« НазадПродовжити »
the other, rather more than 2000 years would be required for producing the same result.
What, now, would be the effect of such increase ? Obviously, so to crowd the earth, as eventually to leave but standing room
for the population. With the near approach of such a state of
things, food must have been becoming more scarce—enabling the owner of land, to dictate to the laborer on what terms he might cultivate the land—the one becoming more completely master, and the other more entirely enslaved.
Having once admitted that the procreative tendency is a positive quantity, always ready to be excited into activity, and existing to such extent as to insure a duplication in any certain period, it cannot afterwards be denied, that slavery is to be the ultimate condition of the great mass of the race; nor, that the tendency in that direction is greater now than at any former period — the history of the world presenting no instance of increase as great as that exhibited in England, Ireland, and America, in the last hundred years. Neither can it, in that case, be denied, that man is ultimately to be subdued by the earth —his liability thereto being in the direct ratio of his obedience to the divine command with which this chapter was commenced.
Can such things be? Can it be, that the Creator has been thus inconsistent with himself? Can it be, that after having instituted, throughout the material world, a system, the harmony of whose parts is so absolutely perfect, He has, of design, subjected man, the master and director of all, to laws whose effects can be no other than that of producing universal discord 7 Can it be, that while furnishing every where else, evidence of the union in Himself of the qualities of universal knowledge, perfect justice, and exhaustless mercy, He has here—in reference to his last and greatest work—assumed a character so entirely the reverse ? Even in man, true greatness is always consistent—always in harmony with itself. Can it be, then, that after having given to man all the faculties required for assuming the mastery of nature, it has been a part of His design, to subject him to absolute and irreversible laws, in virtue of which he must inevitably become nature's slave 2 Let us inquire.
§ 2. Physical science, in all of those departments of knowledge in which it has been enabled to furnish demonstration of the truth of its discoveries, testifies that order, harmony, and reciprocal adjustment, reign throughout the elements, and in all the movements it has as yet explored. In all the realms of natural history thus far successfully cultivated, fitness of conditions, coherence of parts, and unity of design, afford logical evidence that the universe is one in system, one in action, and one in aim. Arriving, however, at the natural history of Man, we find theorists violating the analogies of reason, and imagining discords in the very place where, of all others, the harmonies of creation should meet together; and where, if anywhere, the wisdom and beneficence of the Creator should vindicate themselves by an exhibition of the highest perfection of orderly adjustment. The gross error that here so obviously exists, is traceable to the one common source of false philosophy in all its shapes and forms —the mistaking of facts, and their apparent dependencies, for the laws which govern them. The dispersion of ancient populations, and their frequent invasions of the lands of other tribes or nations —the constant flow of emigrants from olden countries in modern times—and the death of half of the inhabitants of densely peopled regions before their arrival at even half the allotted period of human life—are the phenomena chiefly relied upon, by those who seek to demonstrate the existence of an original discord between the law of human fertility, and the earth's capacity for the accommodation of the human race. That the people of the early communities above referred to, suffered for want of food, is a well established fact. That the laboring population of many communities of modern times are in a situation nearly similar, cannot be doubted. These facts observed, they have been made the subject of a scientific formula, which may thus be stated : Man tends to increase in number, in a geometrical ratio, whereas, food cannot, under the most favorable circumstances, be made to increase in a ratio greater than the arithmetical one. Population, therefore, increases 128 times, while food can be increased but 8 times — poverty and wretchedness being the necessary results. These results being clear as figures can make them, the waste of life recorded by history has been inevitable—the earth being wholly incapable of affording food, or even standing room, for the myriads of its noblest offspring, were they permitted to attain a maturity that is even reasonable. A catastrophe is, therefore, always imminent—the exposure of the Creator's blunder being prevented only by the “positive checks” of war, famine, and pestilence, by means of which, the mischief is providentially distributed, in accommodating instalments of ruin, throughout the illdevised and ill-conducted processl Facts, figures, and philosophy, so frightful as these, should not be permitted to pass unchallenged. Are they true? Can they, by any possibility, be true? Is the fertility of the species, thus observed at its highest rate, the law of the subject 7 A law, for the purpose of our argument, is sufficiently well defined as being a rule, permanent, uniform, and universal, in its action—enabling us, in all cases, to reason from effects to causes, or from causes to effects; and the theory above referred to, must have this force and effect, in the doctrine we are now examining, or it can have none. Has it such universality ? For an answer to this question, the reader need only to look around the world— finding in some portions of it a slow rate of increase, and in others, a rapid one, while in a third and important class, population slowly, but steadily, declines. For a further answer, let him turn to the statement given by Mr. Malthus himself, in reference to the absence of fertility among the aborigines of the American continent, and its abundance among those of the Pacific islands. Look where he may, he will find no evidence of the general existence of any such fertility as has been assumed by the advocates of the over-population theory. It would, indeed, be contrary to the very nature of things, that any should exist—the reproductive function having been, in common with every portion of the human organization, placed under the law of circumstances and related conditions. Climate, health, education, occupation, and habits of life, affect it as much as they affect any other organic function. It can be pushed to excess, or it may be reduced to deficiency— being affected by all the causes which act upon body, mind, or morals, and this for the plain and simple reason, that it is a vital function, dependent upon the organism of which it is a part. Procreation must not, in contradistinction to every other animal function, be assumed to be a fixed, invariable action, ruled, as inorganic matter is, with mechanical rigor, entirely indepen
