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[ Population. ] - Dugald Stewart, Lectures on Political Economy, vol. 1 
Lectures on Political Economy. Now first published. Vol. I. To which is Prefixed, Part Third of the Outlines of Moral Philosophy, edited by Sir William Hamilton (Edinburgh, Thomas Constable, 1855).
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I.—Among the various objects of Political Economy, one of the most important and interesting has been always understood to be the augmentation of the numbers of the people; and accordingly, I propose to begin the course with an examination of the principal questions to which this subject has given rise.* It is a subject on which much attention has been bestowed both by ancient and by modern legislators, but the relative place which it occupies in the ancient and modern systems of Political Economy, will be found to be essentially different.
Of this difference the most powerful, though not the only cause, is the civil and domestic liberty now enjoyed, in this part of Europe, by the industrious orders of the community, contrasted with that slavery which entered into the constitutions of those states which, in the ancient world, were understood to have accomplished, in the most effectual manner, the great ends of government. In consequence of this mighty change produced by the dissolution of the Feudal system, the care of the statesman (in as far as population is concerned) is necessarily transferred from the higher classes of the people, to a description of men whose numbers in the Free States (as they were called) of Antiquity, were recruited, as they are now in the West India Islands,* by importations from abroad. It is this description of men which forms the basis of that political fabric, which Sir William Temple has so finely compared to a pyramid; and it is on their numbers, combined with their character and habits, that the stability of the superstructure depends. Their numbers, however, it is evident, can in the actual state of things be kept up only by such political arrangements as furnish them with the means of rearing families; and it is into the question concerning the comparative expediency of the various arrangements proposed for that purpose, that the problem of population ultimately resolves. It is well known the efforts of Augustus and of the other statesmen of Rome to discourage celibacy, had little or no reference to this class of the community, but were calculated exclusively to keep up the race of citizens, and more especially of the order of nobility.
In consequence of the place which the subject of population necessarily occupies in the systems of modern statesmen, it will be found to be more or less connected with every other article of Political Economy; and accordingly, the most enlightened writers who have of late treated of population, have been led under this general title to discuss a variety of questions, to which it may appear, on a superficial view, to bear a very remote relation; such, for example, is the question with respect to the relative claims of Agriculture and of Manufactures to the attention of the statesman, with a number of other incidental inquiries connected with these different modes of industry. Nothing, however, under this head appears more deserving of notice, than the striking contrast between ancient and modern schemes of policy, considered in their effects on national manners, and on the progressive improvement of mankind; the former checking or altering the natural course of things by means of agrarian laws, and of other restrictive and violent regulations, calculated chiefly to keep up and to multiply the breed of soldiers; the latter (in those countries, at least, where the true principles of Political Economy have made any progress) allowing Agriculture and Commerce to act and re-act on each other, in multiplying the comforts of human life, in developing all the capacities that belong to our nature, and in diffusing as widely as the imperfections of human institutions will permit, the blessings of knowledge and of civilisation among all classes of the community. “The advantages, indeed, which modern policy possesses over the ancient, arises principally from its conformity, in some of the most important articles of Political Economy, to an order of things recommended by nature;” and where it remains imperfect, its errors may in general be traced to the obstacles which, in a few instances, it still continues to oppose to those beneficent arrangements which would gradually take place of their own accord if the legislator were only to confine his attention to his proper province.
[* ] [This latter clause is deleted in the earlier copy, and omitted by Miss Stewart.]
[* ] [Miss Stewart, in her transcript, notes:—“This must be altered to suit 1823. My father has evidently overlooked it.”]