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Retrississ, a Poem,
Term Reports. See Durnford
Sermons, collective. See Sixteen, Sow. Townley's Six Sermons,
Trial of General Wemyss,
Sbab Aulum, Reign of,
Trutb and Filial Love,
Tucker's Minutes of a Court Martial on
Turkey. See Eron.
437 Vortigern and Rowena, Passages from,
Walker on Historical Time.
112 Windmills. See Beatson.
226 Workman's Military Tactics, Part 1.
- 467 Wrigtie Translation of Wimpffen's
's, (Thomas) St. Guerdun's Well, Wye, Views on,
P. 88. 1. 18. for "Miller,' read Milles
63. 1. 4. for. connaissieur,' r. connoisseur
236. 1. 16. and 1. 43. for “Tambauchis,'r. Tomboucbies
- J. 23. for • Bashir,' r, Bosbis
For SEPTEMBER, 1798.
Art. Í. An Essay or the Principle of Population, as it affects the
future Improvement of Society. With Remarks on the Specu. lations of Mr. Godwin, M. Condorcet, and other Writers. 8vo. pp. 400. 6s. Boards. Johnson. 1798. ALMOST half a century has now elapsed, since certain strong o spirits in France scattered the seeds of a new species of philosophy, that has already raised its head to heaven and overshadowed the earth. Regarding with fastidious contempt all the established systems of policy, of morals, and of religion, by which the conduct and the opinions of mankind had hitherto been regulated, they laboured with unremitted industry, sup.' ported by great talents, to give a new bias to the human mind: and to eradicate from it that principle which had contributed so powerfully to facilitate government ;-that principle which im pels the many to submit their opinions to the real or supposed superior wisdom of the few. Their labours were successful. Having sapped the foundation on which the superstructure of opinion rested, it was not very difficult to subvert those opinions themselves. Men began to look at the existing establishments of government, and at received systems of religious faith and morals, with a degree of suspicion proportioned to their antiquity; and unfortunately the abuses in the one and the errors in the other, which were but too obvious, served to con. firm the favourite dogma of those new apostles, that they were all founded in tyranny, in hypocrisy, and in fraud. That’unique phænomenon in the history of man, the French revolution, with the little good and all the evil which it has produced, is one of the consequences of this change. That revolution, which was itself an effect of the new philosophy, gave increased efficacy to its cause ; and it imparted new energy to those principles which had already been found so powerful in unsettling the human mind. The new teachers of the world did not neglect to avail themselves of the advantage. They persisted in the VOL. XXVII.
attack on the old establishments, moral and political ; until, as they supposed, they left not one stone on another of that edifice which it had been the labor of so many centuries to raise, to strengthen, and to embellish.
It is not in the nature of the human mind to rest without a system. No sooner, therefore, had the philosophers demolished the old systems, which, combining perhaps some falsehood with much truth, had the sanction at least of the common-sense of mankind, than they applied themselves to the fabrication of new theories; in which imagination supplied the place of experience, and man was considered as they wished him to be rather than as he is.
Of some of those system-builders, Fancy itself was unable to follow the rapid flights. They conceived man in a state not only such as has never yet existed, but such an one that even a strong imagination cannot conceive it possible for him to exist in it. His present circumstances they describe in the language of opprobrium and contempt; and those to which they suppose he will one day reach, they adorn with poetical panegyric: but of the means by which the transition is to be effected they are silent; and the obvious difficulties, which impede the desired change, they affect to undervalue, or totally overlook,
In this class of men, the late M. Condorcet and the present Mr. Godwin hold a conspicuous place :- the one inculcating the possibility, if not probability; that the nature of man may be improved to absolute perfection in body and in mind, and his existence in this world protracted to immortality; the other recommending a system of equality which should banish vice and misery from the earth, and sublimate the passions of man into the qualities and dispositions of pure, perfect, and benevolent intellect. .
Speculations so fantastic, systems so unfounded in the experience of mankind, and so contrary to those opinions which common sense suggests, and which the experienceof several thousand years has corroborated, most men would think fit subjects rather for ridicule than refutation. The author of the volume now before us, however, who seems to possess a very candid mind as well as a sound understanding, believes that more good may result from a fair discussion even of such hypotheses, when advanced by able men, than from affecting to annihilate them by neglect. Such men, he thinks, neglect has no tendency to convince of their mistakes; "on the contrary, a candid investigation of these subjects, accompanied with a perfect readiness to adopt any theory warranted by sound philosophy, may tend to convince them that in forming improbable and unfounded hypotheses, so far from enlarging the bounds of human
science, they are contracting it, throwing us back into the very infancy of knowlege, and weakening the foundations of that mode of philosophising, under the auspices of which science has of late made such rapid advances.' He moreover thinks that a complete and satisfactory answer to them is not difficult to be given. It is involved,' he conceives, in a few simple and indubitable propositions, which it is his object in this essay to develope. They are briefly these :
The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. · By the law of our nature which makes food necessary to the life of man, the effects of these two unequal powers must be kept equal. ·
Therefore a strong check on population must be kept continually in operation, which check can be found only in vice or in misery, and which therefore will always constitute an insuperable obstacle to the perfectibility of man. :
In illustrating these propositions, the author proves that the difference between the power of population in man, and the power of the earth in producing sustenance, is the difference between a geometrical and an arithmetical series; each generation of man, when not under the influence of any check to populatiou, producing double their own numbers; while the produce of the earth, under the highest degree of cultivation, increases in any determinate period, only by the repeated addition of a fixed quantity. The excess of this power of popula. tion, beyond the power of produce, creates what he calls the preventive check on marriage, - which, he says, operates at this day in full force in all the European countries; and he instances its efficacy and manner of operation on the different classes of the community in England. . · The second positive check to population is that which represses an increase already begun, and is confined chiefly, though not solely, to the lowest orders of society.
. This check (he says) is not so obvious to common view as the other I have mentioned ; and, to prove distinctly the force and ex. tent of its operation, would require, perhaps, more data than we are in possession of. But I believe it has been very generally remarked by those who have attended to bills of mortality, that of the number of children who die annually, much too great a proportion belongs to those, who may be supposed unable to give their offspring proper food and attention ; exposed as they are occasionally to severe disa tress, and confined, perhaps, to. upwholesome habitations and hard labour. This mortality among the children of the poor has been constantly taken notice of in all towns. It certainly does not pre.. vail in- an equal degree in the country ; but the subject has not hitherto received sufficient attention to enable any one to say, that there are not more deaths in proportion, among the children of the B 2