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BOOK II.: Of The Power Of Increase In The Numbers Of The Human Species, And The Limitations Of That Power. - William Godwin, Of Population. An Enquiry concerning the Power of Increase in the Numbers of Mankind 
Of Population. An Enquiry concerning the Power of Increase in the Numbers of Mankind, being an Answer to Mr. Malthus’s Essay on that Subject (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1820).
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Of The Power Of Increase In The Numbers Of The Human Species, And The Limitations Of That Power.
Proofs And Authorities For The Doctrine Of The Essay Of Population.
The object I proposed to myself in the preceding Book was to bring together such views on the subject of population, as might be inferred from the actual numbers of mankind in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America, either in ancient or modern times, as far as any clear notions might be obtained on that subject; and hence to conclude what was the amount of probability, as arising from those facts, for or against Mr. Malthus's theory. And I am willing to believe, that every reader who has thus far gone along with me, is satisfied, that, as far as probability goes, nothing can be more improbable, or do greater violence to all the facts handed down to us in history, than the principles of the Essay on Population.
I shall now attempt to go more deeply and scientifically into the question, and endeavour to ascertain what is the law of our nature respecting the increase of our species or otherwise, so far as that law can be inferred from the different documents and statistical tables, which the curiosity of governments, or the industry of men writing on the subjects of political economy, have accumulated and given to the world.
The whole system and doctrine of Mr. Malthus's Essay proceeds upon a very simple position; the tendency of human beings to multiply beyond the means of subsistence: and he plainly thinks that he grants to his opposers more than in argument they are entitled to claim, when he States that “population, where it is unchecked, goes on doubling itself every twenty-five years, or increases in a geometrical ratioa ;” while “the means of subsistence, under circumstances the most favourable to human industry, could not possibly be made to increase faster than in an arithmetical ratiob “that is, to” be increased every twenty-five years by a quantity equal to what it at present producesc .”
To make this idea more intelligible to every reader, Mr. Malthus proceeds to state the effect of his two ratios in figures, and observes, “If Ave take the whole earth as the subject of our calculation, emigration will of course be excluded. Let us suppose the present population of the earth equal to a thousand millions; the human species, if the principle of population remained unchecked, would increase every twenty-five years, as the numbers 1, 2, 4, 8,16, 32, 64, 128, 256, and the subsistence as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. In two centuries the population would be to the means of subsistence as to 256 to 9; in three centuries as 4096 to 13; and in two thousand years the difference would be almost incalculabled .”
As Mr. Matthus's position is simple, his proof is not less distinguished for brevitye . It is, I think, all summed up in the following sentence: “In the Northern States of America [meaning I believe, the northern parts of the republic, known under the name of The United States of North America], the population has been found to double itself, for above a century and a half successively, in less than twenty-five yearsf .” To which he adds presently after: “This is a rate of increase in which all concurring testimonies agree, and has repeatedly been ascertained to be from procreation onlyg .”
This, and this only, is the entire basis upon which Mr. Malthus's doctrine relies for its stability. He has added however certain authorities, upon which he founds his expectation of inducing the public to acquiesce in his statement. They are these:
1.Dr. Franklin. The statement of this author as quoted by Mr. Malthush , is, “There is no bound to the prolific nature of plants or animals, but what is made by their crowding and interfering with each other's means of subsistence. Were the face of the earth vacant of other plants, it might be gradually sowed and overspread with one kind only, as for instance with fennel: and were it empty of other inhabitants, it might in a few ages be replenished from one nation only, as for instance with Englishmen.”
The Essay from which this extract is taken, is entitled, “Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, &c.” It occupies nine pages in the late edition of Franklin's Works, 1806i , and was written in 1731, when the author was twenty-five years of age.
2. Dr. Ezra Styles. This gentleman published in Boston, New England, in 1761, a Sermon on Christian Union, “some extracts from which Mr. Malthus has had an opportunity to seek .” Dr. Styles, it seems,” speaking of Rhode Island, says, that though the period of doubling for the whole colony is twenty-five years, yet that it is different in different parts, and within land is twenty and fifteen yearsk.”
3. Dr. Pricel . This however seems not to be an authority distinct from the preceding. Dr. Price, in a letter to Dr. Franklin, which was read to the Royal Society, April 27,1769. and published in the Philosophical Transactions, Vol. LIX, and again republished by the author in his Observations on Reversionary Paymentsm , says to his correspondent,” A doubling of population in eighty-four years is, as you, sir, well know [probably referring to Dr. Franklin's Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind above-quoted], a very slow increase, compared with that which takes place among our colonies in American .” At the bottom of the page Dr. Price refers us for further information to Dr. Styles's Sermon.
4. Euler. Who, in a Table inserted in Suss-milch's Gottliche Ordnung, “ calculates, on a mortality of one in thirty-six, that if the births be to the deaths in the proportion of three to one, the period of doubling will be only twelve years and four-fifthso .”
5. Sir William Petty. Who “supposes a doubling possible in so short a time as ten yearsp .”
Being dissatisfied with Mr. Malthus's authorities, and finding some of his references inaccurate, I addressed that gentleman in the following letter:
I am at this moment engaged in a careful examination of your Essay on Population, and may probably commit something to the press on the subject. I therefore take the liberty to request your answer to the following question.
In page 7 of the fifth edition, Vol. I, you say, “In the northern states of America, —— the population has been found to double itself, for above a century and a half successively, in less than twenty-five years.” Will you have the goodness to state to me by letter your authority for this assertion?
I am, Sir, very respectfully,
your most obedient servant.
To this letter Mr Malthus returned me an immediate answer.
Upon referring to the passage you mention in your letter, I find that the authorities on which I principally rest, are the details mention ed by Dr. Price in his Observations on Reversionary Payments, pp. 282, &c.p , and the pamphlet of Dr. Styles to which he particularly refers I afterwards saw some statements and calculations, which make the period of doubling only twenty years from the first settlement of America to the year 1800. But in the fifth edition, I find that the reference is made wrong, and that it should have been, Book ii. Ch. 13, instead of II.
To this note, which occurs Vol. II, p. 194, of the fifth edition, I would refer you for my principal authorities at the time I published the quarto edition; but since that, the late Statistical View of America, by T.Titkin, in which are contained the three regular Census's of 1790, 1800, and 1810, together with an estimation in 1749, more than confirms what was there stated. Comparing the two Census's of 1790 and 1810 together, it appears that the population during that period doubled itself in about twenty-three years; and from the estimate in 1749, in about the same time or less. This would admit of ample allowance for foreign immigration.
Animadversions On Mr. Malthus'ss, Authorities.
Having thus therefore got together all the authorities that Mr. Malthus has produced, or is able to produce, in support of his fundamental positions, let us proceed to examine into their validity and amount.
The first is Dr. Franklin. What he says on the subject of fennel, is of a very vague nature I do not imagine that any one will ascribe to this bare assertion the force of demonstration If I had heard it for the first time in conversation, and without having previously reflected on the subject, I should have answered, “Very likely.” No more. The proposition is specious enough: but appearances are sometimes deceitful. Probability is not always on the side of truth. We are not sufficiently acquainted with the natural history of fennel, and of fennel-seed, to entitle us to pronounce positively. He that should undertake to “overspread the whole earth” with fennel, and that felt quite confident of the success of his experiment, I should have been apt to pronounce a very bold man.
But, when Dr. Franklin proceeds from this hazarded assertion about fennel, to say, “Were the earth empty of other inhabitants, it might in a few ages be” replenished from one nation only, as for instance with Englishmen,” he makes a very wide step indeed. There, is a great difference between the sowing of seed, and the multiplication of men. I have myself counted eighty grains of com, growing on one stalk, from a single seed, in the course of a season. The sowing of vegetables is a very simple thing; and we are apt to think that we can calculate with some certainty on the result. And yet, I own I cannot feel an undoubting confidence in Dr. Franklin's crop of millions of acres of fennel
The multiplication of mankind however is an affair of another sort, and governed by different laws. It has by many persons been believed that we do multiply; but what was the rate of increase, no one, till the year 1731, had ventured to pronounce. It may be that I want the robust nerves of Dr. Franklin and Mr. Malthus; but I own, if the human species were by some tremendous casualty swept from every other part of the globe, except this island, I should not like to witness the experiment, whether or no its present population could be replenished with Englishmen only.
I do not know how the world was peopled at first. We are told, that we arc all descended from a single pair: but we are not entitled to reason from this memorable history, to the every-day occurrences of life. The creation of the world, and the peopling of the earth, are all a miracle. The settling of countries and the dispersion of mankind were conducted by the immediate hand of the creator. Besides, human life, it is written, was originally of the duration of nearly a thousand years; and this may be supposed to have made a wide difference in the rate of multiplication.
But Dr. Franklin and Mr. Malthus are both of them calculators and philosophers. They do not pretend to appeal to miracles for the truth of their theories. Mr. Malthus in particular deals largely in statistical tables, and collections of the registers of births, marriages and deaths, in these latter ages of the world; and to these I shall presently take leave to accompany him.
Dr. Franklin I own has obtained a great name. But, when he launches into assertions so visionary as those here recited, and above all, when I recollect what tremendous and heartsickening consequences Mr. Malthus has deduced from these assertions, I must say that a great name goes with me for nothing, and I must subject his positions to a strict examination.
Dr. Franklin is in this case particularly the object of our attention, because he was the first man that started the idea of the people of America being multiplied by procreation, so as to “double their numbers every twenty years.” Dr. Franklin, born at Boston, was eminently an American patriot; and the paper from which these extracts are taken, was expressly written to exalt the importance and glory of his country.
The following is the way in which he supports his hypothesis respecting the population of America. “If it is reckoned in Europe that there is but one marriage per annum among one hundred persons, perhaps we may here reckon on two; and if in Europe they have but four births to a marriagea , we may here reckon eight.” It were to be wished, that Dr. Franklin had given his reasons for this amazing superiority in the fruitfulness of the marriage-bed on the other side the Atlantic. Is it any thing in the climate? Dr. Franklin says something respecting the late marriages of Europe; and this we shall shortly have occasion to examine. But he could hardly have thought that all European brides were so old, as from that circumstance alone to account for their having no more than half the offspring of the brides of America. If this paper were without a date, I should have thought it had been written long before twenty-five years of age.
It is not a little curious, that the next authority upon which we are called upon to believe in Mr. Malthus's fundamental positions, is a Sermon delivered sixty years ago, by a puritanical preacher in Connecticut, which Sermon Mr. Malthus never saw.
To make a just estimate of the authority of Sir William Petty, it is necessary to quote his words. “Suppose there be 600 people; in natural possibility this number may yield near 75 births annually. For by some late observations the teeming females between. 15 and 44 years of age, are about 180 of the said 600, and the males of between 18 and 59, are about 180 also, and every teeming woman can bear a child once in two years; from all which it is plain, that the births may be 90 per annum, and (abating 15 for sickness, young abortions, and natural barrenness) there may remain 75 births, which is an eighth of the people; which births by some observations we have found to be actually but a two-and-thirtieth part, or but a quarter of what is thus shewn to be naturally possible. Now, according to this reckoning, if the births may be 75 of 600 annually, and the burials but 15, then the annual increase of the people will be 60; and so the said 600 people may double in 10 years.”
Now in this passage three things are assumed: first, the amount of teeming women in any given number of people; secondly, the amount of deaths annually; and thirdly, the amount of births annually, that are, according to Sir William, “in natural possibility.” Without going into the accuracy of the amounts in the two former instances, the first thing worthy of notice is that these two amounts are given as founded upon actual observations, while for the third the author confessedly has resort to the regions of possibility. But in this there is no parity.
And what does Sir William Petty mean by “natural possibility?” How can we know any thing of possibilities, as to the natural history of man, but from actual observation? Sir William Petty assumes that every female between 15 and 44 years of age is what he calls a teeming female, or in other words capable of bearing a child once in two years, and that 15 out of 90 is an ample allowance for natural barrenness, for abortions, and for such indisposition, of whatever sort, on the part of the female, as should produce a temporary incapacity for child-bearing. He further supposes that each female shall be the mother of fourteen children, or, more accurately speaking of fourteen children and a half; for, if the teeming women are constantly in the proportion of 180, and the number of children born annually stands as Sir William Petty has set it down, then it is obvious that every teeming woman, in other words, every woman between 15 and 44 years of age, must bear a child every second year. Now where does Sir William find this? And, if I were to say, that it is a “natural impossibility,” that every woman between these ages should do thus, should I not have as much, or rather a great deal more, reason on my side?
So much for Sir William Petty's “possible doubling of mankind in so short a time as ten years.”
I next proceed to consider the authority of Euler, who, according to Mr. Malthus, “calculates, on a mortality of 1 in 36, that if the births be to the deaths in the proportion of 3 to 1, the period of doubling will be only 12 years and 4-5ths.”
The name of Euler is truly imposing. He is one of the most eminent mathematicians of modern times, and is worthy to be ranked with the greatest geniuses in that science in ages past. But it is truly to very little purpose that the name of Euler is introduced into this question. And I am persuaded, if he could have been aware of the use that would be made of his authority, he would have taken effectual care that it should not be employed for the purpose of imposing unfounded theories on the world.
Euler never wrote a book on the population of the earth, and the multiplication of the human species. If he had, I cannot but believe that he would have looked with a penetrating eye and a persevering temper into the subject. He would not have been discouraged by its intricacies; but would have spent years of patient labour in collecting all the documents and tables that could be found, and by careful comparison have endeavoured to deduce from them such results as might be worthy of the confidence of future generations. He has done no such thing.
How comes his name then to be mixed up with the subject of which Mr. Malthus treats?
A writer, to whose pages we are considerably indebted, and who appears to have been extremely assiduous in the execution of his task, John Peter Sussmilch, member of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Berlin, undertook a work, entitled, Die Gottliche Ordnung, &c.; or, The Order of Divine Providence, as Displayed in the Births, Deaths, and Increase of the Human Race, which was first published in 1765 in two volumes octavo, and has since been enlarged into three. This work is replete with statistical tables; and the author was at indefatigable pains in collecting all the documents that could throw light on his subject. His volumes are therefore of great value as a book of reference. The professed object of Sussmilch was, first to demonstrate the possibility of an increase in the population of the earth, and then to recommend the adoption of such means as he was able to suggest for realising that increase.
The great merit of this writer is patience and perseverance; and he appears to have been laudably diffident of his own abilities in matters of mathematical calculation. He therefore applied to Euler. Euler was a man of the highest reputation in the exact sciences, and had been employed by Frederic the Second, in the beginning of his reign, to assist in remodelling and giving new life and vigour to his Academy. Euler, with that liberality which ought always to be the characteristic of a man of genius, lent himself to the request of his brother-academician. For this purpose it was no wise necessary that he should study the subject of population; nor did he attempt to do so. He was responsible only for the fidelity of his calculations. Sussmilch gave him certain questions, gratuitous and arbitrary suppositions as to an imaginary multiplication of mankind; and Euler worked the sums. Every one therefore may easily judge, with what propriety Euler is brought forward as an authority on the occasion. As well might Bonnycastle in his Introduction to Algebra be cited to prove that a gentleman gave four millions five hundred thousand pounds for a horse, because he has shewn that, upon a certain computation, if adopted, that would actually have been the price of the horse.
The computation of Euler to which Mr. Malthus refers, stands thus. “If in any country there are 100,000 persons living, and the annual mortality is one in thirty-six, then, supposing the annual proportion of deaths to births to be variously, as 10 to 11, 10 to 12, and so on, up to as 10 to 30, what will be the numbers of persons who will yearly be added to the society, and what will be the number of years required for the original 100,000 persons to become 200,000?” Euler's answer is that “the period of doubling on the first supposition would be 250 years, and—on the last would be twelve years and four-fifthsb .” This question certainly did not require the extraordinary abilities of Euler to solve. If the sum were worked upon the Rule of Compound Interest, to be found in any of the common books of arithmetic, the answer would be exactly the same as it is in Euler's Table.
Surely the reading part of the public have seldom been so egregiously trifled with, as when Mr. Malthus. gravely placed this calculation of Euler among his authorities for the rapid multiplication of mankind.
The question which the real politician is called upon to examine, is not what would be the result upon certain arbitrary suppositions, but what does actually happen in the community of mankind.
Mr. Malthus indeed adds, “This proportion [viz. the proportion on which Euler calculates a doubling in twelve years and four-fifths] has actually occurred for short periods in more countries than onec .”
This the Essay on Population asserts in its usual Laconic style.
Surely it is not thus, that the gravest question (if at all grave) which was ever presented to the consideration of mankind, ought to be treated. Let it be remembered, that the corollary from this and the like propositions, is that vice and misery, and nothing but vice and misery, are the indispensible guarantees for the existence of our race.
I cannot for myself consent to admit such a proposition with such a corollary, without the minutest and the strictest examination. One line, or even six pagesd , will never satisfy me in a question of this sort. If Mr. Malthus had named his countries and his periods, it would then have been open for me to ascertain what peculiar circumstances might have occasioned this doubling for the confessedly “short periods” our author speaks of.
But what have we to do with “short periods?” The speculations of the Essay on Population, with which the world has been made drunk for twenty years, treat of nothing less than infinity. The main proposition of the author is that “population, if unchecked, will go on doubling itself every twenty -five years, or increase in a geometrical ratio:” that is, will go on for ever: when it has once begun, nothing can stop it totally but the consummation of all things, or partially but some of those checks which fall under the heads either of vice or misery. Indeed Mr. Malthus has recently told us, that, “if any person will take the trouble to make the calculation,” he may easily ascertain how long a time, upon his principles, will be necessary, to people the whole visible universe with human beings at the rate of four men to every square yarde . What have “short periods” of increase to do with this?
It will more fully appear as we proceed that short periods of increase afford no foundation whatever upon which to found our conclusion as to any ratio of increase in perpetual series.f
But it is worth while to dwell a little upon this doubling in infinite series, which is the corner-stone of Mr. Malthus's system. The rules for calculating such a series are to be found in every common book of arithmetic: but hitherto it has been regarded by almost all sober men, as an exercise in calculation, a mathematical recreation, and nothing more.
