Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

jected to the lowest forms of drudgery—the necessary result of this being, either that physical vigor will decline, and thus reduce fertility, or, that the diversion of energy from the muscular to the nervous system, will serve to diminish the ratio of procreation. Such result must be obtained, let the change of conditions be in whichsoever it may happen, of these directions. It is, however, to the latter of these changes, that we tend — amelioration in our societary condition being the consequence of those improvements which tend to enlarge the sphere of intellectual activity, and stimulate the nervous system. The more society tends to take its natural form, the more does mind mingle with muscle in the labor of producing and converting the commodities required for man's support—all these minglings tending, in happy proportion, towards diminution of fertility, and towards increase in the power for the maintenance of human life. Such being the case, we have here a self-acting law that, while explaining the past, foreshadows the future — enabling us to see it, in the distance, working its way steadily and progressively, towards the accomplishment of ends whose beneficence is in perfect harmony with our ideas of the supreme wisdom, justice, and mercy, of the great Being by whom the laws were made. Will the assumed progress be in intelligence generally—in all the forms of mental acquirement which most decidedly direct the vital energy from the generative to the nervous structure ? The general advancement of mind—the multiplication of the means of culture—the improvement of educational agencies, which levels instruction towards both the mental and pecuniary abilities of the masses—the great enlargement of intellectual commerce resulting from a growing diversity as the demand for human services—the increased facility of intercourse with distant men, whether in person or by correspondence — and thousands of other changes that could be named, point, all, in this direction. Will it be in individual morals and social justice? Real enlightenment, resulting from the causes above described — from the development of a scientific agriculture, and consequent increase of power to command the service of the earth and all its parts— from the growing power of association and combination — must, of its own proper force, increase its growth in this direction. The more that growth, the greater must be the tendency towards that Wol. III.-20

prudential self-government, and towards that physical change in the appetencies and powers of the system, required for the establishment of a perfect harmony between the growth of human life and that of the raw materials of food and clothing needed for its maintenance. Factitious civilization, attended by consolidation of the land—decline of agriculture— diminution of the power to command the services of the great natural forces, and growing power in the soldier and the trader to control the societary movement — must as certainly promote a growth in the reverse direction. The more that growth, the greater must be the tendency towards a reckless disregard of the duties and responsibilities of life — the greater must be the development of the mere sensual powers at the expense of the intellectual — the greater must be the discord between the increase of human life and that of the materials required for life's support—and the stronger must become the belief in the doctrine of over-population. Seeking for proof of this last, we need but look to all the countries that follow Britain in the effort to substitute trade for commerce — the highest evidence being found in Britain herself. Looking for proof of the former, we shall find it in every country that adopts the ideas of Colbert — preferring the establishment of commerce to augmentation of the power of trade. That men of great mental activity are generally unprolific, has frequently been remarked, and there will not, probably, be a single reader of this volume who cannot find around him evidence of the truth of the proposition. Occasionally, it becomes possible to trace the movements, in this respect, of large bodies of men, and whenever it is so, we meet with facts tending to the establishment of the idea that extinction of families follows closely upon high development of the mental faculties. Twenty years since, the number of British peers was 394, of whom no less than 272 were the result of creations subsequent to 1760. From 1611 to 1819, no less than 753 baronetcies had become extinct; and yet, the total number created had been less than 1400. Facts precisely similar to these are found on looking to the noble families of Europe generally — “Amelot,” as we are told by Addison, “having reckoned that in his time 2500 nobles who had voices in the council,” whereas, there were not, at the time he wrote, more than 1500, “notwithstanding the admission of many new families since that time. It is very strange,” as he continues, “that with this advantage, they are not able to keep up their number, considering that the nobility spread through all the brothers, and that so very few are destroyed in the wars of the republic.” So, too, is it, when we turn to ancient Rome–Tacitus telling us, that “about the same time Claudius enrolled in the Patrician order, such of the ancient senators as stood recommended by their illustrious birth, and the merits of their ancestors. The line of these families, which were styled by Romulus, ‘the first class of nobility,” was almost extinct. Even those of more recent date, created in the time of Julius Caesar, by the Cassian law, and under Augustus, by the Saenian, were well nigh exhausted.” Coming to more recent times, we find that of the 15 occupants of the Presidential chair in this country, seven have been entirely childless, while the total number of their children has been but little more than 20. Looking abroad, the same great fact meets us almost everywhere—Napoleon, Wellington, the Foxes, Pitts, and other distinguished men, not having, as a rule, left behind them the children required to fill the void created by their decease. How it has been with Chaptal, Fourcroy, Berzelius, Berthollet, Davy, and the thousand other distinguished names, scientific, literary, and military, that have flashed before the public eye since the days of Marlborough and Prince Eugene, we have no means of knowing with any certainty; but the little that we have learned in regard to them, has led to the conclusion that, could the whole be ascertained, it would be found that the existing representatives of such men do not number more than half as many as they did themselves. That mental activity, of whatsoever kind, is unfavorable to reproduction, will be found equally true, whether we examine the records of political, military, or trading life. In proof of this, we may take the following facts cited by Mr. Malthus, in regard to the city of Berne : — “In the town of Berne, from the year 1583 to 1654, the sovereign council had admitted into the Bourgeoisie 487 families, of which 379 became extinct in the space of two centuries, and in 1783 only 108 of them remained. During the hundred years from 1684 to 1784, 207 Bernoise families became extinct. From 1624 to 1712, the Bourgeoisie was given to 80 families. In 1623, the sovereign council united the members of 112 different families, of which 58 only remain.”” Many other facts similar to these, in relation to the freemen of various towns and cities of England, are given in a recent work on population f – the whole tending to prove that the excitement of trade is as unfavorable to procreation as is that of science, or of politics. Look where we may, we shall find evidence that the reproductive power in man, is no more a constant quantity than is any other of his powers. It may be stimulated into excessive activity by such a course of action as tends to reduce him to the condition of a mere animal — annihilating the feeling of pride in himself, and of responsibility for his actions to his fellow-men, or to his Creator. It diminishes as his various faculties are more and more stimulated into action— as employments become diversified — as the societary action becomes more rapid— as land becomes divided — and as he himself becomes more free. Such, we believe, is the self-adjusting law of population.

