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JUM1UKB JAN 1 1923 








1 SS.'i 
Tkt Riylit of Traiulalion and fepnwfurfbm to Anrrml 



















IV. THE BEGGAR ... 303 


V. BIOGRAPHY ... :" 

INI.KX . 4 US 


CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 3 

book, but the current version of his doctrines. 
Malthus becomes Malthusiauisin, - - Darwin, Dar- 
winism ; and if Adam Smith's name were more 
flexible he too would become an epithet. 1 As it is, 
Adam Smith has left a book which "every one 
praises and nobody reads," Malthus a book which 
no one reads and all abuse. The abuse is, fortun- 
ately, not quite unanimous; but it is certain that 
Malthus for a long time had an experience worse 
than Cassandra's, for his warnings were disbelieved 
without being heard or understood. Miss Marti- 
neau, in her girlhood, heard him denounced " very 
eloquently and forcibly by persons who never saw 
so much as the outside " 2 of his book. This was in 
1816 ; and when at a later time she inquired about 
him for herself, she could never find any one who 
had ivad his book, but scores who could " make 
; ^ument about it and about," or write senti- 
mental pamphlets on supposed Malthusian subjects. 

carelessness was not confined to the gen 
public; it infected the savants. Nothing more 

rly shows how political economy, or at i 
one question of it. had descended into the M 
anl become a common recreation. Even Nassau 
William Senior, pcrhaj s tin- most distingui 
professor of political economy in his day, confessed 
with |>cnit-ncc that In- had trusted more to 

i t> his eyes for a i of Malthusian 

id hal written R 1- irn-'d criticism, not 

of til-- "pinion of Mr. Maltlnn. but of that which 

ntnlkof 'SmUhuuiumu-v ! 71. 

D 2 


' the multitudes who have followed and the few who 
endeavoured to oppose" Mr. Malthas, have 
assumed to be his opinion. 1 

The " opinion" so imagined by Senior and the 
multitude is still the current Malthusianism. A 
Malthusian is supposed to forbid all marriage. Mr. 
Malthas was supposed to believe that "the desire of 
marriage, which tends to increase population, is a 
stronger principle than the desire of bettering our 
condition, which tends to increase subsistence." This 
meant, as Southey said, that " God makes men and 
women faster than He can feed them." The old 
adage was wrong then : Providence does not send 
meat where He sends mouths ; on the contrary, He 
sends mouths wherever He sends meat, so that the 
poor can never cease out of the land, for, however 
abundant the food, marriage will soon make the 
people equally abundant. It is a question of simple 
division. A fortune that is wealth for one will not 
give comfort to ten, or bare life to twenty. The 
moral is, for all about to marry, " Don't," and for 
all statesmen, " Don't encourage them." 

This caricature had enough truth in it to save it 
from instant detection, and its vitality is due to the 
superior ease in understanding, and therefore greater 
pleasure in hearing, a blank denial or a blank affirm- 
ation as compared with the necessary qualifications of 
a scientific statement. The truth must be tokl, how- 
ever, that Malthus and the rest of the learned world 

1 Senior, Two Lectures on Population, 1829, Appendix, pp. 56, 57. 
2 Senior, I c., p. 56. 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 5 

were by no means at utter discord. He always 
treated a hostile economist as a possible ally. He 
was carrying on the work of their common Founder. 
In the Essay on Population he was inquiring into the 
nature and causes of poverty, as Adam Smith had 
inquired into the nature and causes of wealth. But 
Malthus himself did not intend the one to be a men- 
supplement to the other. He did not approach the 
subject from a purely scientific side. He had not 
ted long years of travel and reflection to the pre- 
paration of an economical treatise. Adam Smith had 
written his Moral Sentinifnt* seventeen years before 
his greater work. When he wrote the latter he had 
l"-h:nd him an academical and literary reputation; 
and he satisfied the just expectations of the public 
by giving them, in the two quarto volumes of the 
Wealth of Nations, his full-formed and completely 
digested conclusions and reasonings definitively ex- 
pressed (1776). Malthus, on the contrary, L: iinl 
his reputation by a bold and sudden stroke, well fol- 
lowed up. His Essay was an anonymous pamphlet 
in a political controversy, and was meant to turn 
the light of political economy upon the political 
philosophy of the day. Whatever the eesay con- 
tained over and above politics, and however far 
afiel.l the author eventually travelled in the ! 
e. lit inns, there is no doubt about the first origin of 
tip essay itself. It was not, as we are sometimes told, 
that. IH inir a kind-hearted clergyman, he set himself 
t v, in.juiiv whether after all it was right to 

in< Tease the numbers of the population without curing 


for the quality of it. In 1798 Malthus was no doubt 
in holy orders and held a curacy at Albury ; but he 
sivms never to have been more than a curate. The 
Whigs offered him a living in his later years, but he 
passed it to his son ; l and we should be far astray if 
we supposed his book no more than the " recreations 
of a country parson/' " Parson " was in his case a 
title without a role and Cobbett's immortal nickname 
ia very unhappy. 2 He had hardly more of the parson 
than Condillac of the abbe. In 1798 Pitt's Bill 
for extending relief to large families, and thereby 
encouraging population, was no doubt before the 
country ; but we owe the essay not to William Pitt, 
but to William Godwin. The changed aspect of the 
book in its later editions need not blind us to the 
efficient cause of its first appearance. 

Thomas Robert Malthus had graduated at Cam- 
bridge as ninth wrangler in the year 1788, in the 
t \venty-second year of his age. In 1797, after gaining 
a fellowship at Jesus College, he happened to spend 
some time at his father's house at Albury in Surrey. 
Father and son discussed the questions of the day, 
the younger man attacking Jacobinism, the elder 

1 Macvey Napier's Correspondence, p. 187. Cf. Pol. Econ., 2nd ed., 
pp. xxxv, liv. 

2 Why," said I, " how many children do you reckon to have at last ? " 
" T do not care how many," said the man, "God never sends mouths 
without sending meat." "Did you ever hear," said I, "of one Parson 
Mallhus ? In- wants an act of parliament to prevent poor people from 
marrying young, and from having such lots of children." "Oh, the 
brute !" exclaimed ihe wife ; while the husband laughed, thinking I 
was joking.'' Cobb<>tt's Advice to Young Men, Letter 3, p. 83. The 
references to Cohbctt in tin- Ivsiy are probably, 7th ed., pp. 310 and 
318, cf. p. 313 ; but his name is not mentioned. 


defending it. Daniel Malthus had been a friend 
and executor of Rousseau, and was an ardent believer 
in human progress. Robert had written a Whig 
tiM'.-t, which he called T/ie Crisis, in the year of 
Pitt's new loan and Napoleon's Italian campaign 
(1796); but he did not publish it, and his views 
\\vre yet in solution. We may be sure the two 
men did not spare each other in debate. In the 
words of the elder Malthus, Robert then, if at no 
other time, " threw little stones " into his garden. An 
old man must have the patience of Job if he can look 
with calmness on a young man breaking his ideals. 
But in this case he at least recognized the strength 
of the sliugcr, and he bore him no grudge, though he 
did not live to be won by the concessions of the second 
essay (1803). That Robert, on his part, was not want- 
ing in respect, is shown by an indignant letter, written 
in 1'Vliruary, 1800, on his father's death, in reply to 
tin- supposed slight of a newspaper paragraph. 1 

Tip; fireside debates had in that yoar (1797) 

ived new matter. William Godwin, quondam 

son, journalist, politician, and novelist, whose 

Politirfil Justice was avowedly a "child of the 

volution," 2 hao! written anew book, the /:'//<//>// 

in which many of his old positions were set in a 

new light. Th< father made it a point of honour 

to defend tip- Ekqmrtf; the 0on played d0vfl f sadvo- 

1\ from conviction, partly for the sake of 

1 Nam. ly, in the Monthly Magazine for Jan. 1800. But see below, 
<m Parr't Sermon, p. 2, and Pol. /lotio, 1 


argument ; and, as often happens in such a case, 
Robert found his case stronger than he had thought. 
Hard pressed by an able opponent, he was led, on 
the spur of the moment, to use arguments which had 
not occurred to him before, and of which The Cii*i* 
knows nothing. In calmer moments he followed 
them up to their conclusions. " The discussion," he 
tells us, 1 " started the general question of the future 
improvement of society, and the author at first sat 
down with an intention of merely stating his thoughts 
to his friend upon paper in a clearer manner than 
he thought he could do in conversation." But the 
subject opened upon him, and he determined to 
publish. This is the plain story of the publication of 
the Essay on Population, reduced to its simplest terms. 
At the very time when the best men in both worlds 
were talking only of progress, Malthus saw rocks 
ahead. French and English reformers were looking 
forward to a golden age of perfect equality and 
happiness ; Malthus saw an irremovable difficulty 
in the way, and he refused to put the telescope 
to his blind eye. 

There had been Cassandras before Malthus, and 
even in the same century. Dr. John Bruckner of 
Norwich had written in the same strain in his Theorie 
da Systems Animal, in 1767 ; 2 and a few years earlier 
(in 1761) Dr. Robert Wallace, writing of the Various 
Prospects of Mankind, Nature, and Providence, had 

1 Preface to first edition of Essay, 1798. 

2 Ley.len, 1767, translated under the title Philosophical Survey of the 
Animal Creation, Lond., 1708. See especially chs. vii. and x. 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 9 

talked of community of goods as a cure for the ills 
of humanity, and then had found, very reluct untlv, 
one fatal objection the excessive population that 
would ensue. Men are always inclined to inanv 
aiul multiply their numbers till the food is barely 
enough to support them all. This objection had 
since Wallace's time become a stock objection, to 
M.swercd by every maker of Utopias. It was left 
for Malthus to show the near approach which this 
difficulty makes to absolute hopelessness, and to 
throw the burden of proof on the other side. As 
the U'efilf/t of Natiotis altered the standing pre- 
sumption in favour of interference to one in favour 
of liberty in matters of trade, so the Ewny on- 
l^n^nl/tlion altered the presumption in favour of the 
advocates of progress to a presumption against tin-in. 
This may not describe the final result of the e> 
but it is a true account of its immediate effect, i 
IV<>|,], had heard of the objection before; it was only 
now that they began to look on it as conclusi 

IIo\v had Godwin tried to meet it, when it was 
still in the hands of weaker men, and therefore not 
at ,-ill conclusive? He could not ignore it. In his 
iced Justice (1793) he had given the outlines of 
a "simple form of society, without government," on 
the principle of Tom Paine, which was also a rect i 

in motto, "Society is produced by our wants, 

rnmcnt by our wiekedbma." 1 lie says, with the 

ruling philosophy, that man is born a blank, and hi* 

circumstances m.ike him ir">d or 
1 Common8enu, p. 1, quoted in Pol. Autict, Bk. 1 1 . h i. p. 124 (3id L). 


Thanks to human institutions, especially lawyers, 
sovereigns, and statesmen, the outward circumstances, 
he says, are as bad as they can be. Everywhere 
there is inequality. There is great poverty alongside 
of great riches, and great tyranny with great slavery. 
In the same way the best of his novels, Caleb William* 
(1794), tells us how "things as they are" enable the 
rich sinner to persecute the poor righteous man. But 
he is no pessimist. The Political Justice does not 
end with a statement of evils. It goes on to show 
that in the end truth will conquer ; men will listen 
to reason, they will abandon their present laws, and 
they will form a society without law or government 
or any kind of force ; no such things will be needed 
when every man listens to reason, and contents 
himself with plain living and high thinking. There 
will be no king in Israel ; every man will do that 
which is right in his own eyes. In our present 
society, says Godwin, it is distribution and not 
production that is at fault. There is more than 
enough of wealth for all, but it is not shared amongst 
all. One man has too much, another little or nothing. 
In the new society reason will change all that. 
Reason tells us that, if we make an equal division, 
not only of the good things of this life, but of the 
labour of making them, then we shall secure a pro- 
duction quite sufficient for the needs of plain livers, 
at the cost of perhaps half-an-hour's labour in a day 
from each of them. l Each of them will, therefore, 

1 Pol. Justice, Bk. VIII. ch. vi. p. 484. On the other hand, Franklin, 
in his Letter on Luxury, Idleness, and Industry (1784), had estimated the 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 11 

have leisure, which is the true riches, and lie will 
use the time for his own moral and intellectual 
improvement. In this way, by the omnipotence of 
truth and the power of persuasion, not by any 
violence or power of the sword, perfection and 
happiness will in time be established on the earth. 
Godwin made no essential change in these views 
in the later editions of the Political Justice (1796 
and 1798), or in the Enquirer (1797). " Among the 
faithless, faithful only he," when the excesses of the 
T<-rmr made even Sir James Mackintosh (not to say 
IJishnp Watson, Southey, and Wordsworth) a luke- 
warm reformer. Nothing in Godwin's life is more 
admirable than the perfect confidence with which 
he holds fast to his old faith in democratic principles 
and the perfectibility of man. If it is obstinacy, 

a very like devotion ; and perhaps the only 
author who shows an equal constancy is Condorcet, 

Girondist, marked out for death, and writing 
in his hiding-place, almost under the eyes of the 
Convention, his eager book on the Progress of lh<> 

>cs. Nothing but intense sincerity and sheer 
depth of conviction could have enabled these men 
to continue the defenee of a dishonoured cause. 
They had not the martyr's greatest trial, the 
doubt whether he is n-lit. The ^'ivat impression 

le by their works was a sign that, as tin -y felt 

str<>. :h.-y wrote powerfully. Malthus, who 

i of them, apologized for giving serious 

necessary labour more moderately at four Ix.ur*. Sir Thou. 

<-urred to the half-hour. New Moral FPorW, 

i-p. x, xi. 


criticism to Condorcet's palpable extravagances by 
saying that Condorcet has many followers who will 
hold him unanswerable unless he is specially answered. 1 
Of Godwin, Mr. Sumner, writing in 1816, says that 
though his book (the Political Justice) was becoming 
out of date, it was still " the ablest and best known 
statement " of the doctrines of equality that had ever 
appeared in England. 2 It has been justly called the 
"first text-book of the philosophical radicals." The 
actual effect of it cannot be measured by the number 
of copies sold on its first appearance. Godwin had 
placed it far beyond the reach of ordinary democrats 
by fixing the price at three guineas. In 1793 many 
who would have been his keenest readers could not 
have paid three shillings for it. But the event 
proved him wise in his generation. The Privy 
Council decided they might safely tolerate so dear 
a book ; and a small audience even of the rich was 
better to Godwin than prosecution, which might 
mean exile and no audience at all. 3 Few writers 
of our own day have so good an excuse for making 
themselves inaccessible to the poor. Godwin, how- 
ever, like Ruskin, reached the poor in spite of his 
arrangements for avoiding them. He filtered down 
among the masses ; and his writings became a 
political as well as a literary power in England, 

1 Essay, 1st ed., pp. 161-2, footnote. 

2 Records of the Creation, vol. i. p. 54, note. 

3 Life by Kegan Paul, vol. i. p. 80. Cf. a curious passage in the 
Edinburgh Review, about Godwin's Population: "As the book was dear, 
and not likely to fall into the hands of the labouring classes, we had 
no thoughts of noticing it," July 1821, p. 363. 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 13 

long before he had a poetic son-in-law to give him 
ed glory. If a species is to be judged by its 
best individual, then Godwin represents better than 
1'aine the class of political writers to which they both 
1 >elong ; and many fell down with Godwin when he 
fell down before Malthus. 

The J. *ii(ju /'/<'/ was less popular than the Political 
J> Part of the charm of the latter undoubtedly 

lay in the elaborate completeness and systematic 
order of the whole discussion. The foundations were 
laid in the psychology of Locke ; and then the build- 
in- \va> raised, stone by stone, until the whole was 
finished. But in the Enquirer Godwin's dislike of 
law had extended even to the form of composition. 
He had been wrong, he said, in trying to write a 

stematic treatise on society, and he would now 

n tine himself to detached essays, wholly experi- 
mental, and not necessarily in harmony with one 
another. " He (the author) has carried this principle 
so far that he has not been severely anxious relative 
to inconsistency that may be discovered between the 
speculations of one essay and the speculations of 
another." The contrast between these two sty 1 
th<- Contrast between a whole oratorio and a miscel- 
ous concert, or between a complete poem and a 
volume of extracts. 

The thoughts were the sain.-, thmi^h th v had lost 

their attractive . x juvssion. The essay on Avnrn^ 

tells us, am. ng other things, that " a 

1 equality is that '. hirli. in 

P. T. i: my n. 


speculation and theory, appears most consonant to 
the nature of man, and most conducive to the exten- 
sive diffusion of felicity." This was the essay which 
led Malthus and his father into their fruitful argu- 
ment. The essay on Riches and Poverty, and the one 
on Beggars, 1 contain other applications of the same 
idea, with many moralizing digressions. Godwin has 
not lost his sweet Utopian vision ; he has not yielded 
to the objections that baffled Dr. Eobert Wallace ; he 
thinks he has removed all objections. 

He meets them 2 by saying first of all : " There is a 
principle in the nature of human society by means of 
which everything seems to tend to its level/' when not 
interfered with ; and the population of a country when 
left to itself does not seem to increase beyond the food. 
But in the second place, supposing things not to find 
their level in this way, the earth is wide and the evil 
day is far off. It may take myriads of centuries to 
till the untilled acres and to replenish the empty 
earth with people, and much may happen before then. 
In fact, he views the subject as many of us view the 
question of our coal supply. Before it is exhausted 
we may be beyond the need of it. 3 The earth itself 
may have collapsed with all its inhabitants. Don't 
let us refuse a present blessing from fear of a remote 
future danger. Besides, it is not very hard to 
imagine a safeguard. Franklin says that " mind 
will one day become omnipotent over matter ; " 4 why 

1 Part II., Essays I. and III. 

2 Political Justice, Book VIII. ch. ix. pp. 515-19 (3rd ed.). 

3 Cf. Rich. Jones, Pol Econ. (1859), p. 596. 

4 Quoted, Political Justice, Book VIII. ch. viii. pp. 503, 520, on the 
authority of Price. 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 15 

not over the matter of our own bodies ? Does not 
the bodily health depend largely on the mind ? 

" A merry heart goes all the day ; // 
Y, .u r sad tires in a mile, ! " i> 

The time may come when we shall be so full of 
liveliness that we shall not sleep, and so full of life 
that \ve shall not die. The need for marriage will 
be superseded by earthly immortality, and the d<'*irr 
for it by the development of intellect. On the 
.\vd earth of the future there will be neither 
marrying nor giving in marriage, but we shall be 
in- angels. 4< The whole will be a people of mm, 
and not of children. Generation will not succeed 
generation, nor truth have, in a certain degree, to 
recommence her career every thirty years. Other 
improvements may be expected to keep pace with 
\e of health and longevity. There will be no 
war, no crimes, no administration of justice as it is 
call* <!. ami no government. Besides this, there will 
h- neither disease, anguish, melancholy, nor resent- 
ment. Every man will seek with ineffable ardour 

good of all." l 

This sweet .-train had l>een enchanting the public 
for four or iiv- years, \\ln-n Mai thus ventured to 
interrupt it with his modest anonymous Essay on 
th<' rnncijili' of r<>i>nl<iti<>n as it affirtx ///< Future 
liujmn'rnn at of Society. Th.' Wlltei claims to bo 

as hearty a philanthropist as Mr. Godwin, but ho 
cannot allow th \\Ni to be father to the thought, 

and believe in ftitur< : r\ idcnce." 

1 /. c., Book VIII. -h. ix. j.. 58S. 

u->s. It . bo 

.1 both 

:iuv Ilk 
that he would 

A the 
habi :i a cl. his 

. . : \ tn 1 

think:-.. ^. I see tl; t.ho 

change, but I ;r@WU 


vlievir. ilitj Qltmt 

.uul I uiilli'iuiiuni. 

ud, that the- 
..iu'iit Ni> on 
the t 

H !lv pl\US M 

in bai-barism to ri\ th 

hiilivhluul :ill. 1 

in llu- ti'iuh ot' tiiN 


, and I infer from them the impose: 

r millennium. 

a peak of a society, he continues, where tie 
member* are all equally comfortable and at leisure, 
Suppose it fataHtshfd, it could not last ; it would 

to pieces through the principle of population 
alone. The seven jean of plenty would be at 
ooee devoured by seren years of want. The proof of 
this is abort and decisive: Population, when un- 
checked, MMTfiaff in a geometrical ratio; subsist- 
ence only in an arithmetical " A Blight a aaee 

with nttaalx** will show the immensity of the 
power iu wmporisou with the second The race 

of plants and animals shrinks under this great 
restrictive law, and the race of man cannot 
efforts of reason escape from it. Among plant- 
animals its effects are waste of seed, sickness, 
premature death, among men misery an the 

fanner nrrrseiry, the latter probable in the 

old cottntriee of Europe, popula is un- 

checked, It is cheeked by want of room and food, 
Vice and misery, and the fear of them, are ah 

ialmng" the numbers of the people with tin- 

1 I, "the 

f neigK % eyes," there are fewer 

hindrances to early marriage ; there is mm 
there is mor vork is th< 

of a happy life Jiv <-v< fJ ! ; ? ; f i] U M I 4 

<4y aucbecked; the hard .11 at least 

interfere with the rearing of i. -In-n ; 



people, however comfortable, are not at the very 
highest pitch of comfort, or at the highest pitch of 
purity and simplicity of life ; whereas, by assump- 
tion, Godwin's imaginary society is all these. If, 
therefore, the people of old Europe double their 
numbers once a century, and the people of new 
America (at least in the United States) once in 
twenty-five years, we may be sure that in the 
millennial society of Godwin, 

"Where all are proper and well-behaved, 
And all are free from sorrow and pain," 

the increase would be much faster. The " leisure " 
he talks of would soon disappear, and the old scramble 
for bread, the old inequality of rank and property, 
would again become the order of the day. We should 
have our own kind of society back again, with its 
masters and servants, landlords and tenants, rich and 
poor. l 

Therefore (argues the writer of the essay) if 
Godwin's society were once made it could not last. 
But we grant too much in supposing it could ever 
be made. We cannot believe this and believe in the 
second postulate at the same time ; and the second 
postulate is so certain that we can predict by it. 
The same causes, then, that would have destroyed 
Godwin's newly-formed society will prevent it from 
ever being formed at all. " The passion between 
the sexes has appeared in every age to be so nearly 
the same that it may always be considered, in 

1 1st ed., pp. 20, 173, &c., 7th ed., Book III. ch. ii. 

. r.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 19 

I'uio language, as a given quantity." 1 In spite 
of the whimpering of old men and roues, "the 

-ures of pure love will bear the contemplation 
of the most improved reason and the most exultl 
virtue." 2 Godwin views the matter in a dry, int. 1- 

d liirht, and asks us to abstract from all acces- 
sories before we form an estimate of the passion in 

;ion. One man or one woman will then be as 
good as another. But he might as well tell us to 
strip off all the leaves before we estimate our liking 
for trees. We do not admire the bare pole, but the 
whole tree, the tree with all the "attendant circum- 
stances" of branches and foliage. As well deprive 
a magnet of its chief powers of attraction, and then 
ask us to confess it as weak as other minerals. 3 The 
fact is, that man's large discourse, which marks him 
out from the brutes, makes him hide the man' 

inct under a mass of "attendant circumstances" 
before he h-ts himsrlf l>r drawn by it. lie will not 
obey tin' instin-t Dimply more fer<t>, or in animal 
fashion, because he feels it. But it is not destro\ 
only disguised. The love is riot pmvly intellectual. 
Reason, with its calculation of cons. <jumr< >. ran 
save a in.-m iV..m th- abuse of a pa-Mon, but cannot 
destroy the passion itself; 4 and (he might 1 

1) its "looking before and includes fan* y 
as well as thought. fehifl ] i i'n thm a.s it 
is, an adoration it may be of an assemblage of acces- 
sories ; it can n - out of the world. 

' 1 WfCf I- 210. 211. 

/. p. 815. 


From this cheerful premise, what conclusion 
follows ? One not altogether cheerful : Wherever 
Providence sends meat He will send mouths. 
Wherever the people have room and food, they will 
many and multiply their numbers, till they press 
against the limits of both, and begin a fierce struggle 
for existence, in which death is the punishment of 
defeat. Godwin and the whole French school are 
sadly wrong in attributing all inequality to human 
institutions ; human naturejs to blame, and, without 
any artificial aid, this one passion of human nature 
will be the standing cause of inequality, the most 
serious obstacle to the removal of it. 1 Dr. Robert 
Wallace had more wisdom than he wot of. A 

Examine the meaning of this argument and its 
conclusion. It involves an answer to Godwin's first 
defence against Wallace. Here is something very 
like a law of nature, a truth past, present, and future, 
or, in other words, a truth which, being scientific, 
ought not to be stated in terms of time at all : 
" Where goods increase, they are increased that eat 
them." The " struggle for existence " (Malthus uses 
the very phrase) is a present fact, as it has been a 
past fact, and will be a future. No good is gained 
by rhetorical references to the wideness of the world 
and the possibilities of the ages. 2 In our own day 
and land we see people multiplying up to the limit of 
the food, and a " great restrictive law" preventing 

1 1st ed., p. 17 ; cf. pp. 47-8. 

2 Even Comte, who reproves economists for saying that difficulties 
right themselves in the "long run," thinks that this particular difficulty 
will only occur there. (Pos. Phil, ii. 128 (tr.) ; cf. p. 54.) 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1793. 21 

them, as it prevents all other animals, from multiply- 
ing beyond that limit. 1 In our own day and country, 
mm marry when they cannot support a family ; the 
children whom they cannot support die of hunger or 
sickness, if the charity of the public does not interfere ; 
or else the fear of misery makes men avoid a mar- 
fur which they have not the means, and their 
celibacy, whether pure or impure, keeps the numbers 
of the people on a level with the food. 2 Godwin 
himself had written in so many words : " There is a 
principle in human society by which population is 
perpetually kept down to the level of the means of 
subsistence." s Why did he not take one step more, 
and discover what that principle is? 4 

The fact is that Godwin was at once intellectually 
nine and emotionally cold, His ideal would 
been a man " of large brain and no affections ; " 
ami when he wrote the Political Justice he was not 
aware uf his own defect. At a later time he was not 
only aware of it, but anxious to remove it. In his 
Memoir of his wife, Mary Wbllstonecraft (1798), and 
in the .story of Si. Leon (1799), the man who found 
tic- philosopher's stone, and b /came, to his own 
sorrow, immortal on earth, he confesses that he has 
hitherto taken too little thought of feeling as an 
cl.-m.-nt in human action. If Mary had l.ccn too 
much <>f a \\YrtlnT. h T hu-band had been too 1. 

* J/ ., 6260. 

VIII. iii. 4G6. 

.ih .1, u>. 27i, 277. Cf. Gibbon, 
!.. I .in A;,,/,/, -ul 

of population isregu: : 


Like Condorcet (anil like Buckle), lie had believed 
civilization to be a purely intellectual movement. 
He had dogmatized on the omnipotence of truth 
and reason, and inferred the growth of a perfect 
society. He had dogmatized on the development of 
intellect, and inferred an earthly immortality. More- 
over, in the Memoir, and in St. Leon, if he had 
added a little to his doctrines, he had recanted little 
or nothing, even in regard to immortality. 

St. Leon is miserable only because his gift is 
peculiar to himself; an immortality that is common 
to all would be acceptable to all. A Methuselah 
would not be melancholy among antediluvians. Such 
was probably Godwin's position. The mere belief 
in the possibility of earthly immortality was not 
uncommon ; Godwin is careful to number Bacon 
among its supporters. 1 Malthus was probably right 
in tracing it to the unconscious influence of Christi- 
anity, 2 though the progress in Godwin's days of the 
new science of chemistry had perhaps more to do 
with it, and Godwin's religion was never more than 
a bare Theism. 3 It was held by Holcroft, one of 
Godwin's most intimate friends, 4 and it was an 
important part of Condorcet's Sketch of the Proyrexs 
of the Human Sjjirif. 

In the days of the Terror (1794) Condorcet, from 
his hiding-place in the Kue Servandoni, had written 
of the " organic perfectibility of man." He looked 

1 Pol JH.S/., l>,,,,,k YIN. cli. ix. p. 520 n. (3rd ed.). 

2 Essay, 1st ed., pp. 240-1. 

3 Due to Coleridge. See Godwin's Life, i. 3.". 4 Ibid. i. 25. 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 23 

to medicine, and to the arts and sciences in general, 

Danish disease and prolong human life "indefi- 
nitely. Godwin trusted to the inward development 
of the mind, not to outward appliances. 2 But by 
different ways they arrive at the same terminus, and 

ive from their great critic very much the same 
reception there. Malthus points out to Godwin that 
there is no sign that the body is becoming subjugated 
to the mind. Even philosophers, said he (and he 
wrote feelingly, as he had the malady at the time of 
writing), cannot endure the toothache patiently, 3 and 
even a merry heart will not enable a weak man to 
walk as fast and as far as a strong man. There 
is no change in the human body, and little or no 
change in the relation of the mind to it. To Con- 
dorcet he simply points out that, while the arts have 
made the lengthening of life " indefinite," that does 
not mean " infinite." Gardeners can grow carnations 
" indefinitely " large ; no man can ever say that he 
has seen the largest carnation that will ever be 

a ; but this he ran say, that a carnation will 

never be aa large as a cabbaget?)The limit is there, 

though it is undefined, and there is a limit also to 

thfiiing of human life, though no one can 

fix it to a year. Condorcet therefore has proved an 

ily immortality only by a misuse of the word 
II- has shown no organic change in 

which would prove tin possibility of perfection 

r nu historique dc* progri* dc Vetprit tmmnin (3rd 

I 71*7 , p].. .'is I 
1 Political Justi,;-, VI 1 1. ix. 520 n. Euay, l*t cil, p. 227. 


iii this world. Neither has Condorcet repelled the 
objection which troubled Dr. Wallace. It is true 
that, like Godwin, he faces the difficulty and admits 
the importance of it. 1 The growth of population 
will always, he says, cause inequality ; there will 
always be a rich leisured class and a poor industrial 
class ; and to lighten the hardships of the latter 
there ought to be a State Insurance fund, which 
will make all the poorest citizens sure of support. 
But one cannot help thinking, if all are sure of 
support, all will marry, and if all marry, will not 
the difficulty be increased? 2 Yes, Condorcet grants 
this ; the numbers will soon be too great, and so 
throughout the ages there will be an "oscillation" 
between the blessings of progress and the evils of 
overcrowding, now the one predominating, now ,the 
other. In despair he clutches at the Cld ^olli 
" the day is distant," but he feels it fail him, and 
must needs add a new and startling solution of his 
own which Malthus freely denounces. 3 This is not 
the place to discuss the questions associated in our 
own times with Neo-Malthusianism. 4 But it is 
beyond all doubt that the Neo-Malthusians are the 
children not of Robert Malthus, but of Robert Owen. 
Malthus was not Malthus because he said, " The 
, people are too many; thin them down " any more 
than Darwin was Darwin because he said, " Species 

1 Esquisse, pp. 362 seq. z Essay, 1st ed., pp. 146, 150. 

3 Ih id. p. 154 ; Condorcet, Esquisse, pp. 364 373. 

4 The locus classicus in Malthns is Essay, Append, (of 1817), p. 512 ; 
cf. III. iii. 286, IV. xiii. 474. The paj^s are those of the 7th edition 
(Reeves and Turner), a reprint of the 6th. 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 25 

arc not made, Imt grow." If Darwinians arc to be 
judged by Darwin, Malthusians must be judged by 
Malthus; and the originality of neither Malthus nor 
Darwin can be explained by a single phrase. \Ve 
caniut understand the meaning of an author's words, 
far less of his work, till we know the context in which 
they are set. Once know the context and we under- 
stand the text. The devil, citing Scripture for his 
purpose, only succeeds because he never quotes in full. 
It follows that, to understand the full meaning 
of the essay, we must go beyond its efficient cause, 
and take a view of its material cause, or the whole 
circumstances in which it was written. If the text 
of the sermon was Godwin and Condorcet, the 
;j 'plication was to the poor of England and the 
philanthropists who were trying to relieve them. 
The early life of Malthus, coinciding, as it largely 
. with the latter half of the eighteenth century, 
coincides, with England's greatest industrial revolution. 
Malthus was born in I7f>f>, three y ars after the Peace 
of Paris. There was an end, for the time, to foreign 
, and- trade was making a l>ra\e Mart. The 
overies of eal and imn in Northern England, 
_T hand in hand with the inventions of cot ton - 
.-pinning and weaving, \\eiv l.e^inmng to convert the 
poorest counties into the richest, upsetting tin 
ieal l>alanee. The lie w science of chemistry had 
nn to prove its usefulness. Wedgwood was per- 
eartbenware, Urindh-y rutting his canal-. 
Tel f.rd laying <ut his roads Watt building his St 

Knidand in Human day.- had ! .-n a -i.mary ; 


in Inter ages she had been a pasture-ground ; she was 
now becoming the land of machinery and manufacture, 
as well as the centre of foreign trade. In other words, 
she had begun an industrial change, which was the 
greatest till then in her history, and rich in the most 
magical improvements. But in the early stages of 
the change, the evils of it were nearly as much felt 
as the blessings. The sufferings of displaced workmen, 
and the anarchy of the new factory system, supplant- 
ing home labour, and making the word "manu- 
facturer" forget its etymology, 1 were real evils, 
however transient* Combined with the general 
democratic influence of an expansive manufacturing 
industry, they might easily have caused a social 
convulsion in these days of no extraordinary virtue ; 
and the country owed its escape in some degree to 
the evangelical movement under Whitefield and the 
Wesleys, which was fatal at once to religious torpor 
and to political excitement. 2 The annoyances of a 
meddlesome tariff and the futile attempts to exclude 
foreign food were to vanish away before a hundred 
years had passed ; but in the boyhood of Malthus 
the voice of Adam Smith raised against them in the 
ll'cdltk of Nations (1776) was a cry in the wilderness. 
There was a general agreement that, whether the high 
prices prevailing after the Peace of Paris were caused 
by the growth of the population, or by the lessened 
value of silver, or by the troubles in Poland, the 

1 Malthus sometimes uses the word in the earlier sense, and Adam 
Smith seldom in the hit -r. 

2 Lscky, Hist, of Eighteenth Century, vol. ii. p. 638. 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 27 

remedy was not to lie in a free corn trade. The poor 
were not to have cheap corn, they were to have large 
allowances. Legislation had gone backwards in this 
matter. In 1723 a new law had introduced a wise 
workhouse test of destitution, which might have pre- 
vented wilful poverty by reducing out-door relief; but 
the clause was repealed by Gilbert's Act in 1782 ; the 
poor were to be " set on work " at their own houses ; 
and the new stringency gave place to the old laxity, 
with the usual results. The close of the century saw 
the troubles of a European war added to the list, and 
tlx- tile of political reform ebbed for forty years 
( 1 71)2 1832). Because the French reform had gone 
too far, the English reform was not allowed to take 

first steps. 

It is a commonplace with historians that the French 
Revolution would have been very different without 
Voltaire and Rousseau to prepare the way for it. 
llun'j. T and new ideas are two advocates of change 
which always plead best in cadi other's company; 
hunger makes men willing to act, and the new ideas 
tin -in matter for enactment. In France, when 
the n-M.s came in 1789, the new ideas were n..t far 
to sc. k. Writers of Utopias, lV"in I'luto to XI'iv. 
and from Rousseau to Rusk in, have always adapted 
one simple p'.-in : tln-y have struck out the salient 
rmitiea of their own time and inserted the 
site, as when men imagine heaven they think 
of their deal native eountry with its discomforts 
out. Inequality at home had made l-'ivn.-lmn-n i 
to dote on don of equality \\hrn Rousseau 


presented it to them, and the state of Nature was 
the state of France reversed. Philosophically, the 
theorists of the Revolution traced their descent to 
Locke, and their ideas wers not long in recrossing the 
Channel to visit their birthplace. 

Even if Englishmen had not had in America a 
visible Utopia, or, at least, Arcadia, there was hunger 
enough in England to recommend the new ideas to 

o o 

every rank in society. This is the reason why, in 
1793, Godwin's book was so successful. It was not 
only a good English statement of the French doctrines 
of equality, and therefore a book for the times, but 
it had a vigour of its own, and was no mere transla- 
tion. Eousseau and Raynal had thought it necessary 
to sacrifice universal improvement to universal 
equality ; they saw (or thought they saw) that the 
two could not go together, and they counted equality 
so desirable that they were willing to purchase it at 
the expense of barbarism. Now, they were perhaps 
more logical than Godwin ; equality may mean bar- 
barism. But Godwin's ideal was at least higher than 
theirs ; he thought of civilization and equality as 
quite compatible, for he thought that when all men 
were truly civilized they would of their own accord 
restore equality. As he left everything to reason and 
nothing to force, his book was in theory quite harm- 
less ; but the tendency of it seemed dangerous, for it 
criticized the British constitution in a free way to 
which the British nation was not accustomed. In 
England, moreover, the people have always confounded 
ideas with persons. They were not in love with 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 29 

liberty when it took the form of an American "War 
of Independence" against England, and, even if 
equality had pleased them in 1789, they would have 
nothing of it after the Terror. They forsook Fox for 
Burke, and went to war for a sentiment. At the 
time when Malthus wrote, the bulk of the English 
people had lost their enthusiasm for the new ideas. 
It needed some fortitude to call oneself a Reformer, 
or even a Whig, when Napoleon had overrun Italy 
and was faring us in Egypt. Pitt held all persons 
seditious who did not believe in the wisdom of the war. 
But even Pitt, though he now ignored the need of 
reform, could not overlook the existence of distr . 
In 1795 there had been a serious scarcity; war prices 
had become famine prices. It was the year when 
" the lower orders" were held down by special coer- 
cion acts ; l it was the year when the king's carriage 
^topped by a mob crying " Bread, broad!" Mr. 
Whitbivad and the rest thought Parliament ought to 
"do something"; and Pitt proposed (1796) to meet 
th'> difficulty by amending the Poor Laws. His 
bill proposed "to restore the original purity of the 
Poor Laws " by modifying the law of settlement in 
th< direction of greater freedom, and by assisting the 
working man in other ways. One of these other 
ways was an attempt of a harmless kind to found 
s<-lin>]s (.f industry, another to attach every labourer 
friendly society. But another Irs* innoenitly 
proposed to 01 1 rou ra ire the growth of population by 
making the poor relief greater win-re the family was 

1 : ' i to Pol. Jutt. 


larger. " Let us make relief/' in such cases, " a 
matter of right and honour, instead of a ground for 
opprobrium and contempt. This will make a large 
family a blessing and not a curse ; and this will 
draw a proper line of distinction between those who 
are to provide for themselves by their labour, and 
those who, after enriching their country with a 
number of children, have a claim upon its assistance 
foE-iheir support." l 

Malthus in 1796 did not doubt the infallibility of 
Pitt in such a matter ; The Crisis gives no hint of 
objection. But in 1798, with his new light, he could 
no longer take the recruiting officer's view of popula- 
^ion. If he had had a good case against Godwin and 
Condorcet, who had simply failed to show how popu- 
lation could be kept from growing too fast, he had 
still a better case against Pitt, who proposed to make 
it grow faster. Besides, their schemes were merely 
on paper; they had no chance of realizing them, 
whereas Pitt's majority would carry any measure on 
which he had set his heart. The danger from this 
third quarter was therefore the most imminent. But 
Malthus needed no new argument for it ; he needed 
simply to shift round his old argument, and point the 
muzzle of it at his new enemy. There is no need, he 
said, to encourage marriage ; there is no need for 
Government to make population grow faster. Wher- 
ever Providence has sent meat, He will soon send 

1 Hansard, Parl Hist., vol. xxxiii. pp. 703 seq., Feb 12, 1796 ; cf. vol. 
xxxii. pp. 687 seq. The "Speenli;mil;m<l Act of Parliament" was really 
an act of the Berkshire magistrates (1795), but had been widely imitated, 
and had certainly prepared the way 1'or Pitt's bill. 

VP. i.] , FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 31 

mouths to cat it ; and, if by your artificial encourage- 
ments you increase the mouths without increasing the 
meat, you will only bring the people one step nearer 
1 starvation, you will only multiply .the nation without 
increasing the joy. If stalwart numbers are strength, 
starving numbers are weakness. 1 

These commonplaces were then a paradox. Even 
at the end of the eighteenth century there was no 
party in the English House of Commons identified 
with enlightened views on the position of the British 
workman. Whitbread had always some measure on 
hand for helping the labourer out of the rates, or by 
some other State interference ; it was in opposing 
one of Whitbread's bills that the Prime Minister 
promised to introduce his own memorable measure. 
Fox was free to follow either, not professing to under- 
stand the new economical doctrines. Pitt, who 
admired Adam Smith, Fox, Condorcet, and Godwin. 
who owed Smith no allegiance, 2 all were equally 
;rllind in this matter. All Pitt's study of the 
nth book of the 7/W/// of .W/Wv, chapter fifth. 
had not shown him the fallacy of a bounty on 
children. Yet Malthus had got his light from no 
obscure sources, but from " Hume, Wallace, Adam 
Smith, and Dr. Pri<-e," ' who were all well-known and 
widely-read authors <>f the day. " The p.-pulousness 
ncient nations 11 had l>em a happy hunting-ground 
rned antiquarian eesay writen over half a 

1 < t /.V<,/,/, 7th !., 1. vii. p. 65 ; 1st ed., pp. 94, W, Ac. 

* <; !.). 

Preface to Eaay, 2nd ed. 


century. Montesquieu, Wallace, and Price l claimed 
the advantage for the ancients. David Hume, with 
his usual acute divination, decides for the moderns, 
though with his usual irony he professes to adopt a 
sceptical conclusion, and makes several concessions 
to Wallace. 2 This controversy itself might have been 
expected to bring men nearer to the truth on the 
subject of population than it actually did. It was 
left to Malthus to convert Hume's probability into 
a certainty from a higher vantage-ground ; but the 
sifting of the arguments by the various writers 
before him must have simplified his task. 3 Other 
aids and anticipations were not wanting. As early 
as 1786, Joseph Townsend, the Wiltshire rector, 
had written a Dissertation on, the Poor Laws, which 
gives an admirable statement of those wise views of 
charity and poor relief that are only in these latter 
days becoming current among us. Malthus records 
his opinion of Townsend's work in the best of all 
possible ways. From his careful inquiry (in the 
second edition of the Essay) into the population of 
European countries, he omits Spain on the ground 
that Mr. Townsend's Travels in Spain has already 
done the work for him. 4 

The Essay on Population was therefore not original 
in the sense of being a creation out of nothing, but 
in the same way as the Wealth of Nations. In both 

1 By implication. See below, Book I. ch. vii. p. 175. 
3 Moral and Political Essays, Vol. I., Essay XL, Of the Populousness 
of Ancient Nations (ed. 1768), written in 1752. 

3 So even Sir James Steuart, Vol. I. Pol. Econ., ch. iii. p. 22 (ed. 1805), 
ht have helped him. Steuart wrote in 1767. 

4 Essay, Book II. ch. vi. ; 7th ed., p. 184. 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 33 

cases the author got most of his phrases, and even 
many of his~ thoughts, from his predecessors ; but 
he treated them as his predecessors were unable to 
do ; he saw them in their connection, perspective, 
and wide bearings. We must not assume antici- 
pation where there is mere identity of language or 
partial identity of thought; the words of an earlier 
writer are not unfrequently quoted by a later away 
from their logical context, and therefore not as part 
of an argument of which the writer sees the conse- 
cutive premises. This is true of Adam Smith when he 
is compared with Sir Dudley North, Abraham Tucker, 
<>r the other prophets of free trade 1 catalogued 
MacCulloch or Blanqui. They talked free trade 
almost as Mons. Jourdain talked prose, without know- 
ing it. Precisely the same is true of Adam Smith 
himself in relation to Malthus. Of his own genera 1- 
i/ations he is complete master. Having reasoned up 
to them, lie can reason down from them. But, when 
he says, " Every species of animals naturally multiplies 
in proportion to the means of their subsistence/' 
"Tli. demand for men necessarily regulates the pro- 
duetion of men," 2 he has not anticipated Malthus. 
His phrases are touching a principle of which he < 
not sc< tin- mO8t important b'-arin^^ ; and not having 
reasoned uj> to it, he makes hardly any attempt to 
reason down from it. .Malthus, on tin- other hand, 

1 P.n .I.!,- w.mM inolu.l.' V..!' ' Europe, ii. 304 n. 

..this essay. Thea: 

uhitinn ii rujtr, Aug. 1810, ponsibh ' X Mallhus 



lias taken fast hold of a general principle, and is able 
to solve a number of dependent questions in the way 
of simple corollaries. Others may have given right 
answers to the special questions about the Poor Law 
and the populousness of ancient nations. Malthus is 
the first to show one comprehensive reason why all 
these answers must be right. 

This was the secret of his success. As Godwin's 
Political Justice was successful because systematic, 
the Essay on Population was successful because it 
seemed to put chaos in order. The very sadness of 
his conclusion had a charm for some minds ; but the 
bulk of his readers did not love him for taking their 
hopes away, they loved him for giving them new 
light. Pestilence and famine begin to lose their 
vague terrors when we know whence they come and 
what they do for the world. Even if the desire of 
marriage is itself an evil, it is well to know the truth 
about it. Ignorance can only be blissful where it is 
total ; and wilful ignorance, being of necessity partial, 
is a perpetual unrest, not even a fool's paradise. 1 

The truth in this case was not all sadness. In the 
last portion of the essay of 1798 Malthus expounds 
an argument which he afterwards reproduced in 
later editions with a more terrestrial application. 
He uses the style of Paley and the Apologists, and 
he tries to discover the final cause of the prin- 
ciple of population, on metaphysical lines that 
were followed by Mr. Sumner nearly twenty years 
afterwards, when the discussion had taken a new 

1 Compare Essay, Appendix (to 3rd ed., 1807), 7tli ed., p. 507. 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 3'. 

turn. 1 The question is how to reconcile the suffering 
produced by the principle of population with the 
g<>, idness of God. Malthus answers that the difficulty 
is only one part of the general problem of evil, the 
dill'erence between this part and the rest being that 
in this case we see further into the causes ; and it is 
tli ivfore the easier for us to justify the ways of God 
to man. "Evil exists not to create despair but 
activity." 2 We ought not to reason from God to 
nature, but from nature to God; to know how God 
\\orks, let us observe how nature works. We shall then 
find that nature sends all sentient creatures through 
a long and painful process, by which they gain new 
qualities and powers, presumably fitting them for 
a better place than they have in this world. This 
world and this life are therefore in all probability 
" tin- mighty process of God," not indeed for the mere 
"probation" of man (for that would imply that his 
Maki-r was suspicious of him, or ignorant of what was 
in him), but for the " creation and formation " of 
human mind out of the torpor and corruption of 
dead matter, 8 "to sublimate the dust of the earth 
into soul, to elicit an ethereal spark from the clod of 
elay." The varied influences of life are the forming 
hand of the Creator, and they ;uv infinitely diverse, 
for (in spite of Solomon) there is nothing old under 
i. 1 Difficulties generate talent I'll- 1 first 

1 / * lt eel., p. 395. 

:. , I .ml HIM h elm were pr-.bably raggetted b.r 
-f Nature, ^ (especially I 20). < ! 

Book III. 

!.. p. 381. 

D 2 


awakeners of the mind are the wants of the body ; " 
it is these that rouse the intellect of the infant and 
sharpen the wits of the savage. Not leisure but 
necessity is the mother of invention : 
a ' 

Locke was right ; the desire to avoid pain is even 
stronger than the desire to find pleasure. In this 
way evil leads to good ; for pain, which is a kind of 
evil, creates effort, and effort creates mind. This is 
the general rule. A particular example of it is, that 
want of food, which is one of the most serious of 
evils, leads to good. By contriving that the earth 
shall produce food only in small quantities, and in 
reward of labour, God has provided a perpetual spur 
to human progress. This is the key to the puzzle 
of population. By nature man is a lotos-eater till 
hunger makes him a Ulysses. Why should he toil, 
the roof and crown of things ? Mainly because, if he 
does not toil, neither can he live; the lotos country 
will soon be overpeopled, and he must push off his 
bark again. " The first awakeners of the mind are 
the wants of the body," though, once awakened, the 
mind soon finds out wants beyond the body, and the 
devolopment of intellect and civilization goes on 
indefinitely. 1 The people "tend to increase" more 
quickly than their food, not in order that men may 
suffer, but in order that they may be roused to save 

1 Cf. Essay, 2nd ed., p. 65 ; later editions, I. vi. (beginning), where he 
says that sloth is the natural state of man, and his activity is due in Ihe 
first instance to the " strong goad of necessity," though it may be kept 
up afterwards by habit, the spirit of enterprise, and the thirst for glory. 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 37 

themselves from suffering. The partial ill of all 
such general laws is swallowed up in the general 
good ; and the general good is secured in two ways : 
humanity is developed ; the resources of the world 
ire developed. In the first place, the intellect of 
individual men is developed, for the constancy of 
nature is the foundation of reasoning, and human 
reason would never be drawn out unless men were 
absolutely unable to depend on miracles, and were 
obliged as well as able to make calculations on the 
basis of a constant law. To this constancy of nature 
wr the immortal mind of a Newton. In the second 
place, the world must be peopled. If savages could 
have got all their food from one central spot of fertile 
ground, the earth at large would have remained 
a wilderness; but, as it is, no one settlement can 
support an indefinite increase of numbers ; the 
numbers must spread out over the earth till they 
find room and food. If there were no law of in- 
crease, a few such careers as Alexander's or Tamer- 
Iain's niiirht unpeople the whole world ; but tin* law 
exists, and the t^aps made by any conqueror, or by any 
pestilence, are soon filled to overflowing, while the 
overflowing flood passes on to reclaim new countries. 1 
This is the cosmology of Malthus. " Life is, 
generally speaking, a blessin- independent of a future 
"The impivssions and excitements of this 
\\orld are th- instruments with which the Supreme 

1 l t -,!., pp. 360366. For the replenishment of the gap made bj 
ircat Plague of 1348, see Prof. Rogers, Six (Vnturiei of Work and 
Wage* (1884), p. 226. ' 1st e<l M p. 391. 


Being forms matter into mind." The necessity of con- 
stant exertion, to avoid evil and pursue good, is the 
principal spring of these impressions, and is therefore 
a sufficient reason for the existence of natural and 
moral evil, including the difficulties which arise from 
the principle of population. All these are present 
difficulties, but they are not beyond remedy. They 
do not serve their purpose unless human exertion 
succeeds in diminishing them. Absolute removal 
Malthus does not promise ; but, while believing in 
science and reason as strongly as Condorcet or 
Godwin, declines to regard an earthly immortality as 
a reasonable hope, and points us instead to a future life 
and to another world for perfection and happiness. 1 

Perhaps the great economist went beyond his pro- 
vince in attacking the problem of evil. In the 
controversy that followed the essay there are few 
references to this part of it, and after the appearance 
of the second edition, where this part is omitted 
altogether, people forgot the existence of the first 
edition. From the way in which Sumner speaks of 
the difference between his point of view and that 
of Malthus, it might fairly be suspected that he 
knew nothing of the first edition ; arid yet the 
second of his two learned volumes is simply an 
expansion of its ideas. 2 The metaphysic itself might 

1 1st ed., pp. 394-6 ; cf. pp. 241-6. Compare Mr. Henry George's epi- 
logue to Progress and Poverty. It is right to remember that this passage 
of Malthus was written two years before Paley's Natural Theology, 
though four years after his Evidences of Christianity, and many 
more after the Moral and Political Philosophy. 

2 R of Cr. , vol. ii. 103. 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1793. 39 

deep or shallow; it would be impossible to tell 
till we heard the sense in which the metaphysical 
phrase.s were used, and that we have hardly any 
us of doing. They point at least to the 
41 monistic" view, that there is no gulf between mind 
and matter. We might believe them idealistic in a 
German sense ; but we cannot forget how closely the 
ethical views of Malthus are connected with those of 
the English moralists of his century. He cannot be 
said to have a place in the history of philosophy; 
and it is mainly of a curious personal interest to 
discover that, although he is nominally a utilita- 

he separates himself from Paley by refusing to 
allow moral value to action done from either fear of 
punishment or hope of reward. 1 There is no indica- 
tion that he was a metaphysical genius. His 
.'s in the heavier German literature did not 

ips extend much farther than to the quaint 
nj,:imi>t Johann Peter Slissmilch, 2 from whose 
(jufllic/i<> ()rdn any he freely drew his statistics. 

Malthus at one time intended to expound his 

1 views at greater length. 8 In other 

word.-, tie nirant to write a book in the manner of 

's essays, half economical and half literary. We 
need not deeply regret the " particular business," 
what. 'V. T it was, that nipped this intention in the 
bud, besides delaying the publication of the essay as 
we now have it. 4 The metaphysical and theological 

1 Euay, lat ed., p. 387. * See below, Book I. ch. v. 

r>6 note. 

4 I c. He is with a similar rx.-usc in the tract on the Mi 
of Value, p. r,i. Wjj. r th re is no will there is no way. 


passages, as they stand, have the look of an episode, 
though the thought of them is logically enough con- 
nected with the tenor of the book. The views of 
the author on the other world, the punishment of 
the wicked, and the use of miracles, have, like the 
philosophy, mainly a personal interest. Adam Smith, 
in the later edition of his Moral Sentiments, had 
omitted at least one very marked expression of theo- 
logical opinion (on the Atonement) that had appeared 
in the first edition, 1 and perhaps his disciple did 
well to follow suit. At the same time, omission is 
not recantation, and we get light on an author's 
mind and character by discovering any views in which 
he once professed to believe. A writer who reached 
absolute truth at a very early stage of study, has 
patronized Adam Smith 2 by editing his chief work, 
and honoured the other economists by tabulating 
their conclusions in an historical introduction. He 
extends this favour to Mai thus. The reasonings of 
Mai thus he finds, though valuable, are not free from 
error ; he has " all but entirely overlooked " the 
beneficial effects of the principle of population as a 
stimulus to invention and progress. 3 This charge is 
refuted by the essay even in its later form ; but, 
placed alongside of the cosmology of the first edition, 

1 Part II. sect, ii. pp. 204-6. 

2 MacCulloch (J. R.), editor of the Commercial Dictionary, and 
probably the original of Carlyle's Macrowdy. No one could have a 
proper reverence for the Fathers of Political Economy who perpetually 
referred to the greatest of them without his distinctive proenomen. 

3 Introduction to W. of N., p. lii. So the writer of Progress and 
Poverty tells us " the doctrine of Mai thus did not originally and does not 
necessarily involve the idea of progression " (Bk. II. ch.i. p. 89, ed. 1881). 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 41 

it seems merely grotesque. Malthus is accused of 
ignoring the very phenomena which Malthus glori- 
fies as the " final cause " of the principle of population. 
II thought he had explained not only one of the 
chief causes of poverty, but one of the chief effects ; 
if Adam Smith had shown the power of labour as 
a cause of wealth, Malthus thought he had shown the 

r of poverty as a cause of labour. No doubt 
the mistake was a common one ; and (to say nothing 
of the encyclopaedias and biographical dictionaries) 
tln-r, \v economical text-books which do justice 

to Malthus in this matter. 1 But one who speaks 
with authority should not be content with a borrowed 
.vleoVi'. The same authority tells us that " the 
w<rk of Mr. Malthus is valuable rather for having 
awakened public attention to the subject than for 

iving anything like a complete view of the depart- 

ni' nt of the science of which it treats." 1 Malthus 

for his part lays no claim to infallibility ; like most 

pioneers, he is sure of little beyond his leading 

prmrij.lrs, and he is never ashamed to rhan^' his 

virws. 8 But, if his Essay on Population, gradually 

\j-anded as it was, to keep pa< v with 

tli. M anhin^ criticisms of thirty years, has not 

bed ill- In-art of the matter, surely there is no 

profit in discussion. 

t (Kcon. Studiet, p. 136 *?.) W. B. Greg (Enigma* of Ltfe), 
Social* GcchtcJde England*) may be acquitted, but they are 

Nation*, Introduction, p. lii. 

1 See e. <j the Afeowre of Valut, p. 23, and cf. Pol EC. 

L ,j>. 234. 


The fact is, that though the anonymous small 8vo 
of 1798 was a in ere draught of the completed work 
of later years, its main fault was nut incompleteness, 
but wrongncss of emphasis. When a man is writing 
a controversial pamphlet, he does not try to bring 
all truths into the front equally ; he sets the neg- 
lected ones in the foreground, and allows the familiar 
to fall behind, not as denied or ignored, but simply 
as not emphasized. It is always possible, in such 
cases, that the neglected truths, though unworthy 
of the old neglect, did not deserve the new pre-emin- 
ence, and must not be allowed to retain it. Science, 
seeking answers to its own questions, and not to ( 
questions of the eighteenth century, has no toleration 
for the false emphasis of passing controversy. It 
puts the real beginning first, the middle next, and 
the end last, not the end in the middle, or the 
last firsjt. Accordingly it takes up the first essay 
of Malthus on population, and requires the author 
to amend it. He must be less critical and more 
creative, if he is to give a satisfactory answer to the 
general problem which he has chosen to take in hand. 
The times and the subject, both, demand a change of 
attitude, the times, because political theories have 
now become less important than social difficulties, 
and the subject, because he has hitherto, while clearly 
explaining the difficulties, done little more than hint 
at the expedients for overcoming them. True, no 
critic or iconoclast can ever fully vanquish an opponent 
except by a truth of his own which goes beyond 
the opponent's falsity; and it is to this he owes 

CHAP, i.] FIRST THOUGHTS, 1798. 43 

the enthusiasm of his followers. But he does not 
always expound the truth so fully as the error; and 
so, beyond the point of negation, his friends ofim 
follow him rather by faith than by sight. This, 
then, was what Malthus had yet to do; to state 
what were the trustworthy as well as the delusive 
methods of raising modern society, and what were 
the right as well as the wrong ways of ivlii .-\in-- 
the poor. 

The success of the essay, so far, had been very 
ivmarkable. It had provoked replies by the dozen, 
and an unwilling witness tells us it had converted 
in* -nds of progress by the hundred. 1 \Ve find 
Godwin writing to .the author in August 1798, 2 and 
wi- may conclude that the veil of anonyrnousness was 
nut very thick, though Malthus used it again in 1800 
in the tract on High Prices. In a debate in the of Commons on the llth February, 1800, 
Pitt took occasion to say that, though he still believed 
his new Poor Bill a good one, he had dropped it in 
i once to the objections of " those whose opinions 
In- was bound to respect." ' 1I-- mi-ant IVntham and 
Malthus. \\Y cannot tell which had the ^ivatrr >haiv 
of tin- nvdit. luit \\v know that Malthus regarded 
Pitt and I'aley as his most brilliant converts. 4 Pitt's 
ration that lie still believed his bill to be a good 

1 Godwin's Thoughts on Parr's Sermon, 1801, p. 54 ; cf. Godwin'i 
Population (1820), Bk. i. 27. 
Godwin's Life, by Kegan Paul, vol. i. 321. 
; i sard, sub dato, p. 1429. 

fievfao, Jan. I^.'IT. }>. W : B /.'. './ M /'opu- 
7th .-d. i Kinjismi's anil; pears 

Vs Correspondence, p. 187. Sec below, Book \ 


one could only mean that he still wished to believe 
it so. It must have been peculiarly galling to a 
statesman who affected the political economist to 
find that not only the solemn criticisms of Mai thus, 
but the jocose " Observations " of Bentham, 1 which 
threshed the chaff out of the bill clause by clause, 
had turned his favourite science against himself. 

1 Works, vol. viii. p. 440. 

CHAP, ii.] SECOND THOUGHTS, 1803. 45 



Exaggerations of the First Essay Its two Postulates not co-ordinate 
1 'istinctive feature of the Second Essay Its moderate Optimism 
Rough Classification of Checks Y mint and Mi.xnl Motives 

Freedom as understood by Godwin and by Malthus The two 
men contrasted. 

\Vniij; Malthus was making such converts as Pitt, 
Paley, and Parr, and when even Godwin acknow- 
ledged the " writer of the essay " to have made a 

: liable addition to political economy," 1 the essay 
was not beyond criticism. There were some familiar 
facts of which the writer had taken too little account, 
and they were impressed on him by his critics from 
all si'lrs. To use the language of philosophy, In* had 
not been sufficiently concrete; he had gone far t. 
fnmmit Godwin's fault, and consider one feature of 
human nature apart by itself, instead of seeing it in 
its place with the rest. The position and pros] 
of civili/rd society in our own day depend on a 
combination of political, intellectual, physical, an.l 

(\ causes, of which the growth or decrease of 
I". j.ulation may be only an effect. If we are part 

1 Thought* on Parr'* Sermon, \\ 50. 


m in, part lion, and part hog, it is not fair to assume 
the predominance of the hog any more than the 
predominance of the man. In a herd of animals, as 
distinguished from a society of men, the units are 
simply the fittest who have survived in the struggle 
for existence. The principle of population is in the 
foreground there ; there is no check to it but famine, 
disease, and death. We can therefore understand 
how the study of the Essay on Population led Charles 
Darwin to explain the origin of species by a generaliz- 
ation which Malthas had known and named, though 
he did not pursue it beyond man. 1 The " general 
struggle " among animals " for room and food " means 
among civilized men something very like free trade, 
the old orthodox economical panacea for economic 
evils; and the essayist agrees with Adam Smith in 
a general* resistance to legislative interference. Bad 
as are the effects of the irremovable causes of poverty, 
interference makes them still worse. But at least, 
when we come to man, the struggle is not so cruel. 
" Plague take the hindmost " is not the only or the 
supreme rule. If the fear of starvation, the most 
earthly and least intellectual of all motives, is needed 
to force us to work at first, it need not therefore be 
necessary ever afterwards. The baser considerations 
are by their definition the lowest layers of our pile ; 
we rise by means of them, but we tread them down, 
and the higher the pile the less their importance. 
Within civilized countries, in proportion to their 

1 Essay, 1st ed., pp. 17, 47, 48 ; Origin of Species, ch. iii. p. 50. 
Hence Sir Chas. Lyell even denies the originality of Darwin and 
Wallace (Antiquity of Man, ch. xxi. p. 456). 

CHAP, ii.] SECOND THOUGHTS, 1803. 47 

civilization, the struggle in the lowest stages is 
abolished ; the weakest are often saved, and the 
lowest raised, in spite of unfitness. 1 View man not 
as an animal, but as a citizen; view the principle 
of population as checked not only by vice, misery, 
and the i-ar of them, but by all the mixed motives 
of human society, and we recognize that Malthus, 
with the best intentions, had treated the matter too 
abstractly. Godwin had over-rated the power of 
ason, Malthus the power of passion. "It is pro- 
bable," lie wrote at a later time, "that, having found 
the bow bent too much one way, I was induced to 
bend it too much the other, in order to make it 
straight." ; The abstract principle of increase getting 
more, and concrete humanity less, than justice, the 
next step was, naturally, to deny the possibility of 
permanent improvement in this world, and to regard 
every partial improvement as a labour of Sisyphus. 8 

It could hardly be otherwise, if we be^an. like 
Malthus, by setting down the desire of food and th. 
desire of marriage as two co-ordinate principles. 4 
Th<-v are not really co-ordinate. It is true not mnvly 

A. 1!. Wallace, Confrilmtion* to Theory of Natural Sel- 
and ilu- 'li-'-usfiions raised tln-nMi|n.n, 1868. See also Essays in Fhil<>- 

ticitm (1883), Essay VIII., The Mniffyle /</ 
which some of tin- mixrd motives an- further dr>rribed. 

lix to 5th ed., 1817 ; 7th <.!., ]>. 526. Cf. Bacon (Eaeay 
XXXVIII.), "to bend nature lik.- a wand tn a contrary extreme where- 
by to set r in Smith had used the .-i mile of a bent stick 

nisU against the Mercantile 

say, Isted., ] . ::;:. < T. Beniort />" on Pojniht 
and ; f the snail 

ry day cliinln >, .m-l fi-11 1 

ay, 1st ed., p. 10. 


of most men, but of all men without a single exception, 
that they cannot live without food. Even if a man 
survive an abstinence from solid food for forty days, 
he cannot deny himself water, and he is for all useful 
purposes dead to the world during his fast. The 
second postulate of the first essay is, on the contrary, 
true only of most men, and even then under qualifi- 
cations. It is not true of any till manhood, and it 
is not true of all men equally. Some are beyond its 
scope by an accident of birth, and a still larger 
number, whether priests or laymen, put themselves 
beyond its scope for moral reasons. 1 Coleridge puts 
the case pertinently enough : " The whole case is this : 
Are they both alike passions of physical necessity, 
and the one equally with the other independent 
of the reason and the will ? Shame upon our race 
that there lives the individual who dares even ask 
the question." 2 

Malthus saw that he had been hasty, and he did 
not republish the essay till he had given it five 
years of revision, and added to it the results of foreign 
travel and wider reading. In 1799 he went abroad 
with some college friends, Otter, Clarke the antiquarian 
and naturalist, and Clarke's pupil Cripps, 3 and visited 
Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and part of 
Russia, these being the only countries at that time 
open to English travellers. After his return he 

1 Cf. St. Matth. xix. 12. 

2 MS. notes on p. vii of S. T. Coleridge's copy of the 2nd ed. of the 
Essay, in Brit. Museum (from the library of his executor, Dr. Joseph 
H. Green). 

3 See Otter's biographical preface to Malthus' Pol. EC. (1836), p. xxxvi, 
and Otter's Life of Clarke (1825), i. 437, &c. 


published his tract on the Hiyh Price of Provisions 
(1800), 1 and at the conclusion of it he promised 
a new edition of the Essay on Population. Some 
people, he says, have thought the essay " a specious 
aijument inapplicable to the present state of society/ 1 

aise it contradicts preconceived opinions; but 
two years of reflection have strengthened his con- 
viction that he has discovered "the real cause of 
the continued depression and poverty of the lower 
classes ; " and he will not recant his essay : " I have 
deferred giving another edition of it in the hope of 
being able to make it more worthy of the public 

ition, by applying the principle directly and 
exclusively to the existing state of society, and 
endeavouring to illustrate the power and universality 
of its operation from the best authenticated accounts 
that we have of the state of other countries." But 
he was not satisfied with the accounts of other people. 
When the Peace of Amiens let loose thousands of 

-ure-seekers on the Continent, Malthus went to 

ice and Switzerland on no errand of mere pl-a- 
sure ; and he was luckily at home again, and pas>in^ 
IIH proof-sheets through the press, before Napoleon's 
unj. interference with English travellers. 

I was a happy coincidence that in the dark 
daya "f 17'JS, .Malthus should write only of 

ty, while iii thr ,-hort gleam of \ 
in l^'-J and JS03, when the tramp of armed men 
ceased for the moment, he should recollect 
. and write of a less ghastly restraint on 

1 Sec below, Book II !..i;.. iv. 



population, a restraint which might perhaps, like 
the truce of Amiens, hold out some faint hope for 
the future. For the sake of the world let us hope 
that the parallel goes no further. The wonder is not 
that he forgot there was such a thing as civilization, 
but that amidst wars and rumours of wars he should 
ever have remembered it. 

In the preface to the new edition (June 1803), 
he says he has "so far differed in principle" from 
the old edition "as to suppose the action of another 
check to population which does not come under the 
head either of vice or misery," and he has "tried 
to soften some of the harshest conclusions of the 
first essay." There was really more change than 
this. The first essay contained much of the imper- 
fection of the sudden magazine-article ; and if the 
writer had lived half a century later he would 
probably, instead of writing a small book, have con- 
tributed a long article to a monthly or quarterly 
magazine, giving a review of Godwin's political 
writings, with incidental remarks on the Poor Bill 
of Mr. Pitt. This was evidently the light in which 
he himself regarded his first work, or he would not 
have handled it so freely in republication. The new 
edition had new facts, new arrangement, and new 
emphasis. He had not written a book once for all, 
leaving the world to fight over it after his death. 
He took the public into partnership with him, and 
made every discussion a means of improving his 
book. This gives the Essay on Population a unique 
character among economical writings. It leads the 

CHAP, ii.] SECOND THOUGHTS, 1803. 51 

author to interpret his thoughts to us from many 
>us points of view, leaving us, unhappily, often 
in doubt whether an alteration of language is or is 
not an alteration of thought. Malthus adds to the 
difficulty by omitting and inserting instead of re- 
writing in full. His chapters cease to be old without 
becoming new. 

The very face of the book revealed a change. In 

1798 it was An Essay on tJie Principle of Population 

as it affects the Future Improvement of Society ; in 

1803, An 'Essay on the Principle of Population, or 

a View of its Past and Present Effects on Human 

v.s\ The dreams of the future are now in 

background, and the facts of the present in the 

foreground. In 1798 Malthus had given Godwin 

lie : 

" Colouring he, dilating, magniloquent, glorying in picture, 
He to a matter of fact still softening, paring, abating, 
1 1 to the great might-have-been upsoaring, sublime and ideal, 
ij the merest it- was i . diminishing, dwarfing." 

He must do more now, or his political economy is 
a dismal science. He must show how we can cling 
to tin- inatt.T of fart without losing our ideal. It is 
not enough to refer us to the other world. How far 
may we lia\v hope in this world? Let Malthus 

e second essay is his answer; and if second 

tli< ughts are the best, then we may rejoice over tin* 

: it lifts the cloud from the first. It 

hat on thf whole tin* ]>O\V<T of rivili/.at ion i- 

greater than tin- powr of population ; th> pressure of 

i: 2 


the people on the food is therefore less in modern than 
it was in ancient times or the middle ages ; there 
are now less disorder, more knowledge, and more 
temperance. 1 The merely physical checks are falling 
into a subordinate position. There are two kinds 
of checks on population. A check is (a) positive, 
when it cuts down an existing population, (b) pre- 
ventive, when it keeps a new population from grow- 
ing up. Among animals the check is only misery, 
among savage men vice as well as misery, and, in 
civilized society, moral restraint as well as, till now, 
both vice and misery. Even in civilized society there 
are strata which moral restraint hardly reaches, for 
there are strata which are not civilized. On the 
whole, however, it is true that among animals there 
is no sign of any other check than the positive, while t 
among men the positive is gradually subordinated to 
the preventive. Among men misery may act both 
positively and preventively. In the form of war or 
disease it may slay its tens of thousands, and cut 
down an existing population. By the fear of its own 
coming it may prevent many a marriage, and keep a 
new population from growing up. Vice may also act 
in both ways : positively as in child murder, prevent- 
ively as in the scheme of Condorcet. But in civilized 
society the forces of both order and progress are 
arrayed against their two common enemies ; and, if 
we recognized no third check, surely the argument 
that was used against Godwin's society holds against 
all society ; its very purification will ruin it, by 
1 2nd ed., Book IV. chap, xii.; 7th ed., p. 477. 

CHAP, ii.] SECOND THOUGHTS, 1803. 53 

forbidding vice and misery to check the growth of 
population, arid by thereby permitting the people to 
increase to excess. There is, however, a third check, 
which Malthus knows under the title of moral restraint. 
Mral restraint is a distinct form of preventive 
check. It is not to be confused with an impure 
celibacy, which falls under the head of vice ; and yet 
the adjective " moral " does not imply that the 
motives are the highest possible. 1 The adjective is 
applied not so much to the motive of the action as to 
the action itself, from whatever motives proceeding ; 
and in the mouth of a Utilitarian this language is 
not unphilosophical. Moral restraint, in the pages 
of Malthus, means simply continence ; it is an absti- 
nence from marriage followed by no irregularities. 2 
-peaks of the " moral stimulus " of the bounty on 
corn, meaning the expectations it produced in the 
minds of men, as distinguished from the variations it 
j 'ro.l ur.-d in the prices of grain; 3 and the word 
is often, like "morale," used in military 
matters to denote nn-utal disposition, as distinguished 
from material resources. The vagueness of the word 
is perhaps not accidental, for nothing is valuer 
than li .1 niotivrs which it drimtes ; but 

continence, which is unambiguous, would smii the 
better \\oi-.l. 

1 2nd e<l., I. ii. 10, 1 1 ; oft \;v. ISO; 7th i.l., pp. 8 note, 262, &c. 


3 7th <<!., j>. 351; so I. ix. 82, "n <>f incrcAno, in n 

owe tv m n makes it 

due not to physical la\v ' muan 



With the enunciation of the third check the theory 
of Malthus entered definitively on a new phase ; and 
in sketching the outlines of his work we shall no 
longer need to treat it as paradoxical and overstrained, 
but as a sober argument from the ground of accepted 
facts. The author's analysis of human nature has 
been brought into harmony with common sense. He 
confesses that it had hitherto been too abstract, and 
had separated the inseparable. 

The mind of man cannot be sawed into quan- 
tities ; and, even if it is possible to distinguish the 
mixed motives that guide human action, the fact 
remains that they only operate when together. It 
is probable that no good man's motives were ever 
absolutely noble, and no bad man's ever absolutely 
bestial. Even the good man is strongest when he 
can make his very circumstances war against his 
power to do evil. Mixed from the first of time, 
human motives will, in this world, remain mixed unto 
the last, whether in saint, sage, or savage. But 
civilization, involving, as it does, a progressive change 
in the dominant ideas of society, will alter the cha- 
racter of the mixture and the proportion of the 
elements. The laws of Malthus will be obeyed, 
though the name of Malthus be not mentioned, and 
the checks, physical or moral, be never brought to 
mind. Society, moving all together, if it move at all, 
cannot cure its evils by one single heroic remedy ; 
but as little can it be content with self-denying ordin- 
ances, prohibitions, or refutations. It needs a positive 
truth, and an ideal, that is to say, a religion, to give 

ii.] SECOND THOUGHTS, 1803. 55 

new life to the bodily members by giving new hope 
to the heart. " The fear of the Lord is the beginning 
of wisdom, but the end of wisdom is the love of the 
L >rd and the admiration of moral good." l It follows 
that an economist, if he knows nothing but his 
economy, does not know even that. 

No economists are more reproached with their 
want of idealism than Malthus and his brethren. 
As the French Revolutionists were said to believe 
that the death of their old rulers would of itself bring 
happiness and good government, so these writers wen 
said to teach that the mere removal of hindrances 
would lead to the best possible production and dis- 
tribution of the good things of this life. The ideal 
state then, as far as wealth was concerned, would be 
anarchy plus the police constable. Godwin would 
have dispensed with the constable. "Give a state 
v enough," he says, "and vice cannot exist in 
it." But neither he nor the economists desired a 
merely negative change or removal of hindrances. 
Th-ir political reformation was to be, like the Fro- 
nt, only successful as it went beyond image- 
breaking. Malthns, it will !> fnmi 
.: an unqualified advocate of lai *<: /;/;/<-. and. 
( in all cases wh-iv he did de.-iiv it, he wished to 
mak< < small only to make public opinion 
great. Godwin was not far away from him 1 
If he was wrong in attributing to > murh evil to 

1 MaUlitu, <iy, Intnl.. ] 

in his Lifr, j. 70. Hi" published 

See below, Book 1 


institutions, and too little to human nature, lie has 
furnished his own correction. The Political Justice 
disclaimed all sympathy with violence ; it taught 
that a political reform was worthless unless effected 
peacefully by reason ; and Malthus T has the same 
cure for social evils argument and instruction. The 
difference between them is, that Malthus takes more 
into account the unreasonableness as well as the 
reasonableness of men. In essentials they are agreed. 
The thorough enlightenment of the people, which 
includes their moral purification as well as their 
intellectual instruction, is to complete the work of 
mending all, in which men are to be fellow-workers 
with God so runs the teaching of Malthus and all 
the greatest economists of- the last hundred years. 
Whether the evils of competition are many or few, 
serious or trifling, depends largely on the character 
of the competitors ; and the more free we make the 
competition, the more thoroughly we must educate the 
competitors. Adam Smith was well aware of this ; 
he recommended school-boards a hundred years before 
the Acts of 1870 and 1872 ; 2 and Malthus was not 
behind him. 3 They are aware that the more com- 
pletely we exclude the interference of Government, 
the more actively we must employ every other moral 
and social agency. Whether Malthus was prepared 
to exclude the interference of Government entirely, 
even under this condition, we shall see by-and-by. 

1 Essay, 7th eel., B. I V. chap. vi. and ix. 

2 Wealth of Nations, B. V. ch. i. Pt. iii. Art. 2. 

3 Essay, Book IV. ch. ix. of 7th ed., esp. p. 439. 

CHAP, ii.] SECOND THOUGHTS, 1803. ;,: 

The characters of the two men, Mai thus and God- 
win, are a striking contrast. Malthus was the student, 
of quiet settled life, sharing his little wealth with his 
friends in unobtrusive hospitality, and constantly 
using his pen for the good, as he believed, of the 
English poor, that in these wretched times they might 
domestic happiness like his o\vn. There never 
a more singular delusion than the common 
belief in the hard-heartedness of Malthus. Besides 
the unanimous voice of private friends, he has left 
testimony enough in his own books to absolve him. 
While Adam Smith and others owe their errors to 
intellectual fallibility, Malthus owes many of his t<> 
his tender heart. His motive for studying political 
economy was no doubt a mixed motive ; it was partly 
the interest of an intelligent man in abstract ques- 
tions ; but it was chiefly the desire to advance the 
greatest happiness of the greatest number. In his 
the elevation of human life was much more 
important than the solution of a scientific problem. 
Even when in 1820 he wrote a book on tin " /V/W/- 
pleaof Pr,lir f ,! R'onomi/" lie took care to add on the 

red irith a view to their j/ni-- 
iv fusing to consider in abstractness what 
always exists in the concrete. His keen sympathy 
the sufferings of displaced workmen led him to 
fight a losing battle with Say and Ri<-arl> in favur 
of something like an embargo on invention^ and in 
protest against a fancied over-production. 1 His pi 

1 Cf. even oay, 1st ed., pp. 33, 34, and 324. But tee later, I II. 

u id ta 


life showed the power of gentleness ; Miss Martineau 
could hear his mild, sonorous vowels without her ear- 
trumpet, and his few sentences were as welcome at 
her dinner-table as the endless babble of cleverer 
tongues. He felt the pain of a thousand slanders 
" only just at first," and never let them trouble his 
dreams after the first fortnight, saying, with a higher 
than stoical calmness, that they passed by him like 
the idle wind which he respected not. 1 He outlived 
obloquy, and saw the fruit of his labours in a wiser 
legislation and improved public feeling. 