dent of the various influences by which it is liable to be so greatly modified. Nutrition of the body is not commensurate with the quantity of food consumed—being greatly modified by the power of digestion, the vigor of the general health, and the general demand upon the system, resulting from the various degrees of exercise. The fluids elaborated by the secreting organs — as, for instance, saliva and milk—are familiarly known to be liable to the greatest changes; being increased or diminished in quantity, in proportion to the greater or less excitement of the glands which yield them.* In like manner, every several office and action of the living body, is materially modified by the equal, or unequal, distribution of the total vital force, among the multitude of organisms composing the immensely complicated system of the human frame. There is a law of human life, which provides for the continuance of the race, but the ratio of reproduction is not so fixed and limited, that figures can express it; or, that the facts of any special condition of its subjects can indicate what it shall certainly be, in other and different circumstances. A priori, its operation must be assumed to be in exact harmony with the creative design, and in equally happy adaptation to the exigencies and accidents to which the race is providentially exposed, throughout the whole process of fulfilling that design. That this flexibility has been provided, and provided, too, under a self-adjusting law, as an * “A very remarkable fact relative to the oxen of South America is recorded by M. Roulin; and is particularly adverted to by M. Geoffrey St. Hilaire, in the report made by him on M. Roulin's Memoir, before the Royal Academy of Sciences. In Europe, the milking of cows is continued through the whole period, from the time when they begin to bear calves till they cease to breed. This secretion of milk has become a constant function in the animal economy of the tribe: it has been rendered such by the practice, continued through a long series of generations, of continuing to draw milk long after the period when it would be wanted by the calf. The teats of the cow are larger than in proportion; and the secretion is perpetual. In Columbia, the practice of milking cows was laid aside; owing to the great extent of farms, and other circumstances. “In a few generations,’ says M. Roulin, “the natural structure of parts, and withal the natural state of the function, have been restored. The secretion of milk in the cows of this country is only an occasional phenomenon, and contemporary with the actual presence of the calf. If the calf dies, the milk ceases to flow; and it is only by keeping it with its dam by day, that an opportunity of obtaining milk from cows by night can be found.’ This testimony is important, on account of the proof it affords, that the permanent production of milk, in the European breeds of cows, is a modified function of the animal economy, produced by an artificial habit,
continued through several generations.”—SMITH AND THALL : Fruits and Farinacea, p. 309.
accommodation of this function to the necessities of the race, and in harmony with the surroundings which attend its history, from the beginning until the final consummation of the divine purpose, would seem to be proved by the capability of variation established by physiological principles, as well as by all the facts observed. That the earthly fortunes of the human race must have been in the contemplation of the Creator—that the changes of condition to which it should be subjected, in its passage from a state of isolation and barbarism to one of combination and civilization. must have been legislated for — that the laws fitting it to these changes must have been wrought into its constitution — are suppositions whose truth must be admitted; unless we are prepared to hold that human nature is an exception, and the sole exception too, to the order and harmony everywhere else existing, throughout the universe. Can it then be presumed — is it possible to presume — that the working of the vital mechanism requires to be protected against its own 'inherent mischief, by a corrective waste of its proper products 7 Is it not, on the contrary, far more probable, that the high rate of human fertility, occasionally observed, is the one which necessarily attends that stage of society in which security is so far increased, as to free its members from any efforts at self-protection, and yet to make small demands upon any of their faculties, but those required for the performance of the rude labors of the field 7 Let us, for instance, take the case of England. Tolerably peopled in the days of Caesar, the population, at the close of the 14th century, was but about 2,400,000; and yet, a single family, growing at the rate adopted by the Malthusian school as being the law of growth, could, in that time, have risen to thousands of millions. Three centuries later, the number was 5,134,000 — having little more than doubled, in all that time. Sixty years later, (1760,) it was but 6,500,000 — the increase having been less than 30 per cent. ; and yet, at the close of another period of little more extent, (1830,) we find the number to have fully doubled. During all this period, then, the procreative power was, obviously, a very variable quantity — its amount being wholly dependent upon the changes of condition in habits, manners, and morals, above referred to. It may be said, however, that the great differences here observed, found their cause in the increased duration of life,