Mr. Bonnycastle, as above quoted, has ascertained the price of a horse, if he were purchased by the rule of a geometrical progression, of which the exponent is 2, and if the progression, beginning at a farthing, were carried on through thirty-two steps. Dr. Price has calculated the produce of one penny put out at our Saviour's birth to five per cent. compound interest, and finds that in the year 1791 it would have increased to a greater sum than would be contained in three hundred millions of earths, all solid goldg . But did any one ever think of applying this to the affairs of real existence? Has any one ever given four millions sterling for a horse? Did any one ever, by dint of compound interest, for himself and his successors, turn a penny into three hundred millions of earths, all solid gold? Is it worth our while, except as a puzzle to sharpen the wits of school-boys, to talk either of the one or the other? As little, be sure, are Mr. Malthus's ratios worthy to be thought of by statesmen, or acted upon even by the overseers of parish-workhouses, to which, according to our author, they eminently belongh .
There is such a thing, well known among logicians, as an argument, that proves too much, and by so doing is universally set down as proving nothing. If ever there was such an argument, such is Mr. Malthus's argument from “the American increase;” or, in other words, such is “the American increase” as expounded by Mr. Malthus. A sound and well regulated mind, that is engaged in other matters than mathematical puzzles and wonders, soon comes to a stand amidst the luxuriances of an infinite series.
In this respect we may perhaps consider ourselves as substantially indebted to Mr. Malthus for the illustration, introduced into his last work, of peopling the whole visible universe at the rate of four men to every square yard. There is no bubble so brilliant, that, if you attempt to blow it up to too vast a size, will not presently burst, and shew to every bystander that it was but a bubble all the while.
There is, says Mr. Malthus, a tendency in the human species, susceptible of the effect of in no long time peopling all the stars. And yet, according to his own shewing, this tendency has never displayed itself, but in one insignificant period of one hundred and fifty years, in one remote corner of the world, and with what circumstances of evidence we shall presently have occasion to enquire. Credat Judœus Apella.
If the principle of population had gone on unchecked for eighteen hundred years, it would have produced men enough to fill the whole visible universe with human creatures as thick as they could stand: this is in so many words the doctrine of our author. The earth is at this moment computed to contain 600,000,000 of human beings. I wish Mr. Malthus has put down his numbers, that, by subtracting the one from the other, we might see by a glance of the eye, how many had been crushed in the egg, or destroyed in infancy. But I have shewn in the proper place, that, upon the reasonings of the Essay on Population, they were not crushed in the egg, but were actually born, and actually died in childhoodi .
Let us however treat the doctrine of our author fairly. God forbid that we should crush the “principle of population” under the weight of numbers that do not belong to it! It is true that, upon our author's principles, all in every generation are born that can be born. But, for as many as die in their infancy, we cannot count upon their progeny. This progeny is only crushed in the egg. Granted: yet I must be allowed to set on the other side the age of the world. It would need only eighteen hundred years to people the whole visible universe at the rate of four men to every square yard: but the world has lasted according to the most moderate statements six thousand years; according to the Indians and Chinese many hundred times as long. Oh, for a sober philosopher to count up the innumerable infinities (how shall I express the idea!) of children that have died for the benefit of the geometrical ratio—beside all that mortality, which the records of countries or the sad ruminations of the moralist, had recognised, and thought they had completed the tale, little suspecting the discovery which has since been made of Mr. Malthus's ratios! Millions become as insignificant as units, when applied to this consideration. Dr. Price's three hundred millions of earths all solid gold, are nothing. Three hundred millions of earths all solid men, would not constitute the millionth part of that company which is set before us, when Mr. Malthus draws up the curtain, and shews us the geometrical ratio.—I must again repeat, How do we know this? Upon what evidence is it to be received? Upon one solitary experiment (and I must be allowed to add, a most equivocal one) of one bare hundred and fifty years, in one infant colony, as I may call it, in an obscure nook of the New World; and this replied to and refuted, with one voice, and with an evidence the most consenting and astounding, by all ages and countries, by all sects of religion and forms of government, that were ever heard of or devised.
If America had never been discovered, the geometrical ratio, as applied to the multiplication of mankind, would never have been known. If the British colonies had never been planted, Mr. Malthus would never have written. The human species might have perished of a long old age, a fate to which perhaps all sublunary things are subject at last, without one statesman or one legislator through myriads of centuries, having suspected this dangerous tendency to increase, “in comparison with which human institutions, however they may appear to be causes of much mischief to society, are mere feathers.” There have been new lights in religion; and there are new lights in politics: a spark struck out fortuitously, but carefully, gathered up and preserved by men anxiously solicitous for the public weal. “The light shineth in darkness.”
But it may be said, though Mr. Malthus should be wrong in his calculations, and the power of increase in the numbers of the human species should not be altogether so prodigious as is above stated, it may nevertheless be sufficiently great to authorise all the practical inferences and precautions insisted on in the Essay on Population.
When once I have brought the reader to this point, I consider myself as having gained my cause.
The law of arithmetical and geometrical progression is one of the clearest things in the whole compass of human knowledge. It is altogether as certain, considered as matter of abstract science, as it is absurd and inapplicable, when we attempt to connect it with real life and the ebbs and flows of sublunary things. It admits no half-measures. It is like the vis inertiœ, which sir Isaac Newton has set down as a principal law of the phenomena of matter. Once set in motion, it moves for ever, and for ever with the same force.
Mr. Malthus's discovery is built on “the American increase.” He “considers it as proved, as soon as relatedk .” “The population has been found to double itself, for above a century and a half successively, in twenty-five years, and that by procreation only.” “The American increase” proves the geometrical ratio of increase, or it proves nothing. The whole fabric of Mr. Malthus's theory rests upon this simple proposition; and it is the exceeding simplicity, and apparent cogency of its principle, to which it has been mainly indebted for its universal reception. If the numbers of mankind have not been found so to double in periods short, defined, and equal in duration, and to go on doubling, the Essay on Population is turned into waste paper.
This idle and extravagant hypothesis therefore being removed, the whole science stands just as it did before Mr. Malthus wrote; and we are brought precisely to the position most favourable to the speculations of the following pages. The Essay on Population has done nothing, and worse than nothing. The geometrical ratio, as applied to any known state of mankind is a dream. “The American increase,” as explained by our author is a blunder. Let us then proceed to scrutinize the subject of population, as a theory in which no advances have been made for a century past, and. endeavour to draw sound inferences concerning it from authentic and incontrovertible documents.
Such then is the system that has gained a success in the world wholly unprecedented. A superstitious man might think it was prophesied of in the following passage of the Revelation of St. John. “And I stood upon the sands of the sea; and I saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns. [Were there not seventeen states in the confederacy from which Mr. Malthus draws his example?] And they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth, speaking great things and blasphemies: and power was given unto him, to continue forty and two months. And all the world wondered after the beast.” And again: “In the latter times some shall, depart from the faith, giving ear to seducing spirits, forbidding to marry.”
The additional authority in behalf of the geometrical ratio, which has occurred to Mr. Malthus “since publishing his quarto edition,” viz. “the three regular censuses, printed in Pitkin's Statistical View,” will be fully considered by me in the Fourth Book.
principles respecting the increase or decrease of the numbers of mankind.
Having thus entered into an impartial review of Mr. Malthus's theory and the authorities upon which it is founded, I proceed to that which is most properly the object of my volume. The Essay on Population has left for me a clear stage in this respect: it has touched upon none of those topics from which a real knowledge of the subject is to be acquired. Its author from a very slight and unsatisfactory evidence has drawn the most absurd and extravagant consequences; and, having done"this, he closes the account, fully convinced that he has shewn in “the laws of nature and the passions of mankinda ” an evil, for which all remedies are feeble, and before which all courage must sink into despair.
My business is therefore with those topics which Mr. Malthus has named, and only named: “the laws of nature, and the passions of mankind.” I will beg leave to consider something of these, and particularly of the former, before I proceed to the millions to be found in a table of censorate; and, when I come to those tables, I will not look at them solely en masse, but will endeavour to analyse their contents.
The inquisitive and scientifical part of the human species are not wholly ignorant of the natural history of man. We know, in the first place, from experience, how long this fabric of the human frame is in the majority of cases capable to endure. “The days of our years are threescore years and ten.” We know, in the next place, from the same source of experience, how many years in ordinary cases precede the period of our maturity, for how long a time we retain our full vigour and manhood, and how many years belong to the period of decrepitude and decline.
There is another particular relative to our species, which does not deserve the name of. science, but which is of the most vital importance to the subject under consideration; and that is, the distinction of mankind into two sexes, male and female.
In the disquisition in which we are engaged, relative to the procreation and multiplication of our species, it is essential that we should recollect, that the female only is concerned in the business of bringing children into the world. This is the law of our nature; the germ of the human species can be matured by the female, and by her only. Women, if I may be allowed so to illustrate my principle, are the soil from which human creatures are produced. The rest of the society, men, young and old, and children of the male sex, [exclusive of such a number of males, as might be found necessary to give activity to the prolific power in the females] are absolutely of no account in relation to the point we are here considering.
Another distinction it is also incumbent upon us to recollect. We just now divided the life of man into three periods, immaturity, perfect manhood, and decline. This distinction is still more conspicuously applicable to the female sex. The line which divides the three periods in the life of the male, so far as the propagation of the species is concerned, is very uncertain. Not so in the female. It is, I conceive, well settled as a general rule, that the age of child-bearing is over, by the time the female has completed the forty-fifth year of her age. A line is also capable of being ascertained, if not for all females universally, at least variously for the different climates and races of mankind, fixing the age at which the power of child-bearing is found to commence. I believe I may add, that the distance between these two periods may be ascertained to be nearly the same in all cases. the female who in certain climates arrives at an earlier maturity, being seen to grow old, and to cease from the power of child-bearing, sooner than in the milder and more temperate climates which we inhabit.
It happens in many subjects, the understanding of which is of the greatest importance to the welfare of mankind, that the elements of our knowledge respecting them are so simple, as to be overlooked by the thoughtless, and contemned by the superficial. Just so it is in the question we are here considering.
The principle which has now been delivered will probably be found to be of the highest importance in leading us safely through the mazes of the question of population. If, in the enquiry respecting the increase of the numbers of mankind from one generation to another, the females of an age capable of child-bearing are alone to be considered, it follows, that a census or enumeration of human beings in any given country, or over the whole globe, can never constitute any term in the progression. Such an enumeration will consist of men, women and children, of every different age, from the infant in the cradle, to the male or female who from old age is tottering on the brink of the grave, and therefore can afford no solid ground from which to conclude as to the number of human beings that shall be found in.that country, or on this globe, after the lapse of twenty-five, fifty, or one hundred years. At all events it must be a very long series of observations, and these of a sort in which the difference of numbers can be in no wise imputed to the inaccuracy of early enumerations, and the superior exactness of those which follow, that can supply materials for any safe inference in this way. They must also relate to a country, not distinguished at least for any remarkable influx of emigrants from other parts of the world.
The males in the community we are considering (with the single limitation which has been above named), the old women, and the female children who are doomed never to arrive at the age of maturity, are the mere drones of the hive, so far as the enquiry respecting the progressive increase of the numbers of mankind is concerned. They may be useful; they may be ornamental; they may be entitled to all our respect and all our tenderness; they may be the boast of the whole earth for intellect or for virtue. But, for just so long a time as we would reason upon the abstract power and possibility of population, we must, though under a very different impression, and for the purpose of arriving at a very different conclusion, be as rigorous in excluding from our thoughts all that is most lovely and most honourable in human nature, as Mr. Malthus is when he supposes, that men in a perfectly virtuous and happy state of society, would ruin that state in the shortest practicable period, by an unreflecting conformity to the impulses of a brutal appetite.
The principle which is here laid down will be made in some respects more intelligible, if we illustrate it by a supposition, which has the further advantage of being peculiarly applicable to Mr. Malthus's conception as to the United States of America.
Let us suppose a colony of one thousand persons to be transported into a country hitherto void of inhabitants. Let us suppose this colony to consist of five hundred men and five hundred women, and that further every one of them shall be between the ages of twenty-five and thirty years. Here we get rid at once of all those useless or doubtful members of the community, so far as procreation is concerned, that fill up the extreme ranks of society in all settled countries, the ranks of childhood and of advanced life. Here are five hundred females, who, except so far as an allowance is to be made for cases of barrenness, are all of them qualified to add to the numbers of the next generation.
Let us now take the period assigned by Sir William Petty, who states that “it is possible to double the number of the members of a community in the short period of ten years.” In the colony I have described I can easily suppose this, and will even grant him, if required, a still larger amount. Well then: here will we fix our foot, and take this as the basis of a geometrical ratio. In ten years this colony, which at first consisted of one thousand souls, has become two thousand. Therefore upon the principle here assigned, in twenty years it will become four thousand.
But what is the actual state of the case? The colony at first consisted of one thousand persons: it now amounts to two thousand. But every individual of the last thousand, and much more (for many more than a thousand children must have been born, and have lived to a certain age, to compensate for the inevitable mortality of the seniors), is under ten years of age. The number of persons capable of bringing children into the world, has not experienced the smallest increase. Perhaps none of the original stock, from which an increase of the numbers of the community was to be expected, have yet arrived at that stage, when the spring of the constitution is so far exhausted, that they can no longer be relied on, as belonging to the class of those who shall give children to the colony. If however we had taken the period a little longer, such would infallibly have been the case.: And at all events we may be perfectly sure, that the number of persons capable of becoming mothers, must in the course often years have been greatly diminished by death.
I will not at present pursue this illustration further: we shall have abundant occasion to resume the subject as we proceed. Enough has here been alleged, to afford a strong confirmation of the maxim of Voltaire, which I took as the motto of an early Chapter: “Les hommes ne multiplient pas aussi aisément qu'on le penseb .” “The multiplication of the numbers of mankind is not quite so easy an affair as some have imagined.”
accounts which are given of the population of sweden.
Having thus delivered what may perhaps be found to be the fundamental principle of our subject, we may profitably proceed to the examination of such documents, as the assiduity of political governors, or the industry of authors who have for whatever reason concerned themselves with the numbers of mankind, has collected on the subject of the populousness of nations.
It will be clear from what has been said, that tables of population for any very limited period, which do not distinguish the sexes and the different ages of the inhabitants of a country, are absolutely of no use in determining the question of the power, generally, or in any particular case, of progressive increase in the numbers of mankind. The two enumerations therefore, which were made of the people of Great Britain in 1801 and 1811, are merely so much labour thrown away.
Having taken some pains to look through all that is known of the population of countries, I can find nothing that affords a chance of reasonable satisfaction, except the accounts which have been published of the population of Sweden. To them therefore for the present I shall particularly direct my attention.
Sweden is a regio pene toto divisa orbe. It receives few emigrants, and sends forth few colonies. In the period to which the accounts relate that I am about to produce, this kingdom has enjoyed a great portion of internal tranquillity; and, as will more fully appear in the sequel, has possessed almost every imaginable advantage for the increase of its inhabitants by direct procreation.
Of the people of Sweden I find an account to have been taken, from three years to three years, in the enlightened manner above suggested, that is, under separate heads as to sex and age, from the year 1751, to, I believe, the year 1775. From that period it has been continued to the present time, with an interval of five years between each enumeration.
The collectors of the Swedish enumerations have further presented us with Tables of the annual births, marriages and deaths; and have even, in two instances, proceeded to compare the population as it is, with the population as it ought to be: thus,
Now the upper line in each of these examples, I conceive, can mean nothing else, than that, if we add the report of the intermediate births to the preceding enumeration, and subtract the intermediate deaths, the result ought to be as here stated. If this be the case, it is certainly worthy of remark, how near the computatory and the actual enumerations come to each other, and consequently how high a degree of credit is due to the Swedish Tables.
A judicious abstract of the information then existing on the subject, was published in the Swedish language, in the Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Stockholm for the Year 1766, by Mr. Peter Wargentin, secretary to that institution. A continuation of Mr. Wargentin's paper has appeared, but somewhat irregularly, in the subsequent volumes of the same collection. I will set out with exhibiting an ample specimen of these Tables of populationb .
The first remark that suggests itself on these tables is, that they constitute the only documents which prove from actual observation, and in the compass of ordinary history, that there is a power of numerical increase in the human species. Exclusively of this evidence, all is conjecture merely; and one man has as much right to believe, with Montesquieu, that the race of mankind is by a fatal necessity rapidly verging towards extinction, as another to embrace the wild and chimerical opinions of Mr. Malthus, and the far-famed doctrine of the geometrical ratio.
In Sweden there has been for a certain period a progressive increase of population; and we have great reason to believe that this increase is chiefly or solely the effect of the principle of procreation. To judge from what has appeared in fifty-four years, from 1751 to 1805, we should say that the human species, in some situations, and under some circumstances, might double itself in somewhat more than one hundred years.
This is all that is known on the subject, which is in the smallest degree calculated to afford a foundation for Mr. Malthus's theories. For it will fully appear, when we come to treat of the United States of North America, that they do not yield him the slightest support.
This is all that is known in any degree favourable to Mr. Malthus's theories. What then is there that is known on the other side?
Every thing which has been brought together in the former book. We have not the smallest reason to believe, that the population of the earth has increased, or that the human race is in any way more numerous now, than it was three thousand years ago. This is a fact worthy of the most serious consideration;
Mr. Malthus dismisses this question in the slightest manner, and in his usual summary and dictatorial way pronounces that it is vice and misery that keep down the numbers of mankind. As his theory is delivered in three lines, “Population, when unchecked, goes on doubling itself every twenty-five years, or increases in a geometrical ratio:” so his answer to every objection lies also in three lines, “The positive checks to population are various, and include every cause whether arising from vice or misery, which in any degree contributes to shorten the natural duration of human lifec .”
It is not thus that the subject will be treated in after-ages, and when philosophy shall have extended its empire over this topic as over others. Mr. Malthus has taken his contemporaries by surprise, and, partly by the dazzling simplicity of his hypothesis, and partly by its tendency, supporting as it does, and furnishing the apology of, almost all human vices, and particularly those of the rich and great, has gained a countless number of adherents.