With Godwin all was otherwise. There were fight- 
ings within and fears without. With an immovable 
devotion to ideas he combined a fickleness of affection 
towards human beings. He heeded emotion too little 
in his books and too much in his own life, yielding 
to the fancy of the moment, quarrelling with his best 
friends twice a week, and quickly knitting up the 
broken ties again. He loved his wife well, but hardly 
allowed her to share the same house with him, lest 
they should weary of one another. 2 He was the 
sworn enemy of superstition, and himself the arch- 
dreamer of dreams. 

Yet when we contrast the haphazard literary life 
of the one, ending his days ingloriously 2 in a Govern- 
ment sinecure, unsuccessful and almost forgotten, 
with the academical ease of the other, centred in 

1 7th ed., Append., p. 495. Cf. Miss Martineau's Autob,, vol. i. p. 211; 
cf. pp. 209, 210. 

2 Life, vol. i. ch. ix. p. 233. 

3 Ingloriously, because of the severe chapter he wrote in the Political 
Justice, l Of Pensions and Salaries ' (ch. ix. of Bk. VI.). 

CHAP, ii.] SECOND THOUGHTS, 1803. 59 

the sphere of common duties, and passing from the 
world with a fair consciousness of success, we feel 
a sympathy for Godwin that is of a better sort than 
the more liking for a loser. It is a sympathy not sad 
enough for pity. It is not wholly sad to find Godwin 
in his old age a lonely man, his friends dropping off 
one by one into the darkness and leaving him solitary 
in a world that does not know him. The world that 
had begun to realize the ideas of Malthus had begun 
to realize the ideas of Godwin also. It was a world 
far more in harmony with political justice than that 
into which Godwin had sent his book forty years 
before. It was good that Malthus had lived to see 
the new Poor Law, but still better that both had lived 
to see the Reform of '32. 

They passed away within two years of each other, 
Malthus in the winter of 1834, Godwin in the spring 
of 1 83G, the year of the first league of the people 
;ist the Corn Laws. In their death they were 
still divided, bat, "si quis pioruni manibus locus," 
they are divided no longer, and they think no hard 
thoughts of each other any more. 




Position stated in the Essay Tendency of Life to increase beyond 
Food Problem not the same for Humanity as for the lower forms 
of Life Man's Dilemma Tendency to increase not predicable of 
Food in same sense as of Life The Geometrical and Arithmetical 
Ratios Position stated in Encyclopaedia Britannica Milne's Con- 
firmation of the Geometrical Ratio Arithmetical Ratio proved 
differently Private Property a condition of great Production 
Fallacy of confusing possible with actual Production. Laws of Man 
as well as of Nature responsible for necessity of Checks Position 
stated in "Summary View" The Checks on Population classified 
(a) objectively and (6) subjectively Relation to previous Classifi- 
cation Cycle in the movement of Population. 

THE second essay applies the theory of the first to new 
facts and with a new purpose. The author, having 
gained his case against Godwin, ceases to be the critic 
and becomes the social reformer. Despairing to 
master all the forms of evil, he confines his study to 
one of them in particular, the tendency of living 
beings to increase beyond their means of nourishment. 
This phenomenon is important both from its cause 
and from its effects. Its cause is not the action of 
Governments, but the constitution of man ; and its 
effects are not of to-day or yesterday, but constant 
and perpetual; 1 it frequently hinders the moral 

1 Cf. Essay, 7th ed., II. xiii. p. 259. 

CHAP, in.] THESES. 61 

goodness and general happiness of a nation as well as 
tin- eijiul distribution of its wealth. 

This is the general position, which the several 
chapters of the essay are to expound in detail. It 
is not by itself quite simple. " The constant tendency 
in all animated life [sic] 1 to increase beyond the 
nourishment prepared for it" is in one sense common 
to humanity with plants and animals, but in another 
sense is not common to any two of the three. It is 

.inly true of all of them that the seeds of their 
life, whencesoever at first derived, are now infinitely 
nuinorous on our planet, while the means of rearing 

i are strictly limited. In the case of plants and 
animals the strong instinct of reproduction is " inter- 
rupted by no reasoning or doubts about providing for 
,"- and they crowd fresh lives into the world 
only to have them at once shorn away by starvation. 

i the exception of certain plants which ape their 

riors, like the drosera, and certain men who apo 
their inferiors, like tin- cannibals, the lines of differ- 
ence between the three classes of living things are 
tolerably distinct. The first class, in the struggle 

room and food, can only forestall each other and 
leave each other to die : the second deliberately pivy 
on the first and on <M<-h other; while the thinl prey 
on both the rest. But with man this "tendency to 

ase beyond the f 1 .Tillers from the same 

act in the nth'T t\vo cases by more than the fact 
irger resources and is longer in reaching 

.unit. 'I 'met is e.ju.illy strong in him, but 

1 Amy, I ;. 2. . \\ 3. 


he does not unquestioningly follow it. " Reason 
interrupts his career," and asks him whether he may 
not be bringing into the world beings for whom he 
cannot provide the means of support. 1 If he brushes 
reason aside, then he shares the fate of plants and 
animals ; he tends to multiply his numbers beyond 
the room and food accessible to them, and the result 
is that his numbers are cut down to these limits by 
suffering and starvation. There is nothing in this 
either more or less contrary to the notion of a 
benevolent Providence than in the general power 
given to man of acting rationally or irrationally 
according to his own choice in any other instance. 
On the other hand, if he listens to reason, he can no 
doubt defeat the tendency, but too often he does it at 
the expense of moral purity. The dilemma makes 
the desire for marriage almost an " origin of evil." 
If man obeys his instincts he falls into misery, and, 
if he resists them, into vice. Though the dilemma 
is not perfect, its plausibility demands that we should 
test it by details, and to this test Malthus may be 
said to have given his whole life. His other econo- 
mical works are subordinate to the essay, and may be 
said to grow out of it. Though we cannot omit them 
if we would fully understand and illustrate the central 
work, still the latter must come first ; and its matured 
form requires more than the brief summary which 
has been given in the two preceding chapters. 

The body of the book consists of historical details, 
and particular examples showing the checks to popu- 

1 Essay, 2nd ed., p. 3. 

CHAP, in.] THESES. 63 

lutimi in unrivili/'.,'d and in civilized places, in present 
and in past times. The writer means to bring his 
conclusions home to his readers by the " longer way " 
of induction. As this, however, was not the way in 
which he himself reached them, or even stated them 
at first, he will ask us first of all to look at the terms 
of the dilemma in the light of his two original 

ilatcs 1 (a) food is necessary, (I)) the desire of 
marriage is permanent. What is the quickest possible 
increase of numbers in obedience to the second, and 
of food in obedience to the first ? In the most crucial 
of the known instances, the actual rapidity of the 
increase of population seems to be in direct proportion 
to the easy possession of food ; and we can infer that 
tlic ideally rapid increase would take place where all 

I'-Vs (whether material or moral) to the getting 
of food and rearing of a family were removed, so 
that nature never needed to remonstrate with in- 
stinct. " In no state that we have yet known has 
ill.- jM.wer of population been left to exert itself with 
perfect freedom." 2 We can guess what it would lu* 
from the animal and vegetable world, where reason 
does not as a matter of fact interfere with instinct in 
any rin-uii^'-s, so far as we can judge. Benjamin 

!Jin, in a passage quoted by Malthus in this 
connection, 1 supposes that if the earth were bared of 

r plants it miu ivplmishcd in a few years 

- e. " Food in -u.-li propositions includes all 
'easary to ! 

' I c. :i'* Observations concerning the Increase of .> 


with fennel alone. Even as things are now, fennel 
would fill the whole earth if the other plants 
would only allow it ; and the same is true of each of 
the others. Townsend's goats and greyhounds on 
Juan Fernandez are a better instance, because not 
hypothetical. 1 Juan Fernando, the first discoverer, had 
covered the island with goats from one pair. 2 The 
Spaniards resolved to clear it of goats, in order to make 
it useless to the English for provisioning. They put 
on shore a couple of greyhounds, whose offspring soon 
caused the goats to disappear. But without some 
few goats to eat all the dogs must have died ; and the 
few were saved to them by their inaccessible refuges 
in the rocks, from which they descended at risk of 
their lives. In this way only the strongest and 
fleetest dogs and the hardiest and fleetest goats 
survived ; and a balance was kept up between goat 
food and hound population. Townsend thereupon 
remarks that human populations are kept down by 
want of food precisely in the same way. 

There is nothing to prevent the increase of human 
numbers if we suppose reason to have no need (as 
in the lower creatures it has no opportunity) to inter- 
fere. To understand the situation, however, it is 
best not to assume the truth of this parallelism, but 
to take the actually recorded instances of human 
increase .under the nearest known approaches to abso- 
lute plenty combined with moral goodness, that is to 

1 Dissertation on the Poor Laws by a well-wisher to Mankind (1786), 
pp. 42 45, 53. He is quoting Dampier's Voyages, vol. i. pt. ii. p. 88. 

2 It is fair to say that Ulloa, B. II. ch. iv., says " two or three goats." 

CHAP, in.] TH1> 65 

say, with a state of society in which vice is at a 
minimum. " In the northern states of America, where 
the means of subsistence have been more ample, the 
manners of the people more pure, and the checks to 
r-irly marriages fewer than in any of the modern states 
of Europe, the population was found to double itself 
for some successive periods every twenty -five years." ] 
From this near approach to an unchecked increase, 
\\r infrr that the unchecked would mean a doubling 
in l.-ss than twenty-five years (say twenty, or perhaps 
fifteen), and that all population, in proportion as it 
i> unchecked, tends towards that rate of increase. 

If it is difficult to find an unchecked increase of 
population, it is still harder to find an unchecked 
increase of food ; for what is meant is not that a 
people should find their food in one fertile country 
with as much ease as in another, but that, for a new 
jM-uj.l,., new supplies should always be found with the 
same ease as the old ones. Now it is not necessary 
to suppose that the most fertile land is always used 
first ; 2 very often it might only be used late after 
the rest, through political insecurity, imperfect agri- 
culture, incomplete explorations, or the want of 
capital; but, when it is once occupied, tin* question 
is, will it supply new food to new comers without 
any limit at all '. This wmild be an ideally fertile 
land corresponding to the ideally expanding popu- 
:-ii. And on some such inexhaustible increase 

1 ; .-f. 7ih .-I.. ,,. n. 

1 Carey (H. C.) ha* certainly made a good caw for the reverse. Sea 
Prmc. o/ Social Science, vol. i. oh, iv. (1858). 



of food an unchecked increase of population would 
depend, unless men became able to live without 
food altogether. 

Malthus afterwards pointed out, in the course of 
controversy, 1 that there is strictly speaking no 
question here of the comparison of two tendencies, 
for we cannot speak of a tendency to increase food 
in the same sense as a tendency to increase popula- 
tion. Population is increased by itself; food is in- 
creased not by food itself, but by an agency external 
to it, the human beings that want it ; and, while the 
former increase is due to an instinct, the latter is (in 
a sense) acquired. Eating is instinctive, but not the 
getting of the food. We have, therefore, to compare an 
increase due to an instinctive desire with an increase 
due to labour, and "a slight comparison will show 
the immensity of the- first power over the second." 
Malthus allows that it is difficult to determine this 
relation with exactness ; 2 but, with the natural liking 
of a Cambridge man for a mathematical simile, 3 he m 
says that the one is to the other as an arithmetical 
to a geometrical ratio, that is to say, in any given 
time (say a century) the one will have increased by 
multiplication, the other only by addition. If we 
represent both the population and the food at the 
beginning of that century by ten, then the population 

1 Letter to Senior, Appendix to Senior's Lectures on Population, pp. 

2 Essay, 2nd ed., p. 5. 

3 He might have been warned from such by " oi> yeoj/zt rpucaTf aXX' 
ipwTucalc dvdyruic" (Plato, Eepublic, v. 458). But Bacon had applied the 
fame figure still more widely : " Custom goes in arithmetical, Nature 
in geometrical progression" (Advancement of L., VI. iii. 259;. 

CHAP, in.] THESES. 67 

will double itself in twenty-five years ; the ten will 
become twenty in the first twenty-five years, forty in 

second, eighty in the third, one hundred and sixty 
in the last, while the food will only become twenty 
in the first, thirty in the second, forty in the third, 
fifty in the fourth. If this is true, it shows the 
tendency of population to outrun subsistence. But 
of course it needs to be shown from experience that, 
while the strength of the desire remains the same in 
tin- Liter stages of the growth of population as in the 
earlier, the laboriousness of the labour is greater in 
tin- 1 iter stages of the increase of food than in the 
earlier. It is the plain truth, says Mai thus, that 
nature is niggardly in her gifts to man, and by no 
in cans keeps pace with his desires. If men would 

:y their desire of food at the old rate of speed, 
tli- v must exert their mind or their body much more 
than at first. 1 An obvious objection presents itself. 
in m's food consists after all of the lower forms of 
lit'.-, animal and vegetable, and since these admittedly 
tend to, unchecked by themselves, in a geo- 
metrical ratio, it might be thought that the increase 
of human population and the increase of its food 
muld j>n>err<l together, with equal ease. But the 
answ.-r is that this unchecked geometrical increase of 
thr first could go on only so long as there was room 
it It could only be true, for example, of wheat 
in the corn-fi'-M at th- timr whrii the seed of it was 
sown, an. 1 the ii -hi wtfl all before it. The equality 
ios would only be true of the first 

what U said of the cosmology of M.ilthus ahove, pp. 34 9eq. 


crop. 1 At first there might be five or sixfold the 
seed ; but in after years, though the geometrical 
increase from the seed would tend to be the same, 
there could be no geometrical increase of the total 
crop by unassisted nature. The earth has no tendency 
to increase its surface. There is a tendency of animals 
and vegetables to increase geometrically, in their 
quality of living things, but not in their quality of 
being food for man. The same amount of -produce 
might no doubt be gained on a fresh field, from the 
seed yielded by the first, and at the same geometrical 
rate ; but this assumes that there is a fresh field, 
and we should not then be at the proper stage to 
contrast the two ratios. The contrast begins to show 
itself as soon as the given quantity of land has grown 
its crop, and its animal and human population have 
used all its food. The question is then how any 
increase of the said population, if they are confined 
to their own supplies, is at all to be made possible ; 
the answer is, only by greater ingenuity and greater 
labour in the getting of food ; and, however possible 
this may be, it can hardly be so easy as the increase 
of living beings by their own act. 

The degree of disparity between the two will of 
course depend on the degree of rapidity with which 
an unchecked population is supposed to double itself. 
Sir William Petty, 2 with few trustworthy statistics, 

1 Or, keeping in view Mr. Carey's exception, we should say not perhaps 
the first crop, but the earliest in which the farmer did justice to the known 
resources of the best land. 

2 Political Arithmetic Essay on the Multiplication of Mankind, 1682, 
pp. 7, 13 seq., especially p. 21 (ed. 1755). 

CHAP, in.] THESES. C9 

had supposed ten years; Euler, with somewhat better, 
twelve and four-fifths; but Mai thus prefers to go by 
the safe figures of the American colonies, which he 
always regarded as a crucial proof that the period was 
not more than twenty-five. He admits the risk of his 
own mathematical simile when he grants that it is 
more easy to determine the rate of the natural increase 
of population than the rate of the increase of food 
which is in a much less degree natural (or spon- 
taneous) ; and he argues from what had been done in 
England in his own time that the increase would 
not even be in an arithmetical ratio, though agricul- 
tural improvement (thanks to Arthur Young and the 
Board of Agriculture, and the long reign of high 
prices) was raising the average produce very sensibly. 
If the Napoleonic times were the times of a forced 
population in England, they were also the times of 
a foi-erd agricultural production. Yet we ourselves, 
long after this stimulus, and after much high farm- 
mknown to our fathers, have reached only an 
ge produce of twenty-eight buslu-ls per acre of 
aral>!c land as com pan < I with twenty-three in 1770, 1 
\\hile the population has risen from about six millions 
to thirty-live. It may be said that applies only to 
lint until lately whrat-^rowin- was tin- chid' 
t of all our scientific agriculture; and this is 
lit f a eriitury's improvements. It is far 
an arithmetical inT. n had the 

prod; n nmliiplii nfold. al.n-- with the 

population, this would not overthrow the contention 

-.rJomeaC led Inter* 1880, p. 


of Malthus, for he is not speaking of any and every 
increase of food, but of such an increase made by 
the same methods and by the same kind of labour 
as raised the old supplies. 1 Once it is acknowledged 
that to raise new food requires greater labour and 
new inventions, while to bring new men into the 
world requires nothing more than in all times past, 
the disparity of the two is already admitted. The 
fact that the two processes are both dependent on the 
action of man, and both practically illimitable, does not 
prevent them from being essentially unlike. 2 Objec- 
tors often suppose that the tendency of population to 
outrun subsistence is contradicted by the existence of 
unpeopled or thinly-peopled countries, just as if the 
tendency of bodies to attract each other were con- 
tradicted by the incompressibility of matter. The 
important point to notice is that the one power is 
greater than the other. The one is to the other as 
the hare is to the tortoise in the fable. To make the 
slow tortoise win the race, we must send the hare to 
sleep. 3 

Carey (Social Science, vol. i. ch. iii. 5) represents 
the view of Malthus by the following propositions : 
1. "Matter tends to take upon itself higher forms," 
passing from inorganic to vegetable and animal life, 
and from these to man. 2. Matter tends to take on 
itself the vegetable and animal forms in an arithmetic 
ratio only. 3. It tends to take its highest form, man, 
in a geometrical ratio, so that the highest outstrips 

1 But see below, Bk. II. ch. i. 2 2n a e d., I. i. p. 8 ; 7th ed., p. 6. 
3 Essay, IV. iii., 7th ed., p. 407. 

CHAP, in.] THESES. 71 

the lowest. In short he believes that Malthus holds 
the geometrical increase to be true of man alone, and 
only the arithmetical to be true of animals and 
vegetables. But Malthus really attributed the 
tendency to geometrical increase to all life whatso- 
ever, and arithmetical to all food, as such. 

In Macvey Napier's Supplement to the Encyclopedia 
BrUnnnica (1824) Malthus has left his mature state- 
ment of his cardinal principles, and, at the risk of 
repetition, that account may be added here. The 
main difference from the essay is in arrangement of 
the leading ideas; and we may learn at least what 
he' conceived to be their relative importance towards 
the end of his life. 

He begins by observing (l) that all living things, 
of whatever kind, when furnished with their proper 
nourishment tend to increase in a geometrical ratio, 
whether (as wheat) by multiplying sixfold in one year, 
or (as sheep) by doubling their numbers in two years, 
tending to fill the earth, the one in fourteen, the other 
in seventy-six years. But (2) as a matter of fact they 
do not so increase, and the reason is either man's 
want of will or man's want of power to provide them 
their proper soil or pasture. The actual rate of 

use is extremely slow, while the power of in i 
is prodi-iuiis. (3) Physically man is as the rest; 
and it' we ask what is the factor of his geometrical 
186, We ''an "lily tell it, as in the case of \\hcat 

iheep,by experience. (4) In the case of other 

living beings, where there are most mom and f....d 

is greatest increase. These conditions are best 


fulfilled for man in the United States, where the 
distribution of wealth is better than in other equally 
fertile places, and the greater number share the 
advantages. The American census shows for the 
three decades between 1790 and 1820 a rate of 
increase that would double the numbers in 22^, 
22, and 23^ years respectively, after we deduct as 
immigrants ten thousand on an average every year. 

A striking indirect confirmation of this view of 
the American increase was supplied to Malthas l by 
Joshua Milne, the author of the Treatise on Annuities. 
His calculations were founded on the new Swedish 
table of mortality. This table had been drawn up 
from the registers of the first five years of the century, 
years of unusual healthiness ; and might therefore be 
presumed to represent the normal condition of a new 
and healthy country like the United States better 
than the old table drawn up from the years before 
sanitary reform and vaccination. Milne took the 
Swedish table as his guide, and one million of people 
as his unit of measurement ; he calculated in what 
proportions the component individuals of the million 
must belong to childhood, youth, mature life, and old 
age, in order that by the principles of the Swedish 
table the million might double itself by natural 
increase in twenty-five years ; and he arrived at a 
distribution so like that given by the American 
census, that he was bound to conclude the American 
rate of increase to be at the least very like one that 
doubles a population in twenty-five years. But the 

1 Encycl Brit., art. Population. Cf. Essay, 7th ed., p. 236 n. 


iish law of mortality could not be exactly true 
of the United States, which are healthier as a whole 
than Sweden even in Sweden's best years. 1 The 
United States themselves are not the very healthiest 
and wealthiest and happiest country conceivable ; 
ami their increase is therefore not the fastest con- 

ible. If the observed fact of increase is the best 
proof of the capacity for increase, the observed 
presence of checks leads to an a fortiori reasoning, 
whereby we infer the capacity for a greater inci 
than any actually observed. To sum up the whole of 
this first branch of the argument, "taking into 
consideration the actual rate of increase which app -ars 
from the best documents to have taken place over a 
very large extent of country in the United States of 
America, very variously circumstanced as to healthi- 
ness and rapidity of progress, considering further 
the rate of increase which has taken place in New 
Spain and also in many countries of Europe, where 
the means of supporting a family, and other circum- 
stances favouraltlc to increase, bear no comparison 
with those of the United States, and adverting 

iculnrly to the actual increase of population which 
has taken place in this country during the l.i>t twenty 
years 2 under the formidable ohstach-s which must 
press themselves upon the ;itt.-ntion <.f the most 

1 Sweden was a fu\ 

!'u rushed sound statistics. 1 unt .f tl 

1 <>un to 1880, and ita future, see M 

onth rOommoa .1. Soc., Dec. 1882). 

ill th.- li: 

;icreaGwa nidi M would l..ul.l.- tli. 
one years at the lea 17). 


careless observer, it must appear that the assumption 
of a rate of increase such as would double the popula- 
tion in twenty-five years, as representing the natural 
progress of population when not checked by the 
difficulty of procuring the means of subsistence or 
other peculiar causes of premature mortality, must 
be decidedly within the truth. , It may be safely 
asserted, therefore, that population when unchecked 
increases in a geometrical ratio of such a nature as to 
double itself every twenty-five years." l 

The problem is only half stated ; it is still to be 
shown what is the rate of the increase of Food. The 
case does not admit the same kind of proof. We 
can suppose an unchecked increase of men going 
on without any change in human nature ; we have 
only to suppose for the future the same encourage- 
ment to marriage and the same habits of life, to- 
gether with the same law of mortality. But with 
the increase of food the causes do not remain the 
same. If good land could be got in abundance, the 
increase of food from it would be in a geometrical 
ratio far greater than that of the men ; that of wheat, 
for example, would be sixfold, as we have seen. But 
good lauds are comparatively few ; they will in the 
nature of things soon be occupied ; and then the 
increase of the food will be a laborious process at a 
rate rather resembling a decreasing than an increasing 
geometrical ratio. " The yearly increment of food, at 
least, would have a constant tendency to diminish ; " 
and the amount of the increase in each successive ten 

1 Encyd. Brit., 1. c. 

CHAP, in.] THESES. 75 

years would probably be less and loss. In pra< 
the inequalities of distribution may check the in- 
crease of food with precisely- the same efficacy M 
actual arrival at the physical limits to the getting 
of the food. " A. man who is locked up in a room 
may fairly be said to be confined by the walls of it, 
though he may never touch them." 1 But the main 
point is, that, inequalities or no inequalities, there is 
a tendency to diminished productiveness. Under 
cither condition the quantity yielded this year will 
not be doubled or trebled for an indefinite period with 
the same ease as it was yielded this year. In a 
tolerably well-peopled country such as England or 
Germany the utmost might be an increase every 
twenty-five years equal to the present produce. But 
the continuance of this would mean that in the next 
two hundred years every farm should produce eight 
tinn-s \\hat it does now, or, in five hundred years, 
twenty times as mueh ; and even this is incredible, 
though it would be only an arithmetical progression. 
No doubt almost all parts of the eaith are now more 
thinly peopled than their capacities might allow ; but 
the difficulty is to use the capaeities. That this view<>f 
Malthu.s need not imply any ignorance or any disre- 
gard .f tin- resources of high farming may be jinl^rd 
IVnm tin- iaet that <>ur hi^he.-t airrieiilt ural authority, 
who reen^ni/rs the power of Kii<_di>h faming to 
vide on emergency even for our entire annual wants, 
admits at the same time that, "\\hrre full emplov- 
: and the m.-an^ of subsistence are abundant, 

IN. l.,p. 387. 

76 MALTlirs AND HIS WORK. [BK. I. 

population increases in geometrical progression, and 
therefore in a far more rapid proportion than the 
increased productiveness of the soil, which after a 
certain point is stationary." 1 "It follows necessarily" 
(sums up Mai th us) " that the average rate of the actual 
increase of population over the greatest part of the 
globe, obeying the same law as the increase of food, 
must be totally of a different character from the rate 
at which it would increase if unchecked." On no 
single farm could the produce be so increased as to 
keep pace with the geometrical increase of population ; 
and what is true of a single farm is true in this case 
of the whole earth. Machinery and invention can do 
less in agriculture than in manufacture, and they can 
never do so much as to make preventive checks 
unnecessary. 2 

This is the argument of the Encyclopedia so far as 
it relates to the theses of the essay. Mai thus follows 
it up by a remark on the institution of property. 
The alternatives to his mind are always private 
property as we now have it, and common property as 
desired by Godwin. He upholds the first because, 
" according to all past experience and the best observ- 
ation which can be made on the motives which operate 
upon the human mind," the largest produce from the 
soil is got by that system, and because (what is 
socially much more important), by making a man feel 
his responsibility and his dependence on his own 
efforts, it tends to cause prudence in marriage as well 
as industry in work. Common property has not 

1 Caird, Landed Interest, pp. 18, 46. - A'm-j/r/. Brit, 1. c. 

CHAP, in.] THESES. 77 

been successful, historically ; and tho widest extension 
of popular education would not make men the fii 

r it. There is indeed a sense in which common 
property might tend to carry production farther than 
private property ; cultivation, not being for profit but 

r mere living, would not, like the present, stop at the 
point \vhere production ceased to be a good invest- 
ment. But this would mean 1 that the whole energies 
of the society were directed to the mere getting of 
food ; neither the whole society nor any part of it 
wuM have leisure, for intellectual labour or enjoy- 
ment. Whereas private property not only secures 
the leisure, but, by stopping at the point of profit- 
ableness, it keeps an unused reserve, on which society 
may fall back in case of need. Malthus therefore 
wmiM Mand by private property, though he thinks 
that private proprietors may damage the national 
wealth by game-preserving, and injure the poorer 
classes by not spending enough on what they make. 2 

The actual increase of population (he goes on) and 
the necessity of checks to it depend on the difficulty 
of getting food, from whatever cause, whether the 
exhaustion of the earth or the bad structure of, 
society; and the difficulty is not for the remote 
future but for the present. 

I is rhi.-lly the contrast between the actual and 
the possible supplies that makrs nu-n incredulous 
about the necessity of checks ; and we may grant that 

1 Apart, he ought to have sail, fr-mi prudence in marriage, whi.-h 
would allow each man's share to be much more than a bare living. But 
see below, Bk. II. -1,. ii. 

* See below, Bk. II. ch 


under an ideal government, a perfect people, and 
faultless social system the produce would at first be 
so great that the necessity for checks on population 
would be very much reduced ; but, as the earth's 
productiveness does not expand with population, it 
would be a very short time before the pressure of the 
checks would reassert itself this time from no fault 
of man, but from the mere nature of the soil. 1 The 
bad government of our ancestors left much produce 
unused, and in consequence we have for the present 
a large margin to draw on. But, " if merely since the 
time of William the Conqueror all the nations of the 
earth had been well governed, and if the distribution 
of property and the habits both of the rich and the 
poor had been the most favourable to the demand for 
produce and labour, though the amount of food and 
population would have been prodigiously greater than 
at present, the means of diminishing the checks to 
population would unquestionably be less." 

But, though the laws of nature arc responsible for 
the necessity of checks to population, 2 " a vast mass of 
responsibility remains behind, on man and the insti- 
tutions of society." To them in the first place is due 
the scantiness of the present population of the earth, 
there being few parts of it that would not with better 
government and better morals support twice, ten 
times, or even one hundred times as many inhabitants 
as now. In the second place, though man cannot 

1 By the " law " of decreasing returns. See below, Bk. II. ch. i. 

2 Mr. Giffen, in the Address above quoted, speaks as if Malthus con- 
sidered the positive checks as the "natural checks" (p. 531). This, 
however, is against his distinct statement in Essay, 7th ed., App. p. 480. 

CHAP, in.] THESES. 79 

remove the necessity of checks, or even make them 
press much more lightly in any given place,i he is 
responsible for their precise character and particular 
mode of operation. A good government and good 
institutions can so direct them that they shall be 
hurtful to the general virtue and happiness, vice 
and misery disappearing before moral restraint, though 
after all the influence of government and institutions 
is indirect, and everything depends on the conduct of 
tin- individual citizens. 

The rest of the article contains little that is not 
in the Etsay on Population (5th ed., 1817) and the 
ise on Political Economy (1st ed., 1820). It 
gives the historical sketches of the former, some small 
part of the economical discussions (e.g. on wages) of 
tli latter, and a short answer to current objections, 
together with some tables of mortality and other 
figures, of more special interest to the professional 
actuary than to the general reader. The article is 
an authoritative summary of the author's doctrines in 
th. ir final form. It was not his last work. From 
the fact that he undertook the paper in Sept. 1821, 2 
we may perhaps iufer that he placed it in Macvey 
Naj.i.-r's hands in the year 1822. 8 But it was his 
last attempt to re-state the subject of the essay in 
an iipl-|,.-iplrMt f-Tin \vith anything approaching to 
fuln-> <>t d. t ail, and it shows he had made no change 

1 ThH IK probably the meaning ..f tli.- author's phrase, "alt 
proportion" ,..h,,k r the degree in which 

. prea up- i mber* " (Encydop., L c., p. 4 1 

See his letter of that date in Ma -r's Corrtipondenc*, p. 29. 

;.ublUhed till 1824. It WM certainly written afU-r the 
iwnlu of the Gaums of 1821 bad been published. 


in liis position. The Summary View of the Principle 
of Population (1830) was avowedly an abridgment 
of the article in the Encyclopedia, and is in fact 
that article with a few paragraphs omitted and a 
few pronouns altered. 

The clear statement of the two tendencies was, in 
his own eyes, the least original part of his work. It 
had been often perceived distinctly by other writers 
that population must always be kept down to the 
level of the means of subsistence. " Yet few inquiries 
have been made into the various modes by which this 
level is effected, and the principle has never been 
sufficiently pursued to its consequences, nor those 
practical inferences drawn from it which a strict 
examination of its effects on society appears to 
suggest." What some people would count the more 
interesting question remained to be considered the 
question that touches individuals and familiar circum- 
stances more nearly, and is not to be answered by a 
generality, from which we easily in thought except 
our own individual selves. Since, at any given time, 
in any given place, among any given people, there is 
(1) a tendency of population to outrun subsistence, 
and there is (2) no such excess as a matter of fact, 
in what way or ways is the tendency prevented from 
carrying itself out ? As was said above, 2 this is 
effected in two kinds of ways (l) by the way of 
a positive, (2) by the way of a preventive check, the 
former cutting down an actual population to the level 
'of its food, the second forbidding a population to 

1 Pref. to 2nd ed., pp. iv, v ; 7th ed., p. vi. 2 p. 52. 

CHAP, in.] THESES. 81 

I to be cut down, and being, so far as it is volun- 
tary, peculiar to man among living creatures. Of 
the positive, all those that come from the laws of 
nature may be called misery pure and simple; ami 
all those that men bring on themselves by wars, 
excesses, and avoidable troubles of all kinds are of a 
mixed character, their causes being vice and their 
consequences misery. Of the preventive, that restraint 
from marriage which is not accompanied by any 
immoral conduct on the part of the person restraining 

If or herself is called moral restraint. Any 

lint which is prudential and preventive, but 
immoral, comes under the head of vice, for every 
action may be so called which has "a general tendency 
to produce misery," however innocuous its immediate 
effects: 1 We find, therefore, that the positive and the 

ntive checks are all resolvable into vice, misery, 
and moral restraint, or sin, pain, and self-control, 
a threefold division that makes the second essay 
" dill'rr in principle " from the first. 2 

\Ve have here a t \\nfold alongside of a threefold 

ion of the checks to population. The one is 

made from an objective, the other from a subjective 

it of view. The division of checks (1) into posi- 

has regard simply to the outward 

population is in those two ways kept down 

to the food. Tin- division of tin -in (2) into vice, 

misery, and moral restraint btfl n -_r;nd t.. the human 

1 condition, the state of his 

ugs and of hi, will. For pM>itiv. 

. 2nd cd., p. 1 1 n ; 7th !.. } 9 n. 



cheek viewed subjectively, or from the human being's 
point of view, is the feeling of pain ; the will is not 
directly concerned with it. The preventive, from the 
same point of view, is of a less simple character. First 
of all, moral restraint involves a temporary misery or 
pain in the thwarting of a desire ; " considered as a 
restraint upon an inclination otherwise innocent and 
always natural, it must be allowed to produce a certain 
degree of temporary urihappiness, but evidently slight 
compared with the evils which result from any of 
the other checks to population," l and " merely 2 of the 
same nature as many other sacrifices of temporary 
to permanent gratification which it is the business 
of a moral agent continually to make." The reverse 
is true of vicious excesses and passions ; in their 
immediate gratification they are pleasant, but their 
permanent effects are misery. From the point of 
view of the will the case is clear, for the state of the 
will would be described by Malthus, if he ever used 
such terms, as in the one case good, and in the other 
case evil, pure and simple. Of course in treating the 
matter historically we may neglect the subjective 
point of view, not because it is not necessary for 
proper knowledge of the facts, but because it leads 
to a psychological inquiry, the results of which are 
independent of dates. 

Malthus goes on to say that, in all cases where 
there is the need for checks at all, it is the sum-total 
of all the preventive and positive checks that forms 
the check to population in any given country at any 
*& i 2nd ed. 3 Bk. I. cli. ii. p. 10. 2 Adds the 3rd ed. 

CHAP, in.] THESES. 83 

u time, 1 and his endeavour will be to show in 
what relative proportions and in what degree they 
.ail in various countries known to us. He assumes 
further that the preventive and the positive checks 
will " vary inversely as each other." In countries 
where the mortality is great the influence of the 
1'iwentive check will be small; and, where the pre- 

ive check prevails much, the positive check, or in 
brief the mortality, will be small. - 

In society, as it was in the first years of the nine- 
teenth century, Mai thus thinks he can trace out even 
by his own observation an " oscillation," or what it 
is the fashion to call a " cycle," in the movement of 
population. History does not show it well, simply 

use " the histories of mankind which we possess 
a iv in general only of the higher classes," 3 and it is 
the lain Hiring classes to which the observation applies. 
Their painful experience of the ruder checks has not 
ntrd a " ( -on-taut effort " in the labouring popu- 
lation to have larger families than they can well 
support. The consequence is that their numbers an> 
increased; they must divide amongst eleven and a 
half millions the food that was formerly divided 
among eleven millions; they must have lower wages 
and dearer provisions. But this state of dis: 
will so check population that in process of ti i,e the 
numbers will ! almost at a stand-till, while at 
same time, since tin- dnnund for f.M.d has Uvn or. 

i L, p. 21; 7th ed., p. 9. 3rd ed. I c. * 

ii ed, p. 10. Hit own book ha he|ed to make 
thi lea* true. 

O 2 


and labour has been cheaper, the application of capital 
to agriculture will have increased the available food. 
The result will be the same tolerable degree of comfort 
as at the beginning of the cycle, and the same relapse 
from it as at the second stage. He conceives the two 
stages to follow each other as naturally as sunshine 
rain and rain sunshine. The existence of such a 
cycle may remain concealed from the ordinary his- 
torian, if he looks merely to the money- wages of the 
labourer, for it frequently happens that the labourer 
gets the same sums of money for his wages during 
a long series of years when the real value of the sums 
has not remained the same, the price of bread in 
what we have called the second stage of the cycle 
being much dearer than it was in the first, and than 
it will be in the third. 1 Though Malthus expressly 
qualifies his statements by showing that civilization 
tends to counteract these fluctuations, it certainly 
seemed to be his belief in 1803 that on the whole 
the working classes of Europe, and especially of 
England, were powerless to escape from them. How 
far this view is justified will be seen presently. 

1 2nd ed., pp. 14, 15. With this description of the " cycle " compare 
the view of Marx as given below in Book IV. 




Simile supplanted by Fact Savage Life Population dependent not on 
possible but on actual Food Indirect Action of Positive Checks 
IIunjjLT not a Principle of Progress Otaheite a Crux for Common 
Sense Cycle in the Movement of Population Piteairn Island 
rbarian and Oriental Nomad Shepherds Abram and Lot 
;ibri and Teutones Gibjbon versus Montesquieu " At bay on the 
limits of the Universe " Misgovernment an indirect Check on Popu- 
lation Ancient Europe less populous than Modern Civilization 
the gradual Victory of the third Check. 

Tm: main position of the essay was so incontro- 

;l)lc, that when the critics despaired to convict 

Malthas of a paradox, they charged him with a 

truism. To the friendly Hallam l the mathematical 

basis of the argument appeared as certain as the 

multiplication table, and the unfriendly Hazlitt " did 

not see what there was to discover after reading the 

tal>lcs of Noah's descendants, and knowing that the 

world is round." 2 If the essayist had done nothing 

more than put half-truths together into a whole, he 

M have " entrenched himself in to impregnable 

i ess " and given his work a great " air of mastery." s 

But lie would have convinced the understanding 

M.irtineau, Autob., v..l. i. p. 210. 

p. 20. Cf. below, Book IV. 
Pref. to 2nd 


without convincing the imagination. Adam Smith 
himself would have done no more than half his work, 
if he had been content to prove the reasonableness of 
free trade without showing, in detail, the effect of it 
and its opposites. Even the most competent reader 
has seldom all the relevant facts marshalled in his 
memory, ready to command ; and he will always be 
thankful for illustrations. The Essay on Population 
in its second form certainly excelled all economical 
works, save one, in its pertinent examples from life 
and history. 

Imagination in the narrower sense of the word is 
to be out of court. Malthus, like Adam Smith, not 
only leaves little to his reader's fancy, but makes 
little use of his own. His own had misled his readers 
in the first essay, though it had certainly given that 
little book much of its piquancy ; and he resolves for 
the sake of truth to chain it up, as Coleridge chained 
up his understanding. The self-denying ordinance 
is only too fully executed. The style of his essay 
is truly described by himself 1 as having gradually 
" lost all pretensions to merit." Edition follows 
edition, each with its footnotes, supplements, re- 
arrangements, and corrections, till the reader feels that 
this writer " would be clearer if he were not so clear." 

But the title-page supplies a guiding thread. From 
the second edition onwards to the last, "Past" and 
" Present " appear in large letters, " Future " in small. 
The entire work may therefore be divided according to 
the three tenses, with the emphasis on the two former. 

1 2od ed., Pref. p. vi. True even then, and much more afterwards. 


The first book is devoted to the past, the second to 
the present, and the third and fourth to the future. 

The First deals with the less civilized parts of the 
w< >rld as it now is, and the uncivilized past times ; 
the Second with the different states of modern 
Europe ; the Third criticizes popular schemes of future 
improvement ; while the Fourth gives the author's 
own views of the possible progress of humanity. 

After explaining his principles, Multhus takes a 
survey of human progress, if not from brute to savage, 
at least from savage to citizen. He shows us how 
the rude and simple positive checks become compli- 

1 with the preventive ; and he leads us up from 
barbarism to civilization till we find ourselves in a 
society where the citizens think less of check than of 
clik-f end, and less of self-sacrifice than of self-devo- 
tion, to some cause or person, and even the inferior 
members act, at worst, from mixed motives, containing 
good as \\cll as evil These are the two extreme ends 
of his line. It would be useless to deny that he 

rs longest over the less pleasing, and gives Godwin 
some excuse for questioning his logical right to believe 
jn the more pi- it all. 1 At the same time it 

would have been (even logically) impossible for him 
t< haw attacked Godwin for taking abstract views 
<f human nature, and then to lia\v persisted in an 
ion of his own, after all his own Europan 

1 ami historical studies. His fault had lain in 

stive )'i' niises, not in false reasoning; and he 

dies the fault. 

1 Godwin, On Population, I. 


Let us take his account in his own order. Be- 
ginning with present savagery, which with some 
qualifications is a picture of our own past, he sifts 
out the descriptions of Cook, Vancouver, and other 
travellers, to see what checks to population operate 
in different grades of savage humanity. At the very 
bottom of the scale conies Tierra del Fuego, by 
general consent the abode of pure misery, and there- 
fore naturally the home of a sparse population. Next 
come the natives of the Andaman Islands and of 
Van Diemen's Land. " Their whole time is spent in 
search of food," which consists of the raw products of 
the soil and sea ; the whole time of every individual 
is devoted to this one labour, and there is neither 
room nor inducement for any other industries. Vice 
is hardly needed ; misery in the shape of perpetual 
scarcity and famine keeps down the people to the food. 
Third in the scale of human beings are the New 
Hollanders, the original inhabitants of North- West 
Australia, among whom can be traced not only the 
check of misery, but the check of vice. The women 
are so cruelly treated at all times, and the children 
have so harsh an upbringing, that there is no difficulty. 
in understanding how population does not even reach 
the full* limit of the scanty food. War and pestilence 
make the assurance doubly sure. As savages are 
entirely innocent of sanitary science, the dirt of their 
persons and their houses deprives them of " the 
advantage which usually attends a thinly-peopled 
country," comparative exemption from pestilence. 1 

1 2nd ed., p. 31 ; 7th ed., p. 23. 


Even the North American Indians, who are one step 
higher than the New Hollanders, come under the 
same condemnation for overcrowding, and for much 
else besides. The account which Malthas gives of 
them may be compared with that of De Tocqueville 
half a century later. Romance has clung to them 
only because they were the nearest and best-known 
savages of their kind, and their necessary labours 
were in Europe rich men's pleasures. But hunting 
and river-fishing cannot yield much food unless pur- 
sued over a wide area. A hunter is so far like the 
t of prey which he pursues, that he must go long 
distances for his food, and must either fly from or 
overcome every rival. The North American Indian 
must therefore either go West after his old food, or 
else he must stay where he is, to beat off the 
Europeans, or to adopt their food and their habits. 
" Tli' 1 Indians have only two ways of saving them- 
selves, war and civilization. They must either 
destroy the Europeans or become their equals." l As 
the civilization of a nation of hunters is almost 
impoeaible, their extinction seems inevitable The 
question remains, How is this population cut down 
to the level of its food ? 

In Malthas' answer to the question occur three 
remarks of great general importance. First, what 
limits tin.- numbers of a people is not the possible 
but the actual food. 2 Second, want destroys a 

1 DAnocratie en Ameri^>\ I't. II. ],. x. p. 278. Tl><> uuth.. r is in 
thor.i ,,H. 

1 2ndc.i i., ],. 28. 


population less often directly by starvation than 
indirectly through the medium of manners and 
customs. 1 Third, the mere pressure of impending 
starvation does not lead to progress. 2 

Malthus is never tired of insisting on the first of these 
remarks ; and a proper understanding of it is essential 
to a fair judgment on his doctrine. He never says 
that it is the tendency of a population to increase up 
to the limits of the greatest possible amount of food 
that can be produced in a given country. The valley 
of the Mississippi when highly cultivated may possibly 
support a hundred millions ; but the question is not 
what it would do when highly cultivated, but what 
it can do when cultivated as it now is and as men 
now are. " In a general view of the American 
continent as described by historians, the population 
seems to have been spread over the surface very 
nearly in proportion to the quantity of food which 
the inhabitants of the different parts in the actual 
state of their industry and improvements could as a 
matter of fact obtain ; arid that with few exceptions 
it pressed hard against this limit, rather than fell short 
of it, appears from the frequent recurrence of distress 
for want of food in all parts of America." 3 What is 
said here of the Indians a hundred years ago applies 
to the Colonists now. " The actual state of industry " 
is of course a much more improved one ; but the 
population the land will bear is still in propor- 
tion to it, and the amount could not have been 

1 2nd ed., p. 25; 7th ed., p. 18. 2 Ibid. p. 43; 7th ed., p. 31. 
3 Ibid. p. 39; 7th ed., p. 28. 


increased till the actual state of the industry had first 
been bettered. One cause of the decay of the numbers 
of the Indians was that their method of industry, so 
far from becoming better, became worse by their con- 
tact with Europeans, and therefore the limit of popula- 
tion was actually contracted instead of being extended. 1 
This explains how it is that their diminishing numbers 
do not bring them greater comfort. Whether the 
numbers in any given case are too great or too small 
depends always on the quantity of the food that is 
divided among them ; and, where the food decreases 
faster than the population, a population that has 
become smaller numerically becomes actually larger 
in proportion to the food. The statement that 
^land or any other country could bear millions 
more than it does now is a mere reference to un- 
explored possibilities, landing us in the infinite. It 
may be answered in the same way as the Eleatic 
puzzles about motion ; land infinitely improvable 
does not mean land infinitely improved, as matter 
infinitely divisible does not mean matter infinitely 
divided. The position of Malt 1ms is therefore as 
follows: given a peopl. -'s skill, and given its stand- 
ard of living at any time, its numbers are always 
tending to lie the utmost that can be furnished by 
that skill with a living up to that standard, that is 
to say, with what, according to that standard, arc the 
necessaries of human life. Kit her a diminution of 
that skill or an increase in that standard would cause 
population. The question is always a relative one. 

1 2nded., p. 44; 7th tdL, j>. 3i. 


The human as distinguished from the animal 
character of the problem appears not only in that 
relativity (which affects mainly the preventive checks), 
but in the indirect way in which the positive checks, 
if we may say so, prefer to act. It is as if they 
were always desirous of resolving themselves as far 
as might be into preventive. The ultimate check, 
Mai thus says, is starvation ; but, he adds, it is seldom 
the immediate one. The higher up we go in the 
scale, the more it is hidden away out of sight. Starv- 
ation is interpreted, by all grades of society above 
the lowest, to mean the loss of what they conceive to 
be the necessaries not of a bare living but of endur- 
able life ; and even the lowest, instead of apprehending 
some pain, apprehend some bringer of it. They do 
not allow famine to kill them ; they create manners 
and customs that do the work for it, keeping the 
famine itself afar off. " Both theory and experience 
uniformly instruct us that a less abundant supply of 
food operates with a gradually increasing pressure for 
a very long time before its progress is stopped. It is 
difficult indeed to conceive a more tremendous shock 
to society than the event of its coming at once to the 
limits of the means of subsistence, with all the habits 
of abundance and early marriages, which accompany a 
largely increasing population. But, happily for man- 
kind, this never is nor ever can be the case. The 
event is provided for by the concurrent interests and 
feelings of individuals long before it arrives ; and the 
gradual diminution of the real wages of the labouring 
classes of society slowly and almost insensibly generates 


the habits necessary for an order of things in which 
the funds for the maintenance of labour are stationary. 
. . . The causes [of the retardation of population] 
will be generally felt and [will] generate a change of 
habits long before the period arrives." l "An insuffi- 
cient supply of food to any people does not show 
itself merely in the shape of famine, but in other 
more permanent forms of distress, and in generating 

in customs which operate sometimes with greater 
force in the prevention of a rising population " than in 
the destruction of the risen. 2 Robertson the historian 
truly says, that whether civilization has improved 
the lot of men may be doubtful, but it has certainly 
improved the condition of women. Among the Indians 
and almost all savages, " servitude is a name too mild 
to describe their wretched state." The hard life of 
the men kills their instinctive fondness for the women ; 
the latter are therefore less likely to become mothers, 
while, if they do, their own hardships and heavy tasks 

i great hindrance to nursing. It is not surprising 
that the surviving < -liildivn are of good physique ; 
none but the exceptionally strong could weather tin*. 
cruel discipline of childhood. 3 In South America 
the difficulty of upbringing actually led to an en- 
forced monogamy, as well as to lat<> marriages and 
tln-ir imt imfiv.ju.-nt accompaniment, invpdaritirs 
befon marriage. Su< h customs diminish numb is. 
But even tin- adult savages do not find life easy. 
They are not the men to think of providing for a 

' M , < rr., July IftCH, p. 34ft. 

Euay, 2n.l ML, i>. 25; 7th ed., p. 18. Ibid. p. 29; 7th i-,l., p. 21. 


rainy day ; in the short moments of plenty they do 
not think of the long days of want. Intemperate 
living as well as the rigour and the accidents of a 
hunting life cut off numbers in their prime. They 
are subject to diseases and invent no remedies. Their 
acquiescence in dirt leads to pestilences, but they in- 
vent no sanitary reforms ; and their thinly -peopled 
country loses its natural exemption from epidemics. 
Their wars are internecine, for they are largely 
prompted by sheer self-preservation, and the thought 
that if the one combatant lives the other cannot. 
Cannibalism itself was at first due to extreme want, 
though what occasional hunger had begun, hate per- 
petuated in a custom. This and the low cunning 
and mean strategy, due to a resolve to survive at 
all costs, are the prime inventions of the struggle^ for 
existence on these low levels. 

Such are the causes by which the numbers of the 
North American Indians are kept down to a very low 
figure ; but, low as it is, the figure is high enough for 
the food. Apart from a difference in the standard of 
living, the proportion of population to food is similar 
over the inhabited world ; and in the same neigh- 
bourhood or among cognate races it will be almost 
identical. A diminution in one Indian tribe, not 
being voluntary, will not be the cause of plenty to 
the survivors ; it has been the effect of want, and it 
will simply weaken the collective force of the tribe 
in the struggle against others. 1 

The supremacy of want as the ultimate check on 

1 2nd ed., pp. 37, 45 ; 7th ed., pp. 27, 32. 


population is illustrated by the instant expansion of 
population which is produced in these grades of 
humanity by an accession of plenty. When a tribe 
falls upon fertile land, its numbers swell, and its col- 
lective might, depending on numbers, becomes greater. 
The increase of food, however, seems in this case to 
I'-a-l to nothing else than increase of numbers. There 
is a melancholy equality of suffering between tribe and 
tribe, as well as between members of the same tribe. 
There is no distinction of rank, but only of sex and 
bodily strength, as regards endurance of hardships. 

It is in this connection that Mai thus throws some 
light on the question how progress could ever take 
place at all. His answer is not unlike Adam Smith's 
remark about the connection of high wages with good 
work, lie says, that beyond a certain limit, hard 
fare and great want depress men below the very 
capacity of improvement ; comfort must reach a 
certain height before the desires of civilized life can 
come into being at all. If the American tribes, he 
says, have remained hunters, it is not simply because 
they have not increased in numbers sufficiently to 
render the pastoral or agricultural state necessary to 
them. Reasons which Malthas does not pretend to 
icnlarise, 1 and which he allows to be unconnected 
with mere increase or decrease of numbers, have pre- 
vented these tribes from ever trying to raise cat th- 
row corn at all. "If hunger alone coul<l have 
]T >nij>t <1 the savage tribes of America to such a 

1 Th ..u-li, like Coleridge (MS. note in another place), he m. 

bran ly. 


change in their habits. I do not conceive that there 

O ' 

would have been a single nation of hunters and fishers 
remaining ; but it is evident that some fortunate 
train of circumstances, in addition to this stimulus, 
is necessary for this purpose ; and it is undoubtedly 
probable that these arts of obtaining food will be first 
invented and improved in those spots which are best 
suited to them, and where the natural fertility of the 
situation, by allowing a greater number of people to 
subsist together, would give the fairest chance to the 
inventive powers of the human mind." " A certain 
degree of [political] security is perhaps still more 
necessary than richness of soil to encourage the change 
from the pastoral to the agricultural state." These 
passages are remarkable because they seem to con- 
tradict the general tenor of the author's writings. 
We were told with great emphasis in the first edition 
of the essay that difficulties generate talents, 2 and 
even the second and later are full of approving com- 
mentaries on the proverb, " Necessity is the mother 
of invention." 3 The contradiction is soon solved. 
Mai thus has no faith in the civilizing power of com- 
petition when it means a struggle among starved 
men for bare life, but much faith in it when it means 
the struggle for greater comfort among those who 
already have the animal necessaries. 4 The signifi- 

1 2nd ed., pp. 43, 92; 7th ed., pp. 31, 64. Cf. I. vi., 2nd ed., p. 82 n. ; 
7th ed., p. 57 n. 

2 See above, pp. 35, 36. 

3 E.g. 2nd ed., II. ii. 199; 7th ed., p. 135. 

4 Compare the roggestive remarks of Rogers, Six Centuries, pp. 270, 
271. He thinks that a movement like could not have 
succeeded in times of utter depression. 


cance of his admissions will be noticed later. Mean- 
while it must be observed that the passage just 
quoted is not perfectly precise. The larger the 
society, the greater might be the division of labour 
ami consequent stimulus to invention ; but a tribe 
might be large and yet have little in it of a society, 
and still less of a division of labour. Without 
such favouring circumstances as Malthus mentions 
the progress cannot take place ; but even with them 
it need not ; they are therefore not the real motive 

The account of the state of population among the 
South Sea Islanders, 1 which comes next in order to 
the chapter on the American Indians, is an illustration 
of these remarks. These savages live in a fertile 
country and yet they make no progress. As this 
is not the only point illustrated, it is worth while 
to look at the chapter in detail. 

Malthus begins by observing that population must 
not be thought more subject to checks on an island 
than on a continent. The Abbd Raynal, in his book 
on the Indies, had tried to explain a number of 
modem customs that retarded population * by r 

them to an insular origin. He thought that 

were caused at first by the over-population 

of Dritnin and other islands, and were imported 

in into tin* continents, to the perplexity of 

r ages. But as a matter of fact population on 

n lands is subject to the same laws as on 

ml*, though the limits are not so obvious to 

<ny, Book I h. v. * E. g. r. . and late nrnrriagM, 


common observation, and the case is not put so neatly 
in a nutshell. A nation on the continent may be as 
completely surrounded by its enemies or its rivals, 
savage or civilized, as any islanders by the sea ; and 
emigration may be as difficult in the one case as in the 
other. Both continent and island are peopled up to 
their actual produce. " There is probably no island 
yet known, the produce of which could not be further 
increased. This is all that can be said of the whole 
earth. Both are peopled up to their actual produce. 
And the whole earth is in this respect like an island." 1 
The earth is indeed more isolated than any island of 
the sea, for no emigration from it is possible. The 
question, therefore, to be asked about the whole earth 
as about any part of it, is, " By what means the 
inhabitants are reduced to such numbers as it can 
support ? " 

This was the question which forced itself on Captain 
Cook when he visited the islands of the Pacific and 
Indian Oceans. Some of his experiences there, espe- 
cially in New Zealand, show that the native popu- 
lation was kept down in nearly the same way as the 
American. Their chief peculiarity is the extreme 
violence of their local feuds. The people of every 
village he visited petitioned him to destroy the 
people of the next, ami " if I had listened to them 
I should have extirpated the whole race." A sense 
of human kinship is impossible at so low a level 
of being ; and the internecine wars of the New 
Zealanders were the chief check to their numbers, 

1 2nd cd., p. 46 ; 7th ed., p. 33. Cf. pp. 290 and 339. 


which, from the distressing effects of occasional 
ities, would seem always at the best to have 
been close to the limits of the food. 

The first impression of common sense is that dis- 
tress is natural where food is scanty, and unnatural 
where it is plentiful. But "if we turn our eyes from 
the thinly-scattered inhabitants of New Zealand to the 
led shores of Otaheite and the Society Islands" 
find no such phenomenon. "All apprehension 
of death seems at first sight to be banished from a 
country that is described to be fruitful as the garden 
of the Hesperides." But reflection tells us that 
happiness and plenty are the most powerful causes 
of increase. We might, therefore, expect a large 
population in Otaheite; at its first start it might 
double itself not in twenty -five but in fifteen years. 
tin Cook estimated it (on his second voyage in 
1773) as 204,000. How could a country about one 
hundred and twenty miles in circuit support an 
increase that doubled these numbers in twenty-live 
years? Emigration is impossible, for the other 
islands are in the same situation. Further cultiva- 
tion is inadequate, for scientific invention is quite 
ing. The answer is that the increase does not 
take place, and yet there is no miracle. Licentious- 
ness among the higher classes, and infanticide 
amongst all classes, are freely practised. The free 
permission of infant'n -Me no doubt, as Hume remarks, 1 
tends as a rule rather to increase than to diminish 

1 In oyj, vol. I, Essay XL, rojntbnune* of Ancient Nations, p. 


11 - 


population, for "by removing the terrors of too 
numerous a family it would engage many people in 
marriage," and such is the force of natural affection, 
that comparatively few parents would carry out their 
first intentions. But in Otaheite in its old state 
custom had made infanticide easy, and it was a real 
check. War against other islands was a third check, 
frequently destroying the food as well as the people, 
thus striking down two generations at once. All 
these checks notwithstanding, the population was up 
to the level of the food, and there was as much 
scarcity and keen distress as on any barren island. 

Such at least was the state of things discovered by 
Captain Cook in his three voyages (the last in 1778) 
and Captain Vancouver (in 1791). On the other hand, 
the author of A Missionary Voyage to the South Pacific 
Ocean in 1796-8 (London, 1799) found a people very 
scanty as compared with the food. The accuracy of 
both accounts is borne out by the description of the 
habits of the people at these two periods. Captain 
Cook says they were careful to save up every scrap of 
food, and yet suffered often from famine. The mission- 
aries observe the frequency of famine in the Friendly 
Islands and the Marquesas, but say of the Otaheitans 
that they are extremely wasteful, and yet never seem 
to be in want. Even in the intervals between one 
of Cook's voyages and another the state of the island 
had altered. Mai thus sees here an illustration of two 
facts. The one is that, apart from changes in the 
standard of living, population fluctuates between 
great excess and great defect, great numbers with 


great mortality, and great comfort with rapid multi- 
plication of numbers. The other, which explains the 
first, is that any cause affecting population, either 
towards increase or towards decrease, continues to 

for some time after the disappearance of the 
circumstances that first occasioned it. For example, 
over-populousness would lead to wars, 1 and the 
enmities of these wars would long survive their first 
occasion. Again, over-populousness would lead to 
greater infanticide and vice, which would become 
habitual. New circumstances would, no doubt, after 
a time bring new habits, and, to use the author's 
words, would "restore the population, which could not 
long be kept below its natural level without the most 
extreme violence. How far European contact may 
operate in Otaheite with this extreme violence and 

ont it from recovering its former population is a 
point which experience only can determine. But, 
should this be the case, I have no doubt that on 

ing the causes of it, we should find them to be 
aggravated vice and misery." 1 As a matter of fact 

r European contact has caused a diminution, or 
exactor inquiry has made a lower estimate of the 
population of all P . The people of the whole 

Society Islands is reckoned at between 15,000 and 
18,000, s which is a long way from Cook's estimate 
of 204,000 for Otaheite alone. We can hardly 

however, that t and misery of Ota: 

are more than ten times as great as they wei 

f. Plato, R*pt), 41. 

Behm and Wagner (Berdlk. d. Erie, 1882) gire it at 10,300. 


1773 ; and perhaps we may suppose Mai thus to mean 
that, if the European influences were of the same 
character at the end as they were at the beginning, 
and were as pernicious to the Polynesian as to the 
Red Indian, the language of pessimism would be 
justified. The passage at least shows how unfair it 
is to suppose Malthus to desire at all costs a small 
population ; he is careful to say that, while vice in 
Otaheite by reducing the numbers caused a transient 
plenty among the survivors, still " a cause which may 
prevent any particular evil may be beyond comparison 
worse than the evil itself." l Life itself may be 
bought too dear. 

No good is done, however, by denying that ex- 
cessive numbers are an evil, or by optimistic asser- 
tion that if men are only good they will be happy. 
There is at least one Polynesian island whose past 
history gives a picturesque proof of the contrary. 
Pitcairn, " the lonely isle of the Mutineers/' was a 
moral contrast to Otaheite. The inhabitants owed 
nothing good to their parents, who were the muti- 
neers of H.M.S. * Bounty/ and the women of Otaheite 
that came with them in 1790, when they first took 
refuge in Pitcairn Island. They owed all to the 
religious teaching of John Adams, which made them 
so good, that there were few like them on the 
earth. 2 But in latitudes just touching the tropics, 
with a single square mile of poor soil, surrounded 
by wide ocean, they had no outlet for trade and 

1 2nd ed., p. 57 n.; 7th ed., p. 40 n. 

2 Rrport of Admiral D'Horssy to the Admiralty, 1878. 


modern arts. Like the inhabitants of Godwin's 
t'lopia, 1 they soon peopled the little country to the 
full extent of the food that could be got by the old 
methods, and, unlike the Utopians, they had not 
skill to invent new. If they had not drawn the 
line for themselves, misery would have done it for 
them. Their little colony at its first founding con- 

1 of fifteen men and twelve women. Fourteen 
men and many women died off in the course of the 
ten years which passed before the time of moral 
regeneration. But they left many children; and, 
win -11 the patriarch John Adams was visited by a 
passing ship in 1814, he was surrounded by a happy 

of devout families. Rapidly outgrowing the 
resources of the place, these simple folk removed in 
1831 to Tahiti, eighty-seven strong. Some remained 
there ; others had no pleasure in their new abode, 
and came back to suffer affliction with the people 
of God, believing with Mai thus that "a cause which 
may prevent any particular evil may be beyond all 
comparison worse than the evil itself." The evil \ 

. however, and, in default of celibacy or new ways 
of luvad winning, t heir only cure seemed emigration. 
So in 1855, Tahiti seeming im-li^iMe, they jouni 
further west to Norfolk I>land. Thui;_rh there are 
more than four hundred and forty to the square 
mile in England and Wales, two hundred i" "pie of 
j.ii'iiitive sort had been certainly too many for 
the single square mile of Pite.-uni Island ; and they 
did not i moment too soon, ll-in Bid 

Seoab- 7, 18. 


brought back two entire families (of seventeen 
persons) in 1859. One or two stray travellers joined 
them five years afterwards ; but, with allowance for 
these, we find that the increase of population on Pit- 
cairn Island reaches the highest estimate of Malthus. 
When the English Admiral D'Horsey visited the 
place in 1878, the quarter of a hundred had grown in 
nineteen years, at the moderate cost of twelve deaths, 
to a population of ninety 1 persons. The primeval 
virtues will avail little without the modern arts. 

Returning to Malthus, we find him following an 
order of his own, in rough conformity with the 
orthodox progress from deer to sheep, and from 
sheep to corn. He takes us from Polynesian savages 
to the nomad pastoral nations of ancient Europe. 2 
The vast migrations and their momentous historical 
effects he ascribes to the " constant tendency in the 
human race to increase " beyond its food, and thinks 
that when history has been rewritten it will contain 
more of this. 3 " The misfortune of history is, that 
while the particular motives of a few princes and 
leaders are sometimes detailed with accuracy, the 
general causes which crowd their standards with 
willing followers are totally overlooked." 4 At first 
sight the phenomenon of civilized agricultural 
nations unable to repel the invasion of shepherds 
seems incredible ; a country in pasture cannot 
possibly support so many inhabitants as a country 

1 Behm and Wagner say ninety-three. 

2 Essay, Book I. ch. vi. 3 See above, p. 83. 

* 2nd ed., p. 68 n. ; 3rd ed., p. 115 n. He afterwards altered " totally " 
to often entirely," 7th ed., p. 47 n. 


iii tillage. A shepherd, it is true, is nearer to the 
skilled labourer than a hunter ; he does not simply 
take what nature gives him, where nature puts it ; 
he keeps the desired objects of consumption under 
his own control, and his life is stronger because more 
social. Early African colonization, as Adam Smith 
pointed out, was less successful than early American, 
because the natives, being shepherds and even farmers 
rather than fishermen, were stronger in their resources 
and more united than the American aborigines, so 
that the European intruders were not able to displace 
them. 1 We should have expected the Scythian, 
( 'imbrian, and Gothic invaders of ancient times to 
had a similar rebuff. "But what renders 
nations of shepherds so formidable is the power 
\\lii.h they possess of moving altogether, and the 
necessity they frequently feel of exerting this power 
in search of fresh pasture for their herds."' They 
always in their breeding stock a reserve of food 
f<>r an emergency. The mere consciousness that tli< ir 
mode of life does not bind them to one place gives 
them less anxiety about providing for a family. 
efore, when they exhaust one region and begin 
to feel the pinch of want, they make an armed 
^ration on the scale of whole tribes at once, for 
tin- o< < nji.ition of more fruitful regions, and, as a rule, 
the conquest of them by force. The law of tin ir life 
is a series of periodical "struggles for existence" 8 
between one nation and another, in \\hi.-h the fittest 

Nation*, Book IV. cli. M ,,. 286 (ed. MacC.). 

2nded., p. 66; 7th .,1. p. 46. 
J His own word : 2nd ed., p. 07 ; 7th 1 . ; 


survive at the cost of a prodigious waste of human 

The milder initial stage of this process is illustrated 
by the separation of Abram and Lot in the book of 
Genesis. 1 Abram "was very rich in cattle." "Lot also 
had flocks and herds and tents. And the land was 
not able to bear them that they might dwell together, 
for their substance was great, so that they could not 
dwell together. And there was a strife between the 
herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's 
cattle." They agreed, therefore, to separate, Lot choos- 
ing the fertile valley of the Jordan, Abram going to 
the left into the land of Canaan. Migrations of the 
same sort, more or less peaceable, are described by 
modern writers as extending the Russian people from 
time to time farther and farther to the south and 
east. 2 In the instances best known to history the 
migrations were far from peaceable, and the puzzle 
has been to account for their recurrence. The 
slaughter of the German barbarians by Marius, 
Caesar, Drusus, Tiberius, Germanicus did not prevent 
the reappearance of similar hordes of invaders a 
generation later. Claudius destroyed a quarter of a 
million of Goths ; Aurelian and Probus had the same 
work to do again. Under Diocletian the barbarians, 
finding the conquest of Rome too much for them, 
slaughtered one another in frontier wars. No losses 
seemed to exhaust the permanent possibilities of 
population in those quarters. At last in the fourth 

1 Gen. xiii. 1 9. Essay, 2nd ed, p. 65 ; 7th el., p. 45. 

2 See e. g. Mackenzie Wallace : Russia, vol. ii. pp. 48, 90, &c. 


century " clouds of barbarians seemed to collect from 
all parts of the northern hemisphere. Gathering 
fresh darkness and terror as they rolled on, the 
congregated bodies at length obscured the sun of 
Italy and sunk the Western world in night." 1 

Why were the resources of the North so inex- 
haustible ? Simply because the power of increase is 
inexhaustible. The North was not, it is true, more 
densely peopled then than now. "The climate of 
ancient Germany has been mollified and the soil 
fertilized by the labour of ten centuries from the 
time of Charlemagne. The same extent of ground 
which at present maintains in ease and plenty a 
million of husbandmen and artificers, was unable to 
supply a hundred thousand lazy warriors with the 
simple necessaries of life. The Germans abandoned 
their immense forests to the exercise of hunting, 
cm ployed in pasturage the most considerable part 
of their lands, bestowed on the small remainder a 
rude and careless cultivation, and then accused the 
ss and sterility of a country that refused to 
maintain the multitude of its inhabitants. When 
the return of famine severely admonished them of 
the importance of the arts, the national distress 
was sometimes alleviated l.y the emigration of a 
third, perhaps, or a fourth part of their youth." In 
short, the countries were more than fully ]" 
up to their actual prndncc ; ami, though by agri- 
culture the actual ]>n>duce would have been made 
gre t agriculture was not extended. The 

1 Bsxty, 2nl , -,!.. ],. , 1.. ],],. :,o :,i. ? G 


passion of the Germans for wine did not lead them 
to plant vineyards by the Khine and Danube, but 
to rob the vintage of Italy. " Pigrum quin immo 
et iners videtur sudore acquirere quod possis sanguine 
parare." 1 Malthus supposes that even the Mark 
system of land-holding, with its absence of cities 
and its periodical redistributions of land, may have 
sprung from a political motive, the fear of accustom- 
ing the people to a settled agricultural life, and the 
desire to make emigration less irksome to them. 2 So 
long as there were weaker peoples to be plundered, the 
northern nations might freely double their numbers 
every twenty -five years, or oftener, and descend again 
on Italy and the South. Only when the whole was 
occupied by their own people who were not likely to 
be less stout for defence than for conquest, were the 
hordes forced back. Not perhaps till gunpowder was 
invented was Europe finally safe against them. Long 
after their last inland invasions, the Norsemen found 
their way by sea to the shores of England and France. 
Gibbon's account of the matter is, according to 
Malthus, substantially true. The only flaw is that 
he thinks it necessary, in denying the greater popu- 
lousness of North Europe in ancient times, to deny 
the possibility of a rapid increase of population. 3 The 
German people were on the whole virtuous and 
healthy in their manners of living, and, the checks 
to increase being mainly the positive ones of war 
and famine, the increase itself was prodigious. But 

1 Tacitus, Germ. 14. 2 2nd ed., pp. 74, 77; 7th ed., pp. 52, 53. 
3 Ch. ix. 176: "indeed the impossibility of the supposition." 


Gibbon is greatly in advance of Montesquieu, who 
believes with Sir William Temple, Mariana, and 
Machiavelli, that the northern countries were, as a 
matter of fact, more densely peopled then than they 
art' now, and that, further, when the Romans repelled 
till-in, a huge multitude was driven far north and 
remained there biding its time. The same (says 
M>ntesquieu) happened under Charlemagne, and 
would happen again if a modern prince were to 
make the same ravages in Europe ; " the nations 
repulsed to the north, backed against the limits of 
the universe, would there make a firm stand, till the 
moment when they would inundate and conquer 
Europe a third time." * We are to suppose these 
immense multitudes living "at the limits of the 
universe " on ice and air for some hundreds of years. 
If this is to answer to the question-begging question, 
why the North is less fully peopled than it once 
was, it involves a miracle. But nothing more super- 
natural than ordinary laws is really needed to explain 

movements of past. .ml nations a thousand years 
ago. They are the same that govern the Tartars and 

>uins now. 2 

In the modern nomads, 8 it is true, the compara- 
tive simplicity of the circumstances and the com- 

tive thoroughness of our knowledge about them, 
enable us to see plainly that the loeal distribution 
of the people is in strict accordance with the local 

ribution of the food, in other words, with 

.twfetir ct Decadence de* Romain* eh. xvi. p. 138, l. 1876. 
1 -Eaay, 2nd el., j> 7'- ; 7th cd., p. 63. Ibid. Bk. 1. . -h. 


" the quantity of food the people can obtain in the 
actual state of their industry and habits. " We 
should see the same thing of the rest of the world's 
inhabitants, if the complicated commerce of civilized 
nations did not make it less gross and palpable. The 
power of the earth to support life may be compared 
with the power of a horse to carry burdens. He is 
strong in proportion to the strength of his weakest 
part, as a chain to the strength of its weakest link ; 
and the earth's powers of nourishment are great in 
proportion to their greatness in the worst seasons of 
the year. 1 Again, owing to imperfect facilities for 
distribution, one part of a society may suffer want 
when another is in plenty. 2 Among the Tartars and 
the Arabs this is plainly seen ; and it is clear, too, 
how the waste of life from war not only acts as a 
direct check on population, but checks it indirectly 
by repressing productive industry. Its fruits would 
have no chance of preservation. " Even the con- 
struction of a well requires some funds or labour in 
advance, and war may destroy in one day the work 
of many months and the resources of a whole year." 3 
When once warlike habits have become fixed, the two 
evils, war and scarcity, reproduce and perpetuate one 
another. The encouragements held out to large 
families by the Mohammedan religion have a like 
effect. " The promise of Paradise to every man who 
had ten children would but little increase their 
numbers, though it might greatly increase their 

1 2nd ed., p. 99; 7th ed., p. 68. 2 7Lh ed ^ p 82> 

* 2nd ed., p. 92; 7th ed., p. 63. 


ry." 1 It could only increase their numbers if 
it increased their food, and it could not increase their 
food without changing their warlike habits into habits 
of industry. Failing this, it simply creates a constant 

siness (through want and poverty) that multi- 
plies occasions of war. Fortunately for himself, the 
Arab often proportions his religious obedience to the 
extent of his resources, 2 and in hard times, "when 
there is a pig at hand and no Koran," he thinks best 
to eat what God has given him. 

Nothing but increase of food will permanently 
increase population, and where there is food the in- 
crease will reach up to it. In those parts of Africa 
that have furnished the Western slave supplies, there 
i no discernible gap from the "hundred years* 
exportation of negroes which has blackened half 

lica," Even in Egypt, where there is a striking 
contrast between natural fertility and human lethargy, 
the cause is not any deficiency in the principle of 
increase. It is that property is insecure, the govern- 
ment being despotic and its exactions indefinite. It 
is not the want of population that has checked 
iii'hiMrv, but tin- want of industry that has checked 
population ; and it is bad government that has occa- 
. ant of industry. "Ignorance and despot- 
ism seem to have no tendency to destroy the passion 
whirli prompts to increase, but they effectually destroy 

' li'-cks to it from reason and forethought. . . . 

1 2nd ctl., i>. i., ]>. 05. 

1 Ibui. i>. ; 

1 Col MS. notes) reminds our author that Mahomet all 

oblations of */ 


Industry cannot exist without foresight and security ; 
the indolence of the savage is well known, and the 
poor Egyptian or Abyssinian farmer without capital, 
who rents land which is let out yearly to the highest 
bidder, and who is constantly subject to the demands 
of his tyrannical masters, to the casual plunder of an 
enemy, and not unfrequently to the violation of his 
miserable contract, can have no heart to be indus- 
trious, and, if he had, could not exercise that industry 
with success. Even poverty itself, which appears to 
be the great spur to industry, when it has once passed 
certain limits almost ceases to operate. The indigence 
which is hopeless destroys all vigorous exertion, and 
confines the efforts to what is sufficient for bare 
existence. 1 It is the hope of bettering our condition, 
and the fear of want rather than want itself, that is 
the best stimulus to industry ; and its most constant 
and best directed efforts will almost invariably be 
found among a class of people above the class of the 
wretchedly poor." This passage repeats an idea 
expressed in every book of the essay. 3 Government 
can retard the increase of population both directly 
and indirectly, but can only advance it indirectly, 
namely, by encouraging industry, more especially 
agriculture. For example, industrious agriculture 
has made China capable of bearing a great population, 
though other causes of a more equivocal character 
have made it exceed its great capacities, and its 
excessive numbers are cut down by famine and child 

1 Cf. above, p. 96, &c. 

2 2nd ed., III. xi. 474-5; 7th ed., III. xiv. 381. 

J Especially Book I. ch. x., the chapter on Turkey. 


murder. 1 The Roman emperors found it impossible 
by legislation to promote the increase of the old 
Roman stock, because they found it impossible to 
restore the old Roman habits of industry, though 
believers in the superior populousness of ancient 
nations used to mistake their intentions for 
plished facts 

In the eighteenth-century dispute about the popu- 
lousness of ancient nations (one particular skirmish 
in the general battle of the books) we have seen that 
Mai thus declares for the moderns. He gives his 
opinion in detached passages ; but, putting together 
different parts wherever we can find them, we 
discover his proof to depend on two principles, which 
are corollaries of the primary doctrine of the essay. 
The first is, that without the extension of agriculture 
or the better distribution of its fruits there can be v 
n<> increase of population; 2 the second is, that what- 
ever is unfavourable to industry is to that extent 
unfavourable to population. 3 

Now in the early days of Greece and Rome 4 tin- 
population ought on these principles to have brm 
a large one, for not only was agriculture actively 
pros. but property and wraith were more 

equally divided among the people than in later 
tun' -s. On the other hand, the numbers were always 
up to the level of the resources ; and the smalluess of 
the political divisions made law-givers like Solon, 

*wy, fik. I China and Japan.' 

2nd ed., p. 162; 7th ed., p. 112. /fc. 7th ed., p. HO. 

See ay, Bk. I. ch. 


theorists like Plato and Aristotle, conscious of the 
risk of over-population and full of plans to provide 
against it. It is one of Aristotle's criticisms of Plato's 
Republic that Plato has not sufficiently met this 
difficulty, or realized that a community of goods or an 
equal distribution of property is impossible without a 
limitation of families. If every one may have as 
many children as he pleases, the result will soon be 
poverty and sedition. Of the preventive checks 
actually recommended by the highest wisdom of the 
Greek world, the mildest is late marriages ; the rest 
include exposure and abortion. Colonization was 
rather adopted in practice than recommended in 
theory. Frequent wars and occasional plagues were 
the chief positive checks. 

In Rome even more evidently than in Greece l the 
causes that produced inequality of property led also 
to thinness of population. In our own days the 
absorption of small proprietors by large would have 
this effect in a less degree, because the large would 
need to employ the labour of the small. In Rome 
the labour was done by slaves ; and the wonder was not 
that the number of free citizens should decrease, but 
that any should exist at all, except the proprietors. 2 

Yet 'the legislation of Augustus in favour of 
marriage, and the universal lamentation of the later 
Roman writers over the extinction of the old Roman 
stock, are no more than a presumption that the 
population was decreasing, not a proof of its actual 

1 Sparta is the chief Greek instance. 

2 2nd ed., p. 172 ; 7th ed., p. 118. 


small IK-SS, while the prevalence of war and infanticide, 
so often used to prove the same point, tend really 
to do the opposite. They are for the time positive 
encouragements to marriage, for people will not 

ate to bring children into the world, if they are 
either free to kill off the superfluous or certain to 
find sad vacancies ready for them. 1 In the former 
case, as we noticed, parental feeling will often inter- 

\vith the infanticide, and save rather too many 
than too few. 2 Wars, on the other hand, may injure 
the quality of the population by removing the most 
.stalwart and even the most intelligent men ; but there 
is as much food as before, there is more room, and 
tin -re are therefore more marriages, till all the gaps 
are filled, even to overflowing. 3 Livy need not have 
\\..ndered that in the Volscian wars the more were 
killed the more seemed to come on. The like is true 
nf plague and famine ; epidemics, like the small-pox, 
never permanently lessened the population, 
though they have increased the mortality of the in- 
fected countries. 4 To take only one instance (from 
Siissniilch) a third of the people in Prussia and 
Lithium in were destroyed by the plague in 1710, 
and in 1711 the number of marriages was very nearly 
double the average. 6 Emigration in like manner may 
drain off the best blood of a nation, but cannot rod in 
Itfl numbers for any length of time, unless the nation 

1 2nd ed.,p. 150 ; cf. pp. 164, 17^-3. 7th ed., p. 104 ; cf. pp. 113,118. 

