« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
Cycles of Years.
"The human species would increase as the numbers 1-2-4-8-16-32-64-128-256, and subsistence as 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9."*
To put the latter of these rates of progression to the test, I will commence the first issue at the period of time taken by Mr. Hallam, previously alluded to, namely, the year 1086. The following table will show the rate of increase assignable to the formation of capital, under the arithmetical progression during each succeeding cycle of twenty-five years, and also annually up to the year 1836, regard not being had to the fractions of pence.
1086 to 1111
* An Essay on Population, by T. R. Malthus, A. M., vol. i. ch. i.
Thus, by the result of this rate of calculating, it is shown, that on commencing the hypothetical argument at the year 1086, the power of forming capital in the year 1836 would have been reduced to the diminutive proportion of 1-750th of every 100 parts, or 28. 8d. per cent. per annum; and whether we apply the principle to the space of time above mentioned, or to any other, it will be found equally remote from truth. Now with regard to the increase derivable from the employment of capital, it is a recorded and also a wellknown fact, that the proportion of 1-25th, or 4 per cent. per annum, has been for a long series of years, and still is (taking a general average) easily obtainable, merely for the privilege of using it, leaving out of consideration the still larger increase obtained by those who work it most profitably; or those who conduct the whole production and commerce, that is, the general trade of the nation.
Thus we are necessitated by the facts now collated, to reverse the geometrical and the arithmetical ratios that have been advanced by Mr. Malthus, and to assert that the former is more nearly applicable to the laws of the formation of capital, and the latter to the laws of the increase of population; for, with regard to the principle of the increase of population, if the number 1,000,000 be taken as the hypothesis, and the issues from it be made to commence in the year 1086, and the arithmetical ratio of progression applied to them, the result will be a population of 30,000,000 in the year 1836. Now this we know to be more than double what the number recorded really is, allusion being made to England only. But in the front of such a course of argument, a most formidable objection is forced upon the attention, namely, if such be the truth, whence could possibly arise destitution and poverty, which give, confessedly, a state of facts wherein
the aggregate of population exceeds the aggregate of capital, or the means of supporting it? This question presents matter for a most grave and careful investigation, and though involved at present in almost total obscurity, is nevertheless capable of an entire and clear explication; but, as my object now is that of demonstrating error, I am constrained to reserve the elucidation of this part of the subject for the matter of a future argument. I content myself at present, therefore, with quoting the observations of Mr. Hallam given in his communication to the Statistical Society before alluded to, which are these:
"When he compared the enormous expansion of the logarithmic curve with the petty 14,000,000 of which we have to boast as our real numbers, he was led to think that there is still a great deal on the subject of population unexplored, and that the counteracting causes which have in ages past so retarded the development of this prodigious force, as, numerically speaking, to have reduced its actual efficacy almost to nothing, are deserving of the most serious and diligent investigation."
I now submit that proof is afforded that Mr. Malthus has wholly failed to substantiate either predicate of those two great propositions which he chose to advance; and I cannot avoid expressing the utmost astonishment that the geometrical and arithmetical ratios of increase which were promulgated by him as theories, should have been received with any portion of credence, either by statesmen or statisticians.
There is one more suggestion which I feel called upon to offer respecting this particular view of the subject, which is, that no writer is warranted in treating at all on the laws of the increase of population, who cannot, in the first instance, make himself master of the laws of the creation of capital.
Before I conclude this comment upon the extraordinary error of calculation which Malthus has thus admitted, I wish to draw attention, in a more particular manner, to the source of this error. Of his large work on the "Principle of Population," about 700 pages, or nearly half, are occupied by statistical compilations, showing the POSSIBLE rate of increase of the human species, the facts having been collected from various countries. The conclusion, as I have before stated, is indisputable, and indeed is so simple and obvious, that it might have been conceded at once, and thus have rendered unnecessary a vast parade of statistical matter. The premises being thus granted, the fact is established, and there is in the constitution of man a generative power adequate to the doubling his species in a space of twenty-five years. The author has then proceeded to argue upon the fact of the exercise of this generative force to a degree beyond the means provided by the Creator for its support. In thus arguing upon the possible facts respecting the first principle instanced, he has neglected to ascertain the truth of the actual facts; while with regard to the second principle, he has failed to ascertain the truth both of the possible and the actual. His mind appears to have been so fully possessed by the notion that his expansive principle of population was a mighty discovery, that he paid no regard to a very high and important element of his subject, which is, that the constitution of man differs essentially from the constitution of mere animal creatures. Had he brought into his consideration the spiritual and moral faculties and attributes of man, and reasoned upon their influence, he would have been led into another train of argument. But viewing the two great facts, the one at the commencement, the other at the extremity of his observation, the former being the prolific character of the