But what he has here delivered has not even the semblance of science. And patient men, I will venture to predict, will hereafter arise, who will look narrowly into the subject, and will endeavour from clear and intelligible principles, not by one sweeping and unlimited clause, to account for the facts brought together in my first book.
The question then will be, to consider, What is the reason that the multiplication of mankind, such as we find it for fifty-four years in Sweden, has never prevailed for any very extensive period of time, in any country of the worldd . This question necessarily involves with it another, and infinitely important question, Whether it is in any way the duty of political governments, or of those who possess power over their fellow-men, to meditate or provide any purposed or intentional checks against the increase of the human race?
My concern in the present Book is with the question, after what rate it is possible, judging from facts and actual experience, for the race of mankind, under the most favourable circumstances, to increase. It will be the object of the Third Book, to put together such hints as I have been able to collect, and such reflections as have occurred to me, that may be calculated to afford a methodical and satisfactory solution of the fact generally as to the non-increase of the human race. At least I shall hope, as I said in a former instancee , that “some foundation will be laid by me, and the principle will begin to be understood.” I am anxious to “set before other enquirers evidence that they may scan, and arguments which, if convincing, they may expand, and if otherwise, which they may refute.” I am anxious to furnish the materials of a solution, if not a solution in all its forms, of the phenomenon of the non-increase of the human race so far as the records of authentic profane history extend.
inferences suggestd by the accounts of sweden.
The labours however of the Swedish administrators on the subject of population, do not stop at the barely acquainting us with the possible progress of increase in the human species. By their elaborateness and their apparent accuracy they enable us to arrive at some fundamental ideas on the subject. To understand this let us here resume and apply the maxims delivered in the Third Chapter.
The principle there laid down, and which is the pole-star that must guide us in every sound disquisition on the real or possible increase of mankind, is that the multiplication of our species can only be carried on by women, already arrived at, and not having yet gone beyond, the age at which they are capable of child-bearing. These are the soil or nidus, in which the successive generations of mankind are reared; and we cannot be wrong in expressly directing our attention to this quarter.
To apply this principle to the subject in hand, no proceeding can be more obvious, than to have recourse to such Tables of Population, as profess to specify the sex, and most especially the ages, of the persons numbered, and from thence to endeavour to ascertain the proportion borne by the number of females capable of child-bearing in successive periods to each other. This number, to whatever it may amount, must be doubled, before we shall have reached the first step in Mr. Malthus's geometrical ratio for the increase of mankind by procreation only.
In adjusting the amount of women capable of child-bearing in any community, we must determine a certain limit in the flow of human life, before the beginning and after the close of which a woman is not entitled to be placed in the class under consideration. I will take this interval as beginning at twenty, and ending at forty-five years of age. I am sure that, in assuming a period of twenty-five years I am making a very ample allowance, I might indeed have commenced my date earlier. But premature marriages are not found favourable to the producing a numerous offspring. And the falling off of women from child-bearing before they reach forty-five years of age, is at least as frequent, as the examples of females who have become mothers before they had completed their twentieth year. This is most especially the case in countries where the season I have assigned for marriage is greatly anticipated. Thus in Persia, where a woman frequently marries at twelve, she is often found to be old and past child-bearing at thirty.
That we may treat of man as he is, and human societies as they are to be found, we must take some certain period of time and tract of country, with indifferent and impartial selection, and not some imaginary state of society which has perhaps never been found to exist. I will hereafter offer a few observations on such a societyb . But our present business is with the number of child-bearing females, that are actually found, or may be supposed to be found, in any established and settled community. They will be of all ages, from twenty to forty-five years. This will naturally and reasonably form the first term in our progression for the increase of mankind; and, as has just been said, this number must be doubled, in the tract of country we have chosen for our paint of observation, before any substantial and permanent population in that country, built upon procreation only, can be doubled.
In Sweden, according to Mr. Wargentin's Tables, the number of women capable of child-bearing was as follows.
One observation which suggests itself on the inspection of these Tables is, that the number of women proper for child-bearing, in each of Mr. Wargentin's enumerations, is to the numbers of the whole community in a proportion under one fifth, or, more accurately speaking, is as one to five and one-third nearly. This remark indeed is not decisive of the subject. The proportion will of course be varied, as the climate or season shall on the one hand be inauspicious for the rearing the born, or on the other be favourable to the increase of human longevity. It belongs immediately to the calculation of the value of lives, and only in an indirect manner to the question of the continuation or increase of the species. It may however be of use in enabling us to compare our conclusions respecting the population of Sweden, with such as may result from whatever we happen to know concerning the state of mankind in this respect in other countries. The difference in longevity and the value of lives, between Sweden, Germany, France, and England, and indeed every other country in which civilization has arrived at a certain point, and the climate is temperate, will not be found to be material, and therefore the same rules, so far as our enquiry is concerned, may be expected equally to apply to any of these countries.
A more essential observation, and which indeed applies to the foundation of our subject, will be suggested by a comparison of the number of women proper for child-bearing in each year, with the number of the born in that year. The births, for example, of 1757 were 81,878, and the number of women capable of child-bearing, of all ages, according to the returns for that year, were 436,542. Hence it appears that every five child-bearing women throughout the country in that year, gave a little more than one child to the state. In 1760 the births were 90,635, and the women capable of child-bearing 444,092; so that in that year every five child-bearing women gave somewhat less than one child. In 1763 the births were 90,152, and the women capable of child-bearing 458,236; so that in that year every five child-bearing women gave one child, with a fraction of excess considerably smaller than in 1757c .
This is a most material circumstance for enabling us to decide upon the propagation and increase of the human species. Taking this for the foundation of our speculations, our inference will be that every child-bearing woman, taking one with another, may be expected to bring four children, if the period of fruitfulness is of twenty, and five if it is of twenty-five years' duration. But the truth lies between the two. If we take the age of marriage at twenty, then the female does not become a mother till twenty-one: to which we may add, that a certain consideration is to be had of the diminishing fruitfulness of the human female during the concluding years of this period.
Let us try the argument afforded us by our information respecting Sweden in another point of view. Let us compare the number of the annual births in that country, with the number of females that annually arrive at twenty years of age.
From the Tables for 1757 it appears that the females then living, between the ages of twenty and twenty-five, were 104,872. I might here apply the rules furnished by Dr. Halley and Dr. Price for the calculation of lives, to enable me to determine how many of these might be supposed to be between twenty and twenty-one, and so forward. But the difference at this early period of life would be so small, that 1 prefer the simpler method of dividing the whole number by five, and concluding that 20,974 was the number of females who at the time of the enumeration in 1757 had completed the twentieth year of their age. The births for 1757 were 81,878, that is, not quite four to every female who in that year had completed her twentieth year. In 1760 the females completing their twentieth year were 20,723, and the births were 90,635, affording an average of 4 3/8 to 1. In 1763 these females were 21,023, and the births 90,152, affording an average of4 2/7 to 1.
Hence it follows, that in Sweden the females annually arriving at twenty years of age, may be considered as nearly equal to one fourth of the annual births; or, which is the same proposition in another form, that there are four births for every woman annually arriving at twenty. It is true, that the women who arrived at twenty in the year 1757 or any other year, were not the mothers of those births: other women between the ages of twenty and forty-five, if I may so express myself, bore these children for them: but it is a computation which will never be found belied in the annals of Swedish population, that the births of every year amounted to four times, or perhaps a small fraction above four times, the number of females who in that year arrived at twenty years of age. This has been the regular process: a certain number of females arrived every successive year, with a very small variation from year to year, at the age of twenty, and the births of that year have been found pretty exactly to quadruple the number of those females. Of consequence I may say, give me the number of females at twenty in any year in the community, and I will tell you the number of births. For ever, as far as we have yet had an opportunity of ascertaining, we shall have four births for every woman arriving at an age proper for child-bearing. What will be the effect of this, whether it will diminish, or keep up, or increase the population of a country, may be a subject of separate consideration.
A third reflection to the same purpose will be suggested to us, if we compare the amount of marriages and births according to Mr. Wargentin's Tables. He has given usd a statement of numbers under each of these heads for fifteen years, from 1749 to 1768 inclusive. The number of births added together amounts to 1,299,290 and the number of marriages to 315,482; that is, pretty exactly 4½ births to a marriage.
And here, by way of confirming what we have seen of Sweden, I will introduce, though somewhat prematurely, what appears on the subject in the population-abstracts of England and Wales. The registered births for 1810 are stated as 298,852. Of these I will take for granted that half are females, or 149,436. According to Dr. Price's calculations founded on the Swedish Tablese , of ten thousand females born, 5800 may be taken as living to complete the twentieth year of their age. Let us then apply the rule of proportion, and say, If 10,000 female births yield 5,800 females living to the age of twenty, what number of such females may we expect from a stock of 149,426 births? the answer is 86,667. Now the registered marriages for 1810, as given from the same authority as the births, are 84,470. —From this specimen I should be apt to conclude that, if we knew as much of the population of England as of that of Sweden, we should find them to a great degree parallel to each other.
Hence it appears, that, whether we compare the births to the whole number of women capable of child-bearing, or to the females annually arriving at twenty, or to the registers of marriages, we are equally led to the same conclusion.
Another important observation is suggested to us by the view of Mr. Wargentin's Tables. The marriages for 1757, according to the Tables, were 18,799, and the number of females arriving in that year at twenty 20,974. The marriages for 1760 are set down at 23,383, while the females arriving at twenty were only 20,723. Finally, the marriages for 1763 appear to have been 20,927, and the females arriving at twenty 21,028. Thus in one instance we find the number of marriages exceeding the number of females who in that year arrived at the marriageable age. But it must be obvious that that could not continue to be the case through any considerable series of years. The infallible inference then from this view of the subject is, that almost all the women in Sweden marry at some time of their lives. Or, to speak more precisely, there are nearly as many marriages annually, if we take for our foundation a series of fifteen or more years, as there are annually females arriving at twenty years of age.
And this position of the general prevalence of the marriage tief , will, when we come to reflect upon the subject, appear in its own nature sufficiently probable. The tastes of men are so various, that nothing is more common to observe, than that the homeliest women, as they may appear in the eye of a connoisseur, get husbands. Those females, whose destination in life seems to be to fill the situation of domestic servants, will perhaps be found very generally to marry, though a little later than they might otherwise have done. The females above the lower class, who, for want of the advantage of a portion, waste their years “in single blessedness,” are enough in number to have the power of making their complaints heard, but are extremely few, when compared with the total amount of females in a state or nation.
observations on the swedish tables continued.
But there is another view of the subject, equally worthy of notice, and well calculated to throw light upon the topic before us.
I have just stated that the annual number of marriages in any country, cannot, for any length of time, exceed the number of females annually arriving at a marriageable age.
Now let us take this question in another way. Though I have set out with considering the women capable of child-bearing as the soil or nidus in which the successive generations of mankind are reared, yet it is equally true, that husbands are necessary to the consummation of marriage, as that wives are so, and, at least in countries where polygamy is forbidden, that there can be no more marriages than husbands.
The same inference therefore should seem to follow as to males, which I have already drawn as to females, viz., that the annual number of marriages in any country, cannot, for any length of time, exceed the number of males arriving at the age at which it is permitted, or rather at which it is usual for them to marry.
But the number of males, though they are born in greater numbers, will be found at almost any age above childhood in all Tables of Population, and specially in those of Sweden, to fall short of the number of females.
In Sweden, the country we are here considering, there is a law, forbidding any individual of the male sex to marry, till he has completed the twenty-first year of his agea .
To this consideration it may be added, that it will scarcely happen, that every male will be disposed to marry, as soon as he has completed the twenty-first year of his age. Perhaps, reasoning on this principle, the marriages which annually take place in Sweden cannot, for any length of time, be expected to exceed the number of males who annually arrive at twenty-five years of age. This will reduce the number of marriages, and consequently increase the number of females who spend their lives in the single state.
Such would appear at first sight to be the speculative principle of the subject, and would contradict what has been established respecting it in the former chapter. But let us see how it stands, as practically exhibited to us in the Swedish Tables. And here, as in the case of the females, I will take the fifth part of the males between twenty and twenty-five in the year under consideration, as the number arriving in that year at twenty or twenty-five years of age. The number arriving at twenty-five will indeed be less than the number arriving at twenty, in proportion to the males who are found to die annually between those periods of life. But this is not the season of human existence most considerably exposed to the accidents of mortality; and I will wave for the present the taking that diminution into the estimate.
The three years then, 1757, 1760, 1763, as appears from the Tables, will stand as follows:
It has already been observed, that the females becoming marriageable do in most years exceed, as we should expect them to do, the annual number of marriages. For, certainly, the marriages of any one year do not form a standard: the marriages of any one year may exceed: my proposition is, that the annual number of marriages cannot, for any length of time, exceed the number of females annually arriving at the marriageable age.
Add to which, I have taken the marriageable age at twenty; but it is possible to marry before that age; and the Swedish law permits females to marry at fifteenb . Now the number of females annually arriving at fifteen is greater than the number of females annually arriving at twenty. If therefore the number of marriages exceeded the number of females annually arriving at twenty, the excess must necessarily be supplied from the females between fifteen and twenty.
But the case of the males is different; and they, as I have said, are forbidden to marry till they have completed the twenty-first year of their age. How then are we to account for the excess of marriages above the number of males annually arriving at twenty-one?
This difficulty will be found to be in a considerable degree removed by an inspection of the Upsal Tablec . Few things are more striking in this Table than the excess of the number of widows above that of widowers. Adding together the whole series of nine years there exhibited, the number is
the number of widows being more than five times the number of widowers. But married women, as may be judged from the Tables of Sweden in general, die with nearly as much rapidity as married men. The small number of widowers can therefore only be accounted for, by the infallible inference, that five times as great a number of widowers as of widows, are found to marry again. And from the same principle we are entitled to conclude, that they intermarry generally, not with widows, but with virgins, or what our law calls spinsters.
To apply this, let us observe that, if the diocese of Upsal in 1763 contained 11,874 widows, the whole of Sweden by the rule of proportion would appear to have contained 135,712. But, if we suppose as many men to have lost their wives as women to have lost their husbands, it would then follow that upwards of 108,000 men had married a second time, even without taking into account those who might a second time have become widowers. This affords an ample allowance for the deficiency there might otherwise appear in the number of marriageable males.
Having referred in this place to the Table of Population for the Diocese of Upsal, I will here comment upon one or two particulars in it, which seem to require explanation. This Table descends to a greater fulness of distinction and enumeration than any other that has fallen under my observation; and it is therefore particularly desirable that it should be well understood.
One circumstance which appeared to me at first view somewhat surprising, was the small number of Housholds in the last column, compared with that of the subsisting marriages in the fifth. This indeed is in no way material to the question I am investigating; but it is right for the satisfaction of the reader that it should be cleared up.
I stated this difficulty to the intelligent Sweded , who had the goodness to assist me in translating the heads of these Tables; and his explanation was as follows. “By a houshold or establishment we understand, all those persons who eat at one table, or, more properly who are subsisted from one income or expenditure. For example, at Sir Joseph Banks's there are various tables at which different persons are fed, but the whole expence is defrayed by one individual. This therefore is one houshold. If, on the contrary, there are several families dwelling under one roof, but which are, so to express myself, not nourished from one common root, these would be counted in the Swedish enumerations as separate housholds. Now in this country [Sweden], nothing is more common, particularly in the rural parts, than for the sons, after they are married, to live under the roof with their father, all together constituting one ample houshold. This is the reason why, in the Table of Population for the Diocese of Upsal, there appears so much smaller a number of housholds than of subsisting marriages.”
Another circumstance which may need elucidation is, that the number of unmarried males and females above fifteen years of age, in the eighth and ninth columns, may appear at first sight greater, than from previous reasonings might have been expected.
Upon this I would remark, first, that it is not rational to suppose that there can be any substantial discordance between the Tables of Population for Sweden generally, and the Tables of Population for one of its most considerable provinces. The comparisons I have exhibited between the number of annual marriages and the number of females annually arriving at twenty, are expressly taken out of the Tables of Population for the kingdom of Sweden.
Secondly, every reader will perceive that there is a vast difference between the setting down in figures on the one hand, the number of females arriving at twenty in any given year who shall finally remain unmarried, and on the other the setting down the number of females at all ages, who at any given period shall be found unmarried, though they may happen to marry in the next year or the next week. The number in the last case may be great, at the same time that the number in the former may be exceedingly small.
Thirdly, the unmarried in the Upsal Table include all who have passed their fifteenth birth-day, at which age according to the Swedish law females are permitted to marry. But in the extracts I have made from the Tables of Sweden in general, I have taken the marriageable age at twenty. Therefore the Upsal Table swells the number of the unmarried females by the whole amount of those between fifteen and twenty, or at least by the amount of such as shall not have married between those periods. But the females between fifteen and twenty will be found to constitute nearly a twelfth part of the entire female population.
The proposition which I have deduced from the Tables of Sweden in general, is that the annual marriages nearly equal in number the females annually arriving at twenty; or, in other words, that there are nearly as many women married every year, as there are women arriving every year at that age. The only limit upon that proposition would be in the number of women that shall end their lives in the unmarried state.
But the column of unmarried females in the Upsal Table, does not set before us the number of females that shall live and die unmarried. In the first place, it may well be supposed that the greater part of the females between fifteen and twenty, making a twelfth part of the entire female population, will hereafter marry. In the second place it is to be considered, that the total amount of unmarried females in any kingdom or province at a given period, will materially depend upon the customary age of marriage. If every female throughout the state married the day she completed her fifteenth year, then it is self-evident that the column of unmarried females above fifteen would be left a complete blank. But, if on the other hand the marrying age were from fifteen to thirty-five, and no woman married till she was twenty-five, then all might marry, and yet half the females between fifteen and thirty-five would constantly appear in the column of the unmarried.