2 Beeabore, p. ::. 

luted., p. 119 : 7th ,,1. AJM :>15. Amy, 7th ed., p. 122. 

2nded., p. 2:. I . 7th .1. j.. -2W. Cf. 2nd ed., p] 

'. IT L181*Q I lump, Pop. qfAnc, N., pp. 4K 

especially 504. 

I i 


is learning a new standard of comfort. Greece and 
Rome were not less populous because they were great 
colonizers. 1 The known existence of a number of very 
active checks to population, instead of proving that 
the population was absolutely small, might more 
naturally, other things being equal, prove it to have 
been absolutely large. It might be argued that, if 
the population had not been great, fewer and less 
potent checks would have done the work. 2 

But other things were not equal. We know that 
the gratuitous distribution of foreign corn had ruined 
Roman husbandry. 3 We know that even the labour 
of the slaves who had supplanted the free labourers 
of Italy had not been sufficiently (or sufficiently 
well) directed to agriculture. Moreover, the increase 
by marriage in the number of slaves did not even 
balance the decrease in the number of the free men ; 
else why should the Romans need to import fresh car- 
goes of slaves every year from all parts of the world ? 4 

In short, the Roman habits had become " unfavour- 
able to industry, and therefore to population." The 
very necessity for such a law as the Papia Poppsea 
would indicate a moral depravity inconsistent with 
habits of industry. This strong argument had 
escaped even Hume, who thought that the people 
would increase very fast under the Peace of Trajan 
and the Antonines, forgetting that the people could 

* 7th ed., pp. 163, 387, 394 ; 2nd ed., pp. 113, 287, 292. Cf. 1st ed., 
pp. 118-19, 123 n. 

2 2nd ed., p. 178 ; 7th ed., p. 122. 3 7th ed., p. 380, top. 

4 2nd ed., p. 175; 7th ed., p. 120. 


not unlearn their habits in so short a time ; unlearn- 
i.s harder than learning, especially for a whole 
people ; and, "if wars do not depopulate much when 
industry is in vigour, peace does not increase popu- 
a much when industry is languishing." Con- 
trariwise, it might be argued that the prevention of 
child-murd T in India will not cause over-population, 
win -ii it is part of a general policy accustoming the 
people to European habits. 

Allow, then, that general viciousness is inconsistent 

with general industry, and it follows that those 

ancient nations in which the first prevailed were less 

populous than the modern. This seems to be the 

ment of Malthus brought to a focus. From the 

nee of censuses, 2 it is strictly deductive ; there 

could not have been so many people as now, and 

therefore there were not. 3 

Expressed in more technical language, the meaning 
is, that where there is nothing present but the posi- 
tive check and the lower kind of preventive, the 
habits of the people are necessarily such as to hinder 
an increase of food and thereby of population. When 
Europe was less civilized, it was not more, but less 
thi.-kly peopl 

1 2nd ed., p. 175 ; 7th ed., p. 120. 

2nd . ,!..].. !*<>; 7th, l.j, ui. "It is therefore upon these causes 
].--ii.l.-ntlyof [Jn.l.-d.snys'besides'] actual enumerations, 
on which we can with certainty rely." 

1 Dr. Wallace, Du* > 55, had given Attica in its palmy days 

a population of 608 to the square mile; Eirjl.m.l in tin- nineteenth 


Jbay, Irt ..p. 120, in Of. 

Wealth </ jYa/ioiu, IV. vii. 254, 255. 


This argument seems to be weakened by one 
consideration that the poor in our day put more 
into their idea of necessaries ; they have a higher 
standard of living than the poor 2000 years ago. It 
might therefore be said with justice that over-popula- 
tion (a peopling beyond the food) begins much sooner 
with us than with them, for it begins at a point 
much farther removed from starvation, and that 
therefore with the ancients a given amount of food 
would go farther and feed more. But, if we look 
only to the poor in each case, the difference between 
the ancient standard of comfort and the modern 
is unhappily much smaller than the difference 
between their meagre industrial resources and our 
ample ones, for our powers of production have grown 
far more rapidly than the comfort of our labouring 
population. Such difference as there is in the 
standards is only made possible by moral restraint, 
which has a closer affinity with modern civilization 
than with ancient or mediaeval. 1 The history of 
modern civilization is largely the history of the gradual 
victory of the third check over the two others ; and, 
as one of the chief allies of the third has been com- 
mercial ambition, the victory of moral restraint, by 
causing a larger industry, has caused in the end not 
a smaller, but a larger population. 2 The increase by 
being deferred has been made only the more certain 
and permanent. / 

1 Essay, 2nd ed., p. 598 ; 7th ed., p. 476. 

2 I. 2nd ed., pp. 175, 178 ; 7th ed., pp. 12Q, 122. 

c:i.u-. v.] XuRTH AND MID EUROPE. 119 



Different Effects of Commercial Ambition in different Countries No 
>in;^le safe Criterion of National Prosperity Sussmilch's " Divine 
Plan " Malthus in the Region of Statistics Hia Northern Tour 
In Norway the truth brought home by the very nature of Place 
and Industries In Sweden less obvious In Russia quite ignore 1 
Foundling Hospitals indefensible Tendency of People to multiply 
beyond, up to, or simply with the Food Author tripping Facts 
the Interpreters and the Interpreted Holland The best pater 
patrice Emigration in various Aspects Evidence of the Author 
before Emigration Committee Switzerland, St. Cergues and Leysin 
The pens asinorum of the subject. 

Tm: broad difference between a savage and a civil- 
ized population is, that the positive checks prevail in 
tlic j'l-eventive in the other, and between 
ancient and modern civilizations, that vice and misery 
nl in the one, moral restraint in the other. 1 Yet 
\ eivili/nl nation in modern times has not only 
passed through those three stages in the course of 
its past history, but contains them all within it now 
as a matter of observation. Its early history was 
an ur after independence or bare life, its 

history an endeavour after full development; 
there are in it to which eivili/.ation 

has not des-.-n.l.-l. and in which the struggle for 
istence prevails, alongside of strata in which 

1 E$ay on Population, 2nd cd., p. 180 ; 7th ed., p. 184 


the struggle is towards ideals of commercial ambition 
and social perfection. 

The view which Malthus takes of commercial am- 
bition is substantially that of Adam Smith. As 
soon as commerce is separated from slavery, as soon 
as wealth is a man's own acquisition, got by the 
sweat of his own brow, then the desire of wealth 
has a new social aspect. It becomes what Adam 
Smith calls " the natural desire of every man to better 
his own condition ; " and as such it creates modern 
commercial society, as opposed both to the ancient 
society built upon slavery, and to the feudal built 
upon war. 

This vis mediatrix reipuUica, the desire of rising 
in the world, so glorified in the Wealth of Nations 1 
and in the Essay on Population? is really not easy 
to define. It is a very composite motive ; and 
the same differences of race (whatever their origin), 
which lead to differences of intellect and language 
also affect a nation's standard of comfort, as soon as 
it can be said to have one. By the influence of good 
climate and much intercourse with foreigners, along 
with advantages of upbringing, and perhaps of race, 
a nation of Southern Europe comes to put into its 
notion of happiness a great many more elements than 
a northern nation, which has to hew its model out of 
much poorer materials. The Norwegian standard will 
be simpler than the Parisian. But there is more 
behind. The question is not simply one of like and 

1 E. g. II. iii. 152, 1 ; IV. ix. 304, 2 (ed. MacC.). 
2 E. g. 7th ed., pp. 307, 434, 473 4. 


unlike elements, or of many and few elements, but 
of the treatment of them by the human subject. 
Tlu i English notion of comfort differs from the French 
in its elements, which are probably more in number 
as well as other in quality, and have a third peculi- 
arity quite distinct from the other two, their effect 
on the habits of the persons concerned. 

French writers have noticed that the English 
fanner works hard for such an income as will give 
him the innumerable little luxuries of toilet, dinner- 
taMe, and drawing-room, that make up the English 
il< -a of comfort, while the French farmer works hard 
that he may be able to buy another farm. 1 The one 
- up to his income ; and in his efforts to preserve 
it he is enterprising and persevering; he is always 
ing to rise to the class above him. The other, 
on the contrary, is more content with his position in 
society ; and simply wishes to make it stronger, by 
gaming more property. His willing privations in 
time of plenty are rewarded by his secure provision 
in time of want ; he has always his land to sell. 

Both are moved by the civili/ing "desire to better 
one's own condition"; but it leads in the ono case 
to simple saving, the old stocking, the piece of land, 
or ili- nftft&t, in the other to active using, the steam- 
plough first, that th- piano and pony-carriage may 
follow afterwards. There is some trut h in M.'s 
:<lox, "The Englishman provides for the future 
not by his savings but by his expenses." ! If capital- 
izing means using as well as savh -. il.'-rc is a sense 

1 Toine, AngUttrre, pp. 176, 232 a Ibid. p. 233. 


in which the French and English divide the two 
functions between them. 

This is what prevents the economist from making 
any exact predictions about the effect of the vis media- 
trix reipMiccB. He may, like Adarn Smith, find it 
doing good work in the undermining of feudalism, 1 
and he may point out that at any rate it would 
make a better guide to the world than military glory, 
which means unhappiness to one half the world, and 
a very mingled happiness to the other half. But he 
cannot predict its effect on men whose characters are 
unknown to him. He cannot even tell whether a 
man is wealthy or not, till he knows what his wants 
are, for wealth exists to satisfy wants, wants change 
with human progress, the notion of wealth expands 
with civilization, and the luxuries of one age and 
one man are the necessaries of another. It is im- 
possible to treat this relative question as if its 
conditions were absolute, and to deal with men as 
we would with figures on a slate. Two and two 
do not always make four in such a case, but some- 
times five, and frequently only three. A new vista 
of comfort spread before different men may stimulate 
one, spoil another, and leave a third unmoved. 

It is not surprising then that the question, " By 
what various modes is population kept to the level of 
the food in the states of modern Europe ? " is not a 
simple one. On some grounds it would seem com- 
paratively easy to get the answer. There are figures 
to be had, and in many cases a census ; there is a 

1 Wealth of Nations, III. iv. 183, 2, &c. 


general similarity of circumstances which produces a 
general similarity of habits, and, therewith, of the move- 
ments of population. But there is no invariable on In- 
of mortality and generation. The rates of births and 
deaths are not the same for all nations ; they depend 
on the conduct of human beings, and may differ not 
only in different countries, but in different parts of the 
same country. In the same way, we have no single 
statistical criterion of the healthy state of a popula- 
tion, just as it might be said we have no single criterion 
uf the commercial prosperity of a country, still less of 
its happiness. The two former stand to the last as 
the parts to the whole. A healthy population and a 
prosperous trade are parts of the happiness of a nation, 
though they do not constitute the whole of it. To 
ascertain whether a nation is happy or not, we have to 
tak' into account these two parts of happiness along 
with many others. The parts in their turn consist of 
many parts. We measure the state of trade not only 
by imports and exports, railway, banking and Clearing 
House returns, and the gains of the public revenue, 
but by subscriptions to churches, charities, and schools, 
by savings banks and benefit societies, sales of books, 
pictures, and luxuries of all kinds, by the state of 
workmen's wages, by the poor-law returns, by the 
number of nuuriageft, emigrants, and recruits for the 
army ; ami we could make little use of most of these 
figures without the census returns and the ivj.,,rts of 
Registrar Gem -ml. In the same way, to measure 
tin- healthiness of a population and ascertain whrt In-l- 
it i> safely nml.T the level of its food, tending to pass 


beyond it, or simply rising up to it, and to ascertain 
by what ways and means the process is going on, we 
need instead of one single general criterion a whole 
array of particular tests. It is in the infancy of 
statistical science that men yield to appearances and 
" suppose a greater uniformity in things than is 
actually found there." ] 

This was, for example, the failing of Johann Peter 
Slissmilch, one of the earliest inquirers into the 
movements of population. A book like Sussmilch's 
had the same relation to the Essay on Population 
as astrology to astronomy, or alchemy to chemistry ; 
it prepared the way for the more accurate study. 
Siissmilch first published his researches in 1761, 
while the Seven Years' War was still in progress. 
He dedicated it to Frederick the Great, as became a 
patriot and Church dignitary ; and entitled it, The 
Divine Plan in the Changes through which the Human 
Race passes in Birth, DeatJi, and Marriage. The Divine 
plan is the one set forth in the exhortation to Noah 
in Genesis the peopling of the earth ; 2 and the book 
tries to show the particular arrangements by which 
the plan is carried out. One condition is, he says, 
that fertility be greater than mortality ; the births 
must exceed the deaths. On an average at present 
each marriage produces four children ; and " the 
present law of death " is on an average, taking town 
and country together, 1 in 36 ; out of 36 men now 
living, 1 must die every year. In the country it is 
from 1 in 40 to 1 in 45 ; in the town, from 1 in 38 
1 Bacon, Nov. Org., I. xlv. 2 See below, Bk. IV. 


to 1 in 32. There is a yearly excess of births repre- 
sented by 1 in 10 and 5 in 10. The increase must 
have been faster at first than it is now ; and the 

:is God took to effect His end in each case was 
the lengthening and shortening of human life. In the 
times of Methuselah there must have been a very 
different law of mortality, perhaps one death in a 
hundred ; the length of life was greater ; and prob- 
ably the power of parentage lasted longer. The 
average number of children might be about twenty 
in a family instead of four; and the doubling of 
population would take place in ten or twenty years, 
instead of as now in seventy or eighty. Antedilu- 
vians were long lived because their long lives were 

led for the replenishment of the earth; and the 
extreme length was shortened so soon as the time 
came when the same end could be reached in other 
ways. AVhen we observe the remarkable adaptive- 
ness of man which enables him alone among the 
creatures 1 to live in any latitude, and when we 
observe how he has been preserved while many 
animals have become extinct, we need have n> 
doubt that the replenishment of the earth was really 
tin- J)ivine purpose. It is remarkable too that, 
though more sons are born than daughters, death 
equalizes their numbers before mature life. The 
"system" which prevails in the increase of man is 
like the march of a military iv/micnt, in which all 
the men have th- ir places, actions, and accoutrements 
determined f-r them. The proportion of sons to 

1 Bl ;: s hog, adds Gibbon, DecL \ }>. ITln. 


daughters, and deaths to births, Siissmilch regards 
as a tolerably fixed one ; the discovery of unexpected 
uniformities overjoys him greatly, and he regards 
the man who first used the London bill of mortality 
to detect these uniformities as a sort of statistical 
Columbus. In short, his book is an economical 
Th< ; odicee, a long piece of pious deductive reasoning ; 
and it is curious to find Germany producing two such 
optimistic books at a time when it was even further 
from the millennium than its neighbours. 

The facts of Siissmilch, ill-sifted as they were, gave 
Malthas a much firmer ground of reasoning than 
the scanty patches of evidence about the population 
of ancient and barbarous nations. He is at last in 
the region of statistics as opposed to conjecture, 
and in the region of the personal observation and 
travel of men who were at least asking his own 
questions. But the fate of the bills of mortality 
and other records, in the hands of Price and 
Wallace, to say nothing of Petty and Siissmilch, 
shows how important was Malthas' work as an 
interpreter of statistics. Statistics were a novelty 
in his day. As Adam Smith wrote on the Wealth 
of Nations without any full statistics of the wealth, 
and none at all of the population, of his own country, 
Mai thus wrote his first essay when there was no 
census ; and, for some time afterwards, so compara- 
tively isolated were the nations of Europe, that 
to be at all certain of his facts, an author needed 
to verify and collect them by journeying in person, 
and seeing the scenes with his own eyes. This 


essential work of an investigator Mai thus did not 
leave undone; and his chapters on the state of 
population in modern European nations are to a 
large extent a record of his own observations. He 
went for a summer trip in 1799 with three college 
fii- ncls, Dr. Edward Clarke, Mr. Cripps, and Mr. 
Otter, afterwards Bishop of Chichester. They went 
by Hamburg to Sweden, and there the party broke 
up into two, Clarke and his pupil Cripps going 
farther north, Otter and Malthus going on through 
Norway to visit Finland and St. Petersburg. 1 These 
the only European countries where English 
travellers could easily make their way in those 
s. 2 In 1802 he saw France and Switzerland, 3 
but seems not to have left the kingdom again till 
1825, when the journey was taken for the sake of his 
wife's health, on the death of one of his cliildivn. 
and he was little in the mood for investigations. 
The tours of 1799 and 1802 are the only ones 
that have left substantial traces on his economical 
work 4 

In all his travels he found the foreigner as ignorai.t 
as the Englishman on the subject of population. 
Only twice did he hear the truth expounded to 
him ; in Norway during his first tour, and in 
Switzerland during his second. In the latter case 

1 See above, p. 48. 

* The phrase on p. 216 of 2nd ed. (p. 148 of 7th), "in the pn 
Minim . r .f IT-ss, j, j,r..lmbly a slip. We do not hear elsewhere of any 

*o early. See below, Bk. V. 

* Sec above, p. 49. <T. i'n-1 . !., j>. 2*1 ; 7tl> :i, &c. 

!n:r movements and other details <.f hi* life, see Bk. 
V. (Biography). 


the enlightenment was confined to one individual ; 
but in the former the whole nation was wise. 
While the Swedish Government was continually 
crying for more people, and trying to "encourage 
population," the Norwegian Government and people 
seemed to have understood that the first question 
must be, " Are there means to feed more people ? " 
If not, then we multiply the nation without increas- 
ing the joy. Of course there are cases where we 
might thin down the nation and still less increase 
the joy. Mere scantiness of numbers is no advan- 
tage to a nation, any more than fewness of wants 
to an individual ; it may mean a low state of civil- 
ization, in both cases. It is not by any means so 
good for a country to be wasted by a pestilence as 
to be opened up by a new trade. The denser the 
population, the better; so says Malthus himself; 
but, he adds, let it be a population of strong, 
comfortable citizens, or let us stand by the small 
numbers and the slow increase. 

Look now at Norway. 1 If we were dealing with 
uncivilized times under the reign of positive checks, 
we should expect an overflowing population, a large 
body of poor, and in times of scarcity a great deal 
of distress. There had been no wars for half a 
century, the cold climate kept away epidemics, and 
what else was left but famine to keep down the 
population to the limits of the food ? Vice was not 
taken into the service, and emigration was seldom 
practised then in these regions. But Malthus visited 

1 2nd and 7th edd., Bk. II. ch. i. 


the country in one of the hardest yean ever known 
in Europe, 1799, and found the Norwegians " wrar- 

;i face of plenty and content, while their neigh- 
bours the Swedes appeared to be starving." 1 He 
found the death-rate lower in Norway than in any 
country in Europe. 2 The population, however, was 
hardly increasing at all ; and the proportion of mar- 

s to the whole numbers of the people was smaller 
than in any country except Switzerland. 8 The posi- 
ti\v check was largely superseded by the preventive. 
The virtue of foresight, he says, is elsewhere forced 
upon the upper classes by the smallness of their circle 
and the fewness of openings in business or professions ; 
in Norway it is forced upon all classes alike by the 
evident Mnallness of the country's resources, and by 
the peculiarities of the national industry. There is 
almost no variety of occupation or division of labour. 
The humbler classes are almost all "housemen" 
(/ti/xiiniiH/), labourers, who receive from a farmer in 

;- feudal fashion a small house and a little piece 
of land in return for occasional labour on his fields. 
In other countries men may easily fall into the fallacy 
of rivditing the whole of the land with a greater 
power of supporting people than the power possessed 
1 y t he sum of its parts. In the great towns of Central 
Europe a man has perhaps some excuse for trusting 
to the chapter of accidents; in the great variety of 
occupations he may have some excuse for thinking 

2nd ed., p. 189 ; 7th ed., p. 129. 
3 The Rurnian figures being incredible. & later, j> 
2nd ed., p. 184 ; 7th ed., p. 126. 



there will surely be a vacancy for him, and he may 
" e'en take Peggie." Norway, however, is to manu- 
facturing countries what the country districts else- 
where are to the towns elsewhere. In the country 
districts an excess of population cannot be hidden, 
and the superfluities must go to the towns. Those 
who marry, therefore, when there is no vacancy for 
them, do so with the alternatives of poverty or 
migration clearly before their eyes. In Norway 
every peasant, not to say every farmer, knows quite 
certainly whether there is an opening for him or not, 
and, if there is not, he cannot marry. 1 

The conditions of the problem were in this way 
simplified, and the problem itself was satisfactorily 
answered. The only districts where Mai thus saw 
signs of poverty were on the coast, where the people 
live by fishing ; the openings for a fisherman are not 
so distinctly limited in their numbers as the openings 
for a farmer. 

Time has united Norway and Sweden under one 
king (1814), and Sweden now presents no unfavour- 
able contrast with Norway. Even in 1825 Malthus 
wrote 2 that the progress of agriculture arid industry, 
and the practice of vaccination, had caused a steady 
and healthful increase of population since 1805. 
He would be pleased to find too by the census that 
the population of Norway had increased very greatly 
in proportion to its poor. The improvement con- 
tinues. The paupers were about one per cent, of 

1 2nd ed., pp. 188, 189 ; 7th ed., pp. 128, 129. Cf. Thornton's chapter 
(II.) on the " Social Effects of Peasant Proprietorships," Peas. Prop. 
(ed. 1874), p. 55. 2 In 6th ed., 1826. See 7th ed., p. 144. 


the population in 1869 (when they were nearly five 
per cent, in England), which seems to have meant a 
decrease from previous years j 1 but between 1865 and 
1875 the population had increased fourteen per cent, 
in spite of considerable emigration. 2 Malthus would 
recognized with satisfaction that the nation had 
been " either increasing the quantity or facilitating 
the distribution " of its food, 3 that is to say, improving 
either its agriculture or its manufactures. It has 
really done both. Though the growth of the popu- 
lation has been greater in the centres of manufacture, 
has been progress also in the country districts. 
.Many of the old customs and laws that hampered 

iculture have ceased to exist. 4 Malthus himself 

s that, if Government would remove hindrances 
to agriculture, and spread sound knowledge about it, 
it would do more for the population of the country 

in liv establishing five hundred foundling hospitals. 5 
II< in-.-d imt have confined his recommendation to agri- 
culture ; and elsewhere he states the truth in broader 

ins: "The true eueniiiM-vment to marriage is the 
hi'_rh price of labour, and an increase of employments \ 
wlii.-h require to ! supplied with proper hands." 6 
Remove hindrances to trade and spread sound know- 
l,.,l L r,- n f jt --that (in his view) is the way to increase 
the quantity and facilitate the distribution of the 

ducts of agriculture; and, t> jud^c by results, 

the Norwegian Government has followed it. 

1 7. Book on Foreign Poor Laiex, 1875, p. 109. 

' Rook, 1880, p. 

dMtcif JbM 
* A'wriy, 7th ed., p. 139 ; cf. pp. 151, 152. P> 


Sweden, 1 as it then was, furnished a striking con- 
trast to Norway. Mai thus had the advantage there 
of the earliest and most regular of European censuses, 
beginning with the year 1748, and continued at 
intervals first of three and then of five years. He 
found that there was a large mortality, though the 
conditions of life were superficially the same as in 
Norway. The only explanation he could see was 
that the size and shape of the country, as well as its 
mode of government, did not so forcibly bring home 
to the people the need of restraint as in Norway, while 
at the same time the hindrances to good farming 
were even more serious than in the smaller country. 
From the very contiguity and general similarity of 
the two countries, they proved Malthus' point, by 
the Method of Difference, almost as well as a deliber- 
ate experiment could have done. It was not that 
Norway had an absolutely small and Sweden an 
absolutely large population ; considerations of absolute 
greatness or smallness never enter into this, if into 
any, economical question. But Norway had a moder- 
ately large population in proportion to her food, 
while Sweden had in the same regard an excessive 
population, a population which was sparely fed even 
in average years, and decimated by famine and 
disease in years below the average. 

Russia, 2 which was the third scene of Malthus' 
travels, had this in common with Norway and Sweden, 
that the movement of its population was unlike that 
of Central Europe, and that the eccentricity was due 

1 Essay, Bk. II. ch. ii. 2 Ibid. Bk. II. ch. iii. 


to a clearly definable cause. In Norway the shape 
and climate of the country and the fewness of the 
available occupations forced the Government and the 
people to restrain rather than to encourage the 
increase of numbers ; in Sweden, under conditions 
less simple, the habits of the people conspired with a 
false policy of the Government to produce an exces- 
increase. In both cases we have something 
diilbrent from the typical modern society of Central 
Europe, with its full division of labour, its system 
of large factories, and its extensive substitution of 
machinery for hand labour. Russia was as old- 
fashioned as Norway and Sweden in this respect ; 
and her physical vastness made her a difficult country 
to know, in these days of slow communication. It 
is Dot surprising that the statistics available in the 
of Maltlms were open to grave suspicion. The 
<lrath-rate was given as 1 in 60, while in Norway 
itself it had not been lower than 1 in 48, and it 
is about 1 in 53 in England now, yet the number 
of marriages and of births and the size of families 
no smaller than elsewhere. 1 These facts by 
themselves would simply suggest a rate of 

increase going on in the country concerned; and 
hus allows that there is great scope f>r snrh in 
ia. But there was one othn fa.-t that strength- 
ened his doubts about the vital statistics of that 
n.untry; contrary to the ex|>-r;rh' ,1 

countries, it was Raid that in Russia more women 
born than in. 11. In others, more men ore born 

2nd ed., pp. 213-14; 7th ed M7. 


than women, and the numbers are only equalized 
gradually, by the greater risks of masculine life, as the 
years go on. In Sweden, with a climate not milder 
than Russia, this had long been observed. 1 It turned 
out on inquiry that the Russian method of registration 
allowed loopholes for more omissions in the deaths than 
in the births. Public institutions, including hospitals 
and prisons, had been left out of account ; and the 
deaths in the foundling hospitals were alone quite 
sufficient to alter the average very significantly for the 
worse. Malthus' hatred of Foundling hospitals is only 
equalled by his dislike of Poor laws. The idea of 
such institutions was, like that of Pitt's Poor Bill, 
purely philanthropic. They were "to enrich the 
country from year to year with an increasing number 
of healthy, active, and industrious burghers," 2 that 
would otherwise be doomed to death soon after 
birth. It used to be said of the bounty, granted by 
the Government of India, on slaughtered snakes, that 
it really kept up the supply, for the natives bred them 
to catch the bounty. The foundling hospitals had 
an opposite effect. They were meant to multiply and 
they tended to destroy. They encouraged a mother 
to desert her child at the precise time it needed the 
minute and careful attention that only a mother can 
give. " It is not to be doubted that, if the children 
received into these hospitals had been left to the 
management of their parents, taking the chance of all 
the difficulties in which they might be involved, a 

1 2nd ed., pp. 214-15 ; 7th ed., p. 147, foot. 

2 Ibid. p. 218 j 7th ed., p. 150. Cf. above, p. 30. 


much greater proportion of them would have reached 
the age of manhood and have become useful members 
of the state." l But, besides increasing the mortality 
of chill rep, they injure the very " mainspring of popu- 
lation " ' by discouraging marriage and encouraging 
irregularities. In his talks with his father, Malthus 
hud no doubt discussed the propriety of Rousseau's 
conduct in sending his children to the Paris Foundling 
Hospital. He would certainly have declared against 
Rousseau. To those who argue that the foundling 
basket may prevent child-murder, he answers that an 
occasional murder from " false [?] shame " is saved at 
a very dear price by the violation of " the best and 
most useful feelings of the human heart," which the 

once of such an institution teaches to the poor. 
To relieve parents of the care of their children is 
bad for the parents, 8 because it takes away from 
them a responsibility essential to full citizenship and 
civilizing in its effects on human character; and it is 
unjust to their fellow-citizens, because, like the Poor 
Laws, it relieves one portion of society, (in this case 
r the worst than the poorest) at the expense of 
all the rest A and finds a career for pauper appivn- 
to the prejudice of independent workmen and 
tli.-ir children. 4 In the third place, like the Poor 

s, it promises an impossibility to relieve all that 
It ehildren are to be received without limit, 

resources for maintaining ihem should be without 

1 2nd ed., p. 219 ; Til. . -1 ., j. .151. Com pure Price, Obtcrvatiotu, p. 280 
note ; and especially Hume, Pop. of Anc. N., p. 445 (ed. 1768). 
1 tfway, ' Euay, 2nd ed., p. 220 ; 7th , -.1 .. p. 151. 

Ibid. p. 221 ; 7th ed., p. 152. 


limit ; otherwise an excessive mortality is quite 
unavoidable. 1 The second reason is no doubt an 
economical commonplace; it is the first and third 
that are most characteristic of Malthus. He never 
forgets that human wants and human wills are an 
element in every economical phenomenon, and there- 
fore considers that the effects of character on actions 
and of actions on character are of great economical 
importance. He will not allow that it can be right, 
even for a Government, to make promises that cannot 
be performed. These two plain principles give the 
tone to the later chapters, where he interprets for 
us the comparatively full statistics of Central Europe 
and our own England. 2 

The law of population may be described (though 
not in the exact words of Malthus) as among 
savage peoples the tendency to increase beyond the 
food, and among civilized to increase up to it. So 
Professor Rogers founds his estimate of the numbers 
of the English people in the thirteenth and four- 
teenth centuries on the principle that "there were 
generally as many people existing in this country 
as there have been, on an average, quarters of wheat 
to feed them with. " 3 

In the case of highly progressive modern nations 
such statements would be beyond the truth; and 
we must either say that they tend to increase not 
beyond but along with the food, or else we must 

1 Essay, 2nd ed., pp. 216-17 ; 7th ed., p. 149. 

2 Ibid. 7th ed., Bk. II. chs. iv. to x., as rearrange 1 in the 3rd ed. 

3 Six Centuries of Work and Wages, pp. 118, 119. 


define food itself very widely. Ill the first case 
"tendency" will mean the abstract possibility de- 
pending on the one physiological condition; in th" 
others it is the concrete nett possibility depending 
011 all the various conditions together. In a gem-nil 
JUT face to his chapters on Central Europe, Mai thus 
quite recognizes these distinctions and warns us 
;ist exact statements. "It seldom happens," he 
says, " that the increase of food and of population 
is uniform ; and when the circumstances of a country 
an- varying either from this cause or from any change 
in the national habits with respect to prudence and 
cleanliness, it is evident that a proportion which is 
trin- at one period will not be at another. Nothing 
is more difficult than to lay down rules on this 
subject that do not admit of exceptions." l 

After this it is hard to believe what he tells us 
elsewhere, that "the only criterion of a real and 
permanent increase in the population of any country 
is the increase of the means of subsistence." 1 It 
would be at best a negative criterion and *//// ^n<\ 
non, there can be no increase of numbers \\ithout 
46 "f foo.l, though ev.-n then it is not true of 
a "forced population," living d<\vn to a lower food. 1 
But there clearly may he an increase <!' f>.d without 
an increase of numbers, unless the character of the 
people is sn.-h that they do nothing with the food 

except increase by it. Therefore, th<u-h, within 

iride limits iixed f..r us l.y invariable (pialities 

': . l . II. ;N. ].. 150, Ct -'M.I ed., 

p. 3i! -JOB. 7th "1, i. 200. 

Rid 2i: 260. 


of human nature, predictions are justifiable on the 
ground of the law of population l or any other 
economical laws, none that specify a particular course 
of action as a result of a particular event are trust- 
worthy, till we know the character of the people 
concerned. 2 Mai thus always tries to bear this in 
mind ; and, when he tells us that the lists of 
births, marriages, and deaths in Mid Europe give 
more information about its internal economy than 
the observations of the wisest travellers, 3 he is 
at once interpreting those figures in the light of 
a principle, and interpreting the principle by means 
of the figures. This appears when we look at 
the four chief conclusions of the general chapter 
in question. The first is the proposition that in 
the present state of our industrial civilization the 
marriages depend very closely on the deaths, and the 
births on the marriages. 4 Montesquieu says that 
wherever there is room for two persons to live 
comfortably a marriage will certainly take place. 5 
In old countries experience is usually against any 
sure expectation of the means of supporting a 
family ; the place for a new marriage is only made 
by the dissolution of an old. As a rule therefore 
the number of annual marriages is regulated by the 

1 See above, p. 18. 

2 So in substance Cairnes in his rehabilitation of the Wages Fund. 
Leading Principles, pp. 196 seq. Cliffe Leslie passim. 

3 Essay, 2nd ed., p. 240 ; 7th ed., p. 155. 

4 Ibid. p. 247 ; 7th ed., p. 160. 

6 " Partout ou il se trouve une place oti deux personnes peuvent vivre 
commodement, il se fait un mariage." Esprit des Lois, Bk. XXIII. ch. 
x. (not XXII., as in 7th ed.). 


number of annual deaths. "Death is the most 
powerful of all the encouragements to marriage," 1 
while on the other hand the marriages are a frequent 
cause of the deaths. In almost every country there 
is too great a frequency of marriages, which causes 
were a forced mortality. Which of these two 
mutual influences is the more powerful depends on 
circumstances. In last century the proportion of 
annual marriages to inhabitants was in Holland 
generally as 1 in 107 or 108. But in twenty-two 
Dutch villages it was as 1 in 64. Siissmilch ex- 
plain* -d this anomaly by the number of new trades 
in Holland and the new openings for workmen. 
Malthus would not have denied this possibility, his 
startling paradox about death being only a particular 
case of the general principle that " the high price of 
ir is the real encouragement to marriage." 2 But 
in this case the explanation ought to have applied 
to all Holland if to any part of it. The real 
reason came out when Malthus observed that the 
mortality, which was as 1 in 36 in Holland generally, 
was as 1 in 22 in those villages. The additional 
marriages did not really increase the population. 
They were caused by the high number of deaths 
which provided op^iin^s for the living; and the lii^h 
nuinln r of deaths was caused by the unhealth 
of the region and of its prevailing industries which 
were manufacturing rather than agricultural. The 
in every larire population is between having 

1 Euay, tad "1.. i- M7 : 7ili !., p- 160. 
8 Ibid, iind !., p. i."Jl ; 7th .-.I., p. 152. 


many lives which end soon, and few which last long. 
Greater healthiness in the conditions of life will result 
in the latter. We find as a matter of fact that, where 
there has been the sanitary improvement as well as 
simply the "replenishment" of an old country, the 
marriage-rate goes down at the expense of the death- 
rate, and there is an economy of human life and 

Putting the parts of his exposition together, we 
get something like a deductive scheme of the growth 
of population in old countries under an industrial 
revolution like that of the eighteenth century. The 
first effect of the discovery of new minerals, and 
even (with some qualifications) of the invention of 
new machines, is to provide new employment for 
working men, and many new opportunities for mar- 
riage ; the proportion of marriages therefore becomes 
at once greater without any alteration (from this 
cause at least) in the death-rate. But, when the 
first burst of progress has passed, and the succeeding 
improvement is not by leaps and bounds, but at a 
uniform rate, then the proportion of marriages will 
decrease, as the new situations are filled up and 
there is no more room for an increasing population. 
Once the country is really " old " in the sense of 
fully peopled and unprovided with new sources of 
employment, then the marriages will be regulated 
principally by the deaths, and (the habits of the 
people remaining the same) will bear much the 
same proportion to each other at one time as at 
another. It is not, however, exactly the same pro- 


portion for all old countries, simply because the 
habits and standards of living are different, to say 
iinthing of healthiness or unhcalthiness of climate 
and occupation. For similar reasons it is not the 
same for towns as for country districts. 1 "A general 
measure of mortality for all countries taken together" 
would be useless if procurable ; but it cannot be 
procured. 2 

Habits, however, are sufficiently fixed to make us 

in that "any direct encouragements to marriage 
must be accompanied by an increased mortality." 8 
They spur a willing horse. Montesquieu and Stiss- 
mildi, although they both enlarge on the evils of 
over-population, still think it a statesman's duty 
to be, like Augustus and Trajan, the father of his 
people by encouraging their marriages. But, if many 
marriages mean many deaths, the princes or statesmen 
who should really succeed in this patriotic policy 
mi -lit more justly be called the destroyers than the 
fatln-rs of their people. 4 

If Mai thus had been asked how a prince could 
best become a real pater patrite, he would have 

d two or tlnvr ways. The prince might direct 
bis mind to the improvement of industry, especially 
of agriculture. 5 He might circulate news and know- 
ledge on these subjects ; ' or, as we should say now, 
he nii^ht institute agricultural exhibitions, and regular 

ultural statistics of home mid fmvi^n production. 

i i' 18-9 ; 7th ed., pp. 161-2. Ibid. 

1 2n-: l''. ; Till .-.I., ].. ]:.:>. Tin- It.ili.- .-m- tlie author's. 

4 / : : Tth !., i>. i' * Ibid. 

2nd eel., p. 205; 7th ed, i> 


He would in this way increase the population by 
1 if 1 ping to increase the food. 

In the second place, he might benefit trade every- 
where by giving it the security of good government 
and impartial justice, a peaceful foreign policy and 
light taxation. 

In the third place, he might, together with all 
these, encourage Emigration. Malthas devotes a 
special chapter of the essay to this subject ; and, 
though the chapter is in a later part of his work 
(Bk. III. ch. iv. 1 ), this seems the best place to touch 
on the subject. Emigration, he says, is, apart from 
political distinctions, the same thing as migration ; 
and, if it is economically good for a man to go from 
a poor land at his door to a rich in the next county, 
it cannot be economically bad for him to go from a 
poor district of his own country to a rich across the 
sea. The mere length of the journey or the difference 
of latitude does not affect the economical nature of 
the change. 

Economical motives, however, have come very late 
in all the great European emigrations. It was not 
the desire of finding room for the over-crowded 
families at home, but desire of the metal gold, or 
else it was the simple love of adventure, or ambition 
of conquest, that first sent the Spanish, Portuguese, 
English, and Dutch to the far East and far West. 2 
" These passioos enabled the first adventurers to 
triumph " over obstacles that would have deterred 

1 Essay, 2nd ed., pp. 387 seq. ; 7th ed., pp. 287 seq. 
2 Ibid. 


quiet industrial emigrants, " but in many instances 
in a way to make humanity shudder, and to defeat 
the very end of emigration. Whatever may be the 
diameter of the Spanish inhabitants of Mexico and 
IVru at the present moment, we cannot read the 
accounts of the first conquests of these countries 
without feeling strongly that the race destroyed was, 
in moral worth as well as numbers, superior to the 
race of their destroyers." The settlers that followed 
on the heels of these pioneers, though they were 
more like real emigrants, went unskilfully to work. 
Th-y seemed to expect that "the moral and mechani- 
cal habits" which suited the old country would suit 
tli nr\v/ and everything would go on as it did at 
home. At first therefore there would be a redundant 
population 2 in the new country rather than in the 
old, for, however great the possible produce of the 
colony, the actual produce would be less than the 
wants of the new-comers on their first arrival. To 
all this must be added the fact that, though econo- 
mically a far and a near place are alike, they are very 
different to the sentiments of men. Patriotism is 
no fault, and tin- bivakin^ of home ties is a real evil 
to the individuals, however beneficial the emigration 
may be to the nation. Men are slow to move, not 
only from thr unrritain prospects of success, but from 
that r/.v in man \\hi<-h is always counteract in^ 

ili.- PtJ iii't/infrir of rMiniHTrial ambition. In addition, 
therefore, to tin- nn-n- uneasiness of poverty and thr 
re of getting a living, there is need of some spirit 

ed., p. 391 ; 7th ed., pp. 289 90. ' Ibid. 


of enterprise, to make men willing and successful 
emigrants. 1 Those who felt distress most would often 
have been the most helpless in a ne\v country; 
they needed leaders who were " urged by the spirit 
of avarice or enterprise, or of religious or political 
discontent, or were furnished with means and support 
by Government ; " otherwise, " whatever degree of 
misery they might suffer in their own country from 
the scarcity of subsistence, they would be absolutely 
unable to take possession of any of those uncultivated 
regions of which there is such an extent on the earth." 
Emigration then (according to Malthus) is not likely 
to happen unless political discontent and extreme 
poverty have brought the emigrants to such a plight 
that it is better for their country as well as for them- 
selves that they should go. " There are no fears so 
totally ill-grounded as the fears of depopulation from 
emigration." : Emigration is not even a cure for an 
over-population ; and is much recommended only 
because little adopted. Gaps made in the population 
of old countries are soon filled up ; room found in the 
ne\v is soon occupied. If emigration is proposed as a 
means of securing an absolutely unrestricted increase 
of population by placing old countries in the position 
of new colonies, the hope will be soon and for ever 
cut off. 3 

Towards the end of his life, Malthus had an oppor- 
tunity of explaining his views on this subject to an 
audience of statesmen. He appeared as a witness 

1 Essay, 2nd ed., p. 393 ; 7th ed., p. 291. 
2 2nd ed., p. 395 ; 7th ed., p. 292. 3 Ibid. 


before the Select Committee l of the House of Commons 
" to inquire into the expediency of encouraging emi- 
o rat ion from the United Kingdom," and his influence 
is traceable in their Reports. They reported * that 
there had been in the United Kingdom a " redundant 
population," in Ireland agricultural, in Scotland and 
England manufacturing; that one cause of it hud 
been the unavoidable displacement of hand labour by 
machinery ; 8 that meanwhile the British colonies in 
America, Africa, and Australia had few men and 
plenty of land, and that it would benefit the whole 
empire if parishes could convert their probable or 
actual paupers into emigrants, always provided that 
the remaining population could be induced not to 
grow so fast as to fill the whole gap thus created. 4 
" The testimony " (said the Committee in their third 
Report 6 ) " which was uniformly given by the practical 
witnesses has been confirmed in the most absolute 
manner by that of Air. .Malthas, and your Committee 
ran not but express their satisfaction at finding that 
the experience of facts is thus strengthened through- 
out by <:,. ip-nil i-.-asoning and scientific principles." 
They were more disposed than tin -ir witness himself 
to a priori reasoning, and in many of their leading 

1 Appointed in March 1826, in the tot thirteen in Lord 

;ool's Government Mai thus came before them on 5th May, 1827. 
See Third Report of Emigration Committee, pp. 9, 10, and f<>r In.- evidence 
pp. 31 1 tcq. 

* 1st Report, 1828 (May); 2nd, 1827 (April). The free use of technical 
terms is not nurpriwi itical economy was then a popular study. 

x am pies see 1st Report, pp. 46, 57 ; 2nd Report, pp. 63, 102 ; 

2nd R< j 1827 (June). * p. 0. 



questions he declined to follow them. 1 But he agreed 
with their main conclusions, allowing that under 
certain conditions it would be even a financial advan- 
tage to remove unemployed workmen to the colonies 
rather than suffer them to become paupers at home, 
and adding, that, if he was against the admission of 
any legal claim to relief in ordinary cases of pauper- 
ism, still more would he be against it when the 
pauper had before him the alternative of assisted 
emigration. 2 Plis own view of emigration had not 
changed since he wrote in 1803. It was to him a 
partial remedy ; and it is more useful when spon- 
taneously adopted by the people 3 than when pressed 
on them by their Government. Under the torture 
of the question he conceded no more. 4 

As a temporary expedient, the essay tells us, 5 
" with a view to the more general cultivation of the 
earth and the wider extension of civilization, it seems 
to be both useful and proper," and is to be encour- 
aged, or at least not prevented, by Governments. All 
depends on the rate of wages. If wages were high 
enough to enable people to live with what they 
counted reasonable comfort at home, we may be sure 
their domestic and patriotic ties would be strong 
enough to keep them there. The complaint that 
emigration raises wages is most unreasonable. At 
the utmost it prevents wages from falling too low, 

1 Cf. below, ch. vii. (on Ireland), especially pp. 197 and 199. 

2 3rd Report, p. 315, qu. 3257. 

3 The Emigration Committee recommended that the help of the state 
should only be given on condition of a local initiative and local 

4 See e. g. qu. 3370. 5 7th ed., p. 292. 


and helps to heal the mischief caused by fluctuations 
in trade. 

\\V shall find at a later stage that Malthus is 
keenly aware of the unhappiness caused in modern 
industrial societies by changes in the demand for 
goods, occurring even in the natural (or uninter- 
rupted) course of trade. A movement in favour of 
emigration in 1806 and 1807 led him to insert a 

j;raph in the fourth edition of his essay which 
explains the relation of emigration to these changes. 
1 1 accepts the statement of Adam Smith, that " the 
demand for men, like that for any other commodity, 
necessarily regulates the production of men;" 1 but 
In adds (as Cairnes added later) that it takes some 
little time to bring more labour into the market when 
is demand for it, and some little time to check 
the supply when once it has begun to flow. 8 A 
family may be reared to catch high wages, and the 

: wages may have gone before the family has 
arrived at maturity. Malthus distinguishes between 
a normal or slight " oscillation " of this kind, and an 
excessive redundancy caused by an unusual stimulus 
to production the stimulus, for example, of the 

_rn wars and the foreign trade of the years before 
Waterloo. In the normal case we must submit to 

inevitable; in the exceptional we may find an 
outlet in emigration. No doubt, even if tin -iv he no 
emigration, in the long run the labour market will 

> i. ' v I rift ae (MacC.'i ed.). "Other" is not a slip; the 

us of his cynicUm. 

"/, III. iv. 298, of which the concluding paragraph WM added in 


right itself ; but the process will be a very painful 
one to the workmen concerned. Emigration is the 
humane and politic remedy. 

In some cases, such as Norway and the uplands of 
Switzerland, 1 there would seem to be no need for 
Government to teach the people to emigrate. Cir- 
cumstances should do it for them ; but human beings 
are influenced by habit and " chance " as much as 
by any deliberate motive, commercial or otherwise. 
In the Swiss uplands, as Malthus knew them, " a 
habit of emigration depended not only on situation 
but often on accident." Three or four successful 
emigrations " have frequently given a spirit of enter- 
prise to a whole village, and three or four unsuccessful 
ones a contrary spirit." : This is illustrated by the 
contrast of two parishes, both in the Canton de Vaud, 
St. Cergues in the Jura, and Leysin 3 in the Bernese 
Alps near Aigle. The movements of population in 
Leysin puzzled M. Muret, the Swiss economist, who 
drew up a paper on the depopulation of Switzerland 
for the Economical Society of Berne in the year 1766. 
He found that in this parish of four hundred people 
tli ere were born every year on an average only eight 
children, whereas, elsewhere in Canton de Vaud, to 
the same number of people eleven (in Lyonnais 
sixteen) children were a common proportion. The 
difference, he observed, disappeared by the age of 
twenty, when, if we may say so, the difference died 
off, the eight in Leysin being healthier than the 

1 Essay, 7th ed., Bk. II. ch. v. 2 2n<l ed., pp. 275-6 ; 7th ed., p. 169. 
3 Or " Leyzin," as Malthus spells it. 


eleven (or sixteen) elsewhere. Muret infers from 
this, that " in order to maintain in all places the 
proper equilibrium of population, God has wisely 
ordered things in such a manner as that the force of life 
in each country should be in the inverse ratio of its 
fecundity." l There is, however, no need to suppose 
a miracle. The fact was simply that the place and 
the employments were healthy, that the people had 
not formed habits of emigration, that their resources 
were stationary, that, therefore, they married late, had 
few children, and were long-lived. 2 The subsisting 
marriages were to the annual births as 12 to 1 ; the 
births were to the living population as 1 to 49 ; and 
the number of persons above sixteen were to those 
below as 3 to I. 3 This would show that mere number 
of births is no criterion of the size of a population, 
for it took only about half of the ordinary number 
of births to keep up a population of four hundred in 
the parish of Leysin. In St. Cergues the subsisting 
marriages were to the annual births as 4 to 1 (inst. al 
of 12 to 1 as at Leysin), the births were to the living 
population as 1 to 26, and the number of persons 
above and below sixteen just equal. That is to say, 
St. Cergues had nearly twice as many births a year 
in jTopHrtion to the population, and more than twice 
as many marriages ; but, instead of three-fourths of 
its living population being above sixteen (as at Leysin), 
those above and those below Were < ju il in number, 
and St. Cergues had a smaller proportion of adults 

1 ay, 2nd cd., p. 271 ; 7th ed., p. 166. 
1 Avenge sixty-one yean. * 2nd ed. t p. 274 ; 7th ed., p. 168. 


than Leysin. On the other hand, the death-rate was 
nearly the same ; the healthiness was nearly as great. 
How came it then that the population of St. Cergues 
was only one hundred and seventy-one, as against the 
four hundred and five of Leysin ? What became of 
the children born ? Seeing that they did not die, 
and did not appear on the registers of the living, 
we infer that they left their native village ; that 
is all. The situation of the parish of St. Cergues, 
on the high road from Paris to Geneva, suggested 
emigration ; and, as a matter of fact, the place had 
become, like most highland hamlets, a breeding-place 
for the lowlands and the manufacturing towns. The 
annual drain of adults made room for the favoured 
remnant to marry and have large families. Even 
Leysin, though it lay on no high road, might conceiv- 
ably (says Malthus) have exchanged its stay-at-home 
character for a habit of emigration, and might then 
have doubled its birth-rate without raising the death- 
rate. It is one of the fallacies of old statisticians to 
infer a large population from a high birth-rate ; in 
an old country, if the rate of births is high in com- 
parison with the number of living inhabitants, it 
means either many deaths or much emigration. 

The people of an old country, if they cannot or 
will not emigrate, must, according to Malthus, either 
look for a high death-rate or accustom themselves 
to late marriages. M. Muret's figures showed that 
many cantons of Switzerland had adopted this last 
course in the eighteenth century. In the Canton de 
Vaud, for example, the proportion of marriages to 


living inhabitants (I to 140) was lower than in Nor- 
way itself. In a pastoral country the limits of human 
resources are so obvious that the people cannot fail to 
be impressed with the need of limiting their numbers. 
Pastoral industry, again, feeds more than it employs, 1 
and the unemployed must look for employment else- 
where. This was one reason why there were so 
many Swiss in foreign service. " When a father 
has more than one son, those who are not wanted 
on the farm are powerfully tempted to enrol them- 
selves as soldiers, or emigrate in some other way, as 
the only chance to enable them to marry." 2 Mai thus 
was a little disappointed with the condition of the 
s peasantry when he saw them in 1803. Per- 
haps, he says, they were still suffering from the wars 
in which the "Helvetic Republic" had been involved 
by its French allies ; but more probably they were 
suffering from the unwise attempts of their Govern- 
inrnt in the previous century to "encourage" what 
they then thought was a declining population. 8 The 
peasant who guided Malthus to the sources of the 
Orbe 4 talked freely to him on the poverty of tin- 
district, which he ascribed to early and imprudent 
marriages, "le vice du pays"; he would have a law 
passed to prevent a man marrying till ho was forty, 
ami a woman till she was elderly. !! said that at 
one time the introduction of stone polishing had -. i\. n 
the people high wages and led them to expect constant 

1 2nd ed., p. 280 ; 7 173, top. The remark savours of paradox. 

p. 280, foot; 7th ed., p. 173. 
* Ibid, p. 281 ; 7th ed., p. See above, p. 127. 


employment ; changes of fashion l had helped to drive 
the industry away, but the habits taught by it had 
remained so fast rooted in the people that emigration 
itself brought no relief to their overflowing numbers. 
But this self-taught Malthusian had not learned his 
lesson perfectly. He fancied that the fertile lands 
of the low countries, with their abundance of corn 
and employments, could never experience the evil 
of over population. This was true only in the 
unhappy sense that they had greater unhealthiness 
and a greater mortality, providing room for early 
marriages and many births. 

It is easy to see that Mai thus over- valued his 
prize. The pons asinorum of the subject is the 
doctrine that over-population is not a question of 
absolute numbers or absolute quantity of food and 
fertility of soil, but of the numbers in relation to 
the food, in whatever place or time ; and the young 
peasant had not crossed it. 

1 Compare above on " oscillations," p. 147, and below, Bk. II. chs. ii. 
and iii. 

CHAP, vi.] FRANCE. 153 



French Numbers a Problem to Europe in 1802, because Law of Increase 
not understood Effects of War Lament for the unborn millions 
eighty years ago More fitting now Good Distribution and Pro- 
duction -sometimes inseparable The Stationary State Malthusand 
the French Revolution. 

IN the order of his writing Malthus follows the 
order of his travels, and takes France l after Switzer- 
land. France presents us with facts of an almost 
unitjue kind. But before the Revolution it had no 
trustworthy parish registers to show to the English 
inquirer ; and Malthus would not have lingered over 
it, if in 1802 the public mind had not been perplexed 
by a riddle, about French population and its increase 
during war, of which he had the key. 2 

The essay is not meant for a mere history, and its 
author is not careful to be full in his historical details 
if he has a body of facts sufficient for his purpose. 
If even says, about some conjectures of his own 
based on French figures, that he had only adopted 
the figures for the sake of illustration, and hod not 
supposed them to be strictly true. "It will be 1-ut 

1 Euay, 7th ed., Bk. II. ch. vi . vii. 
' 2nd ed., p. 285 ; 7th ed., p. 175. 


of little consequence if any of the facts or calculations 
which have been assumed in the course of this chapter 
should turn out to be false. The reader will see that 
the reasonings are of a general nature, and may be 
true though the facts taken to illustrate them may be 
inapplicable." l This is not a wary admission. Never- 
theless, the chapter on France is one of the most 
telling in the essay. The substance of it may be 
stated very shortly. 

" It has been seen," he says, " in many of the 
preceding chapters, that the proportions of births, 
deaths, and marriages are extremely different in 
different countries, and there is the strongest reason 
for believing that they are very different in the same 
country at different periods and under different cir- 
cumstances." The truth of this remark is borne 
out not only by the contrast between the France and 
the Switzerland of that time, but, as we shall find, 
by the contrast between the France of 1803 and the 
France of to-day. It is not singular that Malthus 
should (wrongly) expect the Swiss to become his 
pupils more easily than the French, for in his day 
both the mortality and the number of marriages 
were greater in France than in Switzerland. 3 

He spends most pains in illustrating the contrast 
between the France before the Revolution and the 

1 2nd ed., p. 296 ; cf. 7th ed., p. 182 n. " Indeed in adopting Sir F. 
d'lvernois's calculations respecting the actual loss of men during the 
Revolution, I never thought myself borne out by facts, but the reader 
will be aware that I adopted them rather for the sake of illustration 
than from supposing them strictly true." 

2 7th ed., p. 188. 3 7^ ed>j p< 176 . cf< p< 175 

CHAP, vi.] FRANCE. 155 

France at the Peace of Amiens. In many ways it 
was fortunate that he confined himself to the Repub- 
lican period. It was the time when the moral position 
of France was highest, and she was warring not for 
conquest but for defence. Switzerland had exem- 
plified the fact that Emigration does not permanently 
check population, but, on the whole, encourages it. 
France, at the time chosen, exemplified the fact that 
even the most destructive Wars have a similar effect 
on the growth of numbers. What Malthus had 
proved more or less deductively in regard to ancient 
nations he was able to show more inductively by 

sties in regard to modern. Great surprise was 
expressed in the early days of this century that, in 
spite of her enormous losses, France had not dimin- 

1 in population. Malthus says she had rather 
increased than diminished. According to the estimate 
of the Constituent Assembly, which was confirmed 
by the calculations of Necker, the population in 1792, 
before tin- war, was 26,000,000. In 1801 it seems, 
from the n turns of the Prefects, to have been about 
28,000,000. 1 In ten years the incna-o had been 
2,000,000, or 200,000 a year. Yet at a medium calm- 
latioii Francis in addition to the ordinary deaths, had 
lost by tin- war about 1,000,000 of men up to that 

or 100,000 ji \< n. How, on the principles 

lalthus, were the two facts to be reconciled 
To reconcile them he shows, first, how, according 
to the figures given by Frenchmen themselves, th< 
numbers of the unmarried Mir v Ivors at home v 
1 7th ed., pp. 177, 181 n. Hn-i., j- 178 and n. 


more than enough to have kept up in case of necessity 
the old number of marriages and the old rate of 
increase ; second, how from general principles there 
was a presumption in favour of a rapid increase at 
such a time ; and third, how the social and industrial 
conditions of the French people since the Kevolution 
were favourable to an increase of population. First, 
then, he shows that the entire body of unmarried 
persons was large enough in spite of the war to fill 
the vacancies and keep up the old rate of increase. 
The body of the unmarried is formed by the " accu- 
mulation " year by year of the numbers of persons, 
rising to marriageable, age, who are not married (or 
say briefly of the marriageable unmarried, including 
widows and widowers). This accumulation will only 
stop when the yearly accessions thereto are no more 
than equal to the yearly mortality therein. The size 
of this body will therefore vary with the character of 
the particular nation considered. In the Canton de 
Vaud it was equal to the whole number of the 
married ; but in France both the mortality and the 
marriage rate were higher than in Switzerland, and 
the unmarried were therefore a smaller fraction of 
the total numbers. Assuming from the French 
authorities l a certain birth and death rate, and assum- 
ing from the same authorities that the unmarried 
men for the period before the Kevolution were one 
and a half millions out of five millions that were 
marriageable, it would appear that every year there 
were 600,000 persons arriving at the marriageable 

1 Not above suspicion. See 7th ed., p. 176 n. 

CHAP, vi.] FRANCE. 157 

age, of whoni (since about 220,000 is the annual 
number of marriages) 440,000 marry. The surplus 
of unmarried is therefore 160,000 persons, or about 
80,000 men. It follows that for war purposes (if 
mere numbers be considered) the reserve fund of men 
would be nearly one and a half millions, and every 
n'\v annual surplus of 80,000 youths above eighteen 
might be taken for military service without any 
diminution in the number of marriages. 1 As a 
matter of fact, it is putting the case somewhat 
strongly to suppose as many as 600,000 to be taken 
for service in the first instance, and 150,000 additional 
troops to keep up the supply every year. But this 
would still leave in the first instance nearly 900,000 
for the reserve fund, which with the annual 80,000 
could bear a drain on it of 150,000 for ten years, and 
leave a balance of 200,000 altogether, or 20,000 a 
year. In other words, there would be room for an 
increase in the number of marriages of nearly 20,000. 
1 t would not be miraculous then if the French popu- 
lation should continue to increase in the face of great 
losses in war, for the increase before the war had been 
very much less than the greatest possible. 

In the second place, the circumstances of the 
civilian population made an increase very likely. 
Many out of the reserve fund of unmarried men will 
in the course of ten years be past the military age, 
but not past the age of marriage. The 150,000 
i its would probably be taken from the 300,000 

I itary advantage of an inorc^in^ i"jn -inted out 

also in Le on Newenhain's ' Ireland,' Klin, far., July 1808, p. 350. 


who every year rose to marriageable age, and the 
marriages would be kept up from the older unmarried 
men, in the scarcity of younger husbands. It may 
be remembered, too, that in the early years of the 
war so many youths married prematurely to avoid 
service, 1 that the Directory were obliged (in 1798) to 
extend the conscription to the married men. But 
even when the husbands were removed to the war 
the marriages were not necessarily childless, and 
would thus, at the least, be a means of adding to the 
people's numbers that did not exist before the Revolu- 
tion. The facility of divorce, too, though bad both 
in morals and in politics, would at least, in the 
existing scarcity of men, act somewhat like polygamy, 
and make the number of children greater in propor- 
tion to the number of husbands. It is said, too, that 
there were more natural children born in France after 
the Revolution than before it ; and, since the peasants 
were better off after it than before it, there was a 
better chance that more of the children than formerly 
should survive. 

In the third place, there is no doubt, says Malthus, 
that the division of the domain lands and the creation 
(or at least the multiplication) of peasant properties 
have had a great influence both on wealth and on 
population. They add to population more than to 
wealth, for they increase the gross produce of food 
at the expense of the nett surplus. " If all the 
land of England were divided into farms of 20 a 
year, we should probably be more populous than 

1 Cf. Josiah Tucker, On Trade, p. 17 (3rd ed., 1753). 


we are at present, but as a nation we should be 
extremely poor. We should be almost without dis- 
posable revenue, and should be under a total inability 
of maintaining the same number of manufactures or 
collecting the same taxes as at present." 1 But the 
ion of lands was at least in favour of the gross 
produce, and even the passing traveller was inclined 
to think, from the appearance of the fields and the 
style of the field labour, that, however severely the 
manufacturing industry of France might have suffered 
during the war, her agriculture had rather gained 
than lost. 2 The absence of so many strong men with 
the armies would not only raise wages at home and 
make the labourers better off, but by pro tanto 
lessening the demand for food and taking from those 
at home the burden of supporting so many men, 
would not raise the price of food with the wages, 
but would allow real wages to rise. This would 
co-operate with political causes in making the people 
desert the towns for the country, and thereby it 
would reduce the death-rate, which is always higher 
in towns than in the country. It is attested by 
Arthur Young (no friend to the Essay on Population) 
that the high mortality of France before the Revolu- 
tion (according to Necker 1 in 30) was caused by an 
over-population which the changes at the Revolution 
t' n led to remove. The probability is, therefore, that 

1 Essay, 2nd ed., p. 297 n ; 7th ed., p. 185, which omits one clause. 
Cf. 2nd ed., pp. 290-1 ; 7th cd., j.j.. 17i, 180. 

8 2nd ed., p. 291 ; 7th ed., pp. 179, 180. Cf. the often-quoted passages 
about the bleak rock and the garden. \M-:;I.-H (be it remarked) before 
and n lie Revolution, in Arthur Young's Travel* in France 

(Bury St. Edmunds, 1792), pp. 36, 37, 42 ; cf. p. 341. 


the births increased and the deaths decreased during 
the ten years after the Eevolution ; and there could 
be no difficulty in understanding the increase of 
population in spite of the war. ID the later editions 
of the essay l Malthus confesses that his French 
figures need revision ; the returns of the Prefects 
for 1801-2 and other Government papers had given 
a smaller proportion of births than he had thought 
probable, for the period before the Revolution. But 
(he remarks) the Prefects' returns do not embrace 
the earlier years of the Eevolution, precisely the 
time when the encouragement to marriage would be 
greatest and the proportion of births highest. In 
any case they show that the population of France 
is not less but greater since the Revolution. If in 
the latter part of this period the increase was affected 
by the decrease of deaths rather than by increase of 
births, they not only leave his position untouched, 
but give him a result that would highly please him. 
Certainly in England and in Switzerland, and pro- 
bably in every European country, the rate of mortality 
has decreased in the last two hundred years, through 
the greater healthiness of the conditions of life ; and 
it is not at all surprising that a population should 
be kept up or even made to increase with a smaller 
proportion of births, deaths, and marriages than before. 2 
The French labouring classes at the beginning of 
the Revolution were seventy-six per cent, worse fed, 
clothed, and supported than their fellows in England. 3 

1 E. g. 5th, 1817 ; 7th ed., ch. vii. 2 7th ed., p. 188. 

3 Arthur Young, Travels in France, pp. 410, 437. 

CHAP, vi ] FRANCE. 161 

Th.-ir wages wore 10cT. a day (as compared with 
1*. 5d.) t while the price of corn was about the same ; 
but their condition and their remuneration had been 
decidedly improved by the Revolution and the 

ion of tho national domains. Wages in money 
(since Young wrote) had risen to 1$. 3d. a day ; and, 
according to some authorities, the real wages had 
become even higher than in England. 1 The new 

ibution of wealth had been followed by an 
immense increase in the production of it, shared by 
the producers themselves, and making France im- 
mensely stronger as a nation either for offence or 
defence. 2 Such an improvement in the condition of 
the people would naturally be followed by diminution 
in the deaths ; and a diminution in the deaths must 
lead either to an increase of population or to a 
decrease in tin- marriages and births. The latter 
(which is presumably an increase of moral restraint) 
has followed. In the ten years after the Peace of 
Amiens the population seems to have increased only 
very slow ; perhaps no propo- 

sition more incontrovertible than this, that in tw. 
countries, in which the rate of increase, the natural 
healthiness of climate, and the state of towns an 1 
3 are supposed to be nearly the same, tho 
one in which the pressure of poverty is the greatest 
will have the greatest proportion of births. l<ath-, 

riages,'' " versd* 

Malthus 1 survey of population in France applies 

1 Amy, 7th L, p. 1S9. (To, Mod, Jfcmy*, i. 184. 

7th cd , p. 188. 



only to his own lifetime, and indeed only to the 
earlier part of that. To do him full justice we must 
place his picture of the real losses of war alongside 
of his description of the compensations. 

The constant tendency of population to increase 
up to the limits of the food may be interpreted (in 
the case of war) as the tendency of the births in a 
country to supply the vacancies made by death. 
The breaches are not permanent ; they are among the 
reparable as distinguished from the irreparable mis- 
chiefs of war. But this does not, from a moral or 
political aspect, afford the slightest excuse for the 
misery caused thereby to the existing inhabitants. 

" Can you by filling cradles empty graves ? " 

There is an exchange of mature beings in the " full 
vigour of their enjoyments" 1 for an equal number 
of helpless infants. Not only is this a waste of the 
men who died, but it is a deterioration, for the time 
being, of the quality of the whole people ; they will 
consist of more than the normal proportion of women 
and children ; and the married will be men and 
women who in ordinary times would have remained 
single. When the drain of men for military service 
begins to exhaust the reserve of unmarried persons, 
and the annual demands are in excess of the number 
annually rising to marriageable age, then of course 
war will actually diminish population. 2 Till that 
point is reached, war may alter the units and spoil 
the quality of the population, but will not lessen its 

1 A characteristic utilitarian touch. 2nd ed., p. 295, top ; 7th ed., 
p. 183. 2 

CHAP, vi.] FRANCE. 103 

total volume. Sir Francis Ivernois, from whom 
Multlius took some of his figures, went too far in 
tin- other direction when he told us we must not look 
so much at the deaths in battle or in hospital, when 
we are counting up the destructive effects of war 
or revolution, as at the remoter results ; " the number 
of men war has killed is of much less importance 
than the number of children whom it has prevented 
and will still prevent from coming into the world." 
He supposes one million of men to have been lost in 
the Revolution itself, and one and a half millions in its 
wars ; and he says that, if only two millions of these 
ha<l been married, they would have needed to have had 
six children each in order that a number of children 
o<|iial to the number of their parents (i. e. four millions) 
should be alive thirty-nine years afterwards. We 
ought, he thinks, to mourn not only for the two and a 
half millions of men killed, but for the twelve millions 
whom their death prevented from being born. To 
whirh Malthas wisely answers that the >l;iin, being 
full grown men, reared at no little cost to themselves 
and their country, may be fitly mourned, but not the 
unborn twelve millions, whose appearance in the 
world would only have sent or kept a corresponding 
number out of it, and "if in the best-governed 
country in Europe we were to mourn the posterity 
which U j.iv\vnt.-l from coming into 1 > should 

always wear the habit of grief." 1 

If Sir Francis Ivernois could have foreseen the 
history of French population for seventy 

1 2nd ed, p. 294 ; 7th od., p. 183. 

M 2 


the time when he wrote, he would have had more 
reason to utter his curious lament. 

" The effect of the Revolution," wrote Mai thus in 
1817, " has been to make every person depend more 
upon himself and less upon others. The labouring 
classes have therefore become more industrious, more 
saving, and more prudent in marriage than formerly ; 
and it is quite certain that without these effects the 
Revolution would have done nothing for them." l The 
country districts - which took the least active part in 
the Revolution have been the most resolute in con- 
serving the results of it. Over-population in France 
is known only in the towns. At the beginning of the 
eighteenth century say one hundred and fifty years 
ago (1732) under Louis XV. the population of France 
was estimated at twenty millions of people. 2 There 
is good reason to believe that the habits of the people 
were entirely different from what they are now ; they 
were even said to be famous for their large families. 3 
In 1776 their numbers were about twenty- four mil- 

1 Essay, 7th ed., p. 320 (III. vii.). 

2 Levasseur, France avec ses Colonies (1875), p. 842. According to 
Anderson, Chron. Ded., Vol. III. p. xliii, some said twenty, others seven- 
teen. But Mr. Kitchin cites Vauban to show that there had been a decline 
in population from fifteen to thirteen millions between the beginning of 
the war of Succession and the end of it (1702, 1713). History of France, 
vol. iii. p. 342. Cf. Fox Bourne's Life of Locke, i. p. 350 ; Vauban's 
Dime Eoyale, pp. 162-3. 

3 Josiah Tucker, Essay on Trade (3rd ed., 1753), p. 14. There may 
be rhetorical exaggeration in his statements. "The subordination of 
the common people is an unspeakable advantage to the French in respect 
to trade. By this means the manufacturers [workmen] are always kept- 
industrious. They dare not run into debauchery ; to drunkenness they 
are not inclined. They are [practically by the law of military service] 
obliged to enter into the married state, whereby they raise up large 
families to labour, and keep down the price of it ; and consequently, by 
working cheaper, enable the merchant to sell the cheaper." 

vi.] FRAN 165 

lions, 1 at the Revolution of 1789 about twenty 
millions,- in 1831 thirty-two and a half, and in 1866 
thirty-eight. At the present time, from loss of terri- 
tory ami fmin decrease of numbers in certain parts 
of the country, they are little more than thirty-seven 
and a half millions not much more than the popu- 

11 of Great Britain, a country neither so large nor 
so fertile. Even in 1815 Hal thus spoke of France 
as having a more stationary and less crowded popu- 

:i than Britain, though it was richer in corn. 8 
The population of 1881 showr.l an increase of 766,260 
that of 1876, and was in all 37,672,048. 4 It 
increases not by augmentation in the number of 
births, for that has been actually lessening, but by 
diminution in the deaths. The population of Britain" 
has trebled itself within the present century ; that of 
ice has not even doubled itself in a century and a 
half, with every allowance for a varying frontier. The 
fears which Malthus expressed, 6 that the law of inherit- 
ance and compulsory division of property would lead 
to an excessive and impoverished country population, 
have not been 1 The industrial progress of 

the country has been very great. Fifty years ago the 
production of win -at was only the half of what it is 

> Wealth of Nation*, IV. ill pp. 220-1. 

See above, p. 155. Levoraeur make* ur Young, 
who comtidera France over- populated by five or *ix mi II long, makes it 

v-six (Travel* in France, pp. 468-9 ; cf. p. 47 -had nude 

it tli 
' Groiim/j of an Opinion, Ac., p. 12. See below, I'.k. II . -li. i. 

* < -nan* a* given in Annmtirt. de V&onomie PoHtiqttt (1882), p. 899. 

"tomy (1820), pp. 433 MO.. Cliffe Leslie ( Afor. and Pol. 
i*iy, 1879, p. 424) attributes the few births to the very Law : 
-. : -\ .. . itiiu VM .ilr.i.-l. 


to-day, of meat less than tlie half. In almost every 
crop and every kind of food France is richer now 
than then in the proportion of more than 2 to 1. 
In all the conveniences of life (if food be the neces- 
saries) the increased supply is as 4 to 1, while foreign 
trade has become as 6 to 1. Since property is more 
widely distributed in France than elsewhere, an 
increase of production is much more certain to mean 
a benefit to the whole people. But there are certain 
classes of goods, chiefly necessaries, of which (even 
in a land like England, where the great wealth is in 
a few hands) it is impossible profitably to extend the 
production without pari passu extending the distri- 
bution. When articles of food are imported in vast 
quantities, they cannot, from the nature of things, 
go entirely to the rich ; the rich can easily eat and 
drink beyond the normal value, but not much (with- 
out Gargantua's mouth) beyond the normal quantity; 
and, at least in the case of our own country, very little 
is exported again. Generally speaking, it is a true say- 
ing that, the more the food, the more are fed. But 
what is true of necessaries in England is true even of 
other goods in France. 1 The " average wealth of each 
person " is not there, as often elsewhere, a mere arith- 
metical entity, but a very near approach to the ordi- 
nary state of the great majority of the people ; and 
this average wealth is thought by good authorities 2 
to have more than doubled since the beginning of the 

1 In the country districts at least. On the relation of luxury to trade, 
&c., see below, Bk. II. ch. iii. p. 268. 

2 E. g. by M. Levasseur in La France avec ses Colonies (1875), p. 

CHAP, vi.] FRANCE. 167 

century. The population, on the other hand, has 
only increased by one-half; and the average duration 
of life has lengthened from twenty-eight to thirty- 
seven years. In a paper of Chateauneufs (1826) 
quoted by MaeCulloch, 1 it was said that the French 
people were improving their condition by diminishing 
their marriages. The statistician Levasseur, on the 
contrary, with the facts of another half-century before 
him, tells us that married people in France are the 
majority of the population, 2 the average age of marriage 
being twenty-six for the women, and rather more than 
thirty for the men. The birth-rate, however, is the 
^ in Europe, 8 being 1 in 37, as opposed to 1 in 
'27 f<>r England. It is by refusing to fill the cradles 
that they leave the graves empty. Yet France is 
less healthy than England. Its death-rate in 1882 
was 22*2 per thousand, while in England it was 19 6. 4 
re are other features which make the case 
unique. There are few foreigners in France ; the 
numbers of the French people are neither swelled by 
immigration nor reduced by emigration. Since the 
expulsion of the Huguenots and the colonization of 
Canada, few nations have been so rooted in their 
own country ; even Algerian and Tunisian conquests 
are due to no popular passion for colonizing. The 
peasant properties have made the people averse to 

At present most Frenchmen remain during life in 

1 Appendix to FTra/M o/Aafiotu, note iv. p. 465. 

I e. pp. 846, 840 O. 7 ..... JM, l-".i. 

AyMrar.frntraf* 45(A Report, for 1882, pp. cii, crii. 


the same Department in which they were born ; l 
and recent observers tell us 2 that a military career 
is becoming distasteful to all classes. Taking the 
absence of immigration as balanced by the absence 
of emigration, we are brought to the conclusion that 
the population of France is stationary by its own 
deliberate act. 

How far this is in accordance with the views of 
Malthus it is impossible to say in one word. It is 
at least the result of the prudence which he was 
always preaching. But his prudence lay in the defer- 
ring of marriage ; and this is not the form which 
prevails in France. Moreover, he thought with Adam 
Smith that the progressive state and not the stationary 
was the normal one for humanity ; if the whole world 
became contented with what it had got, there would, 
in his opinion, be no progress, and the resources and 
capacities of human beings and of the world would 
not be developed. In fact, he retained the aspirations 
of the Revolution, which the country-folk in France 
seem in danger of losing ; he wished men to have 
hopes for the future as well as a comfortable life in 
the present ; he saw no virtue in mere smallness any 
more than in mere bigness of numbers ; he desired as 
great as possible a population of stalwart, well-in- 
structed, wise, and enterprising men ; he thought 
that, without competition, ambition, and emulation, 
and without the element of difficulty and hardship, 
human beings would never fully exert their best 
powers, though he also thought that a time might 

1 Levasseur, La France, 1. c. 2 E. g. Times, 1. c. 

CFIAP. vi.] FRANCE. 169 

come when the lower classes would be as the middle 
classes, or, in his own words, when the lower would 
iininished and the middle increased, and when, 
mainly through the action of the labourers them- 
BS, inventions would .become a real benefit, because 
accompanied by lighter labour and shorter hours for 
the labourers. 1 As for that love of humanity, that 
was so much present in the words and thoughts if 
not in the deeds of the men of the Revolution, he had 
a full share of it. He desired a longer life for the 
living, and fewer births for the sake of fewer deaths. 
His work was like that of the lighthouse, to give 
light and to save life. 

say, 7th ed., IV. xiii p. 474 ; 2nd ed., IV. ad. p. 594. 





Prevailing Checks Proposed Census of 1753 Brown's Estimate 
Depopulation of England in Eighteenth Century Opposing Argu- 
ments Census of 1801 Interpretation of Returns Relative 
Nature of the Question of Populousness Scotland to England as 
Country to Town Industrial changes since the Union Ireland 
under English rule in Eighteenth Century and after The Wall 
of Brass Virtue without Wisdom The Potato Standard The 
Emigration Committee The New Departure. 

IN dealing with the question of population in his 
own country, 1 Malthus tries to answer at least three 
distinct questions : What were the checks actually 
at work in those days ? Had the numbers of the 
people increased, or not, in the eighteenth century ? 
What conclusions on either point may be drawn from 
the English census ? 

The first question -was answered with comparative 
fulness in the essay of 1798. It is remarked there 
that in England the middle and upper classes increase 
at a slow rate, because they are always anxious to 
keep their station, and afraid of the expense of 
marriage. 2 No man, as a rule, would like his wife's 

i 2nd ed., II. ix. ; 7th ed., II. viii., ix. 2 1st ed., pp. 63, 64. 

CHAP, vii.] ENGLAND. 171 

social condition to be out of keeping with her habits 
and inclinations. Two or three steps of descent will 
be considered by most people as a real evil. " If 
society be held desirable, it surely must be free, 
equal, and reciprocal society, where benefits are con- 

<1 as well as received, and not such as the 
dependant finds with his patron or the poor with 
tli< i rirli." So it happens that many men, of liberal 
education and limited income, do not give effect to 
an early attachment by an early marriage. When 
thrir passion is too strong or their judgment too 
k for this restraint, no doubt they have blessings 
tint counterbalance the obvious evils; "but I fear 
it must be owned that the more general consequences 
of such marriages are rather calculated to justify 
than to repress the forebodings of the prudent." 1 
What Maltlms desires, as we infer from the general 
tenor of his book, is that all classes without exception 
should show reluctance to impair their standard of 
living; and his hatred of the Poor Laws is due to 
his conviction that they hinder this end. The subject 
will be more fully discussed by-and-by. 2 In tlio 
chapters on England it is little more than mentioned, 
the author devoting himself chiefly to the statistical 
data of the census and registers. 

