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consist, is amenable to their owncontrol. One would imagine that children were rained down upon married people, direct from heaven, without their being art or part in the matter; that it was really, as the common phrases have it, God's will, and not their own, which decided the numbers of their offspring. Let us see what is a Continental philosopher's opinion on this point; a man among the most benevolent of his time, and the happiness of whose married life has been celebrated. “When dangerous prejudices,” says Sismondi,” “have not become accredited, when a morality contrary to our true duties towardsothers,and especially towards those to whom we have given life, is not inculcated in the name of the most sacred authority; no prudent man contracts matrimony before he is in a condition which gives him an assured means of living, and no married man has a greater number of children than he can properly bring up. The head of a family thinks, with reason, that his children may be contented with the condition in which he himself has lived; and his desire will be that the rising generation should represent exactly the departing one: that one son and one daughter arrived at the marriageable age should replace his own father and mother; that the children of his children should in their turn replace himself and his wife; that his daughter should find in another family the precise equivalent of the lot which will be given in his own family to the daughter of another, and that the income which sufficed for the arents will suffice for the children.” a country increasing in wealth, some increase of numbers would be admissible, but that is a question of detail, not of principle. “Whenever this family has F. formed, justice and humanity require that he should impose on himself the same restraint which is submitted to by the unmarried. When we consider how small, in every country, is the number of natural children, we must admit that this restraint is on the whole sufficiently effec* New Principle --book vii., ch. or a of Political Economy,
tual. In a country where population has no room to increase, or in which its progress must be so slow as to be hardly perceptible, when there are no places vacant for new establishments, a father who has eight children must expect, either that six of them will die in childhood, or that three men and three women among his cotemporaries, and in the next generation three of his sons and three of his daughters, will remain unmarried on his account.”
$ 2. Those who think it hopeless that the labouring classes should be induced to practise a sufficient degree of prudence in regard to the increase of their families, because they have hitherto stopt short of that point, show an inability to estimate the ordinary principles of human action. Nothing more would probably be necessary to secure that, result, than an opinion generally diffused that it was desir. able. As a moral principle, such an opinion has never yet existed in any country: it is curious that it does not so exist in countries in which, from the spontaneous operation of individual forethought, population is, comparatively speaking, efficiently repressed. What is practised as prudence, is still not recognised as duty; the talkers and writers are mostly on the other side, even in France, where a sentimental horror of Malthus is almost as rife as in this country. Many causes may be assigned, besides the modern date of the doctrine, for its not havin
yet gained possession of the genera mind. Its truth has, in some respects, been its detriment. One may be permitted to doubt whether, except among the poor themselves (for whose prejudices on this subject there is no difficulty in accounting) there has ever yet been, in any class of society, a sincere and earnest desire that wages should be high. There has been plenty of desire to keep down the poor-rate. but, that done, people have been very willing that the working classes should be ill off. . Nearly all who are not labourers themselves, are employers of labour, and are not sorry to get the commodity cheap. It is o fact, that
even Boards of Guardians, who are supposed to be official apostles of antipopulation doctrines, will seldom hear patiently of anything which they are leased to designate as Malthusianism. }. of Guardians in rural districts, principally consist of farmers, and farmers, it is well known, in general dislike even allotments, as making the labourers “too independent.” From the gentry, who are in less immediate contact and collision of interest with the labourers, better things might be expected, and the gentry of England are usually charitable. But charitable people have human infirmities, and would, very often, be secretly not a little dissatisfied if no one needed their charity: it is from them one oftenest hears the base doctrine, that God has decreed there shall always be poor. When one adds to this, that nearly every person who has had in him any active spring of exertion for a social object, has had some favourite reform to effect, which he thought the admission of this great principle would throw into the shade; has had corn laws to repeal, or taxation to reduce, or small notes to issue, or the charter to carry, or the church to revive or abolish, or the aristocracy to pull down, and looked upon every one as an enemy who thought anything important except his object; it is scarcely wonderful that since the population doctrine was first promulgated, nine-tenths of the talk #. always been against it, and the remaining tenth only audible at intervals; and that it has not yet Fo far among those who might e expected to be the least willing recipients of it, the labourers themselves. But let us try to imagine what would happen if the idea became general among the labouring class, that the competition of too great numbers was the principal cause of their poverty; so that every labourer looked (with Sismondi) upon every other who had more than the number of children which the circumstances of society allowed to each, as doing him a wrong—as filling up the place which he was entitled to share. Any one who supposes that this state of opinion
would not have a great effect on conduct, must be profoundly ignorant of human nature; can never have considered how large a portion of the motives which induce the generality of men to take care even of their own interests, is derived from regard for opinion—from the expectation of being disliked or despised for not doing it. In the particular case in question, it is not too much to say that over-indulgence is as much caused by the stimulus of opinion as by the mere animal propensity; since opinion universally, and especially among the most uneducated classes, has connected ideas of spirit and power with the strength of #. instinct, and of inferiority with its moderation or absence; a perversion of sentiment caused by its being the means, and the stamp, of a dominion exercised over other human beings. The effect would be great of merely removing this factitious stimulus; and when once opinion shall have turned itself into an adverse direction, a revolution will soon take place in this department of human conduct. We are often told that the most thorough perception of the dependence of wages on population will not influence the conduct of a labouring man, because it is not the children he himself can have that will produce any effect in generally depressing the labour market. True: and it is also true, that one soldier's running away will not lose the battle; accordingly it is not that consideration which keeps each soldier in his rank: it is the disgrace which naturally and inevitably attends on conduct by any one individual, which is pursued by a majority, everybody can see would be fatal. Men are seldom found to brave the general opinion of their class, unless supported either by some principle higher than regard for opinion, or by some strong body of opinion elsewhere.
