MALTHUS, TIRDLAS RonEirr, the founder of those opinions concerning the relation of population to the means of sustenance which have been named after him "Malthusian," was b. in the county of Surrey, in the year 1766. He was well connected, and graduated with honors in 1788, at Jesus college, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow. He became soon after clergyman of a small parish in his native county, and divided his time between his cure and the university libraries. In 1799 he left Britain to see foreign countries, along with the eminent traveler, Daniel Clarke. The great European war was then raging, and the most int,eresting portions of the continent of Europe were closed to our countrymen. Malthus, however, with an evidently keen anxiety to observe mankind under a variety of conditions, wandered through Sweden, Norway, Finland, and part of Russia, making notes of what he observed. Next year he took advantage of the short peace of Amiens to visit France and other portions of central Europe. These efforts to become acquainted with mankind are significant since. Although Malthus has the repu tation of being:a bold theorist, the charm of his writings consists in his practical knowl edge of how men have existed and acted in various parts of the world and under diverse conditions; and his knowledge of actual human nature--his sagacity and accuracy, in short, in the details which he brought to bear on his great theory—were in a consider able measure the source of the great influence exercised by him over public opinion, and had the secondary effect of makino. his books readable even to those who made war on his conclusions. It was in 1798 tliat he first published his Essay on the Principles of Pop ulation as it affects the Future improvement of Society; but in subsequent editions he so greatly enlarged and enriched the work, that it could hardly be identified with the first impression. The predominant idea of the book was evidently suggested by Hume's essay on the populousness of ancient nations, in which vague statements as to the vast multi tudes of human beings subsisting in any place, or wandering from place to place, are brought to the test of the means of subsistence at their disposal. Where there is an
accurate census, the number of people living on the portion of the globe covered by it is, of course, known to within a tnfle of the truth. Such arrangements for accuracy have, however, been extremely rare in the history of the world. Where they are absent, egregious exaggerations have been made in estimates of the numbers of mankind; and in the absence of absolute facts, the best means of reducing these wild estimates to some thing reasonable was the skeptical philosopher's plan of comparing the estimate of the numbers with the probable amount of food at their disposal. The applicAtion of this check by Malthus was something like the application of chemistry to organic matter. He set himself to findino. out how the relation of population to the means of sustenance could affect the future oti the world. The result was appalling. The human race was found to increase at something like geometrical progression; while the fertility of land, by bringing in waste, and improving the methods of agriculture, only increased in some thing like an arithmetical proportion. Hence, if population were permitted to increase at its natural mte, it would soon overtake the means of subsistence. The theory had only one defect as applicable to the present condition of the world, that it overlooked the element of free trade. It involved a general pauperism to Britain if her people had no resource but the produce of her soil, but it made no allowance for the capacity of Britain to draw upon the fertility of the world at large. Malthus wrote other books, which got little notice in their day, and have been forgotten. He was appointed professor of politi cal economy at the college of Haileybury in 1805. He filled his chair with great repute until his death, Dec. 29, 1836.