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“ This will seem surprising to those who are unacquainted with the increasing power of progressive numbers; but is palpably evident from the following table of a geometrical progression, in which the first term is 2, and the denominator also 2; or, to speak more intelligibly, it is evident, for that each of us has two ancestors in the first degree; the number of which is doubled at every remove, because each of our ancestors had also two ancestors of his own. Lineal Degrees.
Number of Ancestors.
1024 2048 4096 8192 16,384 32,768 65,536 131,072 262,144
524,288 .. 1,048,576
17 18 19 20
“ This argument, however,” (proceeds Mr. Godwin) “ from Judge Blackstone of a geometrical progression would much more naturally apply to Montesquieu's hypothesis of the depopulation of the world, and
that the human species is hastening fast to extinction, than to the purpose for which Mr. Malthus has employed it. An ingenious sophism might be raised upon it, to shew that the race of mankind will ultimately terminate in unity. Mr. Malthus, indeed, should have reflected, that it is much more certain that every man has had ancestors than that he will have posterity, and that it is still more doubtful, whether he will have posterity to twenty or to an indefinite number of generations."-ENQUIRY CONCERNING POPULATION, p. 100.
Mr. Malthus's style is correct and elegant; his tone of controversy mild and gentlemanly; and the care with which he has brought his facts and documents together, deserves the highest praise. He has lately quitted his favourite subject of population, and broke a lance with Mr. Ricardo on the question of rent and value. The partisans of Mr. Ricardo, who are also the admirers of Mr. Malthus, say that the usual sagacity of the latter has here failed him, and that he has shewn himself to be a very illogical writer. To have said this of him formerly on another ground, was accounted a heresy and a piece of presumption not easily to be forgiven. Indeed Mr. Malthus has always been a sort of
darling in the public eye,” whom it was unsafe to meddle with. He has contrived to make himself as many friends by his attacks on the schemes of Human Perfectibility and on the Poor-Laws, as Mandeville formerly procured enemies by his attacks on Human Perfections and on Charity-Schools; and among other instances that we might mention, Plug Pulteney, the celebrated miser, of whom Mr. Burke said on his having a large estate left him, “ that now it was to be hoped he would set up a pocket-handkerchief,” was so enamoured with the saving schemes and humane economy of the Essay, that he desired a friend to find out the author and offer him a church living! This liberal intention was (by design or accident) unhappily frustrated.