Another consideration is to be added, which I may thus illustrate. Let us suppose the females annually arriving at twenty to be 20,000, and that of these 19,000 marry, and 1000 continue in the single state. Let us suppose that there is some natural reason, of infirmity or otherwise, why this twentieth part of the female division of the community should not marry. There would thus be 1000 females to be placed in the column of the unmarried, for the year for which this account is taken. In the next year there would be one twentieth of the females arriving at twenty in that year, or 1000 more, to be added to the 1000 of the preceding year, except so far as this last number was diminished by death, and so on ad infinitum. Thus, as we said before, if every female throughout the state married the day she arrived at the marriageable age, the column of the unmarried would be blank; but, if one twentieth remained unmarried, and continued so, this in time would amount to one twentieth of all the females living in the state, who were beyond the marriageable age. It is unnecessary to say more on this point: every reader who is desirous of so doing, will be able to follow out the further particulars for himself.
There is another circumstance entitled to our consideration, before we finally determine what degree of authority is to be attributed to the Swedish Tables. In the reasonings I have exhibited, I have set down the women capable of child-bearing as one fifth of the whole community. At the same time it fully appears from the Tables, that the births are scarcely more than four to a marriage. Now, if of the number of the born only one in five is to be counted on to become a mother and give children to the next generation, it clearly follows that the number of women capable of child-bearing will in each successive generation perpetually diminish, and consequently that a population so circumstanced must be regularly advancing towards utter destruction. But the Swedish Tables, from which these two facts are taken, exhibit a progressive increase of the number of inhabitants. Either therefore this apparent contradiction must be reconciled; or the Swedish Tables must be admitted to be an imperfect authority on which to rest our conclusions.
In answer to this difficulty I would observe, in the first place, that one of the most irresistible results of the Swedish Tables, is that there are four births to a marriage. But this proposition, if true, must be equally true if taken in an inverse form, and we state it—to every four births there is a marriage, or, in other words, for every four births there is a marriageable woman. One of these propositions cannot be true, and the other false; and the number of women of an age capable of child-bearing is hereby clearly established,
Secondly, it is proper to observe that, though it was sufficiently reasonable to set down, as the foundation of our inferences, the period in which a woman is to be considered as capable of child-bearing, as beginning when she is twenty years of age, yet this proposition is by no means absolute and uncontrolable. The Swedish law admits of the female marrying at fifteen; and as, necessarily, more human creatures live to attain the age of fifteen than of twenty, we have here a considerable addition to the stock of possible mothers. The females between fifteen and twenty form a sort of corps de reserve, from from which the brigade of marriageable women may be recruited in case of necessity.
Thirdly, it is to be remembered that we found the number of births to a marriage exceeding the amount of four by a small fractione . Now this fraction may at first sight appear scarcely worthy of notice, yet, in its operation over a nation consisting of three millions of souls, and spread over a succession of years, it would doubtless have the effect of rendering that population progressive, which without this fraction would have been stationary. There is therefore nothing contradictory and irreconcileable between the different particulars exhibited in the Swedish Tables.
Here then we are presented, as far as it goes, with a solid basis of reasoning concerning the possible increase of the numbers of mankind. Of every other country in the world we may be said in this respect to know nothing. In Sweden great labour has been exerted on the subject; this labour has been continued through a series of years; and it has been prosecuted on the most enlightened principles. We learn therefore from this example, perhaps as nearly as possible, how fast the race of mankind, at least as society is at present constituted, can increase, and beyond what limits the pace and speed of multiplication cannot be carried.
Sweden is a country in every respect as favourable to the experiment as we could desire. Almost all the women marry. “The continual cry of the government,” as Mr. Malthus expresses it, “is for the increase of its subjectsf .” And the soil is so thinly peopled, that it would require many ages of the most favourable complexion, for the inhabitants to become so multiplied by the mere power of procreation, as to enable them to rear and to consume all the means of subsistence which the land might easily be made to produce.
recapitulation of the evidence of the swedish tables.
It is time that we should resume the propositions relative to the multiplication of mankind, which appear to result from all the information that has been collected respecting the population of Sweden.
This information is the fruit of experience.
We are not enquiring respecting gratuitous and arbitrary suppositions, asking with Euler, what would be the consequence if the deaths bore a certain proportion to the births, which proportion either never occurred, or, if occurring “for short periods,” is substantially the same as not having occurred at all. We are not asking with Franklin, what would be the consequence, if in a certain country the marriages were twice as numerous as with us in Europe, and each marriage produced, taking one with another, eight children.
We are not enquiring how the earth was originally peopled, for which purpose, according to Derham, it was necessary that the duration of the life of man should be about one thousand yearsa .
Our question lies in a narrow compass, and relates to “man as he is.” Owing to the great care and perseverance with which the observations on this subject have been pursued in Sweden, we have a large and a strong body of facts on which to proceed: and I believe it will not be found that any other country can produce a body of facts, which shall be at variance with those that have been collected in Sweden.
We know then, first, that the marriageable women in any settled community, or over the whole globe, do not exceed one fifth of the population.
Secondly, that the number of marriageable women does not increase from generation to generation, or increases in a very inconsiderable degree.
Thirdly, that the number of children born is pretty accurately in the proportion of one child annually to five marriages.
Fourthly, that the number of children born annually is nearly in the same proportion to the number of child-bearing women in the state.
Fifthly, that the number of births to a marriage, taken upon an average, does not exceed the proportion of four to one.
Sixthly, that the women who live to reach the child-bearing age are found pretty generally to marry; and that, if the bridegrooms are sometimes a little advanced in age, this rarely happens to the brides.
Seventhly, that early marriages do not greatly tend to increase population. In Persia, where a woman frequently marries at twelve, she is often found to be old and past child-bearing at thirty.
These are some of the principal laws relative to the propagation of the human species, so far as we are acquainted with them: and they appear to be confirmed to us by all that we know of authentic profane history.
They do not seem to convey to us with any strong evidence, that there is a power of increase in the numbers of the human species.
But they do tend very strongly to assure us, that such power of increase is at least subject to very strict limitations, and that we have nothing to fear for the well-being of any particular nation, or of the human species in general, from the operation of that power.
APPENDIX TO CHAPTERS IV, V, & VI.
Upon looking back to the preceding Chapters on the subject of the population of Sweden, I am apprehensive I have granted too much on the point of the increase of the number of inhabitants in that country. Dr. Price, in his enquiry respecting the value of lives, was necessarily compelled to a very close study of the Tables of the Population of Sweden, these Tables being so greatly superior, in the judgment with which they were originally planned, the care and fidelity with which they have been executed, and the constancy with which they have been kept up and pursued, to any thing that is to be found of the same nature in any other part of the world.
The following is in part the result of Dr. Price's observations on the subject.
“The enumerations and deaths for the first nine years, from 1755 to 1763, included the whole kingdom of Sweden, consisting of twenty-six principalities or provinces. In 1764 there was a suspension of all the observations. In 1765 they were taken up again; but in this and the following years the enumeration of one of the provinces was omitted, together with the registration of the deaths in that province. In the three years from 1767 to 1770 three provinces were omitted in the enumerations and registers. In the three years from 1770 to 1773 there was also an omission of three provinces, together with the city of Stockholm. And in the remaining three years to 1776, four out of the fifteen dioceses in Sweden were omitteda .”
“The whole number of males living in the three years from 1765 to 1767 [I apprehend the doctor should have said, “living, according to the enumeration for 1766”] was 1,182,848, and of females, 1,290,068. I have said that one of the twenty-six provinces of Sweden was omitted in the observations for these three years. The addition of this province will make the inhabitants of Sweden in 1766 above two millions and a half. In 1757 they were 2,323,195. They increased therefore at the rate of near 200,000 in nine years. But it appears that this increase had not been of long continuance; for, had it been so, a table formed from the decrements as given by the registers, and by taking the medium of annual deaths from 1755 to 1763 for the radix, would have given the probabilities of living much too small through the whole duration of life; whereas it does so only in the first stages of life. From 45 to 60 it gives them nearly equal; and after 60 it gives them greater, which is a plain proof that about the beginning of this century [the eighteenth)] Sweden was decreasing. To the same purpose it appears from the enumerations, that, while the numbers living in the first stages of life were increasing fast, the numbers in the last stages were decreasingb .”
In the preceding remarks Dr. Price had an advantage in some respects, which I cannot pretend to. He was engaged in a regular correspondence with Mr. Wargentin, to whom we appear to have been in the first instance so much indebted for the judicious conduct visible in the collections of the registers and enumerations of Sweden. That meritorious compiler transmitted to the doctor regularly the Tables of the Swedish population for a series of years, which are only given at irregular intervals in the Memoirs of the Royal Academy at Stockholm, from which I have transcribed them: and he appears further to have answered several queries which Dr. Price proposed to him, as to particular points not to be found in the registers and enumerationsc .
On this account I will not quit the subject without inserting here a Table from Dr. Price's book, similar to those I have already inserted, but founded on an average of twenty-one years, from 1755 to 1776d . And it is sufficiently remarkable that the numbers in this Table fall short, both in the amount of the child-bearing women, and of the inhabitants generally, of each of the enumerations exhibited by Mr. Wargentin in the Memoirs of the Academy for the early part of this periode .
The result of the whole then is, that there is some probability, but by no means a certainty, that the population of Sweden has experienced an increase in most periods of time, from the commencement of the enumerations in the middle of the last century, to the present hour. But it is impossible to ascertain the rate of that increase, since its very existence is by no means beyond the reach of doubt. And yet this is all we have, by way of evidence, from the source of enumerations, of the inherent power in man of augmenting the number of his species. Respecting Sweden we have something approaching to authentic information: we may safely pronounce, that if there has been any actual increase, it at least amounts to comparatively very little. Of the rest of the world, so far as relates to a comparison of the number of native inhabitants from parent to child in successive periods, we know nothing.
population of other, countries in europe considered
The reader however would have some reason to be dissatisfied with what has hitherto been delivered on the subject of European population, if I confined my observations to Sweden only.
I will here therefore subjoin a few remarks tending to shew that there is nothing which has been collected concerning the other countries of Europe, that in any respect weakens, but is rather calculated to confirm, the conclusions I have formed.
These remarks shall be particularly directed to two points: first, the proportion which the women capable of child-bearing exhibit to the gross population; and secondly, the proportion between marriages and births, as it is found in the different countries of Europe.
The best information that can be had on the first of these points, viz.; the proportionate number of the females capable of child-bearing to the whole of any mass of population, exclusively of the Swedish accounts, is to be found in the collections that have been inserted by Dr. Price, in his Observations on Reversionary Payments. These I will take in the order in which they occur. At the same time it is proper to observe, that his conclusions are of little avail, in balance with those I have already exhibited; first, because they are in all cases built upon a very small number of persons compared with the enumerations of Sweden; and, secondly, inasmuch as those numbers are arbitrarily and artificially taken, and rest upon no better evidence than that of the bills of mortality for the respective districts and countries.
Dr. Price's object having been very different from that which we are here considering, I find myself under the necessity of subjecting his statements to a certain process, before they can be applied to the purpose of this investigation. The enquiry of that, writer was respecting the value of lives, and the different probabilities that exist as to the age at which human creatures shall die. He therefore supposed a thousand, or ten thousand, or a hundred thousand persons to be born at the same time, and then calculated, according to certain observations, by what degrees the ranks of this brigade or legion of human creatures would become thinned. My business is not with an imaginary number of persons, all born on the same day, but with real human societies, as we find, or may conceive, them constituted. Real human societies, particularly in old established countries, are made up of persons of all ages, from the cradle to the extremity of decrepitude. To find out therefore from Dr. Price's Tables how many women, between the ages of twenty and forty-five years, would be living in any community at any assigned period, 1 was reduced to the necessity of striking an average between the number of females that, according to Dr. Price, would reach the age of twenty, and the number that would reach the age of forty-five, and of thus settling the proportion that would be living in any community at a given time. For example:
In Table the Eighth, shewing the Probabilities of Life at Norwich, in Dr. Price's worka , it is calculated that out of 1185 births, there were 467 living at the age of twenty, and 311 at the age of forty-five, which gives an average of 389. Of these if half were females, we shall have females proper for child-bearing 195, about one sixth part of the whole.
Table the Ninth is Mr. Simpson's Calculation of the Probability of the Duration of Life in London, founded on the London Bills of Mortality for ten years, from 1728 to 1737 inclusiveb . In this Table it appears that of one thousand births, 360 were living at twenty years of age, and 192 at forty-five, giving an average of 276. Of these, one half, or 138, may be taken to be females proper for child-bearing, being one seventh of the whole.!
It is easy in the same manner to ascertain the number of females proper for child-bearing in every Table of Population, in which the ages are specified. I shall therefore content myself with exhibiting the general results, which, being thus brought together, may readily be compared one with another.
Every one will perceive that there is nothing in these Tables in the slightest degree calculated to impeach the Swedish authorities. In France and Holland, where we have least reason to depend on the accuracy of the accounts, the women proper for child-bearing are stated as one fourth of the community. In London, on the contrary, they are only as one to seven, and one to eight. The average of the whole however is something under one to five.
The next question is as to the number of births to a marriage, whether any accounts that have been collected in other parts of Europe might lead to a suspicion that the Swedish Tables have put them down at too low an amount.
One of the most considerable authorities on this subject is John Peter Sussmilch, a German author, who is copiously quoted by Dr. Price in his Observations on Reversionary Payments, and by Mr. Malthus in the Essay on Population. The title of his work, first published in 1765 in two volumes octavo, and since enlarged into three,' is Die Gottliche Ordnung, & c.; or, The Order of Divine Providence, as Displayed in the Births, Deaths, and Increase of the Human Race.—I may observe by the way, that the object of Sussmilch in writing was precisely the reverse of that of Mr. Malthus; his view being, first to shew the possibility of an increase in the population of the earth, and then to recommend the adoption of such means as he could suggest for realizing that increase.
This author appears to have exerted great in dustry in collecting all the documents lie was able to procure respecting the population of Europe in general, and particularly of the German dominions of the king of Prussia, whose subject he was.
The following is a part of his collections under the last of these heads. They begin with the year 1694, and end with 1759, comprising a period of sixty-six years.
In the electoral mark of Brandenburgh, the proportions of births to marriages were tolerably uniform, the extremes being only 38 to 10, and 35 to 10, and the mean about 37 to 10c .
In the dukedom of Pomerania the extremes of the proportions of births to marriages, in different periods of five or six years, were 36 to 10, and 43 to 10, and the mean about 38 to 10d .
In the new mark of Brandenburgh, the extremes of the proportions of births to marriages were 34 to 10, and 42 to 10, and the mean about 38 to 10e .
In the dukedom of Magdeburgh the extremes of the proportions of births to marriages were 42 to 10, and 34 to 10, and the mean 39 to 10f .
In the principality of Halberstadt the extremes of the proportions of births to marriages were 42 to 10, and 34 to 10, and the mean 38 to 10g .
I have thought proper to give these extracts in the very words of Mr. Malthus.
From the Tableau Statistique des Etats Danois it appears, that the whole number of marriages for the five years subsequent to 1794 in the Danish dominions, was 34,313, and of births 138,799h This is a little more than four for one, or 443/1000 to one nearly.
In a paper, presented in 1768 by B. T. Hermann, to the Academy of Petersburgh, and published in their Transactions, Volume IV, a statement is given under fifteen heads, viz. Petersburgh, the government of Moscow, Twer, Novogorod, &c., of the number of children that a marriage yields in each of these provincesi , which numbers, being added together, and then divided by 15, give a quotient of 7/15 children to a marriage.
The following Table of Proportions between Baptisms and Marriages in England and Wales, is exhibited by Mr. Rickman, in his Observations prefixed to the Abstract of the Answers and Returns made pursuant to the Population Act of 1811, and ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 2 July, 1812.
From whence it appears that the average proportion of births to marriages in England and Wales during this period has been about 35 to 10.
It is a matter of some surprise, that, in all the accounts I have seen, the human species is more prolific in France than in almost any other country. Buffon says, that in Paris each marriage produced in his time four children upon an average, but that in the rural parts five at least, and often six, was a very common proportionk . The Statistique Générale et Particuliere de la France, published in six volumes, in the year 1803, gives the marriages for the year 1800 at 202,177, and the births at 955,430, affording a quotient of 4 7/10 births to a marriage. The compiler however recommends, that we should make a deduction of the eleventh part of the number of births for illegitimate childrenl , which if we do, we shall reduce the proportion to 43/10 to one nearly. Now I should lay it down as a general maxim, that where chastity and an habitual practice of the domestic duties most prevail, there we should expect to see the most numerous families and the largest crop of children in general: and I am yet to learn that France possesses the superiority in this respect over Russia, Denmark, Germany, and Great Britain. I therefore look with a particular degree of distrust upon the French registers.
Meanwhile, be this as it will, the result of all these statements appears clearly to be, that throughout Europe, taking one country with another, the average falls short of four children to a marriage.
From the particulars stated in this chapter I am entitled to conclude, that the accounts collected in all other European countries do not contradict, but on the contrary strongly tend to confirm, the conclusions suggested by the Swedish Tables. On them therefore we have every reason, which the nature of the case admits, to rely.
principles respecting the increase or decrease of the numbers of mankind resumed.
There is a further point highly worthy of attention in the subject now under consideration, and our investigation will be incomplete if that is not distinctly adverted to.
We have found that, according to all Tables which have yet been formed upon the registers of births and marriages, the union of two persons of opposite sexes does not produce upon an average, in Europe at least, more than four births.
But it may be objected, that this rule applies to Europe only, and may have relation to some accidents or customs which belong peculiarly to this division of the globe. In other countries the proportion of the number of births to the number of marriageable women may be greater. In America Dr. Franklin proposes that we should set it down as eight to one.
It may be further objected, that this rule may at last prove fallacious, as being founded on nothing but the actual registers of births and marriages, which after all nobody will affirm to be perfect and infallible. [The question of the number of marriageable women stands on higher grounds.] To this we have hitherto given but one answer, resting on the surprising coincidence in this respect of all the registers which have hitherto been produced from different countries, governed by laws and modes of record extremely unlike to each other.
But, wherever any phenomenon universally prevails, there may be found a principle, built upon the whole mass of the observations that have been made, shewing why it ought to be expected universally to prevail. It is the glory and the privilege of the human mind to investigate such principles. This is the concluding step by which observation is reduced into science: and, if it can be effectually accomplished, then, and then only, the enquirer after truth arrives at a suitable state of repose. He knows what has been, not merely by a record of apparent facts, but by the more satisfactory method of analysis, and he is able with some degree of confidence to predict what shall be.