In this connection it was impossible for him to 
avoid the question that ha 1 long agitated the minds 

oliticians. Had the numbers of the English 
people been decreasing or increasing since the 

1 1st el, pp. 65-6 ; cf. 2nd rd., p. 300, and 7th ed., p. 198. 
* See below, Bk. I to. 


Kevolution of 1688, and especially in the course of 
the eighteenth century ? Economists of the present 
day are overloaded with statistics ; but, when Adam 
Smith wrote the Wealth of Nations, he was unaware 
of the numbers of his own nation. To estimate 
population without a census is to study language 
without a dictionary ; there had been no census since 
the coming of the Armada, 1 and it was not till one 
hundred years after that event that statistical studies 
came much into favour. An annual enumeration of 
the people was proposed in the House of Commons in 
1753, as a means of knowing the numbers of our 
poor. 2 But the proposal was resisted as anti- Scrip- 
tural and un-English, exposing our weakness to the 
foreigner and spending public money to settle the 
wagers of the learned. There was probably a fear 8 
that the tax-gatherer would follow on the heels of the 
enumerator, as he had done in France. The House 
of Lords beat off the bill, and left England in 
darkness about the numbers of its people for another 
half-century, though something like a census of 
Scotland was made for Government in 1755. 4 As 
without the Irish Famine we might not have had 
the total Repeal of the Corn Laws, so without the 
worst of all possible harvests in 1799 we might 
have had no census in 1801, for Parliament, when 

1 The numbers given then were five millions. Froude, Hist, of 
England, i. 3. 

* See Hansard, Parl. Hist., xiv. 1317. 

3 Not unfelt in 1801. So Arthur Young speaks as if the agricultural 
interest had not unfrequently regarded the Board of Agriculture as a 
new instrument of taxation. (Report on Suffolk, p. 16.) 

4 In charge of Rev. Alexander Webster. 

CHAP, vii.] ENGLAND. 173 

they passed Mr. Abbot's Enumeration Bill in 1800, 
looked to an enumeration of the people to guide 
them in opening and closing the ports to foreign 
grain. The practical question about the increase or 
decline of English numbers was connected, in logic 

ell as in time, with the controversy about the 
comparative populousness of ancient and modern 
nations. The same year (1753) which saw the 

npt to settle by census the question of England's 
depopulation, saw also the publication of Dr. Robert 
Wallace's reply to Hume's Essay on the Populousness 
of Anni'rtt NnfiD/is, in his Dissertations on the Numbers 
<,/' Mankind in Ancient and Modern Times. One of 
Hi -my Fox's objections to Hardwicke's Marriage Act 
(of 1753) was that it would check population. 1 We 
are told 2 that the academical discussion roused 

.lion on the Continent, and a French savant, 

mdes, published an estimate of the numbers of 
modern nations, in which England was made much 
inferior to France, having only eight millions against 
twenty. This was too much for English patriotism. 

i in our own day a great war and a iVw reverses 
usually fill Kn.nland for a year or two with forebodings 
of decay. Written in 1757 (at the In-hming of the 

u Years' War), Dr. John Brown's />///,/,//,' of th<> 

\er% ninl I'ri/ti'ijitrx of f/i<> Times was only the 
most popular of a host of gloomy pamphlets too 

1 I'm-!. //;.</. v..l. \\. j>. <;:>, quoted by Mulnm, Hint, of EH-I 

i.ito, ch. xxxi. p. 39. Of. Travel v h i. 

],. 11. 

* Dr. /<, of Commerce, In 


prejudiced to be of much use for statistics. 1 Dr. 

Adam Anderson 2 sides with the moderns and the 

optimists. The contributions of Dr. Brackenridge 

and Richard Forster to the discussion survive by 

the mention of them in Price's Observations (pp. 

182-3) and in George Chalmers' Estimate (ch. xi. 193), 

this last giving on the whole perhaps the most lucid 

history of the whole depopulation controversy. We 

know from Goldsmith's Traveller (1764) and Deserted 

Village (1770), with its charming illogical preface, 

that even in peace the subject was not out of men's 

thoughts. A similar panic in Switzerland, which 

owed its beginning to England, 3 seems afterwards to 

have reacted on England itself. The American War 

of Independence revived the languishing interest in 

the controversy. This time it was the English' and 

not the antiquarian topic that fell into powerful 

hands. Dr. Richard Price, the Radical dissenter, the 

friend of Dr. Franklin, and the inventor of Pitt's 

Sinking Fund, did battle, in his Observations on 

Reversionary Payments (1769), on behalf of the 

pessimistic view ; Arthur Young, the agriculturist, 

the traveller and the talker, led the opposition to 

him, 4 and was supported by Sir Frederick Eden, 

William Wales, John Hewlett, and last but not least 

by George Chalmers. 5 

1 See especially Estimate (7th ed., 1758), Vol. I. Pt. II. sect. viii. 
pp. 186 seq. 2 Chron. Ded., ibid. 

3 I. e. to the discussion described by Dr. Anderson. Cf. Mai thus, 
Essay, 7th ed., p. 164. Muret's pessimistic paper was printed in 1766. 

4 In his Political Arithmetic, 1774. 

6 Estimate of the Comparative Strength of Britain during the present 
and four preceding Reigns, by George Chalmers, F.R.S., S.A., Isted., 1782. 

CHAP, vii.] ENGLAND. 175 

Gregory King 1 and Justice Hale 1 in the seven- 
teenth century, Dr. Campbell 3 in the eighteenth, had 
agreed that the numbers of Norman England must 
needs have been small, for the government was bad ; 
Dr. Price, on the contrary, had maintained the paradox 
that, though the Revolution of 1688 brought a " hap- 
pier government," the numbers of the people had 
ever since declined. 4 He reasoned from the decreased 
number of dwelling-houses assessed to window tax 
a ml house duty, as compared with those assessed to 

ih (or chimney) money before the Revolution. 5 
Opponents denied the accuracy of his data, and 
thought his estimate of four and a half or five in- 
habitants to a house too low. He pointed to the evil 
influence of a "devouring metropolis," a head too 
large for the body, and of great cities that were the 
" graves of mankind. " 6 Here, too, both the data and 
e were doubtful. He argued from tin* 

asing produce of the Excise duties. Opponents 
answered that, even if the figures were right, a 
changed public taste had lessened the consumption 
of many taxable articles, and many taxed ones were 
supplied free by smuggling. 7 He laid stress on the 

1 Natural and Political Obenatum*, 1696. Apud Davenant and 

1 1 ti w Origination ud 

1 Ii'^al Survey of Or*** Britain, 1774. 

4 Cf. Chalmers EttimaU, p. 4, Pref. p. cxx John Howletl'f 

Examination of Dr. Priced Buoy (Maidstone), 1781. 

* Cf. Macaulay, History, cb 

ObMTBtiioiM, supplement, p. 366. Cf. Mai thus, Ei*iy, App. p. 519. 
Arthur Young, Fntnt* p. 409. The whole subject will be considered 

l.iVr :n DOOM !; -n Hi < oft] trM 

7 BM "'-"., .......... <,.,;,',;. 1771*. 


difficulty the Government found in raising troops in 
the middle of the eighteenth century as compared 
with the end of the seventeenth, though he took this 
as a symptom, not a cause, and complained at the 
same time quite consistently that the increase of the 
army and navy and of military expenditure in three 
great wars had been a potent cause of diminished 
population. Opponents answered that the first was 
really a symptom not of decline but of prosperity ; 
the abundance of other employments kept men from 
the need of enlisting in the army ; and they answered 
too often, that the second (the war expenditure) was 
good for trade. They were safer in urging that for 
the first part of the century the long peace (1727-40) 
and the good harvests (1731-50) made the presump- 
tion of increase very strong. 1 Price made much of 
the emigrations to America and to the East and West 
Indies. It was answered that the known possibility 
of emigration would give men at home the greater 
courage to have a family. Even the engrossing and 
consolidation of farms and the enclosure of commons, 
which he considered to be against population, would, 
said his opponents, increase the food, and therefore 
the people, though perhaps not the people on the 
spot ; 2 and the increase of paupers was thought to be 
a sign of overflowing numbers. He saw a cause of 

1 But see the caveat in the Registrar-General's 44/i Report (for 1881), 
p. vi : The price of wheat and the marriage rate do not always vary 

2 In the same way the returns to the Board of Agriculture at the end 
of the century are full of (not quite disinterested) praises of enclosures 
as an encouragement of population. 

CHAP, vii.] KNO.LAND. 177 

depopulation in the increased luxury and extravagance 
of the people of England. At the beginning of the 

iiy L r in -drinking was credited with an evil effect 
on population. 1 Wlien the opponents of Price did not 
meet this with Maudeville'a sophism, luxury benefits 

, they an.s \vered that what had become greater 
was not the national vices but the national standard 
of comfort, the expansion of which implied an in- 
n-rase of general wealth and presumably of popula- 
tion. 2 Beyond doubt too (it was argued) the gein-ral 

h was better, and medical science had won some 
triumphs.' Malthus. Imwever, warns us against this 
unent; great unhealthiness is no proof of a small 
population nor healthiness of a large. 4 In the ten 
years after the American War of Independence 
(1783-93) til- prosperity of the country seems to 
have advanced by leaps and bounds, only to make 
depression the more observable. Dr. 
Price, who did not live to see the relapse, seems to 
have confessed his error. " In allusion to a dimin- 
ishing population, on which subject it appears that 
he has so widely erred, he says very candidly that, 
perhaps he may have been insensibly influenced t> 
maintain an opinion once advanced." 5 Yet 

1 Lecky, Eighteenth Cent., i. 201, 479 *q. Restrictions on the sale 
were successfully adopted by IMham in 17.M, at the time when the 
question of dej> t<> th< i- 

* An unMfe presumption. See below, Bk. I Ac. 


Jfoay, 2nd !., p. 317 ; 7th cd.,p. 198, compared with 7th ed., p. 189, 
to., ftbov. -16. 

uay, 7th ed., p. 108 note ; ant printed in 3rd od. (1806), p. 
461 n. 



opinion was not fully convinced till 1801, when 
" the answers to the Population Act at length happily 
rescued the question of the population of this country 
from the obscurity in which it had been so long 
involved." * 

There is no good reason to believe that at the end 
of last century the fear of depopulation had given 
place to a fear of over-population. 2 Malthus and 
Arthur Young stood almost alone in their opinion. 3 
Alarm was felt by the agricultural interest, not lest 
there should be an excessive population, but lest the 
population should get its food from abroad. The 
population it was feared had grown beyond the 
English supplies of food ; but of over-population, in 
the wider sense of an excess beyond any existing food, 
the general public and the squires had learned little 
or nothing in these years ; and we have no reason to 
attribute to Malthus any share in the merit of passing 
the Enumeration Bill. It was brought forward in an 
autumn session of Parliament (Nov. 1800) specially 
convened because of the scarcity. It was moved 
by Mr. Abbot, 4 who had made his name more as 
a financier than as an economist, and was chiefly 
remarkable afterwards as a vigorous opponent of 

1 2nd ed., p. 202 n. ; 7th ed., p. 194 n. 

2 This is asserted in the Preliminary Report to the last English 
census (1881). Against the idea, see the Annual Register's reviews of 
Eden's work on the Poor (1797), and of his Estimate of English numbers 
(1800). The Register had numbered Burke and Godwin among its 
writers, and was not likely to be behind public opinion. 

3 See the review of Arthur Young's Question of Scarcity plainly 
stated, 1800,>in Ann. Register, sub dato. 

4 ChairniaA'of tlie Committee on the Public Finances 1797, Speaker of 
the Commons 1802, Lord Colchester 1817. 

vii.] KNGLAND. 179 

Catholic Emancipation. The motion was seconded 
by Mi. Wilberforce ; and the combination of finance 
and philanthropy was irresistible. Malthus, though 
the true interpreter of the census, neither caused 
it in the first instance nor found it of immediate 

in spreading his doctrines. 

The first census would hardly have justified him 

in treating as obsolete the old quarrel about depopu- 

ii ; it had decided only the absolute numbers 

in the first year of the nineteenth century, not the 

progress or relapse during the eighteenth. Besides 

;ig the actual numbers of the people in 1801, 

the census no doubt gave " a table of the population 

of England and Wales throughout the last century 

calculated from the births." But the births, though 

rite, were an unsafe criterion ; and, for the 
population at the Revolution of 1688, Malthus would 
depend more on " the old calculations i'mm the number 
of houses." 1 He finds no difficulty of principle in 
admitting with kman. tin- editor of the census 

returns and observations tin -rcon, that the rapid in- 
crease of the English people since 1780 was du 

ivase of deaths rather than to the increase of 

births.* Such a phenomenon was not only possible 

but common, for the rate of births out of relation to 

rate of deaths could give no sure means of 

judging the numbers. After a famine* or pcstil 

i 2nd ed., p. 318 ; 7th ed. t p. 804. Cf. 2nd L, p. 317 ; 7th 1 
192, 203, 206, 219, Ac. 

2nd o.l 7th ed., pp. 201, 202, foot Compare 44th Repi. 

o/ /<:/. <;<". (Knu'liind). p. v. 

AM c. g. in 1800-1 compared with 1802-3 ; 7th ed., p. 214. 


for example, the rate of births might be twice as high 
as usual, and by the standard of births the numbers 
of the people would be at their maximum, when a 
comparison with the rate of deaths or an actual 
enumeration would show them to be at the mini- 
mum, 1 whereas a low rate of births, if lives were 
prolonged by great healthiness, might certainly mean 
an increase, perhaps a high increase, of numbers. 
But at the particular time in question the factory 
system was coming into being, and manufacturing 
towns were growing great at the expense of the 
country districts. The conditions of life in towns are 
at the best inferior to those in the country ; new 
openings for trade would add not only to the marriages 
but to the deaths and the births. 2 The presump- 
tion was not all in favour of healthiness ; and the 
registers at that particular time could not tell the 
whole truth ; the drain of recruits for foreign service 
would keep down the lists of burials at home, while 
allowing an increase of births and marriages. 3 For 
these and other reasons, Malthus, while he agrees 
with Eickman that the general health has improved, 
trusts little to his calculations from registers ; and 
concludes that even the census gives us no clear 
light on the movement of population in the eigh- 
teenth century. We can be certain that population 
increased during the last twenty years of it, and 

1 2nd ed., p. 319 ; 7th ed., p. 205. Cf. passages cited on last page. 

2 Cf. Essay, 2nd ed., pp. 308-9 ; 7th ed., pp. 198-9. 

3 2nd ed., pp. 312-13 ; 7th ed., p. 201. The 2nd ed. has a reference to 
"the late scarcities" wanting in the later edds. Registration, be it 
remembered, was then of baptisms and burials, not births and deaths. 


almost certain that the movement was not down- 
wards Imt upwards since the Peace of Paris ; and we 

' good ground for believing that it was rather 
ii]) wan Is than downwards even in the earliest years 
of the century, during the good harvests and the long 
peace of Walpole, 1 and that over the whole country 

movement of population was less fluctuating in 
England than on the Continent. 2 The author's admis- 
sion, that the proportions of the births, deaths, and 
mania ires were very different in our country in his 
time from what they used to be, s seems to put tli i 
census of 1801 out of court altogether in the question 
of depopulation, especially as there were no previous 
('numerations with which to compare it. The figures 
from the parish registers for the whole of the century, 
(hat were included in the "returns pursuant to 
tin- Population Act," in addition to the enumeration, 
turned out on examination to be unsatisfactory. 4 

Malthus, however, was able to prove some solid 
conclusions from the census of 1801. It had shown, 
for example, as regards marriages, that the proportion 
of them to the whole numbers of the people was, in 
1801, as 1 to 123}, a small, r proportion than any- 
where except in Norway and Switzerland, 5 and the 
more likely to be true, because Hanlwicke's Marriage 
Act had made registration of marriages more careful 

1 See above, p. 176. Cf. on the other band the concession, 2nd ed., p. 

7th cd., p. 203, middle, 
1 ay, 2nd ed., p. 319 ; 7th cd., pp. 805-6. ' 7th ed., p. 188. 

kman himself allowed their defectivenew. See Jtoay, 2nd ed., 
p. 304 ; 7th cd., p. 196. Cf. above, p. 179. 

2nd ed, p. 302 ; 7th cd., p. 194. By the fayvtrar-Gintrart Report 
for 1882 it wmi M 1 in 64} in that year. 


than of burials and baptisms. In the early part of 
the eighteenth century, the pessimist, Dr. Short, had 
estimated the proportion (with much probability) as 
1 to 115 ; and it would appear, therefore, that at 
neither end of the century were the marriages in a 
high proportion to the numbers, or had population 
increased at its highest rate. Again, Malthus thinks 
it proved by the census that, since population has 
as a matter of fact increased in England in spite of a 
diminished rate of marriages, the increase has been 
at cost of the mortality, the fewer marriages being 
partly a cause, partly a consequence, of the fewer 
deaths of the later years. 1 Those that married late 
might have consoled themselves with the reflection 
that they were lessening not the numbers but the 
mortality of the nation. It was no doubt difficult to 
estimate the extent to which such causes operated, 
or the degree in which the national health had been 
improved. In any case the census guides us better 
than the registers, 2 for it carries us beyond the 
inferred numbers to numbers actually counted out 
at a given time. Neither the census nor the registers 
can be rightly interpreted without a knowledge of 
the social condition, government, and history of the 
people concerned. In undeveloped countries, like 
America and Eussia, or in any old countries after 
special mortality, a large proportion of births may be 
a good sign ; " but in the average state of a well- 
peopled territory there cannot well be a worse sign 
than a large proportion of births, nor can there well 

1 2nd eel., p. 303 ; 7th ed., p. 195. 2 7th ed., p. 205. 

CHAP, vii.] ENGLAND. 1-3 

be a better sign than a small proportion." Sir 
Francis d'lveruois had very justly observed that, if 
the various states of Europe published annually an 
t account of their population, noting carefully in 
a second column the exact age at which the children 
die, this second column would show the comparative 
goodness of the governments, and the comparative 
happiness of their subjects; a simple arithmetical 
statement might then be more conclusive than the 
devereet argument. Malthus assents, but adds that 
should need to attend less to the column giving 
the number of children born, than to the one giving 
the number which n ;K li d manhood, and this number 
will almost invariably be the greatest where the pro- 
portion of the births to the whole population is the 
least." l Tried by this standard, which is much more 
truly the central doctrine of Malthus than the ratios, 
our own country was even then better than all, save 
European countries. Tried by it to-day, we 
have still a good place. Though no great European 
countries, except Austro-Hungary and Germany, have 
had more marriages, in the twenty years from 1861 
to 1880, not only these, but Holland, Spain, and 
Italy, have had more birtks, and all of tln-m except 
Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have had more death*, 
in proportion to their numbers. 1 

One great advantage of the census is, that it enables 
the registrars to calculate from their own data, with 
certain sure limits of t old-out numbers ) hin.l and 

1 2nd ed., pp. 21.1-14 ; 7th d., p. SOI 
46* frport tf AyMwftNffta (England), (1882), p. cl 


before them. "When the registers contain all the 
births and deaths, and there are the means [given by 
the census] of setting out from a known population, 
it is obviously the same as an actual enumeration." l 
]\Ialthus suggested in 1803 that the experiment of 
1801 should be repeated every ten years, and that 
registrars' reports should be made every year. 2 This 
has been done ; and, if both have been accurate, then 
the registers of the intervening years, on the basis of 
the decennial enumeration, ought to make us able 
to calculate the numbers for any intervening year. 
Accordingly, the population of England in 1881, as 
calculated from the births and deaths, was little more 
than one-sixth of a million different from the numbers 
as actually counted over on the night of the 4th of 
April in that year. 3 The growth in the last decade, 
1871 to 1881, was higher than in any since 1831-41 ; 4 
the births were more and the deaths fewer than 
usual. Another London has been added to our 
numbers in ten years. 5 

This gives no sure ground, however, for prediction. 
To suppose a country's rate of increase permanent 
is hardly less fallacious than to suppose an invariable 
order of births and deaths over the world generally. 
Even if we are beyond the time when we need to 
make any allowance for increasing accuracy and fulness, 
and if we may assume that no given census has any 

1 7th ed., p. 210. 2 2nd ed., p. 302 ; 7th ed., p. 194 n. 

3 Numbers calculated by " natural increment," i. e. births and deaths 
26,138,248 ; numbers actually enumerated 25,968,286. Preliminary 
Report, p. iii. 

4 '31-'41, incr. 14'52 ; '7l-'81, incr. 14'34. 

6 Or three and a quarter millions of people to England and Wales alone. 

CHAP, vii.] ENGLAND. 185 

units to sweep into its net that through their fear or 
an official's carelessness escaped its predecessor, still 
we cannot take the rate of increase from one census 
to another as a sure indication of the future. With 
some qualifications the words of Hal thus apply to us 
in 1881 quite as accurately as to our fathers in 1811 : 
" This is a rate of increase which in the nature of 
things cannot be permanent. It has been occasioned 
by the stimulus of a greatly increased demand for 
labour, combined with a greatly increased power of 
production, both in agriculture and manufactures. 
These are the two elements which form the most 
effective encouragement to a rapid increase of popula- 
tion. What has taken place is a striking illustration 
of the principle of population, and a proof that, in 
spite of great towns, manufacturing occupations, and 
the gradually acquired habits of an opulent and 
luxuriant people, if the resources of a country will 
admit of a rapid increase, and if these resources 
are so advantageously distributed as to occasion a 
constantly increasing demand for labour, the popula- 
tion will not fail to keep pace with them." l It was 
a rate of increase which he saw would double the 
population in less than fifty-five years; and this 
doubling has really happened. The numbers for 
England in 1801 were 8,892,536; and in 1851 they 
17,927,609. Malthus had not anticipated ;my 
terchaiiL r - in manufacture and trade than those 
of his own day; and he clearly expected that the 
rate of increase would not continue and the numbers 

1 Ttli t-l., ltt first in 5th ed., 1817). 


would not be doubled. The one thing certain was the 
impossibility of safe prediction on the strength of 
any existing rate. A writer at the beginning of this 
century prophesied the extinction of the Turkish 
people in one hundred years; Sir William Petty at 
the end of the seventeenth century predicted that in 
1800 London would have 5,359,000 inhabitants. But 
the Turks are not yet extinct; London in 1800 had 
less than a million of people, and has taken eighty years 
more to raise them to the number in the prophecy. 1 

If prediction was difficult in the case of England, 
it was not less so in the case of the other parts of 
the United Kingdom. The conditions of society and 
industry were quite different in the three countries ; 
and to judge of the actual or probable growth of 
population in Scotland or Ireland, we must first, as 
with England, clearly understand these conditions. 
In the early part of this century even more than 
now, Scotland 2 stood to England as the country 
districts of England now stand to its great towns. 
Continual migration from country to town may be 
said to have been its normal state ; and the largest 
towns were in England. The change from a militant 
and feudal to an industrial society was nowhere so 
marked as in Scotland after the Union, and especially 
after the rebellion of 1745. The hereditary judgeships 
of highland chiefs were swept away ; the relation 

1 Essay, 7th ed., p. 258 ; cf. Prel Kept. Census, 1881, p. ix. 

2 The account of Scotland in the Essay, Bk. II. ch. x., is taken from the 
Statistical Account of Sir John Sinclair, 1791-99. Sinclair was acting, on 
the south side of the Tweed, as President of the Board of Agriculture. 
See below, Bk. II. ch. i p. 218. 


.veen chief and clansmen became the unromantic 
relation of landlord and tenant. The displacement 
of household work by the factory system, and of hand 
ur by machinery, crowded the great towns of 
Scotland at the expense of the country districts ; and 
rn.wded the great towns and manufacturing districts 
of England at the expense of Scotland. The flood 
of North Britons into England was not of Bute's 
making ; and it was greatest after and not before the 
o of Paris, although under that peace and a 
stuUe government the farming, the manufacturing, 
the banking, and the foreign trading of Scotland it- 
had grown great enough (it might have seemed) 
to employ the whole population at home. Cotton 
manufacture, which on the whole is the typical 
industry of these latter days, was peculiarly English. 1 
Slicrji- farming at home and cotton-spinning in 
England combined to depopulate the Scotch high- 
lands and much of the lowlands. The highlands* 
with their strongly- marked physical features and 
ly limited industrial possibilities, were some- 
what in the position of Norway. In the highlands 
proper there were no mineral riches; there were moor- 
lands, mountains, streams, lochs, h<athi, bra-k.-n. 
and lM_r; tin- patches of cultivable soil would 
bear a scanty crop of oats, and perhaps clover, barley, 
or potatoes.* This description applied to a large half 

1 There was vory littl.- in S It ia only once men 

M.i. Cull, !, >ays "ni-vep," but he had overlooked Wealth 
* IV. vii. 251-2. 

2 Tin- la i. Sec Report* to Board of Agricv 
Central Highland* (1794), p. 21. 


of entire Scotland ; and we must bear it in mind to 
understand the saying of Mai thus in 1803: "Scotland 
is certainly over-peopled, but not so much as it was a 
century or half a century ago, when it contained fewer 
inhabitants." 1 The highlands are over their whole 
extent what the lowlands are as regards their hills, fit 
only for sheep. Sutherland has about thirteen in- 
habitants to the square mile now, and Midlothian 
seven hundred and forty-six ; but Sutherland and not 
Midlothian may be over-peopled. Sutherland as com- 
pared with her former self, when she had thirty or forty 
to the square mile, may be more or she may be less 
over-peopled than she once was ; we cannot tell till we 
know what her wealth was and how it was distributed. 
Under the patriarchal government 2 of early times 
the wealth of the country consisted literally in its men. 
If a chief were asked the rent of his estate, he would 
answer that it raised five hundred men ; the tenant 
paid him in military service. Adam Smith remembers 
that in the Jacobite Eebellion, which disturbed his 
country at the time he was studying at Oxford, " Mr. 
Cameron of Lochiel, a gentleman of Lochaber in [the 
west highlands of] Scotland, whose rent never exceeded 
500 [English] a year, carried, in 1745, eight hundred 
of his own people into the rebellion with him." 8 
Subdivision of land meant more retainers and greater 
honour; and so the highlands were peopled not to 
the full extent of the work to be done, but actually to 

1 2nd ed., p. 334 ; 7th ed., p. 229. 

2 Not feudal but pre-feudal, or allodial. See Wealth of Nations, III. 
iv. 183, 1. 

3 Wealth of Nations, ibid. 


the full extent of the bare food got from the soil 1 
On the establishment of a strong government and 
the abolition of their hereditary judicial privileges, 2 
the chiefs soon became willing to convert the value 
in men into a value in money, exchanging dignity for 
profit. They no longer encouraged their tenants to 
large families; and yet they made no efforts to 
remove the habits, which the tenants had formed, of 
having them. 3 It was this change that gave Sir 
Walter Scott the materials for his most powerful 
pictures iii / </ and other novels. But it is the 

distress of the chiefs that is tragic to him, rather than 
the misery of the clansmen. The clansmen for their 
part had under feudalism been brought up to be 
fanners or cattle-dealers and nothing else; there was 
as lit tit variety of occupation in the highlands then 
as in Ireland now. Undoubtedly too they had that 
customary right of long possession, which law so often 
construed into a legal title in the case of more 
influential men. It was true also that, if the native 
liiirh landers would not cultivate that poor soil, no 
igers would, and, if it was politically desir- 
aM- that the country should remain peopled, the 
only way to secure this was to prevent the native 
exodus. 4 No such attempt was made ; but, on the 
contrary, the highland landlords followed the way 
that led to the highest rents ; they consolidated their 

1 Selkirk, Highland*, 1805, p. 25. * See the Legend of Montro**, Ac. 
1 Adam Smitl I viii. 36, 1 (the often-quoted deacn; 

ilf-starve<l women " with tlx-ir twenty children in contrast 

i "pampered fine lady" with few or none. 
4 Report* to Board of Agriculture: Central Highland*, 1794, p. 52. 


farms ; they exchanged agriculture for pasture ; they 
substituted deer for sheep. Almost every highland 
district has sooner or later passed through all these 
three stages, and with the same result, the employ- 
ment of fewer and fewer men. 1 The discarded 
men had two courses before them, migration to the 
lowlands 2 or emigration to the colonies. The farm 
labourer would migrate, the farmer emigrate. The 
landlords incurred and often deserved odium for the 
manner of their evictions ; but they treated the 
evicted better than the average British capitalist 
treats his dismissed hands. They usually provided 
passages and often procured settlements abroad for 
them. Lord Selkirk, one of the few writers on this 
subject that preserves a judicial calmness, advised his 
countrymen to acquiesce in the "depopulation" of the 
highlands, but to draw the stream of emigration to 
our own colonies. He himself drew it, so far as 
he could, to the Eed River settlement and Prince 
Edward Island. 

From the middle of last century to the beginning 
of this, emigration went on except when war made 
it impossible. The dangerous qualities of the high- 
Liu ders made them very valuable in the three great 
wars that prevented them from leaving the country 

1 Wealth of Nations, III. iv. 184, 1 (written 1774), a passage which 
shows that the clearances and the consequent cry of Depopulation are 
to be looked for as early as the middle of the century. We are some- 
times told that from the '45 to the end of the century was the golden age 
of highland farmers. But the willingness of the clansmen to enter 
Chatham's highland regiments would hardly imply great contentment. 

2 Cf. Essay on Pop., pp. 332 (2nd ed.), 227 (7th ed.), and Selkirk, I c. } 
pp. 43 scq. Contra, tee lieport of Crofters Commission, 1884, p. 51. 


with their families. It may be that this very military 
consideration induced the English Government to 
connive at the clearances at first ; and interference 
at any later stage was very difficult. As it is, in 
th'- end even the Sutherland evictions 1 seem simply 
to have shifted the population and not removed it. 
In spite of emigration Sutherland had as many in- 
habitants at the last census of 1881, as at the first 
in 1801, namely, above 23,000. Fishing, an industry 
new to a great part of the highlands, made this 
phenomenon possible. Fishing villages have grown 
at the expense of inland farms. But this is not the 
whole truth. Till the time when free trade began 
to distend Glasgow and other great towns of Scot- 
land, the highland counties taken altogether had 
art nail v increased in population, as compared with 
what they were in 1801. The subsequent fall is 
due not to any great clearances or emigrations, but 
nother cause that had been acting though not 
conspicuously for some time before. This was migra- 
tion to the industrial centres of the lowlands. In 
the days of the Tudors there were complaints in 
England of the decay of towns, because a strong 
government had at last made the protection of walled 
towns superfluous, and industry had spread itself in 
peace, where it was wanted. But two centuries 1 it. r 
tin -re was decay not of the towns but of the country 
districts, because industry was taking forms that 
in i'le concentration necessary. At first, both in 

1 Made Marquis of Stafford between 1807 :n 

i year the popular odium was at its height, and the land 1< ml made 
his defence in a well-known pamphlet by his factor, James Loch. 


England and Scotland, there was a real diminution 
in the rural population ; there had been for the time 
a real diminution of the work to be done in the 
country, and a transference of it to the towns. The 
hand-loom weaver had been supplanted by the power- 
loom. The little villages, where the workman lived 
idyllically, half in his farm and half in his workshop, 
now either sent their whole families to the towns, 
thus stopping their contributions to the parish regis- 
ters in the country and swelling those of the town, 
or, still keeping the parents, sent three-fourths of 
the children there, thus making the country registers 
a very untrustworthy reflection of the real state of 
the population in the country districts. That country 
villages in every part of Scotland, but especially near 
the large cities, are " breeding grounds " of this latter 
description l is perfectly well known ; and the same is 
true, in a less degree, of England. This is one reason 
why even the purely rural districts of Scotland have 
greatly increased in apparent population since 1801, 
and most of them are increasing still ; the readiness 
of the Scotch to emigrate has caused the large 
families quite as much as the large families the. 
emigration. Another reason is, that even in the 
country districts there is now more work to be done 
and it is done better. Orthodox economists may 
count this an example of the self-healing effects of 
an economical change that causes much suffering at 
first. It is fair to say that this eventual cure is 

1 Of. Malthus, Essay, 7th ed., p. 229, top ; cf. pp. 221 ft., 223 ft. ; 2nd 
ed., pp. 326-7. 


neither more nor less complete than the cure of the 
analogous hardships of the newly-introduced factory- 
in, and the temporary inconveniences of sudden 
trade. What keen commercial ambition can do 
it lias done, and its success is at least sufficiently 
complete to justify us in saying of Scotland to-day 
what Mai thus said of it eighty years ago : it was 
most over-populated when it had fewest inhabitants. 
rn improvements, however short of perfection, 
have at least both in England and in Scotland abso- 
lutely put an end to periodical famines. Even the 
scarcities of 1799 and 1800, though they caused great 
oss in both countries, were not famines in either of 
i ; ami, since the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, 
i such general distress as was caused in Scotland 
by the potato blight cannot occur again. That dis- 
tress itself was as nothing compared with the terrible 
dearths from which Scotland used to suffer five or six 
times a century, and which England experienced as 
late as the seventeenth. 1 The dismal picture 2 which 
Malthus draws of the condition of the Scott Mi 
peasantry reminds us that it is not much more than 
a century since Scotland took her first steps in 
civilization and turned her energies from war to 
commerce. Her population at the '45 was abmit 
one 'and a quart- r millions, in 1801 about one 
and a half; but in 1861 more than three, and in 
1881 three and three .ju.-irters. Population ther 

See Mahhtw, Euay, 7th ed., p. 887. Of. Fair in Mali*. Journ., 
16th Feb. 1846. 

* Drawn chiefly from the Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99. 


lias more than doubled within the century. But 
even now there are only a hundred and twenty-one 
inhabitants to the square mile, as compared with four 
hundred and forty-five in England. The wealth of 
the country has increased immensely faster than the 
population ; it has multiplied fivefold since the middle 
of this century, and tenfold since the beginning of it. 1 
The history of population in Ireland would have fur- 
nished Malthus with still more striking illustrations of 
his principles, if his life had lasted a few years longer. 
He contents himself (till the 6th edition of the Essay 2 ) 
with a single paragraph : " The details of the popula- 
tion of Ireland are but little known. I shall only 
observe, therefore, that the extended use of potatoes 
has allowed of a very rapid increase of it during the 
last century. But the cheapness of this nourishing 
root, and the small piece of ground which, under this 
kind of cultivation, will in average years produce 
the food for a family, joined to the ignorance and 
depressed state 8 of the people, which have prompted 
them to follow their inclinations with no other 
prospect than an immediate bare subsistence, have 
encouraged marriage to such a degree, that the 
population is pushed much beyond the industry and 
present resources of the country ; and the consequence 
naturally is, that the lower classes of people are in 
the most impoverished 4 and miserable state. The 
checks to the population are of course chiefly of the 

1 Lavergne, Econ. Eur. de VAngleterre, ch. xx. p. 310. 

2 The 6th simply adds the numbers of the people from the census of 
1821, with hardly any comment. 

3 2nd ed. says "barbarism." 4 2nd ed., "depressed." 


positive kind, and arise from the diseases occasioned 
by squalid poverty, by damp and wretched cabins, 
by bad and insufficient clothing, 1 and occasional 
want. To these positive checks have of late years 
been added the vice and misery of intestine com- 
motion, of civil war, and of martial law." 2 

In his review of Newenham's Statistical and 7/A- 
torical Enquiry into the Population of Ireland m 1808, 8 
and in his evidence before the Emigration Committee 
in 1827, Malthus uses even stronger language. We 
may quote from the latter document as the less known 
of the two. In 1817 he had spent a college vacation 
in visiting Westmeath and the lakes of Killarney, 4 
and was able to speak from personal knowledge of the 
country. He was asked : 

Qu. 3306. " With reference to Ireland, what is 
your opinion as to the habits of the people, as tending 
to promote a rapid increase of population ? " " Their 
habits are very unfavourable in regard to their own 
condition, because they are inclined to be satisfied 
with the very lowest degree of comfort, and to marry 
with little other prospect than that of being able to 
get potatoes for themselves and their children." ' 

1 2nd ed. a'lds, "by the filth <>f their persons." 

1 2nd ed., pp. 334-5 ; 7tlml.,p. 2-J!>. He refers to the rebellion of 1795- 
98, that was prelude to the Union of 1800, and was fn-sh in his memory. 

' Edit*. Review, July 1808, the only review in that journal assigned to 
him by express testimony. 

f Report of Emigration Committee (1827), Evid., qu. 3225. 

In the article on Newenham he in. -i.l -ntally utters the paradox 
in view of the low standard of food the people's indolence is almost an 
advantage, for it prevents wages falling quite down to that level. Art 
P. 311. Ct jBway, IV. xi. 456-7. For his view of potatoes in Ireland, 


3307. " What are the circumstances which con- 
tribute to introduce such habits in a country ? " 
" The degraded condition of the people, oppression, 
and ignorance." 

3311. " You have mentioned that oppression con- 
tributes to produce those habits to which you have 
alluded ; in what way do you imagine in Ireland there 
is oppression ? " " I think that the government of 
Ireland has, upon the whole, been very unfavourable 
to habits of that kind ; it has tended to degrade the 
general mass of the people, and consequently to 
prevent them from looking forward and acquiring 
habits of prudence." 

3312. "Is it your opinion that the minds of the 
people may be so influenced by the circumstances 
under which they live, in regard to civil society, 
that it may contribute very much to counteract that 
particular habit which leads to the rapid increase of 
population ? "- " I think so." 

3313. " What circumstances in your opinion con- 
tribute to produce a taste for comfort and cleanliness 
among a people ? " " Civil and political liberty and 
education." l 

Then the subject of one acre holdings is introduced, 
and Malthus is asked : 

3317. "What effect would any change of the 
moral or religious state of the government of that 
country produce upon persons occupying such posses- 
sions ? " " It could not produce any immediate effect 
if that system were continued ; with that system of 

1 Cf. Review of Newenham, p. 352. 


occupancy there must always be an excessive redund- 
ancy of people, because, from the nature of tolerably 
good land, it will always produce more than can 
mployed upon it, and the consequence must be 
that there will be a great number of people not 

3318. " Is, therefore, not the first step towards im- 
provement in Ireland necessarily to be accomplished by 
an alteration of the present state of the occupancy of 
the laud ?" This was a leading question, but ^lalthus 
would not be led. He replied, "I think that such 
an alteration is of the greatest possible importance, 
but that the other (the change in the government) 
should accompany it ; it would not have the same 
force without." In his answers to later questions he 
gave his view at greater length on the causes of the 
difference between English and Irish character. 

Answ. to qu. 3411. "At the time of the intro- 
duction of the potato into Ireland the Irish people 
in a very low and degraded state, and the 
ased quantity of food was only applied to in- 
crease the population. But when our [English] wages 
'f labour in wheat were high in the early part of 
the last century, it did not appear that they were 
employed merely in tin maintenance of more families, 
but in improving tin- condition of the people in tln-ir 
general mode of livi 

3413. " You attribute the difference of the character 
of tin* people to the dilV-ivnce of food ?" " In a great 

1 Cf. Rogers, Six CenturU* of Work and_Wagei (1884), p. 484. 


3414. " What circumstance determines the differ- 
ence of food in the two countries ?" " The circum- 
stances are partly physical and partly moral. 1 It will 
depend in a certain degree upon the soil and climate 
whether the people live on maize, wheat, oats, pota- 
toes, or meat." : 

3415. " Is not the selection in some degree de- 
pendent on the general state of society ? " " Very 
much on moral causes, on their being in so respect- 
able a situation that they are in the habit of looking 
forward, and exercising a certain degree of prudence ; 
and there is no doubt that in different countries 
this kind of prudence is exercised in very different 

3416. " Does it depend at all on the government 
under which they live ? " " Very much on the 
government, on the strict and equal administration of 
justice, on the perfect security of property, on civil, 
religious, and political liberty ; for people respect them- 
selves more under favourable circumstances of this 
kind, and are less inclined to marry, with [out] the pros- 
pect of more physical sustenance for their children." 

3417. " On the degree of respect with which they 
are treated by their superiors ? " " Yes ; one of the 
greatest faults in Ireland is that the labouring classes 
there are not treated with proper respect by their 

1 In a sense already frequently noticed. So in answer 3401, where 
he seems to accept the phrase " moral degradation " as applied to Ireland. 

2 Of. above, pp. 95 and 195 n. Professor Rogers must have forgotten 
such passages as these when he wrote the 62nd and 63rd pages of his 
Six Centuries of Work and Wages (1884), though he furnishes his own 
correction on a following page (484). 


riors ; they are treated as if they were a degraded 

Thereupon he is again asked a leading question of 
a somewhat cynical character, but he is again cautious 
in his answer. 

3418. "Does not that treatment mainly arise 
from their existing in such redundancy as to be no 
object to their superiors'?" "In part it does perhaps ; 
but it appeared to take place before that [redundancy] 
was the case, to the same degree." 

The questioner, however, begs the question and 
asks : 

3419. " The number being the cause of their treat- 
ment, will not their treatment tend to the increase 
of that number?' and the answer is: "Yes, they 
act and react on each other." 

Accordingly bis opinion in 1827 is, as it was in 
1803, that emigration conjoined with other agencies 
will be good for Ireland, but by itself will leave 
matters no bettor than they were. 

Alongside of his weighty words in the essay 

and in the evidence it is worth while to place 

words written by Adam Smith half a century 


"By tin; union with England, the middling and 

i ior ranks of people in Scotland gained a complete 

nee from the power of an aristocracy whi< h 

had always before o]>]ivv~rd tin-in. My a union with 

Great Britain, th. greater part of the people of all 

lea in I n land would gain an equally conij 
drliverance from a much more oppressive aristocracy, 


an aristocracy not founded, like that of Scotland, in 
the natural and respectable distinctions of birth and 
fortune, but in the most odious of all distinctions, 
those of religious and political prejudices ; distinc- 
tions which, more than any other, animate both the 
insolence of the oppressors and the hatred and indig- 
nation of the oppressed, and which commonly render 
the inhabitants of the same country more hostile to 
one another than those of different countries ever 
are." 1 

With such passages before us, we cannot consider 
the two economists to have been behind their age in 
their Irish policy. In regard to accurate figures, the 
later economist was little better off than the earlier. 
Ireland was not included in the first two censuses of 
1 801 and 1811. In 1695 its population was estimated 
by Captain South as little more than one million ; 2 
in 1731, by inquiry of Irish House of Lords, at two 
millions; in 1792 by Dr. Beaufort at a little above 
four millions ; 3 in 1805 by Newenham at five and a 
half millions ; in 1812 an imperfect census gave it 
as nearly six millions ; in the census of 1821 it was 
6,800,000. It was clear that the population of 
Ireland was increasing even then faster than that of 
England. 4 But between these dates and our own 

1 Wealth of Nations, V. iii. 430, 1, 2. 

2 Sir Wm. Petty made it 1,100,000 in 1672. See MacCulloch, Append, 
to Wealth of Nations, (IV.) 462. 

3 See Sir H. Parnell's evidence in 3rd Report to Emigration Committee, 
1827, p. 200. He thinks that between 1792 and 1821 the population of 
Ireland had doubled itself. 

4 Malthus, Evidence before Emigration Committee, 1827 ; 3rd Report, 
qu. 3430, p. 327. 


times comes an episode striking enough to provide 
all economical histories with a purpurcus pannt<*. 

For about two generations England had perpetrated 
in Ireland her crowning feats of commercial jealousy, 

i lousy not more foolish or wicked against Ireland 
than it was against the American colonies, or, till 
1707, against Scotland, but more easily victorious. 
I r. Lind had not begun to be in any sense an industrial 
country till the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. ; 
and the wars of the succeeding reigns hampered her 
early efforts. She had fair corn and meadow lands, 
and perhaps the best pastures in the world for sheep 
ami eat tl<-. The English farming interest became 
impatient of Irish competition, and a law was passed 
to forbid the importation of Irish sheep and cattle 
dairy produce into England (1665, 1680). By 
reason of the later Naviirition Acts, Ireland could not 
make amends for this by trading with America, for 
all such trading must be by way of England and in 
English ships, nor by trading with France for the 

e reason. England in IHT jealousy would have 
surround- d i:h a cordon quite as close as 

Berkeley's wall of brass. 1 As soon as a considerable 
woollen manufacture grew up, En-land stepped it 
l.y l.-L'Matinii. which (in lf>9 ( j) forbad.- tin- < xport- 
of Irish woollens not only to England but to 
any other country whatever. English inter!, rcnce, 

1 Qnerirt( 1735) 134: " Wheth. r if tin rcwaiia wallof brama thoutuid 

cleanly and con -11 tin- lun-1, and reap the fruiU of 

44 caged raU" of the Corn Law pamphlet* give us the other side of the 


if it had done no more, added immensely to the 
uncertainties 1 and fluctuations of Irish trade. The 
growth of industries like the woollen manufacture 
had set on foot a growth of population which did 
not stop with the arrest of the industries. As often 
happens, 2 the effects of an impulse to marriage lasted 
far beyond the industrial progress that gave the 
impulse. But this means hunger and suffering, if 
not death. In the case of Ireland, the ruin of all 
industries but farming over more than three-fourths 
of the land led to an absolute dependence of the 
people on the harvest of their own country ; and, 
where it failed them, they were brought face to face 
with dearth or famine. It led also to the peopling 
of the country districts at the expense of the towns, 3 
instead of (as usual) the towns at the expense of 
the country. If Goldsmith's Deserted Village is not 
English, it is not Irish. By the year 1780, when 
Lord North from fear of rebellion granted free trade 
to Ireland with Great Britain, the mischief had been 
made almost incurable. The great increase in the 
Irish population, like the great increase in the English, 
may be said to begin in a free trade movement. In 
the worst days of legal persecution it might have 
been said of the Irish Catholic population, the more 
they were afflicted the more they multiplied and 
grew. Lavergne 4 thinks their greater increase was 

1 " Of such consequence in the encouragement of any industry is a 
steady unvarying policy." Arthur Young, France, p. 388. 

2 See above, p. 151, &c. 3 See above, pp. 191-2. 

4 1. c. p. 399. Cf. Lecky, Eighteenth Cent., vol. ii. pp. 222 seq. ; Itevicw 
of Newenham, pp. 349, 350. 


due first to the physiological law, that in the case of 
all animals the means of reproduction are multiplied 
in proportion to the chances of destruction [?], and 
second to the instinctively sound tactics of a people 
otherwise defenceless. The probability is, too, that 
they remained quiet under their multitudinous indus- 
trial, political, and religious disqualifications so long, 
because they were reduced to that depth of misery 
that kills the very power of resistance ; and poverty 
at its extreme point is a positive but not a preventive 
check on population. Where things are so bail, 
marriage, it is thought, cannot make them worse, and 
marriage would go on at the expense of a high 
mortality, general pauperism, or continuous emigra- 
t i'ii. The pureness of marriage relations in Ireland, 
though in itself a much greater good than its conse- 
ices were evil, acted as it would have done in 
Godwin's Utopia ; ! apart from wisdom, virtue itself 
had its evils. Potatoes by-and-by came into general 
use; and the bal harvests, which taught even the 
Scotch and English poor 2 to make frequent use of 
this substitute for corn, converted it in Ireland fnun 
a substitute into a staple. Economists viewed this 
change with almost unanimous disapproval. In the 
view of Malthns it was the cheapness of thi* 
that inal- it dangerous for the lul><unvrs ; his theory 
of wages led him to object to cheap corn on the same 
grounds. 8 On the principle that it difficulties 

1 See above, p. 18. 

' 7th e.!., p. 378 ft. Of. TV,/. JBcon., lit ed., pp. 252, 290, and 

.T..I Nf 
Snay, III . v.ii. 328 (Ent In 5th ed.). See later, p. 268, &c. 


to generate energy, the Irish are made indolent by 
their cheap food, and make no use of it except to 
increase by it. Living on the cheapest food procur- 
able, they could not in scarcity fall back on anything 
else. Every man who wished to marry might obtain 
a cabin and potatoes. 1 At the lowest calculation, an 
acre of land planted with potatoes will support twice 
as much as one of the same quality sown with 
wheat. 2 There are other objections to a potato diet. 
It is a simple (as opposed to a composite) diet, and 
it involves a low standard of comfort. The second 
is not the same as the first, for a people that had no 
variety in their food might conceivably have a great 
variety in their other comforts. As a matter of fact, 
however, it was none of these three supposed disad- 
vantages of the potato that proved the bane of the Irish 
population, but a fourth one, its liability to blight. 3 

The figures of the census tell their own tale. In 
1821 the Irish people numbered 6,801,827 ; in 1831, 
7,767,401; in 1841, 8,199,853; but in 1851,6,514,473. 
In each previous decade the increase approached a 
million ; in the last there was not only no increase, 
but a decrease of more than a million and a half. 
There had been a disastrous famine followed by great 
emigrations. What happened on Lord Lansdowne's 
estate in Kerry is an example of what took place 
over Ireland generally. 4 That estate comprehended 

1 Essay, 7th ed., pp. 452-3 ; 2nd ed., pp. 575-6. 

2 Ibid., p. 323 ft. (7th) ; MacCulloch, Appendix to W. of N., p. 
467, 2. 

3 Essay on Pop., 2nd ed., p. 576 ; 7th ed., p. 453 ft. 

4 Lavergne, pp. 423-4. 


about 100,000 acres, on which before the famine there 
was a population of 16,000 souls. When the famine 
(Mine a fourth part of them perished and another 
fourth emigrated. In course of time, thanks to 
money sent by relatives from America and advances 
made by Lord LansJowne, the emigration continued 
with such rapidity that only 2000 souls were left on 
the estate. The famine taught the people how to 
rate, and gave them some idea of the meaning 
of over-population. The rural districts of Ireland 
are probably over-peopled now ; but there seems 
reason to believe that a body of tenants, who are 
little short of peasant proprietors in security of 
tenure, and who have been forced into a knowledge 
of the world outside Ireland, will not retain the 
habits of the old occupiers. 1 Without a change of 
hal 'its, peasant proprietorships would have done little 
for France, and will do little for Ireland. 

This would certainly have been the judgment of 
.Mai thus on things as they are now in Ireland, 
r Catholic Emancipation, Disestablishment, and 
the Land Act. In his own time he was wise enough 
to see that the first could not be delayed without 
injustice and danger. The rapid increase of tho 
Catholic population would soon, he foresaw in 1808, 2 
bring the question of Emancipation within the range 
of " practical politics," and if the measure had been 

a 1876 tin . mi's Report showed that there were 

tli- -n fewer marriage* in Ireland than in En-- r..]>,,rtin to the 

. .iifl ill v came later. Of. the 18f/i fbport, for Ireland 
(1882), pp. 18. 

* Ikview of Newenham, pp. 351-4. 


passed, as he urged, in 1808, instead of twenty years 
later, the labour of conciliating Ireland might have 
proved easier, and the political change might have 
helped to produce that change in the habits of the 
people which Malthus deemed essential to its per- 
manent prosperity. 



Need of an Economical Digression The Hegemony of Adam Smith's 
School Cardinal Doctrines of tin.- Malthusian Economy Scope, 
Method, Details Malthus doing Injustice to his Economics 
Human Character of his Doctrines Agricultural Situation in 1794 
History of Corn Laws Malthus on Rent in 1803 and afterwards 
Observations on the Corn Laws Grounds of an Opinion N 
and Progress of Rent Ricardo's Criticisms Agricultural Improve- 
ments Malthusian Ideal of Commercial Policy The Wall of Brass 
Limits to Commercial Progress. 

THE Essay an Population deals with the past, the 
present, and the future. We have tried to follow its 
account of past and present, and must now consider 
the author's view of future prospects and of tho 
various schemes (including his own) for making the 
futuiv Ix-tiiT than the present. 

To do justice to this half of the essay, we must 
tak further liberties with its arrangement. For 
the sake of explaining the historical genesis of the 
essay, we have already taken first ' that criticism of 
Godwin and Condorcet which in the later essay 
comes in th- of the work/ on the heels of the 

See above, Bk. I. ch. i. 
2nd ed., Bk. III. cha. L to iii. ; 7th ed, Bk. III. cha. i. and ii. 

203 }1 AT/THUS AND HIS WORK. [BK. n. 

account of population in the United, Kingdom, the 
point where we have now arrived ; and the chapter 
on emigration has been used before is time. There 
ivmuiii, out of the fourteen chapters of the third book 
of the essay, eleven still* untouched .,; and in all but 
one 1 a knowledge of the general economical doctrine 
of Malthus is indispensa&e to a clear and just under- 
standing of him. No apology is needed then for a 
somewhat long digression, in which the chief econo- 
mical writings of our author are briefly analyzed. It 
is not wholly a digression, as the substance of seven 2 
out of ten chapters will be found incorporated with 
it, and their logical connection with the author's 
economical theories (so far as it exists) will be shown. 
As a thoroughly practical man, Malthus knew that 
philanthropy can do little without sound doctrine ; 
and his economical theories belong to the substance 
of his work. They were developed, unlike the Essay 
on Population, in quiet controversy among friends ; 
Ricardo, James Mill, and Jean Baptiste Say, who 
were critics of the Political Economy r , had been con- 
verts of the Essay. These were, however, the very 
men who came nearest to identify orthodox economics 
with rigorous abstraction. Malthus himself, labour- 
ing to build up the neglected pathology of economic 
science, was not chargeable with this fault. His first 
work had happily fixed into an intellectual principle 
his natural inclination to look at speculative questions 

1 7th ed., ch. iii. (on Owen, &c.), which replaces a reply (2nd and 3rd 
edd.) to Godwin's first reply. 

3 All except those on pauperism. When pauperism is reached, the 
thread of the essay is again taken up. 


in their relations to practice, and to look at " things as 
they are " l rather than as they might be. Ricardo's 
first work, bearing wholly on finance, 1 had unhappily 
fixed for him his inclination to treat every social 
question as a problem in arithmetic. In both cases 
the excitement of controversy would make the im- 
pression deep* r. 

The two economists both start from Adam Smith, 1 
as theologians from the Bible. It was becoming clear 
that these Scriptures were of doubtful interpretation. 
Men were to choose between the Calvinism of Ricardo 
and the Annininui.sni of Malthus; and, when the two 
writers turned from their debates with the public to 
debates with each other, no less a prize was in ques- 
tion than the hegemony of the school. 

Tli is was won by Ricardo, whose Principles of 
Political Economy and Taxation (1817) were accepted 
by James Mill, MacCulloch, Nassau Senior, to say 
nothing of others, as the Institutes of their creed. 
MacCulloch thought it not worth his while to print 
what Ricardo had thought it worth his while to write, 
in vindication of his positions against Malthus. 4 The 
strongest ally of Mai thus was Sismondi. It was not 
till Ricardo had reigned for thirty years that there 
waa serious sign of defection, when the son of James 
Mill broke with his father's traditions;' and, though 

> Pot. Earn., 1820, Introd. p. 11. Of. Tract on Tata*, p. 60 ft, and 
bore, p. 37. 

Higk Pric* of Button, 1809. See below, p. 286. 

M*lthu, Pol Be, 2, 5, M, Ac. ; Jtoay on Pop., Pitt. 
Ac. Principle* of Pol. Scon, and Toon. (1817), Pref. 

I -face to Work*, p. x v 

J. 8. Mill, Political Jbonomy, 1848 and 1849. It WM not a eon. 



in the hands of Thornton, Cliffe Leslie, Walker, and 
others, the reaction has been carried to the utmost, 
the eclipse of Eicardo has done nothing to rescue 
Multhus from obscurity. The very success of the 
Essay on Population may have deepened the oblivion 
of the other writings in virtue of the popular fallacy 
that a man cannot be equally great in general theory 
and in the advocacy of one particular reform. 

The Political Economy of Malthus has its faults ; 
but it contains in outline the main truths which 
writers of our own time think they have established 
against Kicardo. First and foremost, he maintains 
with them that the proper study of the science is 
not Wealth, but Man, or more definitely, Wealth in 
relation to Man. The qualities of man and the 
earth he cultivates are according to Malthus so many 
and variable in relation to each other that a study 
of their relations cannot be an exact science like 
mathematics ; it may contain " great general prin- 
ciples " to which there are few exceptions, and 
" prominent landmarks " that will be safe guides to 
us in legislation or in life ; but " even these when 
examined will be found to resemble the most general 
rules in morals and politics founded upon the 
known passions and propensities of human nature/' * 
Human conduct is characterized by such variation 
and aberration that we must always be prepared for 

breach. The new faith and the old perplex each other and the reader, 
in the pages of Mill. 

1 Pol. Econ., Introd. Cf. the Discussions on the Measure of Value, 
Pol. Econ., ch. ii., and pamphlet on the subject. So Roscher, National- 
okonomie, 1 and n. 


exceptions to our principles, and for qualifications 
which spoil the charm of uniformity, but are faithful 
ts, 1 like George Eliot's "analyses in small and 
subtle characters," which stimulate no enthusiasm but 
alone tell the whole truth. In the second place, we 
are told that the nature of the subject makes a 
peculiarly cautious Method necessary. Our first 
business being to account for things as they are, 2 
till we are sure that our theories do so we cannot 
act on them. 8 A good economical definition must 
conform to the ordinary usage of words. We must 
take if possible a meaning which would agree with 
the ordinary use of words " in the conversation of 
educated jH-rsons." 4 If this does not give sufficient 
distinctness, we must fall back on the authority of the 
most < 1, l,i;it d writers on the science, particularly of 
the founder or founders of it ; "in this case, whether 
the term be a new one born with the science, or an 
old one used in a new sense, it will not be strains 
to the generality of readers, or liable to be mis- 
understood." 6 If any word must have a different 
meaning from that adopted by either of tin >< author- 
ities, the new sense must not only be free from the 
faults of the old, but must have a ch -ar and recog- 
nizable positive n- 'fulness. The new definitions 
should be consistent with the old; and the same 
terms should be used in the same sense, except wh.uo 

1 A- 3). 

I J&oriomy, preceded by an inquiry into tho 
rules which ought t t lie definition and uw 

remark* on the deviation* from these rales i; 
wrii PL 5. 

4 ZtyCnMon*, p. 4. ll.i ' 

r :. 


inveterate custom insists on an exception. When 
all is done, it is still impossible in a social science 
like political economy to find a definition entirely 
beyond cavil. 1 

" Wealth " must include all the " material objects 
that are necessary, useful, or agreeable to mankind ; " 
" productive labour " must be the labour which 
realizes itself either in such material objects or the 
increased value of them ; or else we wander from 
common language, and our discussions travel off into 
indefmiteness. Economical reasoning must be a de- 
duction from observed facts of nature and of human 
nature verified by general experience. Malthus 
professes to have used this cautious method through- 
out, and the theory of population was only the 
particular instance where circumstances enabled him 
to make his verification most complete. " I should 
never have had that steady and unshaken confidence 
in the theory of population which I have invariably 
felt, if it had not appeared to me to be confirmed, 
in the most remarkable manner, by the state of 
society as it actually exists in every country with 
which we are acquainted." 3 On the other hand, 
Eicardo, legislating for Saturn, gives us little or 
no verification by experience. It is true that he 
admits qualifications and exceptions to his own state- 
ments ; and he would have winced a little at his own 

1 Definitions, pp. 6, 7. 

2 Pol Econ. (1820), p. 28. "And have an exchangeable value," was 
the Ricardian addition ; and in the Quarterly Bev., Jan. 1824, p. 298, 
Malthus weakly allows the addition to pass. 

3 Pol. Econ., Introd. p. 11. 


biographer's assertion that "Mr. Ricardo paid com- 
II.IT itively little attention to the practical application 
of general principles ; his is not a practical work." l 
But he makes no use of the admissions ; his illustra- 
tions as a rule are not historical, but imaginary cases 
and the verification is wanting. In a letter to 
Malthus (written on the 24th November, 1820) he 
says : " Our differences may in some respects, I think, 
be ascribed to your considering my book as more 
practical than I intended it to be. My object was 
to elucidate principles, and to do this I imagined 
strong cases, that I might show the operation of 
these principles." 1 In Maltlms and Adam Smith, 
imaginary cases are rare exceptions, actual examples 
from life or history are the rule. Malthus goes so 
far in this direction that (to use his own phraseology) 
In- is tempted to subordinate science to "utility." 
:i Adam Smith, though he had abundance of 
good-will to his kind, did not write to do good but 
to expound truth. To Malthus the discovery of 
truth was less important than the improvement of 
society. When an economical truth could not be 
made the means of improvement, he seems to hav 
lost interest in it. His pointed warning to others 
nst this error 8 maybe regarded as a confession 
of his own liability to it; and, if he obeyed his own 
warning at all, his position was at the best lik 
of the latter-day utilitarians, who try to reach 

1 MacCullocb, Life of Ricardo, prefixed to Princ. tf Econ. and Taxation 
(ed. 1876), p. \ 

1 Letter quoted by Empwn in Klin. Review, Jnn. 1837. 
9 Pol con., Pref. pp. 12, 13 (2nd ed.). CC above, p. 57. 


happiness by making believe not to tbiiik of it. 
If his science had been less biassed by utility, it 
might have been more thorough ; and we might not 
have had in our own time a Ricardian socialism, 
appearing like the ghost of the deceased Ricardian 
orthodoxy sitting crowned upon the grave thereof. 
He has the virtue of refusing to join the economical 
Pharisees, 1 who would not admit the elasticity of 
economical laws, lest they should discredit their 
science ; but he is to blame for not pushing his 
quarrel against Ricardo with the same energy as 
against Godwin. His forces, in this campaign, were 
worse drilled and worse handled. It is justly said by 
Gamier (Diet, de VEcon. Pol., art. 'Mai thus'), that in 
spite of its title, the Political Economy of Malthus is 
not the exposition of a system, but simply a collection 
of economical papers on various subjects that had 
been brought specially under his notice in discussion 
with his friends, or (we might add) in his college 
class. This itself would lead him to present a much 
less solid front to the enemy than he did in the Essay. 
To come, in the third place, to Details, we find the 
human character of the Political Economy of Mai thus 
appearing not only in his view of population, where all 
is at last made to depend on the personal responsibility 
of the individual man, and legislation is good or bad 
according as it strengthens or weakens that responsi- 
bility, but in his view of the Value of goods, as 
measured by human labour, in his view of demand 

1 Arist, Ethics, x. 1. Some thought pleasure was the goal, but, for the 
sake of others, "one must not say so." 


and supply, as sharing the inconstancy of the human 
rea that enter into both of them, in his view 
of the Kent of land, as determined by the effects of 
hum a n industry and skill as well as by the natural 
qualities of the soil, in his view of the Wages of 
labour, as regulated not by an unchangeable but by 
a progressive minimum, in his view of luxury, as 
being equally with parsimony necessary to produc- 
tion, and preventive of over-production, and in his 
view of free trade, as a rule to which we must make 
exceptions if we would not cause sufferings. doctrines had a distinct relation to current 

events. Political and social changes were reacting 

on political economy. As Godwin and Pitt provoked 

the essay of 1798, the scarcity of 1799 and 1800 

called forth the pamphlet on High Prices (1 800). As 

the latter bears directly on the Poor Law, it will 

best be considered when the thread of the Essay on 

Population is taken up again j 1 and the same applies 

to the letter of Malthus to Whit bread (1807). The 

distresses of a tinn- when wheat went so high as 6 

instead of its normal 40*. or 50$., would 

;,illy niak'- tin- relirf <f the poor a question of the 

day. Tli. In-h prices of corn increased the number 

of enclosures and Enclosure Bilk Mr* than three 

ions of acres, or about a twelfth part of the 

entire area of England and Wales, are said to have 

ken from waste into cultivation between 1800 

and 1820. The average price of ^heat, always th< 

staple food of the people when they could get it, had 

* See below, cb. iv. 


been 55s. lid. for the years preceding, viz. from 1790 
to 1799 inclusive ; it was 82s. I 2d. from 1800 to 1809 
inclusive, and 88s. 8d. from 1810 to 1819 inclusive, 
after which it fell (for the next decade) to 58s. 5d.} 
In 1883-4 it was 35s. 8d. a quarter, which means a 
four-pound loaf (of medium quality) at k\d. or 5d. ; 
but at its lowest during the war (in 1803) it was at 
57s. Id., and the loaf was at 6%d. or 7d. 

Yet agriculture had not been standing still. Arthur 
Young, whose eccentric energy benefited every one 
but himself, and fell little short of genius, betted his 
nineteen volumes of Annals of Agriculture against Sir 
John Sinclair's twenty- one volumes of the Statistical 
Account of Scotland, that the Government of Pitt 
would not establish a Board of Agriculture. But 
Farmer George did establish one, in 1793; 2 Young 
paid his bet and became Secretary ; Sinclair gained his 
nineteen volumes and became President of the new 
Board ; and together they did much to make farmers 
and landlords aware of the rotations of crops, disuse 
of fallows, new manures, road-makings, that the 
Secretary had been preaching in vain for thirty years. 3 

When the great scarcities of 1799-1800 took place, 
the Board was equal to the occasion. It urged the 
Government to get supplies of rice from India ; it 
preached earnestly the cultivation of waste lands and 
the temporary conversion of grass lands into corn- 

1 Porter's Progress of the Nation, p. 148 (ed. 1851). Cf. MacCulloch, 
Wealth of Nations, Notes, p. 525. 2 Dissolved in 1817. 

3 Between 1767 and his death in 1820, he wrote no less than a hundred 
volumes on agriculture. His bet is given in Sir J. Sinclair's Life by 
Archdeacon Sinclair, i. 253. 


B. The last was done widely enough when the 
prices of corn were high. The second, except when it 
meant enclosure of commons, was hardly done at all ; 
and there was a strange impression that the efforts 
of the Board were at bottom a political movement 

ust ecclesiastical titles and the Established Church. 
The importation of rice would have been of immense 
immediate service ; but by the time the order had 
reached India and the rice ships had come back to 
England, 1 the famine was over, the people preferred 
wheat, and ,350,000 of bounty were thrown away. 2 
Nothing shows the insularity of English commercial 
policy better than the remedies generally proposed 
in those days for curing the evils of a bad harvest. 
The House of Commons passed self-denying ordin- 
ances 8 and brown-bread bills, and offered a bounty 
on potatoes. 4 

There was some talk inside the House of enforcing 
a minimum rate of wages, and outside of enforcing a 
maximum price of bread. The people were told to 
eat red herring in>t-ad !' luvad ; philanthropic soup 
shops were opened; distilleries and starch manu- 
factories were threatened with prohibition. Krlirf 
fr.'in the poor rates was, however, th- favourite \\.-iy 
of cutting the knot. Better that our jn-ojilc should 
nd on each other than on the foreigner. This 
fear of dependence was the more pardonable then, as 

1 At the end of 1801. 

* Communication to Board of Agriculture, iv. 232-5(1805). Cf. Ann. 

7. that the members should always use mixed instead of pure 
jrfes* n M ir Inn. Be?., 1801, p. 129. 


there were times, in the war with Napoleon, when 
England was more completely alone against the 
world than she is ever likely to be again. It was 
a much more culpable folly to pretend 1 that the 
scarcity was due to "forestalling and regrating," 2 and 
that England could have provided for herself well 
enough, even in 1799 and 1800, but for the corn- 
dealers and the large farms and the enclosures and 
the new-fashioned husbandry. The new learning, 
however, went on its way. 3 The benefits of it may 
have gone to farmer 4 or to landlord, the question 
was much debated, but they did not go to the 
labourers. The same is true of the improvements in 
cattle-breeding introduced by Bakewell of Leicester 
and Chaplin of Lincoln, and encouraged by the Smith- 
field Club (1798), which has long outlived the Board 
of Agriculture. The life of the country labourers was 
little changed. They and their wages could not 
remain entirely unaffected by the growth of manu- 
facturing towns. But custom still had the chief 
power over wages, and had no little influence on 
rents. From the reports sent from the Scotch, 
English, and Welsh counties to the Board of Agri- 
culture in 1794, it does not appear that wages were 
at all, or rent very closely, in correspondence with the 
amount of the produce. 5 Rents were far from being 

1 As was done, e. g., by Chief Justice Kenyon, King's Bench, Rex v. 
John Rusby, Nov. 1799. 

2 See J. S. Girdler, Forestalling, &c. (1800), S. J. Pratt'spoem on Bread 
for the Poor (1800). 

3 Girdler, I. c. pp. 46, 48, &c. 

4 Philps, Progress of Great Britain, p. 132. 

6 Cf. the figures given in Malthus' Tract on Value, pp. 69-79, and in 


rack rents, and wages were far from varying with 
the necessary expenses of the labourer. In truth 
ca< h country district in the days before railways and 
steamboats was nearly in the same isolation with 
regard to the rest as all England was with regard 
to foreign nations. The price of farm produce was 
indeed tending to be equal over England, as now 
over the world. Wages were displaying no such 
tendency. Of all goods a man is the most difficult 
to move, 1 for you must first persuade him ; and 
human inertia by making men stationary will kerp 

s low. So it was in 1794. The exertions of 
landlord and tenant were directed therefore rather to 
keep up corn than to keep down wages. They wore 
beginning to fear for their monopoly of the corn 
market. The English Government had done its best 
to keep their market for them. A law of Charles 
II. passed in 1670 virtually prohibited importation 
of foreign wheat till the price of home wli 

53*. 4</. a quarter, and made it free only when 
tin- home price was 80*. The Revolution of 1688 
brought a new phase of commercial policy. The 
new rulers, to conciliate the agricultural classes and 
atone for the burdens which had lieen tran>fenvd 
to them from the industrial e hisses, granted a bounty 
of 5*. a quarter on the exportation of wheat so long 
as the home price was not over 48*. In this 

. after exportation in the days of the Romans, 

Profeaor Roger.' Six Ontemt of Work and Wage*, pp. 487 *e ? ., 

of th-m tal. i'uor. 

' ir.,.'"-, ./ .V<' . I il, 1. 


and alternate exportation and importation according 
to the seasons in after times, there was, after the Revo- 
lution, exportation encouraged by a bounty, while im- 
portation was still hindered by duties. The intention 
was at once to attract capitalists to agriculture and to 
reward those already engaged in it. By this means 
not only would the farmers be attached to the new 
dynasty, but England would provide all her own food. 1 
But the very increase of tillage kept down prices 
and gave the landowners little benefit. Whenever a 
scarcity occurred the laws were suspended, and the 
bounty and duties were taken off together. 2 Exporta- 
tion, however, was the rule till a little after the middle 
of the century, say at the beginning of George TII.'s 
reign, when the tide had fairly turned. Especially 
after the Peace of Paris (Nov. 1762), commerce was 
extended and population with it. Canals were made, 
roads improved, and home trade prospered. 3 We 
could no longer raise enough corn for our own wants. 4 
In 1766, the year of our author's birth, there were 
scarcities, Corn Riots, and suspensions of the Corn 
Laws ; 5 but the bounty was kept up in name to the 
end of the century. In 1795 and 1796 the price of 
wheat rose to 80s. a quarter, in 1797 and 1798 it 
sank to 54s. ; but, at the end of harvest, 1799, it rose 
to 92s., in 1800 to 128s., and before the harvest of 
1801 to 177s. The quartern loaf (under 6d. in 1885) 

1 On the whole subject see Craik, Hist, of Commerce, ii. 142-5. 

2 Macpherson, ditto, iii. 148 (year 1728), 307 (year 1757). 

3 Ibid., iii. 329, 331 ; MacC., Comm. Diet. (ed. 1871), p. 430. 
* Cf. Essay on Population, p. 352 (7th ed.). Cf. above, p. 25. 
6 Macpherson, iii. 438, 452. 


once within \d. of 2$. ! Then came a cycle of 
comparative plenty. Wheat between 1802 and 1807 
was at 75*. on an average, and a new Corn Law in 
1804 prohibited importation till the home price should to 63s. Between 1808 and 1813 it was 108*. 
on an average; and it was as high as 140*. 9d. in 
the severe winter (1812-13) of Napoleon's retreat from 
Moscow. But in the spring of 1815 wheat was at 
60*. If it should rise to 63*. the ports would be 
opened, and there was not even the Protection of 
war. The farmers and landowners were terror- 
stricken, the political economists divided, and the 
bill for raising the importation price to 80*. was 
hurried through the House. The bounty, relaxed in 
1773, had been finally repealed, in 1814. 1 As the 
sliding scale of duties was not introduced till 1827, 
we are to regard Malthus and Ricardo as writing on 
rent (in 1815 and 1820) under the severe Corn Law 
of 1815, as well as when the wisdom of passing that 
measure was still under debate. All thoir discus- 
sions on rent bear consciously or unconsciously upon 
the Corn Laws of their own time. 

Malthas is rightly considered the first clear ex- 
pounder in England of the economical doctrine of 
rent. Dr. James Anderson, a contemporary of Adam 
Smith, was no doubt before his age in his view of the 
subject; 1 but, perhaps because he was better known 

1 Cf. Malthns, Euay on Pop., p. 453 (2nd ed.) ; (hound* of an Opinion, 
Ac., p. 43. 

*. National Industry of Scot! 208-9(1779). Mac- 

Cullnch ha* quoted other pottages (H'. \ -if ion*, xlviii. n., and 

NoU on Rent, p. 453, 1, and n.). Sir Edward West agrees with Malthus 


as an agriculturist than as an economist, he does not 
seem to have made converts. The " simultaneous 
rediscovery" of the true doctrine by West and 
.Mai thus in 1815 may be compared with the simul- 
taneous discovery of the Darwinian theory by Wallace 
and Darwin in 1859. The times were ripe for it. 
Maltlms gives no certain sound on the subject in the 
early editions of the Essay on Population. In the 
second he even says that " one of the principal 
ingredients in the price of British corn is the high 
rent of land " (p. 460; cf. p. 444). However, needing 
to lecture on Rent to his pupils at Haileybury in 

1805, he saw the unsoundness of this position, and in 

1806, in the third edition of the essay, the passage is 
dropped, and we are told, " universally it is price that 
determines rent, not rent that determines price " (vol. 
ii. p. 266). The passage is repeated in the fourth 
edition (1807). 1 But when the time came for a fifth 
edition, in 1817, the whole of the chapters on Corn 
Laws and bounties, which are the only chapters of the 
essay that deal much with rent, were recast, to ex- 
press the clearer views which the author had already 
expounded elsewhere. In the spring of 1814, in the 
excitement of debates on the abolition of the bounty 
and on new laws to keep out foreign grain, Mai thus 
was led for the fourth or fifth time in his life to take 
the field as a pamphleteer. 2 This time, however, lie 
came forward, he said, not to take a side but to act 
as arbitrator. His " Observations on the effects of 

in his qualified approval of the Corn Laws. See Price of Corn, &c., 
p. 139. i A reprint of the 3rd (?) 

