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mestic partialities, contributing towards the welfare of the community at large. Man, in all situations, has both opportunity and inclination for vice, though all vices do not flourish equally in all situations. But ferocity, intemperance, and revenge, if they are not worse, certainly are not better than avarice, rapacity, or luxury; whilst the savaye vices have no compensation of delicate taste, refined manners, improved understanding, or exalted virtues. A contest for riches or power does not more disturb the harmony of life, than the disputed possession of a palm-tree or a cabin : but the latter produces no other fruit than private rancour or revengeful malice: the former enriches the state by the addition of two active and useful citizens.—vol.ii. p. 32.
It is obvious, and has been frequently shewn in detail, that the division and accumulation of property, the division of labour, and the consequent inequality of ranks and conditions, which follow the first steps in the progress of society, introduce the necessity of active exertion of some kind or other throughout all classes of the community.-- It is no less obvious that this general necessity for exertion and activity is the condition most suitable to the developement and improvement of the faculties of a being, in whom the principle of indolence is more strongly rooted than the principle of philanthropy,--or the abstract love of his fellow creatures. We find indeed that this last mentioned plant is the growth of civilization, and of a religion whose general influence implies a considerable advance beyond the savage state of equality. It is the glory indeed of that religion, that it introduces the only practicable system of equality—that of a moral kind, whereby mankind are placed upon a perfect level in the eye of God and man, as to all which respects their eternal interests, and which by its operation on individual minds often reverses the view invidiously taken of society by the advocates of political equality, by lifting the lowest in the scale of teniporal condition, to the highest point of temporal happiness. But the aristocracy of contentment and humility is no less an eye-sore to the levelling atheist, than the aristocracy of rank and fortune, or even than that of talent and industry and it is incontestible that the mere intellectual improvement which upon their system is to counteract the principle of indolence inherent in the equal condition of mankind, cannot be brought to bear except in a state of society which presupposes an equality of condition to be altogether impracticable. We may then fairly admit the truth of Mr. Sumner's conclusion of the third chapter of this volume: 'It is not presumptuous to conclude that the situation best calculated to improve by exercise the faculties of man is sivil society, consisting as it does of unequal fortunes, ranks and conditions.'
In the fourth chapter we approach nearer to the discussion of the principle of population. The subject on which it professes to treat is,' whether equality or inequality of ranks and fortunes is the condition best suited to the exercise of virtue. Now it seems undeniable that if the object of the Creator with respect to man be to discipline an imperfect creature, rather than to place a perfect character in a state of enjoyment suited to its faculties, the varieties of human condition, and the practical duties arising out of them, enlarge the sphere of action, and afford opportunities for the display of those virtues and charities which distinguish the renovated from the abandoned character. The theories which profess to remove all temptation to coveting, violence, and injustice, by giving every man an equal share of temporal advantages, and affording thereby to no one a just cause of complaint, seem to overlook the obvious truth that man is very apt to complain, to covet, and to defraud, without just cause, and even without any real want of the objects which tempt him to those crimes. The evil is in the heart, not in the outward circumstances; and unless those circumstances are so framed as to discipline the heart, no arbitrary arrangement will prevent its inward corruption from breaking out into overt acts. The history of all those tribes of mankind, where an apparent equality of condition is thought to exist, is conclusive upon this point; and the theory is obnoxious to the same reproach of absurdity with that to which we lately alluded, since it supposes a state of virtue, only to be acquired through the discipline and trial of a condition of inequality, to be compatible with one of perfect equality. A moment's reflection will convince any reasonable mind that this world is not the theatre upon which such a scene can be displayed.
The various duties and relations of the higher, the middle, and the labouring classes of society towards each other, with their effects in producing the respective evidences of virtue and obedience which the Creator requires from them, are described by Mr. Sumner with eloquence and feeling in several passages of this chapter, which we regret that we cannot afford space to extract. The reader of them should bear constantly in mind that the author by the terms of his contract was confined in this part of his work to the light of reason and of nature, and that the arguments to be derived from the Revelation of the Lord Jesus' were specially reserved to a subsequent portion of the Essay. With this remark we Jay before our readers the conclusions drawn by Mr. Sumner from the arguments of this chapter.
? On the whole, we may be allowed to conclude, that if it had been possible, according to the established system of the universe, for mankind to have continued equal in their fortunes and conditions, the same equality would have extended to their minds. The consequence would have been a general inferiority of the rational faculties. The existence of high practical rules raises the general standard of morality; because,
even if few attain the summit, all are tending, more or less, towards it. But those lights of the world, which have occasionally appeared, and have established, from collected observations, the most useful rules of conduct, and the sublimest morality, would have been extinct. Extinguish then these lights, annihilate ihese general rules, diminish at the same time the temptations to více and the opportunities of virtue, the advantage is doubtful, the evil certain. Experience does not acquaint us, that even the vices would be less gross or numerous; but it is -undeniable that the approved virtues would be both of a lower standard, and of rarer occurrence. Variety of condition enlarges the sphere of active duty; and every circumstance that enlarges the sphere of duty, contributes towards the perfection of a being, whose distinguishing faculty is obedience to reason, and whose most valuable quality is a power of moral and intellectual improvement commensurate with his individual situation.'-vol. ii. pp. 98, &c.