The first consideration that occurs, which is calculated to qualify our ideas on the subject, is what I would call the value of a marriage, or the number of years which a married life, taking married lives on an average, may be computed to endure. If the human species were immortal, or, more exactly speaking, if men and women in their. greatest vigour;md the most procreative period of their existence, were not exposed to the accident of death, then the value of a marriage, or the number of years that it might be computed to endure, would be twenty-five years.
But this is not the case. No period of human life is exempted from the great law of mortality and this consideration plainly limits the number of children that a marriage, when we are engaged in the survey of a community or political society, may be expected to produce.
Some women die in the first year of their marriage. These may for the most part be regarded as leaving no offspring. Others die in the second, third, or fourth year of their marriage, and so on through the whole period of twenty-five years.
To the mortality of the women, we must add that of their husbands. It has appeared that a very small proportion of widows marry again, consequently the death of the husband may be considered as operating no less effectually to put a stop to the fruitfulness of a child-bearing woman, than the death of the woman herself.
All that relates to this part of the subject is susceptible of an exact calculation; and Dr. Halley and Dr. Price have furnished us with Tables of the probabilities of human life, from which may be easily extracted whatever may conduce to throw light on this question.
I have myself entered into some computations founded on the data furnished by these authors, and one or two of my friends, more devoted than myself to matters of calculation, have furnished me with others, which I had intended to insert in this place. But I am unwilling to give to a book, the express object of which is to correct a pernicious, and unhappily a widely diffused error, any portion of a dry and repulsive air, that can without injury be avoided. Whoever is disposed fully to investigate the subject for himself, may easily form such computations as I have done. The general result of my investigation has been, that marriages, taken one with another, are worth about sixteen years.
To assist any one who should be inclined to go over the same ground, it is proper however that I should mention the data upon which I have proceeded. I have supposed one hundred thousand marriages to be solemnized. I have taken for granted, that the females of these marriages were every one of them precisely twenty years of age. As men are found to marry somewhat later in life than women, I have taken the bridegrooms as all of them of the age of twenty-five. This in reality produces a very slight difference in the result, from what it would have been if I had taken them also at twenty. But in matters of computation one must fix one's foot somewhere.
With these premises I have proceeded upon the foundations afforded by Dr. Halley and Dr. Price, to calculate, among one hundred thousand men and one hundred thousand women of the ages above specified, how many would die annually through the whole period of twenty-five years. The result of my computation has been to fix the value of a marriage at about sixteen years.
Let us next consider the various circumstances in human society, which limit this absolute measure, and consequently bring the average amount of children that a marriage shall produce, or, more accurately speaking, the proportion to be borne by the number of births to the number of women capable of bearing children in any community, greatly within that which the period of sixteen years for the duration of a marriage might lead us to expect.
We have hitherto, in our community of one hundred thousand men and one hundred thousand women, taken for granted that all marry, and that the women all marry at twenty, and the men at twenty-five. But that is not really the case with any community that ever existed on the face of the earth.
First, all women do not marry. We have seen reason to believe, that the number of women who spend their lives in the single state is by no means so large, as our first reflections might have led us to suppose. They are however a considerable number, and constitute a real proportion of the number of females of an age adapted for child-bearing in every community.
Secondly, it is by no means true, that every woman marries at twenty, and every man at twenty-five years. To marry earlier than twenty will not, I believe, tend to increase the chance of augmenting the population in any country. But many marry later from motives of prudence. And, wherever a great proportion of females are employed in the capacity of domestic servants, this of course opposes a sensible obstacle to early marriage on the part of the female. But, in case the husband or the wife at the period of marriage is older than is above set down, the chance of the number of years that their union shall last is diminished; and in the case of the woman, the abstract period of twenty-five years in which we have supposed her capable of child-bearing, is reduced also.
Thirdly, we have reckoned death only, as a period putting a termination on the value of a marriage. But there is a sickness not unto death. And, in a numerous community, the amount of the females who, under the influence of temporary disease, may for a longer or shorter time be prevented from bearing children will not be inconsiderable.
I may add here, that, in calculating the number of births to a marriage, we may reasonably take into our consideration the duty which nature imposes upon the human female of suckling her offspring. This is scarcely omitted in the lower and more numerous walks of life: and where it is, perhaps it always happens that some female is occupied in the care of the infant, who might otherwise by child-bearing have been engaged in increasing the numbers of the community.
Fourthly, a further deduction from the number of children born into the world, or from the average amount that we should otherwise find of births to a marriage, is produced by the number of women who in the experiment are found barren, and of marriages which afford no children: for debility in the man may equally be attended with that effect, as barrenness in the woman.
Fifthly, we must subtract from the number of women who might otherwise be expected to prove mothers a certain proportion of women, who by some defect of constitution have a fatal indisposition to produce any but abortive births, and who, though often with child, are never found to continue pregnant long enough to produce a living offspring.
Sixthly, there is a considerable number of married women, who may be placed in a class next above those last named, that, though not absolutely incapable of bringing a living child into the world, are yet found during the whole period of their marriage, though it should last from the age of twenty to the age of forty-five years, some never to produce more than one, and others not more than two children.
Lastly. When we take the term, of twenty-five years, from twenty to forty-five years of age, as the period in which a woman is capable of child-bearing, we must not suppose that capacity to subsist in equal strength during the whole period. A woman, endowed with all. the fruit-fulness of the most fruitful of her sex, may for a time bear a child regularly within a certain interval. From twenty to thirty, we will say, she may do so. But this is less likely to happen after thirty; it is still more improbable after thirty-five; and the improbability is further increased after forty. It is not the march of nature immediately to step out of one state into another state essentially different. The colours of Nature are insensibly blended, and change by very gentle gradations, from one tint, to another of contrasted or opposite hue. Of consequence, forty-five may be the age at which a woman may be calculated on as ceasing to be capable of bearing children; but for a number of years before that, she is no longer the teeming mother, the prolific female, she was. This has happened repeatedly within my own knowledge, and similar cases will occur to every one, that the woman who in the flower of her age bore a child every second year, or perhaps, if she did not suckle her children, still oftener, comes afterwards to the condition of bringing a child after an interval of three, four, or even five years.
To illustrate this let us consider, that when we have taken sixteen years as the value of a marriage, this is an average duration, and implies that half of them last less, and half more than sixteen years. Of consequence the whole period of a marriage is by no means to be taken as belonging to a vigorous and prolific period of life, but as indifferently spread over the entire period from twenty to forty-five years of age. That we may understand the value of this consideration I would once more have recourse to the Swedish Tables, deducing from them a view of the number of women to be found in Sweden in 1763, of all the different ages that fair within the child-bearing period. To render this more intelligible to every reader, I will divide them into twenty-five classes, one for every year. I might have calculated the chances of survivorship from year to year according to the Tables of Halley and Price; but this would have made so little difference, that I have preferred the simple method of dividing the number of females between twenty and twenty-five, and so on, by five, and setting them down accordingly, as follows:
Hence it appears that, out of 458,256 women, living in Sweden in 1763 within the child-bearing age, 74,855 had passed their fortieth year, 81,450 were between thirty-five and forty, and only 21,023 of the whole number were in the twenty-first year of their age. It is from these only that we can expect, if married, all the fruitfulness of which the human female, upon an average, shall be found capable. It is easy to see therefore what proportion of the whole were in the highest state of vigour and fecundity, and what deduction as to the chance of frequent child-bearing we are entitled to make, for the number of those with whom that state was entirely past. This of course forms a very considerable deduction from the average number we might otherwise expect of births to a marriage.
Let us put together the different considerations, which are calculated to persuade us that, from the number of women living at a given time in any country between the ages of twenty and forty-five years, a smaller number of children will be born, than from the mere calculation of the probability of the lives of the parties we might at first have been led to expect. 1. All will not marry. 2. A great number of brides are above twenty, and bridegrooms above twenty-five years of age; and this reduces the number of years, that their union might otherwise have lasted, and the period in which the woman might have been counted on as capable of child-bearing. 3. A deduction will arise upon the average of births, not only from the mortality of the child-bearing women, but from the consideration of a certain number in every year, that by ill health will be cut off from the chance of becoming mothers. 4. There will be a certain number of barren wives and imbecile husbands. 5. Some women have a predisposition to produce only abortions. 6. Many women are found never to bear more than one, or more than two children. 7. Though the actual period of the capacity of child-bearing may be stated as from the age of twenty to the age of forty-five years, yet the activeness of that capacity will be found to be greatly diminished, for a considerable time before it totally ceases.
The whole of these considerations, if accurately weighed, will perhaps lead to a conclusion, similar to that which will be found suggested by all the reports which have yet been collected of allthe marriages and births that take place in European society, viz., that four births to a marriage are an ample average allowance.
Let us turn from these, which may be considered as constituting a sort of à priori reasonings on the subject, to a summary of what may be regarded as the result of every man's observation and experience with relation to the question in hand.
At first sight it is probable, that most men's superficial impression on the subject will be at variance with the conclusion above laid down, and they will start with incredulity from the average of four children to a marriage, as being greatly under the truth. Every man has seen within the circle of his acquaintance families of eight, or perhaps ten children. It is not unexampled that the same woman may have brought sixteen living human beings into the world.
But then it is to be considered, that these are remarkable cases, which every body notices, and every body talks of. They are not one in twenty, and add little to the average; not half a child.
Though a marriage have only one, two, three, or even no children, this may not be from barrenness in the ordinary sense, or from any of the causes I have recently enumerated. The marriage may be unprolific from the removal of either of the parties by death. But in the one case as in the other it counts equally in the average against large families.
Large families, as I have said, always attract a certain degree of observation. The marriages which produce few, are extremely common, and therefore pass without remark. The woman who dies, is soon forgotten.
These remarks are susceptible of easy illustration. Let us take five marriages: one produces twelve children, one five, two four, and one none: the sum is twenty-one children; scarcely more than four to a marriage.
Again, let us take five other marriages: one produces seventeen children, two two children each, and two none: the sum is as before twenty-one; scarcely more than four to a marriage.
Here then, if any where, we are presented with the real checks upon population, as they may be supposed to operate under the most favourable circumstances. No one of the seven checks above enumerated, even if we add to them the limitation of the value of a marriage arising from the precariousness of life either in the wife or the husband, comes within the meaning of the terms, as used by Mr. Malthus, “vice and misery.” They are indeed the Law of Nature, benevolently providing that we should not “live like Nature's bastards, but her sons,” and not be cut off from our natural inheritance, from that food which is necessary to and the right of all that are born, through the crowding and elbowing and violence of the multitude of claimants. This is a Law of Nature, the reverse of that impiously set up in the Essay on Population. It is not a Law, “forbidding to marry,” telling the new-born infant to “be gone” from the face of the earth, and pronouncing sentence that “there is no vacant room for him.” It is a Law, that is every where executed, in all places and at all times, constantly and in silence, no man's attention being called to its operation, no man's aid being required to its administration, and accompanied with no calamity, unless we should chuse to call our common frailty by that name, and reproach the God who made us, that he did not ordain us another species of beings than that which we are.
From the evidence then collected in this and the six preceding chapters it appears, that Nature takes more care of her works, than such irreverent authors as Mr. Malthus are apt to suppose,—indeed exactly that care, which elder and more sober writers were accustomed to give her credit for. She has not left it to the caprice of the human will, whether the noblest species of beings that she has planted on this earth, shall be continued or not. She does not ask our aid to keep down the excess of human population. And, however an ascetic and barbarous superstition has endeavoured in different countries and ages to counteract her genial laws, the propensity remains entire; and nothing but a despotism, founded at once upon the menaces of a dismal hereafter as the retribution of a breach of the vows of celibacy, joined with the utmost severity of temporal punishments, can suspend its operation.
Naturam expelles furca, tamen usque recurret.
And this happens, not as Mr. Malthus supposes, by an impulse, similar to that of hunger, and equally wild for its gratification. It answers better to the apostolical description of charity, or love. “It suffereth long, and is kind. It beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” It tranquilly postpones its purposes from month to month, and from year to year: but they are not the less firmly fixed: and both man and woman are intimately convinced, that they have not fulfilled the ends of their being, nor had a real experience of the privileges of human existence without having entered into the ties, and participated in the delights of domestic life.
of the population of england and wales.
But, in opposition to the conclusions and computations of the preceding chapters, the adherents of Mr. Malthus may allege the accounts which have been delivered by various writers, and lately published under the sanction of high authority, respecting the growing population of England and Wales.
There is no actual enumeration of the inhabitants of this country, except the two which were made by the direction of two acts of parliament in 1801 and 1811. These stand as follows.
For the amount of the population at other periods, different modes of computation have been resorted to.
First, the writer of the Observations prefixed to the Abstract of Population for 1811, as published by authority, has proceeded upon the amount of the registered baptisms for different periods, and calculated by the rule of proportion, thus: “If 263,409 baptisms, the average medium of the baptisms for the five years preceding the enumeration of 1801, were produced from a population of 9,168,000, from what population were 157,307, the baptisms of 1700, produced?” And upon this basis he has constructed the following
A mode frequently resorted to by writers on political economy, in estimating the population of a country, has been by a calculation built on the number of houses. The following is a Table collecting the different accounts on this subject under one point of view.
A third method, perhaps as satisfactory as either of the preceding, would be, to proceed upon the amount of the registered burials for different periods, and to calculate by the rule of proportion, thus, If 192,000 burials, i;he average amount for five years, from 1795 to 1800, were produced from a population of 9,168,000, from what population were so many burials, the registered amount of a remoter year, produced?
I am afraid however that the conclusion from all these computations will be, that no certainty, no consistent and plausible result, can be deduced by any of the modes hitherto devised.
We have the inference drawn from the registered amount of baptisms, as calculated by the editor of the Reports.
The calculation from the number of houses in England and Wales ought in all reason to confirm the Table founded upon the baptisms; or it must be allowed in a certain degree to weaken the evidence which that Table affords.
The amount of houses, as exhibited in the preceding page, is obtained as follows. The first three items are taken from the hearth-books, there being at that time a tax of two shillings for every hearthe . The next three are in like manner extracted from the returns to the tax-office, given by the surveyors of the house and window duties for the different departmentse. And the last two are taken from the returns to the two population-acts for those years respectively.
Now, if I calculate the question of inhabitants to a house by the rule of proportion, and suppose as many persons to a house in 1690 as in 1811, to which I see no reasonable objection, the population of England and Wales at the former of these periods will appear to be upwards of seven millions. But Mr. Rickman, by his computation upon the register of baptisms, makes the population of England and Wales for 1700 and 1710 (for he has not extended his calculation beyond the commencement of the eighteenth century) to be only 5,475,000 and 5,240,000 respectively.
Another conclusion that would follow from our calculating on the number of houses, would be that the country was rapidly depopulating from the Revolution at least up to the year 1777, a conclusion, which no reasoning founded upon any other consideration will incline us to believe. It is obvious indeed, that, where there is a tax to be collected, a variety of circumstances will vitiate the returns, so as to make them very far from being entitled to implicit credit. I should refer myself therefore only to the actual enumerations. There the enquiry was directed to the clergyman or overseer in each parish, who could hardly be conceived to have any temptation to conceal the number of houses in his district: to which I may add that a house is a sort of commodity not easily hid.
Let us next look to the number of burials, a species of register, I should think, as little liable to error as that of baptisms. Every human creature that is born is not carried to the priest of the parish to be baptised; but every human creature that dies, unless at sea, is consigned to the earth, and his obsequies are rarely unaccompanied with the ceremonies of religion.
The question abovestated was, If 192,000 burials, the average amount for five years, from 1795 to 1800, were produced from a population of 9,168,000, from what population were so many burials, the registered amount of a remoter year, produced?
But here we are stopped on the threshold by the information of the editor of the Reports, who assures usf , that “the average number of registered burials (though considerably fluctuating from year to year) has remained stationary during twenty-one years, from 1780 to 1800; the first five years of which period, as well as the last five years, and all the twenty-one years together, equally averaging at about 192,000 burials per annum”
Here then we have an evidence, perhaps as strong as any ground of computation can afford us, of a population that does not increase.
This however does not shake the faith of the editor of the Reports, who steadily adheres to his computation from the baptisms, and affirms an increase of population within that period to the amount of 1,215,000 persons. For the five years from 1805 to 1810, he states “the average of burials to be 196,000g ,” that is, to exhibit the comparatively slender increase of 4000 per annum; and yet, according to him, the population of the country, between the years 1780 and 1810, has experienced an increase to the amount of no less than 2,535,000 souls.
This circumstance would Certainly have startled the faith of a more diffident speculator; but it has no such effect upon him. He indeed brings forward an extraordinary solution for the difficulty. “The average number of burials,” he says, “having remained stationary, or nearly so, while the population has been increasing by more than two millions and a half, authorises a satisfactory inference of diminishing mortality in Englandh .” Satisfactory indeed, but no less astounding than satisfactory, if no more persons are found to die now, when the population is 10,488,000, than died before in the year 1780, when the population is stated to have amounted to no more than 7,953,000. Can any thing be more extraordinary than this? I had heard before of the improving salubrity of London, in consequence of its widened streets and the better arrangement of its buildings. But that the whole climate of the country from the Land's End in Cornwal to Berwick upon Tweed should thus have improved, I confess is new to me.
But let us try the accuracy of these registers in another way. Dr. Price in his Observations on Reversionary Payments has fixed the average medium of the probability of human life at thirty-three yearsi . Consequently, the number of those who are born, or those who die, annually in any country, multiplied by thirty-three, ought to yield us the amount of its inhabitants.
Now by Mr. Rickman's statement, the average amount of baptisms for the five years preceding the enumeration of 1801 is 263,409k . This number, multiplied by 33, gives 8,692,497, a number, short by 475,500 of the enumeration for that period. This however would be a most unfair mode of calculation, since, I suppose, a great majority of the people of England in 1801 were more than five years of age, and those who were older, being born, according to Mr. Rickman, from a much thinner population, must have been born in years that yielded a much smaller number of baptisms.
