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POLITICAL ECONOMY.

CHAP. VI.

- Without

Investigation of the state of the science of Political Economy continued. Examination of the writings of Malthus. - The two distinct subjects, Population, and Wealth the means of sustaining population, treated of by Malthus. He is shown to have begun his treatment of the subject of the creation of wealth by advancing the unwarrantable declaration that the subject does not admit of being treated accurately. · proof he adopts the conclusion that, by a law of nature population increases faster than the means provided in nature for its support.His geometrical and arithmetical principles of increase examined.He is shown to have had no solid foundation for the adoption of either of these principles. The necessity of reversing these principles shown. Evidence against the reasonings and conclusions of Malthus furnished to the Statistical Society of London by Mr. Hallam.

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THE works which have acquired for the name of Malthus so much notoriety, and which are held by many men in so much esteem, and again by many other men in so much disesteem; and which, either for good or for evil, have operated very influentially on the principles of individual men, and also on the principles that are being upheld nationally by legislatures, are comprised under two titles, the one being "Principles of Political Economy," and the other, "An Essay on the Principle of Population." Although an intimate connexion naturally subsists between the matter of the one work and the matter of the other, yet I will bring under notice separately, and in the first place, the character of the matter that is contained in the work on Political Economy.

In the introductory chapter of this work the writer makes allusion both to the science and to the existing state of the science. He commences, unhappily, his investigation of the

science, by adopting an unscientific principle, namely, that the subject of which he is about to treat does not admit of accurate definition; and in other parts of his writings there are reassertions of this opinion. Thus, Mr. Malthus, like so many other writers in the school of Political Economy, has begged of the world, at the very outset of his career, to have a licence for weakness and for committing error granted to him, as well as to the whole school of which he is a member, in order that the opinions and reasonings which may be advanced by them, of whatever kind they may be, shall be received by the world with more favour and have more trust reposed in them than otherwise might be accorded, or than their intrinsic quality entitles them to receive. I maintain here, as I have before maintained, that it is wholly unwarrantable for a writer on any science to advance the declaration that the science does not admit of being treated accurately and fully, or with demonstration. All that a writer can know upon this point is that he cannot treat accurately or demonstrate; and, also, that other writers have not treated the science accurately or demonstrated; but as far as declaring that the subject does not admit of being treated accurately or demonstratively, this is wholly out of the province and power of any writer. It is sufficient for a writer to declare, knowing it to be true,- and which he must know, if it be true,- that he is not able to demonstrate; and after this, then to advance his pretensions to an exploration, discovery, and explanation of truth up to that point where, in his own opinion, his efforts have been successful. When arrived at that point beyond which he cannot advance, because he finds that his mental power is baffled and impeded by an obscurity which he is unable to dispel, he must leave the ground before him for the exploration of other men, avoiding, above all things, the unscientific course of de

claring that the subject is not to be apprehended, comprehended, or explored. When the cause of this admitted incapability is examined and ascertained, it is seen that it has no place within that beautiful natural simplicity of which the subject itself consists. It is seen to arise from that sad misapprehension of evidence, and derangement of it, followed by the adoption of error in place of truth, that have been so largely made by those who have ventured to write on the science without having acquired the ability to understand it sufficiently, and who have thus established mystification and confusion within the region of their own vision, by throwing together and attempting to unite true and false inductions.

The nescientific principle having been admitted and adopted by Mr. Malthus, it was inevitable that in the subsequent investigations and arguments that were made and advanced by him there should be a commixture of error with truth; either a little truth with much error, or a large body of truth with a small quantity of error, as each particular case might be.

On commencing his review of the existing state of the science of Political Economy, Mr. Malthus makes allusion to the efforts of the French Economists, and to those of Adam Smith. He then declares that, notwithstanding the large volume of matter that has been written on the subject, he considers it to be still involved in great obscurity. The passage is as follows:

"Since that era the subject had attracted the attention of a greater number of persons, particularly during the last twenty or thirty years. All the main propositions of the science have been examined, and the events which have since occurred, tending either to illustrate or confute them, have been repeatedly discussed. The result of this examination and discussion seems to be, that on some very important

VOL. I.

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points there are still great differences of opinion. Among these, perhaps, may be reckoned the definitions of wealth and of productive labour the nature and measures of value -the nature and extent of the principles of demand and supply the origin and progress of rent the causes which determine the wages of labour and the profits of stockthe causes which practically retard and limit the progress of wealth the level of the precious metals in different countries the principles of taxation, &c. On all these points, and many others among the numerous subjects which belong to political economy, differences have prevailed among persons whose opinions are entitled to attention. Some of these questions are to a certain degree theoretical; and the solution of them, though obviously necessary to the improvement of science, might not essentially affect its practical rules; but others are of such a nature, that the determination of them one way or the other, will necessarily influence the conduct both of individuals and of governments; and their correct determination therefore must be a matter of the highest practical importance."

In the passage just quoted, the author has enumerated several main propositions, as being, at the period when he wrote, imperfectly investigated. From these I will select four, in order that they may stand in a prominent point of view, when the all-important character that appertains to them cannot fail to be discerned and allowed. These are the nature and measures of value the nature and extent of the principles of demand and supply the causes which determine the wages of labour the causes which determine the profits of stock. Now, if it be true that these parts of the science, together with the other enumerated also, be unknown, I shall be justified in asserting that no material part of it whatever is known; for if these several divisions be

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added together, almost the entire subject-matter of the science will be comprised in the aggregate thus formed.

On continuing my investigation of this work, I find that the author has merely noticed, in a cursory manner, the opinions of Ricardo with regard to the nature of foreign trade, and has in no part attempted to grapple with the main argument, or made allusion to the important problem which I have already brought under notice, and which ought to have attracted and received his especial consideration. Thus despairing at the outset of his inquiry of discovering the laws of the formation of capital, and having been baffled in his subsequent efforts, he has, in the next place, directed his attention to an investigation of the laws of the increase of population. Seeing that he could not find out the way to accelerate the growth of the former, he has then endeavoured to find out the way to retard the growth of the latter, in order to define the method of bringing about that which all admit to be desirable, namely, a more just proportion between the great mass of population or the aggregate number of the people; and the great mass of means that is required for sustaining them, that is, the aggregate capital.

Thus it becomes necessary to enter upon an examination of the matter from which this author has derived the important principle which has been denominated his "Population Principle," and in order to arrive at a just conclusion respecting it, I must make reference to some portions of his larger work, entitled, "An Essay on the Principle of Population." Before commencing this analysis, it will be desirable to consider attentively the nature of the subjectmatter about to be reasoned upon. Now the matter herein undertaken to be treated of, consists of Two distinct subjects, the one being Population, the other being the means of sustaining population, which is expressed by the general term,

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