It must be borne in mind also, that the opinion here in question, as soon as it attained any prevalence, would have powerful auxiliaries in the great majority of women. It is seldom by the choice of the wife that families are too numerous; on her devolves (along
with all the physical suffering and at least a full share of the privations) the whole of the intolerable domestic drudgery resulting from the excess. relieved from it would be hailed as a blessing by multitudes of women who now never venture to urge such a claim, but who would urge it, if supported by the moral feelings of the community. Among the barbarisms which law and morals have not yet ceased to sanction, the most disgustin surely is, that any human being shoul be permitted to consider himself as having a right to the person of another. If the opinion were once generally established among the labouring class that their welfare required a due regulation of the numbers of families, the respectable and well-conducted of the j. would conform to the prescription, and only those would exempt themselves from it, who were in the habit of making light of social obligations generally; and there would be then an evident iustification for converting the ...] obligation against bringing children into the world who are a burthen to the community, into a legal one; just as in many other cases of the progress of opinion, the law ends by enforcing against recalcitrant minorities, obligations which to be useful must be general, and which, from a sense of their utility, a large majority have voluntarily consented to take upon themselves. There would be no need, however, of legal sanctions, if women were admitted, as on all other grounds they have the clearest title to be, to the same rights of citizenship with men. Let them cease to be confined by custom to one physical function as their means of living and their source of influence, and they would have for the first time an equal voice with men in what concerns that function: and of all the improvements in reserve for mankind which it is now possible to foresee, none might be expected to be so fertile as this in almost every kind of moral and social benefit. It remains to consider what chance there is that opinions and feelings, grounded on the law of the dependence
of wages on population, will arise among the labouring classes; and by what means such opinions and feelings can be called forth. Before considering the grounds of hope on this subject, a hope which many persons, no doubt, will be ready, without consideration, to pronounce chimerical, I will remark, that unless a satisfactory answer can be made to these two questions, the industrial system prevailing in this country, and regarded by many writers as the me plus ultra of civilization— the dependence of the whole labouring class of the community on the wages of hired labour—is irrevocably condemned. The question we are considering is, whether, of this state of things, over-population and a degraded condition of the labouring class are the inevitable consequence. If , a prudent regulation of population be not reconcilable with i. system of hired labour, the system is a nuisance, and the grand †. of economical statesmanship should be (by whatever arrangements of property, and alterations in the modes of applying industry), to bring the labouring people under the influence of stronger and more obvious inducements to this kind of prudence, than the relation of workmen and employers can afford. But there exists no such incompatibility. The causes of poverty are not so obvious at first sight to a population of hired labourers, as they are to one of proprietors, or as they would be to a socialist community. They are, however, in no way mysterious. The dependence of wages on the number of the competitors for employment, is so far from hard of comprehension, or unintelligible to the labouring classes, that by great bodies of them it is already recognised and habitually acted on. It is familiar to all Trades Unions; every successful combination to keep up wages, owes its success to contrivances for restricting the number of the competitors; all skilled trades are anxious to keep down their own numbers, and many impose, or endeavour to impose, as a condition upon employers, that they shall not take more than a prescribed number of appren
tices. There is, of course, a great difference between limiting their numbers by excluding other people, and doing the same thing by a restraint imposed on themselves: but the one as much as the other shows a clear perception of the relation between their numbers and their remuneration. The principle is understood in its application to any one employment, but not to the general mass of employment. For this there are several reasons: first, the operation of causes is more easily and distinctly seen in the more circumscribed field: secondly, skilled artizans are a more intelligent class than ordinary manual labourers; and the habit of concert, and of passing in review, their general condition as a trade, keeps up a better understanding of their collective interests: thirdly and lastly, they are the most provident, because they are the best off and have the most to preserve. What, however, is clearly perceived and admitted in particular instances, it cannot be hopeless to see understood and acknowledged as a general truth. Its recognition, at least in theory, seems a thing which must necessarily and immediately come to pass, when the minds of the labouring classes become capable of taking any rational view of their own aggregate condition. Of this the great majority of them have until now been incapable, either from the uncultivated state of their intelligence, or from poverty, which leavi
them neither the fear of worse, nor the smallest hope of better, makes them careless of the consequences of their actions, and without thought for the future.