From the same authority we learn, that the average of burials is 192,000, and this for twenty-one years, from 1780 to 1800. Now this number, multiplied by 33, gives no more than 6,386,000, a number short by almost three millions of the actual enumeration.
It is further worthy of remark, that, in the page of the Observations prefixed to the Returns of 1811, immediately preceding that from which the Table of Population throughout the Last Century is taken, the editor has presented us with a Table of the Proportions of Baptisms to Marriages1 , during the very period when, according to him, the greatest increase was taking place in our population. The highest of these proportions is 366 to 100, very considerably less than four to one. Now it is surprising that it did not occur to the editor, that, while this proportion obtained, there could be no increase of population; a point which has already been abundantly established. The return of baptisms therefore supports two opposite conclusions; first, in page xxiv of the Preliminary Observations, that there can have been no increase of population; and, secondly in page xxv, that the increase has been so considerable, as for the number of people to have doubled itself in the course of a century. The just inference is, that these returns of baptisms can in no way be relied on as a safe ground of reasoning.
From what has been stated, it seems, fair to set aside all the conjectural and computatory accounts of the population of England and Wales, previous to the passing the act for 1801. But it will still be asked, what shall we oppose to the comparison of the two actual enumerations of 1801 and 1811, from which it follows that we gained in population in those ten years an accession of 1,320,000 citizens?
It appears indeed that the marriages, compared with the births, did not average four children born during this very period to one marriage taking place in it, that the burials were increased by an amount of only 3,019 per annum for the whole country, and that the number of those who died, according to this statement, was only such as implied a population of 6,435,627 persons.
But I may be told that all this is computation merely, and will be wholly vitiated by the supposition of the gross imperfection of the registers. The population on the contrary is the sum of the returns made from every parish or district by the resident clergyman or overseer, who by the exertion of a certain diligence could not fail to know the number of the actual inhabitants. It was his business to go from house to house, and learn from the head of each family the precise number of his family or inmates. At all events, though he should in some instances have reported too small an amount, it can hardly be supposed that he counted a larger number of heads than really existed. The population of England and Wales therefore ought to be taken at 10,488,000 for the year 1811.
I am myself more inclined to give credit in this respect to the returns of 1811, than to those of 1801. There are very obvious reasons, that might have made men cautious at first of giving a true answer to an enquiry of this sort. A country like England, so deeply loaded with taxes and exactions of all kinds, will naturally have a people that regard with a certain degree of jealousy the movement of their government and their superiors. We have heard of poll-taxes, of pressing of seamen, of pressing of soldiers, and of the conscriptions of France, not to mention the drawings for the militia at home. The honest peasantry and manufacturers and mechanics of this country, when first addressed with questions as to the number of persons in their family, of their inmates or lodgers, very excusably looked shy upon the questioner, and recollected a maxim current in ordinary life, that truth is not always to be spoken. The second time, having experienced no ill consequences from the first experiment, they became more frank. It is therefore very conceivable, that there was not one human creature more in the country, when the population was returned as 10,488,000 in 1811, than when it was returned as 9,168,000 in 1801.
I have already said, that the enumerations of Great Britain in 1801 and 1811, were merely so much labour thrown away. Being taken with such inconceivable absurdity, all ages and sexes being confounded together, they can, in my conception, be made the basis of no reasoning. We are therefore reduced to conjecture merely, as to the cause of the inequality of amount in the two enumerations. If the population had been divided into classes according to every five or ten years' difference of ages, as in Sweden and in the United States, the truth would have flashed upon us at once. The added numbers by direct procreation in the enumeration of 1811 would have been all under ten years of age, and of consequence the number of such children in 1811 would have exceeded the number in 1801 by the precise amount of 1,320,000. This would have been an evidence that could hardly have been called in question.
Is England more or less populous now, than it was a hundred years ago, or than it was forty years back? Each man answers this question according to his preconceived opinions.
Man is a migrating animal. He removes from one place to another, from the town to the country, and from the country to the town, as he shall happen to be impressed with the notion that in this or in that he shall be most likely to find his well-being.
London I am persuaded is more populous now, than it was at any remote period: but is England more populous?
The life of man is too short for any accurate ideas on such a question; and in this respect it is not true, that “one generation telleth to another.” Our fathers thought, it may be, that their country was well peopled and prosperous. But did these words convey the same image to their minds as to ours? The observation of man is too narrow to scan a country, 580 miles in length, and 370 in breadth. We see that one spot becomes more crowded, and another thinner of people; but we do not see how far the one does or does not balance the other.
The observation of the same individual varies from youth to age. Our ideas become modified from day to day, and we do not observe the variation; and the notion that the same set of words excites in us at twenty, and at fifty, is essentially different. Things alter, and appear to us the same, and continue the same, and appear to us materially changed. I remember a friend of minem , who after a lapse of ten years visited the house where he had resided when he was a boy: he was persuaded that the garden was inclosed with a wall that effectually cut off the view of the circumjacent country, and felt much surprised at his return to find this wall scarcely higher than his breast: if he had continued all the time on the spot, it is probable he never would have perceived the alteration. Our minds change much as our bodies do, in which it has been computed that not a particle remains the same after a lapse of twenty years.
We are like children at a juggler's exhibition, who, while their attention is craftily called to a particular point, look only there, and see nothing of the general scene, and of what is passing elsewhere, that it was more material to observe. We see the high days, and the holiday-making; and how men crowd together to shows, and courts, and prosperous cities, but what passes in the obscure nooks and corners of the state we do not see. If I travel from London to York, I can count up the cottages, and observe how many carts and carriages and foot-passengers go along the road within a given number of miles, and what appearance there is of populousness and activity, or the contrary; but I do not know what Addison, and Swift, and Congreve, and the most competent observers saw, when according to the Table of Houses there was an appearance of the greatest numbers of mankind, though their local arrangement was different from that of the present day. Nay, if I had myself performed the journey twenty years ago, the memory of man is of so irretentive a texture, and his judgment so easily seduced, that I shall not now distinctly call to mind what I saw then, and shall be bribed insensibly to accommodate the comparison to that system of political economy, whatever it is, that I have happened to embrace. The collation we attempt, is either at too near intervals, when it is not reasonable to expect any considerable alteration, or at too remote ones, when the image which was once distinct in the mind, has become so obscure and faded, and has suffered so much from the injury of the seasons, and the variety of scenes and impressions which have intervened, that a wise man would hardly have the courage to rely upon it.
It is difficult to conceive how the notion of the increasing population of our country has become so generally prevalent. Is the popula- of the world increased? Have the numbers of the human species been increasing from the earliest accounts of time? There is nothing, to speak moderately, in the history of the earth, to authorise this opinion.
Is England then an exception to the general succession of ages and nations? If so, the reasons should be assigned that authorise us to regard it as an exception.
Much confusion of ideas exists on this subject.
First, we read in holy writ that all mankind sprung from a single pair, and this unavoidably inclines us to believe in a progressive increase.
To this I have answered, first, from Derham and other theological writers who affirm the population of the earth to be now at a stand, that we are informed from the same divine authority, that in the early ages the life of man was nearly of one thousand years' duration, which, says Derham, was absolutely necessary for the first peopling of the world. Secondly, Mr. Malthus confines his enquiries to human authorities and statistical documents, and i cannot reasonably be blamed for following his example in my refutation of his Essay. Thirdly, this would have implied an invariable increase, or nearly so, an assumption as much in opposition to all the evidence of history as can well be imagined.
A second consideration which has impressed a majority of those to whom I address myself with the idea of the growing population of this country, is to be found in the progress of refinement. We compare our accommodations with what appear to us the aukward shifts to which the generations that preceded us were reduced, and we persuade ourselves that our advantages in this respect necessarily imply a greater number of human beings to partake of them. We pass in imagination at one leap, from the refinements introduced or existing in the early part of the nineteenth century, to a period of absolute Barbarism, like that of the naked Africans and North American Indians, and picture to ourselves men wasting a disconsolate life in immeasurable solitudes, where the presenting one human being to the eyes of another might be supposed to constitute an epocha.
But this is all a delusion. Civilisation as surely destroys its myriads, as the rudest and most unpolished state of existence. Immense wealth has a natural tendency to spread a comparative desert around it. A simple and tranquil form of social existence is not hostile to population. Of this we might be sufficiently convinced from the accounts given us by the first discoverers of the West India islands, and of the empires of Mexico and Peru. Of this we have still more incontestible evidence in the statements of the present population of Indostan.
But, though the notion of the increasing population, of our country has been the current notion of our political writers, this increase was never viewed as an evil till the year 1798. It is the geometrical ratio, that has produced all this confusion and uproar in the brains of politicians. Till the present age, these men flattered them selves with an increase; but it was an increase by moderate and slow degrees. They knew that the earth was capacious of inhabitants, immeasurably beyond the present numbers of mankind. They believed that, as nations advanced in numbers, they would also advance in ingenuity. They relied upon emigration as a resource, when any country or corner of a country should become inconveniently furnished with inhabitants. They regarded this, like the circles that the pebble makes in a lake; and they could contemplate no end to this vast, and perhaps frequently interrupted, expansion. They regarded the earth as an inexhaustible storehouse for the food of man, science and the practical application of science as indefatigable and endless, and the subsistence of human creatures and the progress of social improvement as a contemplation fraught with perpetual hope and exultation. But we have learned to fear that, which it is perhaps impossible should ever occur, and to give up all our present advantages, and those which a little before with confidence we anticipated, because the day will hereafter arrive, or not arrive, which will baffle and supersede all the calculations of human wisdom.
Proofs of the geometrical ratio from the phenomenon of a pestilence.
One frequent source of the mistakes that have been made on the subject of population, has been derived from the consideration of a pestilence. It has been said, that, when a nation has been laid waste by this great scourge of mankind, the loss is speedily made up, the lands are again cultivated, the cities repeopled, and the country grows as flourishing as ever. The received idea is, that, if you happened not to be a spectator of the distress while it lasted, and if you returned to the country that had been visited by such a calamity after an interval of ten years, you would know nothing of the matter. Influenced by these conceptions, it has been inferred by Hume, one of the most subtle of all reasoners, that, “if the restraints which the desire and power of propagation lie under were completely removed, the human species would more than double in every generationa .” I have that deference for the great authority of Hume, that for this reason principally I have determined to devote a chapter to the question.
Let it be remembered then, that, when London or any other considerable town became thinned by the plague, this was not entirely the consequence of the numbers that died. Every one that had the power, and almost that had not, fled from the dreadful scene; London was indeed a melancholy solitude. Her citizens migrated in multitudes to the country parts of England; but, when the infection was at an end, they migrated back again.
If, in consequence of a calamity of this sort, there appears, when it is over, eligible place for more inhabitants, this eligibleness will tempt population from the remoter parts of the empire, or from foreign countries. Wherever there is soil well prepared for cultivation, and a country, desirable to dwell in, but ill provided with inhabitants, thither human creatures will feel prompted to remove. Man is a being that wanders from Dan to Beersheba, from Copenhagen to Jerusalem, and from Europe to America, in pursuit of happiness. But of these migrations no European government takes an account; and the new comers speedily become consolidated with the old inhabitants. We must have regulations, such as are said to exist in some parts of Asia, forbidding every man to quit the district in which he was born, before we can easily obtain accurate notions of population.
And here it may be useful to recollect what was proved some time back, that there can be no real increase of population, but by an increase of the number of women capable of child-bearing. The rest of the society, the old and the young, except so far as they contribute to this, may come and go as they please. They are useless adjuncts, drones in the great hive of population, and in the point of view now under consideration not worthy to be counted. Mr. Malthus has taken infinite pains in comparing the number of births and deaths in given situations and periods, and is of opinion that, if in one year and another many more human beings are born than die, the population is substantially increased. But all this pains (so far as “short periods” are concerned) is thrown away. If indeed, as Mr. Malthus expresses it, “the population is continually pressing hard against the limits of subsistence,” and we are in want of food sufficient to nourish us, it may then be desirable that the infirm and the useless should die off as soon as they could; and we might be incited, except so far as we were restrained by religion or humanity, to imitate what is related of some savage nations, to bury our grandfathers and grandmothers alive, or tie them to a tree, and leave them to starve. But their protracted existence adds not an atom to the real power and source of population. In civilised society they may be useful, ornamental, admirable; but in the single question which Mr. Malthus has so successfully pressed upon general observation, they are mere weeds in the garden of society, a sort of annuals or biennials, that may drop off at pleasure, but add nothing to the substantial support of population, or to the chance that the nation or tribe to which they belong shall continue in their posterity.
“If you happened not to be a spectator of the pestilence while it lasted, and returned to the country after a lapse of ten years, you would not be aware of any alteration that had taken place.” What would be the real state of the case? In ten years many of the men and women that existed in the beginning of the period would have deceased, according to the never sleeping, never to be suspended, course of nature. But in the mean time not one woman, not one man, would have been added to the population, by procreation only. Instead 'of this, we should see a fry of little children, the stay, and the single hope of the age to come. We must wait sixteen years at least, if not twenty, before we can look for a single mother from this quarter, to replace the race of mothers, who in the mean time have for the most part gone off the stage of efficient fecundity, since the pestilence ceased. A portentous gap, that might almost make us tremble for the continuance of the race. The only relief we have from this, is in contemplating the female children born before the pestilence, some of whom, together with some of the married women, would have survived the general calamity. So clear it is, that we must rely upon the migrating principle in man, and not upon procreation, for any sudden restoration of numbers and prosperity, after a great scene of indiscriminate devastation.
|First term, or original propagators,||1|
|2d,||in 25 years,||2|
The philosophy of Mr. Malthus is not the method of induction. He perpetually appeals lo principles which have never been brought into action, and which are opposed to all experience. He speaks of tendencies to human increase, and of powers of population, which “in no state that we have yet known have been left to exert themselves with perfect freedomb .” This is exactly in the style of those dreamers, who predict of the future something unlike and opposite to what has ever appeared in the past. They too talk of secret springs, that have never yet displayed their elasticity,—of latent energies which have never been exerted.
Latent signifies concealed, and consequently the latent power of increase in the human species is what we shall never know; but, even granting for a moment that the 3 or 4 censuses which have been taken in America do exhibit something like a duplication in 25 years;—granting too that this increase has arisen solely from propagation, independent of emigration, there certainly exist no data from which to infer the law of the series. We have only 4, or at most 5 terms given us,— some of them extracted at intervals of time by no means regular,—from a series perpetually flowing, and of the ebbs and floods of whose motion we know nothing; and from these the ordinary reader is presented with a picked set of numbers, in geometrical progression, with the ratio of two. From such an increasing series as the human race may be supposed to exhibit, any form of a progression may be taken:— why not that of 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, &c. which increase as the squares of the terms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, &c.? For aught that Mr. Malthus has discovered this may be the latent law of increase. All that he has demonstrated, even granting his American censuses, as we for the moment have done, is that human beings are capable of increasing their numbers; or, rather that they have been found to do so for a specific time: but the series which would mark the Law of that Increase, he has either been unwilling or unable to develop.
“The rate,” says Mr. Malthus, “according to which the productions of the earth may be supposed to increase, it will not be easy to determine. Of this however we may be perfectly certain, that the ratio of their increase must be totally of a different nature from the ratio of the increase of populationc .” This passage is much more modest than that which we quoted at the beginning of this Dissertation, where he says, that food increases in an arithmetical ratio, and that he considered this proposition as proved the moment it was enunciated; but, as he proceeds, this modesty vanishes, and he comes to an undoubting conclusion that food can increase only in the series 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, &c. (an arithmetical progression whose ratio is one) and that the period between the terms, or time of increase, is also 25 years.
If the quantity of the food of man be increased, it is obvious that the increase will not be by starts every 25 years; but that it will be increased through many intervening times; and, consequently, even granting that such quantities as 1, 2, 3, 4, &c. were extracted from the flow of increase, at certain periods, the arithmetical progression thus exhibited would be a picked set of numbers, (as we stated respecting population) and might have been any other series rather than that which Mr. Malthus has chosen, for aught that experience has told him on the subject. The successive terms of all increasing series whatever present nothing but additions. The mathematician forms series at his own pleasure, where the additions are regulated by certain laws. It is not so with those of Nature. Whether her series alternately progress and retrograde;—whether they circulate, or decrease, or flow in straight and eternal lines, is beyond the ken of the philosopher. He snatches at intervals, a few links in the immeasurable and ever moving chain of the universe; and dividing these links into such portions as are perceived by the glance of a moment, he cries out in extacy, “I have found it!” This remark however is general. It refers to the boundaries of human knowledge, and is applicable to a Newton as well as to a Malthus:—Our business is with the latter.
Taking the series 1, 2, 3, 4, &c. as that of the increase of human subsistence, or of any thing else, we may, by picking the terms, extract from it any progression we chuse: for instance, in — 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16, &c. the 1st, 2d, 4th, 8th, and 16th terms, form the precise geometrical progression, which Mr. Malthus has chosen to represent the increase of human beings. The progressions themselves then would have signified nothing, had not Mr. Malthus assumed the principle, that an equal period of time, 25 years, was to elapse between the production of every subsequent term of either progression. Thus arranged:
|Population,||1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256|
|Food,||1,2,3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9|
he believes that he has demonstrated that in 8 periods of time of 25 years each, the population if unchecked, would increase to 256 times its present number, while the food would only be 9 times what it now is. Let us endeavour to view the grounds on which these different progressions have been raised.
of the ratio of increase in the means of subsistence.
The phrase, “means of subsistence,” as applied to human beings is in the utmost degree loose and indefinite. In a general sense almost every thing that grows, walks, swims, or flies, is capable of being converted into the food of man, and hence every vegetable and every animal must cease to exist, before it can be said that his means of subsistence are exhausted; and, till then, the grown up man would always find sufficient to feed his young. In a particular view however, it may be, and often is otherwise. Man in society is a being of habits and prejudices He is moreover a slave. His food must be of a certain kind, dressed in a certain manner, and provided, not by the whole, but by a small portion of the species. In this situation a famine may occur while the world teems with animal and vegetable lifed . He may starve in a workshop, as well as within the walls of a dungeon; because, in neither case, has he any food except what is brought by his keepers. It is food so prepared and so distributed, which constitutes the means of subsistence among the nations of Europe, where the labourer
- “Starves, in the midst of Nature's bounty curst,
- And in the loaden vineyard, dies for thirst.”
