« AnteriorContinuar »
his consistency any more than the other advocates of Mr. Malthus's system.-Indeed his practical and benevolent turn of mind, and the compendious manner in which he seems to have adopted the system without mature inquiry, have made him vastly more inconsistent than most of his predecessors. His good sense and the intelligent observation of what he saw around him haye most unceremoniously brought him to the right conclusions on both the fundamental points abovementioned, with a most disloyal contempt of the authority of those principles to the sovereignty of which, in an evil hour, his judgment had somewhat too hastily sworn allegiance.
With respect to the exercise of charity, he fairly gives up the point as far as practice is concerned, and does not pretend to defend the abstract argument by any such subterfuge as we have somewhere seen, 'that general principles should not be pushed tou far; and that cases may occur where the good resulting may more than overbalance the evil to be apprehended. It is scarcely necessary to observe, that the question in debate is not as to cases of particular exception, but as to the general principles upon which the conduct of states and individuals should be regulated. There are in this part of the Essay many judicious remarks upon the effects of charity upon the lower orders, in which we cordially agree, and which we believe to be quite consistent with the view which we have taken of the principle of population.
With respect to the marriage of the lower orders, the following passage occurs, which we should feel disposed to call a pattern plan for the moral welfare and temporal happiness of the labouring poor in that respect. We are only surprized how an advocate of Mr. Malthus's system could ever have thought of suggesting it as sufficient to ensure their permanent comfort.
• The wages of husbandry, including the additions of harvest-timè, may be averaged at 12s. per week, from the age of eighteen. Half that sum is amply sufficient for the support of a single man. This would leave an overplus of 6s. per week for seven years: but, to avoid any appearance of overstating the fact, and to allow for lost time, we will only take 4s. or 10l. per annum, which, if regularly laid up, would, with interest, make 801. by the age of twenty-five. Allow the mechanic to work for himself at twenty-one, his higher rate of enable him to save 10s. weekly, or 21l. per annum.
The careful application of this surplus will also make him worth the same sum at twenty-five.*
• Allow this to be the period of marriage, which is much earlier than
The exertions which the lower classes make, when they see the benefit clearly before them, would surprize the nere calculator of the money which passes through their hands. See Mr. Whitbread's speech on the Poor Laws, and the case of Joseph Austin, (Reports on the Pour, vol. iii.), with many others which occur in that collection. VOL. XVI. NO, XXXI.
for this very
the average period of those who are brought up to the learned professions. It is probable, that by similar habits the wife may contribute such a share of capital as will supply the cottage with its humble furniture. At all events, they live without difficulty, even if without further saving, for four or five years ; the interest of former savings paying the rent, and thus removing the necessity of those extraordinary exertions, which in the way of task-work sometimes undermine the constitutions of the industrious poor. If the family increases after this time, difficulties will increase. This is the period of a labourer's life which it is hardest to encounter, from his thirtieth to his fortieth year : it is the inclement season, which ought to be expected and looked forward to. Before that period, he has only occasion to be frugal; after it, his children will begin to support themselves, but at present, an infant family will prevent the wife from contributing much towards the weekly outgoings; and the children themselves can gain nothing towards them. Former savings, therefore, the harvest of the productive season, must now be drawn upon : but they were laid up purpose, and we can afford it. Let 58. a week be taken from the four dead months of the year; those who are conversant with the labourer's cottage, will know that 5s. in addition to his usual wages will place him in comparative opulence; and suppose this draft to be continued during ten years, the capital has only lost 401. From that time the children contribute their share; the family ceases to be a growing burden ; and there remains a stock towards setting forward the children in life, or to şupply some of the numerous wants of increasing years.?—(pp. 314– 317.)
Now if we do not mistake, there is no period of life at which a healthy couple could come together with greater prospect of rearing a numerous family, than at the age of twenty-five. Suppose then that Mr. Sumner's suggestions were generally carried into effect, we should, according to Mr. Malthus's principles, have in one generation only such overflowing numbers, that it is evident they must either starve, or the period of marriage in the next generation must be deferred to the age of thirty, forty, or fifty years, to that period of life, in short, which may be assumed upon the same theory to be not more than sufficient to replace the number of the parents. According to our principles, however, the suggestion would be as salutary and permanent in operation as it is wise and benevolent in conception; for the healthy progeny which it would be calculated to produce, would be drawn off spontaneously to supply the deficiencies of those places where the effects of commerce, civilization, and manufactures had either occasioned in other parts of the community a defalcation of numbers, or required an additional supply of hands to take advantage of resources newly opened to the industry of the people. And let it be observed, the price paid in the remuneration of labour, which is always an index of the extent of these demands, would necessarily regulate in a great
degree the means which the parents would possess of rearing the supply. Upon these principles, then, we adopt without reserve the suggestion of Mr. Sumner, and again congratulate ourselves upon arriving at the same point, although by routes so very different.
