POPULATION. The circumstances which determine the proportion of the population to the area of any given coun try, are the first elements which we must take into the account in considering their social condition. In the lowest stage of human existence, in which men depend on hunting and fishing for a subsistence, they are scattered over an immense sur flie,e in order to obtain food ; and as the animals which they pursue become scarce in one part, they remove to another. Though the numbers of a tribe may not average one individual to a square mile, the difficulties of procuring subsistence are often so great, that frequent hunger and occasional famines have always cha racterised the savage state. Many of the tribes of North America which live near and among the Rocky Mountains are ac tual examples of this precarious mode of existence ; and the white men who hunt the fur-bearing animals in the same re gions are subjected to these inconveniences of a savage life. The purely pastoral state admits of a greater relative propor tion of population : but the necessity of frequent removal from place to place in search of pasture does not admit of this proportion surpassing a certain limit, which is determined by the capabilities of the uncultivated land to feed their flocks and herds. If agriculture be re sorted to, and the occupation of the shep herd be exchanged for that of the hus bandman, the same tract when cultivated will sustain a larger population. In the early stages of agriculture, the implements of labour are few and imperfect; the clothing of each family is the produce of household industry ; and the number of carpenters, blacksmiths, and other artifi cers is small. When a more minute division of employments takes place, and the husbandman is solely engaged in rais ing food, while others are employed in making clothing and supplying all the other wants of the population, the labour of the community becomes much snare productive, and food being raised in greater quantities, this change is followed by an increase of the population ; and when machines for abridging human la bour are introduced, a further stimulus is given to the increase of population. An intelligent, healthy, and industrious popu lation, who possess a good soil and abundance of mineral wealth, are enabled by improvements in machinery and la bour-saving contrivances, not only to sup ply their own wants, but those of other countries in a less advanced state. When a country has succeeded in introducing the products of an extensively diversified industry into the markets of the world, the population may be continually in creased, with a continual increase in the comforts which it enjoys. In the savage state, a tract of several hundred square miles is overstocked by as many indi viduals: in nations which have reached the highest degree of civilization hitherto known, the population is as great to one single square mile.
Under all the diversity of circumstances in which the inhabitants of different parts of the world exist, their numbers are limited by the means of subsistence. If the population increases faster than the food for their support, poverty and misery ensue, and death thins their numbers, and brings them to a level with the means of subsistence. This effect may take place whether the population be one to a square mile or several hundreds. Hence the proportion of births, marriages, and deaths to the population, is as important an ele ment in ascertaining the condition of the population of any country as the propor tion of their numbers to each square mile.
The evils which arise when the popu lation increases more rapidly than the means of subsistence had not escaped the notice of two of the most eminent writers of antiquity, Plato and Aristotle. (Plato, Laws, v., and Republic, v. ; Aristotle, vii. 16.) In later times this truth had been seen by Dr. Franklin, Sir James Stewart ( Treatise on Pol. Econ., hook Mr. Townsend (Essay on the Poor-Laws), and other English and French economists. Their views attracted little attention at the time when they wrote. In England especially, during the eighteenth century, a false opinion prevailed that the population was dimin ishing; and subsequently the demand for men during the long war with France rendered the evils of a redundant popula tion almost imaginary in general estima tion. The decennial census of the popu
lation during the present century, the transition from war to peace, and the commercial embarrassments and periods of public distress which have been expe rienced, have given us the means of forming a better judgment on such mat ters; and the writings of the late Mr. Malthus have powerfully aided in pro ducing correct views upon the questions of population. His Essay on the Prin ciple of Population' was first published anonymously in 1798. This work was suggested by a paper in Godwin's 'En quirer,' and the author's object was to apply the principle of population in con sidering the schemes of human perfecti bility and other speculations on society to which the French revolution had given birth. Hume (Populousness of Ancient Nations), Wallace (Dissertation on the Numbers of Mankind in Ancient and Modern Times), and Dr. Price's writings of more recent date, were the authors from whom Mr. Malthus deduced the main principle of his Essay. In 1803 appeared a second edition, to which Mr. Malthus affixed his name, and which might be considered almost a new work. The author had in the interval directed his attention to an historical examination of the effect of the principle of population on the past and present state of society, and the subject was for the first time treated in a comprehensive and systematic manner. A third and fourth edition appeared a few years afterwards. The fifth edition, containing several additional chapters, was published in 1817. The sixth and present edition, which contained few alterations, was published in 1826. The tide of the work as it at present stands is as follows An Essay on the Principle of Population, or a view of its past and present Effects on Human Hap piness, with an Inquiry into our prospects respecting the future removal or mitiga tion of the evils which it occasions.' The following is a brief summary of its leading principles :—Mr. Malthus's pro positions are—that population, when un checked, goes on doubling itself every twenty-five years, or increases in a geo metrical ratio ; while the means of subsistence, under the most favourable circumstances, could not be made to in crease faster than in an arithmetical ratio That is, the human species may increase as the numbers 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32; while the increase of food would only proceed in the following ratio : 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Thus if all the fertile land of a country is occupied, the yearly increase of produce must depend upon improved means of cultivation ; and neither science nor ca pital applied to land could create an in creased amount of produce beyond a certain limit. But the increase of popu lation would ever go on with unabated vigour, if food could be obtained, and a population of twenty millions would pm seas as much the inherent power of dou bling itself as a population of twenty thousand. Population however cannot increase beyond the lowest nourishment capable of supporting life ; and therefore the difficulty of obtaining food forms the primary check on the increase of popula tion, although it does not usually present itself as the immediate check, but operates upon mankind in the various forms of misery or the fear of misery. The im mediate check may be either preventive or positive; the preventive is such as reason and reflection impose, and the positive consists of every form by which vice and misery shorten human life. Thus a man may restrain the natural appetite which directs him to an early attachment for one woman, from the fear of being unable to preserve his children from poverty, or in not having it in his power to bestow upon them the same advantages of education which he had himself enjoyed. Such a restraint may be practised for a temporary period or through life, and though it is a deduction from the sum of human happiness, the evil is less than that which results from the positive checks to population, namely, unwholesome occupations, severe labour, and exposure to the seasons, extreme poverty, bad nursing of children, excesses of all kinds, the whole train of common disease and epidemics, wars, plagues, and famines.