and that from procreation only, as assumed by Mr. Malthus, are far from being accurate, on account of the unknown amount of immigration. Both parties however agree, on the authority of the public censuses, that the population of the United States has increased in twenty years, (viz. between 1790 and 1820,) from 3,929,326 to 7,239,903.
This advance, which would double the population in twenty-three years, Mr. Malthus considers as admitting ample allowance for foreign immigration.' Mr. Godwin, on the contrary, maintains, that • throughout the Union the population, so far as depends on procreation, is at a stand.'--p. 441. And, consequently, that the increase is wholly by immigration; and he supports this extravagant assertiou by a most curious course of argument. "To keep up the population of a country, we must reckon upon four births to a marriage. To double the population we must reckon upon eight. Where there are four births to a marriage, the number of births must double the number of procreants ; where there are eight it must quadruple it.'—p. 440. But in the American census for 1810, the inhabitants under and above sixteen years of age are, as nearly as possible, on an equality. Hence it inevitably follows, that throughout the Union the population, so far as depends on procreation, is at a stand; and that there are not, on an average, more than four births to every female capable of child-bearing.'
It will not be necessary to enter here on the dubious assumptions of four births to a marriage, and of the proportion which the child-bearing women hold to the total of a given population; on which assumptions Mr. Godwin's argument hinges : for we may refer to undoubted facts, adduced by the author him. self, to exhibit the fallacy of his reasoning.
In the Upsal Table, (Godwin, p. 159.) which is considered a fair average for Sweden, the persons under fifteen are 507,176; whilst those above that age are 1,402,005. Now, in order to bring this state of the population into comparison with that of America, we must calculate what may be presumed, from these data, to be the number of persons under sixteen. And in this we shall make ample allowance by assuming, according to the Swedish tables, the annual number of births to be four per cent. of the total population; and by supposing half the born attain sixteen years of age. This, in the present case of a population of 1,919,181, would give 38,383, as the number between fifteen and sixteen, to be added to those under fifteen; making the persons
under sixteen to be 545,559; and those above that age 1,373,622 : that is, the persons above sixteen are to those below somewhat more than two and a half to one. Avd this state of the Swedish population Mr. Godwin frequently calls a nearly stationary one. Now, at p. 441, the population of the United States is said to be at a stand,' because the persons under and above sixteen are equal in numbers. So that when the numbers in the two classes are equal, and when they are in the proportion of two and a half to one, Mr. Godwin's inference is the same.
It might be expected that such a result, from facts of admitted authenticity, would have led the author to doubt bis speculations on the number of child-bearing women in a given population, and the number of births to a marriage; seeing that they conduct to so obvious a contradiction. Indeed, when not under the immediate influence of these speculations, he seems to look at the subject in a right point of view, but through a magnifying medium. If (says he, p. 442.) it were true that the population of the United States had been found to double itself for above century and a balf successively, in less than twenty-five years, and that this had been “repeatedly ascertained to be from procreation only,” it is absolutely certain, that in that country the children would outnumber the grown persons two or three times over. It would have been a spectacle, to persons from other parts of the world, of a most impressive nature.' And, certainly, to any person (excepting Mr. Godwin) visiting Sweden, for example, and America, the contrast would be very impressive. For it appears, by the above deductions from Mr. Godwin's own facts, that, in a Swedish population of one hundred persons, we should not meet with quite twenty-nine below sixteen; whilst, in an American population of one hundred persons, we should find fifty below sixteen, that is, one-and-twenty per cent. more of children: and if this do not argue more frequent and more prolific marriages, what does?
But Mr. Godwin, compelled to admit a slow increase of population in Sweden, is determined to allow of no greater rate of increase in any country; a determination which could only be justified by proving, that the Swedes were, of all mankind, the most favourably circumstanced for the increase of the species; and, accordingly, what he wants in proof he supplies in assertion. We learn (he says) from the example of Sweden, perhaps as nearly as possible, how fast the race of mankind, at least as society is at present constituted, can increase; and beyond what limits the pace and speed of multiplication cannot be carried. Sweden is a country in every respect as favourable to the experiment as we could desire. Almost all the women marry.
si The continual cry of the government," as Mr. Malthus expresses it, is for the increase