Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

ciples and conclusions which it inculcates and supports have met with very general assent. Yet the facility with which it« doctrines may be mb-represented, and a plausible cry be raised against them, which was noticed by us in our account of his Essay, is exemplified in the productions before us. That grand proposition, expressing the relation between the principle of population and the means of subsistence, which is the basts of Mr. Malthus's system, is immediately perceived to be impregnable: but it misfit happen that, with all the care and caution which distinguish the labors of its not less ingenuous than ingenious author, this principle might not always be correctly and happily applied to the institutions and maxims which were submitted by him to its test. An erroneous section found a place in the Principia Mathematics;—the chapter on power in the Essay on the Human Understanding, admirable as it is on the whole, is justly charged with being obscure and inconsistent in some of its parts;—and Dr. Snvth, who corrected so many errors of the economists, fails himself on the subject of productive labour. The foundation of Mr. Malthus's system admitting of no question, as we conceive, still all the collateral points might not be equally well considered; and some might requite to be coriected, and others to be qualified or extended.

On these grounds, we opened with some satisfaction the publications which we now announce: but this satisfaction was not of long continuance, since we soon found that the champions who had taken up ,the gauntlet, on the present occasion, were endowed with only slender qualifications ; and that, contented to play off the hacknied artifices of controversialists, they scorn even to aim at philosophical discussion. We must by no means, however, confound together these two opponents of Mr. Malthus; to the former of whom a moderate degree of censure is alone applicable, while strong language is required to express the degree in which hlame has been incurred by the latter.

Of wilful perversion we fully acquit Dr. Jarrold: but we conceive that he must have very slightly examined the work which he criticises, or that his mind is not formed for abstract disquisitions, or is not stored with the furniture necessary to take a part in them with advantage. It has been said, and we believe that facts warrant the assertion, that many instances occur of men1'making considerable proficiency in elegant literature, who are wholly without aptitude for metaphysical inquiries. "We should( be inclined to place Dr, Jarrold in this class. He even controverts the grand principle which is the foundation of Mr. Malthus's system. He cannot dijpute the fact of the geometrical series being applicable to the progress of American population, but he appears to deny its universality, and to regard this ratio as partial and Confined to certain peculiar situations. He objects that population has not this spring in Europe, overlooking the fact to which he is himself continually referring, viz. the operation of those checks to which Mr. Malthus ascribes the circumstance of its being stationary in old countries.—A very few specimens of the author's statements and reasonings will enable our readers to judge of his competence for entering the lists with such a philosopher as Mr. Malthus:

* Mr. Godwin,' says he,« attaches blame to the institutions of man, but Mr. Malthin fixes it on the laws of nature; the one accuses the civil government, the other th* government of the Bm'verse. Our author having, as he flatters himself, traced the checks to population, which he enumerates under the heeds of vice and misery, and fixed them among the laws of nature, is so anxious for the full exercise of their power, that in his zeal he pleads for murder, in some circumstances, not as a discretionary, but a necessary act.'

The imperfect nature of human enjoyments, and the large portion of misery which falls to the lot of man, are facts which nobody disputes. Mr. Godwin ascribed these to our institutions, and promised a paradise to mankind if they would shake off and annihilate them. Mr. Malthus vindicated our institutions from this charge: beiog of opinion, with all sober men in all ages, that they are, even in their most imperfect and perverted state, beneficial; and that the ills which we feel and deplore arise chiefly out of the constitution of things, and are not wliolly to be laid to the charge of human laws, the institution of marriage, the obligation of promises, or the prevalence of the private affections and grateful habits. One gentleman intimated that, if civil institutions were swept away, and if men would practice the new philosophy, it was probable, that they would become immortal. Had Mr. Malthus shewn, that mortality was inherent in man by his original constitution, would this be to attach blame to the laws of nature, and the government of the universe } It would only be to state a simple incontrovertible fact; and we cannot see that be does honor to the laws of nature and the government of the universe, who promises that, if we introduce Agrarian regulations, we shall be in a likely course to annihilate death.

'He pleads for murder,' says Dr. J.---We spoke highly in praise of Mr. Malthus's work: but we can assure our readers that, had we discovered in it any thing like a plea for murder, we should, instead of bestowing almost unqualified commendation on it, have consigned it to universal execration.. Now

£ 4 let let us sec how it is that he pleads for murder. While expatiating on the tendency of the principle of population to overstock the world, Mr. M. elucidates his argument by the help of allegory; and, on acpouBt of its neatness, we are induced te> transcribe the passage, as here quoted by Dr. Jarrold:

"If a child is born into a world already possessed, if he cannot get subsistence from his parents, on whom he has a just demand, and if the society do not want his labour, he has no claim of right to the smallest portion of food, and in fact has no business to be where he is At nature's mighty feast there is no vacant cover for him; she tells him to be gone, and.will quickly execute her own orders, if he do not work on the compassion of some of her guests; if these guests get up and make room for him, other intruders immediately appear, demanding the same favor. The report of a provision for all that come, fills the hall with numerous claimants; the order and harmony of the feast is disturbed; plenty that before reigned, is changed into scarcity; and the ruppinc6S of the guests is destroyed by the spectacle of misery and dependence in every part of the hall, and by the clamorous importunity of those who are justly enraged at not finding the provision which they had been taught to expect. The guests learn too late their error in counteracting those strict orders to all intruders issued by the great mistress of the feast, who, wishing that all her guests should have plenty, and knowing that she could not provide for unlimited numbers, humarrely refused to admit fresh comers when her table was already full."