Having thus shewn that a state of society consisting of various ranks and conditions is best suited to excite the industry, and to discipline and promote the virtues of mankind, Mr. Sumner proceeds to the consideration of the SINGLE PRINCIPLE which he had previously announced as inevitably tending to bring the human race, generally speaking, ' into such a situation. We have already stated that we agree with Mr. Sumuer in believing that the principle of population, when rightly stated, will be found to be one of those means which Providence has ordained for the purpose of keeping the human faculties in a continual state of exertion, with a view to escape the difficulties which press upon individual comfort and happiness, in consequence of those changes which never fail to affect thein in some way or other during the progress of society from the lower to the higher stages. But in order to shew that this argument is practically sound, we hold it essential to prove that the exertions when made will be sufficient to relieve those who make them from the pressure under which they previously laboured. And here we think that Mr. Sumner has altogether failed, and by admitting in their full extent the truth of Mr. Malthus's propositions, has involved himself in many difficulties and inconsistencies. If it be true, as Mr. Sumner states from Mr. Malthus, that, even in countries greatly civilized, population is known to double itself in twenty-five years, provided a sufficient portion of unoccupied land remain to raise subsistence for it, we apprehend that the prospect held out to reward even the most active exertions, which men are capable of making in such countries to procure food, would be so disheartening, that far from leading to exertion, it would lead only to despair of any possibility of relief. It is well known to all who have inquired into the subject, that the power of bringing fresh land into cultivation in civilized
countries, or in those advanced beyond the purely agricultural state of society, is attended with numerous difficulties increasing with every step in the progress of advancement. If theu the power of multiplication in the human species continued the same, the evident impossibility of meeting the demand for food would be so apparent, that à rational man, instead of exercising prospective industry for the production of that which he would have very little chance of enjoying when produced, would feel exceedingly disposed to join in a scramble for the food already in existence. The operations necessary to carry on the government in a free country would be altogether impossible; and no resource would be left to keep mankind under sufficient controul, or to secure to the actual possessors the enjoyment of their property, but a tyranny sufficiently grinding either to repress the natural tendency to increase by generally prohibiting marriage among the lower orders; or to reduce them to the necessity of starving in quiet, without endangering the government; or, lastly, to encourage them, as in China, to have recourse to infanticide.
But the principal question, after all, resolves itself into this : Does the population in civilized countries still possessing large portions of uncultivated land, when unchecked by want or misery, actually increase, or rather is it physically possible that it should increase as fast as in the purely agricultural countries, i. e. can it double itself, when unchecked, in twenty-five years? We really apprehend that no rational man would ever have answered this question in the affirmative, if he had duly considered the terms of the proposition, and reflected for a moment on the effects which great towns, extensive manufactures, liberal professions, and the thousand avocations incident to increasing civilization, produce upon the numbers of mankind, independently of any necessary recurrence to an increase of vice, misery, or such a modification of moral restraint as includes an involuntary abstinence from marriage. Let us look to England, in which there is certainly enough of uncultivated or ill-cultivated land to support, under improvement, double its present population; yet such has been the result of the spontaneous arrangements and distribution of the people, that notwithststanding the forcing principle of the poor laws, the populatiou has not doubled itself in two centuries; and yet there is less of vice and misery, and, perhaps, of involuntary abstinence from marriage on the part of the lower orders, than in any country in the world, and there is no commercial or manufacturing country where the facilities of bringing fresh land into cultivation or of improving that already cultivated are so great. If then population has a physical inability to increase with equal rapidity in civilized and manufaeturing, as in rude and agricultural countries, the prin
cipal cipal limb of Mr. Malthus's fundamental proposition is evidently paralyzed, and we may with some degree of comfort consider ourselves relieved from the necessity of considering God as either directly or indirectly the author of moral evil; or of believing the necessary
existence of moral evil in order to counteract the natural evil of a population inevitably increasing beyond any possibility of providing for it the means of subsistence.
Still, however, another question remains to be resolved in order to apply the argument to the case now under consideration. If the natural or spontaneous teudency of population to increase is not such as it is stated by Mr. Malthus, to what extent does it actually reach in the several states of society in which mankind are found to exist ?
To enter into a full discussion of this most interesting subject would evidently exceed the limits to which we are necessarily confined on the present occasion. We are aware, however, of the importance of a full discussion of the principles of population and production in the present conflicting state of the public opinion on that great practical question; and we shall hope to undertake something of the kind at no distant period. Without entering minutely at present into the arguments, we think ourselves authorized to assert with some confidence, that every step which a country takes in the progress of society, and consequently towards the end of its resources in cultivation, is accompanied by a corresponding abatement in the progress of population arising out of natural circumstances of constant and universal operation, and unalterable by any laws within the power of man to controul. Different degrees of morals and of civil liberty will, of course, advance or retard a community in its progress towards the higher stages of society; but whatever tends to its advancement in that progress will equally tend to abate the rapidity with which population might be supposed to proceed in the earlier stages of society. Whatever tends to retard a community in its advancement to the higher stages will equally tend, not indeed to the actual increase of population, but to that miserable condition in which a scanty number of people are found half-starved, as in Spain and other countries, in the midst of a fertile territory soliciting the efforts of their industry, and prepared to make an ample return of subsistence. Be it observed also, that there is an extreme point in the progress of civilization towards its highest stage, in which the population of a country cannot naturally increase its numbers any further ; and that this will occur from the same causes which produce the civilization itself, before the land of the country is cultivated up to its fullest capacity of production. Thus are we brought to the glorious conclusion that a free, a civilized, and a tolerably moral community will, under any circum