« ZurückWeiter »
embrace the means both of increasing production, and of preventing popu. lation from making a proportionate advance. The former is to be effected chiefly by the higher orders in society; the latter depends entirely on the lower. As a means of improvement, the latter is, on the whole, the more efficient. It may be acted upon, or neglected by every individual. But, in the present state of public opinion, and of our commercial and fiscal policy, perhaps more good is to be done by insisting on the former. The economist who neglects either, considers only a portion of his subject.'—
The error thus originated in the use of the word " tendency,” was still further confirmed by a very common mistake, not confined to the Economists, in speaking of the animal desires as more natural to man, than the dictates of reason.
• Pray accept my sincerest thanks for the reply with which you have honoured my letter, and for the instruction which it has afforded me.
* I find, however, that the differences between us, though still I hope not great, are rather greater than I had imagined. I will venture again to intrude on your attention, in the hope of making them still smaller.
First, as to the facts. • I must have expressed myself ill, if I have led you to suppose that I assert any thing like an universal increase of the proportion of subsistence to population. When I say that subsistence has generally increased in a greater ratio than population, I mean, that if we look back through the history of the whole world, and compare the state of each country at distinct periods of two hundred or three hundred years, the cases in which food has increased during the preceding period of two hundred or three hundred years, in a greater ratio than population, will be found to be more numerous than those in which population has increased during the preceding period in a greater ratio than food. I admit that this increase has not been steady; it has been subject to the oscillations which you have so well described. The cessation of a civil war, the acquisition of a new and abundant material of food, mechanical inventions, enabling the importation of a considerable supply of food at a less expense of labour than must have been employed to produce it at home, improved modes of cultivation and transport, and the change from a restricted to a free internal corn tradeeach of these causes would be sufficient to occasion an immediate increase of food. In this country every one of them has been experienced. As each has begun to act, it has, no doubt, been followed by an increase of population ; an increase, which, in many cases, cannot have fully shown itself until some time after the cause increasing the supply of food had been in full operation. Under such circumstances a retrograde movement must have taken place. Still I apprehend that, in the absence of disturbing causes, the retrogression would not be to the point at which food and population relatively stood, before the first improvement took place. I conceive the progress of human society to resemble the children's puzzle of a snail, which we are told every day crawled up the wall four feet and fell back three. If we had always fallen back the whole four, we should still be ill-fed savages, earning a scanty subsistence by the chase. And yet in England we have many disturbing causes. We have the poor law to increase our numbers, the corn laws to prohibit, under ordi nary circum
stances, the importation of subsistence, and a commercial code by which the perverse ingenuity of centuries has laboured to fetter and misdirect our industry.
. Secondly: As to the accuracy of our respective forms of expression.
• I fully admit, that in all old countries, perhaps in all countries whaterer, population is always pressing against food; and that the pressure not only prevents the increase which would take place, if it could be removed, but occasions premature mortality. But as society advances in what arpears to me to be our natural course, for it is the course for which nature has fitted us, this pressure generally, though not universally, diminishes. The proportion of those who now die in England from want, is probably less than it was two hundred years ago; it certainly is less than it was six hundred years ago. I shall think myself, therefore, justified in saying, that there is a tendency in the pressure to diminish. I admit that human nature tends to marriage directly, and to the increase of subsistence only indirectly, and through the intervention of forethought. It may be said that, strictly speaking, man has no natural tendency to produce food, or to better his condition, but to consume food, and to have his condition bettered, and, through the intervention of reason, to the accomplishment of these results. But reason, in some degree or other, is as natural to man as passion. On this ground I speak of man as a rational animal, as having a tendency towards the ends, which he pursues through the intervention of forethought, as well as towards those which he pursues at the dictates of passion. In this sense I speak of any people as having a desire to increase their subsistence, (for that is what I mean when I speak of the tendency of subsistence to increase,) stronger than the desire which leads them to increase their numbers.'--pp. 73–77.
And, thus, the error originating in the use of the word " tendency,” and confirmed by this abuse of the term natural, has been still further strengthened by the Economists not having made prominent, or even having thrown into the shade, a very important fact.