Here Mr. Malthus simply states the consequences which must inevitably follow when population exceeds its due bounds. If more mm are born than can obtain subsistence, m'jst if not follow that some will perish from want, or Irom unwholesome food? To state this consequence, which in the circumstances is inevitable, and which no man can controvert, is this to plead for murder?

In the same spirit of misconception, (we will not say of wilful misrepresentation, for we are inclined to think that it is not so,) the Dr. thus proceeds:

'This sentence might have been applauded in the councils of Nero, or in the campr. of -\ttila or of Cortez; for the indiscriminate murders committed by the orders of these chiefs could not fail to produce in their minds an idea that the conduct they had sanctioned and commanded would be deemed monstrous by the bulk of mankind; how must they thenbe gratified at finding that, in place of an execrable, they bad acted a meritorious part; and that the numbers they had slain, were only the unprotected guests, who craved admittance to a table abeady full, to take which away from the hall, was to render those who remained an acceptable service.'

Dr. JU here confounds the laws and provisions of nature with the acts of tyrants. Because Mr. Malthus says that, if the

world world is overstocked, wars and famine and pestilence will en•ue, does it follow that men are at liberty to violate all laws human and divine, in order to ward off the evils? In his volume, we find not a syllable in favour of any such conclusion: he represents the whole as being in the handa of nature, and enters into the details of this part of her economy.

This writer elsewhere speaks of the principles of Mr. Malthus as incompatible with revelation, as forbidding the expectation of any improvement in the condition ol man, and as sanctioning the worst of rulers in the worst of crimes. Had he made himself more fully acquainted with Mr. M.'s system, or had he been endowed with a mind better adapted for inquiries of this nature, he would have seen that neither of the charges preferred by him against the principles of the Essay on Population is well founded; and it would have been clear to him that revelation, by giving superior efficacy to the principle of moral restraint, admirably harmonizes with the doctrine of that performance. According to Mr. M., this world will never be, as some have represented, a Paradise of Mahomet; his principles, it is indubitable, disturb dreams of this sort: but if her flatters not mankind, he has, we conceive, given them more important practical information on the real nature of their situation than any other philosopher who has preceded him, whether antient or modern. His representation of it, we grant, is not such as our wishes would predict: but has it not the sanction'of reason and experience-? That it has not, the present author no where shews. Many philosophers had recommended early marriages; Mr. Malthus says that they must in general be late: but why should this forbid us to expect improvement in human affairs? Mr. Malthus asserts that nature requires us to impose restraint on a predominant passion of our nature; and that she invariably punishes those who in this respect disregard her " high behests:" but he has never said that she has delegated her authority to Tulers, and that she warrants their crimes.

Though we have been unable to discover in Dr. Jarroid'a pages any objections which materially affect the great bearings of Mr. Malthus's system, we must allow that our perusal of them has not been altogether unproductive labour. The author writes perspicuously and fluently; many of his observations, though inapplicable to the subjects in controversy, are in themselves valuable and interesting; and if he almost uniformly deals unfairly by Mr. Malthus, he does not openly brave all decency, and throw off all the restraints which the gentleman and the scholar will ever feel himself bound to regard. This is a compliment which we cannot pay to the latter of the

authors authors before us; and, indeed, he has taken no common pains to forfeit his right to every claim of the kind. In hit advertisement, this anonymous opponent of Mr. Malthus is pleased thus to express himself:

• If I could have attacked the work successfully, without attacking the author, I should have preferred doing so. But the thing was impossible. Who ever troubles himself about abstract reasonings, or calm, dispassionate inquiries after truth? The public ought not to blame me for consulting their taste.'

It :s seldom our lot to meet with any passage more reprehen. eible than this paragraph. That this writer could not attack the work in question without attacking its author, by which is to be understood attacking him personally with rudeness and vulgarity, is a gratuitous assertion which is wholly unsupported. If the public have no right to reproach this controversialist, is he to subject himself to self-reproach; or is he to degrade and prostitute letters, in order to gratify the vitiated propensity which he imputes to the world in general? We had understood that it was one of the most benignant and dignified of the functions of literature, to correct and purify the public taste, instead of to sanction and confirm it in what is wrong*, and for services of this sort, Addison has insured to himself eternal gratitude as well as fame. Because the public may be factious, fervorous, or fanatical, are authors to fan and encourage these odious and degrading propensities? If the taste of the public be such as this writer insinuates it is, we must do him the justice to slate that never has it been more effectually consulted; and if the public hold in aversion « abstract reasonings and calm dispassionate inquiries after truth,' he has taken ample care that his pages should present them with nothing of the sort. His style seems to have been formed on that of the most offensive of the daily prints which disgraqe the times, degrade the public mind, and pervert its views and feelings.

Dr. Jarrold, as we understand him, controverts Mr. Malthus'e principle itself: Mr. M.'s other adversary does not deny its existence, but takes great pains to shew what Mr. Malthus himself has far more clearly and satisfactorily set forth, namely that it is no new discovery: but, says this writer, even the application of it, as overturning the system of human perfectibility, has been previously made by Mr. Wallace. This doubtless is true \ this tendency was known to that gentleman, and had been noticed by others long before his time: but has Mr. Malthus arrogated to himself more of discovery in this matter than really belongs to him? Referring to the great principle which is the basis of his system, he says that

««The

« ПредишнаНапред »