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Capital. The question propounded for solution is, a discovery of the principles which facilitate the increase of BOTH, in order to define and show which of the two is constituted by the law of nature to increase in the most rapid degree. The subject, then, will be one of comparative proportionate progression, as issuing out of the principle of the increase of population on the one side, and the principle of the creation of capital on the other.
Now, in order to solve the proposition thus submitted for consideration, it will be evident that he who undertakes to do so, must be able to define the rate of increase of BOTH the subjects which the proposition includes. Thus, to determine the power of increasing population at a quicker or slower rate as compared with the power of forming capital, the principle of the formation of capital must be PROVED; and to determine the power of forming capital at a quicker or slower rate as compared with the power of increasing population, the principle of the increase of population must be PROVED for to draw an inference from a comparison of any Two things without the nature of BOTH having been ascertained, would be a self-evident absurdity. I now proceed to show that the population principle of Malthus stands in the bad predicament just mentioned.
With regard, then, to the predicate which this author has laid down respecting the first portion of his compound proposition, which is Population, in order to discover a principle, he has entered upon an extensive range of inquiry. collected together, with much industry, a series of statistical facts, by which he has proved that the possible rate of increase of the human species is equal to that of doubling its number in a space of twenty-five years. Consequently, he has inferred that there is infused into the constitution of man a generative force adequate to such a degree of pro
duction. This he assumes as his hypothesis, calling it a geometrical ratio of increase, in contradistinction to another, which I shall soon have to examine, and which he denominates an arithmetical ratio.
Now, in order to show whether or not, and also in what degree, the issues of this principle are coincident with the practical natural result, a paper was read before the Statistical Society of London, at an ordinary meeting, on the 18th of January, 1836. The paper was contributed by Mr. Hallam, and was founded upon a communication made to him by Sir Francis Palsgrave, who, in his researches amongst ancient documents in the Record Office, had found a statistical account of the population of England at a very early date. To show the working of the geometrical principle of Malthus, the population at the period of the compilation of Doomsday Book, about the year 1086, was taken at the number 1,000,000. The intervening period of 750 years gave 30 cycles of 25 years each. The number 1,000,000 was taken as the hypothesis, and the ratio 2 used as the multiplier, and worked to the 30th degree of power. The result was, that the population of England, in the year 1836, should have been as the number 1,068,852,224,000,000 *, or 5953 to each square yard of the surface of the country.
Thus the result hereby arrived at shows the false and even the absurd conclusion to which we are led by working out the inductions from the premises given; notwithstanding which, the premises are true. It follows, therefore, that there are certain assignable conditions in connection with which the principle will act up to the degree proved; and that there are certain other assignable conditions connected with which the principle will not, or rather man who is the governor of
These figures are copied from the published report of the Proceedings of the Statistical Society; but there appears to be a considerable
this principle. It became, then, the duty of the author to have directed the entire energies of his mind to the tracing out the operation of these particular conditions, and to have refrained from drawing conclusions until he had gained a perfect knowledge of the laws by which such vast and important influence is acquired.
I now beg to direct attention to the matter which this author has made use of in order to establish his predicate of the second portion of his proposition, which is, the slower
error in the calculation. The annexed table shows the product to be much larger.
Cycles of Years.
1086 to 1111
Increase according to a Geometrical Ratio, the Multiplier being the Number 2, and the Hypothesis 1,000,000.
64,000,000 128,000,000 256,000,000 512,000,000 1,024,000,000 2,048,000.000 4,096,000,000 8,192,000,000 16,384,000,000 32,768,000,000 65,536,000,000 131,072,000,000 262,144,000,000 524,288,000,000 1,048,576,000,000 2,097,152,000,000 4,194,304,000,000 8,388,608,000,000 16,777,216,000,000 33,554,432,000,000 67,108,864,000,000 134,217,728,000,000 268,435,456,000,000 536,870,912,000,000 1,073,741,824,000,000
formation of capital, as ordained by natural laws. I have already shown the very imperfect manner in which he has treated this great and all-material portion of his subject, in his work, entitled, "Principles of Political Economy." The quotations I shall make from his work, now under examination, will be confirmatory of the arguments which I have previously advanced against the validity of his conclusions. In the first chapter of his work, there is this remarkable passage:
"This is incontrovertibly true. Through the animal and vegetable kingdoms, Nature has scattered the seeds of life. abroad, with the most profuse and liberal hand; but has been comparatively sparing in the room and the nourishment necessary to rear them."
In the proposition thus laid down, and which the understandings of men are called upon to receive and to hold as a demonstrated axiom, the author asserts the existence of a great and most formidable law in nature, bearing with irresistible force against the physical well-being of mankind. In one short sentence he has called in question and condemned the arrangement and providence of the Creator. A slight examination, however, of the sentence itself, will lead to a perception of its entire falseness. He asserts that throughout the animal and vegetable kingdoms, a principle of vast prolificacy prevails. Thus, at the same time that he builds his argument upon the prolific nature of man, he builds it also upon the prolific nature of the matter which has been created for the sustenance of man, namely, the animal and vegetable kingdoms. If, therefore, the principle of the increase of the animal and vegetable kingdom be of superior or equal power with the principle of the increase of the
* An Essay on Population, by T. R. Malthus, A. M., vol. i. ch. i. p. 14.
human species, the argument of deficiency will fail, and then the only portion of the proposition which remains will be that of "room ;" and every person must see that it would be mere trifling to enter upon an argument respecting this. With regard to the assertion of deficiency, I propose to show, and that by means of his own work, that the conclusion is wholly unwarranted.
The matter contained in the eleven pages succeeding my last quotation is put together in order to support the conclusion, but is of a character the most vague and inconclusive. We may collect from other parts of the works of this writer, that, as he proceeded on his investigations, and was thus necessarily obliged to enter upon the construction and examination of compound and complicated propositions, the duty of proving became to him a matter of insuperable difficulty; and hence, undoubtedly, arose the hurried and unreasoning manner in which he has emerged from the obstacles which here surrounded him, in order that he might fabricate and adopt the two principles which he had intended should form the guides of his subsequent calculations. He constructs his conclusion by means of the following passage :
"It may fairly be pronounced, therefore, that, considering the present average state of the earth, the means of subsistence, under circumstances the most favourable to human industry, could not possibly be made to increase faster than in an arithmetical ratio."*
It now becomes necessary to examine the nature of the arithmetical ratio here assigned as a law of the formation of capital, in order to find out whether or not it coincides with a well-known and universally recognised state of facts. The two rates of increase are thus exhibited by Mr. Malthus:
* An Essay on Population, by T. R. Malthus, A. M., vol. i. ch. i. p.