As it is in America that Mr. Malthus has discovered his ratio of propagation, it is there also we should look for the ratio of increased subsistence; and in doing so we shall find reason to be astonished at his choice of an arithmetical one. As far as animals constitute the food of man, its increase must be in the same sort of series as that of human beings: and, if a geometrical ratio exist any where, it is surely in the vegetable produce of the soil. Animals and vegetables multiply as rapidly at least as man, if submitted to his care and protection: and, as the love of his offspring is implanted in his nature, he would, if free, always exert himself to rear the food, which his children might require. The limits of this production of food would not be discovered, as long as any land lay waste. Until the whole were cultivated in the highest degree,—until the sea were drained of its inhabitants, and no wild beast or fowl were found upon the earth, the food of man would always increase in an equal ratio with the human racee . If America have doubled its inhabitants every 25 years, the prepared food must have increased in equal proportion: for all the inhabitants have plenty, and are able to export grain to foreign countries. In the only country then, where Mr. Malthus has discovered any ratio of increase of human population, the same, if not a greater ratio has been observed in the increase of the means of subsistence. As before observed, natural subsistence is indefinite, and prepared subsistence, which is a manufacture from what nature has in store, must always increase in quantity in proportion to the number of manufacturers employed, until the raw material can no longer be furnished; and so long at least the ratios of human increase and of the means of subsistence must necessarily be the same. What will happen when the prolific power of man shall enable him to outstrip the fertility of the globe which he inhabits: when the head of the serpent shall bite off its tail, and no longer remain an emblem of the universe, we leave to the conjectures of those whose imaginations are able to people the universe with human beingsf . Meantime, whether vice, misery, or (what Mr. Malthus never chooses to mention) the less extent of prolific power, and the shortness of time appointed for man upon the earth,—shall interfere with tins peopling of the stars, we may rest assured that, until men can exist without food, the ratio of increase of population will never exceed that of the means of subsistence. Food may be reared beyond the wants of a people, and such a case has produced slavery and misery to the cultivators of Botany Bayg ; but it is impossible that any term in the progression of subsistence can be less than its corresponding term in that of population, else that corresponding term would cease to be. Experience then never did nor ever can shew different progressions in population and in food, in favour of the former; and, as to the difference of inherent power (if a power which can never be exerted have a meaning), the power of increase in plants and animals is obviously equal to that of man.
Ofthe ratio of increase in human population.
We have already observed that the progressions of nature are not formed like those of the mathematician. They do not start from one term to another, but proceed insensibly, so as to fill up all the interstices between the terms of the series; and it is only by catching at different points in the order of time, that progressions are extracted, to form (or oftener to suit) the theories of philosophers. It is known for instance that bodies fall to the earth with an accelerated motion. That acceleration has been assumed to be such, that the spaces described by the falling body shall always be in proportion to the squares of the times. Experiments were made on a petty scale to prove the truth of this theory, some of which appeared to coincide in a remarkable degree, while others presented very different results. It was then assumed that the ratio could exist only in a vacuum, on account of the resistance of the atmospherical air,—and as we have no means of making the experiment in vacuo, the principle still remains a mere gratisdictum. It is nevertheless considered as unquestionable; and is even made to guide the planets in their orbits.
In a similar manner, though with humbler claims to confidence, Mr. Malthus has adopted the principle, assumed by his predecessors, of a tendency to a continued geometrical ratio in the increase of human population; and has built upon this hypothesis, his theory of accounting for the vice and misery which exist among mankind. We have now to consider from what data this principle of increase has been inferred; but we may previously remark, that it is the tendency to this ratio of increase, and not the increase itself, which Mr. Malthus exhibits as the evil genius of the human race. This embryo of future famine—this being that is yet to be—is perpetually at war with the good genius of subsistence. The hand of industry is palsied, and the fruits of nature are shrivelled, by the touch of the demon. He hangs the ruin over our heads, and we are crushed by its weight before it falls.
Granting the power of increase to the human species, the methods of investigating the law of the series will vary according to our view of the origin of mankind. On this subject, however much men may differ in minute particulars, there are only two general and acknowledged systems of belief. The one is the peopling of the earth as recorded in the scriptures: the other is the aspect of human society as it appears to every succeeding generation, modified by the degree of confidence that such generation entertains in the traditions and uninspired written records of its ancestors. We will consider the case from each of these points of view.
On the first hypothesis the whole of the present race of men have descended from a single pair. In consequence, there is no question ot the existence of a power of increase among the early inhabitants of the earth; and the only point of controversy is, whether that power be not now diminished. But, however that may be, the investigator of ratios proceeds upon the same principle, and uniformly constructs his tables from a single pair. It is nevertheless evident that every table so constructed must proceed upon data furnished by the imagination We have no complete genealogy of the first peopling of the globe; and, as brothers do rot marry their sisters in our times, the descendants of a single pair cannot now be kept separate from the population of a district. Such imaginary tables have notwithstanding been constructed; and we give the following from Suss-milch, which was calculated by Euler. He takes a married pair of 20 years old, as the founders of his race. This pair have six children at three births (each birth producing twins—a male and a female) and these births are in the 22d, 24th, and 26th years of the age of the parents, who live till 40 years old, and then die. Every successive pair marry at 20, and have 6 children at 3 births, in their 22d, 24th, and 26th years, and live till the age of 40, as their parents did before them. The same succession of births, marriages, and deaths, continues from generation to generation, and the results are given for every 2d year, during a period of 3 centuries. These data are sufficiently extravagant. The Table presents, as might be expected, an abundant increase; and surely here, if any where, the geometrical ratio should be found.
In this Table the first column contains the years to which the numbers in the other columns respectively refer. The 2d column gives the number of the born in each particular year. The 3d column gives the number of the born altogether; which, if there were no deaths, would be the number of the living; but as all die in the 41st year of their age, the number of the dead is placed in the 4th column, which, subtracted from the whole number born as expressed in the 3d column, forms the 5th and last column, or the number of the living.
|year.||Number of the Born.||Number of the Whole.||Number of the Dead.||Number of the Living.|
|year.||Number of the Born.||Number of the Whole.||Number of the Dead.||Number of the Living.|
|year.||Number of the Born.||Number of the Whole.||Number of the Dead.||Number of the Living.|
|year.||Number of the Born.||Number of the Whole.||Number of the Dead.||Number of the Living.|
|year.||Number of the Born.||Number of the Whole.||Number of the Dead.||Number of the Living.|
The mathematician, who is acquainted with the data on which this Table is constructed, knows that it presents a recurring series, the law of which might be expressed by an algebraic formula; while the ordinary reader will be astonished at its ebbs and flows, and will labour in vain, if he attempt to pick out an increasing geometrical ratio from its numbers. There is only one law in a geometrical progression, which is, that every succeeding term shall have a certain fixed proportion to the preceding; and hence, if, in a series of increasing numbers, every set of equidistant terms (such as every 20th or 25th, &c.) presents a geometrical ratio, then all the terms in the series are also in geometrical progression. Thus if in the numbers 1, 2, 4, 8,16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, we take every third term, beginning with 1, we shall have 1, 8, 64 512, a geometrical progression, where every succeeding term is 8 times that which went before it. If we chuse every second term we have, 1, 4,16,64, 256,1024, a progression where the ratio is 4, and universally, pick as we will, if we do so at equal distances, we shall always have a geometrical progression: because the numbers from which we have to chuse are all arranged in that sort of series. Before then a geometrical progression can be picked, at regular intervals, from any succession of numbers, every 3 or more terms, that follow one another in that succession, must themselves be in geometrical proportion. It is in vain therefore to look for a doubling of mankind in certain periods, if there be not an equable progression from year to year. But, under any form of increase from a single pair, this is impossible; for the terms are only numerically, not substantially the same. The number of the living in the Table before us is doubled in the second year, tripled in the 4th, and quadrupled in the 6th year, but these 4, 6, and 8 persons, are not similar to the first two. The two are a man and a woman, while the increase are children, who have to live a certain number of years before they can add to the race. The geometrical ratio therefore can never exist under such circumstances. In this Table, though every contingency that could arise from constitution, climate, or other causes, is studiously rejected in the calculation, the “regular confusion” is apparent, particularly in the 2d column, through a period of three hundred years; and though the numbers would not be so obviously irregular to common observers, they would never run into a geometrical ratio, though extended to as many centuries.
If the descendants of a single pair can never increase in a geometrical proportion, neither can those of a modern colony, for such a colony is only a certain number of grown up pairs; and besides, as they are real beings, they are liable to many accidents, defying all calculation, from which the preceding Table is by supposition free. A colony of grown up men and women insulated from the rest of the world, would resemble in a great, degree the first parents of the human race. Society, as it exists in Europe, presents us with numbers of all ages from the cradle to the grave; and in gradations which could not exist in a colony, such as we have mentioned, for centuries. Mr. Malthus finds his geometrical ratio in America: but the least reflection might convince him that this ratio cannot possibly take place among the descendants of grown up propagators; and that, though it were supposed to exist, the continued influx of emigrants from Europe would so overwhelm it with stranger numbers, as to make it impossible to shew the progression. We are not, in this place, denying the assertion, that there has been an increase in America “from procreation only.” We only deny, and we do it peremptorily, that the increase is in any species of geometrical progression.
We have hitherto considered the laws of the increase of human population, as originating from one or more pairs of grown up persons. We have now to contemplate mankind as they are found existing upon the earth;—as if they were beings but recently discovered by the philosopher. In this view, the origin of nations is lost in the mist of antiquity; and, we presume, it will be granted us, resting, as we must do, on the authority of profane history, that we have no conclusive evidence, whether the number of the inhabitants of the globe is greater, or less now, than it was 2000 years ago. Of the whole population we observe only a small portion, and that for a very limited period of time.
Could we take an exact census of a populous nation, we should find it materially different in its construction from the enumeration of an infant colony, or the tabular genealogy from primitive progenitors. The multitude of human beings, whose origin is lost in history and who seem as it were indigenous to the soil, is composed of persons of every age from the moment of birth to the point of dissolution, including, in general, a period of about 100 years, that being the term which may ordinarily be considered as the extreme limit of human life. How many of these were born at every particular minute, hour, or day of the century immediately preceding the census, it is practically impossible to determine. The only Tables of any value on this subject are the population-lists of Sweden; for there has never been a census in any other country on which there could be placed the least dependence, or from which any useful consequence could be drawn.
The population of Sweden, of which there have been frequent enumerations during the last 60 years, appears to be increasing, but certainly in no ratio approaching to geometrical. The irregularity of the increase is extreme, and occasionally we find a considerable diminution. How much of the increase may be attributed to a greater accuracy in taking the censuses, and how much of the irregularity may arise from the variations in its political boundaries, we must leave to the determination of the statesmen of that country. It is sufficient to say that they continually complain of the want of population. Our present business however is not with the increase itself, but with the law of that increase.
The following table is formed from the censuses for 9 years from 1755 to 1763 inclusive. Though it exhibits an increase, the population about that period may be considered as having been nearly stationaryh ; and certainly not increasing, if we keep in view the necessity of a fund to supply the waste occasioned by those unexpected convulsions of society, and calamities of nature, which history records as having so often retarded and diminished the population of kingdoms.
|Living in 757.||Living in 1760.||Living in 1763.|
|Age||Males||Females||In all||Males||Females||In all||Males||Females||In all|
|Under 1 yr.||33,731||33,459||67.190||37,323||37,272||74,595||3O,094||35,453||71,547|
|1 to 3||63,954||64,883||128,837||66,034||66,860||132,894||66,059||67,234||133,293|
|above 90||583||1,026||1,609||555||1,019||1,574||527||288||1,5 15|
|Ages of Living||Average of 9 years, from preceding Table||Proportioned to a population of 10,000|
|Under 5 years.||334,899||1,408|
|5 to 10||255,965||1,076|
These Tables are formed from the comparison of 9 years; but, did they represent the average of centuries, they would then give us a fair view of the progress and waste of human life, in the state and climate of Sweden. We will suppose that they do so.
It appears then that 370 annual births are just sufficient to keep up a population of 10,000 persons. These 370 (or 1850 in 5 years) constitute a population of 1408, under 5 years of age, who are renewed by the births as they grow older or die. These 1408 are reduced by deaths to 1076 between the ages of 5 and 10, who are again reduced to 1015, being the number living between 10 and 15. In the same manner, from the continual supply by births and reductions by deaths, the different numbers of every age, making up the whole population, are regularly kept up throughout the century, which here appears to be the limit of the age of man. In actual existence these numbers will vary above or below the numbers of the Table, which are here given as an average proportion of a society of little or no increase.
The supply of this society is by children in nonage. The 370 annually born are expanded so as to keep up all the ranks of the different ages of which the 10,000 population consists; and for that purpose it matters not whether they be produced by the whole, or by a part of the tribe,—or whether they drop from the clouds. In fact however these children are brought into the world by the child-bearing females. The period, during which women are capable of child-bearing is, in few cases, above 20 years,— rarely more than 25. Early marriages seem to produce no difference in this respect; because, the sooner they begin, the sooner they cease to be prolific. The whole range in Europe is between 15 and 45; and, in taking the numbers from the table, it matters little whether we count them between 15 and 40, or between 20 and 45: the amount is not materially different. Polygamy is not allowed in Sweden; and therefore these 370 children may be considered as produced by not more than the number of the population between 20 and 45; that is, by 3534 married persons. It will signify nothing that the husbands are occasionally of other ages, for the number (3534) would not thereby be increased: the females of these ages only being capable of child-bearing. Of these 3534, a proportion of women (diseased from birth or by after accidents) are never fitted for marriage; and it will therefore be no extravagant assertion to say that the married persons in this society will never exceed 3000, if ever they amount to that number. These 3000 persons then are the ever-during source from which this society flows. Their children fill up the vacancies of death, and recruit the ranks of propagators as they are invalided by age; but all the females, and a number equal to all the males, above 45 years old, cease to be useful in the continuation of the race. There are 2108 persons above the age of 45; and if we add to these the number who are too diseased for marrying (of which we supposed 534 between 20 and 45) and the number of children, who, though counted with the others, are doomed never to swell the list of real propagators, we speak within bounds when we assert, that of these 10,000 persons, there are 3000 who are useless in the work of procreation. These 3000 —more or less, according to healthy or unhealthy seasons,—form the fluctuating balance of what would otherwise be a permanent population. The 370 children annually born, contain among their number the proportion necessary to keep up these 3000 useless adjuncts to the hive: and, though all the 3000 were to perish in a morning, so as to reduce the society to 7000, the effective propagators would remain, the births would continue the same, and the 3000 would gradually be renewed like the severed limbs of the polypus. As an example, we will suppose that the 2108 persons above 45 years of age are all destroyed by accident or design. Their gradual renewal will be apparent from the following Table:
|years||Born||under 5.||5 to 10||10 to 15||15 to 20||20 to 25||25 to 30||30 to 35||35 to 40||40 to 45||45 to 50||50 to 55||55 to 60||60 to 65||65 to 70||70 to 75||70 to 80||80 to 85||85 to 90||Above 90||All the living|
From the foregoing table we find that, although we destroyed more than a fifth of the population, the whole are created anew in the course of 50 years. The 10,000 inhabitants are again brought forward, and the society ceases to have any further increase. If, in addition to the 2108 persons here cut off, all the diseased and inefficient had been likewise exterminated, the society would have been reduced to less than 7000. The apparent number of propagators would have thus been lessened, but the births would not therefore have been fewer; and in a certain number of years, as in the present case, every chasm would have been filled, and the original number of 10,000 human beings would have been brought again, and in the same order, to our view. There may therefore happen to be very extensive variations in the census of a society, in the germ of which there is no principle of permanent increase. They are precisely those adventitious beings who increase with favourable years, and who, when unfavourable seasons arrive, swell by clusters the bills of mortality. A series of seasons unfavourable to the vegetable productions of the earth, is also unfavourable to human life, particularly to that of the infirm and the aged. These die of disease, not of famine: for, except in the nauseous and hidden dens, of a crowded and selfish metropolis, where man lies unseen and unpitied, there are comparatively few in Europe who perish of hunger. Of the 3000 who are old or diseased, two or three un-genial seasons may sweep two thirds from the earth. These two thirds are a fifth of the whole population, and would leave a mighty blank in the census of a nation. We see however that this blank would be rapidly filled up, and a return of genial years might make them even more numerous than they had previously been.
If, in the society which we have taken for our example, we were to suppose that all those who reached the age of 45 were to exist a thousand years, while the law of population remained otherwise the same, the elders of the society would continue to increase during these ten centuries, when, after having risen to a number which we will not now stay to calculate, the increase would again come to a stand, and the census of the nation would afterwards remain stationary.
