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sided in less than three or four years; some, indeed, suppose that they were never wholly eradicated. Then again, from 1728 to 1732, there was a fever of five years' continuance experienced, after an intermission of seven years only. The fever returned again after a lapse of eight years, and continued, indeed, a much shorter time than before; but it more than compensated, in the eyes of our modern philosophers, for the shortness of its duration, by the "clearance" it made of the "redundant numbers." In this dreadful visitation, Dr. Rutty, the accurate historian of the weather, health, &c. of Ireland, says, one-fifth part of the people perished. A lower estimate, and indeed the lowest, computes the victims at this dreadful period at 80,000! Dr. Short says, it was little short of the plague in fatality'. Now at this period there were probably fewer than seventy inhabitants on every square mile, in one of the most fertile countries in the world: will then any of our anti-populationists dare to attribute this calamity to the laws of population and Providence ? On the contrary, it fell the heaviest where the inhabitants were the thinnest; that is, in the province of Connaught; and in Galway in that province, the thinnest inhabited county in the country 2. Since Dr. Rutty's time, I am not aware that there have been any historians of the health of Ireland, till Drs. Baker and Cheyne appeared, whose able work on the late fever there has recently been given to the public. Nor does the chasm concern the argument: it has been already shown, that, to whatever cause these calamities have
'Dr. Short, Hist. of Air and Seasons, vol. ii. p. 268.
Drs. Baker and Cheyne, vol. i. p. 6. Dr. Short, vol. ii. p. 268.
to be assigned, it is palpably false to say, as to suit a special purpose it is now said, that they originate in excessive numbers.
In fine, all those sufferings which the prevailing theory pronounces as necessarily flowing from an excessive population, and as forming the certain evidence of such being the case, not only existed, but existed in a higher degree, when the inhabitants were wholly inadequate to possess or cultivate a quarter of the soil, than they do at the present moment. To these conclusive facts the momentary attention of the "Emigration Committee," its chairman and members, as well as its chosen evidences, one and all, is respectfully invited. That the opinion should be correct which attributes the ancient abuses of Ireland, and its consequent misery to its dense population, were every political economist in the empire to preach such a doctrine, and every minister of state to act upon it, is palpably impossible, unless we are to believe that effects may precede their causes a century or two. "The march of intellect" has, however, almost arrived at this point, and indeed, in this instance, is already there.
(5.) It forms, indeed, a most singular feature of the present argument, not only that the whole train of evils which have long afflicted Ireland, now ignorantly attributed to her overflowing numbers, existed long before the alleged cause had any being; but that persons fully as competent to observe and decide on the subject, as any of those who now dogmatise upon it, clearly pointing out the whole of them, unhesitatingly attributed them to a diametrically opposite reason, namely, to the fewness of the people.
Amongst these were Sir William Temple', Lord Clarendon2, Dean Swift, Sir William Petty, &c.; the number of such authorities it would be far more easy largely to increase, than to add much to their weight. From the latter only I shall quote a single passage, referring, for a comment upon it, to the whole of some of his principal works. The following passage closes his Political Anatomy of Ireland: "The greatest and most fundamental defect of this kingdom is, the want of people!"
But I shall not pursue the argumentum ad verecundiam, which, expunged as it is from the logic of the modern school, would only injure the cause attempted to be supported. Such an appeal, indeed, would only prove that he who made it had not advanced so far in the "march of mind" as to have his back turned upon the former authorities of this country, the lights of a by-gone world. Such men as Bacon, and Locke, and Addison, and Swift might have twinkled in their day; but where are they, when our later authorities blaze upon us? It is unanimously admitted that they cannot shine together. I will therefore again betake myself to a few facts, which are of a nature too stubborn to be easily silenced.
Before I proceed, it must be observed, that the author of a popular essay on population, may, perhaps, be enabled to reconcile the preceding statements to his system, as announced by himself; inasmuch as that system occasionally maintains that its principle na
Sir William Temple, Works, vol. iii. p. 7.
3 Sir William Petty, Anatomy of Ireland; Tracts, p. 388.
turally produces the evils in question, in every stage of human increase, "from the very commencement of society:" repeating, in every possible variety of phrase, that there is "a constant tendency, in all animated life, to increase beyond the means of nourishment prepared for it';" and that, as it respects human beings especially, the difference betwixt the ratios of their increase and that of their food is of the most appalling kind. His system, therefore, is comprehensive enough to admit all the evils which we have proved to exist in Ireland, whatever might be the state of its population; but we shall examine whether his postulata, the geometric and arithmetic ratios of increase, be true, as it regards that country, or whether they exhibit the slightest "tendency" to become so. And surely there has seldom been an arena upon earth, on which his theory could have had a better chance: so many evils crowd upon that country, from so many different quarters, that there never has been the least difficulty in proving the distresses of the people; and as their numbers have kept constantly increasing, nothing was easier than to attribute them to that increase. Were, then, the general argument pursued at large elsewhere, that increasing numbers naturally occasion increasing prosperity, to have failed in the instance of Ireland, I certainly should not have abandoned the position; nay, I candidly confess, that I did expect that this country, owing to causes extraneous to the principle at issue, would have constituted an exception to a rule otherwise universal. Encouraged, however, by the fact of all the seeming difficulties Malthus, Essay on Population, p. 2.
which have presented themselves during similar inquiries and calculations, having, on due examination, ultimately resolved themselves into arguments in favour of the principle announced, and some of them of the strongest kind; I determined, that even Ireland was a subject "not to be given over, but waited on a little," to use an expression of Lord Bacon. With what success this course has been pursued, especially in the calculations that conclude these pages, must be left to the determination of the reader.
§ IV. (1.) Having, I trust, already fully proved that the distresses of Ireland cannot be charged on the increase of its population, I now advance my argument another and far higher step, by inquiring, whether the alleged tendency in numbers to increase faster than food, is not false as it respects that country; or to the still greater confusion of such a position, whether there has not been (not to speak of tendencies merely, but facts) an actual increase of food, far greater than that of the population, rapidly as, it must be confessed, it has accumulated? I shall, of course, limit my inquiries, in this stage of the argument, to the surplus quantities of food raised in different periods, that being the sole question in reference to the principle of population; in subsequently pursuing the subject, when accounting for the distresses which, nevertheless, exist in Ireland, I shall not imitate those who absolve human institutions', in order to lay the miseries of mankind at the door of their Eternal Benefactor.
To anticipate an objection that may be made in ' Malthus, Essay, p. 367.