2 If we include the Crisis, it would be the fifth time. 


the Corn Laws, and of a rise or fall in the price of 
corn on the agriculture and general wealth of the 
country" (1814), 1 professed to balance the arguments 
for and against the Corn Laws, and did it, he said, 
so judiciously, that his own friends were in doubt to 
which opinion he leaned. 2 To later readers the bias 
is not doubtful. It appears even in such a passage as 
the following, which, incidentally, shows us his view 
of rent, nearly matured : " It is a great mistake to 
suppose that the effects of a fall in the price of corn 
on cultivation may be fully compensated by a diminu- 
tion of rents. Rich land, which yields a large nett 

. may be kept up in its actual state, notwithstand- 
ing a fall in the price of its produce, as a diminution 
of rent niav be made entirely to compensate this fall, 
and all the additional expenses that belong to a rich 
and highly-taxed country. But in poor land the 
fund of rent will often be found quite insufficient for 
this purpose. Tli<-re is a good deal of land in this 
country of such a Duality, that the expenses of its 
cultivation, together with the outgoings of poor's 
: lies, and taxes, will not allow tin- farmer to 
pay more than a fifth or sixth of the value of the 
whole produce in the shape of rent. If we were to 
suppose the prices of grain to fall from 75*. to 50*. 

quarter, the whole of such a rent would be 
absorbed, even if the price of the whole produce of the 
farm did not fall in proportion to the price of grain, 
and making some allowance for a fall in the price of 

1 It was popular enough to reach a 3rd edition in 1815. 
See Ground* o/ on Opinion, Ac., p. 1 


labour. The regular cultivation of such land for 
grain would of course be given up, and any sort of 
pasture, however scanty, would be more beneficial 
both to the landlord and farmer." The drift of the 
pamphlet may be shortly stated. The writer refused 
to go with Adam Smith in identifying corn with 
food, and attributing to it in that capacity an un- 
changeable value, which made any rise of price 
futile for the encouragement of tillage. He thought 
that it was perfectly possible to encourage tillage by 
Corn Laws ; but was it good policy ? Before he 
could answer this question, he felt bound to con- 
sider several others. 2 Under free trade would Great 
Britain grow her own corn ? if not, ought Govern- 
ment to interfere to secure this ? if so, would laws to 
hinder importation be the best kind of interference ? 
The answer to the first is, that other countries have 
soils more fertile than Britain ; Poland can ship corn 
at Dantzig for England at 32s. a quarter; 3 and, if there 
were free trade over Europe, the rich lands which are 
not English would send their plenty to relieve the 
wants of their neighbours. If Corn Laws have not 
made us grow our own corn, free trade would not. In 
answer to the second question, no doubt it is sound 
economy to buy in the cheapest market and sell in 
the dearest ; and, if we had regard to nothing but the 
greatest "wealth, population, and power," the rule 
would be invariable ; foreign imports of food are in 
every case a good thing for the country, and, if there 

1 Observations, pp. 20-1. 2 Ibid., p. 17. 

3 The English price in Nov. 1884. 


is evil in the matter, it is not in them but in the bad 
season which makes them necessary ; moreover, a free 
trade in corn secures a steadier as well as cheaper 
supply of grain. 1 But, on the other hand, dependence 
on other nations for the first necessary of life is a 
source of political insecurity to the nation so depend- 
ing ; and, though the dependence is mutual, identity 
of commercial interests seldom prevents nations from 
going to war with each other ; " we have latterly seen 
the most striking instances, in all quarters, of Govern- 
ing its acting from passion rather than interest." 2 
And it might be argued that, if we give up agricul- 
ture for manufacture, we change the character of our 
people ; manufacturing industry conduces to mental 
activity, to an expansion of comforts, to the growth 
of the middle classes, and to the growth with them 
of political moderation ; but it is more subject than 
agriculture to the fluctuations of fashion, which lead 
to chronic destitution and discontent, and the con- 
ditions of artizan life are " even in their best state 
unfavourable to health and virtue." 8 Virtue anl 
happiness after all are the end ; wealth, population, 
and power are but the means, Mai thus himself 
believes in something like a golden mean, a balam-0 
of the two industries, which legislation might pos- 
. preserve. 1 There is another and less plausible 

1 OfoerwitiovM 

1 Ibuf., p. 28. hypothesis Mividuals, 

i mta, as Cobden experienced. 

my of tln rjnrsti -in in morals n- 
teem to be of the nature of the problems de maximit ct minimi* in 



argument on the same side. . Assuming that wages 
vary with the price of corn, high money wages, and 
therefore high prices of corn, are an advantage to 
working men, who would have more money to buy 
the goods of the foreign countries where prices of 
corn were low and goods were cheap. This argu- 
ment, though our author is inclined to yield to it, 
is inconsistent with his own views of wages and the 
facts he cites in support of them. 1 More cogent is 
the plea that it would be unfair suddenly to with- 
draw a long-established protection, though (it might 
be replied) we are no more bound to be gradual in 
abolishing protection than in concluding peace during 
war. But the real question is, whether once protected 
is to mean always protected, and protected in an 
always increasing degree, for it was this increased 
protection that was proposed in 1814 and 1815. It 
may be true that if we protect manufacture we ought 
to protect agriculture ; but, instead of protecting both, 
why not set both free 1 Statesmen had no courage, 
however, to be free-traders, in days when the separate 
articles protected were as many as the millions in the 
National Debt, and each article represented a vested 
interest. Malthus does riot seem to expect Parlia- 
ment to give free trade a moment's consideration. 
But the friends of the new Corn Laws, besides using 
the commonplaces of protectionism, argued from the 
change in the value of the English currency. When 
paper were paper prices, 2 the importation price of the 

fluxions ; in which there is always a point where a certain effect is the 
greatest, while on either side of this point it gradually diminishes." 
1 Cf. even Observations, pp. 5, 12, 13. 2 See below, chs. ii. and iii. 


law of 1804 could be soon reached, and foreign corn 
came in much faster than the real or the bullion 
prices of it would have allowed. There was also 
the long array of standing arguments for Corn I. 
that lay stress on the heavy taxation of the country, 
and are meant to show that the agricultural classes 
bear most of it, and are thus handicapped against 
the foreigner. From Malthus himself the old leaven 
of protectionism was never wholly purged away. 
Titt, though in a less degree, he suffered his 
politics to corrupt his political economy, and drag 
him back from the " simple system of natural liberty " 
into " the mazes of the old system." l English people 
the Repeal of the Corn Laws will hardly care 
to thrash the old straw out again. Perronet Thomp- 
son's Catechism of ike Corn Laws is the best storehouse 
of the old arguments and their refutations, set forth 
with a liveliness to which no other English economical 
writing has the slightest claim. 2 

The real opinion of Malthus came out in the second 
Corn Law pamphlet on the Grounds of an Opinion on 
tltr /V/ry <>f //.%///>////// ////' Imjiorltidon of Fo/ 
Corn (1815). Betwmi the two came the tract on 
Rent, which i> rath.-r an economical book than a 
political pamphlet, and will be noticed immediately. 
11 i i lares himself in favour of a temporary 

1 The expression of Grenville in a letter to Pitt, 1800. See Stanhope, 

1 Unless perhaps Mr. Bagehot's. Col. Thompson understood the 

i only in iU cruder fnu. In answer :'.'*7 <>f tW 

M meet* the objection that free trade w.-ul-l only 

increase ] by Baying: "No man has a right to prevent us 

Q * 


duty on imported corn to countervail the artificially 
low value of the currency, " to get rid of that part 
of our prices which belongs to great wealth, combined 
with a system of restrictions." 

He warns the Government that they should not take 
such a step to benefit a particular trade, but only to 
benefit the public. The motives are those constantly 
professed by defenders of the Navigation Act not 
private interests but public policy. Since he wrote 
his Observations circumstances had changed. The 
sudden peace had brought the then unprecedented 
combination of a bad harvest and low prices ; the 
value of the currency had fallen fast ; and last, and 
not least, France, the best corn country in Europe, 
had begun to prohibit the exportation of grain 2 in 
dear years. We must therefore, he says, keep up the 
high farming which the war taught us, by keeping up 
the high prices of the war. Eighty shillings might 
not be too high a price, for the limit of prohibited 

It seems extraordinary that, after so clearly recog- 
nizing that " wealth does not consist in the dearness 
or cheapness of the usual measures of value, but in 
the quantity of produce," and that exports are not 
so good a criterion of wealth as the " quantity of 
produce consumed at home," 3 Mai thus should recom- 
mend the increase of abundance by means of artificial 
dearness. It is a poor consolation to us that he was 
no worse than Brougham, who voted for the Corn 

1 Grounds, &c., p. 46 n. 2 Ibid., pp. 3, 11, 12, 

3 Ibid., pp. 30, 33. 


Law in 1815, and for the support of the Navigation 
Act in 1849, and little worse than Ricardo, who 
would allow a temporary restriction for the sake of 
leaseholders. 1 A better is that he was advocating a 
policy that was against his private interests as a 
holder of a fixed salary and owner of three per cents. 2 
But at the best the atmosphere of these two tracts is 
a little depressing. 

The tract on Rent is more bracing. It was the 
first-fruits of the larger work on Political Economy 
(1820); and its substance had been delivered in the 
professor's lectures at Haileybury. It expounds the 
Nature and Progress of Rent with clearness and 
intelligibility, if without the liveliness of 1798. 
Mai thus gives us to understand that, to explain this 
or any other economical notion, we must keep as 
closely as possible to the usage of ordinary language, 
the language of clear-thinking ordinary men. 8 

To them, rent does not mean, as by derivation, 
simply produce or profit ; nor, as to a Frenchman 
now anl to Bailie Nicol Jarvie in his days, interest 
on a debt. It means a certain price paid to a land- 
lord for the use of his land. But such a definition 
is too wide. It might include the proceeds of a 
monopoly, or an interest on capital, or a Government 
, or a legal rate, or a toll, or a payment for 
service rendered. We must define the term a little 
more cl< arly. 

There is a certain portion of a landlord's income 

1 Ricardo, Work*, p. 385 (MacC.'s ed). For remarks on this pn 
Malthas' tract see ibid., p. 382. 
1 Grounds, &c., p. 3G n. Cf. Ricardo, p. 390. See above, p. 211. 


and of a peasant proprietor's earnings that has an 
origin and character distinct from the rest, and 
demands the economist's separate attention, whether 
it alone receives the name of rent or not ; this is, 
the excess of the produce of land beyond the cost 
of production and the current rate of profits. Re- 
present these in money ; and suppose the current 
profit five per cent. Suppose that a tenant lays out 
500 on his farm, and gets by the harvest and 
farm produce not only 500 plus 25, but 600 ; 
the additional 75, which would if retained by him 
be over or extra profits as compared with the rate 
usual among farmers and men of like business, is the 
value of his rent ; and the landlord can take that 
from him without impoverishing him. Rent is that 
portion of the produce which remains, after all the 
outlay of the cultivator has been repaid him together 
with the current profits. From accidental or tempo- 
rary causes the money rents of land may be more or 
less than this ; but this is the point to which actual 
rents will gravitate. 1 

So far as this account goes, it might seem that 
Malthus' description is too general ; it would include 
the extra profits, for example, of any monopoly or a 
royalty for the use of a patent ; and Ricardo's defini- 
tion, " the price paid for the indestructible powers of 
the soil," might seem more definite. But Malthus is 
rather too specific than too general. He is thinking 
of agricultural land only, and that mainly as pro- 
ducing food for man. If his description of - the 

1 Pol Econ., ch. iii. sect. i. p. 134 (1820). 


Nature of rent adds little to that of Adam Smith, 1 
account of its Causes, which he himself was the 

to grasp, is characteristic and peculiar. 
First, he says, fertile 2 soils yield a produce that 
more than feeds the producer. This may be put 
more generally than Malthus has put it. If rent 
is to be paid, there must be wherewithal to pay 
and there cannot be so if production does no 
more than repay cost. There may, however, be a 
production beyond mere repayment of cost, not only 
iti fanning but in all trades. The very principle 
of the division of labour and the separation of 
trail's implies that devotion to one occupation makes 
men so dexterous in production that, besides pro- 
viding for themselves, they have an overplus where- 
with to supply their other wants and the wants of 
others. 3 This overplus, where the facilities for trading 
were specially good, might be so much above the 
plus of an ordinary profit that the granter of 
ih'; facilities, who is usually the ground landlord, 
might get the lion's share of it, and still leave the 
user of the facilities as thriving as his uri^h hours. 
On the other hand, if no such overplus can be earned, 
no such rent can be paid. Rent, in short, when it 
is paid by men of business, either in town or in 
country, means over-profits, and gromnl-n -nts mean 
advantage of situation. 

> HV-iW, ,./ .VaWoiu, I. xi., beginn 

1 He doe* not always prefix tli qimlifimii.m ; 1-nt. that ).. intended 
it appears m th. Tract <m Rent, p. 3 n. : N,.t every laii 

yields food will yield rent Cf. PoL Econ. (1820 , ]. 

1 Compare Trad <m -BeiU, p. 16 n. 


The second cause of rent, according to Malthus, 
who is considering, be it remembered, the cause of 
the Progress of rents as well as of their actual volume 


at any given time, 1 is the peculiarity belonging 
to agricultural land, that the demand increases with . 
the supply; in other cases the demand is external 
to the supply, but in this case 2 the supply creates its ( 
demand. Where there is food there will be mouths. 
In the supply of food no over-production is possible. 3 
It is here that the Essay on Rent is connected with 
the Essay on Population. By the law of population 
the tendency is that where food enough for six is 
being produced by two, the other four will soon 
make their appearance ; and so, thinks Malthus, the 
farmer makes his customers by simply making his 
wares. Something like this, we might add, would 
happen in a completely developed co-operative society, 
where the makers would sell to each other and buy 
from each other. It is even true, in a sense, of all 
manufacturers as things now are, in proportion as 
their articles come near to being necessaries ; if 
they supply that without which people cannot live, 
they go far to bring people into being. Malthus, 
however, regarded it as much more true of agricul- 
tural production than of any other. He regarded 
food as the chief necessary, and thought with Adam 

1 The title of the tract is, An Inquiry into the Nature and Progress 
of Rent, and the Principles by which it is regulated. It appears from a 
letter of Malthus to Sir John Sinclair on 31st Jan., 1815, that it was passing 
through the press in that month. Sinclair, Correspondence, i. 391 (1831). 

2 As, he might have added, in education. 

3 Pol. Econ. (1820), p. 142, but especially p. 187. Cf. Tract on Rent, 
pp. 812. 


Smith, that "wheii food is provided it is compara- 
tively easy to find the necessary clothing and 
ing." 1 Against this we need only remember, 
how the Essay on Population showed that it was 
only in the lower stages of existence that increase 
of mere food involved increase of population; and so 
the t ndency^ofthe supply to create it8"own demamT 
. on the author's own showing, nothing more 
than a tendency. 2 His economical reasoning was 
swayed a little by his circumstances. The insularity 
of English life in his days prevented him from con- 
ing how a nation could safely derive half its 
food from abroad ; what Adam Smith had thought 
too good to be likely, 3 he thought too dangerous to 
be desirable. Good or bad, it is our position now, and 
the result is, first, that the supply of food does not, in 
the same degree or way, produce its own demand 
as formerly, and, second, that our other productions 
are, even more truly than the agricultural, the supply 
creates its own demand, for they give the po\\cr 
of buying the food that feeds new demaixlers. The 
production carried on, on the surface of th< l;m,l, has 
come in this way to be a more potent cause of the 
Progress of rents than production from the soil it> -If. 
With this restiit* ni m the second of Maltlms' ra 
nt becomes perhaps a little more int< lli^iMe. 
ll:> third r;msr is that ^,,,,.1 is scarce. Lan<ls 
differ in fertil i there is not, as in a new 

country, enough of the most fertile to supply all our 

1 tot, i-. i". 
Wealth of Nation*, IV. ii. 307, 2 ; cf. IV. v. 240, 2. 


wants. When the produce of the inferior begins to 
be absolutely necessary, the inferior will be cultivated 
at a price enough to repay cost and give ordinary 
profits to the farmer. But what is simply enough to 
do that for him will do much more than that for all 
the holders of superior lands, and all that is much 
more can be taken by a landlord as rent without 
placing the tenant at any disadvantage as compared 
with his neighbours. As soon as this happens in a 
country, the extra profits, which are called by econo- 
mists rent, will appear in it ; and the growth of 
population, by leading to an increased demand for 
food and to an increased price of it, will cause the 
cultivation of inferior lands, or else a more expen- 
sive cultivation of the old ones ; and again, since the 
necessary new supplies cannot be permanently kept 
up without one or other of these two resources, the 
price, and with it the rent, will, in the absence of 
inventions, remain permanently higher. In other 
words, this third cause is the " law of diminishing 

It is this law of diminishing returns which bulks 
most largely in the tract of Sir Edward West, written 
in the same year as that of Malthus. West's theory 
of rent is simply, " that in the progress of the 
improvement of cultivation the raising of rude pro- 
duce becomes progressively more expensive, or in 
other words, the ratio of the net produce of land 
to the gross produce is continually diminishing." l 

1 Essay on the Application of Capital to Land, with observations 
showing the impolicy of any great restriction of the importation of 


He sees how near Adam Smith came to it when he 
said, that in the progress of cultivation the total 
amount of rent increased, but the proportion of it 
to the produce diminished, so that from being e.y. 
half the produce it became one-third. 1 He sees, as 
< v. u in 1798 Malthus had seen, 2 that but for this 
law population might increase indefinitely on a few 
fertile lands instead of spreading over the globe 
( \V,, p. 13), whereas because of this law inventions 
in agriculture are not able to remove " the necessity 
of having recourse to inferior land, and of bestowing 
capital with diminished advantage on land already 
in tillage" (p. 50). He pushes the principle so far 
as to say broadly that whatever increases agricultural 
production increases cost, while whatever increases 
manufacturing production diminishes cost (p. 48), 
inferring that the former must tend abroad and 
the latter at home to prevent the displacement of 
English agriculture by foreign competition. As he 
had little or no influence on Malt hus, his tract need 
not be noticed in detail ; it is enough to say that, 
while West is superior in style and arrangement, 
Malthus is the more comprehensive. West is el- 
and simpler because he includes less. 

Looking at the three causes together, we see that 

first and last relate to the statics, and the second 

to tin dynamics of the subject. We need to remember 

Malthus is having regard in the first instance 

corn, and that the bounty of 1888 <1i-l n-t lower the price of it. By a 

College, Oxford. (1 M15.) Page 8. 

> I 148, 1. ' Away, Isted., p. 3C3. 


not to the value but to the quantity of the produce. 
Now, apart from questions of value, it is possible there 
might be, in a country, land yielding to the sower more 
than he sowed; but it might be an ordinary excess, 
secured by all producers in that country, for the land 
might be all equally fertile, and production from 
land might be the most fertile of industries. In that 
case, even if the land was a State monopoly and the 
producer's gains could be taken from him by a tax, 
there would be nothing corresponding to rent, in the 
received sense. But, as soon as there were differences 
in the fertility, and therefore differences in the 
quantity produced at the same cost, the farmer who 
had the difference on his side could be said to have 
a rent. It is this surplus, conjoined with the insti- 
tution of private property, that, according to Malthus, 
makes leisure and mental progress, and even great 
material prosperity, possible. 1 The rent is properly 
the extra profits, and not the equivalent paid over 
for them to a landlord ; rent can easily exist without 
a landlord. " It may be laid down, therefore, as an 
incontrovertible truth, that, as a nation reaches any 
considerable degree of wealth, and any considerable 
fulness of population, which of course cannot take 
place without a great fall both in the profits of stock 
and the wages of labour, the separation of rents, as a 
kind of fixture upon lands of a certain quality, is a 
law as invariable as the action of the principle of 
gravity. And that rents are neither a mere nominal 
value, nor a value unnecessarily and injuriously 

1 Tract on Kent, p. 16 ; Essay on Pop. (7th ed.), p. 327. Cf. above. 


transferred from one set of people to another, but a 
most real and essential part of the whole value of 
the national property, and placed by the laws of 
nature where they are, on the land, by whomsoever 
possessed, whether the landlord, the crown, or the 
actual cultivator." l 

It is the second cause that brings the first and third 
into operation in such a way as to produce the rents 
that we actually know in an old country. The fertility 
which secures a produce beyond cost makes extra 
profits possible ; the growing population, which gives 
the produce a value, makes them actual ; and the 
gradations in fertility, whereby a uniform increase in 
the value of produce creates far from uniform extra 
profits to different cultivators, give the extra profits 
the peculiar graduated character, which is character- 
istic of rent in the economical sense of the word. 

Malthus believed himself to have included, in this 
theory of rent, what truth there was in the view of 
the French economists and of Adam Smith, when 
they spoke of rent as due t<> ih< |ii alities of the soil 
and not to an ordinary monopoly. His contemporaries 
admitted him to have been the first clear expounder 
of the subject. But his most eminent brother econo- 
mist found general agreement quite consistent with 
emphatic divergence in details, 2 not wonderful in a 
wiit.-r who regarded every economical question as a 
ular case of the problem of value rather than of 

1 Rent, p. 20 ; cf. pp. 18, 57. Kuay on Pop., 2nd ed., p. 433 ; 7th ed., 

I f we look only to the clear monied rent," &c. 
1 Ricardo, Preface to Principle* of Pol. Econ. and Taxation. 


Ricardo admits that his own theory of rent is 
simply a farther development of the Malthusian. In 
an essay on The Influence of a low price of Corn on 
the ProJUs of Stock, slioioincj the inexpediency of Re- 
strictions on Importation (1815), 1 published in answer 
to the two tracts of Malthus above mentioned, he 
makes this quite clear, and, unlike his disciples, is 
warm in praise of his rival's powers as an economist. 2 
He agrees with the definition (of the Tract on Rent) 
that rent is " that portion of the value of the whole 
produce which remains to the owner after all the 
outgoings belonging to its cultivation have been 
paid," including an ordinary rate of profits for the 
employed. 3 

But, whereas Malthus regards rent as increased by 
whatever lessens the outgoings in any shape or form, 
Ricardo considers that can happen in one way only, 
namely, by the increased cost of raising the last part of 
the necessary supplies. Arithmetically it was clear 
that, if you had four items making up the total 
expense of cultivation, whatever reduced any one of 
the items pro tanto reduced the total. 4 Accordingly, 
Malthus said that rent could be increased by such an 
accumulation of capital as will lower the profits of 
stock, -such an increase of population as will lower 

1 Reprinted by MacCulloch in his edition of Pol. Econ. and Taxation, 
pp. 367390. 

2 MacCulloch ed. of Pol. Econ. and Taxation, p. 374 n. 

3 Ibid., p. 371. 

4 So Prof. Rogers ascribes the high rents of the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries very largely to the low wages ; higher ones would 
have "reduced rent first, and profits afterwards." Six Centuries, j. 
482 ; cf. pp. 480 and 492. 


the wages of labour, such agricultural _improye- 
mcnts or such increase of the cultivator's exertions 
a> will diminish the number of labourers needed, 
or such an increase in the prices of produce from 
increased demand as will increase the difference 
between the expense of production and the price of 
produce. 1 Ricardo, on the other hand, says that 
profits can never be reduced by mere accumulation of 
capital or competition of capitals, but only by the 
progressively less fruitful character of the investments 
to be found for capital as accumulation goes on. As 
long as there is fertile land to be had, yielding a rich 
return to capital, no one will accept a poor return. 
" If in the progress of countries in wealth and popu- 
lation new portions of fertile land can be added to 
such countries with every increase of capital, profits 
would never fall nor rents rise." 2 In things as they 
are, capital soon accumulates beyond the rich invest- 
ments and has to take the poorer. Sooner or later, 
even in a new colony, a point is reached where fertile 
land will not supply food enough for the growing 
population except at an increased cost. 3 Now, if the 
supply is absolutely required, the most costly portion 
of it, whether it be got by an extension of cultivation 
to poorer lands, or by a more thorough cultivation 
of the richer, will determine the price of all the rest, 

. Pol. Eeon. (1820), p. 161 (ch. iii. sect. iii.). 

P,,i ft, 375, 379-80 ; cf. pp. 71 nn<l 7:2, l.ut 
especially 68 ft. on the whole follows Adam Smith. I 

Mill luis foil irdo. 

* So far M the account is meant to be historical, it must be corrected 
by Carey. See above, p. 65. 


for there cannot be two prices in the same market ; 
and the profits of the producer of it will determine 
the profits of all his fellow-cultivators, for there 
cannot be two rates of profit in the same business. 
Furthermore, the agricultural profits will determine 
the rate in other businesses, for in a full-formed society 
the rate in the others must bear a fixed relation to 
the rate in this business, so that the one cannot 
materially vary without the other. 1 Therefore the 
greater cost of the last portion of the necessary supply 
of food will lower profits generally, will thereby 
increase the range of extra profits from the richer 
soils, and will thereby raise rents. 

The difference between the two men is, that what 
Malthus makes only one cause, Ricardo makes the only 
one, the increased cost of cultivation. 2 Ricardo and 
his friends have certainly put cause for effect. 3 It is 
of course in the first instance the high prices that 
lead to the costly cultivation, and not vice versa, for 
without the high prices the produce of the costly 
cultivation would not be profitable. 

Malthus was asked by the Committee on Emigra- 
tion : " Among other effects of resorting to a soil 
inferior to any now in cultivatio.n, which is involved 
in the proposition of cultivating waste lands, would 
not one be to raise the rents of all the landlords 

1 Ricardo, 1. c. p. 372 and n. Cf. below. He appeals to Adam Smith's 
principle of compensation (Wealth of Nations, I. x.). 

a Rogers (Six Centuries, p. 352) goes so far the other way as to make 
improvements the only cause of an increase of rent, though the passage 
should be read with p. 480, and especially pp. 482 and 492. 

3 E. g. Mrs. Fawcett, Pol. Econ. for Beginners, pp. 65, 66 ; and even 
West, on Rent, p. 50. 


throughout Great Britain and Ireland ? " He an- 
'1 : k{ I think not. The cultivating of poor lands 
is not the cause of the rise of rents ; the rise of the 
price of produce compared with the costs of produc- 
tion, which is the cause of the rise of rents, takes 
place first, and then such rise induces the cultivation 
of the poorer land. That is the doctrine I originally 
stated, and I believe it to be true ; it was altered by 
others afterwards." l 

On the other hand, what makes the high prices 
permanent instead of temporary, is the fact that the 
cultivation essential to the completeness of the supply 
cannot be other than costly. 2 It is, therefore, not 
wrong to consider costly cultivation as one cause of 
the permanence of high prices, and therewith of high 
rents. But Ricardo goes further, and counts it the 
only cause. 

Through the whole progress of society, he says, 

1'iotits are regulated by the difficulty or facility of 

procuring food ; and, " if the smallncss of profits do 

not check accumulation, there are hardly any limits 

!ic rise of rent and the fall of profit." Nothing 

increase the general rate of profit but the eheupen- 

of food; 8 as by improvements in agriculture, 

whieh, by securing the same production with less 

ur, for tin- time innvasc the profits and lower 

rents. 4 1 li laii'llnnl's interest is therefore at all 

;*>re,1827,p. 321,<|i; IVrr. Thompson, True TTwory 

of Rtnt. 34, Ac. (1832, 9th ed.). 

' Tract on Pofat, p. 6. 
Ricardo, Low Price of Com, Ac., Wvrkt, pp. 373, 380, 381, &c. 

1 79. 



times opposed to that of every other class in the 
community, 1 for it means dear food, low profits, and 
high rents. Still, high rents are not the cause either 
of the dear food or the low profits, but are, equally 
with them, the effect of a common cause, more costly 
cultivation. The effect of a costly cultivation on 
wages might seem vi terminorum to be a raising of 
them, for wages depend on the proportion of the 
supply of labourers to capital's demand 2 for them, 
and by assumption there was a greater demand. But 
since the cause of the rise of price was in the first 
instance an increase of population, it follows that the 
increased cost of raising the most costly supplies of 
corn will be incurred not by higher payment of old 
labourers, but by employment of new. Wages again 
will buy less corn, for corn has risen. " While the 
price of corn rises ten per cent., wages will always 
rise less than ten per cent., but rent will always 
rise more ; the condition of the labourer will generally 
decline, and that of the landlord will always be im- 
proved." ' In his statement of the doctrine of wages, 
Eicardo is perhaps more careful in 1815 than he is 
in 1817, saying that, "as experience demonstrates 
that capital and population alternately take the lead, 
and wages in consequence are liberal or scanty, nothing 
can be positively laid down respecting profits as far 
as wages are concerned." 4 But even in 1817 his 
exposition is hardly more rigid than that of Malthus 

1 Ricardo, Works, 1. c. p. 378. 

2 Pol. Econ. and Tax., ibid. pp. 50 seq., esp. pp. 54, 55. 

3 1. c. p. 55 ft. 

4 Low Price, &c., ibid., p. 379. 


liimself. So far is he from recognizing an iron law 
driving wages down to "the natural price "or bare 
necessaries, that he thinks the market rate may be 
constantly above the natural for an indefinite period, 
and he regards the natural itself as expansive. The 
whole chapter on wages 1 shows a just understanding 
of the Essay on Population. Nevertheless, if Ricardo 
in one sense made too much of the principle of popu- 

n in relation to Rent, in another sense he made 
too little of it. He does not see that in a progressive 
country it counteracts the tendency of improvements 
in agriculture to cheapen produce, and thereby reduce 
rents ; 2 agricultural rents have risen since 1846 largely 
because of high farming. He does not grant that 
high or low wages can affect rent, because he regards 
them as purely relative to profits, and making with 
profits a total amount, of which only the proportions 
vary ; but it is difficult to believe that the rise in 
agricultural wages since 1873 or so can have failed to 
]>lay a part in keeping down farmers' rents since that 

. As, however, our view of the power or power- 
lessness of lowered profits or lowered wages to increase 
i' ut will be found to depend on our view of the 
causes of valuo, ami H tin- difference of the two 
economists on the relation of wages to profits might 
tin- apj.raranre of a technical subili-ty, these two 
it. -ins of the total may be passed by for the present. 

In regard to agricultural improvements the issue 
seemed plainer, and the evidence seemed all for Ricanlo 

Pol. Econ. and Tax., ch. v. ; cf. Malthm, 7V. Econ. (1820), p. 230. 
Butcf. FForfc,p. 377 n. 

tt 2 


and against Malthus. In a country depending chiefly 
on itself for grain, a general adoption of improvements 
would seem to make supplies cheaper because less 
costly, and therefore to lower rents because forcing 
farmers to lower prices. Even Mr. Mill did not 
break away from Eicardianism at this point, 1 though 
he speaks less unreservedly than Eicardo upon it. 
Malthus, on the other hand, who regards rent as 
depending largely on the ability of the agricultural 
supply to create its own demands, regards rent, accord- 
ingly, as at all times keeping pace with the increase 
of grain caused by improvements, unless the improve- 
ments outrun population. What cheapness does in 
other cases is to make an article accessible to a 
circle of buyers previously excluded from it. Every 
one is a buyer of agricultural produce and no one 
is excluded ; but the temporary cheapness of grain 
creates new buyers by making marriage accessible 
to a wider circle. 

The progress of rents in fact results from the 
conflict of two economical tendencies the tendency 
of economical expedients to lower prices, and the 
tendency of an increasing population to raise them. 
If Malthus' ripest view of population be true, then 
a cheapening of food among a civilized people by no 
means leads to a corresponding increase of their 
numbers, and therefore the course of improvement 
would tend so far towards a diminution of price, and 

1 Pol. Econ., IV. iii. 4. Cf. Walker, Land and its Rent, pp. 177-81, 
though it has been pointed out that on p. 178 that writer omits Mill's 
qualifying phrase, (improvements) " suddenly made." 


therewith of rent. If rents depended on the price of 
corn alone, economical expedients (including not only 
the direct aids to tillage, mechanical and chemical 
inventions directly applied to it, but the indirect aids, 
free trade, railways, and steamers) must certainly have 
red rents in the last hundred years. But the 
reverse is true, 1 chiefly because the produce of a farm 
is ceasing to mean wheat, and coming more and more 
to mean cattle and dairy produce, which have not 
fallen but risen in price in one hundred years, while 
corn has actually fallen. This variety of productions 
has proved financially an equivalent to what Malthus 
(seventy years ago) considered the main cause of greater 
extra profits to the farmer and greater money rents 
to the landlord the increased fertility of the soil in 
the matter of grain, and an increased price keeping 
pace with it. 

The commercial policy of England has become what 
Mil thus describes in the latter part of the Essay on 
Population as a combination of the agricultural and 
the commercial systems. His views on this subject 
became modified as he grew older, lu the second 
lit im he says: 2 "Two nations might increase 
exactly with the same rapidity in the exchangeable 
6 of the annual produce of their laml ami labour; 
yet ... in that which had applied itself chiefly to 
agriculture, the poor would live in i^n-atcr plenty, 
and population wouM rapidly increase ; in that which 

See Sir James Caird's table appended to Landed Initrett (1878). Cf. 
Cairne'* E**ny* in Pol EC., vi. p. 216. 
Bk. III. ch. vii p. 429. 


Lad applied itself chiefly to commerce, the poor would 
be comparatively but little benefited, and consequently 
population would either be stationary or increase very 
slowly." "In the history of the world the nations 
whose wealth has been derived principally from 
manufactures and commerce have been perfectly 
ephemeral beings compared with those the basis of 
whose wealth has been agriculture. It is in the nature 
of things that a state which subsists upon a revenue 
furnished by other countries must be infinitely more 
exposed to all the accidents of time and chance than 
one which produces its own." 1 It is not, he thinks, 
because of her trade, but because of her agriculture 
that England is so rich in resources ; it is not with- 
out danger that our commercial policy has diverted 
capital from agriculture into manufacture and com- 
merce. About the middle of the eighteenth century 
we were strictly an agricultural nation, and we were 
safe, for in a country whose commerce and manu- 
facture increase from and with the improvement in 
agriculture there is no discoverable germ of decay. 
But all is changed now ; and there is reason to fear 
that our prosperity is temporary, and we have only 
risen by the depression of other nations. 2 When the 
nations that now supply us with cheap corn shall 
have prospered like ourselves and increased their 
population till corn is dear among them, then we 
shall be ruined. The evils of scarcity are so dreadful 
that it is worth our while to give special encourage- 

1 Essay, 2nd ed., Bk. III. ch. viii. p. 437. 
2 Ibid., 1. c. ch. ix. pp. 443 seq. 

.-.I.] THE LANDLORDS. 247 

ments to agriculture, and, in order to be certain to 
have enough, to have in general too much. 1 Other- 
wise " we shall be laid so bare to the shafts of fortune 
that nothing but a miracle can save us from being 
struck."' "If England continues yearly her import- 
ations of corn, she cannot ultimately escape that 
decline which seems to be the natural and neces- 
sary consequence of excessive commercial wealth ; 
and the growing prosperity of those countries which 
supply her with corn must in the end diminish 
her population, her riches, and her power," not 
indeed in the next twenty or thirty years, but " in 
the next two hundred or three hundred." 3 In 1803 
Mai thus had much in common with the author of 
Great Britniii independent of Commerce, to say nothing 
of the French economists. He cannot be said to 
have entirely lost the bias in favour of Agriculture 
in later years. In the Political Economy, reviewing 
the last five centuries of English work and wages, 4 
he tries to explain away the instances where rising 
prices of corn and an " influx of bullion " seem to 
have injured the condition of the labourer ; and there 
can be little doubt he was indirectly answering an 
objection to Corn Laws. When depreciation of the 
currency, whether through American discoveries or 
suspensions of cash payment, has occurred, the re- 
bound from it (he says) has made prices fall much 
more than wages, and so (we are to infer), when prices 

1 JEway, Bk. III. },. ix. p. 45<X 7&M., ch. r. p. 465. 

/rf. f Bk. V. ch. x. p. 468 n. 

< 1'oL Scon. (1820), pp. 227 *?., (1S36) pp. 240 *q. 


are kept high, wages will follow. It may be doubted 
if he had weighed the full consequences of such a 
contention in the light of his own principles of free 
trade. Professor Rogers 1 has had the valuable aid of 
old College accounts. Malthus had little besides 
Eden, Arthur Young, and the Reports to the Board of 
Agriculture ; and it is doubtful if he fully understood 
the effects on the labourer of Henry VII. 's debase- 
ment of the currency, or could apply the analogy to 
the depreciation in his own day. 2 But on the whole, 
as years went on, he became less physiocratic. He 
came to acknowledge that, if a purely agricultural 
country might in some cases, like America, be the 
best possible for the labourer, it might in other cases, 
like Poland or Ireland, be the worst possible for him. 

1 Six Centuries of Work and Wages, ch. xii., esp. p. 345. 

2 The facts of Malthus' " review " may be roughly given in the follow- 
ing diagram, where the bar indicates the wheat earned per day by the 
agricultural labourer. The amount for 1350 assumes that the Statute of 
Labourers was successful. 

One peck. Two pecks. 

1340 (before Plague) : 

1350 (after Plngue) j 

1400 : : 

1500 : I i 

1603 ! 

1650 i 

1699 : 

1730 j : 

1766 i i 

1811 : 

1822 ? \ : 

Add 1884, taking 
at 14s. a week and 
wheat at 36s. a 
quarter, or Is. l\d. a 


If we hear that the labourer in one country earns 
in a year fifteen and in another nine quarters of 
wlu-at, we cannot be sure that the former is the 
better off till we know the value of other things in 
the country in comparison with wheat. If manu- 
factures were very dear in comparison, then the 
labourer's wages except in food would go very little 
way, unless in a case like America, where the quantity 
is so great that it makes up for the little value of corn 
s. In Poland the value of corn is so low, and 
there is so little capital in the country, that the high 
corn wages mean low real wages, and the population 
is either stationary or very slow in its increase. The 
prosperity of an agricultural country, then, depends 
on other causes than the direction of its attention to 
the one industry of agriculture, and without knowing 
these we could not infer or predict it. 1 

Malthus in fact reached the point at which he was 
always glad to arrive, the medium between two x 
extreme views. 2 He would neither approve of a 
purely agricultural nation, whose danger was want 
of capita], nor of a purely commercial, whose danger 
was want of food. In a purely commercial, every- 
thing depends on a superiority in industry, machinery, 
and tr;i<l< , which from the nature of things cannot x 
last. Not only f.uvign but domestic competition will 

1 7th !.. pp. 321 cg. (Bk. III. oh. viii.\ first in 1 
Cf. above, p. 225 n. In Pol Econ. (1820), p. 432, he says, " All the 
great reunite in Pol. Econ. respecting wealth depend upon proportions." 
: L a.l.led (p. 376), "net only thnv, but tlir-u^lmut tin- whole range 
iv .iii.l .irt. So he tli inks a peck of wheat a good "middle point" 
,08. Pol. Econ. (1820), p. 284, (1836) p. 254. 


bring down profits, and thereby, by discouraging 
saving and enterprise, diminish the demand for 
labour and bring the population to a standstill. 
Christendom has seen Venice, Bruges, Holland lose 
their trade by their neighbours' gain. 1 To say that 
the nations of the world ought to be allowed to 
develope their trade as freely as the provinces of a 
single empire, is, in his opinion, to overlook the 
reality of political obstacles. If England were still 
separated into the kingdoms of the Heptarchy, 
London could not be what it is. The interest of a 
province and the interest of an independent state are 
never the same. 2 To one who believes political 
divisions inevitable, there can be little hope for uni- 
versal free trade. Malthus is unable to rise to the 
cosmopolitan view of Cobden, and he never seems to 
see that by ignoring political barriers, free trade may 
really weaken them. His ideal is a state which 
combines agriculture and commerce in equal propor- 
tions. 3 The prosperity of the latter implies the decay 
of feudalism and the establishment of secure govern- 
ment ; with security comes the spontaneous extension 
of enterprise and a steady demand for labour. Since 
the two great classes of producers provide a market 
, for each other, wealth will constantly grow, and 
without risk of sudden check by a foreign influence. 
The prosperity of such a country may (he thinks) last 
practically for ever, and we might answer in the 
affirmative for our own country the query of Bishop 

1 Essay, 7th ed., Bk. III. cli. ix. pp. 328 seq. Cf. pp. 334, 338. 

2 Ibid., p. 332. 3 Ibid., Bk. III. ch. x. pp. 334 seq. 


IVikeley about his. 1 "The countries which unite 
great landed resources with a prosperous state of 
commerce and manufactures, and in which the com- 
mercial part of the population never essentially 
exceeds the agricultural part, are eminently secure 
from sudden reverses. Their increasing wealth seems 
to be out of the reach of all common accidents, and 
there is no reason to say that they might not go on 
increasing in riches and population for hundreds, nay 
almost thousands of years." 2 They would go on in 
fact till they reached the extreme practical limits of 
population, which under the system of private property 
would mean such a state of the land as would " enable 
the last employed labourers to produce the mainten- 
ance of as many probably as four persons," the man, 
his wife, and two children. As soon as the labour 
ceases to produce more than this, it ceases to be 
worth the employer's while to give the wages and 
employ the labour. These practical limits are far 
from the limits of the earth's power to produce food, 
and a Government which compelled every member 
of society to devote himself wholly to the raising of 
food and necessaries, would succeed in coming nearer 
to those f.ut IK r limits, though at the expense of 

y thing we mean by civilization. 8 As a matter 
of fact, even the practical limit is not approached 
by way of a uniform decline of profits and of 
population. Various causes, acting at irregular in- 

ils, stave off the event. The decline of general 

1 See above, p. 201 n. Cf. Jfray on Pop., ".' ''37. 

* Away, 1. c. p. 338. I c. Bk. III. cb. x. pp. 338-9. 


profits, the introduction of long leases and large 
farming, would bring more capital to the land ; 
improvements in agriculture will increase the produce, 
inventions in manufacture will lessen the cost of the 
agriculturist's comforts, and make his wages and 
profits go farther ; the opening of a foreign market 
may raise home prices ; a temporary rise in the value 
of agricultural produce may stimulate the investment 
of capital in farming. So Malthus concludes, for 
reasons not unlike Cliffe Leslie's, 1 that, though there 
is a tendency of profits to fall, yet the tendency is 
often defeated. Though there is much truth still in 
many of his statements, the conclusion he draws from 
them, 2 that we ought by a judicious system of corn 
duties and corn bounties to keep the price of food 
steady and secure a large home supply, is quite out 
of court now. The variations in price have been 
under free trade very moderate ; and the supply from 
one quarter or another has never failed us. Free 
trade is no longer among our problems. 

It must be added, however, that there is no reason 
why the "practical limits" should not exist under 
a paternal or fraternal socialism as well as under 
the present social system. Even if industry were 
initiated and directed not by individuals but social- 
istically by Government, the sole motive need not be 
to increase the mere numbers of the people, and 
therefore the mere total quantity of food needed for 

1 Fortnightly Review, Nov. 1881, his last writing. Cf. Essay, 1. c. pp. 

2 In two long chapters on Corn Laws and Bounties, Essay on Pop., 
Bk. III. ch. xi. pp. 343367. Cf. above, pp. 226 seq. 


a bare life. The motive of socialistic government 
would be to secure a high degree of comfort, not a 
bare subsistence, for all ; and therefore, at the cost of 
a limitation of numbers, society would still remain at 
a distance from its greatest possible production of 
food. Whether such a limitation of numbers is 
likely to take place in the reconstituted society is 
discussed elsewhere. 1 

i See below, Bk. IV. 




Measure of Value, 1823 In what sense Labour a Measure Diffi- 
culties Arguments of the Tract on Value Measure in the same 
Country Measure in different Countries Measure at different 
Periods in the same Measure as applied to varying Value of 
Currency The Royal Literary Society The Definitions Wages 
The Minimum of Social different from the Minimum of Physical 
Necessaries High Wages, how made Permanent The " Wages 
Fund," whose Invention, and how far a Reality " The New School 
of Political Economy," its three Tenets A General Glut in what 
Sense possible. 

As the Eent and Corn pamphlets deal chiefly with 
Mother Earth, the tract on the Measure of Value 1 
deals chiefly with Father Work. The search for a 
common measure of value is not, to Malthus, a 
purely academical problem. He considers such a 
measure desirable because in any inquiry into the 
wealth of nations it is important to distinguish 
between the rise of one commodity and the fall of 
another. The former is an intrinsic alteration of 
value which will affect every exchange in which the 
object is concerned ; the latter an extrinsic which 
affects only the one exchange, of the object in 

1 The Measure of Value stated and illustrated, with an application 
of it to the alteration in the value of the English currency since 1790. 
(April) 1823. 


question with the foreign object that has been 
altered. By value of course is to be understood 
economic value, or " the power of commanding other 
objects in exchange," not value in the (not uncommon) s 
wider sense, of usefulness in supplying wants. 1 The 
economic value of anything, taken in relation to some 
object which never changes its value from intrinsic 
causes, may be called the "natural or absolute value" 
of that thing, and the object with which it was 
compared maybe called the " measure" of absolute or 
natural value, in other words, of the value which a 
tiling must fetch if its supply is to be continued. 
"While not only money but any and every object may 
be such a measure of value for a limited place and 
, even money itself is not a good measure for 
widely different places or for long periods of time ; 
and corn, which is better for long periods, is worse 
for short. 

Labour is better than either, but Labour is am- 
biguous. We may measure the value of any tiling 
cither by the labour it has cost us in the making of it, 
which gives us Ricardo's sense of natural value, or by 
the labour it will purchase after it is made. Adam 
Smith, 2 who preferred labour both to money and 
corn as the measure of value, wavered between these 
two meanings of the terms. Mai thus declares at 
once against th. first sense. Labour, he says, in the 
sense of coat does not altogether determine value and 

1 So Tract on Value, p. 1. But in DtfnitioM value ia " the relation 
of one object to some other or others, in exchange, resulting 'from the 

i thin-* i.< li.-l.l !> f. lo, -n ; c f. with def. 6). 
1 Adam Smith, Wealth of Nation*, 1 \ 


therefore cannot measure it, even for similar places 
and times. In 1820 Malthus had been of opinion 
that a mean between corn and labour was a better 
measure of value than labour itself; but since 1823 
he recurred to the view of Adam Smith, 1 and held 
that the amount of the unskilled common day labour 
of the agricultural labourer, which a thing will 
purchase or command, is a good measure of the value 
of it even at widely different places and times. 
" Agricultural labour is taken for the obvious reasons 
that it is the commonest species of labour, that it 
directly produces the food of the labourer, and that 
it is the most immediately connected with the grada- 
tions of soil and the necessary variations of profits. 
It is also assumed with Adam Smith, Mr. Ricardo, 
and other political economists, that, on an average, 
other kinds of labour continue to bear the same 
proportions to agricultural labour." 2 The bodily 
exertion of the labourer does not change ; it is the 
same sweat of the brow, the same sacrifice of physical 
force. When corn, for example, will command a 
less amount of labour than it would have done a 
century before, we may be sure it is because of a 
change not in the labour but in the corn ; and we 
ought therefore to say not that labour has risen in 
value, but that corn has fallen. Malthus' search for a 
permanent element in the changeable has led him to 
individual human labour as the economical unit. If 

1 Measure of Value, p. 23. Cf. Pol. Econ. (1820), pp. 126 seq.; (1836), 
pp. 84, 93 seq. 

2 Measure of Value, p. 20 n. On pp. 23-4 he adds, " taking the average 
of summer and winter wages." 


the Chinese labourer has lower wages than the 
English, it is not because his labour is of lower value, 
but because his necessaries are of higher. Wages are 
higher in the United States not because labour is of 
higher value, but because necessaries are of lower. 1 
Of course when skill enters into the labour, the unit 
is not the same ; but, when we look only at unskilled, 
we find confirmation of Malthus' view in the ex- 
perience of the elder and the younger Brassey as 
employers of labour, that quantity for quantity " the 
cost of the labour [the expense of it to the employer] 
is the same everywhere" over the world. 2 The 
measure, however, is by no means out of court as 
regards skilled labour; the difference in kind may 
be stated in terms of a difference in degree. If the 
watchmaker's labour be paid at the rate of 10s. a 
<l;iy, and the common agricultural labourer's only 
at U. 8</., the former may be stated as equivalent to 
six 'lays' common labour. 8 Malthus has in his mind 
a scale of compensation such as is drawn out by 
A -lira Smith in the tenth chapter of the first book 
of the Wealth of ^V///^//.v. 4 Disagreeableness, diffi- 
culty, inconstancy, responsibility, risk of failure, are 
so many disabilities, for each of which a compensa- 
tion must b iii;i'l<* to the workman in the scale of 
his wage*, as adding in effect so many more hours' 
labour ; and each higher class of workman must be 

See below, p. 268. Pol Econ. (1820), p. 125 ; (1836) p. 102, Ac.; 
Tract on Vahtf^ passim. 

* Work and Wagt* ch. iii. p. 75. Malthns, Pol Scon., 2nd ed., pp. 
106 M| > Cf. II -.21, Ac. 

4 MacC.'s ed., pp. 45 */ >r( on Fata*, p. 20 n., above quoted. 



paid tlic unit of common labourer's wages, with the 
compensations superadded. In practice this means 
that men will not be found in sufficient numbers to 
do the higher class work unless the wages are suffi- 
cient to make it worth their while to undergo the 
disabilities. It is assumed that this scale has been 
adjusted by custom and the " higgling of the market" 
from generation to generation, till in any given 
neighbourhood each of the several skilled trades has a 
definitely recognized place in the series. 1 

This reasoning seems less convincing when we 
consider that the translation of skill into terms of 
hours would be different in different localities, and 
that the common labour, which is the unit, would 
vary in the same way. The measure of value would 
hold only for a given place, time, and people. To 
escape from the difficulty, we must consider the 
difference between the common labour at one time 
and place and the common labour at another as itself 
measurable, and allow for it ; or else we must consider 
it as too small to disturb our conclusions, and so neglect 
it altogether. To reduce common labour to its theo- 
retically simplest terms is to reduce it to something 
below our experience ; and to reduce it to its actually 
simplest in the given cases is to reduce it to one thing 
in England, a second in France, a third in India, a 
fourth in America. There are differences of quality 
which cannot be with any certainty resolved into 
differences of quantity ; such are the differences of 
individuals, the differences of nations, the differences 

i Cf. Ricardo, Pol. Econ., Works (ed MacC.), p. 15. 


of races. It will be found, also, that the part played 
by common as opposed to skilled labour, and by agri- 
cultural as opposed to manufacturing labour, differs 
so much between country and country that, in order 
to use labour as a measure, we should need other 
measures in addition to it. In short, if we had data 
enough to apply this measure, we should have data 
enough to dispense with it. 

It was possibly the force of these considerations 
that led Malthus, as time went on, to approach some- 
what nearer to Ricardo, whose measure, so far as he 
hail one, was not the labour purchased but the labour 
that entered into cost. But he adhered to the sub- 
o uf his doctrine as expressed in the tract; and 
his positions, in detail, were as follows : 

The power of one object to command another in 
exchange is influenced either by a change in the 
object itself, or by a change in the other. If we 
fun nd a case where there was never a change in the 
first object itself, then we should have, in that first, 
a measure of natural or absolute as opposed to 
nominal or relative value, i. e. a measure of that 
value of an article which satisfies the " conditions of 
the supply " of it, and enables its production to be 
continued without loss to the producers. By " con- 
ditions of supply" is meant Ricardo's "cost of 
production" with the addition of ordinary profits. 
No measure of muk't or ivlative values is possible; 
and to have a measure of natural value itself we must 
make two postulates, that natural value dope n. Is 

on "labour and profits" (we), on rent little it ai 

s 2 


all, and that the " wages " of labour are also the 
" value " of labour, what labour is paid is also what 
labour will fetch. It is easy to apply the measure 
where only labour is concerned, for then the labour 
that the things cost is a sufficient measure ; it would 
be evident, at any change, that the things had become 
cheaper, not the labour dearer. But in present 
society value is more complicated ; labour is no doubt 
the chief source of it, but profits are a very consider- 
able one. 1 The natural conditions of supply, however, 
may be stated in terms of labour, just as if labour 
had been the sole ingredient. This would give us 
a measure for the same country at the same place 
and time. The total quantity of labour that an article 
cost, with the addition of ordinary profits stated in 
terms of labour, would be the same as that quantity 
of labour which an article would purchase in its 
natural value. 

In the case of different countries, at the same time, 
the difficulties are not quite the same. Exchange is 
there determined not by labour but by money prices ; 
and money is of very different value in the one 
country and in the other. But the differences in the 
value of money in different countries are in proportion 
to the different prices of agricultural labour 1500 
days' labour at d. a day in India, at 2*. in England, 
meaning 25 and 150 respectively; and, if fixed 
capital to the value of 300 days' labour were advanced 
to each of them, while profits calculated in days' 
labour were twenty per cent, m the one case, ten 

1 Meas. of Value, pp. 812. 


in the other, the result would be an article whose 
conditions of supply would require in the one case a 
money price of 31, in the other of 168. The 
difference is no doubt due to the superior efficiency 
of English industry and skill which enables England 
to purchase the precious metals more cheaply, 1 but 
the cost of getting the money would not tell us 
the true present value of the money in England or in 
India. It is not the labour spent on the gold, but 
the labour purchased by it, that will help us here. 
In each country within itself we would measure the 
natural value of money as well as of anything else 
by what labour it will purchase ; know the difference 
between the value of money in the one and its value 
in the other by the difference between the amount 
of labour it will purchase in the one case and the 
amount it will purchase in the other. 2 

In the case of different periods in the same country, 
though we have not, as in the case of two different 
countries, the test of an actual exchange, wo cm 
still use labour as the measure. We must allow 
for the higher profits of the earlier period ; and 
on the (Ricardian) principle that profits and v 

inversely, though corn wages have risen, 

profits have in proportion fallen, and the total 

value of the produce measured by its power of pur- 

chasing labour must be the sanio/ iho purchased 

ur then representing the producing labour plus 

1 Meat, of Fa/u, pp. 22, 65. Of. Cairnes, Australian A>V 
J?ny* in Pol Earn. (pp. 92 teq.; cf. pp. 37,61), (1873),-fiwt published 

<ucr> Mag., Sept 1859. 
> Meat, of Value, p. 23. Ibid., pp. 2729. 


the then rate of profits. From Ricardo's dogma it 
seems (to Malthas) to follow directly that the value 
of labour is constant. 1 Taking the labour they will 
purchase as the best measure of the value of the 
precious metals, as of anything else, we have light 
on one of the pressing questions of the day (in 1823), 
the causes of the changing value of money. The 
causes affect not the labour but the money, and they 
are of two kinds. The first Malthus describes as a 
primary or necessary cause, namely, the variation in 
profits depending on the (Ricardian) theory of the in- 
terlocking of wages and profits, and the (Malthusian) 
theory of the relation of profits to rent. Dear corn 
due to difficult cultivation would lower profits, and 
would alter the value of money, but only in relation 
to raw, not in relation to manufactured produce, or 
at least (from the effects of Ricardo's principle of the 
inverse variation of wages and profits) not to the same 
extent. But the second, which is a " secondary 
and incidental " class of causes, affects both raw and 
manufactured goods, and is often enough to completely 
dwarf the effects of the primary cause ; 2 it is the 
general commercial situation of a country, " the 
fertility and vicinity of the mines, the different 
efficiency of labour in different countries, the abund- 
ance or scarcity of exportable commodities, and the 
state of the demand and supply of commodities and 
labour compared with " the precious metals. 3 The 

1 Meas. of Value, p. 29 n. 

2 He might have said simply that the one is intrinsic, the other 
extrinsic, in relation to the agricultural products themselves. 

3 Meas. of Value, p. (13. 


efficiency of labour and a prosperous commerce, with 
a great consequent demand for corn and labour, 
often more powerful in making bullion cheap 
than agricultural productiveness and high profits in 
making bullion dear and corn cheap. During the 
war say from 1790 to 1814 we had an instance of 
this, and since the war say from 1814 to 1823 
\ve have had a clear instance, he thinks, of the 

converse. 1 

T\vo elaborate papers on the measure of value, 
written in 1825 and 1827, show that Malthus was 
becoming inclined to make less of his differences with 
Ricardo. 2 They were intimate friends ; their dis- 
cussions had no bitterness ; and, to use the words of 
one of them, "both were so anxious for the truth that 
sooner or later they would have agreed." 3 These 
papers are a fulfilment of his duty not (as we might 
guess) as a fellow of the Royal Society or a member 
of the Political Economy Club, 4 but as an associate 
of the Royal Society of Literature. 5 " That branch of 
literature " [*/c] " on which it shall be his duty to 
communicate with the Society once a year at least " 
is described as "political economy and statistics."' 
II< <!<>rs little credit in these papers to his literary 
faculty. Their composition is laboured and devoid 

1 Meat, of Value, pp. 67 seq. Cf. below, pp. 283 seq. 

\\"ii. allows cost to play a greater part in vulu'. Cf. below, pp. 278-9. 
But Ricardo, Pol Econ., sect vi p. 28, disclaims belief in any universal 
measure of value. 

Mjiltlm-, quoted by I Rev., Jan. 1837, p. 499. 

MI S. 1819, and a member of Pol. Econ. Club at its founda- 

tion in 1^ 

4tb May, 1825 ; 7th Nov., 1827. Trantadlont of R. S. L., v..l. i. 
part i. i . 1 7 1 . Report of R. 8. L., 1824, p. 21. 


of ornament. The first is On the Measure of the 
Conditions necessary to the Supply of Commodities ; and 
the thesis is, that "the natural and necessary con- 
ditions of the supply of all commodities," that are 
not monopolies, are represented and measured by 
the labour which they will on an average command, 
and by nothing else. The second is On the Meaning 
w Inch is most usually and most correctly attached to 
the term, Value of Commodities ; and the thesis is, that, 
when value is used without a qualifying adjective or 
reference to any special equivalent in a possible ex- 
change, 1 the term refers to the " conditions of supply." 
When we say, for example, anything is sold at a price 
far above its true value, we mean far above its co^t 
price, including under " cost " the average rate of profits 
that must go to the maker if he is to live by his 
trade. The two papers taken together form a sort of 
indirect proof of the position taken up in the tract 
on the Measure of Value (1823), and the relevant 
parts of the second edition of the Political Economy 
(1836), and may be stated briefly thus : The labour 
commanded by an article is generally the measure 
of that article's cost ; but that article's cost is 
what people generally mean by its value ; therefore 
the labour commanded by an article is the measure 
of that article's value in the ordinary sense of the 

The second paper was written at the same time as 
the Definitions in Political Economy, and illustrates 

1 We might expressly wish to know a coat's value in money or its 
value in cutlery or coals. The Professor at the Breakfast-table talks 
of " Madeira worth from two to six Bibles a bottle." 


the rule laid down there, prescribing adherence, when 
possible, to the meaning which economical terms bear 
in the mouths of ordinary folk. 1 The Definitions, for 
example, repeat from (or with) the second paper, 
" when no second object is specified, the value of 
the commodity naturally refers to the causes " which 
determine " the estimation in which it is held " " and 
the object which measures it." ' " The natural value 
of a commodity at any place and time " is " the 
estimation in which it is held when it is in its 
natural and ordinary state,' 1 as "determined by the 
elementary costs of its production," or in other words, 
by " the conditions of its supply." And the measure 
of the natural value of a commodity at any place 
and time is " the quantity of labour for which it will 
exchange at that place and time when it is in its 
natural and ordinary state." 3 

As a literary production the book written for the 
public is superior to the papers prepared for the men 
of letters. Next to the first Essay on Population, the 
critical parts of the Definitions give the most pleasant 
examples of the author's style. The two papers 
above mentioned are chiefly important as showing the 
importance which Malthus, unlike Ricardo, attached to 
til- question of a measure of value. 4 A contemporary 
writer said very happily that the fault of Ricardo was 

Definitions (1827), p. 235. 
2 I. e. to the object which measures that cost-value. 
Ibid., p. 243. 

4 See above, p. 254. Ricardo's long correspondence with Malthus on 
1-ject is mentioned by Empson, AWm. Rev., 1. c. p. 469. Empson's 
extract* from it are the most valuable part of his article. 


to generalize too much, and of Malthus to generalize 
too little. Malthus, he added, is a keen observer 
but poor in analysis ; he is " so occupied with particu- 
lars that he neglects that inductive process which 
extends individual experience throughout the infini- 
tude of things," and converts knowledge into science. 
" As presented by Mr. Eicardo, political economy 
possesses a regularity and simplicity beyond what 
exists in nature ; as exhibited by Mr. Malthus, it is a 
chaos of original but unconnected elements." ] On the 
other hand, the testimony of a recent German writer 
is very different. Malthus, he tells us, resembles 
Ricardo in his sombre view of human life and frank 
statement of unpleasant facts. Their names are 
often associated, and no doubt both are children of 
their times. But their leanings were really unlike. 
Ricardo took up certain ideas of his time in their 
narrowest, clearest, and harshest form, and applied 
them wholly in the interest of capital. Malthus is 
far less narrow. His influence on economics has been 
much smaller than Ricardo's ; but he will be found 
" by far the more suggestive and less prejudiced of 
the two," and, if he found more opponents, it 
is because he was less understood and less read. 2 
The sprightly Dialogues* of De Quiricey contribute 
nothing to the discussion on value ; but they show 

1 R. Torrens, Production of Wealth, 1821, pp. iv, v. 

2 Held, Sociale Geschichte Englands, p. 205. 

3 Dialogues of Three Templars on Political Economy, 1824 (Works, 
Black, 1863, vol. iv.). All depends on the assumption in the middle of 
Dialogue I. p. 196, ("it is Mr. Ricardo's doctrine that," &c.), and on the 
confinement of the discussion to natural value (p. 198). 

cn.vp. ii.] THE WORKING MAX. 267 

Low completely Ricardo had won the ear of the 
ny world, and how little pains the opponents of 
Mai thus took to do him justice. Malthus reduced 
the problem to many elements ; Ricardo to few ; 
and the latter, as certainly easier to understand, 
was readily represented as the likelier to be true. 
Simplicity in such a case is a treacherous virtue ; and 
the apparent chaos may have been much nearer the 
truth than the apparent cosmos, if there was a hidden 
Haw in the latter and a latent principle of union 
in the former. Sound or unsound, such a principle 
may be traced in the most abstract discussions of 
Malthus. We shall find this true when we compare 
his views with Ricardo 's on the nature and causes 
of value itself, and the movements of prices. We 
may recognize it even in these discussions on the 
nnusure of value. The measurement of all value 
by individual human labour is of a piece with the 
author's final view of population, where all is made to 
depend on individual responsibility. The main weak- 
ness of the position is perhaps that by unskilled 
labour he means always agricultural, and does not 
sufficiently recognize how in manufacturing England 
it has JM rhaps become easier to measure unskilled by 
skilled than the latter by the former. The difficulty 
met Robert Owen, wh.-n in his Labour Evcfiangcs* he 
not only tried to reduce all values to a common 
measure in labour, but to make labour a means of 

1 Mftunire of Fn/mr, p. 20 n. 

1 London, 1832; Birmingham, 1833. TheCon \*uemblyn] 

ime mefUMiTv, l>ut \\.i\. in 1791. See Roscher, 

National Vkon. (1879), p. 298. 


exchange, for which it is certaiuly worse suited thaii 

Labour as something to be rewarded by Wages has 
a more evident connection with the principles of the 
Essay on Population than labour as the measure of 
all values. In this case unskilled agricultural labour 
is again the unit. The first " condition of the 
supply" of this labour is the necessaries of life, in 
such quantities as will enable the labourers to main- 
tain their numbers or to increase them, 1 as the case 
may be. If the former only, the price of labour is 
not, as Ricardo says, the " natural," but really a most 
unnatural price, for it would mean that the country 
giving it had arrived at the final limit of its resources. 2 
Necessaries, however, are not a simple or even a 
fixed element. We can of course measure them in 
corn if we like ; but they consist not only of the 
prime necessary, the staff of life, but of other absolute 
necessaries, of shelter and clothing, and many " con- 
veniences " which have become necessaries, inasmuch 
as they are essential to healthy life, such as soap and 
shoes and candle-light. It has happily become a 
truism that the necessaries of life are not a fixed but 
an expanding factor. Even if competition were 
always to drive wages down to a " minimum of social 
necessaries," * social are always beyond animal neces- 
saries ; our basest beggars are in the poorest thing 

1 The words are, " enable the labourers to maintain a stationary or 
an increasing population " (Pol Econ., 1836, p. 218). The awkwardness 
of the sentence may be due to bad editing ; but we read elsewhere of 
the " price of wages" 

2 Pol. Econ., 1836, pp. 218, 223. 3 See Lassalle and Marx. 

CHAP, ii.] THE WORKING MAtf. 269 

superfluous ; and " the barest social necessaries " seem 
likely in process of time to mean a high standard of 
comfort. To raise the minimum of social necessaries 
is the way to raise wages really, universally, and 
almost irrevocably. 1 Malthus himself declares that 
"it is the diffusion of luxury " in this sense of the 
word, " among the mass of the people, and not an 
excess of it in a few," that seems to be advantageous, 
both for national wealth and national happiness. 
Puley's ideal of national prosperity, " a laborious 
frugal people ministering to the demands of an 
opulent luxurious nation," is heartily scouted by him. 
The luxuries of the few rich, he says, harass the 
industry of the poor by varying with the fashion ; 
but the luxuries of the poor, when embodied in their 
general standard of living, are not only the best kind 
of check to population, but the steadiest encourage- 
ment to general trade. 2 He seems to have supposed 
the elevation in the standard of living to have been 
effected, like the progress of nations in civilization, by 
the happy improvement of an accidental advantage, 
by the retention of high wages, when once secured 
in a time of brisk trade in the ordinary way of com- 
petition ; the workmen, in short, succeeded in making 
permanent and de jure a change once de facto for the 
time effected. 8 " When our wages of labour in wheat 

1 Cf. Maltha^ Pol. Econ. (1836), pp. 224, 225, Ac, Euay on Popula- 
tion, 7th e<l , II I . viii. 323, but especially IV. xiii. 473. See also Rogers, 
Six Centorie*, ch. viii., ' The Famine and the Plague,' especially pp. 233 

Malthus, My on Pop., IV. xiii 17.1; , in d 434. 

Cf. especially Eaay on Pop. (2nd ed.), Ill ix. 444. "TV 
of labour has been rising not to fall aga 

270 MALTHUS AM) Ills WO [UK. u. 

were high in the early part of the last century, it did 
not appear that they were employed merely in the 
maintenance of more families, but in improving the 
condition of the people in their general mode of 
living." l Malthus, without knowing it, was certainly 
father of the theory of a Wages Fund. The theory 
is that the average wages of the labouring classes at 
any given time are high or low in proportion to the 
great or small amount of circulating capital devoted 
to the payment of wages, or, as it is sometimes 
expressed (more tersely and inexactly), wages depend 
on " the ratio of population to capital." This might 
mean no more than the arithmetical truism that we 
may always find the average wages by dividing the 
total sum received by the total number of recipients ; 
and the quotient would be unalterable only in the 
sense in which all other facts might be said to be 
so, in retrospect. But it is usually taken to mean 
that the first total could not at any given time have 
been greater or less than it actually was, being fixed 
unalterably by circumstances, 2 and so " devoted " or 
"determined" to the payment of wages. The simplest 
test of this theory is the application of it to the case 
of a single individual capitalist and his payments in 
wages. Suppose he has a capital of 10,000, 5000 
fixed and 5000 circulating; and suppose that the 
latter means wages only (instead of chiefly), and is 

1 Emigr. Comm. (1827), p. 326, qu. 3411; cf. 3408, 3409. Cf. above, 
p. 197. 

2 The chief of them being the rate of profits which is at the given time 
enough to induce the " undertaker " (or " enterpriser ") to continue 


paid to one hundred men ; 50 a year will be the 
average wages of the hundred men ; and, by the 
theory, given the rate of ordinary profits and given 
the " desire of accumulation " at the time and place, 
it could not possibly have been cither more or less. 
But, as the profits are not unconditional, neither are 
the wages ; the capitalist might conceivably, to save 
his business, keep it up in bad times at a loss, and 
pav wages at the expense of profits and at the expense 
of his personal pleasures. 1 He has often the choice 
before him to spend more on fixtures, or more on 
new hands, or more on further employment of the 
old hands. In truth, too, though wages, especially 
in England, are often in the first instance advanced 
out of capital, they are always meant to be paid out 
of the gross returns, and in every sound business 
really are so. The workman and employer make 
their contract beforehand, and expect each other to 
abide by it, be the profit much or little; the wages 
depend, therefore, directly on this contract, and indi- 
rectly on that which is the means of fulfilling the 
contract on the master's side, the price of the article 
made. The price of the article is the real wages 
fund ; 2 and therefore the wages fund must be as 
flexible as market prices, and the actual wages as 
changeable as are the powers, habits, and desires of 
\vo contracting parties. 

1 See Mil 'Labour,' / -V/,,;.//, tfy/kweusMay 1869. Cf. 

Walker on The Wage* Question, pp. 140 9tq. 

* So in Quarterly Review, Jan. 1824, p. 315, Malthns nay* profits 
depend rather on the demand for produce than on the demand for 


The theory of a wages fund was formed from the 
facts of a perfectly exceptional time, and on the 
strength of two truths misapplied, the doctrine of 
Malthus (on Population) in its most unripe form, 
and of Ricardo (on Value) in its most abstract. 
J. R. MacCulloch seems to have been the first who 
put the two together to deduce a rigid law of wages. 
" The market rate of wages," he says, "is exclusively 
dependent on the proportion which the capital of the 
country, or the means of employing labour, bears to 
the number of labourers. There is plainly, therefore, 
only one way of really improving the condition of 
the great majority of the community or of the labour- 
ing class, and that is by increasing the ratio of capital 
to population," which the labourers for their part can 
only do by diminishing the supply of labour. 1 

Even Mrs. Marcet, a docile Ricardian, had put the 
case more carefully. " Work to be performed is the 
immediate cause of the demand for labour ; but, how- 
ever great or important is the work which a man 
may wish to undertake, the execution of it must 
always be limited by the extent of his capital, i. e. 
by the funds he possesses for the maintenance or 
payment of his labourers." 2 She professes to be 
expounding the received doctrine of her day. Mac- 
Culloch's exposition is much more rigid. When he 
speaks of the " funds devoted to the payment of 

1 Discourse on Pol Econ., by J. R. MacCulloch, pp. 61, 62 (1st and 
2nd edd.), 1825. 

2 Conversations on Pol. Econ., 1817 (1st and 2nd edd.), p. 137. Mrs. 
Marcet's memory is preserved for latter-day readers by Macaulay's refer- 
ence to her in the essay on Milton. 


wages," he means " that portion of the capital or 
w -a 1th of a country which the employers of labour 
intend or arc willing to lay out in the purchase of 
labour." It "may be larger at one time than at 
another. But, whatever be its magnitude, it obviously 
forms the only source from which any portion of the 
wages of labour can be derived. No other fund is 
in existence from which the labourers as such can 
draw a single shilling. And hence it follows that 
the average rate of wages or the share of the national 
capital appropriated to the employment of labour 
falling, at an average, to each labourer, must entirely 
depend on its amount as compared with the number 
of those amongst whom it has to be divided." l 
Neither MacCulloch, nor James Mill, nor John Mill 
in his early writings, nor apparently any of the ex- 
pounders of the theory, were in the habit of describ- 
ing the fund as "unconditionally" devoted to the 
payment of wages, though John Mill, in restating 
the position after he abandoned it, gives us so to 
understand. 2 Something like unconditional deter- 
mination, however, is assumed in all the reasonings 
of the school. Adam Smith's frequent use of the 
words " funds devoted " or " funds determined " to 
this or that purpose may easily have been misunder- 
stood. Certainly in his pages they mean no inflexible 
compulsion. He says the demand of those who li 
by wages can only increase in proportion to 

1 Dweouw, L c. Ct MacC.'s Pol Econ., Pt. III. ch. ii. p. 378 (ed. 1843) ; 
Pr. | Manual of Pol Econ., p. 131 (1876). 

Jam-* Mill, Kim. (1821), p. 25 ; .l..l, n Mill, 7'rinctpte., II. xi. 1. 
Cf. Fort, tev., 1809, May ; Thornton, Labour, II. i. p. 83. 



increase of the " funds " which are " destined " for 
the payment of wages, these funds being (he adds) 
either the surplus revenue of an idle monied man 
who will " naturally " use any addition to them in 
increasing his staff of domestic servants, or the 
increased capital of the capitalist who will just as 
" naturally " use them in employing more workmen. 1 
The word " destined " is so far, with him, from 
implying any iron necessity that it means simply 
" intended " ; and the intention is one that can be 
foiled or altered. He speaks of the " funds destined 
for the consumption" of the manufacturing class, 2 
and of the townsfolk's " fund of subsistence," 3 mean- 
ing simply their food ; he even speaks of the funds 
destined for the repair of the high roads in France. 4 
Even the strong passage in Book I. chap, viii., " the 
demand for those who live by wages necessarily 
increases with the increase of the revenue and stock 
of every country, and cannot possibly increase with- 
out it," stops considerably short of the doctrine of a 
rigid wages fund. It is never suggested by Adam 
Smith that the wages fund is inelastic, and that wages 
could not at any given time have been greater or 
less than they actually were. The doctrine is seldom 
traced further back than to Malthus ; and Malthus 
cannot be shown to have held the doctrine. With 
express reference to the passage last cited from the 
Wealth of Nations, he says that " it will be found 
that the funds for the maintenance of labour do not 

1 Wealth of Nations, I. viii. p. 31, 2. 2 Ibid., IV. ix. 306, 1. 

3 Ibid., IV. ix. 310, 2. * Ibid., V. i. 327, 2. 


necessarily increase with the increase of wealth, and 
very rarely increase in proportion to it, and that 
the condition of the lower classes of society does 
not depend exclusively upon the increase of the funds 
for the maintenance of labour or the power of sup- 
porting a greater number of labourers " (Essay, 7th ed., 
III. xiii. 363). The condition of the working classes 
depended, he thought, partly on the rate at which the 
" funds for the maintenance of labour," l or, as he 
expressed it at first, " the resources of the country " 2 
and the demand for labour are increasing, and partly 
on the " habits of the people." Among their habits 
we should need to put their education and their 
power of union among themselves, and consequent 
strength in a struggle with the masters, to obtain 
or to raise the market rate of wages. From Ricardo 
he differed on the subject of wages very much as 
on the subject of value. Ricardo looked at cost 
price as the natural value of an article, and mere 
subsistence aa the natural wages of labour. Malthas 
could do neither. 

The issues between the two economists are nowhere 
so well or so calmly stated as in a paper written by 
Malthus (a few months after Ricardo's death) in the 
^//A //// /,Vr//w, 8 where he deals with MacCulloch's 
treatise on Political Economy.' In that article Malthus 
ITU fosses to regard the political economy of Ricardo, 

1 Pol. JEfcon., ed. 1836, ch. iv. sect ii. p. 224. 

* Ibid. ed. 1820, ch. iv. p. 248. 

Quarterly Review, Jan. 1824. Cf. below,' p. 288. 

Supplement to Encyclopedia Britannica. Cf. above, p. 71. 

T 1 


James Mill, and most of the economical writers in the 
Ehicydopadia, as a new and wrong departure. It is 
said to have been regarded by the writer as one of the 
best economical papers he ever wrote ; T and, among 
other virtues, it has the merit of perfect courtesy and 
respect towards the persons criticized. Their system, 
he says, 2 is remarkably like that of the French 
economists. They " were equally men of the most 
unquestionable genius, of the highest honour and 
integrity, and of the most simple, modest, and amiable 
manners. Their systems were equally distinguished 
for their discordance with common notions, the 
apparent closeness of their reasonings, and the mathe- 
matical precision of their calculations and conclusions 
founded on their assumed data. These qualities in 
the systems and their founders, together with the 
desire so often felt by readers of moderate abilities 
of being thought to understand what is considered by 
competent judges as difficult, increased the number 
of their devoted followers in such a degree, that in 
France it included almost all the able men who were 
inclined to attend to such subjects, and in England a 
very large proportion of them. 

" The specific error of the French economists was 
the having taken so confined a view of wealth and its 
sources as not to include the results of manufacturing 
and mercantile industry. 

" The specific error of the new school in England is 
the having taken so confined a view of value as not to 

1 Einpson in Edin. Rev., Jan. 1837, p. 496. 
3 Quart. Bev., Jan. 1824 (no. lx.), pp. 333-4. 


include the results of demand and supply, and of the 
relative abundance and competition of capital. 

" Facts and experience have, in the course of some 
years, gradually converted the economists of France 
from the erroneous and inapplicable theory of Quesnay 
to the juster and more practical theory of Adam 
Smith ; and, as we are fuDy convinced that an error 
equally fundamental and important is involved in the 
system of the new school in England as in that of the 
French economists, we cannot but hope arid expect 
that similar causes will, in time, produce in our own 
country similar effects in the correction of error and 
the establishment of truth." 

The new school has, according to Malthus, three 
main principles. The first is, that what determines 
value is the quantity of labour that a thing costs 
to make, the second, that supply and demand do 
not as a rule affect values, and the third, that 
fertility of soil and not competition regulates tho 
rate of profits. The new school thinks that profits 
enter so little into the price of an article that they 
may "be neglected altogether in the computation of 
the causes of value. But (says Malthus) the value 
of a stone wall would be due, nearly all of it, to 
labour, and the value of a cask of old wine kept for 
twenty or thirty years would be largely due to 
profits. 50 worth of stone wall would have much 
more labour " worked up in it" than 50 worth of 
old wine. It is not sufficient to answer that profits 
are simply accumulated wages. As well say that 
five is another name for four. Ricardo himself 

278 MALTHUS AND HIS WOlUv. [UK. ir. 

introduced many qualifications into his own statement 
that value is due to labour. The principle (he 
confessed) was modified by the use of machinery 
and by the unequal durability of capital. 1 

Malthus admits the truth of Ricardo's dogma that 
profits and wages can only increase at each other's 
expense, and he even applies this principle of 
Ricardo's in a new way to the facts of the commer- 
cial depression that had prevailed since the peace. 2 
It was universally allowed there had been a less 
demand for labour and a great fall in wages, but, 
it was also allowed, a much greater fall in profits ; 
so that wages while lower in gross amount bore a 
higher proportion to profits than before. The reason 
was that, while the competition of labourers was 
great, the competition of capitalists with capitalists 
was still greater. The result was a universal fall of 
prices ; the wages, though relatively greater, were 
absolutely less in amount, and the demand for labour 
would have been greater if prices had risen and the 
capitalist had got greater returns to his capital. 
Malthus would not go farther than this, and the 
Ricardian doctrine needs to be otherwise applied to 
yield the doctrine of a wages fund. It was applied 
in some such way as follows : Competition drives 
prices down to the cost of production ; this means 
that at any given time the sum total of profits and 
wages cannot be more than they actually are, and 

1 Ricardo, Pol. Econ. and Tax., ch. i. sections iv., v. ; Works, pp. 20, 
25. Cf. Malthus, Pol. Econ., 1820, p. 104, and the whole of section iii. 
pp. 72 seq. ' 

2 Quart. Rev., 1. c. p. 324 ; cf. p. 315. Cf. above. 


both are kept down by competition to their mini- 
mum ; the masters could not give higher wages 
without cutting down their profits, the men could 
not get less wages without either starving or being 
driven to seek other employments. Malthus does 
not so apply his doctrines. To him, what fixes the 
sum total of wages and profits is not the cost of 
production, but the demand for the thing produced ; 
not the labour spent on a thing, but the labour that 
others are willing to give for it ; and the cause of 
value is not cost, but demand acting with supply. 

rdo, who prefers to confine his theories to natural 
value, allows that the state of the demand and supply 

s market value above or depresses it below cost 
price ; and he does not see how seriously his own 
qualifications 1 impair the truth of his theory of 
value even when the value is " natural." 2 It is true, 
on the other hand, that the supply at any given time 
is a supply that will not be kept up unless the cost 
price be paid back. The cost price would certainly 
be the minimum below which prices could not ]>< T- 
manenlly pass. But to Ricardo the cost in labour is 
the formal as well as the material cause of a value ; 
to Malthus it is only the material, and only part of 
that, a mere sine qua nnn, while the efficient is the 
1- inand, and the final is tin- consumption of the article 
1>\ its last buyer or user. 
The thinl l.-.i-ling tenet of the new school, says 

1 rl. Scan, and Tax., ch. L sections iv. and v. 
* Any Riven value, it might be added, is influenced by custom as well 
03 competition. 


, is that the rate of profits in a country 
depends on the fertility of the soil there, and not, 
as Adam Smith thought, on the competition of 
capital with capital for employment. Against them 
Multhus maintains that there is no necessary (though 
there is a frequent) connection between the pro- 
ductiveness of industry and the rate of profits, 
still less between the latter and the productiveness 
of any one single industry, such as agriculture. 
Profits depend on the proportion of the whole pro- 
duce which "goes to replace the advances of the 
capitalist " ; but this proportion may remain the 
same when the productiveness of industry is very 
various. In the previous eight or nine years, say 
from 1815 to 1824, there had certainly been no 
costliness in production. Corn had been cheap, and 
farmers' losses had led to the discontinuance of 
high farming, and especially of the forced cultivation 
of the dear years. The production, therefore, was at 
the cost of much less labour. But profits, instead of 
higher, were much lower. Abundance of produce 
and competition of producers had caused a fall in 
the value of produce, so that it was possible for 
the labourer to receive a greater share of what he 
made, though his labour had not become more pro- 
ductive. Ricardo does not take sufficient account 
of the influence of prices, both on wages and on 

There had in fact been over-production and a 
general glut. James Mill's Elements of Political 


Economy^ contain a careful demonstration that 
general gluts are impossible. It was emphatically 
a controversial passage, and in the pages of John 
Mill it has the look of an anachronism. All de- 
pended on the meaning of "general." If it meant 
universal, the case was impossible. It is incredible 
that all without exception should have something to 
sell and no wish to buy. To offer anything for 
sale must of itself imply a desire to buy something 
else with it, either directly or by means of money. 
Even a very near approach to universality is not easy 
to understand ; and it would mean simply that a bad 
organization of the world's markets had prevented 
buyers and sellers from reaching each other, and pre- 
vented goods from going where they are wanted, at 
the time when they are wanted ; it would mean that 
not the malady but the scale and degree of it had 
passed belief. 