Again: keeping in View our table of 10,000, let us suppose a colony of 3837 persons, male and female, between the ages of 15 and 40 (which we will take for the marriageable ages in a new country), and in such proportions as they are found in Europe. Let them be from Sweden, and be possessed of only the Swedish powers of propagation. These persons then, being the exact numbers in our table of 10,000, will form the nidus of a race, in the same manner as the persons at the outset of the immediately preceding Table; except that, until their children arrive at the age of 15, the propagators not being supplied by their growing successors, would diminish in numbers for a certain time. To remedy this, Jet there be an immigration, for the first 15 years, of 172 annually, or about a twenty-second part of the original colonists, which 172 will exactly keep up the number of our first column (those between 15 and 20) as they waste by age and death. The following table will shew the progress of the colony for the first 15 years:
|Year of colony||Born.||Under 5.||5 to 10.||10 to 15.||15 to 20.||20 to 25.||25 to 30.||30 to 35.||35 to 40.||40 to 45.||45 to 50.||50 to 55.||55 to 60.||60 to 65.||65 to 70.||70 to 75.||75 to 80.||80 to 85.||85 to 90.||Above 90.||Number of living|
At the end of these 15 years, the number of the propagators will be continued the same, by means of the grown up children, without further importation. The society now exhibits an extraordinary increase. The original settlers were 3837, and the annual immigrants amount altogether to 2580. The latter however, as far as propagation is concerned, may be reckoned at only half that number, because on an average they have lived only 7[w1] years in the colony. About 5000 propagators then have, in 15 years, increased their number by nearly 3000 additional human beings, independent of those that have been lost by death. It may be remarked too, that we took our colonists from the general mass between 15 and 40, which included the blind and the maimed, the diseased and the dying. But such persons do not emigrate: and this increased population might have sprung from a colony much less numerous than what we have here stated. In taking a census therefore of an infant colony, we need not wonder that it should double its numbers in a very short period. The emigrants, who arrive in small numbers afterwards, are less observed than the primitive founders; and it is extremely probable that many such establishments may double their numbers, apparently from propagation alone, in less than 20 years. The principle however on which this duplication rests, escapes the eye of the common observer. The colony is not a society in the sense which we understand of a nation. It is the first expansion of a set of picked propagators, without parents and without children, which two classes, together with the diseased and ineffective, constitute nearly three-fourths of the population of modern Europe. It is the body of the polypus without its limbs, which its inherent energies are able to renew. Till these are completed, the increase will continue. If our colony have no further accession of immigrants, it will increase until it muster its number of 10,000, after which it will continue permanent. Mr. Malthus catches the polypus in the middle of its growth;—he measures the length of limbs already attained, and, comparing these with time, he forms a ratio of increase, in which, he asserts, they will expand for ever!
A careful census of our 15 years' colony will give ample evidence that it increases solely because it is a society that is incomplete. In an indigenous society there are nearly a fourth of its numbers above 45 years of age. Here there are only 878 out of 8770, or about a tenth of the population. The higher ages,—the extremities of the polypus,—are not yet formed; neither, if immigration were continued, would they ever be. Of this the American censuses give sufficient proof. In none of the United States is the number of persons above 45 more than from 16 to 17 per cent, of the population, while in many of the newly settled districts they do not exceed 7 or 8, as will appear more particularly in the following table.
|Under 45.||Above 45.|
|District of Maine||8867||1133|
|——— N. Hampshire||8610||1390|
|——— Rhode Island||8387||1613|
|——— New York||8904||1096|
|——— New Jersey||8629||1371|
|——— N. Carolina||8895||1105|
|——— East Tennessee||9003||997|
|——— West Tennessee||9195||805|
|——— South Carolina||8963||1037|
|Territory of Orleans||8833||1167|
Resting, as Mr. Malthus has done, the whole of the proof of his geometrical ratio on the censuses of the United States, it must be acknowledged that he has by no means stretched his evidence beyond what it would bear. The increase in the population of the new colonies between 1800 and 1810 is such as almost to stagger belief. The following Table is extracted from the censuses, but arranged so as best to elucidate our observations.
|Under 10 yrs.||Above 10 yrs.||In all||Under 10 yrs.||Above 10 yrs.||In all||Ratio of increase in i1 year.|
Here we have a population of 281,341 persons, which more than doubles its numbers in 10 years, while one division of this population is increased, within that period, to more than 5 times its original amount. These are ratios of which Mr. Malthus might boast, but of which he has not boasted.
When enumerations are taken every 10 years, it is obvious, exclusive of immigration, that in any particular census the persons living above 10 years of age must have all existed in the census immediately preceding. In that of 1810 for instance, all above 10 years formed part of the population of 1800; and are in reality the same, except inasmuch as they are diminished by death. Those under 10 have all been born in the interval between the censuses.
The whole population of 1800 in the preceding Table was 281,341. These in 10 years would be diminished to 200,000, under the most favourable laws that have hitherto been observed of human mortality:—but the number of persons above 10 years of age in 1810 were found to be 357,102; and therefore it is clear to a demonstration that this society must have been recruited by more than 160,000 immigrants: for, of these immigrants themselves many must have died, and besides, some of those under 10 years of age, may have been born in other countries
It may be said, and perhaps with truth, that many of these immigrants may have been from other parts of the United States, and not from Europe: but, comparing in the same manner the whole of the American census we shall find an astonishing extent of immigration: The white population of 1800 was 4,305,971. These in 10 years would be diminished by a fourth. It is very improbable that more than 3,200,000 would have been alive in 1810, for whatever proportion the births of that country may bear to the whole population, the proportion of deaths is certainly greater than in Europe. These 3,200,000 then should have constituted the number of those' above 10 years of age in the census of 1810, had there been no importation from other countries. But the actual census above 10 years of age was 8,845,389, giving a surplus of 645,389, which can be accounted for in no other way than by immigration The census of 1810 contains also 2,016,704 children under 10 years. Part of these too, as well as the deaths of immigrants since their arrival, should be added to the 645,389 above stated; and therefore of the 1,556,122 persons, which the census of 1810 exhibits;beyond that of 1800, it is as clear as sunshine that nearly one half was added by direct immigration. Of the effects on the increase of population by the introduction of grown-up persons we have already spoken; and, adverting to these effects along with the statements now given the additional population is completely accounted for, without supposing a power of procreation beyond what is found to prevail among European nations.
But it is needless to dwell longer on this part of the subject, for he, who will attentively examine the statistical tables of the United States, will discover, in every line a marked distinction between them and those of Europe. At every step they announce a race, who, as has been supposed of their country, have but lately emerged from the waves. America has more resemblance to a camp than to a nation. Its in habitants are a band of adventurers, continually recruited by men like themselves, who seek for conquests in a new world, and have left their parents to perish on a distant shore. It is in vain therefore to look to that country for a geometrical or any other regulated increase of population. Immigration must cease for centuries, before such a law could be there developed, even allowing it to belong to human nature.
But it may be asked, if a colony were constituted of persons of all ages, such as they exist in Europe, and were the proportion of births raised in a great degree by the removal of the present checks to population, might not the inhabitants increase in a geometrical ratio, and double their numbers in 25 years? This is the only question that remains to be considered, and its discussion will close the present Dissertation. In order to have a clear view of this proposition, we shall again refer to our Table of 10,000 which we proportioned from the Swedish populationa . We must also remind our readers that this Table was formed from a society of little or no increase. We have already considered this society as stationary; but, whether so or not, it is equally effective for the sake of illustration.
We have before observed that the waste of these 10,000 is replaced by the 370 annual births; and that this perpetual flow of children successively fills up the ranks of the race, as they ate thinned by the hand of death. Where man is indigenous, these are the gradations of society; and, before it could be doubled, we must have two for one of every age from the cradle to the tomb. Now, by what means are these additional human beings to be brought upon the stage of life in 10, 15, or even in 25 years? Imagination may add birth to birth at pleasure, but how shall our old men and old women be so rapidly created, unless we can close the gates of death, and hasten the flight of time? Were we indeed to attend to numbers only, without regard to age, we might easily conceive an abundant increase; but it does not therefore follow that this imaginary increase must proceed in a geometrical progression.
Supposing that from some extraordinary fortuitous circumstances,—from an increase in the genial powers of nature, or from a particular interposition of Providence,—the females of our little society were all at once to become doubly prolific; and that thereby the annual births were to be double what they now are, or 740 in place of 370. It is plain that these additional 370 annual children would, independent of their own progeny, form a new race, the exact counterpart of the old; and that the whole of the society would be thereby doubled in about 100 years. Were the original stock alone to be propagators, we should thus have an addition of 10,000 every century, being an increase in the ratio of 1, 2, 3, 4, &e. But at the end of 20 years (taking an average period) as many as remain alive of the 370 additional children that were born in the first year, will arrive at the marriageable age. The next, and every succeeding year, a like number will be added to the list of propagators, and will become the parents of a new race. The children of these last will become parents in their turn, thus engrafting a succession of scions, one upon the other, and all originally springing from a parent tree. Instead then of a geometrical ratio the period of duplication would be continually lessening, as the several scions were added to the stock. Supposing the new propagators to have the same prolific power that we have given to their progenitors, it would require 40 years for the first doubling, and about 30 for each of the two succeeding ones; and this period would become less and less, through a series of a very complicated form, though it would never be under 25 years. Besides, these duplications would be numerical only; for the numbers of the early ages would go on in an increasing ratio, but there would not be the same proportion of increase among those of riper years. We have calculated the progress of that series, but the Tables are too extended to be conveniently inserted in this place.
It is in vain to look for a geometrical ratio in the increase of any society, unless the society were originally constituted in that progression. Assuming the females between 20 and 45 years of age to be the only source from which the continuance of the race can be derived, the series which would denote the varying numbers of those females, in the order of time, would also denote the law of increase in the censuses of the tribe or nation. All the females now existing between 20 and 45 will be gradually erased from the list, by superannuation or by death, in the space of 25 years. Their place will be filled by others; and if the number of the new mothers be not then double what they now are, we may rest assured that the society does not exhibit a permanent principle of increase, in the ratio and in the time prescribed by Mr. Malthus. Had it been the order of Nature that the human race should have originally been arranged in a geometrical progression; had the law been such that every year the births should have increased in a fixed proportion to the preceding;—had the number of the living at every succeeding age been increased in the same manner and in the same proportion: and, had the whole frame of society been so constituted that the child-bearing females should, by this regular succession of the inferior ages, have doubled their numbers at equal periods, such as every 25 years;—then, and then only, could a geometrical ratio of the increase of population have existed. But mankind have never been found so arranged, and the laws that regulate the succession of human beings do not seem to be of that feeble texture, which would warrant us in predicting that what has never been will ever be. On the whole it is obvious that the assertion, that human population has a tendency to increase in a geometrical ratio, is, in the utmost degree, arbitrary. It is the mere dictum of Mr. Mal-thus, and when he finds, as he always does, that this ratio of increase has not hitherto acted, instead of doubting, as he ought, the truth of his hypothesis, he looks around for concomitant circumstances which, he says, have retarded or destroyed its operation: that is, for circumstances which have retarded or destroyed the operation of a principle, of which lie has brought no evidence that it ever existed. But he even gives these retarding circumstances themselves as evidence. He calls them checks upon population, before he has proved that population required such checks. “There exist vice and misery in the world; therefore these prevent mankind from doubling their number every 25 years!” Such is the reasoning.—The point in dispute is always taken for granted.
Were we to draw our inferences from a survey of the world and its history, we should come to no such conclusion as the principle of an unlimited increase. Man is individually a transient visitor of the earth. A few revolutions of the sun, and this proud being is thrust from the scene. Is the race then permanent? Many species of animals have disappeared, and fill our cabinets with their fossil remains. The mammuth no longer ranges over the globe, though for a time he must have lived with extensive power. What vice, misery or moral restraint has prevented the unlimited increase of the eagles in the air, or of the sharks in the ocean, where they reign paramount lords and masters? May not the law of increase—may not the duration of life itself diminish as it radiates from the primeval stock? Something of this kind is observed in vegetables, whose qualities deteriorate, and whose seeds more and more degenerate as they are distant from the parent tree. So far from having to frighten ourselves with the idea of an overwhelming population, have we not rather to fear that we are sinking by degrees into a degenerate race, which in the lapse of time may be swept from the globe? The earth itself is probably not immortal, and why should its puny inhabitants? All these, to be sure, are questions of mere possibilities, but they are as probable and as demonstrable, as the possibilities of Mr. Malthus. If the terms of the proposition do not involve a contradiction, there is no assertion, with regard to future contingencies, that can be proved to be untrue. But possibilities are inhabitants of the land of dreams. They may amuse in the closet, but they are useless in the conduct of life; and ought to be far beneath the notice of the legislators of nations.
TABLES of theAMERICAN CENSUS.
That the reader may be fully possessed of all the documents which should enable him to form correct notions on the subject, I have thought proper to insert here the Three Tables of the American Census, as they appear in Pitkin's Statistical View of the United States.I should have been glad to have printed from the Tables published by the authority of the American government; but I have been able to procure only those for 1810.
[a]Vol. I, p. 9.
[e]In the Introduction to Book I, I have said, “He neither proves, nor attempts to prove what he asserts.” And this is the accurate state of the case.
[i]Vol. II, p. 383.
[k]Essay on Population, Vol. II, p. 194.
[l]Vol. I, p. 7; Vol. II, p. 194.
[m]Vol. II, p. 3. seventh edition.
[n]Price's Observations, Vol. II, p. 49.
[o]Essay on Population, Vol. I, p. 8.
[p]Ibid. Mr. Malthus refers us for this statement to Sir W. Petty's Political Arithmetic, where it is not to be found. It occurs in his Essay concerning the Growth of the City of London.
[p]I believe, Vol. II, p. 3, &c. of the Seventh Edition.
[a]The knowledge of this fact of the average of four children to a marriage, seems to be one of the oldest positions in political economy. Derham, in his Physico-Theology, Book IV, Chap. X,. fifth edition, has constructed a Table for different parts of Europe, founded, as he tells us, on Major Graunt's Observations on the Bills of Motality, and Mr. King's Remarks on the First of Dr. Davenant's Essays, from which he draws the same conclusion: and on this he builds an inference, that the numbers of tile human species have been for the most part at a stand, ever since that miraculous longevity of man ceased, which, he says, “was of absolute necessity for the more speedy peopling of the new world.”
[b]This Table is printed in the Essay on Population, Vol. II, p. 167.
[c]Vol. I, p. 8.
[d]Vol. III, p. 344, note.
[e]Principles of Political Economy, p. 227. See below, p. 484.
[f]See Mr. Booth's Dissertation on the Ratios of Increase, Inserted p. 243.
[g]Observations on Reversionary Payments, Vol. I, p. 314.
[h]See below, Book VI, Chapter 111, seqq.
[i]See above pages 30, 31, 32.
[k]Vol. III, p. 344, note.
[a]Vol. II, p, 246.
[b]See above, p. 36.
[b]Of the Tables I have here inserted, the first four are to be found in the volume of the Swedish Memoirs for 1766, the fifth in the volume for 1809, and the 6th in the volume for 1776. The seventh is a Table of my own construction, founded generally on the enumerations I met wilh dispersed in different volumes of this work.
[c]Essay on Population, Vol. I. p. 21.
[d]It may be worth while to illustrate this proposition in figures. thus:
|The population of Sweden in 1805, as appears from the actual enumeration, amounted to||3,320,647|
|Now let us take half this number as the population of 1705||1,660,323|
|By the same rule the population will be in 1605||830,162|
So that by this way of calculation Sweden contained, at the time of the destruction of the Western Empire m 476, little more than three hundred souls, and when this part of the globe began to send forth its hordes, which destroyed the power of the Romans, and changed the face of the world, it could scarcely boast a human inhabitant.
[b]See below, Mr. Booth's Dissertation,
[c]The proportion of one child born annually to five marriages, is recognized by Wargentin, Sussmilch, and Malthus. Sussmilch, vol. I. p. 231. Malthus, vol. I. p.413.
[e]Vol. II. p. 410.
[f]When I say general, I mean so far as the female is concerned. The following extract from Graunt's Observations on the Bills of Mortality, p. 65, is not unworthy of attention, as it may be applied to this part of the subject.
Cum, quantis ouibus feminis sufficiat unus aries, experientia compertum sit, agnorum masculorum qualis proportio castranda sit, discimus: ex. grat. si viginti feminis illum sufficere concederemus, tum, novsmdecim castrandi forent. Nam si octodecim tantum castrarentur, duorum cum singulis feminis copulatio promiscua (in quantum duorum masculorum admissio id facere possit) incrementum impediret, sed si nulli castrarentur, verisimile est quod singulo viginti arietum cum singulâ feminarum copulante, minima, forsitan nulla, conceptio efficiretur.
I have thought the above passage worthy to be inserted in this place, because the subject of which I am treating cannot be thoroughly understood, without thus recurring to first principles. Be it observed however, that the theory of Graunt will only apply to man in a state of nature. The case is exceedingly different in societies constituted after the manner of European nations; as will more fully appear in the next chapter.
[a]It is however allowed to a person of the male sex to marry at eighteen, provided he has any landed property, holds any office, or has in any other way the visible source of a regular income. Handbok i Svenska Kyrkolag faranheten, or, Manual of the Swedish Ecclesiastical Law, Chap. i. § 5.
[b]Handbok, ubi supra.
[c]Table VI, p. 159.
[d]Mr. Nairman:, one of the librarians to Sir Joseph Banks.
[f]Vol. 1, p. 391.
[a]See: above, p. 127.
[a]Price's Observations, Vol. II, p. 460.
[b]Ibid, p. 407, note.
[c]Ibid, p. 251, 431.
[d]Ibid, p. 404, 405.
[a]See above, p. 154, 155, 156.
[a]Observations on Reversionary Payments, vol. II. p. 296
[c]Essay on Population, vol. II. p. 180.
[h]Malthus, vol. I. p. 385.
[k]Histoire Naturelle, Tome XL. p. 47.
[l]Tome I. p. 130
[e]Price ubi supra.
[i]Vol. II, p. 403.
For this Table see above, p, 203, 4.
[m]The reverend Joseph Fawcet, the friend of my youth, my first companion of imaginative soul and luxuriant ideas, whose name it is gratifying to me to record, though on so trivial an occasion.
[a]Essays, Part II, Essay xi.
[a]Essay on Population, Vol. III, p. 343, 344, Note.
[b]Vol. I. p. 5, 6.
[c]Vol I. p. 9.
[d]Witness the horrible famine in India in 1771.
[e]“If want alone, or the desire of the labouring classes to possess the necessaries and conveniences of life, were a sufficient stimulus to production, there is no state in Europe or in the world that would have found any other practical limit to its wealth than its power to produce; and the earth would probably before this period have contained, at the very least, ten times as many inhabitants as are supported on its surface at present. But........where the right of private property is tablished, &c. &c. &c.”Vide Malthus on Political Economy, p. 348.
[f]See Malthus on Political Economy, as quoted in page 484.
[g]See Wentworth's Account of that Colony.
[h]See the remarks of Dr. Price in Appendix to Chapters IV, V, VI. p, 192, 193.
[a]Vide page 268.