Considering this question as one of nomenclature, we cannot estimate it as an unimportant verbal difference, whilst we remember that the definition adopted by the followers of Mr. Malthus, has exposed his doctrine to great opposition of prejudices, not unwarranted, as we have already noticed. Considering it as a question of fact, we esteem it as of the highest importance towards vindicating the ways of God to man, and affording a strong incentive to exertion, to show, that, if there are grounds of fear in the animal impulse, which leads to an increase of population, there are foundations for hope in the higher principles, which are equally natural to man. Whilst we look upon the fearful increase of paupers in England, with the dread with which we should see a Boa coiling each additional fold around its victim, were that victim.ourselves, yet we turn with some hope to the wide diffusion of right feelings and principles respecting the checks of population, which, with the aid of emigration and a free trade, may yet arrest the evil.
How soon, in the absence of those remedies, it must be our own
fate to witness the united effects of a population, which we are encouraging by our poor laws to advance rapidly beyond the means of subsistence from within, and of corn laws, which, in ordinary circumstances, prohibit its importation from without, we pretend not to prophecy. But we are deeply sensible of the importance of removing every obstacle to the diffusion of right views respecting population, and we think the temperate, and very able, discussion of Mr. Malthus's principle, at which we have, indeed, rather glanced, than offered an adequate review of it, and this successful attempt at a more correct statement of the truth, must not only tend to remove impressions very unfavourable to the adoption of truth, but must rouse the mind from a sickening contemplation of the vastness of the evil, to a vigorous effort at an effectual remedy. But what is the remedy? The remedies are in truth many, and are thus concisely designated by Mr. Senior.
• I will only say at present that knowledge, security of property, freedom of internal and external exchange, and equal admissibility to rank and power, are the principal causes which at the same time promote the increase of subsistence, and by elevating the character of the people, lead them to keep at a slower rate the increase of their numbers. And that restrictions on exchange and commerce, artificial barriers excluding the great majority of the community from the chance of social eminence, and, above all, ignorance and insecurity of person or property, are the general causes which both diminish the productiveness of labour, and tend to produce that brutish state of improvidence in which the power of increase, unchecked by prudence, is always struggling to pass the limits of subsistence, and is kept down only by vice and misery. I use the expression general causes, to exclude those causes which, being peculiar to certain nations, require separate consideration. Such are, the superstitious desire of offspring in China, the political motives to create freeholders in Ireland, and certain parts of the poor laws in England. But omitting these details, it may be generally stated, that all that degrades the character, or diminishes the productive power of a people, tends to diminish the proportion of subsistence to population, and vice versa. And, consequently, that a population increasing more rapidly than the means of subsistence, is, generally speaking, a symptom of misgovernment indicating deeper-seated evils, of which it is only one of the results.'-pp. 51, 52.
When our attention is dra:vn too forcibly to the increasing folds of the monster population, our hopes and energies collapse ; but when remedies are suggested, which if vigorously applied may yet save us from a fearful fate, we recover a force adequate to any exertion.
The tone of our remarks has shown that we think Mr. Senior has performed his part with ability; but we must add, that his portion of the publication before us, is not that which we have perused with the most interest. Mr. Malthus's letters are models of candour, in which persons of the highest talent are often lamentably deficient. It is impossible to deny, that Mr. Senior's
second lecture is an attack upon the doctrine on which the high fame of Mr. Malthus has principally rested. · Up to the present time that doctrine resisted the assaults of its enemies, and the far more troublesome exaggerations of its friends; but at length, when all danger seemed over, when economists had acquiesced in the doctrine, that there is a natural' tendency in population to increase beyond subsistence, had established it as an axiom, had even invented a formula, called “The principle of population,” to express it, comes Mr. Senior, and maintains, with great force, as a proposition almost self-evident, depending for its proof on the obvious facts of there existing in the human race a natural tendency to rise from barbarism to civilization, and of the means of subsistence being proportionally more abundant in a civilized than a savage state ; that there is a natural tendency in subsistence to increase in a greater ratio than population. It is no slight proof of Mr. Malthus's general reputation for candour, that such lectures should have been sent to him before publication. And the result shows how fully that reputation was justified. The first reply of Mr. Malthus contains a general view of the subject, in which he states, that the meaning he intended to convey was, that population is always ready and inclined to increase faster than food, if the checks which repress it are removed.