1 1821, p. 186, ch. iv. sect, iii "That consumption is coext. 
with production." 

., III. xiv. " Of excess of supply." Cf. I. v. 3, p. 42. 




French War and English Trade English Currency Bullion Committee 
Restriction not the only Cause of High Prices Ricardo on 
Currency Tooke on Prices Say on Gluts English Trade from 
1824 High and Low Wages Some Fallacies of Malthus. 

THE discussion on General Gluts was simply a phase 
of the discussions on Value ; and the prominence of 
such discussions in the political economy of sixty 
years ago was largely due to the peculiar effects on 
trade and prices of a twenty years' war with France. 
The theories of economists were becoming most 
abstract precisely at the time when the justest general- 
izations were most severely tested by abnormal con- 
ditions. Even if the Industrial Revolution heralded 
by the Wealth of Nations had been allowed a free 
course, the new conditions of manufacture would have 
raised new economical questions ; and they could not 
have failed to turn, to some extent, on the subject 
of value, which Adam Smith had by no means ex- 
hausted. But there was no free course. War was 
declared against England by France in 1793. In 
the same year Pitt was forced to offer English mer- 
, chants a loan of public money, to cure a financial crisis. 
Then followed, under the long Tory supremacy, heavy 


taxes, repressive laws, and something more nearly 
approaching a war of classes than anything known 
in England before or since. 

The effects of the first ten years of the French 
war (1793 to 1802) were to all appearance rather - 
good than bad. Britain itself, unlike the other 
belligerent countries, was always intact, and the 
labours of British manufacturers could go on as if 
nothing unusual was happening on the Continent. 
Our command of the sea, to say nothing of the 
conquest of new countries, gave us trade which 
others lost, and made amends for the annulment of 
the French treaty of commerce, and the loss of the 
Dutch trade. In 18 06 the situation became less 
pleasant. The Berlin and Milan decrees excluding 
us from almost every country in Europe, the retali- 
atory Orders in Council and consequent alienation of 
America did real <lamage to English commerce. The 
very expectations they caused of a probable scarcity 
of particular goods sent up prices ; and, with the 
.scarcity, contributed to an acute disturbance of 
trade, which lasted about five years for the Continent 
and three years more for America (1807-12, 1S07- 
15). New markets were opened to us in South 
America ; and the pent-up commercial enterprise of 
our countrymen vented itself in that direction, with 
wild disregard of the needs of consumers in that 
quarter. 1 The same happened, with more reason, in 
1814 and 1815. When peace was restored, it was 
thought that the whole Continent must be eager to 

1 A cargo of skates was sent to Rio Janeiro in 1808. 


have our goods, after being so long without them ; 
and we sent them lavishly everywhere without wait- 
ing for orders. Unhappily the rest of Europe was 
exhausted by the war, which had lessened their 
production ; and such products as they could offer 
us in exchange for our manufactures we seldom took 
without taxing. The very food that we most wanted 
from them we were careful to keep out till the last 
moment. 1 Anything more unlike the " simple system 
of natural liberty " could not be conceived ; and the 
' result certainly seemed to be an over-production on 
our part ; it was at any rate a reign of low prices 
and deep commercial depression. This was not all. 
Since 1797 we had had a paper currency of uncertain 
value. In that year the Bank of England, whose 
department of issue was not then separated from its 
department of banking, gave advances to Government, 
in return for which it was relieved of immediate 
obligation to pay gold to the holders of its notes. 
As long as the issues were moderate, the notes kept 
their value;, but this was a time when economical 
substitutes for the currency, cheques and bills and 
County notes, were lessening the proportion of the 
Bank's notes to the total transactions of trade ; and 
the Bank's power of calculating the public need with- 
out the natural safety-valve of convertibility became 
more and more fallible; the circulation soon con- 
gained superfluous paper, which dragged down the 

1 The intention of the new Corn Law of 1815 was to keep out all 
foreign grain till the home price should reach 80s. a quarter, or the 
loaf Is. See above, p. 221. 


whole currency. In these circumstances, discussions on 
currency gained an interest they could never have 
hud in the abstract ; and they led to measures of the 
most practical and permanent usefulness. Ricardo's 
tract The High Price of Gold Bullion a Proof of 
the Depreciation of Bank-Notes (1809) prepared the 
way for the Bullion Committee of the House of 
C.'inmons (1810), and through them for our own 
r.ank Charter Act (1844). Malthus played a more 
quiet part. His chief writings on the subject of the 
currency were two magazine articles, one in the 
l iin\f//i lirriew of February 181 1, 1 and another 
in the Quarterly Review of April 1823. 

The first treats of The Depreciation of Paper Cur- 
/, and is a review of pamphlets by the leading 
advocates and assailants of the principles of the 
Bullion Committee's Report. The Committee had 
inquired into three subjects : the high price of gold 
bullion,. the state of the currency, and the state 
of the foreign Exchanges. As to the first, they 
found that, while an ounce of standard gold w;i> 
converted at the Mint into 3 \7s. Ityd. (which 
sum was therefore the Mint price of gold bullion), 

1 The article on the Bullion question, in August of the same year, might 

, if it was ii"i Francis Homer's. Cf. Homer's Ltfe, vol. i. ch. vi., 

dates April and Sept. 1805, from which it appears that Homer was working 

l:.irl at tin- ijiii-iii.n and meant to write on it, ns he mi-lit have done 

in 1H 1, tiv-h his i-xju-ri-nc*- on theliulliun ('onuuittoe. As 

t<> th- Fi-l.nmry jirti.-h-, the authorship is shown partly by internal 

/.//V. v..l. ii. p. 68 (Jan. 1811) : "I received 

Malthu-' V \] mid h. i it t.. him 

with >iirh i t . in.- in p. -ru-invj it," &c. MacCulh>h 

di.l not Infill t. wn: m. jRet>. till 1818. 

See Note* and Qwriet, 5th Oct, 1878. 


the said ounce could not in the years 1806-8 be 
bought by the Mint for less than 4 in bank-notes, 
or in 1809 for less than 4 10s. The market price 
had risen to that extent above the Mint price, of 
gold bullion. As to the second, they found that 
guineas had gone out of circulation, and were practi- 
cally replaced by small notes between 1 and 5. 
Finally, as to the third, they found that from the end 
of 1808 the Exchanges had become more and more 
unfavourable to England, till in 1809-10 they were 
with Hamburg nine, with Amsterdam seven, with 
Paris more than fourteen per cent, below par. After 
examination of witnesses and consideration of their 
evidence, the Committee resolved " that there is at 
present an excess in the paper circulation of this 
country, of which the most unequivocal symptom is 
the very high price of bullion, and next to that the 
low state of the Continental Exchanges ; that this 
excess is to be ascribed to the want of a sufficient 
check and control in the issues of paper from the 
Bank of England, and originally to the suspension of 
cash payments, which removed the natural and true 
control." The effects had been very serious, especially 
on the wages of common country labour (Report, 
p. 73) ; and the Committee recommend a speedy 
return to the principle of cash payments, whether 
the nation be at peace or war, though caution 
demands that this take place gradually, in the space 
of two years. It took place, not in two years, but in 
more than ten, namely on 1st May 1821, 1 Parliament 

1 For the history of the currency in the interval see Miss Martineau's 


not agreeing to the change till 1819. 1 Cobbett's 
venture (to be broiled on a gridiron when the Bank 
paid in gold) seemed a perfectly safe one. 

Both Malthus and Ricardo agreed with the Report 
of the Bullion Committee. Ricardo indeed is in a 
sense the father of it. Malthus (in the Edin. Review) 
speaks strongly of the bad policy and injustice of 
continuing the suspension, and he does not spare the 
Bank of England and its mischievous monopoly, 2 or 
the " practical men " and their narrow views. 3 Yet 
he finds fault with Ricardo here as elsewhere for 
making his statements too absolute. Malthus' fault 
is in the contrary direction ; he qualifies too much. 4 N 
He thinks that Ricardo has gone too far in attributing 
all the movements of the Exchanges to excessive or 
defective currency ; a purely commercial excess of 
imports over exports might, he thinks, cause the v 
same effects, and even in the high price of bullion it 
was the commercial difficulty that began what the 
depreciation of currency continued. Ricardo, who 
replies in a long appendix, 6 answers, in substance, 
that in any and every case money goes from where 
it is cheaper to where it is dearer, and therefore from 

Jntrod. to Hist, of Peace, Bk. II. ch. iii. ; Hist, of the Peace, Bk. I. rh. iii. 
and ch. xv. ; Cobbett's Paper v. Gold; Macleod's Banking, vol. ii., end 
of ch. ix. pp. 174 221, much the completest account. 

1 Peel changed his views then on Currency, as he did later on 
C;itli.i!i- Kmaii'-ij.ation and the Corn Laws. 

* p. 370. He speaks approvingly of the American free trade in 
l.aiikiir.' in a way that would hav pleased Cobden. 

> p. .",71. 

4 / / 11 :::: ;i; lain- <>f this even in fo clear a paper as that on 
iliam. See Homer's Life, vol. i. j.p. 436-7 (tub dato 1808). 

* Works (ed. MacC.), pp. 291296. 


where the currency has lost value to where it has 
gained it. But this hardly meets the contention of 
Multhus, that the efficient cause, though it affects the 
currency, is not in all cases the currency itself, and 
in the case of an unequal balance of trade, however 
temporary, the cause of the exportation of the money 
is rather the superfluity of the goods in the foreign 
country than the deficiency of the money there ; it 
would be otherwise when the first cause was in the 
currency itself. The rest of the article contains little 
that is new to readers of the Political Economy, and 
the reference to a possible over-production is chiefly 
valuable as a sign of the authorship, and as showing 
that the views of the author were becoming fixed. 
The personal acquaintance of Malthus with Ricardo 
dates probably from the appearance of this article; 1 and 
they continued to discuss and correspond, in perfect 
friendship, till the death of Ricardo in Sept. 1823. 2 

His friendship with the Edinburgh Reviewers 
remained unbroken ; and, when he wrote in the 
Quarterly Review, it was the Review not the writer 
that had changed. On finance, indeed, the Quarterly 
Review had been saved from unsoundness by Canning's 
influence, 3 and an article on Tooke's Prices need have 
no politics. 

There can be little doubt that Thomas Tooke 4 was 
right in holding the difference between the Mint 

i Ricardo, Works (MacC.), p. xxi. * Cf. below, Bk. V. 

3 Homer's Life, vol. ii. p. 68 (Jan. 1811). 

4 Thoughts and Details on High and Low Prices during the Last 
Thirty Years, 17931823. The later ed. of 1838 in three vols. is more 


price anJ the market price of gold bullion to be the 
full measure of the effect of this depreciation upon 
prices, the rest of the increase being due to great 
demand with small supply, being as a rule much 
exaggerated and in its worst forms purely local. He 
pointed out that there was, as a matter of fact, no 
coincidence between the Bank's contraction or exten- 
sion of its issues and the fall or rise of prices in the 
market outside. Prices rose, for example, in 1795 
and 1796, when the Bank's circulation had been not 
extended but contracted to meet the commercial 
crisis; and in 1798, when the Bank's issues were 
larger, prices actually fell to what they had been in 
1793. Moreover, when some prices went up, others 
went down. When the prices of provisions went 
up in 1799 and 1800, the prices of colonial wares 
went down. The ruling cause (Tooke argues) was not 
the issue of many or few bank-notes, but scarcity 
and plenty, especially the plenty of a good harvest 
and the scarcity of a bad one. Wages in the same 
way flu. mated rather by the harvests than by the 
currency, but not by either so much as by the 
changes in general trade ; it would not be true to 
say that the high or low prices produced high or 
low wages, but what produced the one produced the 
nth.-r. The recoil of the speculation that followed 
the Peace brought down both together ; there was 
a glut not only of goods but of hands; and th n> 
were the discarded men of the army to swell the 
numbers of tin; uiu-mployed. The Luddite outbi 

list machines, as taking work uway from the 


hands, had made a notable beginning in 1812 during 
the war ; in 1816, the year after the Peace, they began 
again with greater violence. The discussions of Say 
and Malthus on Over-production, and the reasonings 
in Eicardo (1817) and James Mill (1821) on Wages 
and the Wages Fund, are as truly commentaries on 
these events as the Letter of Cobbett to the Luddites l 
or the volumes of Tooke on Prices. 

Malthus has adroitly used the work of Tooke to 
support his own economical positions. In a review in 
the Quarterly for April 1823 2 (pages 214 seq.) he 
tries to show that Mr. Tooke's conclusions as to the 
high and low prices of the past thirty years prove the 
following general statements : First, that values and 
therefore prices depend on the supply compared with 
the demand, and are only affected by the labour re- 
quired to produce goods (i. e. by what Kicardo counts 
the main cause of value) so far as this labour is the 
main condition of their supply ; second, that the 
supply and demand are chiefly affected by the seasons, 
and, of the other causes, war may limit the supply but 
can hardly cause a demand ; third, that when demand 
outruns supply trade is brisk, when supply outruns 
demand trade is dull ; and that, finally, a long-con- 
tinued deficiency or a long-continued excess of this 
kind brings with it a fall or a rise in the value of the 
precious metals. 3 Malthus, however, goes further than 

1 Political Register, 30th Nov., 1816. 

2 Internal evidence, e. g. p. 237 of the Quarterly, compared with p. 65 
of Measure of Value, would show his authorship, and the article is 
ascribed to him by Tooke, Prices, ed. 1838, vol. i. p. 21. 

3 L c. pp. 215-16. 


Tooke with the Bullion Committee. Though on the 
bullion question the opposing parties, Bosanquet and 
Ricardo, seemed to him to be devoted to a precon- 
ceived theory, 1 the Report itself was " more free from 
this error of preconception than any work that had 
appeared on the subject;" 2 and he agreed with it that 
there had been a greater rise of prices and of wages 
at the end of the period of restriction, than could be 
explained by the bad seasons, and demand for men, 
and the difference between paper and gold. He is 
old-fashioned enough to think that even with conver- 
tibility there might be over-issue and depreciation, 
and speculation on a basis of paper. His reasoning 
on this point is hardly sound. It depends on a 
misapplication of the axiom that, in the case of 
necessaries, a very small deficiency in the supply will 
cause a very great increase in the price, e. g. that 
wheat may rise from 100 to 200 per cent, when the 
deficiency of the crops is not more than 15 or 30. 3 
The profits of English farmers between 1793 and 
1815 must therefore have been enormous ; and 
Mai thus, though he loves agriculture above manu- 
facture, has taken account of these high gains of 
individuals in judging the cause of the Agricultural 
Interest against the public. 4 But in connection with 
currency he actually speaks as if those gains were 

1 Bosanquet, Practical Observations on the Report of the Bu'lion 
Committee (1810) ; Ricardo, The High Price of Bullion a Proof of the 
Depreciation of Bank- Notes (1809), and his Reply to Bosanquet (1811). 

* 1. c. Pol. Econ., Introd. (1820), pp. 6 and 7 n., (1836) p. 5 n. Cf. 
Tooke, Prices, Part I. p. 6 (ed. 1823). 

1 Tooke, Prices, Part 111. j>. 91. * See Trad on Value, p. 18. 

U 2 


a public advantage ; he does not see they were a 
mere transference of public wealth, not an addition 
to it. The farmer, he says, is obviously " able to set 
in motion a much greater quantity of industry than 
before," at least till wages have risen. " The specific 
funds destined for the maintenance of labour, though 
diminished in quantity, are by this happy provision of 
nature increased in their efficiency ; " labourers get 
more employment, and there is " a burst of prosperity 
to the producing classes." 

This is a near approach to a worse fallacy than the 
Wages Fund. The archaic reasoning is the more 
unhappy, because the reasoner proceeds to use it 
in a good cause. Jean Baptiste Say 2 had taught 
that all increased or diminished demand depended on 
increased or diminished supply, and argued thence, 
with James Mill and Ricardo, the impossibility of 
general or rather universal gluts. Goods 3 being 
always meant to be exchanged with goods, one half 
will furnish a market for the other half; and thus, as 
production (which gives the means of buying) is the 
sole source of demand (so far as demand is effective), 
an excess in the supply of one article merely proves a 
deficiency in the supply of another, and is improperly 
called over-production. Indeed, whereas consumption 
takes an article away from the market, production 
brings one into it, and thereby increases, pro tanto, the 
demand by increasing the means of buying. James 

1 Quarterly, April 1823, p. 230. 

2 Econ. Pol, Part III. ch. ii., 2nd ed., 1842 ; 1st ed., 1802. 

3 " Products " is Say's word, however. 


Mill's neat demonstration of this doctrine 1 would ln 
quite conclusive if we, first of all, defined demand 
and supply so as to include each other, and, second, 
supposed general to mean universal. The reply of 
Multhus himself is that goods are not always 
exchanged for goods, but frequently, perhaps most 
frequently, for labour. Say rejoins that he for his 
part used a term ("products") which includes both 
goods and services, and that the latter are always 
the real object of an exchange. 2 Malthus makes a 
better point when he accuses his opponents of treating 
goods as if they were mathematical symbols, instead 
of objects of human consumption owing their whole 
character to human wants. 3 But his case could be 
made convincing even on his opponents' premises. 
Division of labour, all admitted, is limited by the 
extent of the market ; 4 allow that the most satis- 
factory cure for the limitation is to widen the market, 
not to lessen the division of the labour still, given 
the limitation of the market, the extension of the 
division of the labour will cause an over-production. 
All that Malthus maintained was that this might 
happen in a great many cases as well as in a few; 
Say went as near as he dared to the assertion that it 
could not happen at all. 

1 Elements (1821), oh. iv. sect. iii. pp. 186 seq. "That consumption is 
coexteii-i v.-.with urn.luninn." Mill taught thisasearly as 1808 in his tract 
t Spence) Commerce defended. 

1 Lettres d M. Malthus swr different* sujets cCecon. pol, notammcnt sur 
let cause* de la stagnation general* du commerce (1*20), pp. 2G seq. 

8 Pol. Econ. (1820), p. 355, (1830) p. 316. Against Say's general pos 
see Definitions, p. 5<> n. 

4 Wealth of Nations, I. iii. 


The question of a market, again, is not a mere 
question of numbers but of wants. A carpet factory, 
for example, among a people who preferred bare floors 
would have no market, whatever the numbers and 
even the wealth of the people. Say does not do full 
justice to Mai thus in this connection. He thinks 
that the author of the Essay on Population cannot 
consistently believe in the possibility of a great 
abundance of products together with a stationary 
number of parsimonious consumers. But Malthus 
had allowed that in one case, the case of food, there 
could be no over-production, 1 the want in that case 
being constant, whereas, curiously enough, Eicardo 
thinks that food is the one object of which there 
might be a glut. " If every man were to forego the 
use of luxuries and be intent only on accumulation, a 
quantity of necessaries might be produced for which 
there could not be any immediate consumption. Of 
commodities so limited in number there might 
undoubtedly be a universal glut, and consequently 
there might neither be demand for an additional 
quantity of such commodities nor profits on the 
employment of more capital. If men ceased to 
consume they would cease to produce. This ad- 
mission does not impugn the general principle/' for 
there is no likelihood of such a contingency as it 
supposes ; there is a limit to the desire of food, 
but there is no limit to the desire of other good 

1 See above, p. 232. A curious footnote in Essay on Pop., 3rd ed., vol. ii. 
p. 264, suggested that there might be over-production in the case of high 
farming when its cost made the farmers charge more than the public 
could bear. But this note disappeared afterward* 


things. 1 The insatiableness of human desires is here 
assumed by Ricardo to be always full-grown, instead 
of what it is, in perhaps three-fourths of the world, 
an undeveloped possibility. Till we know that the 
possibility has become actual, we cannot take for 
granted that all we produce will be wanted. 
Mai thus did not enter with sympathy or even with 
full intelligence into the spirit of modern trade. But 
he sees that large manufacture, with its complement 
of speculative trading, must succeed or fail precisely 
as it has judged rightly or judged wrongly of its 
markets, for it no longer, like the old English small 
production, waits for orders it anticipates, woos, and 
coaxes them. He believes that the awakening of 
n Kin's insatiable wants will tend to secure us against 
Kuth over-population and over-production, by creating 
a high standard of living. The taste for luxuries, 
whatever its positive advantages, from the educa- 
tional or artistic point of view, confers at least this 
economical benefit. 2 

Malthus gets a similar result by applying to wages 
his favourite idea of the golden mean. The " funds 
destined to pay wages" may, he says, be increased 
either by high prices or by great production at low 
prices, increased value without increased quantity, 
<>r increased quantity without increased value. The 
r is the more secure way, but it lies on the 
road to "glut." The most desiral-lc plan is the union 

, Pol Ecoiv. and T ii. xxi. p. 176 (MacCull.'i cd.). 

Mill (Element*, ; ., 194) is more rigid. 

1 E$$ay, 7th ed., IV. xui. 473. 


of the two. "There is somewhere a happy mean, 
where, under the actual resources of a country, both 
the increase of wealth and the demand for labour 
may be a maximum. A taste for conveniences and 
comforts not only tends to create a more steady 
demand for labour than a taste for personal services, 
but by cheapening manufactures and the products of 
foreign commerce, including many of the necessaries 
of the labouring classes, it actually enlarges the limits 
of the effectual demand for labour, and renders it 
for a longer time effective." l If any one had urged 
against this, in the words of Mill, that a demand 
for goods is not a demand for labour, but simply 
gives labour a new direction. Malthus would probably 
have answered that the new direction was all 
important, because the trade begun in it might be a 
trade in goods more widely used, and might therefore 
last longer and more steadily than the old trade. 

We see that in his views of this subject, expounded 
tediously enough, and at unnecessary length, Malthus 
had constant thought of the relations of production 
and distribution to consumption as well as to each 
other, for the condition of the people was always 
more important to him than the state of the articles 
concerned. But he never yielded to his feelings so far 
as to adopt Sismondi's reactionary ideas on the effects 
of machinery on the workmen. He never wrote any 

1 Pol. Econ. (1836), ch. iv. sect. iii. p. 239, slightly altered from 1st 
ed., 1820, ch. iv. sect. iii. p. 266. 

2 Sismondi, Nouveaux Principes de I'ficon. Pol, 1819. See Malthus, 
Pol Econ. (1820), p. 420, (1830) pp. 325 n., 366 n. Cf. on the other hand 
Essay, III. xiii. 372-3 and n. 


description of the evils of division of labour at all so 
strong as Adam Smith's. 1 He goes little farther than 
Ricardo, who says in a well-known passage : " The 
same cause which may increase the nett revenue of 
the country may at the same time render the popula- 
tion redundant and deteriorate the condition of the 
labourer," for all the increase may possibly be devoted 
to fixed and not circulating capital, to machinery and 
buildings instead of wages. 2 Ricardo's admission, that 
he was wrong in not recognizing this sooner, makes 
us wonder (as men were even then doing in Germany 
over similar confessions of their philosophers) whether 
his demonstrations are more accurate than ordinary 
reasonings. His brother economists never claimed 
infallibility. Adam Smith gave up his defence of 
Usury Laws. 3 Mai thus amended his first views on 
population, to say nothing of the measure of value. 4 
Mill gave up the Wages Fund. It was only the 
minor economists who proudly remained at the end 
where they were at the beginning. James Mill re- 
fused to follow Ricardo in allowing that food could 
be over-produced, and MacCulloch refused to go with 
hi in in the admission above quoted, that increase of 
wealth might go to fixed capital instead of wages. 6 

1 Wealth of Nations, V. i. art. ii. pp. 350353 (ed. MncC.). II 
outrivjillrd li\- I'Vr^uson, Civil Society, parts iv. and v. (ed. 1773). 

3rd ed, - I Pol. EC. and Tax. (1821), ch. xxxi. pp. 468-9, ed. Mac- 
Cull , pp. 235-6. Cf. below (Critics). It is the po*iti..n of U 

8 If we believe Bowring, Life of Bentham (ed. 1843), p. 

4 "Suppi'-in: his opinions have not altered within the last 
twelve in i;ili ." De Quincr.y, vol. iv. p. 231. 

James Mill. /;/,/ l:i. ICtcCttlL, /'../. />.. p. 207. 

Cf. the tract Mordccai MuUion (1826). 


Orthodox economy became most abstract when on the 
death of Ricardo in 1823 its doctrines passed into the 
hands of the Minor Prophets. 

In the last ten years of his life Malthus made 
no serious change in his economical views, and 
approached no nearer to the Ricardians. They were 
years when economists and political reformers had 
not learned to work together so harmoniously as they 
were to do after his death. Huskisson's changes in 
commercial policy were preparing the way in high 
quarters for free trade. The sliding scale of corn 
duties introduced in 1826 pointed on the whole in 
the same direction. But the agitation of the humbler 
classes for political freedom, made solid as it was 
by an appreciable progress in popular education, 1 
and kept within bounds of law by the influence of 
Cobbett, 2 went on in a way apart ; and it will be 
remembered how Chartism stood aloof from the Anti- 
Corn-Law League. A man might be an advanced 
economist and social reformer and a reactionary in 
politics. In 1824, when trades unions were for the 
first time allowed by law and the Factory Acts were 
still too imperfect to give the weak a fair chance 
against the strong, the "natural state of things," free 
development of individual and national faculties, did 
not exist; and Malthus, who missed them keenly, 
would have been much amazed to hear that his 
f doctrines were, like Ricardo's, a vindication of things 

1 Especially by Sunday Schools, according to the testimony of Samuel 
Bamford. Radical, vol. i. p. 7 (1844). 

2 We have his counterpart in our own day. 


as they are. Not only the notorious fact of his opposi- 
tion to Ricardo, but his views on commercial policy 
are against the notion. 1 At the Peace there were 
many fallacies current about wages. The new Corn 
Law of 1815 had inaugurated the aggressive policy of 
the agricultural interest, who frankly endeavoured, by 
forms of law, to convert an occasional scarcity into a 
permanent one, and keep prices at 80s. a quarter. Not 
a few false friends of the working man recommended 
him to countenance the law and let his bread be made 
dear, for then, said they, his wages would be made 
high. Many manufacturers, on the other hand, were 
declaring the interest of the country to be low wages, 
and, unto that end, cheap food and a great population. 
Mai tli us was with neither. His partial approval of 
the new Corn Law was no doubt based on erroneous 
grounds ; but he held no such mistaken views of 
wages. His opinion, if not sufficiently obvious from 
his general views of population, was laid down ex- 
plicitly in all his writings. He says, for example : 
"If a country can only be rich, by running a success- 
ful race for low wages, I should be disposed to say at 
once ' Perish such riches ! ' "* "It is most desirable 
that the labouring classes should be well paid, for a 
much more important reason than any that can relate 
to \\valth, namely, tin: happiness of the great mass of 
society." 8 Being a>k'-l. "In a natimal point of view, 
even if it wore admitted that the low rate of v 

below,Bk. III.,forli-<i>r.-f of tho. that he was reactionary 
in his p" many <-,, nminil optimist* 

a Pd. Econ., 1820, p. 236. I c. p. 


was an advantage to the capitalist, do you think it 
fitting that labour should be kept permanently in a 
state bordering on distress, to avoid the injury that 
might accrue to the national wealth from diminishing 
the rate of profit ? " he answered, " I should say, by 
no means fitting ; I consider the labouring classes as 
forming the largest part of the nation, and therefore 
that their general condition is the most important 
of all." ' 

He thinks, however, that the change from low 
to high wages might quite possibly so reduce profits 
as to make trade unprofitable. We might need to 
sacrifice something of our commercial prosperity. He 
cannot rise to the conception of a society in which 
the entire body of workmen as consumers would be 
a sufficient market for the same body as producers. 
He cannot rid himself of the idea that a body of 
unproductive consumers is a social necessity, to give 
a stimulus to production by developing the wants 
which the manufactures are to satisfy. It seems 
easy to answer that those unproductive consumers 
can only pay for the manufactures by means of other 
products, whencesoever obtained, and there seems no 
reason why their producers should not obtain them. 2 
If the workmen themselves had the wants and sup- 
plied them by their own labour, all the results that 
Malthus desires would be obtained without invidious 

1 Emigr. Comm. (1827), p. 317, qu. 3281. 

2 Some such view is suggested by Malthus himself, Essay, IV. xiii. 
p. 473 (cf. Pol. EC., 1820, p. 475), a passage which it is hard to reconcile 
with the passages in the Quarterly and in the Pol. EC. that speak of the 
necessity of a special class of unproductive consumers. 


distinctions of classes, and with distinct improvement 
in the condition of the workmen. His aims, at 
. were good. The indispensable leisure ^would 
be secured if the hours of labour were shortened, 
as he desired them to be. " 1 have always thought 
and felt that many among the labouring classes in 
this country work too hard for their health, happi- 
ness, and intellectual improvement." l The general 
wealth therefore, if need be, must be sacrificed to 
the general happiness. Factory Acts that would pre- 
vent children from labouring too young or too long 2 
he thoroughly approves ; though such Factory Acts 
as would interfere with adult labour he considers 
an injustice to the work-people themselves, and a 
hopeless interference with "the principles of com- 
petition, one of the most general principles by which 
the business of society is carried on." 3 The salvation 
of the labouring classes must come from themselves, 
from their own " simultaneous resolution to work 
iVwer hours in the day." But trades unions, as we 
now know them, had not then come into being ; and 
he talks of a future improvement of the working 
classes in knowledge, comfort, and self-restraint, 4 with 
much hesitation. 

We have seen that the economics of Malthus, 
whether in relation to the landlords, the emplo 

1 Pol Econ. (1820), ch. vii. sect. ix. p. 473. Cf. Tract on P 

48 n. 

* Euay on P<;>.. III. iii. p. 282 (in pelnti.-n to Robert Owen). Cf. tho 
whole ch. xiii. of Book 1 1 1 ., \v here he treats of " Increasing Wealth as it 

.ti.n .,f tli-- Poor." 

lli.l., ]. o, pp. -J74-5. 


or the workmen, are by no means identical with the 
economics of Kicardo and his school, which have been 
the ruling and orthodox doctrine for the first half of 
the nineteenth century. 

It would be neither complimentary nor true to 
ascribe the difference to the logic of sentiment ; but 
it is true that the acute sensitiveness of Malthus to 
.the evils of poverty kept constantly before him large 
classes of facts which Eicardo seemed willing to 
forget, and the path that he took, though long ago 
obscured and forgotten, led him in some important 
points away from laissez faire to doctrines of our 
own day, in which society acting through its Govern- 
ment is allowed an originative and not merely a 
regulative action in the matter of industry and 

Resuming the thread of the essay, we shall find 
that the relation of society to its destitute, poor is 
not to Malthus, as to Eicardo, a question of taxation 
and finance, but a problem of morals and politics, 
which could only be solved by a clear view of the 
relation of the citizen to the commonwealth. 




Arrangement of the Essay Nature's Mighty Feast Tract on High 
Price of Provisions I cannot, therefore I ought not Poor Laws con- 
demned Frederick the Great's Army Mitigation of Bad Effects 
of Poor Law Step towards Abolition New Poor Law. 

IN the foregoing brief review of the economical doc- 
trines of Malthus, the chapters on commercial policy 
and the Corn Laws, 1 in the third book of the Essay on 
Population, have been already noticed. As the First 
and Second books of the essay were supposed to deal 
with the state of population in past and in present 
times, the Third is supposed to deal with the "dif- 
ferent systems of expedients which have been proposed 
or have prevailed in society" for curing the evils 
arising from the principle of population, while the 
Fourth relates to the future prospects of society, and 
the possibility of removing the evils in question. Tlii- 
division of the subject could not be maintained very 
strictly. The "systems proposed" no doubt were 
in most cases mere theories and could be consid 

1 See above, pp. 245 teq. and 252. 


by themselves ; but the " systems that prevailed " 
included such laws as the Corn Laws and Poor Laws, 
which directly affected the present habits and wealth 
of the people, and might fairly have been considered 
in the second book. The fourth book might quite 
logically have been part of the third, for it simply 
adds to the " systems proposed " the proposal of 
Malthus himself. The arrangement is not in itself 
so perfect or so closely respected by its author that 
we need have any remorse for disregarding it. The 
earliest chapters of the third book (i. and ii.) are 
substantially the refutation of Godwin, Wallace, 
Condorcet, as it appeared in 1798, with a postscript 
(ch. iii.) on Owen and Spence, which will be best 
considered in another place. 1 In point of style they 
are probably the best in the book. 

After a chapter (iv.) on Emigration 2 come three 
chapters on the Poor Laws, to be viewed with ch. 
viii. of the fourth book, which deals with Plans for 
their Abolition. Of all the applications of the doc- 
trines of Malthus, their application to pauperism was 
probably, at the time, of the greatest public interest. 
Even the first essay had distinct bearing on Pitt's 
Poor Bill ; the next writing of the author was on a 
question of parish relief; and these three chapters 
in the later Essay on Population have influenced 
public opinion and legislation about the destitute 
poor almost as powerfully as the Wealth of Nations has 
influenced commercial policy. Malthus is the father 

1 See below, Bk. IV., and cf. above, p. 208. 
2 See above, p. 142. 

CHAP, iv.] THE BEGGAR. 305 

not only of the new Poor Law, but of all our latter- 
da}' sock-ties for the organization of charity. 

The subject is best introduced in the words of a 
celebrated parable, which Malthus having used once 
was never afterwards allowed to forget : l " A man 
who is born into a world already possessed, if he 
cannot get subsistence from his parents, on whom he 
has a just demand, and if the society do not want 
his labour, has no claim of right to the smallest portion 
of food, and, in fact, has no business to be where he 
is. At nature's mighty feast there is no vacant cover 
for him. She tells him to be gone, and will quickly 
execute her own orders, if he do not work upon the 
compassion of some of her guests. If these guests 
get up and make room for him, other intruders 
immediately appear demanding the same favour. 
The report of a provision for all that come, fills the 
hall with numerous claimants. The order and har- 
mony of the feast is disturbed, the plenty that before 
reigned is changed into scarcity ; and the happiness 
of the guests is destroyed by the spectacle of misery 
and dependence in every part of the hall, and by 
the clamorous importunity of those, who are justly 
rnra#M.l at not finding the provision which they had 
been taught to expect. The guests learn too lato 
ill* ir error, in counteracting those strict orders to all 
intruders, issued by the great mistress of the feast, 
who, wishing that all II.T Bursts should have plenty, 
and knowing that she could not provide for unlimin d 

1 The pawMig 1 in lull because by recent critics it is mu< h 

garbled ; . g. inProyreu and Poverty, VII. i. 301 n. 



numbers, humanely refused to admit fresh comers 
when her table was already full." 1 

Our neighbours' misfortunes have seldom been 
made so picturesque. The figure itself was no new 
one. Lucretius had written : 

*' Cur non, ut plenus vitae con viva, recedis ] " 2 

and Fenton, in Pope's 3 familiar lines : 

"From Nature's temperate feast rose satisfied, 
Thanked heaven that he had lived and that he died." 

But the new application took hold on the public 
fancy. Sir William Pulteney and AVindham are 
said to have been, beyond others, delighted with 
its conservative moral. 4 Mai thus may have got 
the hint of it from a passage in Paley's Moral 
and Political Philosophy. Paley was criticizing a 
justification of private property, which founded it 
on every man's right to take what he wants of the 
things God made for the use of all, just as, when 
an entertainment is given to the freeholders (as the 
free and independent electors?) of a county, we see 
them coming in and eating and drinking each what 
he chooses, without asking the consent of the other 
guests. The simile, says Paley, is not perfect, for 
in a freeholder's feast nobody is allowed to fill his 
pockets or to throw anything away, " especially if by 

1 Essay, 2nd ed., IV. vi. 531. 

2 Lucretius, iii. 951. Cicero's simile of the theatre open to all comers, 
but Riving each man his own seat, had special application to Property 
(De Fiuibus, iii. 20). 

3 Epitaph on Fenton. 

4 James Qrahame's Population (1816), p. 34. Of. Quarterly Rev., Dec. 
1812, p. 327; Hazlitt, Spirit of the Age, 'Malthus,' end. 

CHAP, iv.] THE BEGGAR. 307 

so doing he pinched the guests at the lower end of 
th. table." 1 

Even the friends of Malthus thought the passage 
too gloomy ; and, as every one noticed, 2 it was not 
retained after 1803. It contains, however, at least 
two positions that were never retracted : that the 
poor cannot claim relief as a right, but only as a 
favour, and that poor relief can only raise one man 
by depressing another. The latter position may be 
illustrated from the tract written in 1800 on the 
////// Price of Provisions. The main aim of the tract 
was to show that the price was too extravagantly high 
to be due to the deficiency, which was admittedly 
only one-fourth. But the author throws light on his 
own general doctrines. 8 He argues, in substance, 
that to give relief in money is to enable the relieved 
persons to retain their ordinary rate of consumption 
at the expense of the rest. To this the reply is 
obvious: the sufficiency of the stock is not so 
fmi'ly calculated, neither is the amount of it so fixed 
that it cannot be increased from home or foreign 
stores, and to withdraw money from the rich for the 
poor, and increase the country's total expenditure on 
necessaries, might be simply to divert the stream of 
importation into the channel of necessaries, and lead 
to a larger use of food other than bread. Under the 

* Book III. Parti, ch. iv. (17 

in, Population (1820), I. iii. 17. T)u> withdrawal wa* 
My due to Sunnier. See Otter, Life of Malthua in Pol. EC. (1836), 
p. Iii. 

* Cf. Euay, 2nd ed., pp. 400, 401, and mi , p. 298 n. Ct 
J05 and 297 n. Cf. also Tooke, above quoted, p. H 


conditions of the time, however, the author's views 
w iv not unnatural. On his return from Sweden in 1800 
he found scarcity prevailing in England as elsewhere, 
but with prices much higher than in other countries. 
These were the days when Chief Justice Kenyon and 
a jury enforced the antiquated laws against forestall- 
ing and regrating. 1 Mai thus had not read his Adam. 
Smith to so little purpose that he could approve such 
proceedings ; much of his- pamphlet was simply an 
application, to one particular case, of the principles 
of the Wealth of Nations (Book IV. chap, v.). 2 Neither 
could he agree with the notion that the paper cur- 
rency had done it all. 3 Settling down to his parish 
work in Surrey, he watched the course of events. 
\\ hat happened, he said, there and presumably else- 
where was as follows : In progress of the scarcity the 
poor complained to the justices that their wages were 
too low to buy bread at present prices ; the justices 
thereupon inquired at what, as the lowest wages, they 
would have been able to buy it, and then " very 
humanely, and I am far from saying improperly," 
gave parish relief accordingly. 4 But, like the water 
from the mouth of Tantalus, the corn slipped from 
the grasp of the poor ; prices rose a step further, and 
the relief had to follow the prices. 

The rates accordingly rose in many places from 

1 Cf. above, p. 220. 

2 On Bounties and the Corn Trade. Cf. High Price of Provisions, p. 3. 

3 1. c. p. 23. See above, p. 239. Also Corn Law Catechism, 1839, 
qu. 244. 

4 1. c. pp. 9 11. Cf. the " make up " and " bread money " mentioned in 
Report of Poor Law Commission, 1834, p. 27. 

CHAP, iv.] THE BEGGAR. 309 

four to fourteen shillings in the pound. By the 
double burden of dear food and high rates, perhaps 
five or six millions of the richer classes were certainly 
made to feel the pinch of the scarcity, which would 
otherwise have been borne, say by two millions of 
the poorest, who would have died under it. 1 In this 
instance the Poor Laws did the country a distinct 
service. But it was done by taking from the first 
guests to give to the importunate intruders, and 
could not justify a general eulogy of the Poor Laws. 
The whole drift of the Essay on Population had gone 
against such institutions ; and " two years' reflection," 
the writer of the Essay, " have served strongly 
to convince me of the truth of the principle there 
advanced, and of its being the real cause of the con- 
tinued depression and poverty of the lower classes 
of society, of the total inadequacy of all the present 
establishments in their favour to relieve them, and 
<>f the [certainty of] periodical returns of such seasons 
of distress as we have of late experienced." 2 In the 
first essay he had spoken strongly not only against 
Pitt's new Poor Bill, but against all legal relief, and 
amongst other reasons precisely on the ground that it 
caused food to rise in price beyond the point to which 
scarcity would have raised it apart from interference. 8 
The second waa a stronger reason ; in the language 
\iint, the claim allowed (with little qualification 4 ) 
by the English Poor Laws was a claim that could not 

rice, Ac. pp. 19, 20. I c. p. 27. Of. above, p. 43, 

3 1st ed., pp. 82, 83 ; 7th ed., pp. 3< 

4 Euay. 7th !., Aj-jM-Mlix, p. 493. 


1 >e made universal without contradiction. If every one 
exercised the supposed right of demanding relief, no 
community could fulfil the supposed duty of granting 
it. 1 If it could have been fulfilled, Mai thus thinks, 
the obligation would have held ; and, instead of de- 
claring " I cannot, therefore I ought not," he would 
have confessed, " I can, therefore I ought." 2 As the 
case stands, he agrees with Sir Frederick Eden in 
tlii nking the giving of legal relief impracticable, and 
therefore no duty, and also that, " upon the whole, 
the sum of good to be expected from a compulsory 
maintenance of the poor will be far outbalanced by 
the sum of evil which it will inevitably create." s It 
relieved individual suffering at the cost of making 
the suffering general. It created the poor which 
it maintained, for it led men to marry with the 
certainty of parish assistance. It thereby increased 
the population without increasing the food of the 
countr} r , and it has to a large extent broken down 
the ancient spirit of independence. " Hard as it 
may appear in individual instances, dependent poverty 
ought to be held disgraceful." 4 High wages and 
independence and moral restraint are better than low 
wages with a parish supplement and a pauper family. 
" I feel persuaded that if the Poor Laws had never 
existed in this country, though there might have 
been a few more instances of very severe distress, 

1 He borrows, as he himself says, the language of Sir Frederick Eden 
on the State of the Poor (1797). See Essay on Population, 2nd ed., p. 
417 n. ; 7th ed., p. 308 n. 

2 Letter to Whitbread (1807), pp. 12, 13 ; cf. Essay, p. 445 ft. 

3 Quoted, Essay, III. vi. 308 n. , 4 7th ed., III. vi. 303 ; 1st ed , p. 365. 

CHAP, iv.] THE BEGGAR. 311 

the aggregate mass of happiness among the common 
people would have been much greater than it is at 
present." ' This was his belief to the end. 2 

An allegory of these things may be found in Dr. 
John Moore's description of the army of Frederick 
the Great. Dr. Moore saw a man caned for being 
a few seconds late in replacing his ramrod ; and the 
officers told him that, since they could not distinguish 
wilful blunders from accidental, they punished all 
alike, and the result, they said, was excellent ; all the 
men were on the alert, and fewer blunders were com- 
mitted on the whole. It used to be common on 
Held- days for dragoons to have their hats blown off 
and to be thrown from their horses. At last a general 
orders to punish every man to whom either of 
these accidents happened ; since then hardly any- 
body lost his hat or fell from his horse. Dr. Moore 
heard of a poor hussar who had fallen from his horse 
at last review, and was to be punished for it as soon 
as he could leave the hospital. This seemed hard, 
but the King of Prussia thought he could only hope 
to make his army superior to others by improving 
its discipline, training its officers by honour and 

race, and its privates by physical punishment ; he 
considered that the occasional suffering of an innocent 
individual does less harm to an army than the toler- 
ation of negligence, which makes tin; negligence 

ter. s So far as legal relief goes, Malt 1ms would 
1 Otti .''.05. 

1 See e. g. Emigration Committee, 1827 '-23. 

1 I.)r -ore's View of Society and M> /'ranee, Swiber- 

land, and Germany (7tb ed., 1780). }>. 144157. 


recommend the same martial severity, and try to put 
men on their guard against poverty by making them 
Lear the discipline of its consequences. There are 
other points in which the allegory applies to the 
" simple system of natural liberty ; " the discipline of 
industrial competition is certainly in some respects as 
re as the discipline of an army. On the other 
hand, society does not consist of picked strong men, 
but includes the weak also, and its privates are sup- 
posed not to take their orders from a commander, but 
to " fend for themselves." Society under socialism 
may resemble an army, but not society under indi- 
vidualism. Mai thus, therefore, would have repudiated 
the analogy. He does not reach his conclusions by 
a preconceived theory of the state, but by observing 
the ill results of the common preconceived theory that 
every citizen when destitute has a right to be sup- 
ported by the state. He finds that, as a matter of 
fact, where material relief has been given as a duty, 
and claimed as a right, the effect on the recipient has 
been clearly bad ; the Poor Law stands condemned 
by experience. 

Yet he admits that the badness of the law has 
been largely counteracted by the remissness of its 
execution. The attempt to secure a fixed rate of 
wages to the labourer in all states of trade has not 
really been made in England as the Elizabethan Poor 
Law enjoined. The scantiness of the relief actually 
given, together with the insolence of the officials 
concerned in the giving of it, has disturbed the 
sense of complete security, which in the view of 

CHAP, iv.] THE BEGGAR. 313 

would in such a case have beeii fatal. "The 
desire of bettering our condition and the fear of 
making it worse, like the vis mediatrix natures in 
j'hysics, is the vis mediatrix reipublicce in politics, and 
is continually counteracting the disorders arising from 
narrow human institutions." The Poor Law has been 
so imperfectly carried out that it has left some room 
still for prudential motives among the labourers ; 
they cannot count on complete provision for their 
families if they marry recklessly, and some few of 
them still think caution needful. Moreover, from 
f'-ar of the Poor Law the rich will often refuse to 
build cottages, lest their occupants become paupers. 1 
In the third place, pauper children, like foundlings, 
do not live long. 2 

In his Letter to Samuel Whitbread, M.P., on his 
proposed Bill for the a mr, id incut of the Poor Laws 
(1807), Malthus allows that abolition must not come 
till public opinion is ripe for it ; but he recommends 
lation in the direction of abolition, to prepare the 
minds of all classes for the final steps, and to expose 
to the working classes the delusiveness of the present 
boon. Poor Laws, he says, are peculiar to England, 
and their absence in other countries does not seem 
t<> have the effects expected from their abolition here. 
In reply to Mahhus, it might be urged that the 
POO! Laws Ale not entirely j.eculiar to Kn-lmd, but 
occur in I>emnark and elsewhere. 8 In the second 

,, 7th ,.!., III. vi. p. 307 ; (1827), qu. 

1 I. c. i>] 

3 Report* to Local Oov. Ld. on Foreign Poor Laict, 1875, p. 7. 


place, as MacCulloch argues in a letter, aimed at 
^laltlm.*, to Macvey Napier, 1 Britain is peculiarly 
subject to fluctuations in trade, due, for example, to 
the changes in foreign tariffs, and therefore there are 
more cases of sudden and unavoidable distress, that 
need such a provision as the Poor Law's. In the third 
place, too, it is difficult to see how we can make 
begging unlawful if we make legal relief inaccessible, 2 
any more than we can logically make education 
compulsory while we insist on the payment of 
fees. In the fourth place, an indiscriminate private 
charity is probably more mischievous than a discri- 
minating public relief. Malthus, however, was not 
against all relief, but only against it when claimed 
as a right ; and he was fully aware that the risks of 
the English working man were greater than those of 
his Continental brethren. All he desired was to give 
the workman scope for that sense of personal re- 
sponsibility out of which the Poor Law was beguiling 
him. He knew quite well that no good end would 
be served by the removal of the Poor Law, unless the 
public had been educated out of the evil ways of it. 
He proposed therefore to make a gradual change, 
the essence of which was to be the disclaimer of any 
right on the part of a poor man to be supported 
at the public expense ; children have a right to be 
supported by their parents, but not by the public. 3 

1 Macvey Napier's Correspondence, pp. 29 seq. Date 30th Sept., 1821. 

2 Report of Poor Law Comm., 1834 ; Remedial Measures, p. 227. 

3 l-Ixsay on Population, Appendix, p. 492. It was probably this dis- 
claimer of public duty that led Coleridge to complain, "the entire 
tendency of the modern or Molthusian political economy is to denation- 

iv.] THE BEGGAR. 315 

Let a law be passed, he said, declaring that no 
legitimate child born from any marriage taking place 
u after the law's enactment, and no illegitimate 
born two years thereafter, shall ever be entitled to 
parish relief. "And to give a more general know- 
ledge of this law, and to enforce it more strongly on 
the minds of the lower classes of people, the clergy- 
man of each parish should, previously to the solemniz- 
ation of a marriage, read a short address to the 
parties, stating the strong obligation on every man 
to support his own children ; the impropriety, and 
even immorality, of marrying without a fair prospect 
of being able to do this ; the evils which had resulted 
to the poor themselves, from the attempt which had 
been made to assist, by public institutions, in a duty 
which ought to be exclusively appropriated to parents, 
and the absolute necessity which had at length 
appeared, of abandoning all such institutions, on 
account of their producing effects totally opposite to 
those which were intended. This would operate as a 
fair, distinct, and precise notice which no man could 
well mistake, and without pressing hard upon any 
particular individuals, would at MIC.- throw oil' the 
li-in^ ^-nerat ion from their mi>'Tal>le ami helpless 
dependence upon the Government and the rich." 
Both tlx'ir irritation atj iin-t the upper classes and 
their helplessness in devising expedients in time of 

nlize"(7V K.W., j- 

may have been simply tl ! ilthus, like Ki.-unl>, advocated 

laiMf. <1 in tliiH nw it is singular 1m should n,.t have said 


i> r.30. 


want, arise from "the wretched system of governing 
too much. When the poor were once taught, by the 
abolition of the Poor Laws, and a proper knowledge of 
their real situation, to depend more upon themselves, 
we might rest secure that they would be fruitful 
enough in resources, and that the evils which were 
absolutely irremediable they would bear with the 
fortitude of men and the resignation of Christians." 1 
However comical may be the picture of a clergyman 
following up the very un-Malthusian marriage service 
by such a moral lecture as is here recommended, the 
principle of the recommendation is sober sense, and 
has largely influenced the benevolence of later philan- 
thropists. Dr. Chalmers applied it in his Parochial 
System, which would have been an admirable substi- 
tute for the Poor Law on the (unfortunately untrue) 
hypothesis of an absence of sects. The Mendicity 
Society (dating from 1815) and the Charity Organiza- 
tion (from 1869) build on the same foundation. 

The new Poor Law of 1834 differed from Malthus in 
that it did not deny the right to relieve, and still kept 
up the fiction that the law of Elizabeth was good, and 
we had degenerated from it. 2 But it allowed the 
riii'ht only to the indigent, 3 refusing all relief in aid of 
wages to the merely poor and the able-bodied ; and 
irried out the principle that dependent poverty 
(in the words of Malthus) should be held disgraceful 
and made disagreeable. " Every penny bestowed that 
tends to render the condition of a pauper more eligible 

1 Essay, 2nd ed., p. 539. 2 E. g. Report of Commissioners, p. 13. 

3 Report, pp. 227-8. 

CHAP, iv.] THE BEGGAR. 317 

than that of the independent labourer is a bounty on 
indolence and vice." " In proportion as the condition 
of any pauper class is elevated above the condition 
of independent labourers, the condition of the inde- 
pendent class is depressed." l If this meant that poor 
ivliff should run a race with the average wages of 
labour, keeping always one stage behind them, it 
might be argued that in good times a pauper would 
get too much comfort and in bad times too little food. 
But the disgrace of dependence and the discomfort of 
constraint are the deterrents which Malthus himself 
has most in mind. 

Without the discussions raised by the Esmy on. 
Population it is very doubtful if public opinion would 
have been so far advanced in 1834 as to make a bill, 
drawn on such lines, at all likely to pass into law. 
The abolition of outdoor relief to the able-bodied was 
nothing short of a revolution. It had needed a life- 
time of economical doctrine, reproof, and correction 
to convince our public men, and to some extent 
the nation, that the way of rigour was at once tin- 
way of justice, of mercy, and of self-interest. The 
history of the English Poor Law is ample proof thai 
men do not instinctively follow their own interest. 
It was the rat -payer's interest, 2 unless he was an 
employer, thai relief should be sparely given; and it 
was given lavi.-hly. It was the poor man's interest 
to be thrifty and snl.T; and as a rule he was neither. 

1 Report, p. 2 

J Even if he were a poor ratepayer, voting a Hum of which his i 
'il.otir wonM pay tlic lar^-r .-hnre. 


There was no hope of reform till both rich and poor 
learned a deeper sense of their personal responsibility 
for the remoter effects of their own acts, whether 
unwisely benevolent or heedlessly selfish. The clear 
consciousness of personal responsibility seems to 
Mai th us to be the soul and centre of every healthy 
reform. In this sense, at least, he would say that 
virtue is knowledge. 

His thoughts on society are connected at this point 
with his thoughts on man's place and duty in the 
world. His psychology and ethics, slightly as they 
are sketched, throw light on his sociology and 
economics, and must be considered before we can 
estimate his position in social philosophy. This will 
lead us over the greater portion of the fourth book of 
the essay, leaving the critical chapters till we come 
to deal with the Critics as a body. 



Cardinal Doctrines of the Malthusian Ethics Application to Desire 
of Marriage Place of Man on the Earth Criticism of Moral Philo- 
sophy Teleology and Utility Benevolence and Self-love Malt bus 
and Paley Greatest Happiness Earthly Paradise Mai thus and 
the French Revolution Multhus not a Political Reactionary 
Not committed to laissezfaire His Modifications of that Doctrine 
Utilitarianism phu Nationality Experience as much the Riddle 
as the Interpretation The State an Organism Political Ideals 
before and after 1846. 

Tm: moral philosophy of Malthas, like that of Aris- 
tutle, starts from a teleology. 

Nature makes nothing in vain. Every desire has 
its proper place and proper gratification, if we can find 
them. The passions are the materials out of which 
happiness is made ; and they are therefore to be regu- 
lated and harmonized; they are not to be extinguished, 
"i- ven diminished in intensity. 1 There is a way of 
so gratifying the desires that they produce a general 
balance of consequences in favour of happiness ; and 
tin-re is an opposite way with opposite effects. Tli- 
former is evidently the way of nature, for utility 
is the only guide of conduct we Jiave apart 

L'n.l..l.. p. .J>, ,'1; .-f. j.p. 3:-J t,,p and 390. 


Scripture. 1 We must not eradicate any impulses ; but 
we must follow none so far " as to trench upon som^ 
other law [sic] which equally demands our attention." 
What is the golden mean, and what is too much 
or too little, we can only know by our own and 
others' experience of the consequences of actions. 2 
Nature shows us the wrongness of an act by bring- 
ing from it a train of painful consequences. Dis- 
eases, instead of being the "inevitable inflictions of 
Providence," are " indications that we have offended 
against some of the laws of nature. The plague at 
Constantinople and in other towns of the East is a 
constant admonition of this kind to the inhabitants. 
The human constitution cannot support such a state 
of filth and torpor ; and as dirt, squalid poverty, and 
indolence are in the highest degree unfavourable to 
happiness and virtue, 3 it seems a benevolent dispens- 
ation that such a state should by the laws of nature 
produce disease and death, as a beacon to others to 
avoid splitting on the same rock." 4 As epidemics in- 
dicate bad food, unwholesome houses, or bad drainage, 
and as indigestion follows over-eating, so the misery 
that follows on too great an increase of numbers is 
simply the law of nature recoiling on the law-breaker. 5 
In this case it has taken a longer experience to teach 

1 Essay, 7th ed., IV. x. pp. 442-3 ; cf. p. 161. 

2 7th ed., IV. i. p. 390. Cf. above, p. 37. 

3 Not quite logical, if the test of a virtuous action is its tendency to 
produce happiness. 

4 Ibid., IV. i. p. 390. 

6 2nd ed., pp. 489, 490, 501 ; 7th ed., pp. 390, 401. Cf. Paley, M. and 
P. Phil., I. vi., II. iv. ; Tucker, Light of Nature (1st ed., 1768), vol. ii. 
ch. xxix., esp. 12. 


men the conduct most favourable to happiness, and 
therefore the conduct right for them. But even the 
best food, best clothing, and best Chousing have not 
been taught all at once ; and the principle of the 
lesson is clearly the same in all the cases. 

To say, therefore, that the_ desire of marriage is to 
be restrained and regulated is not to treat it excep- 
tionally or to deny its naturalness. There is a lawful 
and there is an irregular gratification even of hunger 
and thirst ; and the irregular is punished both by 
nature and, when it takes, for example, the form of 
theft, by human laws. Society could give such 
punishment only on the ground that the action 
punished tended to injure the general happiness. 
The act of the hungry man who steals a loaf is only 
distinguishable from the act of the hungry man who 
takes a loaf of his own, by means of its consequences. 
If all were to steal loaves there would in the end be 
fewer loaves for everybody. 1 We must apply the 
same criterion to the irregular gratification of all 
other desires. 

After the desire for food, the desire of marriage 
is the most powerful and general of our desires. 
<l \Yli.-ii we contemplate the constant and severe toil 
of the greatest part of mankind, it is impossible not 
to be forcibly impressed with the reflection that the 
sources of human happiness would be most crm-lly 
diminished if the prospect of a good meal, a w;mn 

1 Essay, 7th e-1 ., IV. i. 391. Kant's test of a moral law, so far as it 
wo* not purvly dogmatic, was roost easily illustrated, or he would have 
said parodied, by this Utilitarian arguiu 



bouse, and a comfortable fireside in the evening were 
not incitements sufficently vivid to give interest and 
cheerfulness to the labours and privations of the 
day." 1 This desire gives strength of character to a 
man in proportion as the animal element in it is 
hidden away out of sight, and in proportion as the 
gratification of it is won by exertion and, it may be, 
by waiting. To do as Jacob did for Eachel, a man 
must have some strength of character. Most of us, 
in the opinion of Malthus, owe whatever of definite 
plan there is in our lives to the existence of such a 
central object of affection. 2 Malthus himself, it will 
appear, did not marry till on the eve of becoming a 
professor at the East India College, nearly a year after 
these passages were written. Even in 1798 he wrote : 
; " Perhaps there is scarcely a man who has once 
experienced the genuine delights of virtuous love, 
however great his intellectual pleasures may have 
been, that does not look back to the period as the 
sunny spot in his whole life, where his imagination 
loves to bask, which he recollects and contemplates 
with the fondest regrets, and which he would most 
wish to live over again." 3 Such a passage, though 
it disappeared, with other flowers of language, in the 
later editions of the essay, show us that Malthus, 
jthough wiser, was not colder than his fellow-men, 
jand drew his facts from experience as well as 
observation, of the matters concerned. 4 

1 Essay, 2nd ed., p. 487 ; 7th ed., p. 392. 

2 Ibid., 2nd ed., p. 488 ; 7th ed., pp. 392-3 ; cf. p. 398. 

3 Ibid., 1st ed. (1798), p. 211. 

4 The passage in A Tale of the Tyne, which left no trace on Miss 


If we assume the intention of the Creator to 
replenish the earth, we can see a reason in cosmical 
polity for the strength of this desire of marriage. If 
the fertility of fertile soils had been as great as the 
power of population to increase, there would have 
been no inducement to men to cultivate the poorer 
soils or frequent the less attractive parts of the 
earth's surface ; human industry and ingenuity would 
have wanted their first stimulus. 1 As it is, the 
disparity of the two powers leads to an over-spreading 
of the world ; men are led to avoid over-crowding from 
fear of the evils that spring from it. Man's duties vary 
with his situations ; and, as these are not uniform, but 
infinitely various, all his powers are kept in play. 
This language might make us doubt whether the 
final cause is the development of man, or simply the 
replenishment of the earth. If the first essay be 
allowed in evidence, it is clear that man (with what- 
ever justice) is made the chief end of the earth, 
though his own chief end is not supposed to be 
realized there. 2 

The natural theology of Malthus and Paley is the 
foundation of their ethics. It was the English ethics 
of last century, not only before Kant, but before 
Bentham. There are signs that Malthus, in his views 
of metaphysics and of the " moral sentiments," ! 

ieau'8 own memory, but so faithfully expounded Malthus that ho 
called on purpose to thank li r f..r it (Autobwgr-i * 253 )> " wH>" i<l1 '- 

i in th. li-ht .,f th(;*e extract* as ch. iii. p. 56 of ed 1833. 
i 2nd ed., pp. 491-2 ; 7th ed. t p. 395. See above, p. 36. 
8 2nd ed., p. 494 ; 7th ed., p. 397. Cf. above, p. 38. 
Tin- phrase in Euay, 7th td., p. 401. 

Y ] 


preferred where he could to draw rather from Tucker 
than from Paley. Abraham Tucker 1 (the " Edward 
Search" who began the Liffht of Nature in 1756, 
and finished it, blind, in 1774) lived for nearly fifty 
years 2 at Betchworth Castle near Dorking. It is 
possible in these days, when near neighbours knew 
each other better than they care to do now, that 
Daniel Malthus, though the younger man, may have 
known Tucker. They were both of them Oxford 
men, small proprietors, eccentric, literary, and fond 
of philosophizing. Whether through his father at 
home or through Paley at college, it is certain that 
Malthus at an early date studied the Liffht of Nature 
and adopted much of its teaching. Before he appeared 
in public as an author, he had formed some settled 
philosophical convictions, which (whatever their value) 
at least left his mind free for its other work, and 
kept it at peace with itself as regards the problems 
of philosophy. 

The substantial agreement of his views with the 
doctrines of the Moral and Political Philosophy no 
doubt helped to bring Malthus under the common 
prejudice against "Pigeon Paley," 3 the defender of 
things as they are and preacher of contentment to 
starving labourers. When Paley became an open 
convert to the Essay on Population, the public would 

1 Not to be confused with his contemporary, Josiah Tucker, Dean of 
Gloucester, the forerunner of Adam Smith. 

2 1727 to 1774, the year of his death. Betchworth, now absorbed in 
Mrs. Hope's estate of Deepdene, was on the farther side of Dorking 
from Albury and the Eookery. 

3 This lucid epithet is ascribed to George III. 


no doubt believe their suspicions confirmed. But 
Mai thus and Paley agree not as disciple and master, 
but at most as disciples of the same master. Malthus 
tries to work out his own philosophy for himself. 1 

It is open to many criticisms. In his ethics he 
seems to have made no distinct analysis or classi- 
fication of the passions. He takes for granted that 
the Passions are on one side and Reason on the other, 
and there is no middle term between the two except 
the Design of God, which is worked out by the 
passions of men as by external nature, and which is 
(we are left to infer) in some way akin to human 
reason, for human reason can find it out. The 
impulse of benevolence, for example, is said to be, 
like all our natural passions, " general " (by which he 
seems to mean vague), " and in some degree indiscri- 
minate and blind ; " and, like the impulses of love, 
anger, ambition, the desire of eating and drinking, 
or any other of our " natural propensities," it must 
be regulated by experience and frequently brought 
to the test of utility, or it will defeat its own purpose. 1 
In other words, Malthus treats all human impulses 
as if they were appetites, co-ordinate with each other, 
primary and irresolvable. All desires are equally 
natural, and abstractedly considered equally virtuous, 8 
though not equally strong, and therefore not equally 
fit at first sight to carry out their Creator's purpose. 

The Reason of Man, therefore, must assist the Reason 

1 A point of difference has been noted above (p. 39) and below (p. 330). 
He differs from Bentbam also, who would not gratify the passions but 
destroy them. See Held, Soc. GetchichU, p. 213. 

Euay t 7th ed., IV. x. 441. Ibid., IV. i. 3'Jl. 


of his Maker in carrying out the teleology of his 
passions, as well as the teleology of nature itself. 1 
The " apparent object " (or evident final cause), for 
example, of the desire of marriage is the continuance 
of the race and the care of the weak, and not merely 
the happiness of the two persons most concerned. 2 
To take another example, the object of the impulse 
of benevolence is to increase the sum of human 
happiness by binding the human race together. 3 
Self-love is made a stronger motive than benevolence 
for a wise and perfectly ascertainable purpose. The 
ascertainment of the purpose, however, presents a 
difficulty. Acknowledging that we ought to do the 
will of God, how are we to discover it ? 

We are told in answer to this question, that the 
intention of the Creator to procure the good of His 
creatures is evident partly from Scripture and partly 
from experience ; and it is that intention, so mani- 
fested, which we are bound to promote. What on 
God's side is teleology, on man's is utility ; utility is 
the ruling principle of morals. Not being a passion 
it cannot itself lead to action ; but it regulates passion, 
and that so powerfully, that all our most important 
laws and customs, such as the institution of property 
and the] institution of marriage, are simply disguised 
forms of it. 4 As animals, we follow the dictates of 
nature, which would mean unhindered passion ; but as 
reasonable beings we are under the strongest obliga- 

1 See above, p. 35. 2 7th ed., p. 441 ft. 3 Ibid., p. 442 top. 

4 Essay, III. ii. 279, explains in this way the popular prejudice which, 
in one case at least, visits the same sin more severely in a woman than 
in a man. 


tions to attend to the consequences of our acts, and, 
if they be evil to ourselves or others, we may justly 
infer that such a mode of indulging those passions is 
" not suited to our state or conformable to the will of 
God." As moral agents, therefore, it is clearly our 
duty to restrain the indulgence of our passions in those 
particular directions, that by thus carefully examining 
their consequences, and by frequently bringing them 
to the test of utility, we may gradually acquire a 
habit of gratifying them only in the way which, being 
unattended with evil, will clearly " add to the sum 
of human happiness, and fulfil the apparent purpose 
of the Creator." 1 All the moral codes which have 
laid down the" subjection of the passions to reason 
have been really (thinks Malthus) built on this 
foundation, whether their promulgators were aware 
of it or not. " It is the test alone by which we can 
know independently of the revealed will of God 
whether a passion ought or ought not to be indulged, 
and is therefore the surest criterion of modern rules 
which can be collected from the light of nature." In 
other words, our theological postulates lead us to 
control our passions so as to secure not merely our 
own individual happiness, but " the greatest sum of 
human happiness." And the tendency of an a< -timi 
to promote or diminish the general happiness is our 
only criterion of its morality.* 

From this it directly follows that, 1> < -a use the free 

1 Essay, 7th cd., IV. x. 442. 

7/..W.. IV. ii. .101. Cf. Paley, Moral Philos., Vol. I. Book II. ,-h. iv. 
p. 65, there quot.,1, aiul Tucker, L. of N. (1st ed.), vol. ii ch. xxix., 
especially 5-7 and 12. 


and indiscriminate indulgence of benevolence leads 
to the reverse of general happiness, we ought to 
practise a discriminating charity which blesses him 
that gives and him that takes. There is what 
Bastiat would call a harmony between the two. 

In this case, indeed, nature reinforces utility by 
making the passion of self-love stronger in men than 
the passion of benevolence. Every man pursues his 
own happiness first as his primary object, and it is 
best that he should do so. It is best that every 
man should, in the first instance, work out his own 
salvation, and have a sense of his own responsibility. 
Not only charity but moral reformation must begin 
at home. Benevolence apart from wisdom is even 
more mischievous than mere self-love, which is not 
to be identified with the " odious vice of selfish- 
ness," but simply with personal ambition, the 
person to whom it is personal including as a rule 
children and parents, and in fact a whole world 
besides the single atom or " dividual self." ' If the 
desire of giving to others had been as ardent as 
the desire of giving to ourselves, the human race 
would not have been equal to the task of providing 
for all its possible members. But because it is im- 
possible for it to provide for all, there is a tendency 
in all to provide for themselves first ; and, though 
we consider that the selfish element in this feeling 
ought to grow less in a man in proportion as he 
becomes richer and less embarrassed by his own 

1 Essay, 7th ed., IV. x. 443, 444 ft. 

2 Ibid., IV. viii. 432, 433, compared with p. 492. 


wants, we must recognize that its existence has been 
due to a wise provision for the general happiness. 1 
^Jalthus does not deny at the same time that bene- 
volence is always the weaker motive, and needs con- 
tinually to be strengthened by doctrine, reproof, and 
correction. It ought always to be thought a " great 
moral duty" to assist our fellow-creatures in distress. 2 
With these ethical views, it was easy for Malthus 
to meet the objection that the general adoption of the 
moral restraint recommended in his Essay on Popula- 
tion would diminish the numbers of the people too far. 
He (or his spokesman) answers 3 that we might as well 
fear to teach benevolence lest we should make men too 
careless of their private interests. " There is in such a 
case a mean point of perfection, which it is our duty 
to be constantly aiming at ; and the circumstance of 
tlii.s point being surrounded on all sides with dangers 
is only according to the analogy of all ethical ex- 
uce." There is as much danger of making men 
too generous or too compassionate, as there is of 
" depopulating the world by making them too much 
the creatures of reason, and giving prudence too 
great a mastery over the natural passions and affec- 
tions. The prevailing error in the game of life is, 
not that we miss the prizes through excess of timidity, 

1 Essay, 7th ed., App. pp. 492-3. Cf. 7th ed., p. 280: "Self-love is 
tli-- at marhi- * III. vii. .'I1 1. 

/ /'er., 1810 (Aug.), an article on Ingrain's Disquisitions on 

/;.. an.l [ lla/liM'^l /..//, /.</,( Kffriiifo M 

of Malthus to the Review were close at this tim , nnd as the argument-* 
run! tin- style are remark-ibly like our author's, there is at least a 
jiMilaliility that he wrote the arti.-l.-, .Irll'ivy al't.-r his u-ti.m pr< 
it with a h-al and tail t> (lionise the authorship. ( 'f- ('"khuni's Ltfe 
of Jeffrey, Vol. I. 301, 302, cf. 285. 


but that we overlook the true state of the chances 
in our eager and sanguine expectations of winning 
them. 1 Of all the objections that were ever made 
to a moralist who offered to arm men against the 
passions that are everywhere seducing them into 
misery, the most flattering, but undoubtedly the 
most chimerical, is that his reasons are so strong 
that, if he were allowed to diffuse them, passion 
would be extinguished altogether, and the activity 
as well as the enjoyments of man annihilated along 
with his vices." 2 

In his view of the passions and of the moral 
sentiments, Malthas is clearly a man of the eigh- 
teenth century, and on the whole is more nearly at 
one with Paley than with any moralist after Tucker. 
There are points of divergence. He could not, in 
view of his cosmology, have fully approved Paley 's 
definition of virtue, " doing good to mankind in 
obedience to the will of God and for the sake of 
everlasting happiness." ' He may have seen how it 
followed that a solitary man had no duties, that a 
pagan had no power to do right, that the moral 
imperative was hypothetical, and that it had no force 
for any who abjured their future bliss. At least he 
contents himself with agreeing that " the will of God 
is plainly general happiness, as we discover both by 
Scripture and the light of nature ; " 4 and, " provided 
we discover it, it matters nothing by what means ; " 

1 Cf. Wealth of Nations, I. x. 48, 49. 

2 Edin. Rev., 1810 (Aug.), p. 475. 

3 Paley, Mor. and Pol Phil, I. vii. 9 ; cf. Malthus, Essay, IV. ii. 
397, &c. Cf. above, p. 39. 4 Paley, ibid., I. iv. 14. 


there are clear marks of design in the world showing 
that its Maker willed the happiness of His creatures; 
and what He willed they should will. 

In other words, the ethical system of both is a 
utilitarianism which is narrow and personal in its 
motive (the private happiness of the individual in 
another world), but broad and catholic in its end 
(the general happiness of human beings in the present 
world). It is as if God induced us to promote other 
people's happiness now, by telling us that He would 
in return promote our own by-and-by. There are 
signs that Malthus took a larger view, and thought 
rather of the development of the human faculties 1 
than of mere satisfaction of desires, both in this 
world and in the next ; but he nowhere distinctly 
breaks with Paley, and his division of passions into 
self-love (or prudence) and benevolence is taken 
straight from that theologian. 2 

By the vagueness of their phraseology when they 
spoke of the general sum of happiness, the older 
utilitarians avoided some of the difficulties that en- 
counter their successors. Apart from the hardness 
of defining happiness and a sum of happiness, 8 
there is a difficulty in fixing the precise extent of 
the generality. The tendency of utilitarianism in 
the hands of Bcntham was towards equality and the 

1 See above, p. 37. The passages tli.-n- dtad cmupli-i.-ly r.-fuh- H.-l.l's 
assertion that u Malthus aj.pral. <1 to Utility in the teeth of his b<- 
the Bible " (Social* GctchichU Etujtmuti, Book I. ch. ii. p. 234). 

1 Mor. and Pol. /'/,;/., vii. 10. 

1 " Any . may be denominated * happy ' in whirh the am<>m>t 

or aggregate of pleasure exceeds that of pain." Paley, M. an, I / / 7, , 
I. vi 


removal of privilege ; every one to count as one, no 
one as more than one. But both with him and 
with the older members it may be doubted whether 
the doctrine did not tend to benefit the majority 
at the expense of the minority. 

We find Mai thus thinking 1 that, had the Poor 
Laws never existed, there "might have been a few 
more instances of very severe distress," but " the 
aggregate mass of happiness among the common 
people would have been much greater than it is at 
present." In other words, what he wanted was the 
" greatest amount of happiness " on the whole, what- 
ever an " amount " of happiness may mean. Mai thus 
would probably have refused to use the formula of 
Bentham, " the greatest happiness of the greatest 
number " ; he would have counted the first item, 
the happiness, out of all proportion more important 
than the second. 2 He had refused something like 
it at the hands of Paley. "I cannot agree with 
Archdeacon Paley, who says that the quantity of 
happiness in any country is best measured by the 
number of its people. Increasing population is the 
most certain possible sign of the happiness and 
prosperity of a state ; but the actual population may 
be only a sign of the happiness that is past." 1 
Mai thus would not, for example, have wished to 
see the highlands of Scotland brought back to their 
ancient condition, in which they had greater numbers 

1 Essay, 7th ed., III. vi. 305. 

2 See Mr. Sidgwick's Method of Ethics, p. 385 ft. 

3 Quoted from The Crisis, by Einpson, Edin. Rev., Jan. 1837, p. 482. 


than now living in rude comfort, but also greater 
numbers exposed to precarious indigence. 1 

On the other hand, it is certain (in spite of a 
common prejudice) that Mai thus desired the great 
numbers as well as the great happiness, and was 
indeed quite naturally led by his theological views to 
prefer a little happiness for each of many individuals 
to a great deal for each of a few. He " desires a 
great actual population and a state of society in 
which abject poverty and dependence are compara- 
tively but little known," 2 two perfectly compatible 
requirements, which if realized together would lead 
to what may be called Malthus' secondary or earthly 
paradise, which is not above mundane criticism. 

This earthly paradise is, even in our author's 
opinion, the end most visibly concerned in our 
schemes of reform. His idea of it as a society where 
moral restraint is perfect, invites the remark that the 
chief end of society cannot be the mere removal of 
evil ; it must be the establishment of some good, the 
former being at the utmost an essential condition 
(j"(i non of the latter. Moreover, moral restraint is 
not the removal of every but only of one evil ; and it 
kills only one cause of poverty. A complete reform- 
ation must not only remove all the evils, but must 
positively amend and transform all the three branches 
ocial economy, the making, the sharing, and tin* 
using of wealth, not one or even two of them 
alone. Every Utopian scheme should be tested by 

1 Report of the Crofter* Commission, 1884, p. 9. 
jEay, IV. iii. 407. 


the question : Does it reform all three, or only one, 
or two, of the three ? Neglect of the third might 
spoil all. A scheme which affects all three, however, 
must have something like a Religion in it. With 
these reservations Malthus' picture of the good time 
coming has much value and interest. 1 

Unlike Godwin, he relies on the ordinary motives 
of men, which he regards as forms of an enlightened 
self-love. Self-love is the mainspring of the social 
machine ; 2 but self-love, when the self is so expanded 
as to include other selves, is not a low motive. 
Commercial ambition, encouraged by political liberty, 
and unhampered by Poor Laws, leads naturally to 
prosperity. 3 The happiness of the whole is to result 
from the happiness of individuals, and to begin first 
with them. He "sees in all forms of thought and 
work the life and death struggles of separate human 
beings." 4 " No co-operation is required. Every step 
tells. He who performs his duty faithfully will reap 
the full fruits of it, whatever may be the number of 
others who fail. This duty is intelligible to the 
humblest capacity. It is merely that he is not to 
bring beings into the world for whom he cannot 
find the means of support. When once this subject 
is cleared from the obscurity thrown over it by 
parochial laws and private benevolence, every man 

1 It would help the social reformer to learn, e. g. from clergymen, 
guardians of the poor, and police magistrates, what exact proportion of 
the destitution within their experience has been due, (a) to the fault of 
the victim, (6) to the fault of his parents, (c) to the fraud or oppression 
of others, and (d) to the mere accidents of trade. 

2 7th ed., p. 280. 3 III. ii. 434. * Scenes of Clerical Life, p. 250. 


must feel the strongest conviction of such an obliga- 
tion. If he cannot support his children, they must 
starve; and, if he marry in the face of a fair 
probability that he will not be able to support his 
children, he is guilty of all the evils which he thus 
brings upon himself, his wife, and his offspring. It is 
clearly his interest, and will tend greatly to promote 
his happiness, to defer marrying till by industry and 
economy he is in a capacity to support the children 
that he may reasonably expect from his marriage ; 
and, as he cannot in the mean time gratify his 
passions without violating an express command of 
God, and running a great risk of injuring himself or 
some of his fellow-creatures, considerations of his own 
interest and happiness will dictate to him the strong 
obligation to a moral conduct while he remains un- 
married." 1 Supposing passion to be thus controlled, 
we should see a very different scene from the present. 
" The period of delayed gratification would be passed 
in saving the earnings which were above the wants of 
a single man." Savings Banks and Friendly Societies 
would have their perfect work; and "in a natural state 
of society such institutions, with the aid of private 
chanty well directed, would probably be all the means 
necessary to produce the best practicable effects." 2 
The people's numbers would be constantly within the 
limits of the food, though constantly following its 
increase; the real value of wages would be raised, in 

1 7th -.1.. ]>. 404. 