§ 3. For the purpose therefore of altering the habits of the labouring people, there is need of a twofold action, directed simultaneously upon their intelligence and their poverty. An effective national education of the children of the labouring class, is the first thing needful: and, coincidently with this, a system of measures which shall (as the Revolution did in France), extinguish extreme poverty for one whole generation.
This is not the place for discussing, even in the most general manner, either the principles or the machinery of ..f. But it is to be hoped that opinion on the subject is advancing, and that an education of mere words would not now be deemed sufficient, slow as our progress is towards providing anything better even for the classes to whom society professes to give the very best education it can devise. Without entering into disputable points, it may be asserted . scruple, that the aim of all intellectual training for the mass of the people, should be to cultivate common sense; to qualify them for forming a sound practical judgment of the circumstances by which they are sur; rounded. Whatever, in the intellectual department, can be superadded to this, is chiefly ornamental; while this is the indispensable groundwork on which education must rest. Let this object be acknowledged and kept in view as the thing to be first aimed at, and there will be little difficulty in deciding either what to teach, or in what manner to teach it.
An education directed to diffuse good sense among the people, with such knowledge as would qualify them to judge of the tendencies of their actions, would be certain, even without any direct inculcation, to raise up a public opinion by which intemperance and improvidence of every kind would be held discreditable, and the improvidence which overstocks the labour market would be severely condemned, as an offence against the common weal. But though the sufficiency of such a state of opinion, supposing it formed, to keep the increase of population within proper limits, cannot, I think, be doubted; yet, for the formation of the opinion, it would not do to trust to education alone... Education is not compatible with extreme poverty. It is impossible effectually to teach an indigent population. . And it is difficult to make those feel the value of comfort who have never enjoyed it, or those appreciate the wretchedness of a precarious subsistence, who have beon made reckless by always living from hand to mouth. Individuals often struggle upwards into a condition of ease; but the utmost that can be expected from a whole people is to maintain themselves in it; and improvement in the habits and requirements of the mass of unskilled day-labourers will be difficult and tardy, unless means can be contrived of raising the entire body to a state of tolerable comfort, and maintaining them in it until a new generation grows up.
Towards effecting this object there are two resources available, without wrong to any one, without any of the liabilities of mischief attendant on voluntary or legal charity, and not only without weakening, but on the contrary strengthening, every incentive to industry, and every motive to forethought. “
§ 4. The first is, a great national measure of colonization. I mean, a grant of public money, sufficient to remove at once, and establish in the colonies, a considerable fraction of the youthful agricultural population. By giving the preference, as Mr. Wakefield proposes, to young couples, or when these cannot be obtained, to families with children nearly grown up, the expenditure would be made to go the farthest possible towards accomplishing the end, while the colonies would be supplied with the greatest amount of ". is there in deficiency and here in o present and o labour. It has been shown
others, and the grounds of the opinion will be exhibited in a subsequent part of the present work, that colonization on an adequate scale might be so conducted as to cost the country nothing, or nothing that would not be certainly repaid; and that the funds required, even by way of advance, would not be drawn from the capital employed in maintaining labour, but from that surplus which cannot find employment at such profit as constitutes an adequate remuneration for the abstinence of the possessor, and which is therefore sent abroad for investment, or wasted at home in reckless speculations. That portion of the
income of the country which is habitually ineffective for any purpose of benefit to the labouring class, would bear any draught which it could be necessary to make on it for the amount of emigration which is here in view. The second resource would be, to devote all common land, hereafter brought into cultivation, to raising a class of small proprietors. It has long enough been i. practice to take these lands from public use, for the mere purpose of adding to the domains of the rich. It is time that what is left of them should be retained as an estate sacred to the benefit of the poor. The machinery for administering it already exists, having been created by the General Inclosure Act. What I would propose (though, I confess, with small hope of its being soon adopted) is, that in all future cases in which common land is permitted to be enclosed, such portion should first be sold or assigned as is sufficient to compensate the owners of manorial or common rights, and that the remainder should be divided into sections of five acres or thereabouts, to be conferred in absolute property on individuals of the labouring class who would reclaim and bring, them into cultivation by their own labour. The preference should be given to such labourers, and there are many of them, as had saved enough to maintain them until their first crop was got in, or whose character was such as to induce some responsible person to advance to them the requisite amount on their personal security. The tools, the manure, and in some cases the subsistence also, might be supplied by the parish, or by the state; interest for the advance, at the rate yielded by the public funds, being laid on as a perpetual quit-rent, with power to the peasant to redeem it at any time for a moderate number of years purchase. These little landed estates might, if it were thought necessary, be made indivisible by law; though, if the F. worked in the manner designed, should not apprehend any objectionable degree of subdivision. In case of intestacy, and in default of amicable arrangement among the heirs, they