§ 9. Is it possible, it may be asked, that changes in the moral and physical man, like those to which we have referred, can have effects so great? Can it be, that the question whether population shall grow with the rapidity exhibited in Ireland, or decline as we see it do among those whose pursuits make large demands upon their intellectual powers, can be so largely dependent for its solution upon the proportion of vital force expended by the brain on one side, and the genital organs on the other? In answer, it may be said, that when nature works most effectually, she works most quietly — the amount of power momently exhibited in pumping up the waters of the ocean, being greater than would be needed for the production of a series of the severest thunder-storms. It is, too, when she works most slowly, that she works most beneficially, as when she sends the morning dew, or the refreshing summer shower. When she would inflict punishment upon man, she works with great rapidity — sending the hail-storm, or the volcano. Desiring to create an island, eventually to become, perhaps, the nucleus of a continent, she employs an insect invisible to the naked eye; but when she seeks merely to batter city walls, she sends an earthquake. So, however, is it everywhere, in the social as well as the physical world—improvemnt in the condition of the human race having resulted from the labors of the millions of little men who have toiled in the fields or factories — men whose labors have been so quiet as almost to have escaped the notice of historians, who gladly chronicle the movements of invading armies, and exhaust their stores of language in the expression of admiration for an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon. The coral insect and the earth-worm aid in making changes that are permanent. The elephant leaves behind him no record of his existence. The trader slowly and quietly abstracts the cement that holds the social edifice together—the mass then falling to ruin, as we see to have been the case in Ireland and India. The soldier comes with drums and trumpets — wasting and destroying the land, as has been so often done in Belgium, and in Germany. Scarcely has he disappeared, however, before the human ants are again at work, restoring the houses and the lands, and effacing every evidence that the latter had been pressed by an invading foot. The magnitude and permanence of the work performed, being everywhere else in the inverse ratio of the apparent efficacy of the machinery that is used; and the beneficence of the Deity being always greatest when the directing hand is most unseen, we may rest assured that such must certainly be the case in reference to that great question, upon

* MALThus: Principle of Population, vol. ii. ch. 5.

# Doubleday: The True Law of Population, London, 1846. The idea of Mr. Doubleday is, that it is in plethora, resulting from large consumption of animal food, we are to find the true corrective of man's natural tendency towards excessive procreation. In proof of this, the case of Russia is adduced — “butcher's meat” being there, as we are told, “a drug,” “vegetable food a luxury,” and population limited. Admitting such to be the law, American population should increase but very slowly—there being no civilized country in which animal food bears so large a proportion to the whole consumption. Further, we are told of the decay of English numbers, in the 15th and 16th centuries, as a consequence of the excessive abundance of rich and nourishing food at the laborer's command. How far this view is in accordance with the facts, may be seen by reference to page 34 of the present volume. Were such really the law, man's case would be utterly hopeless — increase in the number of men being followed, necessarily, by diminution in the quantity of the lower animals, and by increase in the necessity for depending upon vegetable food — that food whose use tends most, as we here are told, towards stimulation of sexual intercourse, and the production, throughout the world, of the state of things which now exists in Ireland.

« НазадПродовжити »