' p. 404, 1817. As early a* 1803 (Euay, 2nd c<l., IV. xi. 589) Mai thus 
recommended Savings tanks. 


tlic most permanent way possible; "all abject poverty 
would be removed from society, or would at least be 
confined to a very few who had fallen into mis- 
fortunes against which no prudence or foresight could 
provide." l It must be brought home to the poor 
that " they are themselves the cause of their own 
poverty." While Malthus insists against Godwin 
that it is not institutions and laws but ourselves that 
are to blame, he still shares, with Godwin, the desire 
to lessen the number of institutions ; and, as a first 
reform, would repeal at least one obnoxious law. 

The relation of Malthus to the French Kevolution 
and its English partisans is indeed not to be expressed 
in a sentence. It has been said that he cannot 
be justly described as being a reactionary; 3 and, 
in truth, besides being a critic of Godwin and of 
Condorcet, he is influenced to some extent by the 
same ideas that influenced them. The Essay on 
Population is coloured throughout by a tacit or 
open reference to the Eights of Man, a watchword 
borrowed from France by the American Eepublic, to 
be restored again at the Eevolution. Paine's book on 
the Riff /its of Man, in reply to Burke's Reflections on the 
r r atch Revolution, had been widely read before it was 
suppressed by the English Government; and Godwin 
and Mackintosh 4 were not silenced. Malthus himself, 

1 7th ed., p. 397. Cf. p. 407, &c. 

2 7th ed., p. 405. To make the whole picture complete we must add 
what is said above (ch. i.) on the place of man on the earth, and also (Bk. 
III. chs. ii. and iii.) on industrial society as it might be. 

3 See above, p. 298. 

4 Mackintosh changed but never recanted. See Macaulay's Essays. 


as a Whig, docs not disparage the rights of man 
when they meant political freedom and equality, but 
only when they included the right to be supported by 
one's neighbour, as had been asserted by the Abbe 
Raynal and some other writers of the Revolution. 1 
As the same assertion was practically made by the 
English Poor Law, which had venerable conserva- 
tive prejudice on its side, our author's opposition to 
it was no proof that his politics were reactionary. 
His economical antecedents and his political views 
bound him to the French Revolution. In his range 
of ideas and his habitual categories he could not 
depart far from the French Economists, who had 
helped to prepare the way for the Jacobins. Adam 
Smith himself had felt their influence. Though he 
had criticized the noble savage and the state of 
nature, 2 he had himself a lingering preference for 
agriculture over manufacture ; and he himself spoke 
of a "natural" price, a "natural" progress of opu- 
lence, a "natural" rate of wages, and "natural 
liberty." To him as to the French writers, Nature 8 
meant what would grow of itself if men did not 
interfere, the difficulty being that the interference 
seems also to grow of itself, and it is impossible to 
M-p; irate the necessary protection from the mischievous 
interference. Malthus retains the phraseology with 
an even nearer approach to personification. Nature 
points out to us certain courses of conduct. 4 If we 

Euay, 7th ed., IV. vi. 420- 1 . W. of N., I 

* More strictly, what grows of itself is natural ; what makes it grow 
of itself is Nature. See e. g. ay, p. 390. 



hivnk Nature's laws, she will punish us. At Nature's 
mighty feast there is no cover laid for the super- 
fluous new-comer. The Poor Laws offend against 
Nature; they interfere with human action in a case 
where it would spontaneously right itself by ordinary 
motives of self-interest ; if men knew they could 
not count on parish relief, they would probably help 
themselves. Be the argument worth much or little, 
its strength is not the greater because of this figure ; 
and his use of it shows that Malthas had not risen 
above the metaphysical superstitions of his age. But 
the charge sometimes made against him is that he 
was not merely not before his age but positively 
behind it ; and this is certainly false. 

In politics he was as little of a reactionary as his 
opponent, who if "in principle a Republican was in 
practice a Whig." 1 He followed Fox rather than 
Burke, and lost neither his head nor his temper over 
the Revolution. "Malthus will prove a peace- 
monger," wrote South ey in 1808. 2 He was a steady 
friend of Catholic Emancipation. He saw the folly 
of attributing with Godwin and Paine all evil to the 
Government, and with Cobbett all evil to taxation 
and the funds ; 3 but he is one with them all in 
dislike of standing armies, and is more alarmed at 
the overbearing measures of the Government against 
sedition than at the alleged sedition itself. One of 

1 Life of Godwin, ii. 266. 

2 Soutliey wished some "Crusader" like Ri--kman 1<> write economical 
articles for the Quarterly and keep out Malthus (Life and Letters, vol. 
iii. p. 188). 

3 Essay, III. vii. 318 : written in 1817. 


the most remarkable chapters in the second edition 
of the essay 1 is on " the effects of the knowledge of 
the principal cause of poverty on civil liberty." Its 
main argument is, that, where there is much distress 
and destitution, there will be much discontent and 
sedition, and, where there is much of the two last, 
there will be much coercion and despotism. A know- 
ledge of the chief cause of poverty by taking away the 
distress would leave Government at least no excuse 
for tyranny. "The pressure of distress on the lower 
classes of people, together with the habit of attributing 
this distress to their rulers, appears to me to be the 
rock of defence, the castle, the guardian spirit of 
despotism. It affords to the tyrant the fatal and 
unanswerable plea of necessity. It is the reason why 
every free Government tends constantly to destruction, 
and that its appointed guardians become daily less 
jealous of the encroachments of power." 2 The French 
people had been told that their unhappiness was due 
to their rulers ; they overthrew their rulers, and, 
finding their distress not removed, they sacrificed the 
new rulers; and this process would have continued 
i inli -finitely if despotism had not been found prefer- 
a!>l'- to anarchy. In England " the Government of 
tin* laM twenty years 3 has shown no great love of 
peace or liberty," and the country gentlemen have 

1 2nd ed., IV. vi. ; 7th ed., IV. vi. and vii He must have remembered, 
when he wrote these \\MnK th< imprisonment of hi* ]<> -r tut ..r (Jilbert 
Wak.-ti.-ld fur a seditious pamphlet (1799-1800). See below, Bk. V. 
8 7th ed., p. 417. 
7th ed., p. 4-Ji; : u rittn in 1817. For the tendency of the V 

!ut ion to look to Government for \, r\ thing, gee t. g. 
Dyer's Modem Europe, vol. iv. ch. Hi. p. 304. 

Z 2 


apparently surrendered themselves to Government on 
condition of being protected from the mob. 1 A few 
more scarcities like 1800 might cause such convulsions 
and lead to such sternness of repression that the 
British constitution would end as Hume foretold, 2 
in " absolute monarchy, the easiest death, the true 
euthanasia of the British constitution." The " tend- 
ency of mobs to produce tyranny" can only be 
counteracted by the subversion, not of the tyrants, but 
of the mobs. The result would be a lean and wiry 
people, weak for offence, but strong for defence ; there 
would be freedom at home and peace abroad. 3 

Of course the "knowledge of the principal cause 
of poverty " is not conceived by Malthus as the only 
lesson worth learning. He shares the growing 
enthusiasm of all friends of the people for popular 
education, 4 and thinks the Tory arguments against 
instructing the poorer classes " not only illiberal, 
but to the last degree feeble, if not really disin- 
genuous." 5 " An instructed and well-informed people 
would be much less likely to be led away by 
inflammatory writings, and much better able to 
detect the false declamation of interested and am- 

1 7th ed., p. 418. 

2 Essays Moral and Political, vol. i. p. 49 : * The British Parlia- 

3 Malthus, Essay, 2nd ed., p. 502; 7th ed., p. 402. Cf. a striking 
passage in the review of Newenham, Edin. Rev., July 1808, pp. 348-9. 

4 E. g. 7th ed., pp. 438-9 and 478. Cf. above, p. 56. Homer's letter 
to Malthus in. Feb. 1812 (Mem. of Horner, vol. ii. pp. 109-10) shows 
it was an active sympathy. Malthus agreed to act as a " steward " at 
one of Lancaster's meetings in London. 

6 2nd ed., pp. 556-7 : opponents " may fairly be suspected of a wish 
to encourage their ignorance as a pretext for tyranny." 


bitious demagogues than an ignorant people." 1 These 
words were written in 1803, four years before 
Whitbread made his motion on Schools and Savings 
Banks, and thirteen years before Brougham's Com- 
mittee on Education. 2 Mai thus in fact was in politics 
an advanced Whig, ahead of his party in ideas of 
social reform. This may be seen from the following 
passage, which is only one out of many, that show 
his large view of his subject. He says that in 
most countries among the poor there seems to be 
something like "a standard of wretchedness, a point 
below which they will not continue to marry." " This 
standard is different in different countries, and is 
formed by various concurring circumstances of soil, 
climate, government, degree of knowledge, civilization, 
&c." It is raised by liberty, security of property, 
the diffusion of knowledge, and a taste for the con- 
veniences and the comforts of life. It is lowered by 
despotism and ignorance. " In an attempt to better 
the condition of the labouring classes of society, our 
object should be to raise this standard as high as 
possible by cultivating a spirit of independence, a 
decent pride, and a taste for cleanliness and comfort. 
Tin- effect of a good Government in increasing the pru- 
dential lial>its and personal respectability of the lower 
classes of society has already been insisted on ; but 
inly this effect will always be incomplete without 
a good system of education, and indeed it may be 
that no Government can approach to perfection that 

1 7 !>. 555-6. 

* Miss Martineau, Uiti. of Peace, I. vii. 117-18. 


does not provide for the instruction of the people. 
The benefits derived from education are among those 
which may be enjoyed without restriction of numbers; 
and, as it is in the power of Governments to confer 
these benefits, it is undoubtedly their duty to do it." 

Our author's historical sense saved him from Kicar- 
dian presumptions in favour of laissez faire. Writers 
go too far, however, in declaring unlimited com- 
petition to be against the spirit of his work, and 
asserting that he undervalued the influence of institu- 
tions, only that he might save his country's institu- 
tions from hasty reform. 2 He knew that society did 
not grow up on economical principles ; instead of 
beginning with non-interference, and extending inter- 
ference by degrees where it was found imperative, it 
began with interference everywhere, and relaxed the 
interference by degrees where it was found possible 
and thought desirable. We have begun with status 
and paternal government, and have made our way 
towards contract and laisscz faire ; but we have never 
reached them, because, as men now are, we cannot go 
on without damage to the common weal. But it 
seemed to Malthus that experience had shown the 
need as clearly as the dangers of natural liberty ; 
history, for example, had clearly proved that the 
material relief of the poor, which had never been 
abandoned by the Government, might best have been 
left to private action. The extreme view would have 
been that it was not every one's duty in general, but 
every one's in particular, a responsibility of which no 

1 Essay, 7th ed., IV. ix. 440, 441. 2 Held, Soc. Gesch., p. 215. 


one could divest himself. But, though Malthus often 
.-}>"aks as if the burden ought to lie specially on a man's 

latives and private friends, he does not share Adam 
Smith's antipathy to associations, and would probably 
have recognized division of labour to be as necessary 
in charity as in industry. Still, even as administered 
by an organization of men specially fitted for the 
work by nature and choice, the distribution of 
material relief never seems to him a case where 
y__can help the poor without in some degree 
^ injuring their independence and their strength of 
'character. In the matter of charity he is clearly on 
the side of natural liberty and individualism. 

But, in other directions, he has made admissions 
which seriously modify the unlimited competition of 
natural liberty. He admits, first of all, that the 
struggle for existence when it is the struggle for 
bare life does not lead to progress; 1 and he admits, 
therefore, in the second place, that the state should 
interfere witli the "system of natural liberty/' posi- 
tively, to educate the citizens, 2 and to grant medical 
aid to the poor, 3 to assist emigration, 4 and even to 

v. direct relief in money to men that have a family 
of more than six children, 5 as well as negatively, to 
restrict foreign trade when it causes more harm to 
the public than irnod to the tra 1. rs, fl and to restrict 
the home trade where children's labour is concerns 

1 See above, pp. 95, 96, &c. See above, ] 

Et*in. 7th ad., I V. x. 446-7. 4 Ki..i-T. Ct.mni. (1827), qu. 3310. 

* IV. ; Potatoes are a godsend to such, he says in on 
place ( .Inly 1808, p. 344). 

See above, Bk. II. cl. See above, p. 301. 


A critic might ask on what principle he justifies 
these admissions ; or might hint that he makes them 
on no conscious principle at all, but in the spirit of 
a judge, who is administering a law that he knows 
to be bad, but prefers to make continual exceptions 
rather than suggest a new law ; otherwise could 
any rule stand the test of so many exceptions ? 

It might be replied that Malthus nowhere writes a 
treatise on political philosophy, and his views must be 
inferred from scattered hints, but it does not follow 
that he was not, consciously or unconsciously, pos- 
sessed of a guiding principle. His several admissions 
have a certain logical connection. It is more doubtful 
whether their connecting principle will seem adequate 
to a modern reader whose questions in political philo- 
sophy have been stated for him by Comte and the 
latter-day socialists. 

The first of the admissions is the more significant, 
as Malthus, while making it, refuses to approve of 
the means then actually adopted (by the Poor Law) 
for raising the level of the weakest citizens, and so 
fitting them for their struggle. If the absence of 
provision was an evil, the existing provision was 
hardly a less one. It was bad for society to give 
help by giving bread and butter, for that was a gift 
to full-grown men and women, not really weak, but 
quite ready to be indolent. A gift of education, 
on the other hand, is given, he considers, to those 
who are really incapable of helping themselves and 
really ignorant of their powers. 1 It makes the weak 

E. g. Essay, IV. ix. 43J. 


strong, and tends to remove indolence, not cr 
it. 1 In the same way Factory Acts assist the weak 
and not the indolent, while the (rare) interference 
with free trade, the granting of medical relief, the 
special aid in case of large families, and the aid to 
Irish peasants, are all of them special remedies in 
cases where the sufferers could not be expected to 
foresee and provide against the distress, and were 
therefore sufferers from circumstances rather than from 
indolence. Malthus continually takes the view that 
security is a greater blessing than wealth itself, and 
insecurity a worse evil than poverty. The circum- 
stances that cause insecurity were therefore in his view 
the most distressing ; they baffled individual effort. 

His critics might have answered : " In all the cases 
mentioned by you as justifying interference, a per- 
fertly enlightened self-interest would have provided 
against the mishap ; and relief of any kind would be 
in the end equivalent to relief in bread and butter, 
for, as far as it goes, it allows the more to be left over 
either to the man or his parents for bread and butter, 
and thereby it is a relief that fosters indolence." II* 
could ivjoin, however, that (even if we ^rant tin; 
practical possibility of such a perfect enlightenment) 
diiv.-t ivii.-f appeals far more to indolence than in- 
direct, 1 and the good of the indirect can often, the 

1 In C.-nuany poor scholar* from tin- country an- ftm, wli.-n alt.-n.l- 

: >ity, billeted for bread nn<l l>uttr mi tin- well-to-do 

it i/.-ns ; and learning proves on th- whole so inconsistent \\ iih laziness, 

tint the practice does not make them unwilling to earn their own living 

1 A protective duty is in f of tin- protected in.ln-trv. 1 

a rule tlu- protected are secured again- 1 in<h>K-n<v 1 y th. ir ..\\n doi 


good of the direct very seldom, outweigh the evil. He 
would have added that even the direct relief in bread 
and butter was not opposed by him on any theory, 
but on the ground of its known tendency to evil, 
and, if it had been possible from the nature of men 
and things to keep the promises of the Poor Law, 
he would have given his voice for it. He was com- 
mitted to free trade itself only because and only so 
far as experience was in its favour. His only axiom 
in political philosophy was that the end of politics 
is the greatest happiness of the great body of the 
people ; and his only rule for securing that end was 
the observation of what, as a matter of experience, 
actually did secure it. 

On the other hand, nothing is clearer from his own 
writings than that the language of experience owes 
much of its meaning to its interpreter ; and we ask 
" What were his principles of interpretation ? " 

The answer is, that, in spite of the affinity between 
utilitarianism in morals and individualism in politics, 
he tried to retain the first without the second. He 
understood moral goodness to consist in the tendency 
of actions to produce a balance of pleasures over 
pains ; but his utility when examined turned out, as 
we have seen, to be much nearer the notion of self- 
development than simply a sum of pleasures irre- 
spective of their quality. At this point the strong 
grasp which family life held on his fancy lifted him 
above the notion that the chief end could be the 

competition ; and the fault of protection lies elsewhere than in en- 
couragement of indolence. 


individual happiness of isolated units, and showed 
him that the real unit was a group. The state to 
^lultlius as to Aristotle, is an aggregate of families, 
though he recognizes very clearly that, besides the 
connection of householder with householder by the 
common subjection to the laws, there is the common 
bond of nationality, a community of feeling, a partner- 
ship of past traditions, present privileges, and future 
hopes. 1 It is one of the plainest facts of experience 
that men are often led by their attachment to their 
country and countrymen to run counter to their 
worldly interests. 2 

The nation is a little world within the great world, 
and (in the analogy of the great world it is the scene 
where difficulties generate talents and bring out the 
character. 3 From this point of view it is not far 
from the truth to parody a well-known description 
of modern Judaism, and describe the political philo- 
pophy of Malthus as Utilitarianism plus a Nation- 
ality. The individualism of Malthus is limited ly 
the particular institutions and particular interests of 
the Kurdish nation. 4 In his intellectual history a 
strong emphasis on the state preceded the emphasis on 
the individual : and even in his mature view the state 
is limit* -d in its interference with the citizens only 
by its powrs nf doing good to them. But he holds 
with Adam Smith and the 4 other economists that its 
of doing good to them arc very much 

1 Renan, Qu'erf ce rpCunc Nation t 

* Cf. above, p. 225. Cf. p. 36. 

4 'I'll.- rra-ti..M a/aiu-t Hou raeau and Godwin may partly a ..... >nnt f>r 
the :sm. 


narrower than on the old conception of the state, as 
a kind of family. The duties of a state to the 
citizens are narrower than those of a father to his 
children, because what the father can and must do 
for his children the state cannot do for its citizens 
with equal safety to their independence. It remains, 
however, true that the relation of state to citizen is 
not the commercial relation of one contracting party 
with another ; it is a relation prior to the commercial, 
and gives to all contracts whatever validity they 

If Malthus himself had been asked to reconcile 
his departure from the general principle of natural 
liberty with his general adherence to it, he would 
have made some such answer as the following : 
"From the first, when I wrote in 1798, it appeared 
to me that the action of Government could neither 
have so uniformly bad an effect as Godwin supposed, 
nor so uniformly good as Pitt's Bill implied. If, as 
Godwin desires, there were no Government, but only 
a chastened laissez faire, unsophisticated human 
nature would be quite enough to bring back misery 
and sin. 1 But the chastening of the laissez faire 
could not in my opinion take place without the 
Government, for it is one of the most proper functions 
of Government, not adequately dischargeable by in- 
dividuals, to provide for the people the education 
that is supposed to chasten. Even when that pro- 
vision has been made, the education will not do its 
perfect work if it has not included the particular 

1 See above, ch. i. 


doctrines which it has fallen to me more than any 
man to bring home to the public mind. With such 
an education there will be hope for better things. 
Things as they are and the struggle for existence as 
it now is among the helpless classes can please me 
as little as Godwin. It is a struggle which leads to 
no progress. But, unlike Godwin, I do not regard 
Government as necessarily creating the distress ; and 
I certainly regard it as the necessary engine for 
removing the distress by education in the end, and 
toning down its effects by restrictions for the pre- 
sent. If only as an engine of education, paternal 
government must be a permanent factor of society. 
Where a public necessity has been well supplied by 
individual action, I should leave it in the hands of 
individuals ; but not otherwise. I did not object to 
the Poor Law on the broad ground that it took the 
place of private action, but because its own action 
was mischievous. I should try every case on its 
merits, and be guided to interfere or not interfere 
by the known results of the existing policies." 

In so speaking, Mai thus would no doubt hav.- 
justified his own consistency. But the modern reader 
might justly reply to Mai thus, that we have often to 
judge tendencies as well as results, and experience 
becomes then an uncertain guide ; he might complain 
that Maltlms himself is sometimes led to judge both 
of them by a half-acknowledged supplementary priii 
riplt- of tin- balance of classes and safety of the 
mean, which can be applied in a way very unfavour- 
to popular rights. He might urge that the 


apparent success of an institution might have been 
due to a concurrent cause that cancelled its defects, 
and \ve canunt always pronounce on its merits from 
experience of it. How can experience help us unless 
we have the key to its interpretation 1 Without 
Midi a key nothing would be so false as foots except 
figures. In human politics mere survival is seldom 
the test of fitness. 

If we compare the state to an organism and convert 
our simile into a rule of judgment, we may say that, 
when each part has its function and contributes to 
the efficiency of the whole, the body politic is well ; 
when any part does riot, there is need of the doctor 
or surgeon. This figure seems to give us a key for 
the interpretation of social experience ; but unhappily 
the figure itself needs an interpreter. 1 If we inter- 
pret organism as the ideal union of members in one 
body, it ceases to be a simile, for the body politic is 
not merely like this union, it is the best example of 
it. For in the body politic the general life is the 
source of all individual energy, and at the same time 
the individual members are continually paying back 
the debt, by an active sympathy and conscious union 
\\itli the commonwealth, to which the commonwealth 
in its turn owes all its collective energy ; the citizen 
is nothing without his state, or the state without its 
citizens. This is to make the figure useful, by making 
it change places with the thing prefigured. So long 

1 Some one has said, "Was man nicht definiren kann, zielit man als 
Or^misinus an ;" and we had been told, long before, that a simile is 
either " idem per idem " or " idem per aliud," either of them a logical 



as the same idea is grasped in both, their relation in 
rhetoric need not affect us. 

Such an idea of the state would lead us beyond the 
admissions of Malthus to some such demands as the 
following : For his every possession, the citizen must 
In- able to show some service rendered to his country- 
men, and must be taught and expected to hold his 
property in trust for the common good, that so the 
body politic may have no useless member. In pro- 
portion as private possession involves monopoly, 
its use should be jealously restricted in the public 
interest, which in the extreme cases would lead to 
the withdrawing of it, with as little friction as might 
be, from the private owner to the state. Educa- 
tion acts, sanitary laws, and factory acts should be 
strictly and universally enforced, not for the sake 
of the parents, guardians, and employers, or even 
altogether for the sake of the sufferers themselves, 
but for the sake of the community, in order that in 
the struggle for existence every competitor should 
start fair as an efficient citizen, with full possession of 
his powers of mind and body. For the rest, security 
and order should be the watchword of the state, free 
course being allowed to commercial and industrial 
enterprise, scientific inquiry, and speculative dis- 
cussion, in order that progress may be made in th' 
-t of all ways, by the moral and intellectual 
development of the individual citizens, which will 
soon express itself in their institutions. With these 
postulates, halt from the old economists and ha.f 
thr n.-\v iv f.rmcra, on th<> way to !. : 


and with industrial co-operation in prospect, we need 
not despair of the future of man on our part of 
the earth. 

Tried by such a standard Malthus certainly fails 
to give us a perfect political philosophy, and seems 
little farther advanced than his master Adam Smith, 
Avho taught that the state was profitable only for 
defence, for justice, and for such public works as 
could not be so well done by individuals. With all 
his regard for the nation, Malthus looks at social 
problems too much from the individual's point of 
view. He speaks much, for example, of the good 
effect, on the individual man, of the domestic ideal, 
and of the ideals of personal prosperity in the world, 
both built on security of property and liberty of 
action. He speaks little of the duty of the citizen 
to the community, and of the return he owes it for 
his security and liberty. The citizen in his picture of 
him seems to have nothing but duties to his family 
and nothing but claims on the state. The citizen is 
lost in the householder. He is content to be let 
alone, and does not positively and actively recognize 
his identity with the legislative power, arid his obliga- 
tion to repay service with service. Later political 
philosophy would press the counter-claims of the com- 
munity on the citizen. It would demand, for example, 
that he shall neither leave his lands waste nor preserve 
his game, if either practice is contrary to the public 
good. It would keep in mind that the holders of 
large fortunes owe more to the public for protection 
of them than the holders of small, and should bear 


a heavier burden of taxes. It would not leave men 
to do as they willed with their own. 1 

In regard to the lowest classes that are hardly to 
be called citizens, for they are struggling in hopeless 
weakness for mere bread, Malthus never seems to 
see that his own acknowledgment of their power- 
lessness to rise must justify much more than the 
mere establishment of compulsory education for their 
children or even mechanics' institutes for themselves. 
It would justify the adoption of such measures as will 
make their surroundings likely to give and preserve to 
them a higher standard of living. It would sanction 
measures of " local option " to keep away from them 
the infection of dangerous moral diseases ; and it 
would enforce the obligation on the owners of houses 
to make them habitable and healthy. It would give 
town and country tenants secure tenure by law, 
where an insecure tenure of custom had induced 
them to spend labour on their holdings. 

The older economists had the just idea that security 
in possession was the first condition of industrial 
progress ; but they did not see that this very 
principle would justify very large restrictions on 
the use of property, and that the restrictions would 
increase in largeness as the property approached tho 
nature of a monopoly; they did not see that for the 
public interest it may be as necessary to prohibit 
deer forests as to pull down unsanitary dwellings or 
enforce vaccination. 

1 /:ay, Bk. IV. ch. x j. 1 15. "Every man has a riht to do 
he will with his own." But the question ia : What is his own t 

A A 


The reason was that for a long time in England it 
was a hard enough task for reformers to secure the 
negative freedom of being let alone, the freedom of 
trade and of the press and of local government, with 
the abolition of privileges. Cobden's attempt to 
resolve Politics into Economics was well-timed and 
fruitful in its generation ; and the Manchester school 
has still a part to play in our own time. But the 
special work of political reform in the future is to 
achieve the positive freedom, "the maximum of 
power, for all members of human society alike, to 
make the best of themselves." l Of this programme 
neither Malthus nor any writer of his day had any 
clear conception. He himself had no claim to a 
seer's vision ; and the horizon of his opponents was 
never wider than his own. 

It is time to go back to the Essay and confront 
its opponents. We have now a sufficient knowledge 
of the economics and philosophy of Malthus to be 
able to sympathize with him under misconception, or 
at least to understand what appearance an objection 
would wear to his mind. Not that we have a 
complete picture of the man, or even a view of his 
entire mental furniture, which is more than this curta 
supellex ; but we see enough to judge the cause of the 
Essay on its merits, not prejudiced, favourably or 
unfavourably, by the life and character of the author. 

1 Professor T. H. Green, Liberal Legislation and Freedom of Con- 
tract, Oxford, 1881. 



Three Questions for the Critics Parr and Thoughts on Parr Pulpit 
Philosophy Godwin's Blessing in 1801 The Curbing in 1820 
Theology The Command to Noah The Ratios Population 
"fitful" S. T. Coleridge among the Economists James Grahanie 
Empson's Classification of Critics Weyland and Arthur Young 
"Cannot, therefore ought not" Spence's Plan and Owen's 
Progress and Poverty Das Kapital Herbert Spencer Classification 
ot Critics Ethics of the Hearth and of the World End and Means 
of Malthus. 

Tin: critics of Malthus had three questions before 
;i : Do the conclusions of Malthus follow from 
his premises ? Does he himself draw them ? Are 
they true as a matter of fact ? The answers will 
be best given by a short survey of the principal 
critics with whom Malthus contended in his lifetime, 
and those who have most formidably contended with 
his followers since his death. 

There is a sense in which the Essay on Population 
begins and ends with Godwin, for it begins and ends 
with tin- <{uostion of human perfect ilulity. The rela- 
tions of Malthus and (Jn.lwin are as it were the talc 
nn which tin* play is founded. 

Godwin's yW/7/Vv// ,///.v//Vr was written in 1793, his 

A A 2 


Enquirer in 1797, and Malthus' Essay in 1798. 
Others kept the ball a-rolling. On the Easter Tuesday 
of 1800 Dr. Samuel Parr preached an anniversary 
sermon in Christ's Hospital before the Corporation of 
London. He chose his text from Galatians vi. 10 : 
" As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good 
unto all men, especially unto them who are of the 
household of faith." Like Butler's sermons in the 
Rolls Chapel, the discourse was really a treatise on 
moral philosophy. It began by contrasting the selfish 
and the benevolent system of ethics, pronouncing 
both of them faulty. If the one has done less harm, 
the other has done less good than might have been 
expected, for it has been connected with the new 
doctrine of universal philanthropy. The new doctrine 
is false because local neighbourhood of all men is 
impossible, vi ferminorum, and a widening out of the 
feelings that usually prevail between local neighbours 
would only make those feelings thin and watery. 1 
Man's obligations cannot be stretched beyond his 
powers ; he has no powers, and therefore no obligation 
to do good unto all men. 2 Love of the universe, in 
the intense sense of the word love, can only belong 
to the omnipotent Being who has the care of the 
universe upon Him. We, being men, must only see 
to it that our benevolence is of His quality, extending, 
like His, to the unthankful and to the evil. But 
a universal philanthropist exaggerates and pampers 
this one particular form of the duty of benevolence 

1 rf)v <pt\iav avayKciiov vS'iprj yivevOai. Ar. Pol., II. ii. 
2 See above, p. 310. 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. 357 

at the expense of the rest, and forgets duties that lie 
near to him, towards kindred and friends and neigh- 
bours ; he neglects common duties of life in favour of 
thf uncommon and fanciful. Very different is "the 
calm desire of general happiness," which draws those 
that are near still nearer, and makes us value and 
assist the benevolent institutions, like Christ's Hos- 
pital, which are at our own doors. 

The hearers of the sermon could have no doubt at 
whom it was aimed ; and the footnotes of the pub- 
lished version of it contained large quotations from 
the Essay on Population and large direct commenda- 
tions of its author, which made the sermon's oblique 
censure of Godwin the more stinging. 

Pulpit philosophizing was not rare in those times ; 
it had been practised since Butler's days by Dr. Ezra 
Styles 1 in 1761 ; and Dr. Richard Price had used a 
dissenter's pulpit to utter his enthusiastic views on 
the future improvement of mankind (1787) and the 
love of our country (1789). 8 Burke had denounced 
him for this in his Refections;* but, if Parr could 
do the same thing on the other side a few yrars 
a ft < T\vards, it cannot have been any great singularity. 
I 'a IT'S sermon was the subject of Sydney Smith's 
first paper in the Edinburgh Review (Oct. 1802); 
but its economical interest is due to its effect on 
Godwin. Godwin had been assailed shortly before by 
Sir. lam. > Mackintosh, a former friend and political 

1 Ducourte on the Christian Union. See Eaay on Population, 7th 
ed., ]>. -2:> \ ii. ; Price, Ofoervations, p. 806 n. 

10, and Paul, cxxii. 2 teq. 
* See cap. pp. 1218, and 20 (4th ed., 1790). 


ally, in his Discourse on the Law of Nature and 
Nations, delivered in Lincoln's Inn Hall, 1799; but 
Dr. Parr's censures were more severe. Parr may 
have been alienated by an offensive description in 
the Enquirer' 1 of the clergy, as characterized by " a 
perennial stationariness of understanding, abortive 
learning, artificial manners, infantine prejudices, and 
arrogant infallibility." As all the other professions 
were equally well abused, the censure need not have 
been taken to heart. The letter of Mai thus to 
Godwin, written after the publication of the Enquirer, 
is full of courtesy. At that time, and indeed for a 
few years afterwards, there was nothing but good-will 
between the two writers. When Godwin in 1801 
made his letters to his three critics into a book, 2 under 
the title, Thoughts on Dr. Parrs Spital Sermon, with 
remarks on Mackintosh and the writer of the Essay on 
Population, he was bitter only against the two former. 
He was surprised at the " overbearing scornfulness " 
of Mackintosh, and at the " veuom " of Dr. Parr. 
If he had changed some of his views it was not in 
deference to their criticism. Of the Essay on Popu- 
lation, " and the spirit in which it is written," he " can 
never speak but with unfeigned respect ; " contending 
only that it is meant to attack his conclusions and 
not his premises. 3 Parr had hailed it as a complete 
demonstration that Godwin's scheme of equality 

1 Pt. II. Essay V. pp. 228 seq. Life, ii. 292. Cf. ii. 64. 

2 Life, ii. 64. 

8 Thoughts, p. 10 and n. Cf. pp. 43, 45. In Progress and Poverty 
(p. 93, ed. 1881) we are told that Godwin " until his old age disdained 
a reply " to Malthus. 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. 359 

would not work, and many better men had felt their 
mouths shut, and had begged Godwin to speak for 
them. Godwin consents in these TItoughts. If he 
was sincere in saying, " I confess I could not see 
that the essay had any very practical bearing on my 
own hopes" (p. 55), he must have been in the state 
which the Enquirer ascribes to the clergyman : " He 
lives in the midst of evidence and is insensible to it. 
He is in daily contemplation of contradictions and 
finds them consistent. He listens to arguments that 
would impress conviction upon every impartial hearer 
and is astonished at their futility. He never dares 
trust himself to one unprejudiced contemplation. He 
starts with impatience and terror from its possible 
result." Malthus, on the other hand, though in 
orders, has behaved very unlike the clergyman of the 
Enquirer, for we are told by Godwin himself, " he has 
wither laboured to excite hatred nor contempt against 
me and my tenets ; he has argued the questions 
between us just as if they had never been made a 
theme for political party and the intrigues of faction ; 
he has argued just as if he had no end in view but 
the investigation of evidence and the development 
of truth" (p. 55 ft.). Moreover, he has "made as 
unquestionable an addition to the theory of political 
economy as any writer for a century past. Tin* 
L r<l propoMtiniis and outlines of his work will, I 

re, ! f 'mi no! not less conclusive anl nTtain than 
they are new. For myself, I cannot refuse to take 
some pride in so far as by my writings I gave the 

ion and fmni-hed an incentive to the producing 


so valuable a treatise" (p. 56). Surely concession 
could no further go. Godwin even admits the arith- 
metical and geometrical ratios. 1 His criticisms are 
all on the checks, which (be it remembered) were 
only the checks of the first essay, vice, misery, and 
the fear of them. Are Governments henceforward to 
prevent the evils of an excessive population by 
encouraging these unsightly counter-agents ? and is 
every scheme for the amelioration of man's lot fore- 
doomed ? No, the " author of the essay " has too 
small an idea of the resources of the human mind ; 
it is no conclusive argument against a scheme to say 
that when it is realized it will probably not last. 8 
He does not attach sufficient weight to the fact that 
in England, for example, " prudence and pride " 
prevent early marriages, and from late ones come 
smaller families. In a state of universal improvement 
there would be not less but more of these feelings, 
and a similar effect would follow in a greater degree. 3 
That there was force in this reasoning appears from 
the way in which Malthus received it when stated 
to him by letter a few months after the publication 
of the essay. He replied that the "prudence" in 
question, if existing in Godwin's new society, would 
mean an eye to the main chance ; it would mean that 
one man is strengthening his position and getting to 
himself more than the minimum of necessaries ; if 
you prevent this, what becomes of your freedom ? if 
you do not, what becomes of your equality and 
wealth ? Secondly, the effect of the prudence would 

1 Thoughts, p. 61. 2 Ibid., p. 67. 3 Ibid., pp. 72-3. 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. 261 

be that the population would not be the great. -t 
possible, but considerably within the limits of the 
food ; and yet you object to present society, that its 
arrangements prevent the " greatest practicable popu- 
lation." In all our political theories, if we would 
trace to particular institutions the evil that is really 
due to them, we must deduct the evil that is known 
to be due to other causes. " The very admission of 
the necessity of prudence to prevent the misery from 
an overcharged population, removes the blame from 
public, institutions to the conduct of individuals. 
And certain it is, that almost under the worst form 
of government, where there was any tolerable freedom 
of competition, the race of labourers, by not marrying, 
and consequently decreasing their numbers, might 
immediately better their condition, and under the 
very best form of government, by marrying and 
greatly increasing their numbers they would immedi- 
ately make their condition worse." l 

This was no doubt a point against Godwin, but it 

was also a point against Malthus himself. The 

in its first form had not made sufficient allowance f >r 

"prudence"; and the introduction of moral restraint 

in the se-ud <-<lition might very plausibly have been 

l)ed by Godwin's friends to Godwin himself, in 

<>f the elaborate reply to the Thoughts in a 

ehapt'T afterwards dropped. 8 Godwin said to him 

aftrrwanN that, he had no right to introduce a new 

element into his solution of the problem, and pretend 

/-. of Godwin L 324. 

1 See above, p. 208 n. In tin- edition he turna his back on Go 1\\ in 
and addrcaaea (.) ii. 


that it was the same solution as before j 1 if he altered 
his premises he ought to alter his conclusion. To 
which Mai thus might have answered, that, though 
his conclusion is altered, it retains its value as an 
argument against Godwin. At first the tendency of 
numbers to increase up to the food was described as 
an obstacle fatal to progress ; now it is indeed an 
obstacle which must be faced and overcome, but it is 
fatal not to progress, but only to equality. Godwin 
imself had at first considered it an entirely imaginary 
obstacle which might be ignored for the present by 
reformers ; and his very doctrine of prudence amounts 
to an admission that his view of it had changed. 

Godwin himself was not conscious of his change of 
front ; as the seventh of thirteen children he may 
have thought the matter personal ; and whatever 
concessions he had made in 1801 he withdrew in 
1820. In that year, with David Booth, the patient 
author of the English Analytical Dictionary, to arrange 
his statistics and vouch for his calculations, he pub- 
lished an elaborate reply to the Essay on Population. 
The politicians, the political economists, the bulk 
of the press, and the public had accepted the Mal- 
thusian doctrines, though the conversion of the public 
was no deeper than it was on Free Trade, and the 
statesmen with a few exceptions were not sorry to 
make capital out of the " odiousness " of the doctrines 
whenever the " acknowledged truth " of them would 

1 So Coleridge (MS. note to p. vii of his quarto copy of the essay) : 
"And of course you wholly confute your former pamphlet, and might 
have spared yourself the trouble of making up the present quarto." 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. 303 

not serve their turn. Still it seemed true that time 
had dec la ml for Mai thus, and Godwin had fallen out 
of notice. Sydney Smith's assertion, 1 " Malthus took 
the trouble of refuting him, and we hear no more of 
Mr. Godwin," is not very far from the truth. Malthus 
had survived his refutation, and Godwin his reputa- 
tion. Pitt, Paley, and Copies ton were with Malthus ; 
he had gained over Hallam among historians, James 
Mill, Senior, and Ricardo among economists, Broug- 
ham, .Mackintosh, and even Whitbread among poli- 
ticians. Southey, Hazlitt, and Cobbett were not a 
sufficient make-weight. Hazlitt in his Reply to the 

// on Population (in letters of which some appeared 
in Cobbett's Pol. Register, 1807) acknowledges the 
popularity, though he predicts its decay. 2 It seems 
el.-ar that in educated circles at least the view of 
.Malthus was as early as 1820 what it was in 1829, 
"the popular view," 1 which is quite compatible, 
as Darwin long experienced, with great unpopularity 
in particular (juartcrs. No better evidence could be 
given of tiiis popularity than the unwilling testimony 
.L'iveu by Godwin himself in his new book. 4 At the 
end of 1819 Brough mi had ivf.-nvd in the House of 
Commons to the principle of Malthus as "one 'of the 
soundest principles of political economy/' and said it 

melancholy to observe how the press scouted it 
and abused its defenders. 5 The press, howev.-r, was 

/.'>., 1802, on Dr. Kennel's Dueourtet, Syd. Sm., Work* i. p. 8. 
f p. 18. Compare De Quincey's -answer t 11 a/litt in London 
Magazine, 1823 v..]. vi,i. ,,,, :, j:, 459, 569,586). 
Senior, Lect. on J - I'opulation, I. iv. p. 27 

6 Cf. also speorh -n l): ><ard, *u6 dato, p. 1109. 


divided. The Edinburgh Review from the first had 
sided with Malthus. The Quarterly had begun by 
strong hostility (Dec. 1812, pp. 320 seq.); had softened 
its tone as time went on (Dec. 1813, pp. 157 seq., 
and Oct. 1814, pp. 154-5); had spoken with hesitation 
and doubtfulness (Oct. 1816, pp. 50 seq.); and had 
at last completely surrendered (July 1817, pp. 369 
seq.), confessing it to be "much easier to disbelieve 
Mr. Malthus than to refute him" (p. 396), thereafter 
utilizing his doctrine for the support of things as 
they are, only regretting that Malthus himself would 
not do the same a little more stoutly (pp. 402-3). 
Finally, as we have seen, Malthus, after having con- 
tributed to the Edinburgh, became a contributor to the 
Quarterly. The change of public opinion, illustrated 
by the conversion of the Quarterly, gave greater 
bitterness to the attacks of the enemies that remained 
unconverted. But it gave them no new arguments. 

In Godwin's Enquiry concerning Population (when 
we neglect mere epigrams such as " a man is surer 
that he has ancestors than that he will have pos- 
terity ") there are substantially four arguments : 
Malthus has changed his position; the world is 
not peopled ; the ratios are not as he represents ; 
and experience is against him. We have already dis- 
cussed the first. The use of the second implies a 
misunderstanding of the Malthusian position, for it 
ignores distinction between actual and possible sup- 
plies of food, and does not allow that a man is 
" confined" by four walls unless he touches them. 1 

1 See aLove, p. 75. Cf. also above, pp. 142 seq., on Emigration. 


Godwin does not mend the argument by comparing 
it to the objection brought against Christianity " the 
world is not yet Christianized"; still less by iippealing 
to Christianity itself, and taunting Malthus with the 
texts, " Increase and multiply," " Happy is the rnau 
that hath his quiver full of them," "made a little 
lower than the angels/' "forty sons and thirty grand- 
sons, which rode on threescore and ten ass colts," 
"In the last days some shall depart from the faith, 
forbidding to marry." 1 Malthus had been attacked 
in 1807 by a Puritan or Covenanting pamphlet en- 
titled, ' A summons of Wakening, or the evil tendency 
and danger of Speculative Philosophy, exemplified 
in Mr. [Sir John] Leslie's Enquiry into the Nature of 
Heat, and Mr. Malthus' Essay on Population, and in 
that speculative system of common law which is at 
present administered in these kingdoms.' 2 The body 
of this book had been even more remarkable than its 
title, for it had proved Malthus guilty not merely 
of heterodoxy, but of atheism. " It is evident to 
any one who attentively reads the Essay on Population 
that its author does not believe in the existence of 
(Jn.l, but substitutes for Him sometimes the principle 
of Population, sometimes that of Necessity." SallT 
inaiiy years later declared in the same spirit that "tin? 
insults tin theory of Malthus levels at God, and th<. 
injuries it meditates inflicting upon man, \\ill ! 
(in lured by neither." 8 

Once for all, 1 t Parson Malthus explain his con- 

1 /m., I. xiii. 106. Cf. I. iv. 22, II. ii. 1 \'2. VI. vi. 585. 

Hawick, 1H> ^ly p. 84. Sadler, A>/m., I. i. 15 (1830). 


sistency with the religious text-book of his Church. 
Prior to the injunction given to men to increase 
and multiply, come, says Maltlius, all the moral and 
physical laws without which they cannot increase or 
multiply. Suppose the command had been to increase 
and multiply not men but vegetables ; this could not 
mean, "Sow the seed broadcast, in the air, over the 
sea, on stony ground," but, " Take all the means 
made necessary, by pre-existing laws, to secure the 
best growth of vegetables." That man would best 
obey the command, who should prepare the soil, and 
provide for the watering and tilling of it, where those 
things were wanting before. So he will best obey the 
command to increase and multiply Men, who prepares 
food for men where there was none before, and not he 
who brings them recklessly into the world without 
any such provision. " I believe it is the intention of 
the Creator that the earth should be replenished, but 
certainly with a healthy, virtuous, and happy popu- 
lation, not an unhealthy, vicious, and miserable one. 
And, if, in endeavouring to obey the command to 
increase arid multiply, we people it only with beings 
of the latter description and suffer accordingly, we 
have no right to impeach the justice of the command, 
but our irrational mode of executing it." He might 
have added, that to give any other interpretation of 
the passage in Genesis is to forget the circumstances 
in which the words were spoken. The Deluge had 
just swept away all the earth's inhabitants except one 
family, expressly on the score of wickedness ; and, if 

1 Append, to 3rd ed., 1806; 7th ed., p. 485; cf. pp. 395, 446, and al. 


a wicked replenishing were not desirable, an un- 
hu[)]>y or a poor one would be at the best only one 
degree less so. Regarding the question then purely 
from the outside, we cannot find anything in the writ- 
iugs of Parson Malthus inconsistent with his ecclesias- 
tical orthodoxy ; and we can hardly believe that free- 
thinking Godwin was very serious in the objection. 

Malthus himself replies to it as a charge commonly 
brought against him by others, with no reference to 
Godwin in particular. For the most part he ignores 
Godwin's book on Population, as mere rhetoric and 
scurrility. 1 Godwin, however, had given more than 
two years of hard labour to the writing of it ; 2 and his 
biographer regards it as the last work of his best days. 
He employed his son William and his friend Henry 
Blanch Rosser to help him, in addition to Booth. 
His whole mind was occupied with Booth's calcula- 
tions and his own deductions from them. He himself 
" could not pursue a calculation for an hour without 
1>< 'ing sick to the lowest ebb." 3 If Booth lagged 
1. rhin. I him he was miserable. He rose in early 
morning to note down an idea and was ill for the rest 
of the day after it. He is satisfied, however, with the 
result of his labours, lie thinks his chapter on the 
Geometrical Ratio will delight his friends and astonish 
his foes. In any case his comfort is that "truth" 
will prevail, and, whether through him or another, 
' the system of Malthus can never rise again, an.l 
the world is delivered from this accursed apology in 

> See Appendix to cd. 1825, 7th ,-,!., ,,. 527. 
I c. p. 259. 


favour of vice and misery and hard-heartedness and 
oppression/' l and the world will see that there is " no 
need of any remedies," for the numbers of mankind 
never did and never can increase in the ways described 
by Malthus. 2 A few of his younger friends 3 believed 
him successful ; and the book was mentioned in the 
House of Commons as a conclusive refutation of 
Malthus, especially in regard to the ratios. 4 But the 
fact remains not only that poor Godwin made no 
bread and butter by it, 5 but that he converted no one 
whose opinion in such a matter was of any weight. 
Mackintosh, though at peace again with his old friend, 
when he writes to him in September 182 1, 6 cannot 
praise his work ; even thinks its tone intolerant ; and 
will only say that he sees nothing in the Malthusian 
doctrines inconsistent with perfectibility. He takes 
pains at the same time to disclaim the authorship of 
the notice in the Edinburgh Review for July 1821, 
which was lacking in the courtesy due to Godwin, 
though it did not reproduce the scurrility of the 
earliest review of him. 7 The inconclusiveness of the 
book, even in the view of Malthus' opponents, appears 
from the stream of new refutations, which made no 

Even the question of the ratios was not settled. 
Godwin had counted his discussion of them the most 
important part of his book. It gives us his third 

1 Life, ii. 259, 260. Cf. what Godwin writes to Sir John Sinclair, 
July 1821 (Sinclair's Correspondence, i. 393). 2 I. c. p. 271. 

3 Morgan and Rosser, e. g. See Life, ii. 272-5; cf. p. 280. 

4 Edin. Rev., July 1821, p. 364. 6 Life of Godwin, ii. 274. 

8 Ibid., pp. 274-5. 7 No. 1, Oct. 1802, esp. p. 26. 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. 369 

substantial argument against Mai thus. Godwin takes 
up, 1 what seems to have been a common charge, that 
the essayist had written a quarto volume to prove 
that population increases in a geometrical and food 
in an arithmetical ratio. The essayist had answered, 
as long ago as 1806, 2 that the first proposition was 
proved as soon as the facts about America were 
authenticated, and the second was self-evident ; his 
book was meant less to prove the ratios than to trace 
their effects. His authorities, as he told Godwin 
afterwards, 8 were Dr. Price, Styles, Benjamin Franklin, 
Euler, and Sir William Petty, supplemented, for 
figures, by Short and Slissmilch and the censuses of 
*the United States and England, and, for principles, 
by Adam Smith and Hume. We have already seen 4 
how far the simile of geometrical and arithmetical 
ratios was meant to be pressed. Godwin thinks he 
exposes it by arguing that the increase of popula- 
tion can never be quite exactly geometrical 5 (which 
Malthus would admit), that America was an excep- 
tion 6 (in face of the maxim that the exception 
tests the rule), that, in order to suppose population 
doubling itself in the United States, we must suppose 
it, as regards births, doing the same in the Old 
World (in other words, fact is the same as tendency), 

1 Population, I. i. 

* Appendix to 3rd ed., p. 520 n.; 7th ed., p. 491 n. 

1 See hia Letter to Godwin, dated October 1818, and quoted in 
Godwin's Population, Bk. II. ch. i. pp. 116123, with rmnmenU. 
See above, p. 66. * Population, II. x. 244-7. 

E. g. II. xi. 274, 282, but especially I. iv. 25, and for the third 
nr/uni-iit, pp. 29, 30, cf. pp. 4350, Ac. Cf. also Godwin to Sinclair in 

lair's Corrarpono'ence, i. .':. 

15 n 


that the normal increase is not that of America 
but that of Sweden, 1 in which case (Malthus would 
answer) the normal increase must be one that takes 
place in face of very severe restrictions. To the 
charge of damaging the borrowed kettle the old Irish- 
woman had three answers : It was cracked when I 
got it ; it was whole when I returned it ; I never had 
it. So Godwin's views of the American colonies 
vacillated between three inconsistent propositions: the 
increase of the numbers is natural (or sponta- 
neous), but that of the food is greater still ; 2 the great 
increase is not natural, but due to immigration ; 3 
there has been no great increase at all. 4 The reader 
has three alternative arguments presented to him, and 
it matters little whereby he is convinced, if only in 
the end he is persuaded to believe with Godwin, that 
population requires no checks at all, 5 and is a fitful 
principle. 6 In history, says Godwin, it seems to 
operate by fits and starts ; and such irregular effects 
cannot have a uniform cause. It might be replied 
that in the same sense gravitation is fitful, for we 
seem to break it by walking upstairs as well as 
down, by using a siphon as well as a water-jug, or 
by drying up a drop of ink with blotting-paper 
instead of letting it sink down into the paper. Yet 
in these cases the fitfulness is never imputed to the 
absence of a cause, but to the presence of more 

1 Population tends to double in a hundred years, and there is no risk 
of over-population except in occasional times of dull trade (Letter of 
Godwin to Sinclair, Sinclair's Correspondence, 1. c.). A notable exception. 

2 Population, II. xi. 251-2. 3 IV. i. 4 II. ii. 127, and cf. above. 
II. xi. 287, &c., &c. III. iii. 327 seq. 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. 371 

causes than one. To believe, as Godwin seems to 
do, in occult laws which vary with the circumstances 
is to believe in no laws at all. The only constancy 
would be the constant probability of miracles. 1 Free- 
thinkers had not as yet identified themselves with 
the party of order in physics ; and perhaps Godwin 
simply carrying out his dislike of law one step 
farther. Having applied it to politics (1793) and to 
style (1797), he now applied it to nature (1820). 
He deliberately placed a whole army of facts out 
of the range of science. It was fortunate for himself 
that he appeared no more in the character of an 
economist, but left Booth the task of replying to 
the Edinburgh reviewer. 2 

If economical criticism was weak with Godwin, 
the political philosopher, it was still weaker with 
Coleridge, the philosophizing poet. The main criti- 
cisms of Coleridge 3 are contained in manuscript 
marginal comments with pen and pencil written on 
his copy of the second (quarto) edition of the 
Essay (1803), now in the British Museum. When 
.Maltlms writes (in Preface, p. vi) that if he had 
confined himself to general views, his main principle 
was so incontrovertible that he could have entrenched 
hims !f in an impre-nal.l.- lmvss, Coleridge breaks 
in : " If by the main principle the author means both 

1 Coups dUtat in nature. Paul Bert, L? En*cigi\emci\t Prinuure, 1880, 
p. ixviii. 

' Edinburgh Review, July 1821. Cf. Letter to the Rev. T. I: 
MalthuH by David Booth (1823), who absurdly assumes Malthus to be 
viewer. Though inu-nml evidence dispels this fancy, it shows 
that Mallhus was still believed to write for the Edinburgh Review. 
' Others, in Table Talk and Biogr. Literaria, are chiefly declamation. 

B B 2 


Fad 1 (i. c. that population unrestrained should 
infinitely outrun food) and the deduction from the 
fact, i. e. that the human race is therefore not inde- 
finitely improvable, a pop-gun would batter down 
the impregnable Fortress. If only the Fact be meant, 
the assertion is quite nugatory, in the former case 
vapouring, in the latter a vapour." (And on p. vii :) 
"Are we now to have a quarto to teach us that great 
misery and great vice arise from poverty, and that 
there must be poverty in its worst shape wherever 
there are more mouths than loaves and more Heads 
than Brains ! " 

This may be taken as simply the argument of 
Hazlitt, who " did not see what there was to be 
proved ; " the principle of Malthus is a truism. 
Even when commenting on the statement of the 
Ratios (on p. 8), after some denunciation of the 
" verbiage and senseless repetition " of the essay, 
Coleridge goes on to agree with it. He would restate 
the whole so as to substitute " a proportion which 
no one in his senses would consider as other than 
axiomatic, viz. : Suppose that the human race amount 
to a thousand millions. Divide the square acres of 
food-producing surface by 500,000,000, that is to say, 
so much to each married couple. Estimate this 
quotum as high as you like, and, if you will, even at 
a thousand or even at ten thousand acres to each 
family. Suppose population without check, and take 
the average increase from two families at five (which is 

1 In these quotations the capitals are in the original, and the italics 
correspond to underlinings. 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. 373 

irrationally small, supposing the human race healthy, y * 
and each man married at twenty-one to a woman of , 
eighteen), and in twelve generations the increase 
would be 48,828,125. Now as to any conceivable 
increase in the production or improvement in the 
productiveness of the thousand or ten thousand acres, 
it is ridiculous even to think of production at all, 
inasmuch as it is demonstrable that either already in 
this twelfth generation, or certainly in a few genera- 
tions more (I leave the exact statement to schoolboys, 
not having Cocker's Arithmetic by me, and having 
forgotten the number of square feet in an acre), the 
quotum of land would not furnish standing room 
to the descendants of the first agrarian proprietors. 
Best do the sum at once. Find out the number of 
square acres on the globe (of land), and divide the 
number by 500,000. I have myself been uselessly 
prolix, and in grappling with the man have caught his 
itch of verbiage." He goes on to say that if every 
man were to marry and have a family, and each of his 
Children were to do the same, their posterity would 
soon want standing room, and, if all checks were 
removed, this would of course happen much faster. 
" Any schoolboy who has learned arithmetic as far as 
compound interest may astonish his younger sister 
both by the fact and by the exact number of years 
in which it would take place. On the other hand, let 
th. productiveness of the earth be increased beyond 
the hopes of the most visionary agriculturist, still the 
productions take up room. If the present crop of 
turnips occupy one-fifth of the space of the turnip 


field, the increase can never be more than quintupled, 
and, if you suppose two planted for one, the increase 
still cannot exceed ten ; so that, supposing a little 
island of a single acre, and its productions occupying 
one-fifth of its absolute space, and sufficient to main- 
tain two men and two women, four generations would 
outrun its possible power of furnishing them with 
food ; and we may boldly affirm that a truth so self- 
evident as this was never overlooked or even by 
implication contradicted. What proof has Mr. 
Mai thus brought ? What proof can he bring that 
any writer or theorist has overlooked this fact, which 
would not apply (with reverence be it spoken) to the 
Almighty Himself when He pronounced the awful 
command, ' Increase and multiply ' ? " 

From some of the phrases dropped in the course 
of these comments, we should infer they were the 
preparation for a formal review of the book by 
Coleridge himself. It is therefore extremely puzzling 
to find the whole comments printed almost word 
for word and letter for letter in a review 1 hitherto 
considered by every one (Southey included) to 
be Sou they 's. This applies to the subsequent MS. 
notes, which are happily briefer. Coleridge finds 
fault with Mai thus (p. 11) for using the words 
virtue and vice without defining them, apparently 
overlooking the footnote under his very eyes (p. 

1 Arthur Aikin's Annual Review, vol. ii. (for 1803) pp. 292 seq. Cf. 
Southey's Life and Correspondence (ed. 1850), vol. ii. p. 251, 20th Jan. 
1804 : " Yesterday Malthus received, I trust, a mortal wound from my 
hand ; " cf. vol. vi. p. 399, and vol. ii. p. 294. There is no hint of 
obligation to Coleridge. 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. 375 

11 n.) which says, " The general consequence of 
vice is misery, and this consequence is the precise 
reason why an action is termed vicious." ] Coleridge 
says, in relation to the list of irregularities given in 
the last paragraph but one of the page (11) : "That 
these and all these are vices in the present state 
of society, who doubt ? So was Celibacy in the 
patriarchal ages. Vice and Virtue subsist in the 
agreement of the habits of a man with his reason 
and conscience, and these can have but one moral 
guide, Utility, or the Virtue 2 and Happiness of 
llational beings. We mention this not under the 
miserable notion that any state of society will render 
those actions capable of being performed with con- 
science and virtue, but to expose the utter unguarded- 
ness of this speculation." Then after some remarks 
on New Malthusians (as they would be now called) 
he goes on : " All that follows to the three hundred 
and fifty-fifth page 8 may be an entertaining farrago 
of quotations from books of travels, &c., but surely 
very impertinent in a philosophical work. Bless me, 
three hundred and forty pages for what purpose ! 
A philosophical work can have no legitimate purpose 
but proof and illustration, and three hundred and 
jiffy pages to prove an axiom ! to illustrate a self- 
cvi.lcnt truth I It is neither more nor less than book- 
making I" He thinks, however, that what Malthus 
"f Condorcct applies to liimself; though his 

1 Cf. above, ch. iii. pp. 81 *q., and Bk. III. 
1 <S'< plains a thing bj itscit 

3 Ik- probably meant 353nl, hut his numbers are careless. 


paradox is very absurd, it must be refuted, or he 
will think the toleration of his contemporaries due 
to their mental inferiority and his own sublimity 
of intellect. 1 The remaining marginal notes are 
chiefly of an interjectional character, 2 many of them 
not very refined. Malthus himself never falls into 
coarseness; but his opponents seldom avoid it, and 
Coleridge (or Southey) is no exception to the rule. 
Except for the interest attaching even to the foolish 
w r ords of a great man, it would not have been worth 
w r hile to revive his obiter scripta on a matter beyond 
his ken. 

A few words are necessary in regard to Grahame 
and Weyland, who form the chief subject of the long 
second appendix of later editions of the essay. 
Grahame's charges were such as owed all their force 
to the general ignorance of the actual writings of 
Malthus himself. 4 Mr. Malthus regards famine as 
nature's benevolent remedy for want of food ; Mr. 
Malthus believes that nature teaches men to invent 
(p. 100) diseases in order to prevent over-population ; 
Mr. Malthus, regarding vice and misery generally 
as benevolent remedies for over-population, thinks 
that they are rather to be encouraged than otherwise 

1 On margin of p. 364, 2nd paragr. : " Quote and apply to himself." 
8 E. g. on p. 65 opposite to lines 5, 6, " Ass ! " a monosyllabic refine- 
ment omitted in Southey's review. ; 

3 First in 1817, 7th ed., pp. 509 seq. 

4 One of the charges (p. 18 : that Malthus recommends the same 
remedies as Condorcet) is sufficient to stamp the character of the book 
An Inquiry into the Principle of Population, &c., by James Grahame. 
Its Introduction gives a useful list of writers on both sides ; see p. 71. 
(Edin., 1816.) Simonin repeats Grahame's charges, with more mistakes 
of his own. See his Hist, de la Psychologic (1879), pp. 397-9, 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. 377 

(p. 100). Malthus, for his part, deploring the fact 
that this last charge has been current " in various 
quarters for fourteen years " (or since his quarto 
essay of 1803), thinks he may well pass it by. 
" Vice and Misery, and these alone, are the evils 
which it has been my great object to contend against. 
I have expressly proposed moral restraint as their 
rational and proper remedy," a sufficient proof that 
he regarded them as the disease. 1 Grahame himself 
does not deny the tendency to increase beyond food 
(p. 102), but thinks emigration a sufficient remedy 
(p. 104). 

Empson, 2 playfully classifying the opponents of 
Malthus, says there are some who will not com- 
prehend " out of sheer stupidity, like Mr. Grahame," 
or out of sentimental horror, like Southey, 3 Coleridge, 
and Bishop Huntingford ; 4 or because, like Sadler 6 
and Godwin, who followed Price and Muret, 6 they 
imagine the law of population to vary with the cir- 
cumstances ; or else because they invent laws of their 
own, like Anderson, Owen, and Poulett Scrope; 7 

1 7th ed., p. 511. Cf. above, p. 52, and the reply to Godwin's Reply, 
Essay, 2nd ed., III. iii. 384. 

* Edinburgh Review, Jan. lv 

1 Life and Correspondence of Southey, vol. iii. pp. 21-2, and p. 188. 

4 Bishop of Gloucester and later of Hereford. Theolog. Works 

6 "The prolificneas of human things, otherwise similarly circum- 
stanced, varies inversely aa th- ir numbers." Sadler, Popn., v.l. iii. p. 352 
(1830). Reviewed somewhat caustically by Macaulay in Edin. Rev., 
1 830. See Trevelyan's Life of Macaulay, vol. L p. 126. Cf. Sn.llrr's 
* Reply ' to Edin. Rev. His weakest point was his use of " inver- 

Malthus, Essay, II v. (7th ed.), pp. 164, 166 ; cf. p. 485. 

T G. P. Scrope, M.P., Pol Econ., 1833, &c, Malthus, Essay, III iii. 
(7th ed.), 282-6 (Owen), IV. xii. 457 (Owen), III. xiv. 380 n. (Anderson). 


or because, like Weyland, 1 they deny the premises 
of Malthus as well as the conclusion. Weyland, 
like Grahame, has the honour of a special refut- 
ation from Malthus. He allows that Malthus in 
his essay has raised his subject from the level of 
desultory academical discussion to that of scientific 
inquiry, and his book is the point from which every 
later investigation must start. He allows that his 
order is lucid and his reasoning fair, and that he 
enables an opponent at once to discuss the question 
on its merits. Granting his premises, says Weyland, 
we cannot deny his conclusion ; but that premise 
of his is false which assumes that the highest known 
rate of increase in a particular state of society is the 
atural or spontaneous rate in all ; 2 we cannot take 
the height of Chang or of the Hale Child as the 
natural standard of the height of all. To this 
Multhus answers, that, if we had observed in any 
country that all the people who were short carried 
weights upon their heads, and the people who were 
tall did not, we should infer that the weights had 
something to do with the height, and so, when we 
find that the increase of a people is fast or slow in 
proportion as the pressure of certain checks on in- 
crease is heavy or light, we cannot but believe that 
the rate would be at its fastest if there were no 
checks at all. To say with Weyland, in the terms 

1 John Weyland, junr., F.R.S. The Principles of Population and Pro- 
duction as they are affected by the Progress of Society with a view to 
Moral and Political Consequences, 1816. 

2 So Arnold Toynbee, Industrial Revolution, p. 107. 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. 379 

of his first cardinal proposition, 1 that " population has 
a natural tendency to keep within the powers of the 

soil to afford it subsistence in every gradation through/*- 

which society passes," is to say " that every man 
has a natural tendency to remain in prison who is 
necessarily confined to it by four strong walls." One 
might as well infer that the pine of the crowded 
Norwegian forest has no tendency to have lateral 
branches, because as a matter of fact there is no room 
for it to have any. 2 

\V< yland thinks that, without any moral restraint, 
population will keep within limits of the food, in 
proportion as it reaches a high state of morality, 

jion, and political liberty. 3 Malthus, on the con- r 
trary, would say that, without moral restraint, even 
morality, religion, and political liberty will not save 
a people from wretchedness ; 4 and, for his part, the 
design always uppermost in his mind when writing 
has been " to improve the condition and increase the 
happiness of the lower classes of society." 

One argument of Weyland's 6 has some weight in 
it. With a rich soil, high farming, and abundant 
food, the bulk of the people of a country might by / 
tin- natural division of labour be employed in manu-^ 
facture, and their unhealthy manner of life in towns 
might so check population that it might be far from 
keeping up to the level of tin- food. Malthus replies 

iii. p. 21. He adds, as hia second : " This tendency can never 
be (lestn>\ 
* Essay, Appendix, p. 517. * Propos. iii and iv. 

"</. 1 . p. 521, a very strong passage. 
6 Append, p. 526. Pop. and Prod., pp. 82 stq. 


that this case is rare, for our town populations have 
increased rapidly, but, such as it is, he has allowed 
for it in the second clause of his second proposition : 
"Population invariably increases where the means 
of subsistence increase, unless prevented by some very 
powerful and obvious checks" * 

There are two other critics to whom Malthus 
replies in some detail, one the visionary Owen, who 
is embraced in Empson's classification, the other the 
practical man Arthur Young, who cannot so easily 
be classified. " I mean," says the latter, " to deal 
in facts alone, happy when I can discover them pure 
and unalloyed with prejudice." 2 As this was his 
practice as well as his profession, it may easily be 
believed that in his voluminous records of fifty years' 
travelling and experimenting 3 he has spun rope enough 
to hang himself. It ought to be added that, like 
Godwin, he claims the privilege of being inconsistent. 
Nothing could be more clear than his recognition in 
his Travels in France of the evils of over-population. 4 
Yet in 1800, in his Question of Scarcity plainly stated 
and Remedies considered, he recommends as his remedy 
that each country labourer who has three children be 
provided with a cow and half an acre of potato ground. 5 
In other words, he would reduce the English standard 
of living to the common Irish one, milk and potatoes. 

7th ed., I. ii. 12 n. ; 2nd ed., p. 16. 

Tour in Southern Counties of England, 1767, p. 342. 

Between 1767 and 1820. Cf. above (England). 

Travels in France, pp. 408-9 (ed. 1792) and al. 

Essay on Pop., 7th ed., pp. 449, 451 seq. ; Annals of Agriculture, 
no. 239, pp. 219 seq. (quoted in Essay, App. pp. 496-7). Young had 
reproached Malthus for denying the right to relief. 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. 381 

Malthus replies by giving reasons why people should 
"live dear," and by reminding Arthur Young of his 
own comments on the proceedings of the National 
Assembly. Recognizing their duty to grant relief, 
but wishing to avoid an English Poor Law, the 
National Assembly set aside fifty millions of francs 
a year for support of the poor. If it had been 
really a duty, wrote Arthur Young (in his Travels) , 
necessity might have occasioned them to extend the 
relief to one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred 
millions, and so on, " in the same miserable progression 
that has taken place in England." 1 Malthus hardly 
needed to go back to the Travels, as Young himself 
confessed in his later writings that his plan did 
not apply to large cities, and though he still held 
l>y the claim of right, he confessed that his faith 
must be without works ; in other words, he claimed 
the right to be inconsistent. But he continued to 
question Malthus' axiom that what cannot be ought 
not to be ; and he thinks that, if a man marries 
without the means to keep a family, he may justly 
blame society for not providing him with the means. 


He argues, too, that Malthus for the success of his 
scheme assumes perfect chastity in the unmarried. 
Malthus really assumed only that the evils, which 
on an average in a civilized country attend the 
prudential check, are less than the evils of premature 
mortality and other miseries entailed by the opposite 
course ; he declares himself not against but in favour 
of schemes that improve the condition of the poor 

1 TraveU in France, ed. 1792, pp. 438-9. 


even on a limited scale ; and he only asks that every 
such scheme be tested not by its first success, for 
hardly any scheme of the kind is unsuccessful at first, 
but by its effect on a new generation. 1 

This test might be applied to schemes like Owen's 
and later ones on the same model. Malthus perhaps 
deals too peremptorily with them. Speaking of 
Owen's system of the community of labour and goods, 
and of Spence's Plan for Parochial Partners/dps in 
the Land* ("the only remedy for the distresses and 
oppressions of the people," the land to be " the 
people's farm"), he answers that there are two 
"decisive arguments against systems of equality": 
first, the inability of a state of equality to furnish 
v y^ adequate motives for exertion, the goad of necessity 
being absent, and, second, the tendency of population 
to increase faster than subsistence. In reply it must 
be said that there might be socialism without com- 
munism ; there might even be communism without an 
absolute equality, such as would put idle and indus- 
trious on the same footing ; there might be an 
approximation of the social extremes, bringing poor 
and rich nearer, and giving the former not weaker 
but stronger motives to exertion ; finally, it is not at 

1 App. to Essay, pp. 499, 500. It is not true that " Owen was right 
ay against Malthus when he regarded a certain amount of comfort as the 
indispensable condition of a moral life, and thought that a considerable 
increase of man's powers of production was possible " (Held, Soc. Oesch. 
England's, pp. 351-2). Malthus himself did both. 

2 The Plan is quoted by Cobbett, Pol. Reg., Dec. 14, 1816. Malthus 
(Pol. EC. (1820), pp. 434, 435, (1836) p. 378) thinks that "co-proprietor- 
ship" of Government with the landlords, after the scheme of the 
Economistes and on the analogy of Oriental "sole proprietorship," might 
become too ready an engine of taxation for a military despotism. 


all inconceivable that at least one-half of this result 
might come, as Godwin wished, by the act of the 
rich themselves, which means also as Malthus wished, 
for it would come from a strong sense of personal 
obligation. It cannot be denied that Malthus, in 
using the argument in question, seems to forget his 
own admission, that the goad of necessity does not 
act with effect either on the lowest or on the highest 
da -si's. 1 Moreover, he allows, there have been cases, 
e. g. among the Moravian communities, where industry 
and community of goods have existed side by side. 
" It may be said that, allowing the stimulus of in- 
< quality of conditions to have been necessary in order 
to raise man from the indolence and apathy of the 
_ r e to the activity and intelligence of civilized 
life, it does not follow that the continuance of the 
xii IK* stimulus should be necessary when this activity 
and energy of mind has been once gained." 2 

The second of his arguments against Owen is of 
course his more cogent and characteristic one. As 
we have seen, it is not deprived of its point by 
the inclusion of moral restraint among the checks 
to population. It was argued against him tliat 
his own ideal of a society where moral restraint 
universally prevailed would involve precisely what 
is necessary to make such systems as Godwin's 
and Owen's permanently possible. 8 There is an air 
of collusiveness in the remark that, in proportion 

See above, pp. 87, 1 12, Ac. f E**ay, 7th ed., p. 284. 

, Econ. 81 > !>!. 135 tcq., and by Scuili. y 

in A i i . / ,v view above quoted. 


as moral restraint prevails in the world, Malthus 
approximates to Godwin. But Malthus believes that 
equality and community would destroy the motive 
for moral restraint. The passions would still be 
present, and no man would be in a position where 
there seemed any need to restrain them ; the restraint 
would be the interest of the whole society, but not 
of the individual himself, for the effects were to be 
borne not by himself, but by the whole society. No 
doubt the good of the whole society ought to be a 
sufficient reason ; but it would be so in a very few 
men now ; and, unless it were in all men then, the 
result would be an expansion of population, with the 
results Malthus described. Owen is aware of this, 
and suggests artificial checks, allowing men to gratify 
desire without the usual consequences, and dispensing 
with any effort of will. Malthus, on the other hand, 
would throw all the responsibility and burden on the 
individual, which he thinks it impossible to do with- 
out allowing the individual his private property. 1 No 
further justification of things as they are is to be 
found in Malthus ; and, so far from being reactionary, 
his principles (with all their qualifications) were pro- 
bably the most advanced individualism that was ever 
preached in these days. They are adopted in full 
view of the facts that have been again vividly brought 
before the public mind in our day by writers who are 
to our generation what Godwin, Spence, and Owen 
were to theirs. 

1 III. iii. 286. This and the rest of his argument (even its appli- 
cation to Civil Liberty) is to be found in Aristotle, Politics, ii. 3 and 4, 
but esp. 5. Stl di fjirjfii TOVTO XavQavuv, &c. 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. 385 

Malthus seems to believe, with Dugald Stewart, 
that Utopian schemes are like the tunes of a barrel- 
organ, recurring at melancholy intervals from age to 
age with damnable iteration. 1 But, unless society 
itself has moved in a circle, the Utopias will resemble 
each other no more and no less than do the states of 
society which they would replace. Our own socialists, 
therefore, can hardly be dismissed by the stroke of 
the pen, that classifies them with people so curiously 
u ul ike them and each other as Plato, Ball, More, the 
Fifth Monarchy men, the Levellers, Godwin and 
Spence and Owen. Malthus does not, in fact, so 
dismiss them. Besides bringing forward his own argu- 
ment, he examines Owen's attempt to deal with it. 2 

Since Malthus, every complete reform has needed 
to face in some way or other the question which ho 
treated ; but he left little for others to do. Of the 
two most prominent schemes of our own day for the 
reconstruction of society, one, that of Mr. Henry 
George, involves an unconscious recourse to the old 
weapons of Godwin, Sadler, and other opponents of 
Malthus ; Progress and Poverty does not contain any 
argument not to be found in these writers. The 
conjecture about a " fixed quantity of human life on 
the earth" (ed. 1881, p. 97) is hardly an argument. 
It may be compared with what is stated by St. G. 
Mivart 8 to be the basis of Darwinism. "Every 
individual has to endure a very severe struirule fr 
existence owing to the tendency to geometrieal 

1 Euay on Pop., 7th ed., p. 282. f See above, p. 24. 

Qcvwnt of Specie*, 2nd ed., 1671, p. 6. 

C C 


increase of all kinds of animals and plants, while 
the total animal and vegetable population (man and 
his agency excepted) remains almost stationary." Mr. 
Mivart's reason for excepting man seems to be Mr. 
George's reason for including him. The latter's more 
direct arguments against Malthus are as follows : 
first, the difficulty is jn the future (p. 85) ; second, 
Malthus shifts the responsibility from man to the 
Creator (p. 87) ; third, Malthus justifies the status 
quo and parries the demand for reform (p. 88) ; 
fourth, Malthus ascribes excessive increase of numbers 
to a general tendency of human nature, while it is 
really due to the badness of our institutions in old 
countries, as in India and Ireland (pp. 101 114), 
or the very thinness of population in ne-w (p. 92) ; 
fifth, Malthus does not distinguish between tend- 
ency to increase and actual increase, and is there- 
fore refuted by the fact that the world is not yet 
peopled (p. 94). In the sixth place, we are told, if 
there had been such a law as the Malthusian, it would 
11 have been sooner and more widely recognized (p. 98) ; 
that families often become extinct (p. 99), and it is 
more certain that we have ancestors than that we shall 
have descendants ; l that better industry would keep 
a larger population (p. 107) ; Malthus says that vice 
and misery are necessary (p. 109) ; Malthus does not 

1 The puzzling effect of counting up one's great-grandfathers and 
great-grandmothers up to the twentieth degree or so is described by Black- 
stone as quoted by Godwin (Popn.} and re-quoted by Hazlitt (Spirit of the 
Age, 1825, p. 273, ' Godwin '). The puzzle is less if we remember that our 
remote ancestors must have married into each other's families, or rather 
were scions in the end of the same families. We cannot go back to a 
single pair except through the " prohibited degrees." 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. - 387 

see that vegetables and animals increase faster than 

o - - " - . i f"^ . A ^Tf 

opujajtion__(p. 115), or that the increase of man in-^ 
volves the increase of his food (p. 116), for a division ** 
of labour makes man produce more than he consumes v , / y 
(p. 126), and so the most populous countries are 
always the most wealthy (p. 128) ; Malthus forgets 
that the world is wide (p. 119), and that the 
tendency to increase is checked by development of 
intellect, 1 and by the elevation of the standard 
of comfort (pp. 121, 123); he forgets that "the 
power of population to produce the necessaries of 
life is not to be measured by the necessaries of life " 
it actually produces, but by its powers to produce 
wealth in all forms (p. 127); Malthus will not see 
that tweuty men where nature is niggardly (e.g. on 
a bare rock ?) will produce more than twenty times 
what one man will where nature is bountiful (p. 
134); and the Malthusian theory "attributes want 
to the decrease of productive power" (p. 134) ; 
finally Malthus does not know " the real law of 
population," which is that " the tendency to increase, 
instead of being always uniform, is strong where a 
greater population would give increased comfort, and 
where the perpetuity of the race is threatened by the 
mortality induced by adverse conditions, but weakens 
just as the higher development of the individual 
becomes possible, and the perpetuity of the race is 
assured" (p. 123). What is right in this view of 

1 We are to understand, therefore, that Malthus and the author agree 
that population needs a check, and are simply not agreed iMoi the 
checks are to be. 

C C 2 


the real law of population is common to Mr. George 
with Mr. Herbert Spencer ; 1 what is wrong is common 
to him with Godwin. 2 

The view of Karl Marx, 3 the prophet of the Inter- 
national and of modern economic Socialism, is built 
on much more solid foundations. It is a corollary of 
his view of capital. The general law of the accumu- 
lation of capital, in these days of large manufactories 
and machinery, involves not only a progressive addition 
to the quantity of capital, which is all that Adam 
Smith contemplated, but a qualitative change in the 
proportion between fixed capital, such as machinery, 
and the circulating which is paid in wages. To use 
the author's words, the progress of accumulation 
brings with it a relative decrease of the variable 
component of capital and a relative increase of its 
constant component. New machinery is constantly 
supplanting labour without any real compensation in 
increased demand, either at once or in the long 
run. The constant element increases at the cost of 
the variable ; and this can only result in the pro- 
gressive production of a population which, in relation 
to capital, is a surplus or superfluity, an over- 
population ; the cause which increases the net 

1 See below, p. 392. 

2 See above, p. 370. The sixteen positions not touched in their own 
place will be met by a reference to the following places in this book : 
i. to p. 20, add Essay, 2nd ed. Bk. III. ch. iii. p. 383, ii. to p. 37, iii. to 
p. 338, iv. to pp. 51, 78, v. to p. 80, vi. to p. 83, viii. to p. 113, ix. to p. 
376, x. to p. 67, xi. to pp. 231, 297, see Essay, 7th ed. p. 381, xii. to pp. 
70, 75, 91, xiii. to p. 393, xiv. to pp. 91, 270, xv. to p. 294, xvi. to p. 69, 
and xvii. to p. 75. 