Upon the supreme dominion which should always be preserved by sound morals and religion over these departments of political inquiry, the sentiments of Mr. Sumner are extremely creditable to him as a divine and as a philosopher. A Christian philanthropist is seldom more exposed to the temptation of losing his patience, than at beholding profligate men attacking political institutions, because they are experimentally found incapable of conferring happiness upon an idle and immoral people. The wickedness of such conduct is as abandoned as its folly is contemptible. God himself, we perceive, has not framed even his own ordinances to save mankind the trouble of exertiou in their moral and political progress, but to force them to make exertion. If they wilfully refuse, he ordains that the result to them shall be misery, temporal and eternal. Can there be greater folly then, than to expect that human institutions shall be capable of reversing this decree?—that men are to abandon their duty to themselves and to society, and yet presume to look up to their government for the rewards and comforts which it is impossible to bestow except upon moral and political rectitude ? And if this expectation is contrary to common sense, can there be more abandoned profligacy, than to attack the political institutions of their country for a consequence of which the complainants themselves are the only cause ? Let them then remount to the cause, let them apply the remedy there, and the consequence will quickly disappear. Let each take one individual in hand, viz. himself; and he will be quite astonished at the effect which the very institutions complained of will immediately produce upon his own virtue and happiness. In short, if the history of the world, and especially of modern times, has established any truths more firmly than others, we think they are these :- that institutions projected with a vie'n to make prosperity consist with immorality, have an immediate tendency to overturn the foundations of national and individual happiness--and that institutions projected with the opposite view can only endure so long as the spirit of the people is congenial with that of the institutions; that is, so long as the moral agents will agree to act upon those principles, upon which their convictions have led them to consent to be governed.
These have long been the settled convictions of our judgment; and it is needless to express the pleasure we derived from perusing the following delineation of the practical inferences which naturally flow from them.
It is very soothing to our indolence and self-satisfaction, to charge pon the constitution of the world, that in, upon the ordinances of the
Deits, Deity, the various evils of poverty and ignorance which confront us on every side. But it would be more reasonable, as well as more decorous, to inquire in the first place, how far such evils arise necessarily from the law of nature, and how far, on the other hand, they admit of easy mitigation, and only need that care and attention which the Christian religion enjoins every man to bestow upon his neighbour. When a South American Indian is seized with an infectious disorder, he is shut up in a solitary hovel, and abandoned to his fate.
In our improved state of society, the sufferer under a similar calamity experiences the benefit of skill and care, and is probably recovered. But we must not be Europeans in our treatment of bodily maladies, and Americans as to the minds and morals of our fellow-creatures. The Author of our existence, when he did not exempt us from the civil or physical disorders of an imperfect state, ordained also that each shoult! have their alleviations; without which mankind would live miserably or perish prematurely. Those alleviations, indeed, are not definitely pointed out or prescribed. Neither was it possible they should be ; inasmuch as they depend on circumstances varying at every point of civilization, varying in every climate and country, and even in the same country according to its progress towards opulence. The human race, whose faculties are infinitely improved by a state of advanced civilization, is bound to employ them in discovering and applying the remedies of those evils which peculiarly belong to each condition of society.
• It is a part of the system by which the Deity acts universally, to render man a free and spontaneous, but not a necessary instrument of his own welfare.
-Pater ipse colendi
Nec torpere gravi passus sua regna veterno. This is as true of the natural as of the moral world. Neither soil can dispense with cultivation. But both are so constituted as to be capable of excellent produce. Let that only be undertaken, which in our advanced stage of civilization is within the reach of practicable accomplishment, and the general state of society, like the country it cultis vates, would on every side be full of “ beauty to the eye and music to the ear." -(pp. 290-292.)
Having already, we fear, more than exhausted the patience of our readers, we shall only observe of the evils and advantages of uncivilized life, that its evils seem evidently intended by Provi- . dence to excite the sufferers to those exertions which are to advance them in the progress of society ;—and that we cannot agree with Mr. Sumner in classing what he calls its advantages under the head of compensations for those enjoyments which might be acquired by fulfilling the purposes of Providence. Such a statement confounds all our ideas of the scheme of moral government displayed in the previous chapters of the Essay, and appears to us to involve the absurdity of supposing that the Creator has infused into
bis own plan ingredients of a nature to counteract the salutary influences which he expects from its application. This chapter, however, like all the rest, contains many ingenious remarks, and illustrations; and though it requires to be read with caution, will afford subjects of useful and agreeable reflection to a contemplative mind.
The practical inferences 'most necessary for and useful to mankind,' which by the terms of the contract were to be deduced * from the whole,' are confined by Mr. Sumner within a space of twenty pages; and even the greater part of these is devoted to the removal of sceptical objections against the Divine goodness and justice, founded upon the absence of the frequent and visible interference of the Almighty in the affairs of men ;-a discussion evidently forming part of the main argument. At this scanty notice of so important a branch of the inquiry proposed, we cannot help expressing some surprize and regret. We should have thought that a more attractive subject could scarcely have been offered to a Christian divine and philosopher, than the inferences justly deducible from the dealings of God with man in the ways of providence and grace. Where te has done so much for us, that we should be ready to sacrifice all for him, is a position, which even insulated from every other, involves all the modifications of self-denial and of humility, introduced by the various relations of ranks, and of individuals to themselves and others, but which every individual of every rank is so averse from investigating, and from practising even to the extent of his knowledge. We admit that a full detail of these duties would have been inconsistent with the limits of the Essay, and perhaps unnecessary from the facility with which access may be had to the knowledge of them in the works of other writers) But
a concise and eloquent summary; enlarging occasionally upon those points which are least obvious, most difficult of attainment, and most imperative in the times and nation in which we live, would have been both within the powers of Mr. Suniner, and consistent with the limits to which he was confined. We shall be glad to follow him through such a summary upon some future occasion, and if he will now undertake it, we shall be very far from regretting that its execution was delayed.
Art. IV. A Voyage round the World, from 1806 to 1812; in
which Japan, Kamschatka, the Aleutian Islands, and the Sandwich Islands were visited, &c. By Archibald Campbell. Edin
burgh. 1816. IN
one of the steam-boats that ply on the river Clyde, the appearance of a poor young sailor, who was playing on the violin for the amusement of the passengers, attracted the notice of Mr. Smith,