He goes on to admit, that these checks are often more efficient in civilized than in barbarous countries; to express a hope that they will become still more efficient as knowledge advances, and to anticipate the possibility, and even probability, of the labouring classes of society being altogether in a better situation than they are now. And in his second letter he says, still more decidedly,
• In the same manner I must allow, that it follows from my principles, that if by a free trade, corn were obtained much cheaper, and a labouring family could really command a much larger quantity of it, population would unquestionably increase with greater rapidity than before, so as to reduce the increased corn wages : and that the final condition of the labouring classes would not depend on this change which had taken place in the law, but upon the greater or less prevalence of the moral checks to population after the peculiar stimulus to its increase had subsided; and repeated experience has shown that the facility of obtaining food at one period is not necessarily connected with the formation of more general habits of prudence subsequently.
• It does not by any means follow from these principles, that we should not use our utmost endeavours to make two ears of wheat grow where one grew before, or to improve our commercial code by freeing it from restraints. An increase of population is in itself a very decided advantage, if it be not accompanied by an increased proportion of vice and misery. And the period during which the pressure of population is lightened, though it may not be of long duration, is a period of comparative ease, and ought by no means to be thrown out of our consideration. It is further to be observed, that the experience of such a period may sometimes operate in giving to the labouring classes a taste for such a mode of living
as will tend to increase their prudential habits. But it is obvious that, without this latter effect, the pressure of poverty cannot be permanently lessened. And when the principal question is distinctly respecting the permanent condition of the great mass of the labouring classes, as in the latter part of my essay, the interests of that body, which ought to be considered as the main interests of society, imperiously require that we should not call off their attention to the chances of a great increase of food, but endeavour by every proper means to direct their view to the important and unquestionable truth, that they can do much more for themselves than others can do for them, and that the only source of an essential and permanent improvement of their condition, is the improvement and right direction of their moral and religious habits.'-pp. 84–85.
Now it appears to us impossible to compare these passages with those Mr. Senior has extracted in his lectures, and not to feel that Mr. Malthus's present opinions differ, in some respects, from those which he formerly maintained, and widely from those which are maintained under his name.
Art. XI.-An Appendix to the Hore Homileticæ; or Discourses (in
the form of Skeletons) upon the whole Scriptures. Containing Nine Sermons before the University on the Law and Gospel. In Six Volumes, 8vo. By the Rev. Charles Simeon, M. A., Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. London : Cadell, Hatchard, and Son; and
Deightons and Stevensons, Cambridge. In the preface to this work, Mr. Simeon informs us that he has been led to treat many important passages on which there exists no printed sermon in our language; and by digging thus into the inexhaustible mine of Scripture, he hopes he shall be found to have brought forth some valuable ore, and to have augmented in some small degree the treasures provided by others for the benefit of the church.' We can cordially assure him that his expectation has been abundantly realized; and that this · Appendix to the Horæ Homileticæ,'—a sequence worthy of his former works, has conferred an inestimable benefit upon the church at large, and the ministrations of the Established Church in particular.
The “ Ars Concionaria” has unhappily been too little cultivated, and its importance grievously underrated in this country. Unquestionably it has not kept pace with the intellectual march of the day, in every other department of science-for it is a science, deep and delightful, and none but Sciolists neglect or despise its cultivation. Independently of its divine sanction, of the special promises annexed to the Preaching, i.e. the 'viva voce' annunciation of the gospel,—the human mind from its very constitution attaches a more than ordinary influence to the solemn delivery of the sublimest truths, on days and in places set apart for the most sacred purposes; where all earthly distinctions merge in the levelling reflection that we are but "dust and ashes, "--within the