3 Das Kapital, 7ter Abschn. 23tes Kap. pp. 653 seq. (ed. 1872); cf. 
646 seq. 


uue of the country at the same time renders the 
population redundant and deteriorates the condition 
of the labourer. 1 So far from deploring the existence 
of this redundant class, the capitalists depend on it, 2 
as the reserve of their army. They trust to its 
cheap labour to save them from the depression 
which in our days (though never before) appears 
with unfailing regularity after brisk trade and a crisis. 
If the hands were not always there for them to 
employ, they would not at once be able to seize the 
happy moment of a reviving demand for their goods. 

Itlius with his narrow views understands the 
surplus population to be superfluous absolutely in 
itself, and not merely in relation to capital ; but 
(v.-u he recognizes that over-population is a necessity 
of modern industry." ! In proof of these statements 
he quotes the words of Malthus (Pol. Econ., ed. 1836, 
pp. 215, 4 319, 320) : " Prudential habits with regard 
to marriage carried to a considerable extent among 
the labouring classes, of a country mainly depending 
upon manufactures and commerce, might injure it." 
..." From the nature of a population, an increase 
<>f labourers cannot be brought into [the] market, 
in consequence of a particular demand, till a ft ti- 
the lapse of sixteen or eighteen years ; and the 
conversion of revenue into capital, by Caving, may 

ie language of Ricardo, ch. xxxi. p. 236 (quoted by Marx, p. 
656 n.). Cf. above, p. 297. Cf. also Marx, pp. 427 

2 Cf. what Prof. Rogers says in Six Centurie*, p. 229, of the attempt 
made in th. fifteenth century to increase tli um"of a^ 

tural labour for the benefit of the farmers and landlords. Also above, 
p. 164 n. 

* Marx, Owi, p. 659. Misprinted in Marx as 854. 


take place much more rapidly ; a country is always 
liable to an increase in the quantity of the funds for 
the maintenance of labour faster than the increase 
of population." 

To these charges the answer is, first, that Malthus 
always recognized that over-population was relative, 
relative to the actual food ; 1 second, that he did not 
recognize the over-population as necessary ; it took 
place as a matter of fact, but he believed that, if 
working men did as he wished them, it would dis- 
appear ; 2 and in the third place, the first sentence 
quoted by Marx from the Political Economy is 
explained by the second, which he does not quote : 
" In a country of fertile land such habits would be 
the greatest of all conceivable blessings." Malthus 
is comparing Commercial with Agricultural countries, 
not pronouncing on the general question of wages ; 
and other passages in his writings 3 show that he 
regarded the high wages, resulting from prudential 
habits, as a public gain, more than compensating 
the capitalists' loss of profits. Even Marx himself 
grudgingly allows that Malthus was more humane 
than Ricardo in regard to the hours of labour desir- 
able for the workmen. 4 In the fourth place, the 
latter half of the quotation (beginning with the 
words, " From the nature of a population ") first 
states an obvious fact which a child could have 
pointed out, and then a disputable proposition which 
predicts not an over-population but the reverse of it. 

1 See above, pp. 137, 188, &c. 2 See above, p. 335. 
3 See above, pp. 299, 335, &c. 4 Das Kap., p. 549 n. 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. 391 

Marx is seeking to demonstrate the hopelessness 
of the labourer's position ; and he is too acute not 
to know that his demonstration would be seriously 
weakened if he admitted the truth of the Malthusian 
doctrine and the bare possibility of the adoption of 
prudential habits by the labourers. This is the real 
reason of his bitter attacks on the Essay. He says of 
it : l " When I say Eden's work on the Poor was the 
only important writing by a disciple of Adam Smith 
iii the eighteenth century, I may be reminded of the 
essay of Mai thus. But this book in its first form 
(and the later editions did nothing but add and adapt 
borrowed materials) is nothing but a plagiarism from 
Sir James Steuart, Townsend, Franklin, Wallace, full 
of schoolboy superficiality and clerical declamation, 
and not containing a single original sentence. By 
the way, although Malthus was a clergyman of the 
Church of England, he had taken the monastic 
oath of celibacy [!], for this is one of the conditions 
of a fellowship at the Protestant University of 
Cambridge. ' Socios collegiorum maritos esse non 
permittimus, sed statim postquam quis uxorem 
duxerit, socius collegii desinat esse' (Reports of 
Cambridge University Commission, p. 172). By this 
circumstance Malthus is favourably distinguished 
from the other Protestant clergy, who have cast off 
the Catholic rule of celibacy. . . 2 With exception of 
Ortes 8 the Venetian monk, an original and clever 

1 Da*Kap.,i>. 641 n. 

* The passage omitted is n.-iili.-r tme nor decent. 

* O. M. Ortes ftylemont tulla popolasionc (1790). 


writer, most of the writers on Population are Pro- 
- 1 a ut clergymen," a contrast, he goes on, to the 
days when political economists were all philosophers. 
Marx adopts l the common view that Malthus being 
a clergyman was the bond-slave of Toryism and 
the ruling classes, and therefore ready to adopt 
a principle that attributed over-population to the 
eternal laws of nature rather than to the historical 
laws (also natural) of the capitalists' production. Marx 
does not see that the "eternal laws" in question do 
not lead to over-population except when the precepts 
of Malthus are neglected ; and never shows how, 
apart from these precepts, over-population will be 
prevented in the renovated society itself, which has 
nationalized not only the land but all the instruments 
of production. Would the habits of men be so 
changed by this stroke of nationalization that the 
want of ordinary commercial motives would not be 
felt ? 2 Would not the millennium of the Socialist, like 
that of the Christian, postulate a religious conver- 
sion on the largest scale for its first introduction, 
to say nothing of its continuance ? Productive Co- 
operation, depending on the spontaneous action of 
the labourers for its creation, and on their intelligence 
and prudence for its success, would nationalize capital 
more surely ; and it would not make the impossible 
postulate of Socialism, that a passionless unselfish- 
ness, which not one in a hundred thousand in our 
day exhibits at any time, shall at once become the 

1 Das Kap., p. 549 n. 

2 Of. above, p. 382, and Malthus, Essay, 2nd ed. III. iii. 386, where 
he says that Duty and Interest must work together. 

BK. iv.] TUB CRITICS. 393 

invariable daily rule of all without exception. But 
Co operation, if it neglects JVIalthus, will find its work 
no sooner done than undone. 

It may be thought that there are causes at work 
which will remove over-population among the working 
classes even under the present system of separated 
capital and labour. It is a doctrine of the "finer 
." founded on striking biological analogies, that 
the general development of intellect iu the race will 
weaken the passion for marriage and supersede the 
necessity for any checks on it ; l the exercise of the 
energies of concentration or " individuation " developes 
these energies at the expense of those of diffusion or 
" genesis ; " the individual is made strong in himself, 
at the expense of his power of creating new indi- 
viduals. Quite apart from the disagreeable fact that 
this principle would lessen the pressure most in those 
classes where lessening is at present least needed, 
and least where it is most needed, Malthas would 
probably have pointed t>ut, first, that unless the 
jippi-titc is absolutely killed, no physiological check 
can supersede some control of the will over the 
passion, and, second, that intellectual development 
will more certainly check population by making mm 
to their responsibilities and strengthening their 
power of ivstnint than by weakening the passion to 
be restrained. The expounder of the theory is of all 
people the least likely to teach men that they may 

1 'Theory of Popul ><?r Rev., April 1852, pirated by 

the f.'wor Trail in 1877 (Kii.e neue Berftterun^sfteorte), and 

substantially ma nt uiii.. 1 by iU author (Mr. Herbert Spencer) in 

../.,/./, V.,1. II I 


become civilized by the progress of their race without 
the trouble of civilizing themselves individually. But 
his theory admits the misapplication ; and, if it be 
said by the misapplies that we ought to tell the 
truth without fear of consequences, we must answer 
that in this case the consequences are part of the 
truth. On the other hand, to theorists like W. R. 
Greg, who suggest unknown physiological laws that 
may act as a spontaneous check, Mai thus would have 
replied as to Condorcet : l 

" What can we reason but from what we know ? " 

This brief survey of typical critics and comment- 
ators may be completed by a classification of the 
former, which, among other advantages, will give a 
bird's-eye view of the chief points in discussion. 
Empson classified the opponents of Mai thus by their 
motives, 2 a proceeding hardly fair either to them 
or to the essay itself. It is not fair to them, for as 
a rule the critics appeal to argument, and must be 
judged by what they adduce, not by their good or 
ill will, wisdom or folly, in adducing it ; and not fair 
to the essay, because few books have owed so much 
to their reviewers. 

The positions of the critics may be classified as 
follows : 

I. Some say the doctrine of the essay is a 
truism. 3 ^ 

II. Others admit that it is unanswerable, but 

1 Essay, 7th ed. 269. 2 Above, p. 377. 

3 E. g. Hazlitt, Reply to Essay on Population, p. 20. 

BK. iv.] THE CRITICS. 395 

iv t iiia a philosophical faith ia the future discovery 
of some contrary principle. 1 

III. Others find fault with the details of the 
doctrine, either (a) in regard to the ratios of increase, 
asserting that no tendency to a geometrical increase 
of population has been proved, but something much 
less rapid, even (a few say) a decreasing ratio, 2 and 
that no mere arithmetical increase of food has been 
proved, but something much more rapid, 3 or (6) in 
regard to the checks on population, asserting that no 
checks are necessary, 4 that vice and misery some- 
times add to population instead of checking it, 5 
that to include moral restraint is to stultify the 
original doctrine, 6 that moral restraint sometimes 
involves as great evil as excessive numbers, both from 
the personal practice of it and from the preaching 
of it to others, 7 that important checks have been 
omitted, . the chief being misgovernment, 8 bad laws, 9 

1 W. R. Greg, Enigmas of Life, 8th ed., 1874, pp. 58 seq. This was 
nearly Godwin's position in his first reply. 

1 Sadler on Population, and Reply to Edinburgh Review. Gol win, 
Population, Bk. VI. ch. ii, &c. 

Carey (H. C.), Princ. of Social Science (1858), vol. i. ch. xiv. ; cf. 
above, p. 74 seq. H. George, Progress and Poverty, pp. 115, 116. Sadler, 
p. 70, Ac. 

4 Godwin, Sadler, &c. 

Sadler, pp. 354-5, &c. Cf. Adam Smith, W. of N., I. viii. 36. See 
above, pp. 82, 83. 

Godwin, see above, p. 361. Sou they, Life and Corresp., III. 188. 
Bagehot, Econ. Studies, pp. 133 seq. Cf. George, II. ii. 94. Above, pp. 

' Besant, Law of Population !,. iii. Cf. Malthas, pp. 407 seq. (IV. 

Cobbett, Taking Leave of his Countrymen (1817), p. 6 ; 1' 
Register, 4th Jan. 1817, p. 26, Ac., &c. Above, p. 329. 
1 Godwin, Population, passim. George, II. ii. 102, 109. Above, 
ill, 112. 

Godwin, ibid.; George, pp. 138, 259, &c.,&c.; Coleridge, MS. 


high feeding, 1 intellectual development, 2 and those 
of Owen. 3 

There is, besides, an a priori criticism, which is 
either (I.) ecclesiastical, 4 alleging that Malthus con- 
tradicts the Bible or some other authority, (II.) 
theological, 5 that he denies Providence, or (III.) 
doctrinaire, 6 that he denies natural rights and the 
pre-established harmony of moral and economical 
laws, and the instinct of equality, or (IV.) ethical 
and popular/ that he runs counter to the moral 
sense and the natural benevolence of men and cos- 
mopolitan morality. These arguments have been 
already considered. The fourth of them has, in its 
last branch, an appearance of truth, because Malthus 
has certainly pled less for the cosmopolitan than for 
the domestic and civic virtues. He wishes to lay the 
foundations solidly and leave the building to others. 
Cosmopolitan morality can rarely be the found- 
ation. In the Empire, Christianity may have raised 
the people, and Stoicism the philosophers, to the 
wider morality without the training of the narrower, 

p. 358 (of Essay, 2nd ed.), where for "physical constitution of our 
nature " he would read, " in the existing system of society." So verbatim 
Southey in Aikin's Ann. Rev. \. c. 

1 Doubleday, True Law of Population (1841). Above, p. 65. See 
Herbert Spencer, Biology, Vol. II. pt. vi. ch. xii. pp. 455, 480, &c. The 
phy.siologi.sts have amply refuted Doubleday. 

2 Herbert Spencer. See above, p. 393. W. R. Greg, Enigmas. Above, 
p. 394. 

3 New Malthusians. See above, p. 24. 

4 See above, pp. 365 seq. The orthodoxy of Malthus is proved not by a 
few orthodox sentences which can be gleaned from him (as from Bacon), 
or even by the discovery of flaws in the received doctrine, but by the 
whole, logic of the essay. 6 See above, pp. 365 seq. 

6 See above, p. 336. 7 See above, p. 328. 


so that the converts were made better members of 
their own small communities by becoming members 
of the commonwealth of the saints and citizens of 
the great world. But it seems to Malthus that, in 
the world of to-day, the many conditions of a steady 
moral progress are best secured if the domestic and 
civic virtues . precede the cosmopolitan. We must 
not legislate for a world of heroes, but for men as 
we know them to be ; and a comfortable domestic life 
O/o T&SIOS) must be the common highway to good- 
ness in a society of ordinary men. If poverty were 
no evil, churlishness would be no vice. But extreme 
poverty 1 is a real hindrance to goodness. In the 
apparent exceptions, as in the voluntary poverty of 
St. Francis, the greatest evil is absent, for there is no 
struggle for bare life. To abolish that struggle, and 
help men to comfort, is in some degree to help men 
to goodness ; and it was the end for which Malthus 
laboured. The most sure and solid way of reaching 
it lay, as he thought, in impressing every man with 
a strong sense of his responsibility for his acts and of 
his power over his own destiny. To reform a nation, 
we must reform the moniKcrs of it, who, if the\ 
good at finst in e of their institutions, will at last 
conform their institutions to the model of their own 
goodness. To hold men the creatures of society, 
and make society responsible for their character, was, 
he thought, to mistake the order of nature. Society 
can feel its n'.<|KM>ilility <>nly in its individual 
members ; and no member of it can free his 

1 Sr,. Hl-Vr. ],. %. 


soul by the purity of a collective or representative 

The doctrine of Mai thus is, therefore, a strong 
appeal to personal responsibility. He would make 
men strong in will, to subdue their animal wants to 
their notion of personal good and personal goodness, 
which, he believed, could never fail to develope into 
the common good and goodness of all. Believers in 
the omnipotence of outward circumstances and the 
powerlessness of the human will, to alter them or the 
human character, may put Malthus beyond the pale 
of sympathy. But all can enter into the mind of 
Malthus and understand his work, who know the 
hardness of the struggle between the flesh and the 
spirit, and yet believe in the power of ideas to change 
the lives of men, and have faith not only in the 
rigour of natural laws, but in man's power to conquer 
nature by obeying her. 



Parentage Early Education Graves and Wakefield Course at 
Cambridge Correspondence with his Father Change in Studies 
The Crou and the Curacy Effect of the Essay on its Author 
Early and Late Styles Life from 1799 to 1834 Ingrata Patria ? 
East India College Professor's Lectures Hie Jacet. 

THE few facts that are known of the life of Malthus 
bring us nearer to him than we can come in his 
writings, and show us how well, on the whole, his 
antecedents and surroundings fitted him for his 
work. Our chief authorities are Bishop Otter's bio- 
^rniphical preface to the second edition of our author's 
Political Economy, which was posthumously published 
in 1836, and Professor Empson's notice of the book 
in the Edinburgh Review for January 1837. 1 Otter 
was the college companion and life-long friend of 
Mai thus ; Empson was his colleague at Haileybury. 
The information they give us, though meagre, is 
trustworthy ; and happily it can be supplemented 
by hints from other quarters. 

II i;itliT, D.ini 1 Malthus, was born in 1730, and 

1 Th (in le is shown by Macvey Napier's Letters 

*tt& dato, and that of the biogr. preface by Empson's art, p. 472. 


went to Queen's College, Oxford, in 1747, 1 the year 
when Adam Smith went home from Balliol to 
Scotland. He left without a degree, not because of 
the Articles, for he subscribed them at matriculation, 2 
or from Dr. Johnson's reason of poverty, for he was 
a gentleman commoner, but probably from a con- 
tempt for the distinction itself. 3 His mind was active 
and open, and he seems to have formed literary 
friendships that stood his son in good stead after- 
wards. He liked to stay up in Oxford in vacation, 
working hard at his own studies in his own ways, 
and seeing none but chosen friends. He wrote to his 
son in later years, " I used to think Oxford none the 
]ess pleasant and certainly not the less useful for 
being disburdened of some of its society ; I imagine 
you will say the same of Cambridge." 4 On leaving 
the university he married and went to live in Surrey 
at a quiet country house on the way from Dorking 
to Guildford, still known by its old name of the 
Rookery. Of his eldest son, who took his grand- 
father's name of Sydenham, 5 we know little except that 
in due time he married, and had two sons, Sydenham 
and Charles, and a daughter Mary. Mary died single 
in 1881 in her eighty-second year, Charles in 1821 

1 "Daniel Malthus, 17, Sydenham de parochia Sti. Giles Londini 
Armigeri films " (Matriculation entry, Easter terra, 1747). 

2 See Gibbon's Memoirs, p. 46 (ed. Hunt and Clarke), and Jeffrey's 
Life, i. 40. 

* Cf. Wealth of Nations, V. i. art., pp. 341 foil. 

4 Biogr. pref. to Pol Econ. (1836), p. xxvi. 

6 The name Malthus itself is probably Malt-hus, or Malthouse (cf. 
Shorthouee, Maltby), which still occurs as a surname in England. 
Francis (or, some say, Thomas) Malthus wrote on ' Fireworks, fortifica- 
tion, and arithmetic,' in French and in English, 1629. 

BK. v.] BIOGRAPHY. 401 

in his fifteenth, their father ill 1821 in his sixtv- 
eighth. Sydenham, our author's nephew, who died 
in 1869, was proprietor of Dalton Hill, Albury, where 
members of his family were, till recently, still living ; 
his son, Lieut.-Col. Sydenham Malthus, C.B., of the 
04th Regiment, served with distinction in the Zulu 
war a few years ago. 

Daniel's second son, Thomas Robert, familiarly 
known as Robert, was born at the Rookery on 14th 
February, 1766, the year when Rousseau came to 
England. His mother seems to have died before 
her husband; she is not mentioned in our mea-i 
biographies. 1 His father, full of the teaching of the 
Emile, and by no means prejudiced by his Oxford 
experience in favour of the ordinary conventional 
training of the English youth, seems to have sent 
his sons to no public school of any kind, and in 
all probability brought them up at home under his 
own eye for the first eight or nine years of their 
life. We may think of Robert, therefore, as passing 
his childhood without privation, if without luxury, 
in the home of an English country gentleman of 
moderate fortune, who was devoted to books and 
ny, fireside and hillside philosophizing, 2 and the 
improvement of his house and grounds, a man full 
of life and originality, gifted with vigorous health, 
and joining in his boys' walks and games. 8 In his 

1 Except perhap* in a letter quoted by Otter, biogr. prcf. p. ixvii. 
(date 1788). 

* I. c. p. xxv. 

3 / which show, however, that at 6fty-aeven the 

strength had fulled a little. 

D D 


little valley it was easy for Daniel Mai thus to 
picture to himself a Millennial Hall of the future 
in store for every one else, on the type of his own 
Rookery, with no worse interruption than the rooks 
that cawed there nightly on the hill above him. 
From his son's description 1 and his own letters, we 
gather that he was one of the best sort of the 
Enlightened followers of Nature. He knew Rousseau 
personally, and became his executor; 2 but they were 
liker in views than in character ; Daniel Malthus had 
a deeper vein of reverence and a stronger inclination 
to put theory into practice. 3 The neighbours thought 
him an amiable and clever man who was an ornament 
to his parish, but decidedly eccentric, for he made few 
friends and was fondest of his own and his children's 
company. 4 He was versed beyond his compeers in 
French and German literature, or he would hardly have 
been credited with having translated Paul et Virginie, 
D'Ermenonville's Essay on Landscape, and the Sorrows 
of Werther. We have Robert's authority for saying 
that, although he wrote no translations, he wrote 
many pieces that were very successful, but always 
anonymous. 5 With much of his son's talent, he had 
no power, like his son's, of sustained intellectual effort. 
He saw the boy's promise early, and gave him 

1 " He was not born to copy the works of others." Letter in Gentl. 
Mag., Feb. 1800. See above, p. 7, and Otter, p. xxii. 

2 Otter, pp. xxi, xxii. 

3 So he urges Robert continually to "apply his tools." " I hate to see 
a prl working curious stitches upon a piece of rag." Otter, p. xxvi. 

4 Gentl Mag., Jan. 1800, p. 86 ; cf. Feb. 1800, p. 177 ; Otter, p. xxvi. 
6 Monthly Mag., March 1800, Otter, p. xxii. What and where were 

the pieces we are not told. 

BK. v.] BIOGRAPHY. 403 

an education which is condemned by Robert's chief 
biographer as irregular and desultory, but had a 
method in it. He believed that sons are always 
what their fathers were at their age, with the same 
kind of faults and virtues ; and the men whose 
influence would have been best for himself would, 
he thought, be the best teachers for Robert. At 
the same time he believed with the " Emile " that 
a sort of laissez faire was the best policy in the 
education of children ; they should be left to grow, 
and use their own eyes and hands and heads for 
themselves. At the age of nine or ten, say in the 
year 1776, Robert was accordingly delivered over to 
Mr. Richard Graves, Rector of Claverton, near Bath, 
to be taught little but Latin and good behaviour, 
along with a few other boys, most of them older 
than himself. Graves, who was Daniel's senior by 
some years, had been intimate with the poet 
Shenstone at Pembroke College, Oxford, " a society 
which for half a century" (on Johnson's partial 
testimony) " was eminent for English poetry and 
elegant literature." From his novel, The Spiritual 
(> . or the Su tinner 1 8 Ramble of Mr. Geoff ry 

V'ildgoose, 1 we should not fancy him the best guide 
for ingenuous youth. The book is a coarse and 
offensive satire on AV hit field and Wesley; 2 and shows 

1 Written in 1772, and rcpubli^hed in Mrs. Barbauld's series of 
British AW/wte, 1820. Graves lived at Claverton from 1750 till hi* 

a his ninetieth year. He became Fellow of All Souls in 
1730, and may have known Daniel Mai thus at Oxford. 

2 \Vli-. in !). nam.-s and <|U"Us freely. Tucker, in Light of batons, 
shows the same open dislike of them, but with imirh more good -In 

and taste. 

D D 2 


Graves as a clergyman to be liker Laurence Sterne 
than Dr. Primrose. " Don Roberto," however, as the 
tutor nicknamed his pupil, was fonder of fun and 
fighting than of his books, and at the ripe age of 
ten is not likely to have been troubled about the 
universe or about clerical consistency. From Graves 
he passed 1 into the hands of a much better man, 
Gilbert Wakefield, a clergyman who had rebelled 
against the Articles, turned dissenter, and become 
classical master of an academy at Warrington, 
founded in 1779 "to provide a course of liberal 
education for the sons of dissenters, and particularly 
for dissenting ministers." 2 About one- third of the 
boys at the Warrington Academy were sons of 
members of the Church of England, who were, like 
Daniel Malthus, liberal in their opinions, and wished 
their sons to be likewise. Wakefield held decided 
views on education ; and they were in close accord- 
ance with Daniel and the Emile. "The greatest 
service of tuition," he said, " to any youth, is to 
teach him the exercise of his own powers, to conduct 
him to the hill of knowledge by that gradual process 
in which he sees and secures his own way, and rejoices 
in a consciousness of his own faculties and his own 
proficiency. Puppies and sciolists alone can be 
expected to be formed by any other process." The 
tutor's best service is to point the pupil to the best 
authors and give him advice (not lectures) when he 

1 In 1780 or thereabouts. 

2 WakefielcTs Life (1804), vol. i. p. 214. It is curious to remember 
that Marat is said to have been an usher at a Warrington School a short 
time before this. 3 Wakefield's Life, i. p. 344. 

BK. v.] BIOGRAPHY. 405 

wants it. There was self-denial as well as wisdom 
in WakefielcTs view, for in one case at least the 
})ii[il showed his proficiency by departing from the 
opinions of his tutor. 

\VukrfirU, himself a Fellow of Jesus, 1 procured 
Malthus an entrance to that college, and directed 
his studies till he matriculated there as a pensioner 
(or ordinary commoner) on 17th December, 1784, 
beginning residence in 1785. 2 Robert esteemed him 
highly. He described him twenty years afterwards s 
as a man " of the strictest and most inflexible inte- 
grity," who gave up not only prospects of preferment, 
but even opportunities of usefulness, rather than deny 
the truth and offend his conscience, a man hot and 
intemperate in public controversy, 4 but modest and 
genial in society, never advancing his opinions till 
challenged, nor trying to make converts to them, 
but urging others to an independent study of the 
facts, finally, a genius cramped by its own learning 
and good memory, never taking time and pains to 
justice in its writings. Though a foe to the 
thirty-nine Articles, Wakeficld was a stout believer in 
Tin 1st ianity, anl attacked Paine's Age of Reason in 
a rough style that contrasts strongly with the sober 
remarks of Malthus on Paine's ////////* of .]fan. 

Elected in 1776. See Life, i. p. Ill ft. 

1 Otter, I c. p. xxvii ft. 

1 L< 1 1 to Wakefi L pp. 454 46a A compn 

of thi* : 1, /,,/,-. !: 

( l.y hi- <>\vn acknowledgment "), moke* it almost certain that the letter 
is by Malthus. 

!th such very different men as Watson, Bi.hnp of Llandaff, 
and Thomas Paine. 


Up to 1785, therefore, his father and Wakefield 
had the largest share in the education of Malthus ; 
and their influence was shown in the very fact that 
the opinions of Malthus were not fixed by them. 
His opinions were to be of his own forming ; and, 
having never learned the schoolboy's ambition of 
prize-taking, 1 he found time at college not only for 
what would give him the best degree, but for every 
study that interested him, especially history and 
poetry and modern languages, as in his later years 
for Italian literature. Frend, author of a political 
tract, Peace and Union , which brought him the 
honour of prosecution, 2 was his college tutor, and 
spoke highly of him. 3 It says much for his mathe- 
matical powers that in spite of his wide general read- 
ing he took the ninth place among the wranglers of 
his year, 1788. If he had been confining himself, 
as his father supposed, to the beaten track, he might, 
like Paley, have reached the senior wranglership. 4 
After the Tripos he proposed to study at Cambridge 
and at home on a plan of his own. His father, on 
the false analogy of his own experience, had warned 
him against the abstract studying of scientific and 
mathematical principles apart from their applications ; 
he must not " work curious stitches on a piece of rag " ; 
he must become a practical surveyor, mechanic, and 

1 Though at college he took several prizes for Latin and Greek and 
English Declamations. We may hope that his defect of utterance had 
not become pronounced at that date, or that the declamations were not 
always declaimed. 

2 Wakefield, Life, ii. p. 9. s Otter, I c. p. xxv. 

4 Otter himself was fourth wrangler in 1790, and E. D. Clarke junior 
optime in the same year. 

BK. v.] BIOGRAPHY. 407 

navigator. The son had answered that there would 
be ample time after the Tripos to make the appli- 
cations, and there was little enough time in three 
years to study the principles. But thereafter, " if 
you will give me leave to proceed in my own plans 
of reading for the next two years (I speak with sub- 
mission to your judgment), I promise you at the 
expiration of that time to be a decent natural philo- 
sopher, and not only to know a few principles, but 
to be able to apply these principles in a variety of 
useful problems." l In reality, so far from having his 
father's tendency to abstract speculation, he was (as 
he says himself) rather "remarked in college for 
talking of what actually exists in nature or may be 
put to real practical use." 2 

Though the son had the best of this personal con- 
troversy, he would have done well to have responded 
to his father's letters in the spirit in which they were 
written ; in one instance at least, his father complains 
that Robert "drove him back into himself." But 
this was rare. His father describes him as an ad- 
mirable companion, sympathetic and generous, and 
making everybody easy and amused about him. 8 
He was a favourite at home. When the family was 
removing from the Rookery at Dorking to the 
Cottage 4 at Albury in 1787, he was told : " You must 
find your way to us over bricks and tiles and meet 
with five in a bed and some of us under hedges, but 

1 Otter, I c. p. xx% * I c. p. x * I c. p. x > 

4 On the road leading out of Albury towards Quildford, a snug little 
low-roofed house clinging to a hill slope, leas ambitious than the Rookery, 
but not without its pleasant garden walks, trees, and shrubberies. 


. vbody says they will make room for Robert.*' It 
was llobert's own warm heart that led him to give 
those years of leisure after the Tripos to studies very 
different from those of his first plan. Social problems 
were competing for his attention with scientific. 

In 1797 he took his Master's degree. In the 
same year he got a fellowship at his college ; wrote 
but, on his father's advice, did not print the Crisis; 1 
and took a curacy near Albury. If the Crisis did 
nothing more, it showed how the attention of the 
man was fixing itself on the subjects that engrossed 
him during life, and how his character was changing 
from gay to grave. It is difficult for a reader of 
the later Essay or the Political Economy to conceive 
that the writer could ever have been very merry in 
heart or light in touch ; and there is a still wider 
distance between the pugnacious Don Roberto, never 
long without a black eye, and the grave gentle host 
of Miss Martineau at the East India College. The 
change in style between his early writings and his 
later was due to a real change in character, produced 
by the concentration of his thoughts on the problem 
of poverty. The success of the first Essay on Popula- 
tion 2 fixed for him the work of his life. He was to 
set one neglected truth clearly before the world ; and 
he devoted himself wholly to it, pushing his inquiries 
not only by study of authorities and facts at home, 3 

1 See above, p. 7. 

3 Of winch the genesis has been sufficiently described above, Bk. I. ch. i. 

3 One of his sources is shown by Essay, IV. ix. 438 : " In some con- 
versations with labouring men during the late scarcities." Cf. the tract 
on. Tlie High Price of Provisions, p. 10, etc. 

BK. v.] BIOGRAPHY. 409 

but by his own 1 and his friends' 2 travels, and by 
conversation and correspondence with all that were 
likely to give him anything in conference. 8 He sacri- 
; to it, fortunately or unfortunately, his youthful 
buoyancy and freshness of style, though in speculation 
his opinions passed from pessimism to a moderate 
optimism, and he was never too old in spirit to unlearn 
a fault. 

In his mature writings the composition is less faulty 
than the diction, which is certainly too Johnsonian. 
The composition is a little bald and often diffuse ; 
but the meaning of each sentence is always clear, and 
in economical writing that is the first of virtues. In 
a work of imagination we may desire to have the 
greatest number of the greatest ideas put into each 
sentence ; but a scientific treatise is more often con- 
cerned with a single truth in its full development ; 
11 nd the perpetual recurrence of the same phrases in 
different connections is unavoidable, in proportion to 
the thoroughness of the discussion. Great variety of 
language would either imply in the writer or cause in 

1 See above, pp. 48, 49 (abroad), and p. 195 (in Ireland). 
* Clarke (E. D.) (Life by Otter, vol. ii. p. 1">) ivl'.-r< i.. a h-tter fr.m 
Maltlm.-, a-king about tin? Foundling Hospital at St. Petersburg (date 
March 1800). Cf. ibid., p. 39 : "As for Malthus, tell him he 
u<Tth writiii'_' t". i 1 ,| 1( .<l up iii other nutters and obliterating 

all traces : image. . . II. ! al trap de ptomb pow tm 

tourift" [tie]. So he draws on Mac kintal, \vhrn tin- IMI.T i.- in India, 
in 1804. See Mack P lift, 

1 E.g. Ricardo, Senior, and Dr. Tin.-. Chalmers (who paid him a 
flying t 1 . r I ^2 : Life by Hanna, vol. ii. p. 358), anl I 

r (Memoir* and Corrcsp., e. g. vol. i. p. 406). In i. 436 of his 
Memoir* Homer speaks of having gom- with .!-!, n \Vhi-ha\v. the bar- 

1 ilthu-at Haili-vliiirv in 1H). an.l takes OCCai< -n t 
his n "f truth a1ve the anl versatility of 

though that, he sa\ k like a-: ;irofdulne. 


the reader some confusion of thought. It is not sur- 
prising, then, to find Malthus saying substantially the 
same thing in nearly the same words, whether he is 
presenting his views on Population directly in a book 
on the subject, or placing them in their economical 
context in a book on Political Economy, or touching 
them incidentally in a Corn Law pamphlet or Quarterly 
article, or answering questions about them before a 
Commons Committee. His abundant metaphors in 
the first essay 1 had simply led to misunderstanding ; 
and he deliberately renounced fine writing for high 
thinking, present popularity for permanent usefulness. 2 
The first essay was the turning-point in his literary 
life. Except the pamphlets on Haileybury College, 
all his later writings are economical. His personal 
history, being uneventful, was, like a time of dull 
annals, presumably happy. The fine portrait of him 
by Linnell, 3 taken in his old age, gives a pleasing 
impression, not only of mildness and firmness, but 
of serene contentment, without any trace of physical 
suffering or physical defect, though it is certain he 
had the latter. 4 In person he was tall and " elegantly 
formed." 6 1799 is the year of his first Continental 

1 E. g. the reservoir, p. 106 ; but the most extravagant is perhaps the 
botanical figure, on p. 273, where he says that " the forcing manure," 
employed to cause the French Revolution, has "burst the calyx of 
humanity." Macaulay uses a similar metaphor of precisely the same 
event, in the Essay on Burleigh. 

2 His own command of metaphor made it the easier for him to turn 
the edge of an opponent's. See e. g. his handling of Weyland's Giant, 
Musket-ball, and Swaddling-clothes, in Essay, Append, pp. 514 521. 

3 Engraved by Fournier for the Dictionnaire de V Economic Politique, 
art. Malthus.' 4 See below, p. 418 n. 

6 Genii. Mag., March 1835, p. 324. 

BK. v.] BIOGRAPHY. 411 

journey. 1 In January 1800 his father died, at the age 
of seventy. In the same year appeared the tract on 
77t<' Hif/k Price of Provisions. In 1802 Malthus was 
;iirain on the Continent. 2 In June 1803 he published 
the second (or quarto) essay, which seems, from a 
passage in Edward Clarke's Travels, to have been 
long expected by his friends. " I am sorry," writes 
Clarke to him from Constantinople on 16th March, 
1802, "to find you confess your breach of duty in 
not having written a book. But you have been 
engaged in the press, because I heard at the Palace 
that you had published a new edition of your Popu- 
lation, and, moreover, I was there assured so long 
ago as last year that you had written a work on the 
Scarcity of Corn. How does this accord with your 
declaration ? Perhaps it is a pamphlet, and therefore 
strictly not 'a book/" 3 

It is not impossible that Clarke had heard this 
rumour from Lord Elgin, and Lord Elgin from Pitt 
himself, for Pitt had visited Cambridge on the eve 
of the dissolution following the Peace of Amiens. On 
the 16th (December 1801) he was present at the Com- 
memoration dinner in Trinity College Hall. 4 The vi>it 
is described by Otter: 5 "It happened that Mr. Pitt 

1 Euay (7th ed.), II. Hi. 148, where "winter of 1788" is perhaps for 
1708, though it is 1788 in the second and all subsequent editions ; or 
else " preceding " may be wrong. Cf. High Price of Prov., p. 2. 

1 Cf. above, pp. 48, 127, which should be read in conjunction with 
this Biography. 

Life of Clarke, vol. ii. p. 183. We know from a footnote in the essay 
7th ed., p. 194) that pan of it at least WEB written in 1802., Ltfe of Pitt, iii. p. 36; cf. p. 53. "Our election at 
Cambridge was perf. . tl\ 

6 L 203-4 n. 


was at tliis time upon a sort of canvassing visit at 
the university. . . At a supper at Jesus Lodge in 
the company of some young travellers, particularly 
Mr. Malt-bus, &c., he was induced to unbend in a very 
easy conversation respecting Sir Sidney Smith, the 
massacre at Jaffa, the Pacha of Acre, Clarke, Carlisle, 1 
&c." Though the talk was largely on poetry and 
foreign politics, it may easily have embraced econo- 
mics ; and the personal meeting may have helped to 
gain Malthus his appointment as Professor of History 
and Political Economy at Haileybury College. With 
or without Pitt, the appointment was made in 1805 ; 
and in view of it Malthus was able to carry out, 
on 13th March 1804, his marriage with Harriet 
Eckersall (daughter of John Eckersall of Claverton 
House, St. Catherine's, near Bath), to whom he had 
probably been for some years engaged. 2 In 1806 he 
published the third edition of the essay (in two 
volumes), in 1807 the fourth edition, and also the 
letter to Samuel Whitbread on his Bill for amending 
the Poor Laws. If it is true that he visited Owen 
at New Lanark, it must have been in the course of 
the next seven years. 3 There is nothing signed from 
his pen in that time but a letter to Lord Grenville in 

1 Earl of Carlisle, the poet. See Engl. Bards and Scotch Reviewers. 

2 Otter, I. c. p. xxvi. Cf. Essay, 1st ed., pp. 210-12. Genii. Mag., 
April 1804, p. 374. A compliment which Otter pays him (in an obituary 
in the Athenceum, 10th Jan. 1835), that his servants stayed long with 
him, would fall more naturally to his wife. 

3 Mr. Sargant (Life of Owen, p. 85) says, on the authority of Mr. 
Holyoake, that Malthus visited New Lanark in its palmy days. Owen's 
work then was after Malthus' own heart ; he was reforming the world 
by beginning with one individual corner of it. Cf. Essay, III. iii. 
82 ft. 

BK. v.] BIOGRAPHY. 413 

defence of the East India College j 1 but in 1814 and 
1815 he wrote the Observations on the Corn Laics, the 
of an Opinion on the Policy of restricting Im- 
portation, and The Nature and Progress of Rent. In 
1807 he had been with Horncr in Wales, impressing 
Homer, as they went together from Eaglan to Aber- 
gaveimy, with his idea that the people should "live 
dear"; 2 and in 1817 he visited Kerry and Westmeatli. 
In the same year, 1817, he published the fifth edition 
of his essay. 1818 would be memorable to him as 
the year when Mackintosh joined him at Hailey- 
bury as Professor of General Polity and Law in 
succession to Mr. Christian. In 1819 Malthus appears 
as Fellow of the Royal Society, though the honour 
did not tempt him back into physical science. 8 In 
1820 appeared the first edition of the Political 
<>iiiy. In 1821, Thomas Tooke, the author of 
/////// and Low Prices, founded the Political Economy 
Club, James Mill drafting the rules. Malthus, Grote, 
and Ricardo were among its members ; and the 
survivors are said to remember well the "crushing 
< iiti( i-ins" by James Mill of Malthus' speeches. 4 

1823 is tin- Y-;ir of the tract on the Measure 
of Value and the Quarter/I/ article on Tooke; 1824 
of the paper on Population in the Supplement to 

1 See below, p. 

1 Memoinof I 1. 406. Cf. Miss Martin, .ui, Hut. of 

Peace, Introducli n, II. i. 257. 

3 He WM made a n i- the French Institute nn<I. in 1833, one of 

th< TIM f, reign AMoci*t<8 of the Acad. des Sciences Mor . and a 

mrmlKsr of the Royal Academy of Berlin (Otter, 1. c. p. xli). See Chaa. 
ic, Notice, and Gamier, Diet, de Vfk. PoL 
. /.//. ,././,,me* Mill (1888), p. 199. 


the Encyclopedia Britannica, and the article on tlie 
New Political Economy in the Quarterly Review. 1 
In 1825 he lost a daughter, and went for his own 
and his wife's health to the Continent. In that 
\ oar he contributed his first paper to the Koyal 
Society of Literature, of which he had been made an 
Associate two years before ; and that year saw Empson 
take the place of Mackintosh at Haileybury. In 1826 
was published the sixth edition of the essay, the 
last published in his lifetime. In 1827 we find him 
before the Emigration Committee, and we have from 
his pen the Definitions in Political Economy, and the 
second paper contributed to the Royal Society of 
Literature. In 1829 letters passed between him and 
W. Nassau Senior, which were appended by the latter 
to his Lectures on Population. In 1830 he wrote 
the Summary Vieiv, which involved no new effort. 
Indeed his whole time seems to have been spent in 
revising his Political Economy in the light of his 
public and private discussions with Ricardo, though 
he did not live to print the new edition himself. 
Shortly before his death he said to some one who 
rebuked him for his delay : " My views are before 
the public. If I am to alter anything, I can do little 
more than alter the language, and I don't know if I 
should alter it for the better" (Empson, /. c. p. 472). 

1 All that is certainly known of the bulk of his contributions to the 
Edin. Review is that, like those of James Mill and Mackintosh, they do 
not occur before the twentieth number of it (in July 1807). See B;iin, 
Life of James Mill, p. 75 n. Homer mentions (Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 437) 
the article on Newenham's Population of Ireland, 1808, and another (of 
which he had seen the MS.) Feb. 1811 (Vol. II. p. 68). But see above, 
p. 285, note. 

BK. v.] BIOGRAPHY. 415 

He was one of the first Fellows of the Statistical 
Society, founded in March 1834, and its first Annual 
Report contains a high eulogy on him and his work ; 
but he did not live to take much share in its proceed- 
ings. He died suddenly of heart disease on Monday, 
29th December, 1834, on a visit to Mr. Eckersall at 
St. Catherine's, where he was spending Christmas 
with his wife and family. He is buried in the Abbey 
Church at Bath, in the north aisle of the nave. Of 
his three children, two survived him, of whom one, 
a daughter, is still living. 1 

Brougham, in a letter to Macvey Napier (31st 
Jan., 1837), denies the truth of an assertion of 
Empson's, that Lords Lansdowne and Holland tried 
to get preferment for Malthus, but failed; on the 
contrary, he had himself, he says, offered Mai thus a 
living, but Malthus had declined it in favour of his 
son, Henry, 2 " who got it, and I believe now has it." 
Jl< jiry, however, did not become vicar of Effinghain 
(11 Mr Leatherhead in Surrey) till 1835, the year 
after his father's death, or of Donnington (nrar 
( in Sussex) till 1837, the year wlu-n 
Brougham was writing. The second appointment 
may have been due to Empson's reproach or Otter's 
influence. Henry died in August 1882 at tin- au<> 
of sev -nty-six. Since, between the two parishes, 

apocryphal story of his eleven daughters is given and exposed 
by Gamier, Did. <U / 

* Otter's w.n -in -law. " I < 1 was asked what he would 

have dour if, like the Good Samaritan, he had found a man half dead by 

tin- r.-a.l-ide; he answered (on the analogy of flies), "I hh<'ull ha\f 

kill*-.] liim outright." Contrast t)i<> .-l-iM'* mif his father's 

name parable in Euay, \\ 


lie kept as many as four curates at a time, the 
combined salaries of the two, amounting to 672, 
seem a small income. 1 His father himself told Gallois, 
the French publicist, in 1820, that all his works till 
then had riot brought him above 1000. Gallois, 
repeating this to the poet Moore, slily remarked that 
in England poetry seemed to be better paid than 
useful learning. 2 There is no reason for the belief 
that Malthus was made rich by the second essay, 3 
or indeed by anything else. He did not go the 
right way to be rich. He could no doubt have got 
Church preferment if he had pursued it like Paley. 
At the end of his days, even if he had desired it, 
he was too mild a partisan to be a grata persona 
to the Whigs in office ; he had acquiesced in the 
Eeform of 1832, but without enthusiasm, 4 having a 
livelier interest in social than in political changes. 
But the world after all used him kindly. Of worldly 
comfort, after 1805, he had enough ; and he was 
fully satisfied, as he had reason to be, with his lot in 
the East India College. It gave him nearly thirty 
years of the leisure which Godwin had justly counted 
the true riches of life. 

1 Clergy List, 1881. 

2 Moore's Memoirs, Journals, &c. (ed. Russell, 1853), vol. iii. p. 148, 
date Sept. 1820. Moore himself speaks of meeting Malthus and Iris wife 
when he was on a visit to Mackintosh at Haileybury in May 1819. Ibid., 
ii. 315. 

3 Volksvermehrung, p. 9. Kautsky sometimes trips, but he is more 
accurate than most of Malthus' foreign biographers. Chas. Comte (in his 
Notice historique sur la vie et les travaux de M. T. R. Malthus, read to 
Acad. of Mor. and Pol. Sciences, 28th Dec., 1836) converts Haileybury 
into Ayleslmry (p. 31). 

4 Pol. Econ. (1836), p. 380 n. Sydney Smith wrote to Grey about him 
without success, in 1831 (Holland's Life of Sydney Smith, vol. ii. p. 328). 

BK. v.] BIOGRAPHY. 417 

The position had its cares, for the college was an 
educational experiment. Governor-General Wellesley 1 
had proposed to found a college at Fort William, 
Calcutta, for the general education of the civil servants 
of the Company as well as their special instruction in 
Oriental languages. He pointed out that their func- 
tions, judicial, administrative, diplomatic, were now 
totally unlike their names of writer, factor, and 
merchant, and they needed something higher than 
the commercial training which was all that was then 
required of them. The Directors of the East India 
Company carried out his wishes so far as to allow 
Fort William College to do the advanced training in 
languages ; but they thought that the general educa- 
tion should be given before the cadets left England, 
and at the end of 1805 they passed a scheme for 
establishing for that purpose a college at Ha 
bury, near Hertford. On their nomination, instead of 
going out at once to India, the future civil servants 
of India were to spend two or three years at Hailcy- 
bury, and to receive first a General education on tho 
lines of Oxford and Cambridge, and second a Sp 
education to prepare them for their duties in th ir 
province. 1 The Professor of " History and Political 
Economy" and the Professor of "General Polity and 

1 Richard, th. ]-., .n. See his Minute of 18th August, 

1800, quoted by Ma! thus in his Statem nt*. 

a Remitter aiul Directory (Hatch ard), year 1807, pp. xxiv #q. 
f the establishment of the E. India < These 

two branches of th. I v programme corresp.>n.l in ti 

to the Competitive and the Further examinations of candidates i 
Civil Service of India as at present conducted. Malthus claims the 
credit of making the test in Oriental languages a necessary condition 
of final appointment (Statement*, p. 100). 

i: i: 


the Laws of England " were regarded as giving both 
the general and the special kinds of training. "As 
the study of law and political economy " (so runs the 
scheme) " is to form an essential part in the general 
system of education, it will be required that, in the 
lectures upon these subjects, particular attention be 
given to the explanation of the political and com- 
mercial relations subsisting between India and Great 
Britain." The two professors were required to 
give " (1) a course of lectures on general history and 
on the history and statistics of the modern nations 
of Europe, (2) a course of lectures on political 
economy, (3) a course of lectures on general polity, 
on the laws of England and principles of the British 
Constitution." The other subjects were Classics, 
Oriental Languages, Mathematics, and Natural Phi- 
losophy. The college course lasted, as a rule, two 
years, each year consisting of two terms of about five 
months each (Feb. to June, Aug. to Dec.) ; and there 
were periodical examinations, honour lists, and prizes. 
The ages of the pupils ranged from as low as fifteen 
to as high as twenty- two, and about forty joined 
every year. Mai thus would seldom have a class 
beyond twelve or fourteen, all in the later year of 
their course. 3 

The general discipline of the classes and the sur- 
veillance or want of surveillance of the pupils in their 
private rooms were rather on the model of an unre- 

1 Accordingly Malthus gets many of bis illustrations from India, e. g. 
Pol EC. (2nded.), pp. 154-5. 

2 India Rcf/uitcr, 1. c. p. xxv. 

8 There must be some on the Pension List who still remember him. 

DK. v.] BIOGRAPHY. 419 

funned Oxford college than of a public school. 1 Sense 
of personal responsibility and habits of self-go vern- 
iiK'iit were to take the place of the schoolboy's ft-ar 
of punishment. Unhappily, before learning the new 
motives, the boys too often abused the absence of 
the old. 2 

About half of the professors were in holy orders 
and did duty in the college chapel. If Malthus took 
his turn with the rest, we need not suppose with his 
clerical biographer that he magnified the office. His 
sermons would always be earnest ; they might often 
perhaps be too long. His week-day lectures, unless 
he made them liker the first essay with its fine writing 
than the later books with their plain unvarnished 
arguments, could not have been very fascinating to 
immature youths, especially as the lecturer had a 
slight defect in utterance. 3 Eight years of teaching 
convinced him that Political Economy was not, as 
he oiK-0 thought, too hard for boys of sixteen or 
seventeen ; "they could not only Onderstand it,' 1 he 
said, "but they did not even think it dull." 4 We 

-in the first there was a school, affiliated with the college t: 
11 fined to its future pupil*. The present school is of later origin. 
ittmcnU, p. L08&C, Tin* i.l.-a .f tin- pmjH-r preparation f>r ft 
civilian's ran-.-r in India .-liiiu.-* in with Mn! thus' idea of the first re., 
of good citizenship at home and everywhere, 

* A hare-lip. Miss Mart in. -an, who .1.- -.-ril . it, a Ids t 

: t were sonorous, whatever might become <-f ih BQHMB nt ." But 
sin- n: tdmwitttont her ear trumpet Auiobiogr^i. 327-8. Cf. 

, p. 68. Sydney Smith says, " 1 wmild almost consent to speak 
as inarticii 1 think and act as wiseh i y Holland, 

vol. ii p. 326. He attributes a si. yw<l 

with perhnp.H M niurh m-riounnrHs. | Holland, v 'J56-7. 

LetUr to Lord GnnvUlr( 181 3). p 14 Cf. what he *my of i 
ance of teaching P*>1 ntary Mhools, &c. *fy, 

IV. i 


may hope it was so ; but in view of the whole case, 
it is probable that our author's labours, in the class- 
room and out of it, were far from light, and that the 
pleasantness of the life was purchased with a large 
share of discomfort. 

The physical surroundings were all that could be 
desired. " We are so rural and quiet here, that there 
can be no greater contrast [to London]. This house 
is in a cluster of tall shrubs and young trees, with a 
little bit of smooth lawn sloping to a bright pond, in 
which old weeping willows are dipping their hair, and 
rows of young pear trees admiring their blooming faces. 
Indeed, there never was such a flash of shadowing 
high-hanging flowers as we have around us ; and 
almost all, as it happens, of that pure, silvery, 
snowy, bridal tint; and we live, like Campbell's sweet 
Gertrude, 'as if beneath a galaxy of overhanging 
sweets, with blossoms white.' There are young 
horse-chestnuts with flowers half a yard long, fresh, 
full-clustered white lilacs, tall Guelder roses, broad- 
spreading pear and cherry trees, low thickets of 
blooming sloe, and crowds of juicy-looking detached 
thorns, quite covered with their fragrant May-flowers, 
half open, like ivory filigree, and half shut like 
Indian pearls, and all so fresh and dewy since the 
milky showers of yesterday ; and resounding with 
nightingales, and thrushes, and skylarks, shrilling 
high up, overhead, among the dazzling slow-sailing 
clouds. Not to be named, I know and feel as much 
as you can do, with your Trossachs, and Loch 
Lomonds, and Inverarys ; but very sweet, and venial, 

BK. v.] BIOGRAPHY. 421 

and soothing, and fit enough to efface all recollections 
of hot, swarming, whirling, and bustling London 
from all good minds." * 

Equally pleasant is a glimpse of the daily life at 
Hailcybury, given by Miss Martineau, who saw it in 
1833. ]\Ialthus considered her one of his best 
expositors ; " whereas his friends had done him all 
manner of mischief by defending him injudiciously, my 
tales had represented his views precisely as he could 
have wished ; " and he was at the pains to seek her 
out in London and bring her down to the college. 2 
" It was a delightful visit, and the well-planted county 
of Herts was a welcome change from the pavement 
of London in August . . . My room was a large and 
airy one, with a bay window and a charming view." 8 
She found desk, books, and everything needed for 
her work. Her entertainers had guessed from her 
books that she must be, like Malthus himself, 4 fond 
of riding ; and she found her riding-habit and whip 
ready. Exploring tin- L r n < n lanes round Amwoll, 
Ware, and Hertford, on horseback, in parties of live 
or six, seems to have been the chief amusement. 
" 'I he subdued jests and external homage and occa- 
sional insurrections of the young men, the an -h TV 
of the young ladies, the curious politeness of the 
Persian professor [Ibrahim], the fine learning and 

1 J( i , vol. il pp. 339, 340. To Mr*. C. Inne*, 9th May, 1841. 

* Autobiagr-i * 327 - Other visit* of Malthus to her ar. 
iii. 83, L 25a For her view of him and his work see especially i. 
200, 209, 253, 331. 

lt> ^-9. 

4 Of. 1st Eua\j, pp. 225-G, which shows him on the Hunting-Field. 


eager scholarship of Principal l Le Bas, and the some- 
what old-fashioned courtesies of the summer evening 
parties are all over now, except as pleasant pictures 
in the interior gallery of those who knew the place, 
of whom I am thankful to have been one." 

AY hen she again visited Haileybury, Malthus was 
gone ; Professor Jones was in his chair, and Empson 
in his house, probably one of the most comfortable 
in a building which, if smaller, was much more 
picturesque than the present school. 2 

The " occasional insurrections of the young men " 
were a feature of the college from the beginning. 
Sydney Smith writes to Lord Holland in June 1810, 
when there was talk of making Mackintosh professor 
at Haileybury : " The season for lapidating the pro- 
fessors is now at hand ; keep Mackintosh quiet at 
Holland House till all is over ; " 3 and to Whishaw 
in January 1818, when the appointment had been 
made : " His situation at Hertford will suit him very 
well, peltings and contusions always excepted. He 
should stipulate for 'pebble money,' as it is technically 
termed, or an annual pension in case he is disabled 
by the pelting of the students. By the bye, might 
it not be advisable for the professors to learn the 
use of the sling (balearis habena) ? It would give 
them a great advantage over the students." 4 The 

1 A slip of the pen for " Professor." The Principal was J. H. 
Batten, F.R.S. 

2 Where the fear expressed in some quarters (see Statements, 
p. 87) that the place would become a barrack has been realized 

3 Life by Holland, vol. ii. p. 73. 

4 1. c. vol. ii. p. 150. 


Insulations wore probably no worse than similiir 
scenes at our English and Scotch Universities that 

> not yet destroyed the credit of these institu- 
tions. But the opponents of the college complained of 
much more than the insubordination of the stud 
Lord Grenville had made an attack on it (in April 
1813), on the ground that it separated the future 
Civil servants from the ordinary life of Englishmen, 
and prevented them from becoming imbued with 
" English manners, English attachments, English 
principles, and I am not ashamed to say English 
prejudices/' 1 Malthus, who had gone up to London 
to hear Grenville's speech in the House of Lords, 
became champion of the college, and had no 
difficulty in meeting this assault. The defence of 
the professors, as set forth by him in 18 17, 2 was that 
the plan of the college was good in theory and had 
proved good in practice. The insubordination was 
due to the dependence of the professorial staff upon 
the Company's Directors, who had (till then) withheld 
from the teachers their best means of discipline, the 
power of expulsion. 

The students were as little likely as army or navy 

ts to become un-English ; and they were much 
less likely to form a caste at Haileybury than if they 

in House of Lor.K April Otli. I, pp. 750, 

1 Slat.-im-nl- iv~j..-.'ti!i'_; the Ka-t Imli:i < '..ll.-^'. with JHI 

liaiyrs latrly 1 it in tli' < 

prietors' (1817). Cf. his ' Letter t nville, occasion 

flomeobaerv. ]>on the I MMi-hm. 

(1813). Cf. IWin. .Rev., Dec. M. 
lss fully ; 
but both pamphlet* contain rabstmntially the name argument*. 


had been sent to an Indian college. The details of 
this extinct controversy need not detain us. It is 
enough to say that Malthus discharged his part with 
great vigour and something of his early vivacity. At 
the best, it must be confessed, the college was a 
compromise ; and the unavoidable difficulties of the 
situation were quite enough to try the mettle of the 
teachers. The cadets of the first year might be fifteen 
or they might be eighteen, and there was no natural 
aristocracy of senior boys to check the juniors. Those 
of the younger age were physically and mentally 
more like schoolboys than undergraduates, and unfit, 
as yet, for the quasi-independent life of the latter. 
Many were unwilling to go to India at all, and it 
was their parents or guardians who really feared the 
expulsion of incorrigibles. But it was better that 
the unfit should be rejected in England, where they 
could find other openings, than in India, where they 
could find none ; and it was better their training 
should be carried on where the climate, the expense, 
and the moral, social, and intellectual advantages were 
in keeping with their age and their state of pupilage. 
" Little other change is wanting," in the system as 
it then was, " than that an appointment should be 
considered in spirit and in truth, not in mere words, 
as a prize to be contended for, not a property already 
possessed, 1 which may be lost. If the Directors were 
to appoint one-fifth every year beyond the number 
finally to go out, and the four-fifths were to be the 

1 A property it often was, in the most literal sense, being bought and 
sold for cash. See Hist, of Peace, Introd. II. ii. 329-30. 

BK. v.] BIOGRAPHY. 425 

best of the whole body, the appointments would then 
really be prizes to be contended for, and the effects 
would be admirable. Each appointment to the college 
would then be of less value ; but they would be more 
in number, and the patronage would hardly suffer. 
A Director could not then, indeed, be able to send 
out an unqualified son. But is it fitting that he 
should ? This is a fair question for the consideration 
of the Legislature and the British public." 1 In these 
matters, at least, Malthus was no reactionary. 

In spite of Joseph Hume and its other enemies, the 
college lived out its half-century, and does not die 
out, on the pages of the India Register, till the death 
of the Company in 1858. Its monopoly was gone 
some time before then. An Act of 1827 provided, 
theoretically, for the examination and appointment 
of India Civil servants who had not studied at 
H rtford College. In 1833 provision was made for 
the limited competition which Malthus had recom- 
mended. 2 In 1855 came the end. The Company was 
"relieved of the obligation to k< cp up tin- eoll.-ge;" 
the reign of open competition, ushered in by Ma< -au- 
lay's Report (Nov. 1854), brought a new <>rd 
things ; and the college was only continued till 
who had joined it at the time oft he change had 
able to finish their course. 8 There are numbers of old 

1 Statement*, p. 103 n. 

Candidates were to Denominated in grouji* of tlu- l>r<t of 'he 
four to have the appointim-iit. Cf. Mill ami \Vil-on'> / 
Book ill. eh, Ir j.. 381. 

1 The uteps of the change may be followed in tin- fourth Report 
(1858) of the Civil Service CbmmtMMmm, pp. xix *eq. and 228 *cq. Cf. 
also their first Report (1855). 


officials, like Sir William Muir, who still hold it 
in affectionate remembrance ; l but except in their 
memory it exists no more. 

The work of Malthus was less in the East India 
College than in his writings. But his connection 
with the college was perhaps the most important of 
the external facts of his life ; and it has helped to 
preserve a record of scenes and incidents which reveal 
the character more clearly than all the adjectives of 
panegyrists. Otter, Empson, Miss Martineau, Sydney 
Smith, 2 and Horner, 3 may supply the panegyrics ; and 
the eulogy of Mackintosh is remarkable : " I have 
known Adam Smith slightly, Eicardo well, Malthus 
intimately. Is it not something to say for a science 
that its three great masters were about the three best 
men I ever knew ? " 4 

His epitaph in Bath Abbey, probably from the pen 
of Otter, is given on the following page. 

1 For proofs of their regard, see the letters quoted in the blue-book of 
1876 on "the Selection and Training of candidates for the Civil Service 
of India," passim, and Trevelyan's "Competition Wallah" (1864), pp. 7, 
8, 15, 16, but cf. 149. 

2 See Works, Review of Kennel, footnote. 

3 Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 436, &c. 

4 Quoted in Empson, Edin. Rev., Jan. 1837, p. 473. Sinclair's 'Corre- 
spondence' (1831), amongst other curious matter, gives the autographs 
of the three great masters (I. 101). 

BK. v.] BIOGRAPHY. 47 


(The \lcb. f>omas Robert 

















Born Feb. 14, 17CC. Died D#. 99, 1834. 


ABBOT, Chas., mover of Enumer- 
ation Bill, 173, 178 

Africa, 105, 111 

America, North, 17, 28, 69 seq. ; 
Indians, 89 seq., 105, 111, 143, 
167, 174, &c. ; cf. 369, 370 
(American increase) 

America, South, 88 

Anderson, Adam, 173, 174 

Anderson, Jas., 221, 377 

Arabs, 109, 110 

Aristotle, 113, 211, 214, 319, 356, 

BACON, Francis, 22, 47, 66, 124, 


Bagehot, Walter, 227, 383 
Ball, John, 385 
Bamford, Sam., 298 
Bentham, Jeremy, 43, 44, 323, 325, 


Berkeley, Bishop, 201 
Bert, Paul, 371 
Births, no criterion of numbers, 

149 ; or of increase, 179, cf. 161 
Board of Agriculture, 176, 186, 216 


Booth, David, 362, 371 
B-.s-.-mquet, Chas., 291 
Bounties, 31, 217, 220, &c. 
Brassey, Thos., 257 
Brougham, H., 228, 415 
Brown, Dr. J., ' Estimate,' 173 
Bruckner, Dr. John, of Norwich, 8 
Buckle, H. T., 22, 33 
Bullion Committee, 285 seq. 

CAIRD, Jas., 69, 75, 76, 245 
Cairnes, J. E., 138, 245, 261 

Cannibalism, 94 

Carey, H. C., 65, 68, 70, 239, 395 

Census, Swedish, 132 ; English, 
B. I. ch. vii 

Chalmers, Geo., 174 

Chalmers, Dr. Thos., 316, 409 

Chartism, 298 

Checks on population, classified, 
52, 81, passim B. I. and B. IV. 

China, 112, 113 

Clarke, Edw., 48, 127, B. V. 

Cobbett, Wm., 6 and note, 287, 
290, 298, 338, 363, 395 

Cobden, R., 225, 287, 353 ; cf. 55 

Coleridge, S. T., the Poet, 22, 48, 
95, 111, 371 seq. ; the MS. notes 
genuine ? 374 ; cf. 48, 377 

Comte, Auguste, 20, 344 ; cf. 213 

Comte, Charles, 413, 416 

Condorcet, Marquis de, 11, 22 
24, 30, 31, 375, &c. 

Conversion of the world, the pos- 
tulate of Socialism as of Chris- 
tianity, 392 

Cook, Captain, passim B. I. ch. iv. 

Co-operation, 232, 300, 352, 392 

Copleston, Dr. E., 363 

Corn Laws, B. II. ch. i. ; corn as 
measure of value, 224, 255-6 

Corn Law Catechism, 227, 308 

Cosmology of Malthus, 34 seq. 

Cosmopolitanism, 347, 356, 396 ; 
cf. 328 

Cripps, 127 

Critics of Malthus, 1, 45, B. IV. 

Currency, 226-7, and B. II. ch. iii. 

Cycle, 83, 84, 147 




reasing returns, law of, 234 
sea. : i, 78 

:iitions in Pol. Econ.,' 211, 

265, and generally B. II. cli. ii. 

udence on the foreigner, 217, 

>, 233; dependent poverty, 


Depopulation controversy, 173 seq. 

Depreciation of currency, 285, and 

generally B. II. ch. hi. ; cf. 


:. but ion, when keeping pace 
with production, 166 
Doubleday, Th-.s., 396 
Dyer, T. H., 339 

EI-KF.RSALL, Harriet (Mrs. Mal- 

thus), 412 ; cf. 322 
Economists, 47, 247, 248, 276 

inv, political, its method, 
&c., B. II. ch. i. ; Club tii-t 
founded, 263, 413 ; place among 
the studies of youth, 419 

1., 'the State of the 
Poor' (1797), 248, 310, ,v . 
'Edinburgh Review,' notice of 
Malthus, 43; connection with 
Multhus, 33, 329, 364, 371, 412 ; 
but ee ' Malthus, T. R. ' ; notice 

dwin, 12, 368, 371 
Education, 56, 77, 275, 298, 301, 
340, 341 ; cf. 403, 404, 419, 420 
. Ill 

ration, B. I. ch. v. ; Commons 
Committee, /. e. and 195 scq., 

Empson, \Vm., 43, 213 n. ; his 
cfoKsili' ation of critics, 377, 394 ; 
life of Malthus, 399 
Enclosures, 176, 215, 217 
' Encyclopaedia Britannica,' article 
of Malthus in Supplement, 70 

md, !'. I. oi vii. 
Essay on Population, editions, 2 ; 

&c. ; B. I. 
I: T. 

: LU, n. in. 

Eulcr, 69, 369 

FACTORY Act* 345 

Ferguson, Adam, 297 

Fifth Monarchy M.-n, 385 

Finland, 48. 127 

Foundling Hospitals, 134, 135 ; cf. 


Fox, Ch. J., 29, 31, 338 
Fox, Henry, 17:* 
France, B. I. ch. vi. 
Franklin, Benj., 10, 14, 63, 369 
Frend, tutor of Malthus, 406 
Fyffe, C. A., 161 


Gamier, his article on Malthus in 
' Diet, de I'Econ. Pol.,' 214, 410, 

George, Henry, 38, 40; cf. 236, 
382 ; on population, 385388 
: III., 29. 

Germany, 126, 183 

Gibbon, Edw., 21 n., 107, 108, 400 

Giffen, R., 72 n., 78 n. 

Gilbert's Act, 27 

Glut, or over-production, B. II. 
ch. iii. 

Godwin, Win.. 7 ; Pol. Justice, 9 
11, &c. ; cf. 355, 371 ; En- 
quirer, 13, 14; cf. 355 371 ; 
Caleb Williams, 10 ; Memoir of 
Mary Wollrtonecimft, 21 ; St. 
Leon, 21, 22, 31 ; Parr's Sermon, 
43 n., 45, 358 ; Population, 43, 
87, 364 seq. ; character, 58 ; in 
hands of 'Edinburgh Review,' 
12, 368, 371 

Government, influence on popula- 
tion, 112, &c. ; due to our 

wirkrdi: n from 

passion, 225 ; Whig, as patrons, 
415, IK. 

Grahame, Jas., 376 seq. 
Graves, Rich., tutor of Malthus, 
404 seq. 

II., 354 
\v. i;., n 
Grote, George, 41 a 

II.Mi.ETBURT College, Malthu*' 

fcura in, I i 416 

teq. ; ration d'Mrc and death, 
.<"/. ; i'!iy!<icul surroundings, 

... II., 85, 363 

\V., 85, 329, 372, 386, 394 

:'.:'. 1. 38S 
Highlands, 150, 187190 



4 Iliu'li Price of Pro visions,' 43, 49, 

215, 307, 408, 411 
'High Price of Gold Bullion,' 285 
Ili>t>rv, needs to be re-writ ten, 

83 ; nf English commerce, 25, 

282, 283, 298 ; Corn Laws, 219 ; 

currency, 286 

Holcroi'r, friend of Godwin, 22 
Holland, B. I. eh. v. 
Holvnake, < r. J., 412 
Horner, Francis, B. V. passim; cf. 

285, 340, &c. 
Hume, David, 31, 32, 99, 115 n., 

11(5, 135, 173, &c.,&c. 
Hume, Joseph, 4:M 
Huntingtbrd, Bishop, 377 

INDIA, child murder, 117 ; cf. 115 
India Civil Servants, 417 seq. 
Ingram,. Disquisitions on Popula- 
tion, 329 

Ireland, 146, 172, and B. I. ch. vii. 
d : Ivernois, Sir F., 154, 163 

JEFFREY, Francis, 329 ; description 
of Haileybury, 418 

KANT, E., 309, 321, 323 
Kautsky, Karl, 416 

LABOUR, as the measure of value, 
and as earning wages, B. II. 
ch. ii. 

Land and its rent, B. II. ch. i. 

Lassalle, 268 

Lecky, W. E. H., 26, 177, 202 

Leslie, Cliffe, 138, 165, 210, 252 

Levasseur, E., 164 seq. 

Levellers, 385 

Locke, J., 13 

Luddites, 290 

Luxuries, 215, 225, 295. See Stan- 
dard of living. 

Lyell, Sir Chas., 46 

MACAULAY, T. B., 272, 336 ; review 

of Sadler, 377, 410, 425 
MacCulloch, J. R., 33, 40, 167, B. 

II. ch. i. passim 
Mackintosh, Sir Jas., B. V. passim; 

cf. 336 

Macleod, H. D., 287 
Malthus, Daniel, 7, 399 seq. ; cf. 

135, 324 
Malthus, Henry, 6, 415 

Malthus, T. R., his several works : 
Crisis, 7, 30 ; K.->ay mi Popula- 
tion, B. I. chs. i. ii. and imasim; 
High Price of Provisions, 43, 49, 
307, &c. ; Letter to \Vliitl.ivad, 
215,313 ; Article on Newenham, 
93, 195, 202; other articles in 
'Edinburgh' and 'Quarterly,' 
33, 212, 271, 275, 285 and note, 
288, 290, 329,371 ; Observations 
on the Corn Laws, 2^2, 223j 
Grounds of an Opinion, 227 ; 
Nature and Progress of Rent, 
229 ; Political Economy, 210 
214 ; Measure of Value, 254 ; De- 
finitions in Political Economy, 
211, 265 ; article in Encyclopaedia 
Britannica, 71 ; Papers read be- 
fore Royal Society of Literature, 
263 ; Evidence before Emigration 
Committee, 144 seq. ; Summary 
View, 80 ; Tracts on East India 
College, 423 ; correspondence 
with Godwin, Senior, Napier, 
Ricardo, Clarke, Sinclair, see 
under these names ; letter on 
Wakefield, 405 ; style, 50, 265, 
304, 408, 409 ; character, 57, and 
B. V. passim 

Man on the earth. See Cosmology 
and Ethics 

Manufacturer, late and early sense, 

Marat, 404 

M street, Mrs., 272 

Martineau, Harriet, 3, 57, 58, 85 , 
287, 323, and B. V. passim 

Marx, Karl, 84, 257, 268, 388 seq. 

Mean, golden, 225 and note, 295, 

Mercantile theory, 47 

Middle classes, 225 

Mill, Jas., 208, 209, 273, 276, 280, 
281, 293,413,414 
- John, 209, 239, 244, 71,273, 281 

Millennium, Godwin's, 16 ; Social- 
istic and Christian, 392 

Milne, Joshua, 71, 72 

Minimum of wages, 217, 268, &c. ; 
of prices, 279 

Mivart, St. George, 385 

Montesquieu, 32, 108, 109, 138, &c. 

Moore, Dr. John, 311 

Thomas, 416 

Moral impossibility, &c., 53 



. restraint, 49-53, 118, 119, 
383, &c., &c. 

- Philosophy of lUlthaa,B. III. 
. 383 

Mu 11 ion,' 297 
SirThos., 11 n., 27, 385 
- leg., 17-1. 

NAPIER, Macvey, 6, 43, 71, 314, 

rial it y. 346-7 

nalization of land, 236, 382, 
Nature' denned, 337; 'Nature's 

hty fenst,' 305 
Navigation Act, 228-9 
Necessaries and luxuries, 117, 118, 

;ii-l .11 Malthusians, 24, 375 ; 
cf. 384 

Newenham, reviewed by Malthus, 
93, : 

ol of Political Economy,' 
275 seq. 
Norway, B. I. ch. v. 

ORTES, G. M., 391 
Olaheite, B. I. ch. iv. 
Otter, Bi.-hup, 48, 127, B. V. 

Over-population, 117, 145, 164, &c. 

Ov. : 11. ch. iii. ; cf. 

food not possible, 

OvtT-pruiit.-s Kent, esp. 

Own, H-bcrt, 11 n., 24, 267, 301, 

377, 380, 382 eg., 412 

PAINE, Thos., 9, 336, 405 

Pah :.), 43, 

269, B. III. fximm, &c. 
Parr. -3 ; see Godwin 


in, 11, 22 ; e 


W.. IV I. ,';., ,.. I 
363 &C. 

Plato, 66 n., 101 n., Ll*j (386 

Poli!; -. ,SwO<> 

tlm* ; M B. III. ; 
198, 225, 298, Ac. 

'.ill of Pitt, 6, 29,43 
Poor Laws, English, 6, 27, 29, 215, 
135, &c., B. II. ch. iv. 

Foreign, 313 

Population, B. I. passim, B. IV. 

passim; cf. esp. 
Populou-ness oi' ancient nations, 

31, 32, 113117 
Pi^tulat.-s ,,f IM H->ay, 16, 47 ; cf. 

B. 1. ch. ii., Ti. 
Potatoes, 1U4-198, 203, 204, 217, 

Price, Dr. R., 31, 32, 39, 174 ; but 

esp. 175, 170, i-f. 3, , 
Produ.-tinn in ivlatitin to ili-tribu- 

tion, K' '.<sim; in rela- 

tion to coii-uinntion, 296 
Productive labour. S 
Property, private, 70, 236 ; cf. 18 
Prosperity, criterion of national, 

123, B. II. ch. i. 
Prussia, B. I. ch. v. 

'QUARTERLY I\KMKW,' articles of 
hut in, :M2, 285 seq. 

attitude to Mai thus, 3< 
'Querist,' Berkeley's. See Wall of 

de Quincey, 266, 297, 363 

RATIO, geometrical and arithme- 
tical, 17, 66, and generally B. I. 
rh. iii. ; 15. IV 

ial, Abb^, 26, 28, 97, 336, 337 
lutioii, Imlu-trial, in England, 
25, I 

in France, 7, 11, 27, 154 8tq-> 


to Malthus, 213, 265 note, 
11 ML and Taxation, 

209; Ijiurh Pri.v *.f Hn!! _. 
J".' ; I^'W Tru-t- of Corn. 23g: 

_: ra-l>-l with Malt]|^", ^>.'iii. 
Ki.-JTman. .1 .. 17l s.'/ 

23M. v &c. 

Mean, .1 .1 7. .'7, 135,401 



Say, J. B., 57, 208, 292 seq. 

Scotland, B. I., ch. vii. 

Scrope, G. Poulett, 377 

Senior, W. N., 3, 4, 47, 209, 414 

Short, 309 

Siruonin, 376 

Sinclair, Sir John, 186, 216, 368, 

369, 370, 426 

Sismondi, Chas. do, 209, 296, 415 
Smith, Adam, 3, 5, 9, 26, 31, 33, 

47, 56, 57, 86, 95, 105, 117 and 


Smith, Sydney, B. V. passim 
Socialism, 214, 252, 312, 382 seq. 
Society, Royal, 413 ; of Literature, 

263, 414 ; Statistical, 415 
Southey, Robt., 4, 11, 338, 374, 

377, 383 

Speenhamland Act, 30 
Spence, Wm., Great Britain Inde- 
pendent of Commerce, 247, 293 
Spence, author of ' The Land the 

People's Farm,' 382, 385 
Spencer, Herbert, 393, 396 
Standard of Comfort, 117, 120 seq., 

137, 140, 194, 195198, 269, 

295, &c., &c. 
State insurance, 24 
Steuart, Sir J., 32 
Stewart, Dugald, barrel-organ, 385 
Struggle for existence, 20, 47, 119 ; 

not leading to progress, 96, 112 
Styles, Dr. E., 357, 369 
1 Summons of Wakening,' 365 
Sumner, Dr. J. B., Archbishop of 

Canterbury, 12, 34, 38, 307 
Sunday Schools, 298 
Suspension of cash payments, 284 

Siissmilch, J. P., 39, 115, 124 seq., 

139, 369 
Sweden, B. I. cb. v. ; cf. 72, 73, 


TAIXE, 121 
Talleyrand, 418 
Teleology, 319 seq., 326 
Tendency, B. I. ch. iii. passim, 
esp. 61, 65, 66 

Theses. . See Postulates 

Thompson, 1'erronet, 227, 308 

Thornton, W. T., 130 n., 210, 273 

de Tocqneville, 89 

Tooke, Thos., 288, 291, B. II. ch. 
iii., passim, 412, &c. 

Torrens, R., contrasts Malthus un- 
favourably with Ricardo, 265 

Town-i-nd. Joseph, :-52, 64 

T..ynliec, A., 314, 378 

Tucker, Abraham, 35, 164, B. III. 
passim, esp. 324, 403, &c. 

Tucker, Josiah, 33, 324 

Turkey, 112 

UNITED States. See America 
Utilitarianism, 39, 53, and B. III. ; 
cf. 213, 374-5 

VICE and virtue denned, 81, 327, 

330 ; cf. 374 
Voltaire, 27, 33 

WAGES, B. II. ch. ii. ; cf. 226 ; 

review of wages for five centuries, 


Wages Fund, 270 seq. 
Wakefield, Gilb., tutor of Malthus, 

339, 404 

Walker, F. A., 210, 244 
Wall of Brass, 201, 250-1 
Wallace, A. R., 46, 47 
Wallace, Dr. Eobt., 8, 9, 20, 31, 

126, 173 
War, reparable and irreparable 

evils of, 155 seq. 
Watson, Bishop of Llandaff, 11, 

Wealth, as subject of Pol. Econ., 

210, 212 

Wcsleyan movement, 26 ; cf. 403 
West, Sir Edw., 222, 234-5, 240 
Weylaiid, J., 377, 410 
Wh'ishaw, John, 409 
Whitbread, Samuel, 29, 31, &c. 
Wollstonecraft, Mary, 21 

YOUNG, Arthur, 69, 159 seq. 178, 
201, 216, 380 

R. Clay d: Sons, Bread Street Hill, London, E.C. 


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